Lights out, game over. Duma win 2020. Breathtaking by any measure, Kenyan grindcore band Duma’s unparalleled debut of blast beats, sky-clawing synth noise and scarred larynx vocals is one of the mightiest things you’ll hear all year - a huge RIYL Nkisi, Woid, Senyawa...
Duma's self-titled debut is the most incredible injection of life-affirming, outsider energy imaginable in these dark ages; an LP that’s bound to cleave opinion and upend preconceptions of what music from East Africa, or anywhere else in the world for that matter, can be.
Comprising Martin Khanja (Lord Spikeheart) and Sam Karugu, Duma mete out a jaw-dropping extreme sound rooted in Nairobi’s flourishing underground metal scene, where they’ve previously performed in bands Lust of a Dying Breed and Seeds of Datura. Faithful to the name - translating to “Darkness” in Kiyuku - they forge a frankly unprecedented darkside sound, welding trve metal vocals and eschatological synths with the frenetic energy of Central African and breakcore rhythms in transfixing arrangements that just beggar belief.
Certainly we can compare them to other outliers of extreme music - the dark cosmic Congolese energy of Nkisi or the cataclysmic sound of Wold/Black Mecha, and Indonesia’s beastly Senyawa - but basically Duma are, like all the above, in a field of their own. From the psychoactive rush of militant snares and keening synths in ‘Angels and Abysses’ to the doomcore dirge of ‘Pembe 666’ and the exquisite menace of ‘Uganda With Sam’ and the scorching finale ‘The Echoes of The Beyond’ they uncannily reshape the game in their own image with every song, bending conventions and styles with profound sense of iconoclastic freedom and possessed discipline.
When they performed in Berghain at this year's CTM festival, worlds were shattered into a million tiny pieces. They had technical difficulties; their setup wasn't working as planned, so producer Sam Karugu had to improvise, playing backing tracks from an audio player and direct injecting Lord Spike Heart's mic into his laptop. Somehow even with issues that would derail the most professional Berghain vets Duma's set was one of the undisputed highlights of the entire festival, pouring molten lava on the Berlin superclub's sweaty mass of inebriated revelers who created a messy moshpit on the dancefloor.
Unmissable vinyl reissue of Ying-Li Hooi’s standout debut, an immaculately frayed conception of dubwise dream-pop from the same Aussie quarters that gave us HTRK/Jonnine, CS + Kreme, F Ingers
Hooi’s first record ‘Untitled’ was originally issued by Altered States Tapes in 2019 (the same year as her song-writing credit on ‘I Don’t Seem Myself Tonight’ from Jonnine’s ’Super Natural’ EP), and has somehow managed to evade our radar until now, when she’s making a fairly big ping in our world.
Working economically with her own vocals, plus guitar, keyboards, and slivers of clarinet supplied by Tarquin Manek (F Ingers, LST), the results can’t help but remind us to aspects of Teresa Winter’s music that we hold dearly - namely the reverb-laden vocals and drowsily psychedelic, daydreaming appeal - but also tend toward a sort of sublime, grown-up bedroom chamber darkness understandably shared with her peer Jonnine, and the low-key grooving suss of CS + Kreme, or even Mica Levi at her most strung out.
The final performance by legendary electronic music catalyst Mika Vainio depicts the Pan Sonic co-founder at his blistering best only months before he passed away in 2017
‘Last Live’ is demonstrative of the singular way in which Vainio harnessed elemental electronics to his will. Recorded at Cave12, Geneva, on 02.02.17, the set is presented here post-edited by Stephen O’Malley and Carl Michael Von Hausswolff, at EMS, Stockholm, to unleash a definitive blast of raw electronic forces that speak unflinchingly to the unpredictable nature of his improvised noise. Quite simply, Vainio is unmatched in his field for this sort of work, and this session stands as testament to the inspirational conviction and devastating effect of his music.
While it may not be immediately apparent on first listen, Vainio’s music has long drawn influence from myriad, intense forms of music. Be it techno, delta blues, dub, black metal, or sheer isolationist minimalism, it was all there, collapsed into a black hole of sound that could be as bloody-minded as it was heart-rendingly sensitive, often in the space of one cut. ‘Last Live’ portrays these unapologetically human characteristics in Vainio’s typically frank yet oblique manner, with each section candidly expressing polarised extremes of sound, from the first part’s transition between jack-licking drones to skin-tearing distortion, while the 3rd and 4th capture him at his most rhythmically disaffected, strongly recalling the almighty, juddering forces of his ‘Kilo’ (2013) album.
Chicago OG Gant-Man tumps out a rude acid percolator backed with wilder footwork and South Side remixes by Kode 9 and Loefah
Gant-Man brings a serious old skool Chicago calibre to the plate with ‘Distorted Sensory’, packing some 30 years of DJing and production experience for Dance Mania and into the hardass kicks, Fingers-style bassline twang, and kettle-whistle lead of the title tune.
Kode 9 ramps the original to 160bpm and goes freaky with the edits in a pitching, psychoactive juke jakkers style ranking among his maddest reworks, and Loefah takes it south of the river with a clipped but swaggering remix working around the original house tempo.
Fucking good this - inverted "anti-rock" DIY sleaze that sounds like ghosts chattering while an orchestra of kettles boils nearby.
London-based three piece Mosquitoes pick up where The Dead C or This Heat left off, formulating some kind of skeletal drone-DIY rawk fudge that sits a few paces from simple classification. Across the five tracks on this essential reissue of their second release, the trio suggest song forms - through a pulsing beat, a bassline, jagged pedal fuzz, snips of pained vocals - but seem to shoehorn these elements in just to fuck with us.
The skeletons of genre are torched beyond almost all recognition: smudgy dub and post punk on discordant noizze anthem 'Strobeluck', Krautrock (or even techno?) on 'Hexadex', trip-hop on 'Diodic'. What's left in the ashes is a faint outline of decaying ideas that serves as an antidote to boredom with musical stagnation. Mosquitoes expertly fashion their negative-space songs into breathy, idiosyncratic stompers that gain power with each subsequent play. Big and clever.
Concentrated blast of bony, gunky post-punk from Derry, Norn Iron’s Autumns, chasing up their 2017 EP with a cranky full album for David Holmes and co’s Touch Sensitive
Autumns has been the main, armoured vehicle for Christian Donaghey’s hard nosed musical expressions since the start of the 2010s, touring his mutations of post-punk, industrial, and noise between houses of ill repute such as Downwards, Clan Destine Records and Opal Tapes. Now returning to the bosom of Belfast’s Touch Sensitive, he hews to a notably slower grind, hovering around ruddy bashment and dembow rhythms in a manner comparable to Bristol’s Fuck Punk as much as a knackered Regis or a Nick Klein pummelling.
The aesthetic is set in concrete with the gnarled dancehall noise of opener ‘Restricted Movement’ and explored in murky permutations across the thuggish, TG-like trample of ‘Having It’, the empty-belly modular clangour of ‘Cheek Of The Boy’, and the dispirited industro-boogie swang of ‘How To Apply For A Job’, while tucking away the EBM muscle of ‘Raw Meat Dub’ for rooms where the sun don’t shine, and voicing the internal howl of his home city in ’Derry Soundwave.’
A new collection of current DIY post-punk shaped by the mutant sounds of no wave, punk funk and New York Noise bands from the late 70s and early 80s that collided with the world of underground dance music found at the Paradise Garage, Mudd Club in New York City (ESG, Arthur Russell, Bush Tetras, Talking Heads, Suicide, Liquid Liquid).
"Other influences cited here include Manchester and Sheffield’s industrial post-punk sounds of the 1980s (Joy Division, Cabaret Voltaire, Gang of Four) as well as the 1970s German electronic experimentalism of Cluster, Neu!, Harmonia and Can. Featured artists from around the globe include Los Angeles DIY band Automatic, New Fries from Toronto, artist/music collaborators Toresch from Germany, Susumu Makai from Japan/UK, Vex Ruffin from the Philippines/California and Madmadmad, Gramme, Tom of England and other UK groups. That all the bands featured here manage to make distinctive contemporary music out of these 80s roots is testament to the wide range of other musics that are seamlessly absorbed into a modern melting pot of sound - hip hop, the electronic European avant-garde, rave culture and more."
Transports' is the incredible 2nd album by audodidact and outsider musician/composer Tazartès. Originally released on vinyl in 1980, it has now been reissued with extra material on CD in 1998 and 2009, and "Probably represents the most original example of the artist's poetical and personal approach to sound organisation."
The tracks for 'Transports' were recorded in 1977 at Ghedalia's own studio in Paris, strafing stream-of-conscious between rippling electro rhythms to outernational singing styles, collaged field recordings and musique concrete, to chants, tape loops and exotic atmospheres with a perpetual sense of drift and magical imagination. We're spellbound from the first to last, through the deeply evocative peal of church bells and swirling synthetic textures in track 2, via humid sci-fi scenes and alien avian chatter on track 5 and the lost zones of the closing stages. Also included are the two parts of 'Transports' which were composed and recorded for a theatre piece later in 1997 and produced by Emanuele Carcano.
These are denser, more spacious and dramatic, but not necessarily that great. The disc concludes with 'Elie', a charming piano piece performed in duo with the composer's young daughter. For the original 'Transports' at least, this is nigh on essential for fans of adventurous electronic music and composition.
John T. Gast’s 5 Gate Temple hosts a superb, haunting durational work by Oxhy, a key underground London figure who has collaborated with Yves Tumor and Felix Lee in recent years
The mystic new age chamber spirits are high on this one, leaving aside the more contemporary traces of Oxhy’s previous releases in favour of real-sounding instrumentation that’s beautifully rendered across 28 minutes of immersive, role-playing gamer atmospheres that hearken back to the Diablo soundtrack or Trent Reznor’s atmospheric music for Quake, and even Autechre at their most baroque, North Face ruffs and that.
Extremely beautiful neo-classical experiments from Kay Logan, a shapeshifting Scottish artist whose previous releases as Helena Celle and Otherworld were also blessed with a rare sorta magick like this one. Really, properly essential listening if yr into Leyland Kirby, BoC interludes, ferric bliss.
Crossing our paths as Time Binding Ensemble for the first time, Logan plays to her most compassionate, empathetic side with a humbly masterful suite of 24 parts that make for the most sublime 90 minutes of unanchored mind drift, comparable to a series of extended BoC interludes or a stained glass window imagined by Stars Of The Lid and weathered to bits.
Taking inspiration from St. Peter’s Roman Catholic seminary, a grade-listed, crumbling “modernist masterpiece” tucked away in Argyll and Bute, north of the artist’s native Glasgow, the music unfolds with a plaintive, enchanted quality, rendering an array of traditional instruments (french horn, bassoon, clarinet, oboe, violin, viola, and cello) at a gauzy mid-distance with fathomless webs of processing that makes everything prone to ample wow and flutter and coloured with a phosphorescent, twilight quality of light that we can really only ascribe to Scotland.
This stuff is highly likely to appeal to myriad chamber ambient and drone-pop romantics. Give a whirl and trust the feeling.
Following their ongoing exposé of Chicago Footwork, Planet Mu turn their keen ears to the 'floor and the sound of Bubbling; the hyper-futuristic Dutch dance craze perpetuated by the 2nd and 3rd generation descendants of Caribbean immigrants.
We'll let the ever-knowledgeable Dave Quam explain the origins "At a party in the late 80s in The Hague, a local DJ by the name of DJ Moortje accidentally dropped a dancehall twelve-inch at 45RPMs, causing chaos in the audience. Not the kind of negative heckling you get when a record skipped, but the kind of excitement that happens when a movement has been started. This beautiful mistake resulted in Bubbling, a cultural expression of immigrants from The Dutch Antilles and Suriname, a genre that would take these communities by storm in Holland in the 1990s. Jamaican exports such as the Fever Pitch and Bam Bam riddims were double and half-timed, with Cutty Ranks on one hand sounding like a pre-pubescent chipmunk, the other hand sounding like an evil duppy. Its sound borrowed slave rhythms from Curacao (DJ Moortje's origin), creating a new Caribbean style of music in Europe that ran parallel to London's Jungle scene."
Fast forward a generation, and now armed with pirate copies of Fruity Loops and basic PCs, kids like 18 year old Anti-G, Shaun-D, Master-D, Daycard, and Deschuurman are fusing the traditional Dembow rhythms of reggaeton with traces of HipHop, Funky House, Grime, and whatever else they feel like, resulting in some of the most exhilarating dance trax we've heard since 'Jukes & Bangs Vol.1'. 'Kentje'sz Beatsz' covers a spectrum of Anti-G's productions between 2009 and 2010.
Over these sixteen tracks his synths sound like Sooty & Sweep on battery acid, while the beats are arranged with an effortless Rubiks cube complexity. Most importantly of all, it makes you want to dance like a f**king Transformer rendered by Alex Rutterford and Hecker. That might not sound so appealling to some, but check the kids popping and locking to this stuff on youtube and you'll soon catch the bug. No doubt, this is already one of our records of the year, and manages to make 90% of stuff out there seem stiff and 5 years behind the times. Highly Highly recommended!!!
Carsten Nicolai concludes Alva Noto’s UNI-prefixed release cycle with UNIEQAV, the 3rd and most dancefloor-focussed instalment of the series. The follow-up to Unitxt  and Univrs  pairs pendulous minimal techno and electro rhythms with wide, sheer electronic drones in a way that strongly recalls recent Monolake output as well as Ilpo Väisänen in full swang. Comparisons aside, though, it’s unmistakably Alva Noto.
Pursuing the project’s roots in the dancefloor of Tokyo’s UNIT club to a satisfyingly logical endpoint, Nicolai rolls out 12 typically mercurial yet gripping sound designs defined by their fluid dynamics and seemingly fathomless dimensions intended to render the club or your head underwater, thanks to a still remarkable grasp of purified tonal minimalism/maximalism and studied sensitivity to proprioception.
The results are filigree yet robust, firmed up for deployment on the sickest sound system you can lay your hands on, but also highly pleasurable in a headphone or sofa-inclined context, keeping us rapt and twitching from the dubwise plong and looming pads of Uni Sub and the Robert Henke-esque pressure systems of Uni Mia.
The nervous skeleton of Uni Version flows into singular Alva Noto sounds in the jabbing pointillism of Uni Clip and the staggering scale of Uni Normal, with major highlights in the widescreen drama of Uni Blue, and footwork-like rapid movement join Uni Edit, while Anne-James Chaton’s vocal lend a sharp contrast in Uni Dna.
The French young composer is the link between the most accomplished scholarly music and some radical aspects of noise. Born in Toulouse mid-seventies, he settles in Brussels - which becomes the crossroads of a continuous creation. Currently works and has been collaborating since several years with numerous European ensembles and musicians such as Ensemble
"Unfinished Altar His most recent pieces intimately mix instrumental timbre and sound hybridization, cultivating a certain secrecy around this alchemy. Here more than everywhere else, Christophe Guiraud's new compositions create a dialogue between the times, from the polyphony of Ars Nova to Spectralism, while integrating his noise heritage.
Resolutely an-historical, the last pieces presented here unfold in a trembling stagnation. Performers The ensemble of the pieces creates coherence across a wide range of musicians coming from different places and traditions and from different ensembles - everything is woven together towards a rather spectacular conclusion."
Scum of the Earth is a nod to the duo’s Northern roots and a signal to their friends and fam ethos, featuring Watson’s uncle - Mancunian poet Thick Richard.
"Blending swirling synths with punk energy, on ‘Scum of the Earth’ Thick Richard’s no-frills, spoken word - ”but just remember this planet is made out of dirt, when you call me the scum of the earth” - is peppered with broken beats and distorted vox lines. Originally a track made from a live recording of Thick Richard taken in the wee hours of the morning in the smoking area of Corsica Studios about eight years ago, he managed to re-record during the UK lockdown in 2020, adding verses from another poem, People in Crack Houses Shouldn't Throw Rocks.
A duo with strong creative vision, follow Thick Richard cycling around the canals of Manchester, tinnies in hand, in the glitchy, wigged out visuals for Scum of the Earth, directed and edited by Dilesh Patel. The follow up to their sensational 2020 EP Black Dragon Loop which garnered support from Clash, Loud and Quiet, Mixmag, Boiler Room 4:3 and more, FYI Chris return to esteemed Bristol label, Black Acre Records, a fitting home for their debut album Earth Scum. Traversing post-punk, jazz, techno, weirdo house and beyond with a psychedelic spin, across twelve tracks Earth Scum promises insight into the multiverse of FYI Chris. The duo pay homage to their strong sense of community and life as they know it in South London and the North of England, nodding to friends and family along the way. Sonically, the pair showcase their varied palettes and musicality with a darker and more rugged multi-instrumental approach, while shining a light on their gallows sense of humour. Hailing from the North, FYI Chris (Chris Watson and Chris Coupe) met in South London - fast becoming key players in that tight-knit local community as well as the global dance music scene. Regulars at Peckham’s Rye Wax and often at the helm of the Rye Wax radio show; pre-pandemic, the duo could also be found playing gigs in esteemed underground venues across the globe.
With their breakthrough release No Hurry / Juliette on esteemed local label Church in 2015, FYI Chris have since released on revered platforms including Rhythm Section, Toy Tonics, Banoffee Pies, remix work for Ninja Tune. The pair also co-run ‘West Friends’, a platform showcasing their own groove-centred repertoire and genre-defying creations by pals. With a friends-and-family ethos and self-effacing humour combined with their raw talent and incredible musicality, FYI Chris are a force to be reckoned with."
Staggeringly unique body of early work by cult outsider musician, Ghédalia Tazartès, including 4 full albums plus a 10" of unreleased work made in 1978.
Born in Paris in 1947 to Turkish parents, Ghedalia Tazartès spent over 35 years experimenting with myriad musical practices to create a catalogue of cult recordings deeply informed by his "extra-European" and "intra-European" heritage. He's both in possession of, and possessed by, a shamanic vocal talent, with the ability to embody a multitude of characteristics. This, together with his unimpeded sense of compositional flux, swerving between musique concrete, technoid loops, piano pieces and sound collages, makes for a thrilling experience unlike any other.
This collection includes some of his most important works, among them his earliest release, 1979's 'Diasporas' - listed by Steven Stapleton in his legendary NWW list - besides the exotic collages of 'Tazartès', the enchanting and otherworldly loops and scapes of 'Transports', and the two jaw-dropping extended pieces of 'Une Éclipse Totale De Soleil', plus a further 10" of unheard, shorter cuts of hectic electronics, unhinged vocals and and bewildering composition.
This passage begins to surmount his magic appeal "He wanders through music from chant to rhythm, from one voice to another. utilising magnetic tape recorders, he paves the way for the electric and the vocal paths, between the muezzin psalmody and the screaming of a rocker. He traces vague landscapes where the mitre of the white clown, the plumes of the sorcerer, the helmet of a cop and Parisian anhydride collide into polyphonic ceremonies."
At times it feels like you're watching unhinged French cartoon without translation in a Parisian asylum while a Techno soundsystem beats outside, at others you're sitting café side being serenaded in tongues, or just simply hypnotised by the consistent metamorphosis of sounds; an unending, breathlessly connected flow of ideas playfully eschewing any formal notions of what is wrong or proper, and purely informed by what feels right and most affecting. It's a hugely, hugely recommended purchase, probably the most important avant-garde reissue this year - and some of the most uncategorisable, extraordinary music you'll likely ever come across.
oh my dayz this is unreal, keeling levels of radio and rave nostalgia with a cherry-picked volley of adverts from London pirate radio 1984-1993 somewhere between Mark Leckey’s Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore, Lee Gamble's 'Diversions' and Sublime Frequencies’ best radio surveys, except focussed much closer to home to capture an era that now seems like an entirely alternate reality.
Scanning the airwaves of a golden era in London history between 1984-1993 when dancehall soundsystem culture fostered the early stirrings and full rush of hardcore, Death Is Not The End turn their beady ear to one of the epicentres of UK rave music with stacks of raggo vignettes advertising everything from Greek salons to school reunions, video shops, datelines, drug helplines, and dances, each set to backdrops of contemporaneous club, rare groove, jungle and house.
As much as anything, the set speaks to London’s inimitable, cultural variegation, charting the myriad voices and flavours that make up the city’s stylistic mosaic, and would go on to deeply inform British pop and dance culture for decades to come. It’s as thrilling as Sublime Frequencies’ best radio surveys, but with an extra layer of familiarity for UK listeners, not just those who lived thru that era, but anyone who had the radio crackling as ambient wallpaper during that era. Unfortunately I can only recall RTE or jingles for South Cleveland Garages on radio from this era in our gaff, but if you allow for some vicarious nostalgia, this tape documents a rich slice of the collective cultural memory that we’ve all come to share.
Charlemagne Palestine conjures up his dense definition of maximized minimalism, opening with a minimalist drone with singing on top; from there on, anything goes.
"The piece develops while complex layerings of chords and musical sentiments shift in and out of focus, yet all take center stage all the time. Ending the piece, Palestine excitedly shouts out that the organ is still the best synthesizer ever made. In typical Palestine fashion, his performance made the whole church resonate, an effect that can be repeated easily when listening at home, because this record demands volume and lots of it. Brooklyn-born Charlemagne Palestine has long been hailed as one of the originators of modern minimalist and experimental music.
He very firmly describes his music as maximalist. His immense body of work features many solo albums, collaborations, performance-driven video works and much more. In his work in performance, music, video and related media since the late 1960s, he uses certain emblematic objects such as teddy bears, cognac and scarves. They serve as signatures, he calls them symbols of identification."
Pivotal Portuguese duo @C collapse algorithmic composition and improvised free jazz into brilliantly elusive, haunted structures for Holuzam - the Lisbon-based sibling to Príncipe.
Six years since Miguel Carvalhais and Pedro Tudela aka @C notably opened Mumdance’s Fabriclive mix CD with ’99’, the duo render their mico-organic impulses with an expansive, macro-scaled scope in five devilishly detailed and transportive pieces adjacent to GRM works as much as the astral visions of Rafael Toral or Francisco Lopez (both of whom @C have collaborated with or released on their Crónica label), and even echoing the sprawling psychedelic voodoo of HHY & The Macumbas.
The five parts make up a real trip for wormhole lovers, living up to the interzonal inference of the title with perceptive shifts between nanoscopic quarks and percussive dervish in the first, and before sliding thru steep drone portals on the 2nd into strange acoustic convolutions in ‘the 2nd, while the buzzing free jazz concrète of the 3rd gives way to sloshing bad belly queues in ‘the 4th, and a superb, probing finale reminding aspects of Lucy Railton and Huerco S.’ thizzing electro-acoustic action with Britton Powell.
Ooooosh! Pirate radio recordings made in Bristol between the late ‘80s to early ‘00s - the latest tape from Death Is Not The End, issued as part of the cherry-picked Blowing Up The Workshop series. It's a fucking goodun..
Celebrated for their archival dives into historic musical blindspots of the past 100 years, Death Is Not The End this time focus closer to home (and within our lifetimes) with what they describe as "A trip across the frequencies of Bristol's pirate radio stations via cut-ups of broadcasts, taken from the late 1980s to the early 2000s ~ also a love-letter to my childhood, an audio document of the years I spent growing up in the city.”
Traversing the dial from raucous soundclash recordings to Blues Dance soul, and taking in mighty blasts of jungle, wafts of warbling Indian music, and, of course, a f*ckload of dub and dancehall, its all spliced with a mix of heartrendingly sweet and hilarious radio phone ins and jingles = supremely heavy vibes.
Limited 5-track EP of new music from Jesu, to accompany new album "Terminus".
"In contrast to Justin K.Broadrick's music under the Godflesh moniker, Jesu blurs the lines between electronic music and shoegaze. "...it's very loosely speaking pop/rock/metal/electronica ... I'm intentionally writing what I consider to be coherent 'pop' songs"."