Brian Shimkovitz returns to SA with pure house heat from Professor Rhythm. Check for infectiously slower parallels to the NYC garage/house and New Beat phenomenon of the late ‘80s in the strident, acidic ‘Leave Me Alone’, the piano house lixx of ‘Kancane Kancane’ and the tuffer push of ‘Zama Zama’
“Professor Rhythm is the production moniker of South African music man Thami Mdluli. Throughout the 1980’s, Mdluli was member of chart-topping groups Taboo and CJB, playing bubblegum pop to stadiums. Mdluli became an in-demand producer for influential artists (like Sox and Sensations, among many others) and in-house producer for important record companies like Eric Frisch and Tusk. During the early '80s, Mdluli projects usually featured an instrumental dance track. These hot instrumentals became rather popular. Fans demanded to hear more of these backing tracks without vocals, he says, so Mdluli began to make solo instrumental albums in 1985 as Professor Rhythm. He got the name before the recordings began, from fans, and positive momentum from audiences and other musicians drove him to invest himself in a full-on solo project. It was the era just before the end of apartheid and house music hadn’t taken over yet. There wasn’t instrumental electronic music yet in South Africa. As the '80s came to a close, that was about to change.
Professor Rhythm productions mirror the evolution of dance music in South Africa. They grew out of the bubblegum mold—which itself stems from band’s channeling influences like Kool & the Gang and the Commodores—into something based on music for the club. His early instrumental recordings First Time Around and Professor 3 mostly distilled R&B, mbaqanga and bubblegum grooves into vocal-less pieces for the dance floor. Musically, these were a success and commercially the albums all went gold. There were countless bubblegum albums flooding the marketplace, with nearly disposable vocalists backed by mostly similar-sounding rhythm tracks. Most of the lyrical content was light and apolitical. But the keyboards used formed the musical basis for what would come next.”
Kiran Sande (Blackest Ever Black) and Chris Farrell (Idle Hands) trigger their Silent Street cooperative with a surefire survey of Maximum Joy’s dub-fuelled punkfunk and pop singles 1981-1982, collected as I Can’t Stand It Here On Quiet Nights. Digging a pivotal point in Bristol’s dub-informed lineage, it reveals the sound of Bristol parties and after-hours blues in the early ‘80s, which would also find success among the punk-funk crowds and hip hop stations of NYC. Fans of Vazz, The Slits, Glaxo Babies, The Pop Group need to check this one!
“I Can’t Stand It Here On Quiet Nights is centred around the trio of singles the band released on Dick O’Dell’s Y Records between 1981-1982. Their first, ‘Stretch’, was licensed to seminal American label 99 Records and soon after became an anthem on the New York club underground, a cult staple at Danceteria and on late-night radio. Closer to home and a shared personal favourite is their first B-side, ‘Silent Street / Silent Dub’: a languid, haunting tribute to long summer nights in St Pauls (where the Idle Hands shop presently resides), and specifically the Black & White Cafe, “where dub-reggae reigned supreme, 24/7”. Llewellin’s mesmerising one-drop kit and Catsis’s outrageously heavy bassline anchor the track, allowing Rainforth’s exquisite vocal and Wrafter’s trumpet to soar within the intense, expressionistic dub mix. In both subject matter and execution it is the definitive Bristol tune.
‘White And Green Place (Extraterrestrial Mix)’, ‘In The Air’, and wistful instrumental ‘Simmer Til Done’ also feature; the non-Y bonus is the 12” version of ‘Do It Today’, Maximum Joy’s contribution to the Fontana compilation Touchdown, which originally came out in ’82 as a white label split with The Higsons.
I Can’t Stand It Here On Quiet Nights is the first official UK vinyl reissue of Maximum Joy material, with sleevenotes by Janine Rainforth, Tony Wrafter and Kevin Pearce. We invite you to acquaint, or reacquaint, yourself with the eclectic, exhilarating work of Bristol’s finest, brightest pop idealists.”
Into The Light slot another cryptic piece of their cosmic puzzle with a lush haul of previously unreleased ambient and synth works by Akis Daoutis, who previously appeared on the label’s breakthrough compilation A Journey Into Greek Electronic Music, Classics & Rarities (1978-1991), and whose 1990 debut LP provided direct inspiration behind the label’s enigmatic moniker.
On Space, Time, And Beyond (Selected Works 1986-2016) Daoutis offers a serene mooch around his sprawling gardens of electronic delight, pulling together tracks written at home in Athens and abroad in USA where he was studying during the mid ‘80s - spanning material from as far back as 1986 in the cascading beauty of Christmas, which could almost be cut from a cords and woolly jumper John Hughes flick, thru to the breezy rhythmelodic patterning of Into The Light off his aforementioned debut LP, and right up to the introspective electro-acoustic probe of My Haunting Sins, written as recently as 2016.
It’s clearly music that comes from a sunny place, blessed with a sense of optimism between the radiant synth shimmer and swallow diving clarinet of Biofields and the fluttering up-lift music parts of New Age Rising - taken from a sought-after 40 minute composition - and with a phosphorescing duskiness that keeps the sand warm between your toes in Beach Ambience, diffracting that energy into myriad variations such as the jazz-funk butterfly, Violet and the slow boogie shuffles of Ecological Awareness and Erotica.
Romantic souls and those in need of a holiday to somewhere unaffordably lush should book their seat of this one as soon as possible.
Seekersinternational serve intoxicating tropical ambient dancehall chutney with the Gunman Cult Classics Mix for the the’ ICS Library Records label. If you put this one side to side with their cultishly loved output from the last few years, the SKRS effectively have your whole summer seleks sorted out for 2017.
The new age badmen twist and dub convention inside-out here, meshing a slew of dancehall and R&B acapellas with lush ambient strokes, rudest boogie and sidesteps into subcontinental and far eastern sounds to coolly put a fresh - yet, crucially, faithful - spin on the dancehall/dub prisms which they’re clearly infatuated with.
Absorbing heat by everyone from Gappy Ranks and 1991 to Tom & Jerry and O$VMV$M, and rubbing in special oils from Gwen Guthrie to Jody Watley and Luciano, the results are stewed in fuzzy dub FX and practically melt before your ears, ready to spread on balconies from Hulme to Barbados.
Trust this is no dilettantish half-stepping or stylistic dabbling; their picks are pure gold and the way they put them together is just A++, primed for a long, hot summer...
Cerebral psychedelic disco sleaze from London's Design A Wave on Rush Hour's consistently wayward 'No' Label. Last spotted on the brilliant 'Live On Your Yard' 12" for Alter in 2011, Design a Wave has been outta earshot for a minute but held a firm place in the "clear the room" section of our record bag for his amazing thirteen minute 'Iso Bum II' joint (go check it!) ever since. There's nothing quite so brilliantly taxing on this one, but there are four cuts of uncanny, smart dancefloor music, bending time and space from the pan pipe-rife electro-disco of 'Pentatonic Skull' to the return of that depressed baritone on the ruddy boogie of 'Cerebellum', and over thru the lilting Balearic/Martian harmonic cadence of 'Time For Re-Arranges' and the gorgeous, betaless Yamaha chorales of 'Weird F'. RIYL Heatsick, John Maus, Torn Hawk.
Paul Purgas and James Ginzburg’s Emptyset incorporate vocals into the broader structures of Skin, methodically teasing out the conceptual threads of Borders, their debut for Thrill Jockey issued earlier in 2017.
Where the taut, agitated bursts of Borders were clipped tight in structure and duration, these four new pieces adapt the same electro-acoustic techniques and custom built instrumentations to more immersive ends, allowing us to clearer hear the clash and buzz of far-flung reference points - ritual music and non-Western composition - resolving into new forms before your ears.
The two Skin parts are pent and urgent, flowing in angular geometries of spiky prangs and buzzing resonance that sound something like a West African balafon attached to a 12-string guitar played by John Fahey, and then remixed for Korean court functions, whereas Eye I catches them playing to a massed, Tony Conrad-esque monochord joined by alien overtone singers, which turns into a call for their shuttle to return them back to the mothership in the 2nd part.
Julianna Barwick teams up with Texan post rock group This Will Destroy You for an airy instrumental remix of The Puritan, some three years adrift from their Another Language  LP.
Most remarkably, Julianna’s signature vocals are barely present on her remix, only detectable as a very distant peal flit ng around the edges of a vast sound sphere, almost as if she’s using her own chest as a resonant cavity for the plangent keys and their soft, underlying pulse. It’s deliciously simple yet stately and faithful to the original, but captures something intangible that will keep us returning to it.
A new album from Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius
It comes as quite some relief to hear that after all these years away from the studio Cluster still sound like Cluster. Divided into seventeen miniatures, this latest collection explores synthesis and electronically treated sound from much the same perspective as the band's classic material. Of course, the overall sound has a rather different finish to it - much of the equipment sounds different and the production is crisp and modern - but in the soundscaping of 'Putoil' and 'Ymstrob', the low-end surges of 'Xanesra' or the stuttering glitch-dub of 'Na Ernel' you can still hear that Roedelius/Moebius magic at work. Inevitably, Qua could never sound as innovative as some of its estimable predecessors, but it's certainly worthy of the Cluster name, and that's surely a high enough accolade in itself.
Jeff Mills’ tribute to the Planets finally takes shape as a 2CD set housed in one of those clunky dual CD cases that used to house Now! compilations.
Suffice it to say that we’re not huge fans of this classical-meets-techno trajectory Mills is has been taking for the past decade - although, mind you there have been some highlights such as the Free Fall Galaxy album - but don’t let that put you off from checking this out, especially if you’re a sucker for Carl Sagan videos or retro-futuristic fetishism.
Ben Frost presents the soundtrack to his directorial debut, an operatic interpretation of Iain Banks novel The Wasp Factory, issued on his Bedroom Community label.
Two years on from his all-conquering ninth album, Aurora, Ben Frost returns to Bedroom Community with The Wasp Factory, the soundtrack to his own operatic adaptation of the cult debut novel by late Scottish writer Iain Banks. First debuting at Austria’s Bregenz Festival in August 2013 and running for a short period throughout select European venues, The Wasp Factory continued Frost’s flirtation with the world of theatre and performance art but represented his debut outing as a director.
In original form, Banks’ novel centres on the anti-hero and psychopathic teenager Frank living on a remote island in rural Scotland. Transferring this to the theatre, Frost chose to portray Frank’s narration through a series of female singers, backed with a live string ensemble. Presented outside of the stage for the first time, this album offers a different side to Frost, away from the harsh soundscapes of Aurora, and gravitating towards a warmer take on the modern classical sound. Shorn of the visual stimuli and context that comes with seeing The Wasp Factory performed live, this fifteen-track album will probably satisfy only the most fanatical of Frost followers. Of which there are plenty.
Ryoji Ikeda and Carsten Nicolai first premiered their collaborative Cyclo project a deacde ago on Raster Noton. Relaunching in 2011 they're just as intent on creating a synaesthetic visualization of sound that "...seeks to create a new hybrid of visual art and music".
Essentially the sounds on 'Id' are inextricable from their visual corollary. They're the unmastered sonic illustrations of detailed graphical data, and vice versa, developed from a database of sounds composed to produce visual responses when analysed in real time with the help of stereo image monitoring equipment. Most importantly, the sounds are subservient to the image, hence the record remains purposefully unmastered in order to retain the waveform's original integrity when visualized through an XY phase scope, transcending the usual sound>image dynamic. But that's not to say that the music doesn't possess its own heightened, strangely affecting quality - within 30 seconds of listening through headphones this reviewer's eyes were watering, a physically visceral effect if we've ever felt one.
Unlike its relatively austere predecessor, the sounds within cover a wider spectrum of rhythms, from spasmodic digital pulses to lightyears-advanced electro syncopation, and similarly a dazzling frequency range capable of causing acutely synaesthetic reactions. All this leads us to think that 'Id' is a work of uncompromising genius, at once cementing and advancing Ikeda and Nicolai's relentlessly ongoing audio/visual quest.
Light-headed house music by new and regular avatars from the Blind Jacks Journey family; Rnr, Mr. Fiel, Gnork X Luv Jam, and Jimini.
No messing with the format here as each contributor plays well into the label’s deep drifting house aesthetics between the sublime suspension systems of Moments by Rnr and the plush Sven Weisemann wibes of Mr. Fiel’s Sunset On The Moon up top, whereas Gnork X Luv Jam reroute the feeling to filtered disco house ecstasy with Troppppixxxx and Jimini plays from the classic UK/Detroit handbook in Back To Reality.
Tokyo’s Satoshi Fumi and Antwerp’s WPH give it up for classic Detroit with the Derrick May or Red Planet styled house breeze of Triton (WPH Mix), backed with the uplifting piano house of Lalalalaland.
Reissue. Originally released on cassette in 1980.
"Presented by two separate stacks of Cluster recordings - one comprised of their studio work, the other of live performances - an innocent listener might conclude they are the efforts of two completely different artists. This would understandably have been the case in 1980, when the structured, tuneful miniatures of 1979's Großes Wasser and 1981's Curiosum were unlikely bookends to the sprawling electroacoustic abstractions of Live in Vienna.
But as fans of the idiosyncratic duo already knew, Cluster's trajectory was always a restless one - more about disruption than gentle evolution."
Torn Hawk’s spirit quest reveals proper aerobic mystic goodness under the wonderfully suggestive title Men With No Memory, following up the dramas of his Union & Return album with four genre-agnostic turns folding EBM, psyche and dub into striking new prisms that hold up to dancefloor pressure and closer scrutiny at home.
The title track kicks off the first plate with a fugged-up whorl of country guitars and lurching dub nodding at Sun Araw before spiking out with taut EBM drums that really come into play on the B-side’s Poser, one of the rudest, sickest electro cuts we’ve heard this side of Gesloten Cirkel’s album in recent times.
With Butterfly Knives opens the 2nd disc into a flanging metallic wormhole sounding something like a disco on the other side of the TV in Cronenberg Videodrome, then spitting us out at the psychey new wave enigma Stealing Geodes From The Nature Company, and the natty closer, Not Quite Music.
RIYL Beau Wanzer, Gesloten Cirkel, Willie Burns for daaaaays
Carsten Nicolai and Ryoji Ikeda’s seminal minimalist project is now finally available to download. Originally issued on CD and LP in 2001, cyclo.’s . was, and more or less still is, the last word in purest, stoically funked-up digital sound pressure.
“cyclo. is a collaborative research project by Ikeda and Nicolai which focuses on the visualisation of sound. The artists are developing a database of sounds that they are composing for the visual responses these produce when analysed in real time using equipment developed originally for phase correlation in mastering vinyl records. With such stereo image monitoring equipment, the phase and amplitude of stereo signals can be illustrated graphically.
The audio elements have been constructed and chosen through agendas concerned with the minute editing of frequencies (often beyond the physical range of human hearing) and the perceptual amassing of audio elements to an undefined point. For Nicolai and Ikeda an 'infinity index’ of sound fragments is a conscious motivation forming the basis of their research and feeding cyclo. with the audio material required for visuality.
In amassing this archive, Nicolai and Ikeda transcend the usual dynamic whereby image acts merely as a functional accompaniment to sound. They arrive at a standpoint from which the audio element in the process is subservient to the desire and appetite of the image. Although this imaging is purely 2-D in display, the process proposes 3-D possibilities. Their proposition is that the structural complexities of these visual metered shapes, born and examined from the perspective of audio metering, may have in them a rich potential for architects, designers and engineers to find starting points for structural readings.”
Class debut of lucidly imaginative and abstract electroscapes from Manchester’s Andy Brown aka AB2020; making his maiden mission on Sheffield’s Computer Club with the Cybotronian industrial sci-fi soundtrack styles of Sagittarius.
Built atom by atom in his hardware-filled pod and conducted with a proper, late night sense of dramaturgy, Sagittarius covers a lot of ground within AB2020’s chosen dimension - taking the listener from Alice Coltrane-like string sweeps and alien bleeps in Lacu to the Carpenter-esque finale of Nuworlds via the synaesthetic tweaks of Permafrost and pulsating Drexciyan techno in the two parts of Subsurface Ocean plus a smart dose of clipped electro acid on Terraform and some excellent pieces of chromatic techno mystery in Cogewn and Exic that recall Jeff Mills’ recent deep space explorations.
Torn Hawk’s 1st release for the No ‘Label’ outta A’dam frames four more wistful aspects of the producer’s wandering soul, racking up the chromatic psych-boogie bump of Motivation & Reward next to the blunted, acidic, cosmic chugger Greystain, the slompy, screwed grind of Nicenails, and Strikeinside’s electro slime trail.
Circa 2000 aka William Wiffen presents his debut album 'Thought In Vias' on Computer Club, a journey for the ears and hearts of electronic connoisseurs.
"These are the sounds of an electrical engineering graduate and accomplished musician, from Bridlington to Brighton, via a unique autobahn of analogue synth sounds. Haunting modulation with finely detuned oscillators sweep through the tracks, glued together with relaxed improvisation.
Provoking feelings of Depeche Mode, Air, Neu!, Tangerine Dream and including the killer track 'Fall All Over The Place', 'Thoughts In Vias' is 40 minutes of genuine kosmische Musik.”
Len Faki puts his weight behind two remixes of Aleksi Perälä colundi sequenced techno bangers.
In Faki's hands, GBBVT133715 is reinforced with horse-powered bass for the all-night steeds in a Hardspace Mix, whereas he focusses on the colundi sequence’s strange tunings in the elegantly balanced canter and hyaline harmonics with trips effect in UK74R1409047 (Deepspace Mix).
Classy counterpart to Design A Wave's deviant disco debut for Rush Hour's searching 'No' Label. Like the first one, the tracks here are pure, instantly gratifying, dancefloor gems ranging from Balihu-esque disco sway on 'Neanderthal Nyquist' to Kraftwerkian electro in 'Movie Of Helipad', and over to the wheezing punk-funk of 'Auto-Resonance Machine' and an instrumental of 'Cerebellum' off the 1st EP. RIYL Heatsick, Mordant Music, John Maus.
Swaaangin’ electro-boogaloo from 1986, produced by Lo Joe and Electro Wayne (whaddaname!) for Circuit Shock Productions.
Features the Kraftwerkian gasps, old skool hip hop/soul vocals and twanging bass juice of She’s Just That Type Of Girl in original and instrumental mixes, backed with the in-the-pocket funk of Under Pressure on the other one, with a lead hook that uncannily recalls *that* Edwyn Colllins song from a decade later. Go figure.
Further to his box-jacking session on Part 1, Massimiliano Pagliara diversifies his bonds into seesawing, beat-less kosmiche/trance arpeggios in Devoid of Dimension Pt.2
With a supple voltage control recalling Lorenzo Senni or COH’s recent Plays Everall LP in Unspoken, and like a long-lost Global Communication vignette in Unseen.
After showing up on Ostgut Ton with Time And Again, Massimiliano Pagliara returns to Live At Robert Johnson with Devoid of Dimension Pt.1
Jacking up a tidy fuss between the raw Chicago drums and piquant arpeggios of Free At Last and the bendy electro-boogie swang of Unstoppable Trajectory on the front, and swerving from smoother Larry Heard-on-the-Adriatic vibes in Blue Eyes to the sleazy strut of Small Town Life on the back.
Pauline Oliveros surrounded by Belgian ensemble Musiques Nouvelles, performing 2 long pieces for orchestra.
"Sound Geometries for Chamber Orchestra, Expanded Instrument System and 5.1 Surround Sound System by Pauline Oliveros was premiered in Brussels. The 3 sections metaphors of the piece are intended to guide the players in their feelings and approaches to conducted, guided and improvisational music making to create differing atmospheres for each of the three sections. Players sounds are picked up during the performance by microphones, processed in one of ten geometrical patterns by the Oliveros designed Expanded Instrument System (EIS). to transform and move the player's sounds in space in the 5.1 surround sound system.
Meditation for Orchestra asks the performers to listen then sound. Listen means to include all that is sounding and to find a space for each sound that is made. Pauline Oliveros and Ione are guests of Ensemble Musiques Nouvelle in this studio performance of Meditation.”