Sophomore solo album from Julia Shapiro (Chastity Belt).
"Zorked (adj.) - what happens when you end up thunderbaked, as in extremely stoned or in any situation where you feel not sober. You can feel so tired you’re zorked. In fact, any state, so long as you’re a little out of it, qualifies. And Julia Shapiro, of Chastity Belt, Childbirth, and Who Is She? much like everyone on this earth with a pulse was zorked on more than one occasion in 2020. In March, she packed up her things and traded Seattle’s late-winter gloom for the perennial sunshine and seemingly endless opportunity of Los Angeles only to be forced into near-total isolation. With nowhere to go and nothing to do, she began working on her second solo album, Zorked. On the resulting batch of songs, we’re given Julia’s vision of Los Angeles: a wasteland melting in slow-motion, a place to commune with ghosts and warped legacies.
Living within earshot of a man who spent his entire 2020 singing karaoke for over 10 hours a day, Julia could write, record, and play an album’s worth of instruments without fear of noise complaints. Her roommate Melina Duterte (Jay Som) transformed their house into a viable home studio, making it easy to fully realize the sound in her head, even at the height of a global lockdown. Taking things a step further, Melina agreed to co-produce the record, pushing Julia to make these new songs sound less like Perfect Version, her rst solo album, or like the songs she performs in Chastity Belt. At the peak of her uncertainty and discomfort, she jumped into the deep end in search of something new and found power in heavy sounds.
This is evident in the first few seconds of album opener “Death (XIII).” Taking newfound inspiration from the namesake Tarot card, drone metal, and shoegaze, Julia layers walls of guitars, bass chords, and programmed drums. “Come With Me,”the album’s lead single, takes inspiration from a mushroom trip gone bad. “Take me to awful places now,” she sings, envisioning heat death as her own eyes stare directly into the sun. On “Wrong Time,” shimmering guitars smolder and levitate, yet she finds herself “stuck inside this hole I’ve dug.” That said, these songs aren’t unbearably sad, nor has Julia become any less of a merciless observer of human behavior. By album closer “Hall of Mirrors,” she’s come full circle. Over fingerpicked guitar, the sense of lost identity becomes all-encompassing.
It’s the sound of a life lived in servitude to digital screens and the psychic damage invisibly done along the way.
Though Julia Shapiro found herself in a near hermit-like existence, writing and recording almost all of the album’s instruments herself and struggling to navigate her place in a city and world rendered nearly comatose, she maintains a sense of humor about all of it. At the very least, “It’s funny to force people to have to say Zorked out loud. Any other title sounded pretentious.”"
Marco Shuttle saddles up a trip to mystic, offbeat zones between the chill out room and desert of the mind for Anthony Naples & Jenny Slattery’s Incienso.
With nary a conventional 4/4 groove in earshot, Shuttle works in a fractal not fractional groove on 11 tracks that really find their place amid Incienso’s roster of swangers and shufflers inc DJ Python and Call Super. Arriving four years since his ’System’ album for Dozzy & Neel’s Spazio Disponibile, Shuttle’s 3rd solo album sets him farther from the ‘floor than ever, operating in a liminal shadow world of hazed hues threaded with steady but nervy lines of percussion that ground his cosmic vision.
It all feels very much like one techno artist’s journey of self discovery when unlocked from the club, mapping out an emotional-spiritual growth between the alien landing ship sequence of ‘AfA’ and the glyding electronica of ‘4Dimensional Soundwaves’ that takes in whistling Martian melodies on ‘Danza De Los Voladores’ and purring rhythmelodic chimes in ‘Through Th Cobalt Desert,’ beside whirring steppers recalling the sleek propulsion of Donato Dozzy when he goes D&B (‘Il Serpente Cosmic,’ or ‘Acrobat’) and passages of synthy introspection redolent of Italian library synth music as much as Alessandro Cortini.
Coby Sey, Jlin, Moor Mother, CHAINES, and Nazira rework songs from the debut album by British-Kazakh classical violinist and experimental composer Galya Bisengalieva
Fielding a broad range of remixers, ‘Aralkum Aralas’ sees Galya’s arrangements reinterpreted in curious ways that loosely relate to her music’s oneiric purview. Most striking among them is Moor Mother’s, adding her foreboding vocals to its widescreen strings in potent fashion, while Jlin also impresses with an unusually reserved and spacious take on ‘Barsa’ making fine use of its visceral high register strings in contrast with her swingeing bass rhythms.
Kazakh DJ/producer Nazira also resets Galya’s work to the floor with more direct pressure in their rolling breakbeat techno take on ‘Kokaral’ primed for pouting club types with its godly breakdown, while it’s left to Coby Sey to provide the set’s most bracing, abstract revision with the brittle drums and haunted choral pads of his killer ‘Aralkum’ remix, and Chaines emphasises the dreamlike nature of the music in a sublime, delicate rework of ‘Zhalanash.’
Stormy electronic drama lashed with noise and theatric metal dynamics, from Greek producer Constantine Skourlis
“Constantine Skourlis is no stranger to long works that inspire violence and darkness in the mind. As reflections of the sociopolitical climate, the ongoing human rights struggles we witness, and the suffering so many endure, Skourlis follows the theme of his highly acclaimed debut album Hades with distinct, thematic strength; a dualistic nature of beauty and of violence. Seeking balance and peace with abhorrent horror and inescapable strife, his sound is reflective of his mission statement.
Gorgeous, unique vocal and electronic music with the decisive addition of the legendary Halldorophone clash with the decimating percussion by Serapheim G. of legendary Greek heavy rock band Planet Of Zeus evoking moments of both lucidity and discomfort. Be that of hopeful outcomes or unfettered doom, the motion is there. Loops cascade in on themselves, implode, get lost in frequencies, and reemerge. Every work that Skourlis makes is oceanic in scale. Deep, cold sensations from sub-bass butt up against sunbaked heat from high-pitched string ensembles.
Although adjacent to neoclassical composition, Skourlis finds the permutations between past musicalities and creates a new, distinct invention. It's a sound that could as well come from deep in your skull as much as it could come from the very back of a cave so deep you cannot see the end of it. It's the sound of a bullet leaving a chamber and the sound of it entering bone. Constantine is, without a doubt, one of the composers of the 21st century that will be reflected back upon, no matter what world is left for the future.”
Avant-R&B and spectral orchestral wonders for teenage voices from NYC concrète artist Marina Rosenfeld, effortlessly crossing lines between Ligeti and Klein with the first time release of two mesmerising works dating to 2008/2014
Landing the best part of a decade since we got smote with Marina’s ‘P.A. / Hard Love’ side, she now unveils two significant works of typically heady scale and intuitive, elemental simplicity, respectively performed by groups of teenagers in NYC and London. While both works can be easily summed up with a dry description of their concept and results, they practically transcend what are arguably arbitrary genre descriptors and encourage listeners to revel in the magick reality of their moment, returning the user to the rare experience of canny conceptualisation with few stunts or tricks, at the service of instant and enduring appeal.
Recorded in NYC’s cavernous Park Avenue Armoury, ‘Teenage Lontano’ is in essence a “cover” of Gyorgy Ligeti’s 1960’s work structured around dissonant polychords for voice. After marinating for over a decade in her archive since 2008, with only scant glimpses heard on her ‘Plastic Materials’ (2009) CD, the results arrive as one of Marina’s most haunting recordings, mirroring the vertiginous scale and movement of what we loved about ‘P.A./Hard Love’ but with a more illusive and haunting sensation arising from its swaying mass and sparing, air-zapping electrocutions. We can only imagine this would have sounded incredible in the Armory space, but fair to say this recording conveys that experience as close as we’ll get.
The three-part ‘roygbiv&b’ only doubles down the attraction of this release. Premiered at MoMA in 2011, with this 2014 recording performed in 2014 at the South London Gallery by local south Londoners, it’s a stunning, punning transposition of avant-garde concept and R&B disciplines into something resembling Klein doing Gaelic Psalm singing; all stereo-phasing multi-part harmonies left mostly untreated, unhurried and airily spacious for minds to wander. It’s utterly got us dangling by a thread, scalp tingling and jaw-dropped.
Paris's Niamké Désiré, aka Aho Ssan, follows last year's sci-fi digi-scape 'Simulacrum' with this exemplary pack of remixes, featuring Zíur, Exploited Body, KMRU, Roly Porter and more.
Aho Ssan's debut was the introduction of an exciting new voice in abstract electronic music, so it makes sense that the French sound designer has linked up with a handful of like-minded global alchemists. Each track from the album has been re-interpreted here by a different artist, each of whom adds their twist to Désiré's chattering airlock soundscapes. Latvian artist Sarah Badr, aka FRKTL, contributes an early highlight, shifting 'Simulacrum I' into free improv territory, with vigorous drumming that accents Désiré's rusted electronix.
Roly Porter's remix is typically cinematic; the ex-Vex'd sound designer stretches 'Simulacrum II' out into a widescreen marvel, adding lurching rhythmic sub bass and bringing out Désiré's buried melodic elements. Exploited Body deconstructs 'Simulacrum III' and rebuilds it as a slithering half-speed club monster, punctuated by gut-churning kicks and squealing industrial percussion. Zíur meanwhile capitalizes on a prolific year and sculpts 'Simulacrum IV' into an anxious neo-dub scraper, giving Désiré's subtle electronic flutes pride of place.
It's left to Berlin-based Kenyan ambient don KMRU to play us out, and he freezes 'Outro' into a melancholy twinkle of minor-key pads and icy sound design.
Written just a week after 2018's iconic "Make Me Know You Sweet", this surreal, tripped-out sequel from the headier alter ego of Brian Leeds (Huerco S.) is darker, dubbier and more alien than its predecessor >> over an hour of ultra immersive, brain-fluxing hybridized sounds somewhere between Chain Reaction vapourtrails and concrète dream-building.
Captured in one take shots during the weeks following the last album sessions in 2018’, Leeds’ second Pendant album treads a similar netherworld path, channeling a stygian dream-sick effect that effectively explores a flipside to the sunnier prairies of his Huerco S.’ works, shoring us somewhere gauzily redolent of early Wanda Group and the starkest Bellows emissions, but better defined by eerily processed vocals and Lynchian sensibilities that locate it to North America’s dis/possessed lands.
Ritualistic in craft and scope, the six extended tracks of ‘To All Sides They Will Stretch Out Their Hands’ are all titled in reference to indigenous American poetry and thus take shape as elusive, dream-like projections of Leeds’ subconscious and subvocalised thoughts. With a defocussed grain and swirl that perhaps emulates the effect of intoxication thru special herbs, the music acutely suggests altered states of mind, triggering meditations on memory and process reflected by a haphazard and impromptu recording technique. Leeds is a skilled producer, and working instinctively highlights a more fallible, arresting side to his sound - recording and processing vocals on the fly to control his machines less like a conductor and more like a sculptor. When the process hits complications - the DAW failing or outboard gear glitching out - his choice to leave these moments in the final cut allows us to consider the messiness and fallibility of art.
Leeds isn't interested in making aesthetically perfect potted ambience. His narrative is rough and expressive, just as focused on texture as it is tone or rhythm. It's a technique that suggests the heady cut 'n paste sound of musique concrète, but doesn't attempt to recreate it or position itself alongside that canon for academic gold stars. Firing his convulsing collages thru an array of effects gives his music the lively heartbeat of vintage dub, hidden under a fleshy DIY basement noise that could be traced back to Coil or Throbbing Gristle, mediating on memories with haptic strokes and a sense of inseparability between his layers of fuzz and physical actions that most beautifully speaks to a sort of interconnectedness that comes with mescaline, for example.
We’ve been spending considerable time guided by its dream logic - we strongly recommend you do the same, immersing yourself in its spongiform negative space, ruptured raptures and dank bliss.
Diverse, percussive pressure from friends and family of key Brizzle radio station, Noods - Ossia, Pessimist, Katatonic Silentio, Clerya, Valesuchi, Epsilove & Ployer Fower
Loaded with more than enough drums to see your Guinness slosh all over the floor, ’NOOD5’ serves a strong lick of the station-turned-label’s flavour, ranging from the don Ossia’s tumbling orchestral tumper recalling Conrtad Schnitzler via Muslimgauze, to a rushing battery of hardcore tekno junglism by Milan’s Katatonic Silentio, and the chewy downbeat oddness of Epsilove & Ployer Fower, with a dank dembow-type special from local hero Pessimist, plus the squashed reggaeton of Timedance’s Clerya, and dead groggy grooves by Rio de Janeiro’s Valesuchi. Check!
A bumper set of hybridized Jamaican club pressure that illustrates Duppy Gun's commitment to genre-bending abstraction and ice-cold island lyricism. Dembow, dancehall, trap-pop, dub and nu-club sounds joined together in perfect harmony = v life affirming.
'Duppy Vaulted' is a celebration of 10 years of Duppy Gun - the US to Jamaica project that evolved following a chance meeting between Sun Araw's Cameron Stallones and experimental mainstay M. Geddes Gengras and Jamaican vocalists I JAHBAR, Dayone and Early One on their first trip to the island. The project began as a series of 12"s, but developed over the last decade not just as an artistic partnership, but as a way to inject genuine long-term support into the local community. Earlier this year, a Duppy Gun/Roolings studio and food shop opened its doors in Spanish Town, funded through Bandcamp and merch sales, and this selection of material charts the project's process from its beginings until now.
It's an astonishing collection, hard to comprehend how these tracks never made it to a release before. The sheer volume of work is amazing, but it's the quality that makes you realize what Duppy Gun has managed to achieve; whether it's I JAHBAR's slippery digi-dancehall revivalism - best heard on the BIG FLYTE & VELCRO-produced opener 'Snapbacks' and standout 'Thunder Roll' - or Sikka Rymes' overdriven stream of consciousness experimentation on the brief but mindblowing 'Seh Dem Bad Dubplate'.
Other highlights come from Sniper, whose Abu Ama-produced 'Hustle Di Money' is a rolling, futureproofed bass monster, Lopo (with the Aaliyah-curving 'Rock Mignon (Filet Dub)' and clouded 'Never Play Dat 2021') and Jmovemence, who slides closest to sunny Autotuned pop on 'Jah Every Time'. Really though, there's rarely a dull moment; it's a jubilant collection that offers a peek into the output of a new Jamaican institution. Here's to 10 more years!
Tightest boogie chromo-greaze By Electro Wayne Bolton’s Circuitry on Andrew Morgan’s ever reliable PPU
Dripping from every angle, ‘III’ follows from Circuitry’s pair of 12” entrees some five years ago with a full main course of machine boogie served up hot and sticky, and replete with killer romantic slow jamz that really set it off. For those with something to show on the ‘floor, the squelching P-funk vamps of ‘Celebrate A Groove’ will get you into it, and the likes of his slippery ace ‘Arrested For The Funk’ or the crackshot Linn drums of ‘She’s Electric’ will keep you there. But the real pearls lie in his smoochy cuts, from the pure early ‘90s R&B drip of ‘This Is Dedicated’, to the heads down in the rain, fist-making cinematic vignette ‘A Love Scene III’ and a self-evident ‘Slow Dance Interlude.’
Decadent, debonaire dance trax from Manny’s eminent DJ/producer Anz, puckering a mix of Latin Freestyle pop, Jersey/B-More bounce and joy-riding speed garage for her debut with Ninja Tune
‘All Hours’ forms the plush follow-up to Anz’ debut on her own label OTMI, serving a more varied and feathered sort of pressure, including a standout first vocal production that sounds ready built for A-list radio play.
Between the EP’s fancy bookends, discerning ravers will find the big highlight of ‘You Could Be’, a lip-smacking update of ‘80s Latin freestyle pop with perfectly measured vocal by George Riley and no small wink at SOPHIE, while ‘Real Enough To Feel Good’ dials up the East Coast US rudeness with tendon-twang bassline and ‘Inna Circle’ pushes the cut ’n paste B-More flex with killer electro chops. ‘Last Before Lights’ is proper mutant speed garage bullet built on wamping bass and lit up with mentasms for the gurners, kinda recalling a UK adjunct to Jasss’ ‘Turbo Olé.’
Kuedo’s Knives’ introduce S.Maharba to the fold with a debut bag of burned out instrumental hip hop and scorched shoegaze textures recalling styles by Sharp Veins, 1991, BAT, Suicideyear
‘Cold Friend’ chases up S. Maharba’s previous tape release of his showcase on NTS show, You’ll Soon Know, with a coarse grained beat tape of 12 expressively bruised drums sore with squashed emotion.
They’re gristly vignettes that never outstay their welcome, concentrating and distorting his feelings in a rusty chain of vibes between the red-lining crush of ‘Maggot’ and the deliciously suppressed, Kanye-esque choral cut-ups of ‘Scabitha’, with poignant moments to be uncovered between the likes of his bittersweet soul slapper ‘Jessamine’ and the blasted boogie of the title track, while ‘Unborn’ pushes most explicitly into warped, warbling shoegaze guitars.
Legendary UK jungle label Suburban Base collates four more bombs from their considerable, hugely influential artillery
Shy FX sling a swaggering remix of Remarc’s classic ‘In Da Hood’, and DJ SS & E.Q. slice to the ’93 darkside on a proper hardcore jungle remix of D’Cruze’s ‘Want You Now’ replete with time-stretched breaks, jungle tekno vamps and brooding pads. Bristol’s Roni Size & DJ Krust tilt into ’94 styles with tight, rolling breaks and really classy synth work on their rework of Boogie Times Tribe’s ‘My Soul’, and M-Beat step on the ’93 sound in a ruff ’n tuff remix of ‘Gun Connection’ from Q Bass, aka the moniker of Suburban Base founder, Dan Donnelly.
Fluxion's best album in years, the Greek dub techno veteran sculpts pristine dub-jazz moods that eschew the genre's usual foggy melancholy in favor of mind-expanding, horizontal landscapes. One for fans of Moritz Von Oswald Trio and Vladislav Delay's underrated "The Four Quarters".
There's an airy lightness to "Parallel Moves" that's unexpected in the dub techno canon. Fluxion's best work - his Chain Reaction two-parter "Vibrant Forms" - is rightly hailed as a genre milestone, and while "Parallel Moves" echoes that work's faded atmosphere, there's none of the eerie mystery. Instead, the Greek producer has augmented his production with a deep house-indebted jazziness, bringing in broken two-step rhythms, feather-lite electric guitar and warm electric piano. It's almost balearic.
Tracks like 'Passage' are as warm and bright as an acid sunrise, with aerated pads that cut through a supple kick and breezy horns that practically drag you to the sand dunes and frothing waves. 'In Limbo', a tight, uptempo deep house burner, sounds looped into Theo Parrish's sonic universe as it drifts around subtly plucked guitar and kinetic electric piano, and 'Spreads' sounds like waking up on a mountainside, watching the clouds part slowly. This is sunny, hopeful stuff, and breathes some happiness into a usually buttoned-up sound.
Delroy Edwards’ L.A. Club Resource return to the gully goldmines of ‘90s Memphis Rap with reissue of Lo Key’s 1994 tape ‘Test My Nutz’, retitled as ‘Criminalistic Knowledge’
Low Key is apparently Tommy Wright’s cousin, and who the chuff are we to dispute? His ‘Criminalistic Knowledge’ falls hard in line with LACR’s previous shots by Lil Noid, Shawty Pimp, and MC Mack as a prime example of deep south rap templates, effectively laying the groundwork for a sound which has dominated rap for well over a decade now. You probably already know hat to do, but take it on trust this is the top grade crud, smothered in tape compression and loaded with extra soggy subs, southern gothic synths, and starring Low Key in breathlessly aggy, swaggering form.
Straight up killer.
Legendary master of horror John Carpenter revisits his best-known score on 'Halloween Kills', his first trip back to the franchise since 1982's "Halloween III: Season of the Witch".
Joined by his son Cody Carpenter and godson Daniel Davies (son of Dave Davies of the Kinks), Carpenter finally gets a chance to update his sparse 'Halloween' soundtrack. If you've caught any of Carpenter's recent Sacred Bones releases or seen his run of live shows, you'll know what to expect; Davies and Cody have fleshed out his sound without damaging the simplistic brilliance, and that treatment works just as well here.
The DNA of "Halloween" is still present in every cue - from the minimalist five note melody of the main theme to phasing drum machine doom of 'The Myer's House' - and there's not much added except for the occasional jagged guitar fuzz. But there's not much needed; Carpenter didn't need to go overboard here and the cues have been fleshed out without losing their ominous presence. Let's hope "Halloween Kills" director David Gordon Green takes a similar route with the film itself.
Ambient space dust from Perila & Ulla, yielding gems referencing their ‘LOG ET3RNAL’ album of 2020.
With two of contemporary ambient’s most keenly observed operators on hand, the results are reliably sublime and blessed with a sort of gauzy, daydream appeal familiar to their respective aesthetics. It’s a real pleasure to spend time with these three cuts, oozing with warmth and a rustling pathos from the tender pads and recorded domesticity in ‘Every Something Is an Echo of Nothing’, to more frayed, Jelinekian textures and baubled chords in ‘Room to Room’, before Ulla wanders off solo into the slumbering, pillowy subbass and inner city sferics of ‘Falling Water Lullaby.’
Songs of resistance and gratitude in a Latin pop mode from Chicago’s Dos Santos, one of the longest running groups on International Anthem Recording Company.
Vintage-sounding, but polished to modern tastes, ‘City Of Mirrors’ feature the septet playing to their latin heritage in a style that will appeal to all members of the extended family. It’s rich with melody and impassioned vocals, driven by coolly urgent tresillo rhythms and equally given to elegiac ballads that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Lynch flick, as it is to party-gathering bops and jangling, psychy, indie-rock verve.
"Cinematic in its journey, the album was produced by multimedia artist and long-time friend of the band Elliot Bergman (NOMO, Wild Belle), and reflects sounds from across the Americas combined with Chavez’s compelling poetic narratives. Its 13 tracks consolidate the band’s unique identities, creative and cultural roots, and their penchant for honoring traditional Latinx music with contemporary compositional expressions and production techniques. It achieves the band’s mission to push against their own musical boundaries while also exploring themes of social justice, immigration, and contemporary human struggle.
Chavez, a scholar who has produced albums for Smithsonian Folkways and conducted extensive ethnographic work on the music of the Texan US/Mexican borderlands (where he is from), articulates beautifully: “City of Mirrors is an assemblage… glimpses of tradition… reflections on our collective present… luminous echoes between love and solitude, hope and absurdity, euphoria and mourning. This album grapples with and transgresses these binaries because we have/and continue to cross borders. Yet, for us, the border is no metaphor — too much real staring back at us. We embody the border. We (our families) have crossed it. We (our stories) are coated with its residues. And so… we cross the border of self through our art – out of necessity.”"
Wickedly crude but skilful no-input mixing board business from a boss of that discipline, Toshimaru Nakamura
‘Culvert - No Input Mixing Board 10’ is the umpteenth exposition of Nakamura’s improvised and eternally inventive practice since he switched to this style from guitar noise with 2000’s self-explanatory ‘No-Input Mixing Board’ CD. Its 8 parts see him reflect on the hidden waterways that underline his home region around west Tokyo, generating discrete burbling streams of mulched feedback that metaphorically resemble the culverted streams that nobody sees underfoot, yet necessarily course with energy, as in many built environments. In his home region these hidden streams are often topped with artificial brooks that overlay their route like a “double decker river.”
While sitting on a bench beside one of the artificial brooks, Nakamura was prompted to make music that reflects these secret veins. Each of the eight parts gushes with an allegorical brownian motion apt for the concept, and also recalling K2’s torrential forms of junk metal cut-up, but also perhaps implicitly speaking to the threat of rising sea levels which would surely seep up from the Pacific thru these coastal waterways with a destructive attrition akin to this music.
The debut album from Montreal’s Le Ren, released on Secretly Canadian.
"Leftovers stitches together a patchwork of personal songs about different relationships: those we share with mothers, lovers, and friends. Lauren Spear, the artist behind Le Ren, created a physical quilt to mirror the assemblage of stories that comprise her album: a coming-of-age collage that collects over four years of past experiences and finds their present meaning.
Leftovers was originally scheduled to be recorded in LA in early 2020, but the pandemic forced Le Ren to reconsider the kind of album she wanted to make, and how she wanted to make it. Taking the time to revamp old songs and bring the past to bear upon new ones, she distilled years of material into ten tightly executed tracks united by the swooning pluck of her guitar and the crystal clear timbre of her voice. The result is a timeless assemblage of love, heartache, celebration, and lessons hard-learned, written and performed by a musician who has honed the subtleties of her craft.
With its organic yet meticulous folk production and deeply felt lyrics, Leftovers exists outside of trend or time, finding a home among classic icons like Joni Mitchell, Vashti Bunyan, and Karen Dalton, as well as a new class of folk extraordinaires, such as Adrianne Lenker, Jessica Pratt, and Laura Marling. Le Ren writes with a bold clarity that lends her songs the immediate, enduring quality of good stories well-told that, like their album title-namesake, only get better with age. Leftovers is equal parts melancholy, deep love, and levity to lift up the mournful. Le Ren here weaves a rich musical tapestry addressed to loved ones lost, found, and kept that reveals new meanings within a lifetime of relationships."
Room40 boss Lawrence English teams up with Xiu Xiu's Jamie Stewart once again for another voyage into ambient music's punishing underworld. It’s their gloomiest slab to date - nightmarish Lynchian drones and seismic, overdriven rumbles that sound like a Thomas Köner and Wolf Eyes soundtrack to Dante's Inferno.
If the gaseous, clouded noise of 'Material Interstices' sounds as if it could be snatched from one of David Lynch's most unsettling dream sequences, we have to assume that's completely intentional. The inspiration for the album came from two of English's recurring dreams, one of which had recently re-emerged. When English chatted to Stewart about it - a labyrinthine subterranean horrorscape of concrete and iron underneath his house - Stewart related to having unusual sleep patterns. So the music emerged from this midnight realm, and illustrates English's Tetsuo-inspired industrial fantasy in grim detail.
Those expecting the beauty and charm of English's lighter material might be in for a shock. This is vantablack level darkness, inspired by 1980s industrial tape music, blurry noise and the darkest of dark ambient records. Think Maurizio Bianchi, Lustmord or The Haxan Cloak, but assembled to trigger near hypnagogic states. There's an intentionality about "Material Interstices" that feels knotted to its nocturnal inspiration - English and Stewart simultaneously invoke nostalgia, dread and wonder, reminding of industrial music's rich legacy but suggesting its future might not be written just yet.
Emboss Star is the new album by Kochi-born, Kyoto-based artist Kazumichi Komatsu, the first to be released under his own name following a prolific run of material as Madegg.
"Informed by a range of earlier work including EPs, installation works, video works, as well as live appearances at fashion shows, parties & raves, the material collected on 'Emboss Star' has been prepared and refined over the past four years, its final collation described as like arranging the pieces on a chess board; every piece strategically placed.
In its entirety Emboss Star is intended to emphasize the fundamental aspects of sound, and its relation to the material processes of playback; the grain of a rough recording, the jump and skip of a needle, the backwards gargle of a rewind. Individual parts shift suddenly, mirroring the abrupt transitions of everyday life. In this Komatsu attempts to reconfigure our response to sound, and the associations it often evokes; to reconsider the exchange of information and image, to alter perceptions.
Inviting a state of subconscious reverie – a mood often linked with ambient music but rarely matched as it is here – Komatsu adds an element of resistance to Emboss Star, as if depicting the tranquility of a dream, as well as its inevitable disturbance. With creativity now compressed into a form of contemporary communication often ruled by vanity, redundant hashtags and tiresome jargon, Komatsu navigates the noise, recognizing technological ennui yet finding beauty, folklore & imaginative possibility."
First album in five years from Luke Slater’s Planetary Assault Systems, mainlining pure techno in the classic vein of Jeff Mills, Terrence Dixon, Steve Bicknell
Proper tackle built for all night sessions, loaded with hard working highlights in the effortless, pounding drive and glyde of ‘Bang Wap’, the palpitating Chi-style toms of ‘Say It Loud’, the funked up shuffle of ‘If I Die’, and the pulsating throbber ‘The Drag Train’, plus spacier cakes for the cosmic crew in ‘Nano Chameleon’ and ‘Abstract.’
"A figure who needs little introduction to fans of the genre, but whose consistency in the studio and on the road has repeatedly marked him out as true pioneer of sound design and performance with a singular vision, Slater first minted the PAS alias in '93. Since then, a slew of singles and LP's from the industrious artist have made sure Planetary Assault Systems has become a byword for hypnotic, funk-heavy Techno in a purist tradition. Toeing the line between heady, psychedelic material and all out main room fare - Slater's work as PAS captures the very best facets of the genre, with economically selected parts exquisitely arranged and engineered with a shrewd and uncompromising ear for what really makes people move.
On the new LP, Slater draws on studio material but also components recorded during the PAS live show - and he's keen to let fans know the focus is well and truly on the dance floor with this one: Sky Scraping is a loud and unabashed celebration of the formative and familiar environments so loved by the electronic music community, the dark clubs and festivals made special by their unique ability to bring like minded people together.
Sky Scraping kicks off in characteristically dense, psychedelic fashion with Labstract - a slice of classic PAS with cavernous low end and a tight, looping sequence doing the driving work while frenetic drum machine cuts and wide angle synth sirens shift the track onwards from one phase to the next. Follow up One For The Groove showcases the chunkier side of Slater's production as PAS with an infectious 909 pattern propelled on in the high mids by a squelching synth patch. Bang Wap revisits the artist's last outing on Token - a monstrous, unforgiving roller designed with peak time in mind. Say It Loud - the idiosyncratic proto-anthem that accompanied Bang Wap earlier in the year leads the LP onwards, before sequing into new recording Give In - a masterclass in dense, funky, face-melting Techno. Drums take centre stage on If I Die, as the artist returns to the 909 for a marginally slowed down cut that really highlights the artist's connection to and natural affinity with groove and drum machine cuts. Coal thrusts the listener straight back down the wormhole - an extraordinary, driving piece propelled by a guttural lead synth sequence and ghostly drums, before giving way to Run - a dry, pared back recording with plucked, staccato synths that makes for a good contrast to its fathoms deep predecessor. Though not without moments of hysteria in its closing quarter, The Drag Train, featuring a classic, more mono finish begins the wind down towards the LP's close. Nano Chameleon ties up Sky Scraping, a track as forceful as anything that has come earlier on the record - as it approaches its close, a warping lead powers the recording home with shuffling white noise percussion dipping in and out of the sonic main stage before giving way to a delicate, controlled chaos."
Six years since their lauded PAN debut, Max D's freeform chromo funk outfit tweak two colourful jams for their spiritual home, Washington D.C.’s Future Times
Arriving in reverse order after parts 3.2 & 3.3, the trio’s 3.1 locates them in deliciously restive action, commanding swirling jazz-funk chops and subtle use of computer processing at the service of a breezily utopian dancefloor pressure. The results are detectably less angular, more smudged than their first outing (which benefitted from Beatrice Dillon’s input), projecting a sweetly distorted sort of club dream space that feels live with fractal geometry and hyper coloured avian plumage.
‘Born In The Roof’ gives a broad, unravelling 11 minute canvas which they proceed to scrawl with aerosolised synth spray and splayed 2-step rhythms, stepping off, to our ears, somewhere between the Afro-Futurism of Phloston Paradigm and the unfurling Afrobeat groove structures of Fela, et al. Their ‘Cymbecko Dub’ meanwhile sees them contract to a concise 3 min time frame, which they spend shredding metallic tones and spongiform subbass bumps recalling Metal Preyers abstractions.
Clemens Bacher returns as Cid Rim.
"A psychedelic ride from the Austrian capital, encompassing modern electronics, choral pop and contemporary jazz.
Clemens Bacher's last album, ‘Material’, was awarded BBC 6Music Album Of The Day, achieving as many as four A-list singles. He won a Gilles Peterson Worldwide Award and attended Africa Express with Damon Albarn and Brian Eno. Collaborator to Petite Noir, kmalumkoolkat and Denai Moore, he caught attention with show-stopping mixes for Sky Ferreira, Chvrches and The 1975.
But it is on his own records that we get a sense of Bacher’s scope. Cid Rim grew up the keystone of the vital club scene of Vienna alongside close friends Dorian Concept and The Clonious. For ‘Songs Of Vienna’ he relocated to London and crafted a new formula which reconciles kraut, psychedelia and jazz into detailed electronic pop.
Behind his impressionistic vocals lie themes exploring Vienna’s privileged place in the world: a safe haven for the European project rich with imperial history and culture. It was only here in the early 21st Century that Clemens and his friends could forge this hyper-specific club scene which still refuses category."
Crucial drop of clockworked-hipped Kwaito from South Africa, 2005-06, scanning the playful precedent of Gqom for seven goodies out of Pretoria
Perhaps best to known to ravers outside SA for classics from DJ Mujava and DJ Cndo, Kwaito was the region’s dominant dance sound during the mid-late ’00s, and paralleled or even predated to some extents UKF up our way. ‘Drums of Pitori’ is a mesmerising survey of works by Machance and his spar DJ Abbas, who passed away in 2008. PSSNGR and Promesses jointly provide the first official international dispatch of their work, shelling seven proper heaters peppered with Machance’s call-and-response vocals and charmingly time-stamped to that era with the likes of ’Nokia’ making use of ringtones on a wicked blend of minor key motifs and that signature martial machine drive.
For the DJs and dancers, this lot are low-key must checks. ‘He Kheya Ndon’ comes on a crisp, bubbling sort of ‘90s house flex with ohrwurmign vocal stabs, and were really partial to the gasping samples and splashy drums of ‘Kuku’, while the choral stabs and rolling snares of ‘Ledombolo’ can’;t help but call to mind Belgian new beat to our lugs, and who can deny the similarities between ‘Thula Mazenke’ or ‘Mahwafa’ and UKF bangers from Mario, Scotti Dee or DVA - Just add garage subs?
Natura Oculta is a work by the irrepressible multi-disciplinary artist Rubén Patiño, channeled through his Lag OS alias. It investigates the potential for the recreation of imaginary landscapes by the use of sound. Patino set out not to create a collection of musical pieces or a sonic narrative, but rather a kind of oniric and surreal space in which an ensemble of audible objects (or rather, creatures) could move, prosper and interact.
"Patiño primarily focus on the wetland, a typology of environment that becomes a metaphor of the eerie, the amorphous and the unknown. It is not a matter or imitating or replicating nature, tho, rather of using many different sound design techniques to establish the possibility for a different kind of nature to sprawl out: an uncanny one, at once familiar and alien.
The aim of the work is to create fictional narratives that blur the boundaries between the natural and the artificial, the actual and the virtual, the physical and the imaginary.
Immersing in this work means exploring a space that exists as much in the physical manifestations of its many weird voices as in the interaction between the sound and the listener’s subconscious."
Daniel Martin-McCormick, formerly Ital, now Relaxer, returns to Planet Mu with his new album 'Concealer'.
"The album drifts towards hyper digital sounds and marks Daniel’s return to using a computer with hardware. Combining the ultra-artifice of the digital and its glossy, pure surface qualities, Daniel comments that it “gives the sounds this sickly, shiny dimensionality which is un-human. This decoupling from the human-ness of sound means the sounds can speak in their own special way. Of course, all sounds can speak in their way, but a vivid, digital, melty synth speaks in a way that feels more autonomous, or less tied to historical/encultured musical gestures. It hovers in the air and melts and glides. It's a little gross.”
His return to Planet Mu has been long overdue. the new record is an expansion and development of the ultra-artificial, hybrid digital contortions of his previous material. Welcome back."