For anyone who knows these records already - you won't need much of a sermon from us about their stature and greatness. If you don't know them - you're in for a treat.
Rhythm & Sound was the project that Mark Ernestus and Moritz von Oswald turned to after their seminal series of recordings as Basic Channel came to an end. From 1997 until 2002 the label released seven 12" EP's which pretty much defined the direction so much electronic music would turn to in its wake - and it still continues to exert a colossal influence, for better or worse.
It's perhaps hard to remember over a decade later just how little these productions sounded like anything that preceded them - taking the essence of dub and breaking it down until all that was left was a vapour trail of melody and a colossal bass echo. We could spend an hour listing all the music that basically came along and copied this template in the intervening years but, the thing is, none of what followed comes anywhere near these productions in terms of substance, none of it has aged in the same way. "Carrier" was the fifth release on the label and offers another 20 minute trip into the depths of fractured dub.
A late pinnacle of the Drexciyan oeuvre, Storm 2 aka Transllusion's 'The Opening of the Cerebral Gate' is availed as an expanded 3LP pressing to include (almost) all the tracks on the CD version, compared to the original 2LP
It's all remarkably bass-heavy, even saturated, compared with a lot of other Drexciyan workouts, resulting some of their most ruggedly stripped down electro-techno functions ranging from the pounding might of 'Transmission Of Life' to the militant march of 'War Of The Clones' and the funked come-on, 'Do You Want To Get Down'. On the other hand, it also features stacks of gorgeous Drexciyan melodies in the aquatic flux of 'Cluben In Guyana' and the twinkling keys of 'Unordinary Reality', and to darkest effect on 'Crossing into the Mental Astroplane'.
Highly recommended to all aquanauts.
A Late 80’s slow digital dancehall killer; malevolent, sick and paranoid - prob the most essential and sought-after selection of dubs you'll ever have the pleasure of copping.
Replay Version is basically like a JA variant of Ramelzee & K Rob's Beat Bop, Once Bitten is a deadly variant featuring more detuned-synths on top of a pure skank, while "Senci Pipe" on the flip is just out and out minimal digital sorcery.
"Sides like these announced a new era in reggae... Replay Version sets the mood - malevolent, sick and paranoid, but haunting, and funky like a train, with cruelly brilliant effects..."
Northern UK-based artist Rian Treanor re-imagines the intersection of club culture, experimental art and computer music with a super smart debut for The Death of Rave.
Galvanising and accelerating garage and techno with cuttingly crisp tonal diction and pointillist percussive palette, ‘A Rational Tangle’ demonstrates Treanor’s adroit and finely-nurtured rhythmelodic instincts through a quicksilver syntax of kerned, polychromatic 2-step patterns and whipsmart, emotive jit music.
The EP’s four tracks vacillate ping-pong ballistics and recursive melodic motifs constructed in Max/MSP, dancing from pendulous, aerobic minimalism to taut, synthetic tabla grooves with grid melting nous, whilst also taking in gamelan-esque hypeR&B through wormholes of smeared and curdled harmonics, plus one dead lush section of Detroit-via-Yorkshire styled hi-tech funk.
The production is stainlessly dry and future-proof whilst Rian’s arrangements are considerately efficient, yet it’s all blessed with a pop or ’floor-ready turn of phrase that reveals new kinks, fills and twysts with each return listen.
Whichever angle you view it from ‘A Rational Tangle’ forms a rewarding introduction to the work of a very promising and distinct new voice in electronic music.
Shed wears his bruk-up garage/techno hat for 6 tracks of deep ’n rude Head High action.
Weaving cues from classic ‘90s UK, US and Euro rave styles into gritty textured yet richly emotive grooves, Head High plays up to his deepest, ruggedest instincts in six parts.
He comes Head High but eyes down with the vertiginous pads and scuffling breaks and bass of ‘Higher The Break’ recalling a bird’s eye scale of Shed’s classic ‘ITHAW’ (ye ye we’re obsessed with that LP and what?!), before Virtual Girl’ steers the vibe into free-floating Detroit soul and ‘Depth’ takes it right into early Urban Tribe or Detroit Escalator Company styles. He’s back on a full wingspan breakbeat house tip with ‘What You Want’, again making cracking use of puckered Diva vocals, while ‘Set Me Free’ goes on like a fantasy collab between Carl Craig and 4Hero, and the sublime rufige of ‘Hardcore’ is a perfectly sweaty, body-gurny kiss-off.
Beautifully by-passing our expectations, performance artist/musician Pan Daijing’s first major work Lack yields a spellbinding demonstration, or “purgative finale”, to her improvised live performances over the past two years; offering a far more nuanced and probing suite of electronic gestures than her gnarled handful of slamming, salty tapes and 12”s for Bedouin Records, Power Vacuum or Noisekölln Tapes since 2015.
Extracted and edited from field recordings and live documentation of her concerts made in Europe, China, and Canada, Daijing aptly describes the album as “an opera piece”, from the soaring soprano and flustered strings of Phenomenon thru the convulsive industrial throb of Act of The Empress, to the possessed folk energies condensed in The Nerve Eater and the closing trance induction of Lucid Morto with an effect recalling something like Diamond Galas conducting a court ritual with Black Mecha and Jani Christou.
Daijing’s process is multi-disciplinary, featuring improvised sound and movement that feed off one another in a painstaking mental and physical practice that draws energy from the moment. The reduction and selection of the recordings which make up the album felt “more like a psychoanalytical process” explains Daijing, feeling like “this absurd, mad person ‘acting’ out the sounds… All things naturally came out of me”, and in the edit she effectively detaches and controls the listener’s gaze, offering what could be viewed as an almost voyeuristic document of those intimate, private energies.
Basic Channel heads Mark Ernestus and Moritz von Oswald keep the burial mix series going with its most ambitious release to date - a collection of one-rhythm tracks featuring vocal contributions from Basic Channel collaborators old and new.
"See Mi Yah" is a classic collection of one-rhythm tracks, typical format and production approach in Reggae, featuring ten vocal versions and one instrumental of the See Mi Yah rhythm (an additional 3 are only available on the 7" collection), strictly roots!
After Paul St. Hilaire (formerly known as Tikiman) had lent his voice to quite a few Rhythm & Sound releases over the years, the starting point for this project was to work with him once again and also with his brother Ras Perez, their fellow Berlin based Dominicans Koki and Ras Donovan (also known from his collaboration with Mapstation), the Berlin based Jamaicans Freddy Mellow, Walda Gabriel, Bobbo Shanti, Lance Clarke as Rod Of Iron and Joseph Cotton aka Jah Walton.
With a toasting style heavily influenced by the legendary U-Roy, Cotton was a central figure in the jamaican DJ scene of the 70s and 80s. To cap it all off, on a visit to Berlin, the great Sugar Minott and Willi Williams (famous for Studio 1 classic Armagideon Time) did their versions in the Rhythm & Sound studio!
For each tune the rhythm is arranged and mixed differently. The legacy and genius of Basic Channel and all its myriad offshoots seems more relevant and important now than ever before, they have a knack of creating music that lives on in the listener's head long after voices, rhythm and sound have long gone. Highly recommended!!
'Versions' leaves out the vocal accompaniment and exposes the production as it drifts off into instrumental effervescence...
This second breathtaking CD leaves out the vocal accompaniment and exposes the terryfingly deep Basic Channel production as it drifts off into instrumental effervescance. The hallmarks are all there; Mark Ernestus and Moritz Von Oswald have already set the world ablaze once, twice, three, four times with their work as Basic Channel and the splintering into microscopic, heavyweight offshoots by way of the M series, Main Street, Chain Reaction, Rhythm and Sound and, of course, Burial Mix. It's hard to over-emphasise just how important their music has been to us over the last two decades and, for that matter, just how substantial their impact has had on everything that has taken place in electronic music since.
Following convention, each of these labels has offered a catalogue up on record (in this case 10" releases) before compiling the music. This is, in fact, the second Burial Mix compilation, the first "showcase" concentrating on the label's collaborations with Paul St Hilaire, aka Tikiman, for its opening set of releases. This second installment divides itself into Vocal and Instrumental "Versions" (the Vocal tracks are collected seperately on a second release), displaying the last seven releases in their entirety, plus "Mash Down Babylon" (a new take on "March Down Babylon"), and features a by-now totally classic collection of tracks that in their time have all been singles of the week for us here.
Just thinking of the majestic exuberance of "King in My Empire", or the breathtaking space of "Making Histroy" makes it hard to fathom how this material hasn't really aged a day in all these years...
After a blazing succession of Sound System heaters, Dug Out offers a spiritual session of seminal nyabinghi grounation from Dadawah circa 1974, perhaps the most mind-expanding, important spiritual dub reissue we've heard this last decade.
It's most likely a large influence upon the work of label head Mark Ernestus in his Rhythm & Sound guise, recalling the magical spirituality of classics like 'Making History' among others in the hypntoic, shuffling pace and intangibly smoky aura that seems to evaporate from the grooves with each listen. The group is led by Ras Michael, guiding a traditional set up of nyabinghi (ceremonial Rasta drums), bass, guitar, brass and Piano organ in four extended excursions over sublime, psychedelic terrain without a worry in the world.
As with much of the best reggae, much of the magic was elicited and embellished in post production, with Lloyd Charmers and Federal engineer George Raymond apparently staying up all night after the session to mix the recording, imbuing the tracks with a dazed, wide-open and echoing personal space. Keeping the standards impeccably high, the album was lovingly restored at Abbey Road and looks every bit the classic that it is. Big up Dug Out, this going to be on rotation round here for years to come.
Manny and Istanbul’s finest jazz players go hard but cool af the Mill, channelling strong Miles Davis and Sun Ra vibes. Recorded by Sam Weaver.
“Backwards proudly presents a new KONSTRUKT vinyl release! “Live at Islington Mill” finds Konstrukt working with 2 amazing guest artists Graham Massey (of 808 State) and David McLean (of the Tombed Visions label). This live recording from last year finds the Turkish group and their guests filtering free jazz through a 70’s era-Miles approach.
Konstrukt has been making a name for themselves for a quite a while now with an incredibly impressive discograpy of LP’s featuring a who’s who list of guests such as Joe McPhee, Marshall Allen, Peter Brotzmann, William Parker and so many more. “Live at Islington Mill” recorded in Salford England and gives us two sides of blistering avant-funk, cosmic space sounds, and pure inspired playing throughout. Konstrukt never ceases to amaze at how well they can incorporate guest players into their own sound, “Part II” finds them coming straight out of the gate with a heavy groove and some powerful saxophone screams before it calms down into a more open section that still maintains a steady pulse. Think Agharta or On The Corner or even the more grooving era of the Sun Ra Arkestra but with an added layer of cosmic sounds via drum machines, synths and exotic reed instruments…not many groups can pull this sound off without falling into an unflattering repetition of their forebearers, Konstrukt here with Massey & McLean pull it off handily.”
The second instalment from Basic Channel's offshoot, Basic Replay, a reissue label convened to showcase prime influences and lesser known inspirations, the men from Berlin have selected and remastered a truly shocking follow up to Keith Hudson's 'Playing It Cool..' album reissued last year.
'Call me rambo' was originally recorded in 1986 and released on the Heavyweight label, an imprint formed by the Heavyweight soundsystem, based in the Wood Green and Tottenham areas of north London. Featuring Chester Roots at the controls and his nephew Ackie at the microphone, this is raw and dangerous english dancehall. Hailing from that blissful period in the middle eighties, when clubs could play Marley Marl next to Super Cat, or Half Pint next to early Trax records, 'Call Me Rambo' opens with a bang, racked with strafing machine gun fire and the helicopter sounds free with a Commodore 64, natty dread a go scientific an' ballistic.
Stylistically speaking, Ackie's voice is reminiscent of the great Barrington Levy, and the simply enormous, rampant rhythm sends shockwaves through any musical system - all b-boys and hardcore addicts would do well to sweep a copy of this and ask questions later. Flip the script, and Chesse retains Ackie's winning 'Don't push me' refrain, and much of the sonic elements but works the board hard, 'Rambo Gun Salute' as a part two is simply perfection, dubwise and anywise. 'Rambo Salute' takes the dub even further out, as Ackie drifts further into the mix, and Chester works it on out in true ragamuffin style. "Ramming dancehall is the priority", so the man say. This has shattered the office record for rewinds this week and is utterly essential for ALL self-respecting music fans.
‘Electrucs’ is a previously unpublished LP of works by former INA-GRM chief François Bayle, recorded 1974-1995, and now finally issued on the 60th anniversary of the world-renowned facility he managed between 1966-1997.
Comprising four distinct sections of acousmatic study ranging from playful AKS Synthi “hand games” to the blooming ‘Rosaces’, a test-piece for the Acousmonium, and a dedication to his peer, Bernard Parmegiani; ‘Electrucs’ follows Recollection GRM’s series of Bayle reissues to offer a diverse and spellbinding survey of his pioneering work spanning the past half century.
The A-side is taken by 10 oozing, viscously shapeshifting ‘Electrucs’ that give the LP its title, rendering a series of highly dynamic pieces made on the Synthi AKS between 1974-2018, and veering from chaotic polymetrics to pulsating, almost melodic vignettes, and many moments of tense, atonal abstraction that wouldn’t sound out of place on a good hour or thriller soundtrack.
The other side breaks down to three distinct sections. ‘Cinq dessins en rosace’  is a five part study of increasingly complex geometries, transiting from sharp, simple oscillations to filigree, spatialized arrangements of electronics and keys. ‘Foliphonie’ [1974-2011] follows with a beautifully alien scene of chirruping voices and whirled woodwind originally hatched for use on the GRM’s Acousmonium speaker/diffusion system, and ’Marpège’ [1995-2007] finds him dissolving a trace of Bernard Parmegiani’s ‘Sonare’ into sonic delirium.
Robert Hood’s minimal techno masterpiece enters orbit again for first time since 2001
Originally found on the ‘Internal Empire’ album and also released as a 12” in 1995, the lead cut is an all-too-short piece of whirring Detroit mechanics flecked with icy trills and slinky gear shifts as only he can do. Handily, the 12” offers a slightly extended version with ‘Master Builder (Sandman Option)’ giving it a highly effective nip ’n tuck that gets right under the skin of the dance, while ‘Quartz’ strides out with filtered organ motifs on a whipsmart groove.
Infectious Greensleeves dub reggae aces from 1979
The A-side is Barrington Levy & Trinity’s rootsy blue cry ‘Lose Respect’, while Roman Stewart & Trinity play it down, cool and rocksteady and the same riddim as The Upsetters’ ‘Soulful’.
Unspeakably beautiful dub from Mark Ernestus and Moritz Von Oswald’s Round Five, starring Tikiman, on the Main Street Records series.
Na Fe Throw It was the final instalment of the series, which ran concurrently to their Rhythm & Sound project, and presents brought Main Street Records to a sublime finish with nearly ten minutes of utterly blissed-out, magnetically attractive dub bass and lamenting vocals, also included as a starker dub.
Evergreen music. Every home should own the full set!
Basic Channel present a full 14 minute version of 'Q-Loop' backed with first ever vinyl cuts of 'Q 1.2' and 'Mutism' - previously found on the 'BCD' (1995) and Scion's 'Arrange And Process Basic Channel Tracks' releases.
Need we say any more?
Slick, spaced-out boogie heat from 1980, previously only available on a hen’s teef TP, now dished up by Australia’s Crown Ruler
The easy-rolling original rides out on the A-side, with a rawer Demo version on the back.
Deaf Center's second album Owl Splinters from 2011 gets a lavish re-packaging as a gatefold 2LP. It includes a Svarte Greiner re-interpretation album ‘Twin' as well as new cover-art with photos by cinematographer Joshua Zucker-Pluda.
Erik Skodvin and Otto Totland quietly honed their art via the nightmarish catharsis of the Svarte Greiner and Nest projects respectively, arriving at their 2nd album together ‘Owl Splinters’ back in 2011 in deeply solemn and contemplative mood. For this chapter of their story, mysterious imagery was rendered even sharper, as though someone on the inside wiped a palm on the window of their cabin in the woods.
This is largely attributable to the fact it was recorded at Nils Frahms' Durton studio, where the lo-fi graininess and techniques of their early work was brought to life with hi-end engineering and analogue equipment, allowing the duo to articulate their supernatural stories with more evocative detailing and widescreen atmospherics.
Opening to the bowed strings and seismic bass shudder of 'Divided', we're ushered straight to a world where Totland's piano adorns centrepiece 'The Day I Would Never Have' with ethereal pensiveness and Skodvin's cello expands like a dense, blackened cloud of smoke. Through the smaller vingettes like 'Fiction Dawn', this forested gloom colours the album through to the slow, vacuous pressure system of 'Close Forever Watching', its surge of cold black air almost brutally resolving the atmospheric tension.
The accompanying LP ‘Twin' is a 40 minute interpretation of Owl Splinters by Erik K Skodvin under his Svarte Greiner alias. The record takes the long-form, ghostly sections of it's parent album and expands them into crushing drone epics. The two parts are cut into four sections, pieced together by used and unused material from the recording session. It first appeared in form of an accompaniement CD that came with the initial 100 LPs of Owl Splinters. This is the first time ‘Twin' appears on vinyl.
An absolute winner from the SKRS INTL camp for Ancient Monarchy, the Paradise Magic Traxx Mobile Sound & Lighting EP arrives in the wake of their RunComeTest EP with a wicked, red-eyed smudge of digi-dub dancehall on a Lovers Rock and R&B slant.
Coagulating some 30 years of sound system styles from the Island in a seamless flow of sawn-off samples and plasmic FX on sloshing subs, the enigmatic Filipino/Canadian project gives up some of the most stickily seductive gear in their decade long catalogue.
Perhaps tricky for the DJs, but great for home listening and parties, the EP is sequenced in untrammelled transitions between its eight parts, but you probably wouldn’t even realise without looking at the track list online. Of course, DJs can use their ears and eyes to pick parts out, but it’s best consumed as a whole, preferably with a 21 minute long zoot and good company.
Uncredited edits of Jamal’s briny bangers on the low key R=A label
Following zingers from Tribe of Colin, Black Deer and Juzer, the A-side’s ‘Pickled Edit’ throws down a fizzing jack attack nipped and tucked for optimal bounce, while the B-side nods to Ron Hardy with effected disco loops dragged backwards thru the echoplex.
Unique psychedelic killers from Niagara, mounting a sterling debut album with Lisbon’s Príncipe five years after their first 12”, ‘Ouro Oeste’ . Trust that they have lost none of the weirdness that’s endeared them to freaks around the world ever since they emerged. If anything they’re stranger, more spaced-out and porous to wild influence...
Outlining Niagara’s definitive description of contemporary exotica, ‘Apologia’ limns a frayed, buzzing sort of “Fourth World PLUS” sound, where the “PLUS” refers to their embrace of noise as an agent of chaos. But it’s not necessarily malefic chaos, and should be taken as a smart acknowledgement of the overlooked yet crucial role that roughness of grain and construction play in contrast with so many clinically smooth and even anodyne efforts from the same, imagined arena of worldly music for a new age.
In allowing for the entropy of time and the inevitable infidelity of attrition to enter their soundsphere, Niagara’s organic machine music keenly reflects a natural world order without the need for algorithmic process. Their world is a fertile interplay of acoustic and electronic sources rendering hazy, fata morgana-like glimpses of musical possibility, practically triangulating the visions of likeminds such as Jamal Moss/Hieroglyphic Being and Dolo Percussion with the explorative precedents of Portugul’s Telectu to realise a fine expression of anachronistic modernism.
Most of the tracks loosely work around 3 minute timeframes, lending a zig-zagging mosaic quality to the tracklist in between its longer parts. Richly colourful spiritual jazz arps and raw machine grooves spring from opener ‘França’, triggering a cascade of ideas that bends between acidic kosmiche in ‘6:30’ to the heatsick boogie gliss of ’40’ and the stark emptiness of ‘Senhora Do Cabo’, to give up the gorgeous, extended flute and acid meditation ’Siena’, and mess with Vangelis-style synth majesty on ‘Via Garibaldi’, before spending their coolest energies in the drowsy Afro-latin swagger of ‘Cabo Verde.’
It’s hard to ignore the fact that Alberto, António and Sara a.k.a. Niagara have distilled their sound to imperfection on ‘Apologia’, resulting one of 2018’s most crucial and vital electronic albums.
Michael O’Shea’s sole, breathtaking album ranks among our favourite of all time - yet hardly anyone seems to have heard of it. Produced by Wire’s Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis at the Dome studio in 1982, it’s an utterly singular work of magick meshing myriad, worldly modes into music that rarely fails to reduce us to tears. It’s one of those albums that basically sounds like nothing else - the only record we can draw some parallels to is Dariush Dolat-Shahi’s life changing 'Electronic Music, Tar and Sehtar’, despite it coming from the other end of the world.
First brought to our attention by Blackest Ever Black at the start of this decade, we’ve gradually developed an obsessive fascination with its sublime, rapid dervishes and warbling rhythmelodies, so it’s a pleasure to see it finally made easily available to everyone who we’ve ranted about it over the years (2nd hand copies have been historically pricey and hard to come by!), and especially replete with its enlightening new sleeve notes by archivist and writer Failed Bohemian.
A busker among other trades, O’Shea was an itinerant soul who, after a childhood and formative years spent between Northern Ireland and Kerry in the south of the country, and extensive travel between Europe, Turkey and Bangladesh, created his own instrument - an electrified dulcimer known as Mó Cará (Irish for ‘My Friend’) - which he performed on at Ronnie Scott’s, before later playing on bills with everyone from Ravi Shankar to Don Cherry, and also recording with The The’s Matt and Tom Johnson.
Aside from his two contributions to the Stano album, ‘Content To Dine In I Dine Weathercraft’ (also recently reissued by Dublin’s Allchival), O’Shea’s first and only album is the main point of reference for this unique artist. Like some eccentric expression of ancient Indo-European voices channelled thru a Celtic body, Michael O’Shea’s improvised acousto-electric music intuitively distills a world of styles into singularly hypnotic works. Using his self-built instrument; a hybrid of a zelochord and a sitar, made on a wooden door salvaged in Munich, and with the crucial addition of electric pick-ups and the ‘Black Hole Space Box’, O’Shea would absorb sounds from his travels like a sponge, and relay them back thru the instrument with effortlessly freeform and achingly lush results as elaborate as a Celtic knot or elegant as Sanskrit text.
The mercurial flow of syncretised styles in 15 minute opener ‘No Journey’s End’ catches your breath and doesn’t give it back, leaving us utterly light-headed and feeling something akin to religious experience, before his ’Kerry’ vignette most beautifully limns the epic coastline he hails from. The plasmic swirl and phasing of ‘Guitar No. 1’ is perhaps the one piece that time dates the LP to the post-punk era, even if it could have come from ancient Mesopotamia, while the album and artist’s underlying metaphysics bleed thru most hauntingly in the timbral shadowplay of ‘Voices’, and the rapidly tremulous, animist voodoo of ‘Anfa Dásachtach’.
Noted in his lifetime, not least by himself as; “…joker, transvestite, inventor, psychonaut, actor, catalyst, community worker, musician, traveller, instrument maker,” Michael O’Shea’s life was, by all accounts, every bit as colourful as his music, which only makes his untimely death in 1991 all that more tragic, as we’d practically give an arm to hear what he could have made in the early techno era, as he was purportedly getting heavy into London’s rave scene before he was taken.
Honestly no other record has cast such a strong spell over us in recent memory - to the extent of sending us on wild goose chases on the wrong peninsula in Kerry - so please pardon the gush ‘cos we can’t help but share love for this life-affirming disc and Michael O’Shea’s beautifully transcendent music.
Yves Tumor’s debut for the PAN label offers a perfect distillation of everything the label stands for, filling another as-yet-unnamed niche between the eyes of hypermodern styles. It’s an album that takes you from the most beautifully produced earworm one moment, to the depths of sonic experimentation the next - making for easily one of the most impressive and memorable albums of the year.
The Tennessee-raised, Turin-based artist has sown seeds across the contemporary field in visual as well as musical fields over recent years with releases for NON, Janus and Halcyon Veil issued under an expanding roll call of names, as well as visceral live work for LA's Hood By Air earlier this year. However, it’s under the Yves Tumor moniker that he commits his most personal and noteworthy work to date; the result of three years of creative discovery, drawing from a deeply emotional, vulnerable place to grapple with themes of social anxiety, paranoia and missing loved ones to present one of this year’s most staggering albums.
Serpent Music covers the full bandwidth of Tumor’s far-flung aesthetics, navigating from lushly organic yet elusively distanced instrumental textures in the opening strokes of Devout and the homesick soul ache of The Feeling When You Walk Away, before more oblique, abrasive drums and layered electronics begin to infiltrate the airborne keys of Dajjal, and with Role In Creation he incorporates the east African motifs heard in his Bekelé Berhanu output, but with a much gentler, more optimistic effect.
But just as you begin to get a grip on his slippery scales, Serpent I rushes into a ferocious tribal battery, resolved with the stentorian pastor and doom echo chamber feels of Serpent II, and he really starts to let his mind drift with the conflated pastoral and darkroom noise vibes of Seed, and the eastern-facing Alice Coltrane nod, Spirit In Prison, skizzily returning to smokey vapour trails in Cherish and Face of a Demon, to wash us up on the lonely, distant shores of Perdition.
Alongside the likes of Dean Blunt or Klein, Yves Tumor is patently rewiring the conventions of soul music and psychedelia according to his own, twisted schematic and modernist insight, making this album feel vital at a point where conservative sensibilities seem to have permeated the spirit of so many “independently" minded creators.
18th anniversary of one of Trunk’s earliest and most sought-after sides; John Cameron’s sweeping string and woodwind score for ‘Kes’ 
As possibly one of the most widely referenced portraits of Northern England, the imagery and soundtrack of Ken Loach’s ‘Kes’ hold a special place in British 20th century culture. For reasons unknown, the soundtrack was never released until Jonny Trunk came along in the late ‘90s and made it the follow-up to his release of another equally classic British film soundtrack, 'The Wicker Man’, and it’s now a foundational part of the Trunk label.
Where ‘The Wicker Man’ played to ancient, arcane folk spirits in Scotland, ‘Kes’ is a study in gritty realism, portraying a sweetly romanticised image of youth and the working classes in post-industrial Yorkshire. John Cameron fits the film’s images of gridiron streets, grey skies and rolling hills perfectly with arrangements of flute, clarinet and harp that beautifully match the kindred spirits of Billy, a bullied kid in Barnsley, and his pet bird, Kes.
From behind your ear, PAN pluck a blink-and-miss exclusive: a 35 minute audio response by Mark Fell (Sensate Focus) to source material by Heatsick, somewhere between cover version, remix and deconstruction.
Along the A-side 'X' plane, tones are exploded, harmonies refracted with HD dissonance; time is extruded, made ductile yet intangible. On the B-side 'Y' axis hydraulic undulations and roiling tones expand and contract between kinetic kink and gyroscopic funk with the pointillist, freeform choreography of a Merce Cunningham piece. One for the dancers and the DJs that know!
The gobsmacking ‘Selected Early Keyboard Works’ forms the first full length vinyl release by Catherine Christer Hennix, a peerless Swedish polymath whose uniquely diverse yet holistic contributions to early American minimalism and experimental music are cultishly appreciated by those in the know, yet remain sorely overlooked in the broader history of 20th century music.
As anyone who has heard Catherine’s classic ‘The Electric Harpsichord’, her hypnotic ‘Dharma warriors’ with Henry Flynt, or the stunning Chora(s)san Time-Court Mirage and The Deontic Miracle CDs will surely attest, her compositions exist on a whole other plane of musical perception. They naturally embrace a complexity of expression that places science and maths at the service of art, resulting some of the most beguiling, enigmatic and unprecedented combinations of styles - Indian raga, jazz, drone, early electronics - that we’ve ever heard, at the least.
In keeping with that enigma, the label’s notes for ‘Selected Early Keyboard Works’, ambiguously imply they were recorded in 1976 circa The Deontic Miracle’s 1976 performance at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm, which was issued on CD in 2016 as ‘Central Palace Music (From 100 Model Subjects For Hegikan Roku)’. If we use our ears, and take an educated guess, though, we’d date these previously unheard pieces to the same period, which makes them even more remarkable in context of that fertile period of musical thought.
We’ll forever fail to fully place a finger on the magick of Catherine’s music, but there’s a play of paradoxes at work in her music - mischievous yet meditative; light yet somehow driving, and even psychoactively aggressive - which makes it stand way out from her field. It’s definitely not just another new age whimsy or academic exercise. It’s much better described as intuitively daring and hallucinatory, setting out noumenal space for logic-defying feats of imagination and musical virtuosity.
In the two parts of ‘Mode Nouvelle des modalitiés’ for well-tuned Fender Rhodes and sine wave drone, listeners will discover a masterfully alien mix of early electronic music’s mercurial freedom and razor sharp jazz chops, inseparably blending her formative, teenaged experience of listening to jazz luminaries such as Coltrane and Cecil Taylor play in Sweden, with later studies at EMS and playing alongside La Monte Young and Henry Flynt in NYC. In revealing contrast, ‘Equal Temperament Fender Mix’ follows on the same Rhodes but in twelve-tone equal temperament, also using a tape delay system akin to Terry Riley’s, yet with a more reflective, blue and psychedelic appeal that’s far more interesting to us than Riley’s hirsute ecstasies. And ‘The Well Tuned Marimba’ for well-tuned Yamaha, shoeing, sine wave and live electronics completes the set in suitably, subtly breathtaking style with 18 minute of trickling, iridescent rhythmelody and curdling timbre limning a lush lysergic episode.
While we can point to her influences - from Cecil Taylor to Pandit Pran Nath and the EMS facility - what Catherine does with them is little short of alchemy, and provides some of the most curious music you’ll ever hear. We can barely wait to see what this long overdue series brings to the table...
The magicians at Düsseldorf’s Offen Music pluck a madly beguiling pearl of late night songcraft by Ukraine’s Ihor Tsymbrovsky to follow their vital releases by Toresch and Rex Ilusivii.
Come Angel was first recorded in Lviv, Ukraine, 1995, and issued on cassette by Poland’s Koka Records in 1996. There appears to be no prior mention of the release or artist on the internet and quite how it came into of Offen Music possession is not disclosed, and that only ratchets the record’s enigma to astonishing degrees once you’ve heard the music.
In a quivering, high register, androgynous trill, Ihor Tsymbrovsky beckons heavenly beings in the remarkable A-side Come, Angel against a swirling backdrop of phasing, subtly delayed organ. It was recorded in one take (this is the 2nd version), and, if we’re not mistaken, you can hear the keys being pressed rhythmically in the background, which seems to be the song’s only tangible connection to this mortal world as Ihor vaults octaves high and close-in-the-mix with the sort of alien, dreamlike vocal that require pinching oneself to make sure you’re awake. Spellbinding is definitely the word.
On the other side he (we’re assured it is a ‘he’ in the promo text) sets two poems by Mykola Vorobyov and Mykhal Semenko, respectively, to emphatic piano keys, this time more shy of FX save for some delay, placing that willowing, avian vocal at a dreamy arms reach in Roses for the Poet, and with a sort of liturgical dark jazz feel, sorta like Lewis repenting his sins as a castrato monk, in the spare atmosphere in By the Sea.
This is gold-seal business, we tell ya. Clock the clips and clear some swooning room.
You Know What It’s Like is the quietly breathtaking debut album from Carla Dal Forno ov Tarcar and F Ingers - an incredible debut which tip toes the finest line between contentment and aching vulnerability in head-turning fashion.
Her voice is exquisitely fragile but poised and confident with it; representing an unshowy resolve which, despite its gothic chic, actually feels fresh and necessary - operating counter to contemporary glitz and glamour with clear allusions to her heroes, such as Nico or Anna Domino.
Prefaced by two single tracks, the departing dream of Fast Moving Cars and the ghostly nerve pincher What You Gonna Do Now? the album also features six new songs clocking in at just under half an hour, following a bedsit slug trail from the mildew sprawl and nitrate bubble of opener Italian Cinema to the ‘floor-stalking sleep house thud of DB Rip and a deep drifting instrumental, Dry In The Rain, strewn with melodica-like pipes and cobwebbed in acoustic guitar strum like some dusty eldritch dub of A C Marias.
In the album’s twilight hours, Carla really comes into her own on the title song, flitting between Crepulscule-esque songcraft and slow-rocking traces of UK dub, her vocals urgent but nevertheless nonchalant, before Dragon Breath recedes back into the mists of chamber music and she proceeds to pour a potent, near paralysing nightcap and shuffle away from the screen down a long corridor, fading to black in The Same Reply.
We’re utterly smitten, this could turn into a proper addiction.
One of the most influential, insular and multi-layered albums of the last three decades, created through endless hours of improvisation - involving almost fifty musicians and recorded in complete darkness, 'Laughing Stock' is an album that has attained almost mythical status since its release in 1991.
Following the commercial success of their singles "It's My Life", "Life's What You Make It” and album "The Colour of Spring”, Talk Talk retreated back into the shadows and produced two albums that defied categorisation. After the release of the first of these (Spirit of Eden) and a proolonged court case, the band parted ways with EMI and signed to iconic jazz imprint Verve who financed the long and complicated recording of Laughing Stock. Assembling almost 50 guest musicians, Mark Hollis is said to have demanded they record in almost complete darkness, improvising for hours to produce individual parts without hearing any backing tracks or surrounding material. Most of these recordings were discarded, but from what remained Hollis and producer Tim Friese-Greene pieced together a record that is essentially one long sequence of overdubs separated out into six long tracks.
Laughing Stock was to be their last album - on its release the NME described it as “horrible” and many listeners were left perplexed by its insular, unfathomable dynamics. But in the time since, Laughing Stock's legacy seems to have grown in stature with every year that has gone by. You can easily see the stylistic and conceptual markers left by Talk Talk in the way that bands like Radiohead went on to explore more open-ended, diverse sound sources and stylistic shifts - feeling able to experiment without fear of alienating a large fanbase as if it were the most normal thing in the world for a band with considerable chart success to do.
"Laughing Stock" is not only one of the most absorbing albums of the modern era, it’s also a masterclass of production and construction, a relic, perhaps, of an era when artists could completely disconnect from the pressures of their surroundings and dive deep into the wormhole...
Music From Memory deliver feverish 1992 Eurohouse from German drummer (and producer for Nina Hagen) Curt Cress, with reissue of his sole foray into ‘90s dance music backed with three tracks off his debut 1983 album
The real gold is all in the remasters of Cress’ 1992 single ‘Dschung Tek’, which arrives fronded by bird calls and cicadas, then works itself into a proper house lather with swingeing bassline and Cress’ killer percussion, wickedly edited with whipcrack punctuation, buzzing bees and elephant calls to super playful, charming effect. Totally the kind of thing you’d expect to hear sunburnt germans stomping to in Goa circa ’92.
The B-side tracks are cool, too. ’Sundance’ catches him knocking out power toms around slinkier melodic fills, alongside the swaggering syncopations of ‘Power Vein’, and the wonky width of ‘Flying High’.
Through her latest, ‘Titanic Rising’, Weyes Blood, aka Natalie Mering, has designed her own universe to soulfully navigate life’s mysteries. Manoeuvring through a space time continuum, she plays the role of melodic, sometimes melancholic, anthropologist.
"Tellingly, Mering classifies ‘Titanic Rising’ - written and recorded during the first half of 2018, after three albums and years of touring - as The Kinks meeting WWII or Bob Seger meets Enya. The latter captures the album’s wilful expansiveness (“You can tell there’s not a guy pulling the strings in Enya’s studio,” she notes, admiringly). The former relays her imperative to connect with listeners. “The clarity of Bob Seger is unmistakable. I’m a big fan of conversational songwriting,” she adds. “I just try to do that in a way that uses abstract imagery as well.” The Weyes Blood frontwoman grew up singing in gospel and madrigal choirs. (Listen closely to ‘Titanic Rising’ and you’ll also hear the jazz of Hoagy Carmichael mingle with the artful mysticism of Alejandro Jodorowsky and the monomyth of scholar Joseph Campbell.) ‘Something To Believe’, a confessional that makes judicious use of the slide guitar, touches on that cosmological upbringing. “Belief is something all humans need. Shared myths are part of our psychology and survival,” she says. “Now we have a weird mishmash of capitalism and movies and science.
There have been moments where I felt very existential and lost.” As a kid, she filled that void with ‘Titanic’. (Yes, the movie.) “It was engineered for little girls and had its own mythology,” she explains. Mering also noticed that the blockbuster romance actually offered a story about loss born of man’s hubris. “It’s so symbolic that The Titanic would crash into an iceberg, and now that iceberg is melting, sinking civilization.” Today, this hubris also extends to the relentless adoption of technology, at the expense of both happiness and attention spans. But Weyes Blood isn’t one to stew. Her observations play out in an ethereal saunter: far more meditative than cynical. To Mering, listening and thinking are concurrent experiences. “There are complicated influences mixed in with more relatable nostalgic melodies,” she says. “In my mind my music feels so big, a true production. I’m not a huge, popular artist, but I feel like one when I’m in the studio. But it’s never taking away from the music. I’m just making a bigger nspace for myself.”
Recorded at Mills College in 1977, Robert Ashley’s iconic Private Parts has remarkably never been officially reissued on vinyl since its first pressing in 1978 - until now.
Ashley was a pioneer of the American avant-garde, member of the Sonic Arts Union (alongside David Behrman, Alvin Lucier, and Gordon Mumma), the director of the San Francisco Tape Music Center and eventually the Mills College for Contemporary Music where Private Parts was recorded. Despite his interest in experimental techniques, often modulating his voice beyond recognition, on Private Parts Ashley discovered that his own, untreated voice carried its own transfixing qualities. Split into two 20 minute pieces (one told from the perspective of a man, the other of a woman), Ashley narrates a philosophically rich, often absurd, mysteriously opaque quasi stream-of-consciousness, weaving around slowly unfurling keyboard and tabla ragas played by Krishna Bhatt and Gene Tyranny.
“This is not a record, this is a story…” he tells us not long into ‘The Park’, before referencing Alvin Lucier’s “I am sitting in a room”, recorded a decade earlier - a piece famously concerned with frequencies and resonance. Was Ashley dismissing his formative tape music life, or merely producing a new kind of acoustic sleight of hand? Hard to tell, but in any event, these recordings marked a distinct new phase in his recording career; from this point on he became best known for that uniquely meditative, untreated voice.
Ashley had previously worked at the University of Michigan's Speech Research Laboratories, so it’s not a stretch to assume that his focus on ‘Private Parts’ was as much about tonality as narrative, but in any event, the impact of Private Parts was substantial, eventually adapted for television by Channel 4 in the UK (as part of Ashley’s seven-part opera Perfect Lives), but also carrying through an obvious stylistic influence on everyone from Laurie Anderson to David Byrne’s Talking Heads.
Over 40 years on, Private Parts has lost none of its potency. It’s a record that operates on multiple levels; it opens a portal into a curious narrative wormhole, but also triggers dizzying, gradual hypnosis. It makes you think of the deep, mysterious but also absurd minutiae of life - something that’s now most commonly (and far too often) referred to as Lynchian - in a way you’re unlikely to experience with any other record. And you’re unlikely to experience it in quite the same way more than once.
Visible Cloaks meet two of their influences, Yoshio Ojima & Satsuki Shibano, in a beautiful effort to expand and refine their ambient-environmental gestures with firmer architectural underpinnings. For our ¥ it’s the most sublime episode in RVNG Intl.’s intergenerational ‘FRKWYS’ series so far
Between them, Yoshio Ojima & Satsuki Shibano are part responsible for a lot of music that prompted Visible Cloaks to life. Yoshio Ojima is a composer of environmental and ambient music, with a bias toward the possibilities of generative software. Together with pianist Satsuki Shibano, known for his renditions of Debussy and Satie, they programmed influential radio experiment St. Giga’s constant stream of field recordings, sound collage and readings of Japanese poetry, often read by Satsuki.
Recordings of St. Giga was a big inspiration for Visible Cloaks first records, so its a natural conclusion for them to work together, and the results are divine. Pursuing mutual passions for St. Giga’s remit, as well as the Lovely Music, Ltd. catalogue and the British avant-garde, they arrived at a number of creative strategies for the creation of ‘serenitatem’ in Tokyo, late 2017. From MIDI randomisation to text-to-MIDI generative software, the process lends a variable to their music which sweetly blurs distinctions between the programmed and the serendipitous, making their music simultaneously timeless and futuristic, and most of all optimistically utopian.
In effect, they’ve conjured a modern echo of St, Giga, opening a place where sounds illusively occur, emerging form the minimalist but detailed matrix only to metamorphose on sight, and drift back into the parallel dimension whence they came, implying that we’re only teasingly hearing aspects of a greater shape which they’re so carefully describing.
Ryuichi Sakamoto’s ravishing and rare solo piano suite ‘BTTB’ is finally issued on vinyl - expanded, reshuffled, and newly replete with liner notes by none other than Haruki Murakami. Trust it’s swoon-worthy stuff.
Originally released in 1998 and hard to get hold of outside of Japan, ‘BTTB’, or ‘Back To The Basics’ is now reissued on 2LP to mark its 20th anniversary. It’s effectively a definitive edition of ‘BTTB’, reshuffled from the original 2LP pressing to also include ‘Energy Flow’ from the BTTB’ maxi-single, (which peaked at No.4 in the Japanese singles charts), as well as the slippery elegance of ‘Reversing’, both on the vinyl album for the first time.
Tech specs aside, this new edition is a sumptuous testament to Sakamoto’s effortlessly natural, poetic evocations of emotion, by then channelling some 30 years work as an arranger of classic synthpop (YMO, collabs with David Sylvian), and seminal soundtracks (Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence; The Last Emperor) into some of his most stripped down yet affective music, hovering on the line between precise, mindful composition and intuitively fluid improvisation.
While the majority of the material here features Sakamoto playing conventionally beautiful solo piano with magnificent highlights on the likes of ‘Opus’, he also extends into experimental, prepared piano on a handful of pieces, both serene and frantic, such as ‘Prelude’, ‘Sonata’ and ‘Uetax’, cannily resonating with Aphex Twin’s prepared piano pieces on ‘Drukqs’, which were released just two years later.
The first Grouper album in 4 years finds Liz Harris stripped of FX, pairing her vocals with skeletal piano gestures in beautifully pregnant space. For anyone familiar with the miasmic fuzz of Grouper’s previous releases, the relative clarity is quietly shocking in effect, revealing her songs and sound at their most vulnerable, and, in the process, locating a newfound strength in fragility.
Grid Of Points was recorded in Wyoming shortly after Liz finished recording Grouper’s Ruins out in Aljezur, Portugal, and on the most immediate level it seems to describe the difference in recording locations between windswept Atlantic coastline and sparse, landlocked insularity. The seven songs were written over a week and a half, with the process curtailed by a bout of what she describes as “high fever”. What remains forms some of Grouper’s most legible lyrics and intimate instrumentation, with each piece framed by stark, unprocessed space working in the same role usually occupied by her billowing sheets of harmonic distortion.
Untreated and unfiltered, Grouper's voice rings plaintively clear, sometimes layered in ephemeral harmonies or curling off with jazz-soul wise inflections shadowed by modest piano phrasing in a crepuscular style that links back to all her previous work. Yet, in places the clarity is such that it almost feels like we the listeners have just been hearing her songs with clogged ears for the past decade and longer.
Ultimately, these results perhaps most acutely resonate with the etymology of Liz’s moniker - ‘Grouper’ as in member of a Fourth Way commune, The Group, which was inspired by the philosophy of George Gurdjieff, whose mystic meditations surely linger in the magick of Grid Of Points.
Up until the release of his debut album in 2014, Shinichi Atobe managed to stay off grid since his release on Basic Channel’s Chain Reaction imprint back in 2001. He delivered the second-to-last 12” on the label and then disappeared without a trace, leaving behind a solitary 12” and a trail of speculation that led some people to wonder whether the project was in fact the work of someone on the Basic Channel payroll.
That killer Chain Reaction 12” was also a long time favourite of Demdike Stare, who had been trying to follow the trail and make contact with Atobe for many years before a lead from the Basic Channel office turned up an address in japan and - unbelievably - an album full of archival and new material. That material was compiled and released back in 2014 as Butterfly Effect.
And what a weird and brilliant album it is - deployed with a slow-churn opener that sounds like a syruppy Actress track, before working through a brilliantly sharp and tactile 9 minute Piano House roller that sounds like DJ Sprinkles at his most bittersweet, before diving headlong into a heady, Vainqueur inspired droneworld. It’s full of odd little signatures that gives the whole thing a timeless feel - like a sound bubble from another era.
The master of Italo-electro makes a vital return with the powerful, playful and emotive drive of ‘W.O.W.’ for Vladimir Ivkovic’s Offen Music
Arriving some 25 years since Passarani helped shape the infamous Roman electro sound alongside characters such as Lory D and Leo Anibaldi, ’W.O.W.’ finds him tiling all the styles he’s touched on over the years - IDM, electro, acid, house and disco - with a crisp definition of his signature, razor sharp rhythm programming and lushly affective analog synth arrangements.
Where his earliest work was indebted to or paralleled the bold futurism of Detroit techno and its UK antecedents from AFX and the Rephlex crew, and later releases found him diving headlong into deep house inspirations and killer disco edits as part of Tiger & Woods, on ‘W.O.W.’ Passarani combines intense technicality with intuitive dancefloor suss in eight glorious parts that form a full image of his style.
From the early ‘90s new age promise of ‘Coldrain’ with its Plastikman-like slow/fast drums and melancholic euphoria, to the woozy deep house charm of ‘Strings Fair’, he charts a course thru 25 years of deep dancefloor history, coming off like Cybotron jamming with Alexander Robotnick in ‘Drumy Dream’, while ‘Get Down’ delivers screaming payload of Chicago house/EBM, ‘Innowave’ trades in exquisite instrumental synth-pop, and ‘Minerals’ works out an infectious blend of NYC and SoYo garage depths, before ‘’Talk To Me’ reels with ribboning chromatic arps, then momentarily turns into a Hoover driven house beast.
For the party, the car, the bedroom, this is a killer album.
Jan Jelinek and legendary jazz percussionist Sven-Åke Johansson probe ideas about the “anthropology of drumming” with entrancing results for Luxembourg’s Ni-Vu-Ni-Connu label.
A sterling addition to Jelinek’s catalogue of solo releases and experimental collaborations, ‘puls-plus-puls’ finds the German artist properly indulging a formative passion for jazz music alongside one of free-jazz music’s most respected percussionists. Of course, this being Jelinek, the results are craftily complex but underlined by a hypnotic quality and bedevilling precision that’s always been key to his best work.
On the most immediate level, ‘puls-plus-puls’ is a steeply absorbing display of rhythmic psychedelia and percussive voodoo, pairing Johannsson’s sizzling, free-metered fray with Jelinek’s electronically penned patterns and iridescent drones. On another level, however, it’s a study in the nature and semantics of both machine and human-driven drumming styles.
Jelinek & Johansson’s follow a long tradition of German artists fascinated by rhythm-driven music - from Can and Kraftwerk, to Neu!, Basic Channel and T++, while also dovetailing with Mark Fell’s arrhythmic click-guided percussionists on last year’s acclaimed ‘Intra’ LP. Over the piece’s morphing composition, it’s difficult to separate the machine from the man, or expressive inflection from pure precision: the two are beautifully bound in a richly tactile, haptic, psychedelic roil that highlights percussive music’s ancient history, while questioning its ambiguous, human context in the binary information age.
Stephen O’Malley & Peter Rehberg’s KTL find the darkest space between black metal and computer music - or presence and absence - with ‘The Pyre: versions distilled to stereo’; a score for french choreographer Gisèle Vienne.
Continuing Shelter Press’s on-going documentation of Gisèle Vienne’s work after Stephen O’Malley’s 2015 score for her ‘Éternelle Idole’ piece, ‘The Pyre’ also sees Gisèle paired with Peter Rehberg for first time since his ‘Work For GV 2004-2008’ album, serving to tie up their many, long-running and overlapping strands of practice into a mighty new KTL opus.
As almost anyone who’s heard O’Malley & Rehberg scores for Gisele’s work will surely attest, the french choreographer always brings the best out of her sonic familiars, and their work on ‘The Pyre’ is no exception. Some 6 years in the works, it has undergone multiple stages of processing since the initial seed recording made at IRCAM, Paris, 2012, with subsequent live stems overdubbed at Fennesz’s studio, and further mixing by Randall Dunn all aiding to bring the score to life as it’s own, standalone work of art.
At the service of Gisèle’s choreography - a play on the existential tension between presence and absence - KTL render some of the most pellucid and unfathomable sound designs in their considerable arsenal, layering up from near infrasonic-levels of subharmonics to filigree timbral thizz and sferic reflection, in the process creating an illusion of spatial depth and dizzy scale that beautifully spins our gauges...
Analogue synth wizard Martin Jenkins returns to Ghost Box with a glorious vision of retro-futurist electronics in ‘Hollow Earth’, the sequel to ‘Stasis’ 
At just under 1 hour long, ‘Hollow Earth’ weighs in as one of PCA’s most significant, broadest artist albums (as opposed to compilations). It finds the widely beloved project reeling inwards after the extrospective exploits of his ‘Stasis’ LP to reflect on themes of “subterranean exploration and submerged psychologies.”
Gassed on the spirits of Berlin skool synth improvisation and the new age chuff-on that informed early ‘90s house music, the album unfurls as a nightflight over undulating internal topography, roaming from signature slow techno wonders to weightless, vocodered waltz in ‘Descent’ and furtive, ghostly shapes in ‘Claustrophobe’, before raising the energy level with strident dance tracks such as ‘Mindshaft’ and ‘Core sample’. But it’s int he later quarters that we find some of the most precious material, such as the deliciously moody atmosphere and sylvan slink of ‘Dancing Shadows’, the mind-bending noise sculpture of ‘Quad Tape Substrate’, and his Carpenter-on-quaaludes emulation, ‘Buried Memories’.
Portishead's Beth Gibbons is joined by the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra for this remarkable album conducted by Krzysztof Penderecki.
Gibbons really doesn’t do things by halves, here committing to singing Górecki’s ‘Symphony No. 3 (Symphony of Sorrowful Songs)’ in Polish - a language she doesn’t speak - after an intense period of preparation in which she not only learnt the lyrics, but also their emotional provenance. Conducted by Krzystof Penderecki, the piece proves a perfect platform for Beth’s lesser heard gift for operatic gymnastics, which, once heard, will beg the question why she hasn't made this kind of recording before.
Most poignantly, we’re left on tenterhooks for the opening 12 minutes of the first movement, until the strings usher in her towering, if fleeting vocal to astonishing effect, before she tempers that drama to a much slower, etheric appeal throughout the 2nd movement, and then with a fine grasp of the nuances of Polish enunciation in the 3rd and final movement, without losing her aching cadence.
Jaw-dropping 2nd album by Logos, follow-up to his UK classic ‘Cold Mission’, full of clinical sci-fi sound design and stylized noir narrative riddled with club zingers, checking the electric blue pulse of UK Hardcore Musicks.
Setting a new high-water mark for UK dance-related albums, ‘Imperial Flood’ stakes a claim for Logos as a key dramaturgist of all things darkside, techy and skooled in the hardcore ‘nuum. Where his debut album highlighted links between ‘90s Metalheadz D&B, Wiley’s Devil mixes, and contemporary sci-fi cinema on its deliciously noirish soundstage, with ‘Imperial Flood’ he expands that aesthetic to widescreen HD. Pulling in broader influence from acid and dub techno, experimental computer music, D&B minimalism and the speculative literature of Jeff VanderMeer, Christopher Priest, Lando and JG Ballard, the results vividly speak to the idea of a UK sound as a product of its brutalist, paranoid environment.
Arriving 10 years since his debut 12”, and five after his seminal debut album, ‘Imperial Flood comes after a significant period of creativity for Logos. Over the latter half of this decade he’s been instrumental in new grime movements, co-running London’s acclaimed club night, Boxed, whilst also diversifying his bonds with Mumdance and Shapednoise as part of improvising noise trio, The Sprawl, and most importantly with Different Circles; a label/clubnight catalyst responsible for boundary-pushing dances and a number of cult releases from Airhead, Rabit, Szare and Raime, not to mention his own, standout EPs with Mumdance such as ‘2015’s ‘Proto’.
It’s not difficult to hear how this activity has fed deep forward in ‘Imperial Flood’. From the bullet-time Matrix-style into of ‘Arrival (T2 Mix)’ thru the hair-kissing weightless rave sensation of ‘Weather System Over Plaistow’, he sucks listeners into an utterly convincing soundworld made all the more visceral, “real” thru his exacting production, morphing from the sentinel-bot growls of ‘Marsh Lantern’ to lush viscous/arid acid ambience in ‘Flash Forward (Ambi Mix)’, and Dynamo-style dub on ‘Lighthouse Dub’, before tagging in Mumdance on the Stingray-meets-Autechre styles of ‘Zoned In’, and freezing the dance with commanding force on ‘Stentorian’.
Ultimately there’s no shortage of imitators for this style, but Logos’ combination of dedication to his craft, a classically forward stylistic nous, and unique grasp of narrative places ‘Imperial Flood’ in a rare echelon of UK music really shared only by the likes of Burial and Raime.
Nourishing the zeitgeist, ‘Dancing In Darkness’ collects 14 EBM and industrial zingers from the ‘80s by Throbbing Gristle, D.A.F., Front 242, Nitzer Ebb, The Weathermen, Cabaret Voltaire and more
A primer for the budding darkroom fiend, the set runs the gamut from TG’s sewer-creeping ‘Dead On Arrival’ thru to DAF’s strident anthem ‘Der Mussolini’, Chris & Cosey’s eternal gem ‘Exotica’, the puckered EBM of ‘Control I’m Here (S.D.I. Mix)’ by Front 242, Borghesia’s moody nightlight ‘Ni Upanja, Ni Strahu’, and Meat Beat Manifesto’s proto-darkside hardcore ace ‘Radio Babylon’.
Rustic rustles and synthetic burbles mesh in organic, synaesthetically heightened form on Ellicist’s debut release
“Creating a composition means making decisions. During times in which you virtually have all sounds that have ever been recorded at your availability, composers must choose between infinite possibilities. The duo Ellicist does not perceive this contemporary ocean of possibilities as too much choice, they are swimming in it. Ellicist are weaving thick textures from the most diverse tones and rhythms. Their tracks are placing synthetic buzzing, the croaking of frogs, low frequency billowing and humming, flutes, the droning of flies, and the whole spectrum of the digital creation of sound next to one another. This intensity of sensations is not supposed to overstrain the listener, it invites them to follow a process. This music does not have a strict structure; instead, it is breathing openness at every moment.
Ellicist are incessantly oscillating between abstraction and elements of pop music. Melodies are being hinted at, and sounds are being piled up, at times tirelessly. Fragments of etheric choirs or field recordings are unfolding their associative power. The melodious Ink is a track full of touching intimacy and is in constant motion until it eventually pauses to create a silent ocean of sound. "Passage People" is permeated by a groove of throbbing synths. The tapestries of sound of "Ponds & Graves", on the other hand, are creating the foundation for expressive percussions. "Ihnen Steg" is almost a dub track. During the opener Hennepin and its follower "Lilei" sounds of palpable corporeity are being combined with ones that are hardly tangible. Point Defects has an incredible spatiality. At one point you might believe that you are able to precisely localize the sounds in an imaginary system of coordinates. And then the whole systemization crumbles. It is an astonishing production: you can almost taste the sounds. Ellicist are Thomas Chousos and Florian Zimmer. Chousos studied composition in Greece before moving to Berlin, where he is working as a producer and sound engineer under the moniker Tadklimp. Florian Zimmer has been playing with several groups; Besides Ellicist he is a member of Saroos and Driftmachine”
Shapednoise reduces Mumdance & Logos, his bandmates in The Sprawl, to Ur, elemental noise for Tectonic
In both parts Nino Pedone aka Shapednoise extracts and intensifies the industrial spirits lurking in Mumdance & Logos’s rave machinery. On the A-side, the harpy divas and bashy drums of their reticulated beast ‘Chaos Engine’ are filtered thru a gauntlet of reverbs and metallurgic magick to form the demonic convulsions and gurning screech of his ‘Shatter Remix’, while the B-side sees him dissolve the skeletal bones of ‘Cold’ into a brittle lattice of icy particulates and Arctic cavern bass in the ‘Crystalline Remix’.
For fans of Shapednoise’s solo output or his work with Mumdance & Logos in improv n0!ze trio The Sprawl, this plate is tasty...
The gods at Stroom deliver another peachy double-header, facing off Kyoto’s classy 1984 synth-pop with the steamy blush of Zoë Sinatra’s 1990 gem.
Kyoto’s ‘Venetian Blinds’ fines the tightest line between flash funk and in-the-pocket cool, with Belinda De Bruyn glyding icy over blinding FM synth stabs and puckered bass hustle to jog a precious part of collective memory - it nails a vibe so well you think you know it, even if you never heard it before.
Zoë Sinatra’s ‘Mais Qu’Est-Ce Que Tu Fumes?’ hugs the B-side like a velvet bodysuit. Produced by legendary New Beat guy, Gery François (Teknokrat’s), it’s much slower and sexier than his club gear, destined for the after-party and quite possibly directing you to the cold shower Zoë mentions in the song.
Imagine a J-Pop loving BoC doing a computer game soundtrack and you have the beautiful ‘Oneknowing’ by Lena Raine; composer of award-winning indie platform game ‘Celeste’, who recently collaborated with Hans Zimmer on the opening theme for The Game Awards 2018 (the Oscars of the gamer world)
A sterling addition to Local Action’s optimist-futurist aesthetic, Lena’s first solo LP proper (if we discount her soundtrack works) finds her putting a finely honed emotive and narrative sensibilities at the service of her own music. Separated from the need to accompany hopping pixels, she emotes a classically modernist melancholy that crisply but gently resonates with ‘90s trip hop, shoegaze and IDM/electronica prisms as much as the sort of Japanese new age ambient styles currently explored by Visible Cloaks.
Considering that the last computer game I played was probably Abe’s Odyssey, as a nipper, around 20 years ago, our knowledge of contemporary game soundtracks is limited to say the least. But no knowledge of that arena is required to enjoy ‘Oneknowing’, which is simply a beautiful album for home listening, utterly flush with ear-worming melodies and and a glowing pleasantness that’s just hard to shake, especially if you like anything from Tenniscoats to Ulrich Schnauss, Boards of Canada or 0PN.
Rude dub-funk experiments from 1986 Canada - think ‘My Life in the Bush Of Ghosts’ Eno at Tubby’s studio, overseen by Bill Laswell’s Material. Remastered from original tapes. 2nd hand copies aren’t cheap!
“Politico dub-collage practitioners Guerrilla Welfare came from Edmonton, Alberta, coincidentally the birthplace of prophetic media sage Marshall McLuhan. Armed with vanguard ideas taken from Steve Reich, Fela Kuti, Robert Fripp and Material, the duo of Curtis Ruptash and Brian Schultze adopted the “studio as instrument” mindset of Eno and King Tubby creating complex textural and polyrhythmic sonic insurgencies. They overdubbed drum computers, guitar, bass, noise-makers, mallet percussion, sitars, often accompanied by sampled vocals and found sound taken from TV.
Their pan-global, multi-media palette supported zeitgeist commentary — often, with a healthy dose of gallows humour — on gender, power structures, and sexual and geopolitical tensions in the late 80s. Their DIY bunker studio experimentations align them with genre defying dub-infused outfits like African Head Charge, Dome, Lifetones, Naffi, Woo, Negativeland and The Residents. The Nature of Human Nature captures Guerilla Welfare’s most formidable output, compiling tracks selected from their entire discography (two LPs and a cassette collaboration with poet Mary Howes), all originally self-released from 1986 to 1991. Remastered from the original tapes.”
Anne Briggs’ eponymous 1971 debut album, largely unavailable for 48 years, is widely regarded as a pillar of any folk collection. Re-issued here as part of the Topic Treasures series – the label’s classic and notable albums expanded in deluxe format with rare images, new liner notes (by folk aficionado/ journalist, Ken Hunt).
This 1971 release was Anne Briggs' first full-length album, arriving a long time after she'd become an established figure in the folk revival of the '60s. The material here is split between traditionals and original compositions, some pieces furnished with instrumental backing while others are delivered acappella.
The end result is an album that might pose quite a challenge to the casual listener, particularly when it comes to eleven-minute vocal-only narrative 'Little Tambling', which is beautifully sung, but ultimately requires your close attention. When unaccompanied, Briggs' voice takes on a truly haunting quality, sounding quite unlike the earthier intonations of contemporary Shirley Collins, and the fact that for much of the time she's singing incredibly old, hand-me-down laments only heightens the ghostly quality.
Scuzzy EBM/darkwave boppers and a sludgy beat off, by Marseille’s Cardinal & Nun
"Injecting energy into the dead, channeling chaos and turmoil into his music, he rips through four tracks with a rough yet somehow elegant approach...raw to the bone yet flawlessly arranged.
Synths that sound like guitars, guitars that sound like synths, metallic drum machines with a human touch and deranged vocals fuel this record til the end. Think Screamers meet Chrome meet Liasions with a healthy dose of southern california gutter punks on meth and you're in the right place. Marseille is where it is all happening right now and this is a documented confirmation of it!"