Chances are anything you’ll listen to after sitting through this half hour masterpiece will sound a bit lifeless - El Mal Querer is the most vibrant, layered and forward facing album of the year.
Rosalía Vila Tobella is already something of a sensation in her native Spain, but this new album looks certain to propel her into the stratosphere with its immediately accessible but multi-layered fusion of traditional flamenco with the swagger of modern R&B, a kind of minimal pop variant underpinned by what feels like an almost endless succession of clever hooks.
The opening Malamente is the most immediate and hard-hitting of the 11 tracks here, but the album is basically wall-to-wall brilliance, from the subtle, almost Theo-parrish inspired EQ cuts on Que No Salga La Luna to the super fwd juxtaposition of flamenco, auto-tune, pulsing subs and motorbikes revving on De Aquí No Sales to the ultra-ohrwurm Di Mi Nombre. Even the more traditional a cappela tracks edge into deviance - the eerie, layered vocals on A Ningún Hombre closing the album on a nervy, uncompromising note.
El Mal Querer really is a perfectly formed, hyper-modern vision of pop music; structurally daring, endlessly catchy, melancholy, introspective, bursting with charisma and more ideas than any other record we’ve listened to in 2018. Apparently there’s new music in the works from Rosalía with Pharell and Arca, you should keep a v close eye on this one...
New compositions for ancient Korean instrument:the Geomungo, a follow up to the high acclaimed Compositions For Geomungo and Gayageum (2012).
"Baudouin de Jaer - Composer, violonist, Baudouin de Jaer studied composition with Philippe Boesmans, Henri Pousseur, Frederic Rzewski and at McGill University (Montréal) with Bruce Mather. He composes for the Korean instruments Daegeum, Haegeum, Gayageum and Geomungo, and for orchestras of Korean traditional instruments. In 2010 he resolved the enigmatic music system of Swiss artist Adolf Wölfli and released a CD called 'The Heavenly Ladder' on the Sub Rosa label (SR312). In 2010, Baudouin de Jaer was awarded a prize from the National Gugak Center for his Gayageum compositions."
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.
‘5 Klavierstücke’ was recorded and produced by Gareth Jones in the South of France on Irmin Schmidt's two grand pianos. Schmidt partly prepared his Pleyel piano (in the way he was taught by John Cage himself) and the other piano - Irmin Schmidt’s 100-year-old Steinway - remained unprepared.
"Several pieces were recorded in one session on the prepared piano only, others contain recordings from both pianos. All ambient sounds were recorded on site - around Irmin Schmidt's studio - and there are no other instruments or electronics of any kind.
As a composer and one of Can’s founding members, Irmin Schmidt has scored more than one hundred soundtracks. Outside of his work with Can, he has released over a dozen solo albums and written an opera, ‘Gormenghast’, based on the novels of Mervyn Peake. In 2015, he was made a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres for his contribution to art and culture, one of France’s highest honours."
Highly anticipated official reissue of this album from Midori Takada’s MKWAJU ensemble, sourced from the original masters and available in two versions: a vinyl LP cut at Emil Berliner Studios (formerly the in-house recording department of Deutsche Grammophon) and a digipack CD.
"Originally recorded in February and March 1981 and released by fabled Japanese avant-garde label Better Days (home of Ryuichi Sakamato’s debut album, Yasuaki Shimizu’s Kakashi, Colored Music self-titled LP and many more) MKWAJU is the fruit of the collaboration between Takada’s crew and world-famous composer/musical director Joe Hisaishi, the man behind most of of Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli anime soundtracks and over 100 other films scores, including Takeshi Kitano’s Sonatine, Hana-Bi, and Kikujiro. The ensemble’s transcendental wonder is, in fact, the first-ever Midori Takada album and the first-ever Joe Hisaishi-produced album.
Historic. Led by Midori Takada on marimba, gong, vibraphone, and tom tom, MKWAJU is an inventive and riveting take on Eastern and Western minimalist traditions, African rhythms, and early electronica. Drawing from its jazz-rooted polyrhythmic improvisations in the most inventive ways, the album covers a wide spectrum of sounds, from colorful dance floor-ready percussion pieces that stand somewhere between proto-techno and experimental synth-pop, to cinematic ambient landscapes and ethereal drone delicacies. The feverishly sought-after full-length is a stepping-stone in Midori Takada’s career and an all-around pioneering album. Alongside Takada and Hisaishi (who not only produced the album but also played synthesizers), personnel on MKWAJU includes famed Japanese musicians Yoji Sadanari and Hideki Mats."
David Tibet pairs his apocalyptic prognostications with plush pastoral backdrops ranging from unsettlingly rose-tinted to beautifully melancholic, supplied by Andrew Liles, Ben Chasny, and various, nefarious associates of Coil, including bagpiper Michael J. York and Ossian Brown (Cyclobe)
““The Light Is Leaving Us All” is the new album from Current 93, everyone’s favourite Hallucinatory Cuneiform SuperGroup.
Three years in Her Making and Shaping, “The Light Is Leaving Us All” Spells WithIn Her 11 tracks.”
The Sound of Music was conceived when Laibach were infamously invited to perform in North Korea in 2015. The band performed several songs from the 1965 film’s soundtrack at the concert in Pyongyang, chosen by Laibach as it’s a well-known and beloved film in the DPRK and often used by schoolchildren to learn English. Laibach are joined by Boris Benko (Silence) and Marina Mårtensson on vocals and the album gives the Laibach treatment to tracks such as ‘My Favorite Things’, ‘Edelweiss’, ‘Do-Re-Mi’ and ‘Maria’, here reworked as ‘Maria / Korea’ (“How do you solve a problem like Maria / Korea?”).
"While the majority of the tracks on the album are from the film, the band also included ‘Arirang’, an interpretation of a traditional Korean folk song considered the unofficial national anthem of both North and South Korea (and released recently to mark the historic summit in Singapore between President Donald Trump and the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un), as well as their own workout of the Gayageum, a traditional Korean zither-like string instrument performed by students from the Kum Song Music School in Pyongyang and a recording of the band’s “welcome” speech to Korea from Mr. Ryu from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Committee for Cultural Relations.
Laibach’s groundbreaking performance in North Korea was documented by director, artist and cultural diplomat, Morten Traavik in the film Liberation Day (described by MOJO as “a humorous, disturbing, illuminating and sometimes moving immersion into an anomalous communist mirror-world …”) which is out now via ITunes following its screening for Storyville on BBC4.
The album was recorded and produced in Ljubljana, Slovenia and in Pyongyang, DPRK and represents another successful collaboration between Laibach and Silence (Primož Hladnik and Boris Benko), who previously co-created Laibach’s 2006 Volk album."
A proper piece of post-punk history: the studio session for Bauhaus’ classic ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’ available on vinyl for the 1st time! Includes early version of the dancefloor evergreen plus a haul of previously unreleased aces
“The Bela Session is a full release of Bauhaus' first studio session from January 26 1979, where the iconic "Bela Lugosi's Dead" was recorded. This is the first and only official reissue of "Bela Lugosi's Dead" on vinyl, and the first time 3 of the 5 tracks have been released. This EP has been produced directly by the band with Leaving Records, in advance of the band's 40th anniversary.
Bauhaus are a four-piece from Northampton, England, composed of Peter Murphy (vocals, occasional instruments), Daniel Ash (guitar), Kevin Haskins (drums), and David J (bass). Venerated and highly influential, the band emerged from the post-punk alternative music scene of the early 80s with a string of innovative albums and a powerfully dramatic live presentation. Their music embodies a minimalistic, disconsolate style of post-punk rock unlike any other.
"Bela Lugosi's Dead" was originally released by Small Wonder Records, 1979. "Harry" was originally released by Beggars Banquet, 1982. "Some Faces," "Bite My Hip," and "Boys (Original)" are previously unreleased.”
Erik Griswold coaxes charmingly off-kilter, rhythmelodic ribbons of sound from his prepared piano on return to Room40 with ‘Yokohama Flowers’, his 6th release for fellow Antipodean, Lawrence English’s label. RIYL AFX’s prepared piano works, Indonesian gamelan, African thumb piano music
“For over two decades, Griswold has been crafting a particular and utterly personal language around his instrument of choice. His preparations, which are in a state of perpetual refinement, are like a kind of lens; it is through them that a certain audio reading of his instrument is made possible.
It’s understandable then that Griswold would be inspired by the work of Australian experimental film maker Louise Curham. Like Griswold, she too reveals a very personal reading of her surroundings through a range of preparations and expanded techniques. Discovering her work through a series of collaborations hosted by Room40, Other Film and other groups, the pair slowly developed a strong approach to joint performance.
In many ways, these recorded works reflect upon those performances. Similar to her filmic works, which maintain an unfamiliar, yet tangible beauty; Griswold’s compositions remind us that the piano is never truly knowable, or known. Each composition collected here reveals another detail or way of knowing the piano. The preparations release something in excess of the instrument itself.
It’s in these extensions, these ruptures of familiarity, that the language of the piano is born and reborn. It is a state of perpetual discovery and resolution, framed in composition.”
‘The Last Days of Reality’ is a broodingly enigmatic Lionel Marchetti composition performed on acoustic and electronic instruments by Decibel, a new music ensemble from Perth, Western Australia. Concrète poetry in effect...
“From Cat Hope (Decibel):
I first met Lionel Marchetti in Australia during the Liquid Architecture Festival in 2010. Decibel were touring our Alvin Lucier program, and Lionel was on the same bill performing a live performance set manipulating electro-acoustic materials with dancer Yoko Higashi. I was so taken with Lionel’s performances and the resulting music, that I asked him if he would write a piece for Decibel.
I didn’t realise that he hadn’t done something like this before. The first work was “Première étude (les ombres)”, communicated as a text score, and premiered in 2012. I was asked by Lionel to make some recordings of ocarinas, harmonicas, and folk instruments – and I sent these to him for the creation of a ‘partition concrète d'accompagnement’– a fixed media part that is featured in the live performance. For this piece, the part comes from speakers beside each performer, and a bass amplifier beneath the piano. Like his own performances I had seen the year before, the work was naturally performative – with unique speaker and performer configurations, interesting and odd additional instruments. It was such a rich work, a remarkable combination of electronic, spatial, acoustic and textural music. The performers use the partition concrete as a score.
I visited Lionel in Lyon, France in 2014, recording flute improvisations in his studio. He used these as a basis for “Une série de reflets”, again communicating via text instructions and each performer having their own dedicated speaker to interact with. “Pour un enfant qui dort”, which again requested flute sounds that were this time part of the live performance as well as the partition concrète, was also written around that time. The next work saw a more ‘compositional’ collaboration - “The Earth defeats me" began as a graphically scored work written by me and recorded by Decibel in the studio. That recording was used to make the partition concrète which is now an embedded as part of the animated score file, thanks to the software we had developed to do so.
These works exist as live performances, but also as singular concrète works, when heard without the instruments. Working with Lionel has been remarkable: he has a singular way of thinking about sound and its relationship to works and images. Music concrete is a lifestyle for him, it is a way of thinking, communicating and being. These pieces enable the acoustic instruments to be part of that – extending the ideas in the partition concrete, using them structurally and texturally, as well as being part of them.
When I first met Lionel, I didn’t realise he was in Australia because it was originally planned he would be travelling with French composer Éliane Radigue, performing some of her electroacoustic works, as her preferred diffuser. I would commission a work for Decibel from Élaine (“Occam Hexa II”) in 2014 and it was during that process I realised the link between them. Decibel performed Lionel and Eliane’s music together – it is music that concerns itself with the incredible power of sound, but from the most delicate and dream like perspective.”
The opening 20 minute section on this reissue from William Basinksi opens with one of the most heart-breaking tracts of music we've heard for many years; a looped clutch of strings, slowly shuffling into oblivion.
Basinksi watched the fall of the Twin Towers from his roof whilst 'The Disintegration Loops' played in the background. I can only imagine the sheer profundity that would have instilled on such a bleak situation, with Basinski's work able to make a boiling kettle take on a Frederic Mistral air of importance. If you've never dipped your toe in Basinski, then now's the time to take the plunge, if you have; dive in all over again.
William Basinski returns with 'Cascade' - a gorgeous 40 minute meditation on a solitary piano loop coaxed by NYC's neoclassical maestro, William Basinski.
Teechnically, that's all you really need to know, but we should stress that Basinski's way with a loop transcends any prosaic, earthly description and manifests a music in its own self-sufficient world of infinitely morphing harmonics and decay as imperceptibly slow moving yet ever-changing as life itself.
The final reissue of Basinski's 'Disintergration Loops' series sees yet more mediations on the subject of mortailty.
Comparable to Ryuichi Sakamoto in terms of its gracefully hypnotic and deeply textured poetic outlook, the fact that Basinksi managed to retrieve such emotional tracts from decaying source material is testament to his towering talent. Made up of three extended pieces, each composition is unique in terms of sound, but united by a very real sense of unyielding emotional responsibility. Expansive, claustrophobic, threatening and utterly friable, Basinski's work is totally accessible in a majestically rarefied way.
Stellar picks from the MFM camp; 21 obscure, outward-looking and disco-leaning peaches plucked from Europe 1980-91, including big highlights such as Nightfall In Camp’s sultry smudge of computer tones and Lena Platonos-like vocals in ‘Cada Día’, a heavily seductive swooner ‘Listen Over The Ocean’ by Violet Eyes, and the brassy electro swang of Sound on Sound’s ‘Depression’
“Uneven Paths: Deviant Pop From Europe 1980-1991 is the second multiple artist compilation on Music From Memory and is compiled by record connoisseur Raphael Top-Secret and label man Jamie Tiller. The compilation brings together twenty one tracks from across the continent; exploring the more unusual and unexpected sides of Pop music during that period.
Drawing material from cult experimental artists such as Steve Beresford, Brenda Ray and Bill Nelson alongside one-off independent musical projects rescued from he fringes, ‘Unusual Paths’ focuses on a selection of tracks that go beyond the confines of mainstream pop music but which also transcend expectations of much of the ‘experimental’ music of the time. This is music with one foot in the avant-garde and another foot firmly rooted within the sensibilities of Pop; where jazz musicians detour into Synth-Pop, Punk bands break into Boogie jams, and student doctors jam out on off melodies with synthesisers and drum machines during their night shifts.”
Having found acres of tape he'd archived in the 1980's, Basinski decided they should be converted to digital format in order to preserve them from decay.
Too late old chap! During the transition process he found them disintegrating before his eyes, 'so why not let this natural erosion take place and document the results?' he thought. So he did. Beguiling in a way that cannot be readily described, a whole thesaurus could be pissed up the wall trying to capture the fragmented and illusory beauty of these pieces. With a drifting proclivity that is both alarming and comforting, soundscapes break on the shore whilst barely glimpsed rhythms circulate in the background. Consisting of two extra-long pieces that could go on for ever, 'The Disintegration Loops' series is not to be missed.
Emotive lightning rod Brian Pyle a.k.a Ensemble Economique channels a range of feels - from electric anguish to elegiac lament - in a richly crepuscular suite dedicated to those who lost their lives in the tragic ghost ship fire in Oakland.
“The latest long-player of devotional noir by Humboldt County romantic Brian Pyle aka Ensemble Economique was originally titled Music Saves Lives, in response to the misguided backlash directed at underground artists in the wake of the tragic Ghost Ship fire in Oakland. Since Pyle’s career threads through a decade and a half of Northern California’s independent experimental music community, the blow struck a uniquely deep and personal chord. As a way to process, he began recording at his coastal home studio in Manila, California, channeling inner states of mind, seeking something “more personal and intimate, the idea of love, and shining through.”
Radiate Through You delivers on its title, exuding a nuanced catharsis, alternately tempestuous and transcendent, forlorn but undefeated. Vaulted heavens of interwoven electronics ebb into hushed dirges of skeletal percussion and candlelit guitar. Roiling noise seethes, swells, and subsides as an ashen string arrangement rises in the mix, keening a somber, circular elegy, as if overtaken by memory on a long walk alone.
Two key guest appearances lend the album even more dynamism and drama: the first by Barcelona synthesist Alexander Molero on the questing, celestial opener, “Music Is Life,” the second by New Zealand psychic sisters Purple Pilgrims on the devastating finale, “Blue Hour.” Both showcase impressive shades of Pyle’s finesse as producer and muse, sparking his collaborators to new heights.
Whether taken as expressionist memorial, therapeutic song cycle, or something more ambiguous, Radiate Through You stands as a pensive, passionate statement by an enduring light of the West Coast canon, drawn from “a deep, special place of giant emotions, feelings.”
Pivotal solo cellist and producer Oliver Coates (LCO, Apartment House) proceeds collaborations with Mica Levi and Radiohead with Shelley’s on Zenn-La, an indefatigably endearing 3rd solo album, new for RVNG Intl.
We can hardly think of many artists beyond Oliver’s own circle who can meld dance music with avant-electronic and classical instrumental expression quite like Oliver does here. From the raw electric buzz and spattered breaks underlined with layered cello in Faraday Movement, to the abraded BoC-like downbeats of Lime, thru to wayward disco treks like Charlev, Analord-style braindance in Norrin Radd Dreaming, and the final swoon between wide-open string composition and balletic IDM in Perfect Apple with Silver Mark, Oliver is making wonderful music unconstricted by convention, but patently happy to play with it.
Furrowed dark ambient gloom from Berlin-based Otto Lindholm and a member of Orphan Swords, for London’s ace Aurora Borealis label (The Haxan Cloak, Primitive Knot, Burial Hex)
“Combining the talents of P.Maze, one half of noise/techno duo Orphan Swords, with fellow Brussels-based producer and musician Otto Lindholm, ‘Where The Wolf Has Been Seen’ is a meditative and claustrophobic work for electronics and double bass.
The four parts evolve and spread outwards, throbbing bass drones colliding with slowly bowed arcs of keening strings that make for a deeply immersive listening experience. ‘Where The Wolf Has Been Seen’ explores the boundaries of the modern classical and electronic disciplines, with slowly shifting and expanding compositions that thrive on the tension between.”
Minimal techno master Rob Hood takes the DJ-Kicks driving seat for a deft but pounding session including no less than 4 exclusive new Hood productions.
Over 72 minutes the original UR member and seminal Detroit hero sequences 22 tracks of driving dance music, Motor City style, rolling steady on the gas thru cuts from both sides of the pond, but perhaps tipping more towards European productions inspired by 313 foundations.
Robert Hood’s exclusive tracks are well worth a gander, from the hypnotic organ rider ‘Greytype I’ to the peak-time play of ‘Bond Solid’ and the trancing, acidic burn of ‘Machine Form’, and it’s also worth peeping the 16th note fangs on Ben Long & Tom Hades’ ‘The Knight Rider’, and the super fucking arid rasp of Matrixxman’s ‘Protocol (Saturation Edit)’.
But, if you really want to hear Hood in proper context, the mix lives up to the exacting standard we’ve all come to expect from a Hood mix - immaculate transitions, timing and groove control from one of the best to ever do it.
Another massive 4CD payload of prime New Beat - no Nougat Beat! - including way more than your RDA of late ‘80s Belgian bangers
Synthesising a crossroad between US house and techno, Italian disco, Mittel Euroepean EBM and frothy Belgian sensibilities, New Beat is the much maligned precursor to rave techno, which, in recent years, has seen a long overdue reappraisal of its charms by dancers and DJs who’ve become snagged on its direct, to-the-floor rhythms and addictive hooks.
For the massive 2nd volume of ’New Beat - The Compilation’, they’ve pulled together 57 heaters from the short-lived heyday of New Beat circa 1987-1990. There’s a lot of well known and fairly easy to find pieces, but also a lot of choice rarities, most notably the likes of Blue Vertigo’s tuff but sexy ‘Abadan (Monday Morning Mix)’, the amazing staccato perk of ‘Komobinn’ by Acidity - an alias of the legendary Tony Baron (Teknokrat’s) - and the steely hardball of ‘Take Me To Your Leader’ from another Teknokrat’s member, F.X. Intruder a.k.a. Mike Butcher, plus oddities such as Rebel X & Vector S’ ‘Controller II’, Inter Phase’s darkside acid trip ‘Back From The Space’, and New Design’s acid jacker ‘Some Like It Hot’.
Since his recording debut as Choir Boy in 2016, Adam Klopp mined a sound swirls 1980s synth noir with captivating, cinematic songs sweeping with pensive sorrow and glowing hope. As a former member of the Mormon faith, Klopp spent his youth both in the pews of his place of worship, but also churning through DIY punk venues, before leaving the sect in the thick of a mission in Tahiti.
"The duality of faith and fiction are central to the lush explorations on his debut album Passive With Desire. Recorded at Studio Studio Dada, the album’s tracks permuted as bedroom sketches, awash with camp, the sting of loss, and allusions to halcyon days of nocturnal, electronic driven pop. Retaining elements of Klopp’s original demos, Passive With Desire was recorded with a full band and polished with trumpet, strings, as well as archival samples calling back to Klopp’s hazy youth.
Engineered by Klopp, Bret Meisenbach, and Stephen Cope, Passive With Desire is the entry point to Choir Boy’s world of emotive wit, novella kissed lyricism, and bouncy, synth-forward takes on traditional song writing bound by the universal themes of loss, desire, evolution, and exploration."
Rhodri Davies, Dawn Bothwell and Richard Dawson’s Hen Ogledd transmogrify from psychedelic no wave time travellers into a wild, inimitable pop unit on ‘Mogic’, their 3rd album together, their debut for Weird World.
Named for a Welsh word describing the historic region between southern Scotland and northern England, the band has grown from the locus of Davies on harp (++) and Dawson on guitar (++) to incorporate Dawn Bothwell and Sally Pilkington on vocals and multiple instruments - most curiously credited with Red Witch Violetta, Pipa Del’ochio, Mooer Green Mile, Hott’s Rombah, among others, between them.
If you copped either of Hen Ogledd’s first two LPs, logic would dictate that this one was always going to be a bit mad, but hardly anyone could have predicted where they’re going with ‘Mogic’, as the band’s combined, contemporary rationale and arcane urges fulminate a persistently unpredictable sound that ties up influence from all corners - vacillating hot-stepping post punk with plaintive folksong, rubbery primordial techno and lysergic indie-pop.
Other notable inclusions clem from sax virtuoso, Mette Rasmussen on some of the album’s strangest/seductive moments, the Canterbury-esque opener ‘Love Time Feel’ and the brilliantly daft indie-pop of ‘Tiny Witch Hunter’ with Dawn Bothwell’s seemingly sung down the wrong end of a telescope, and also the subtle but pivotal percussion of Will Guthrie. But we can very simply sum this one up as far exceeding the sum of its parts.
Gotta be one of 2018’s most beguiling, trend-oblivious pop records.
Flying Lotus’ label marks 10 years in the game with ‘X’, a 36 track compilation featuring 22 brand new, previously unreleased cuts by Thundercat, Martyn, Georgia Anne Muldrow, mr.oizo, Jameszoo, Dorian Concept, Iglooghost +++
Trust Jameszoo to make it freaky on ‘Flake’, while mr.oizo knocks out the searing disco bullet ‘Ham; DJ Paypal coughs up the hot footwork drums of ‘Slim Trak VIP’; FlyLo chips in his remix of Brandon Coleman’s ‘Walk Free’; Ross From Friends roll out the deep house of ‘Squaz’; and even George Clinton turns up on WOKE’s ‘The Lavishment of Light Looking’.
“For the last ten years, Brainfeeder has reminded the world that the future is only as far away as it needs to be. It’s less a label than an international conspiracy to conquer clichéd sounds, a glowing neon helix re-organizing the DNA of hip-hop and house, jazz and ambient, techno and soul, funk and footwork and every other strain of beat music that eludes compartmentalization. The Flying Lotus-founded label has become a sanctified refuge for those who believe that nothing is too weird, genre is largely obsolete, and the wildest style will always reign supreme.”
From the golden era of Warp, B12’s ‘Time Tourist’ is reissued for the first time, newly expanded with four bonus tracks previously found on their B12 Records archives volumes
Somewhere between a computer game soundtrack, pulpy sci-fi score, and an armchair accelerant, ‘Time Tourist’ holds a special place in the pantheon of mid-late ‘90s electronica/IDM. Some of it sounds pretty dated now, but the innocent sincerity of of B12’s retro-futurist aesthetics still glow from highlights such as ‘Infinite Lites (Primitives Mix)’ and ‘The Radiophonic Workshop’.
Another amazing entry from ‘70s Ethiopia, introducing krar player, singer and national icon Asnakech Worku to the world at large with a beautiful collection of songs made alongside Hailu Mergia at the height of her career, most notably on a haunting prototype of Mergia’s standard ‘Tche Belew’
“There is perhaps no woman more cherished in modern Ethiopian history than Asnakech Worku. As a musician, actress, dancer and cultural icon, Asnakech inspired and challenged society for decades, until her death in 2011. From her beginnings as Ethiopia’s first theater actress in 1952 to her acclaimed film appearances to her days as a club owner-turned-master musician, Asnakech’s inimitable confidence and charm made her a household name. She earned endless accolades across the artistic spectrum.
She made seminal recordings of unforgettable original compositions, as well as legendary renditions of traditional songs, that became national staples. With a singular sense of style, glamour and sex appeal that sometimes stunned mainstream society, Asnakech wore clothes no one else wore and said things no one else said. Staid notions of how women should dress and behave didn’t apply to her. Battling a mentality that until the early 1950s had men wearing dresses to play female roles in the theater, Asnakech became a national treasure on her own terms.
Her family wasn’t pleased with Asnakech becoming an azmari—an itinerant praise musician who sings, often in bars, for tips—and didn’t bother her, especially after Emperor Haile Selassie I began to emphasize theater and music in society, officially legitimizing her career. Asnakech became an internationally-celebrated performer of Ethiopia’s ancient harp, the krar, making her one of the most visible female musicians of the 20th century. All this while leaving controversy, broken hearts and a changed cultural landscape in her wake.
In 1975, keyboardist and bandleader Hailu Mergia got a call from the owner of Misratch Music Shop to do a recording with Asnakech and he went for it. This recording is a nearly-forgotten artifact of the remarkable icon’s singular legacy, remastered and available outside Ethiopia for the first time. It also provides a rare glimpse into Mergia’s work as a arranger-sideman in the Addis Ababa music scene.”
Polish ambient composer Bednarczyk gracefully boomerangs back to Room40 with the diffuse structures of ‘Illustrations For Those Who’ nearly a decade on from his early couplet of ‘Summer Feelings’ and ‘Painting Sky Together’ landed on Lawrence English’s label
“Across the late 00s, Tomasz Bednarczyk created a series of acclaimed ambient recordings that married the unsteadiness of archival technologies with an extensive palette of pastoral timbres. These recordings quietly set a particular tenor of work for a new generation of Middle Eastern European ambient composers.
Following these recordings however Bednarczyk’s energies were re-directed with his time being split between a multiple of more techno oriented electronic music outings.
In early 2018, following the success of his New Rome project released in 2016, Bednarczyk began exploring a new approach to his more atmospheric works. Using an incredibly reductive set-up, he took single sources and exploded their potentials. Through a process of layering and synthesis, he was able to create incredibly minimal, yet dense sound textures from very singular materials. Within a matter of weeks he had devised a new way of approaching his more ambient compositional interests.
Illustrations For Those Who is the result of this first investigation. Each piece is singular in nature, in that its source is one synthesiser or instrument. The resulting pieces though are anything but singular. Rather, each of them maintains a detailed and rich sensibility built around complex cycling of sonic materials.
This edition marks out an important new direction for Bednarczyk and firmly asserts him as a continued force for ambient music emanating out of Eastern Europe.”
First ever pressing of a 1975 psych throw-down by soon-to-become important members of the Belgian wave underground; Alain Neffe, Guy Marc Hinant, and friends
“Something undoubtedly cosmic but with a DIY, home-made edge: a cosmos for sure, but dirtier than clean, noisier than technology-based. All songs are unreleased. Recorded and mixed in March 1975. After some years rather cosmic and raga-esque music, Kosmose slowly began to explore some more experimental and noisy sonic expression. At the time, the band only owned a few instruments and sound effects and, no drummer. They used to play long tracks in order to follow the trend of the alternative music of the period -- remember, this was 1975. The event was a total spectacle with an inventive light-show including a stroboscope and a frantic projection of strange abstract slides on a giant screen by Freddy Pourcel. Some incense was burnt time-to-time. Personnel: Alain Neffe - monophonic synthesizer, flute, primitive rhythm box, bell, clumsy voice, tarang; Francis Pourcel - bass, bass with violin bow, electric guitar; Daniel Malempré (aka MAL) - electric guitar, 12-string acoustic guitar.”
Ambient maestro Will Long serves a definitive Celer release with ‘Memory Repetitions’, rounding up five typically widescreen, gauzy works that can’t help but lull listeners into the lush, comforting states of mind. If you’re only familiar with his deep house excursions alongside DJ Sprinkles, this is a prime place to dive into Will's prolific and much-loved output as Celer...
“Operating outside the limelight in the underground, Will Long has produced prolifically across genres, monikers, and countries since 2006. Predating his minimal house contributions under his given name to DJ Sprinkles’ Comatonse label and Smalltown Supersound, Long has put forth over a hundred collections of ambient compositions in stream of consciousness fashion under the name Celer. A native to America, Long has been based in Tokyo since 2011, where he has continued to expand upon his vault of celestial arrangements, amassing a cult following over the years by releasing them on under-the-radar labels, his own Two Acorns label, and on his Bandcamp.
Memory Repetitions serves to reflect on the labyrinthine body of work that comprises Celer.”
Bright, colourful modular magick from Mountains’ Koen Holtkamp in BEAST mode
“BEAST is a new project by composer Koen Holtkamp, known for his sweeping, maximalist work with Mountains, as well as his labyrinthian solo recordings. While taking some time away from music to focus on working with light and color his approach shifted, opening himself up to new working methods which led to the creation of a virtual ensemble of sorts. The process of refocusing on music found Holtkamp gravitating towards pieces centered on simple rhythmic patterns which, when built upon one another, create elaborately intertwining castles of sound. On Ens, Holtkamp reins in his sprawling sound with new resolve, crafting tightly constructed pieces of engaging and ecstatic beauty.
Ens was made during a time of anticipation of change for Holtkamp: the birth of his first child. Having recorded and mixed the album late at night and at odd hours in the months leading up to the birth and during the early sleepless days of fatherhood, Ens (which means entity or existence) is a profoundly intimate and heartfelt journey into Holtkamp’s psyche. The constant motion created by the ebb and flow of rhythmic elements connects Ens’ diverse compositions and mirrors the building expectation of such a momentous change.
Holtkamp’s initial recordings as BEAST (Vol 1 & Vol 2) were mostly conceived for the immediacy and physicality of performance and were directly linked to a series of visual environments he created with 3D laser projections. As a purely studio project, Ens takes on a more precise and contemplative approach. Moments of blissful grandeur such as the convalescence of melodies in “Paprika Shorts” are at once overwhelming and crystalline in the placement and clarity of each sound. Deceptively simple pieces like “Boketto” and “Miniature” appear more sparse and subtle, but the arrangement of sounds reveal deeper levels of nuance with each listen. By carefully arranging and selecting each element, Holtkamp both references genre tropes, from classical minimalism to beat-driven dance music, and constructs a sound all his own. The intricately detailed depth of field gives the album an almost sculptural presence. This level of detail is underpinned by Holtkamp’s move towards more virtual instrumentation which he utilizes to push beyond the physical limitations of their acoustic equivalents, as well as to synthesize new instruments.
As BEAST, Holtkamp has nimbly altered his process of creating dense, immersive music. Ens stands as not only the culmination of his newfound methods, but also a deeply personal moment. In crafting the graceful and passionate sonic tapestries into compact compositions, BEAST’s Ens masterfully melds the earthbound and the ethereal.”
Première release of a pivotal piece by important American composer, Julius Eastman.
After more than 40 years, Julius Eastman’s Femenine - a euphoric, colourful, and inventive work by the brilliant but criminally overlooked composer with the S.E.M. Ensemble - finally sees the light of day thanks to Finland’s Frozen Reeds, bringing to life a wondrous iteration of the highly fertile 1970s north american minimalist/modern classical nexus for a whole new generation of ears.
Notable not least as the only known recording of Femenine, recorded live in 1974 at Composers Forum in Albany, New York - which makes it only the 2nd CD with Eastman’s name at the top - this release also documents the composer on piano (whilst wearing a dress, as it goes) and features his unique innovation, a set of mechanised sleigh bells, rattling throughout the 72 minute performance, which, in a way, neatly characterises the artist’s wide-open, pioneering idiosyncrasies and dichotomies for anyone new to his work.
Un/fortunately, depending your perspective, far too many folk will be new to his work or even unaware of Eastman’s involvement in some true totems of the time; whether that’s as lead vocalist on Peter Maxwell Davies’ Eight Songs For A Mad King (1971), playing keys on Dinosaur L’s disco-not-disco classic 24→24 Music (1981), or conducting Arthur Russell’s Tower of Meaning (1983). And we say too many folk, because, all considered, until quite recently, Eastman has been long overdue the shine afforded to many of his peers and contemporaries.
As a Gay, Afro-American new music composer, pianist and vocalist in the ‘70s, Eastman’s work was innately politicised and exceptional by the nature of its provenance, not to mention the music itself, which pulled from his personal history as much as wider social movements to represent a uniquely fluid perspective on minimalist music’s rigid process and presentation right up to his untimely death, aged 50 in 1990.
With that in mind, Feminine stands at a crossroads between Eastman’s earlier chamber work Stay On It, and later pieces such as his iconic, majestic Evil Nigger and the ambiguous flux of emotions in Gay Guerilla; sounding quite unlike any of them thanks to its sense of communal joy (there were somewhere between 12 and 15 players) and the polymetric meter of his mechanised sleigh bells, coupled with a display of massed, pitching tonal colour that moves with the kind of deliquescent, flighty optimism that’s hard not to be wowed by.
Ultimately, it genuinely lives up to the mantle of “new music” and presents its ideas in a deeply refreshing, insistent, yet never-cloying manner.
A huge recommendation.
‘What Light There Is’ finds Janek Schaefer feeding off and disassembling Robert Wyatt’s ‘Cuckooland’  album in his sublime style, paired with seven new, original pieces that share a captivating eldritch aura. Huge recommendation if you're into work by The Caretaker, Philip Jeck, WIlliam Basinski.
Continuing a series of releases reverential of significant British composers, writers and artists such as J.G. Ballard and John Tavener, Janek treats Robert Wyatt’s material with the same poetic license. What follows is an immersive, hypnagogic episode from the mental realm between waking life and dreamspace, gently teasing the pastoral loveliness of Wyatt’s music into a woozy, heavy-lidded parallel dimension.
As always with Schaefer’s work, the idea of nostalgia and the fidelity of memory is also key to the appeal of ‘What Light There Is Tells Us Nothing’. In the 21 minute title piece, commissioned by the Sounds New Festival in Canterbury and presented as a multi-channel radio installation, Schaefer revels in the profundity of Wyatt’s work with poignant slivers filtered into gaseous shapes suggesting a fleeting mix of pastoral glory and somnambulant melancholy comparable with the most striking Philip Jeck works, or the trace echoes of memory supplied by The Caretaker.
The other seven pieces follow with a more cinematic appeal, as though we’ve dozed off during a midday matinee programme in middle England and slipped into a silvery phantasy of medieval gallantry and posh English gentry, before nods to Schaefer’s Polish ancestry flicker into his nostalgic reverie via the bobbling loops and glitching chorales of his three ‘Corah’ pieces.
Presenting richly detailed hydrophone recordings of algae development in the rapdily depleting Arctic, Jana Winderen’s latest research is a fascinating and acutely topical study of ‘Spring Bloom in the Marginal Ice Zone’.
Prefaced by a sobering interview with world-renowned Professor of Marine Science, Carlos Duerte, the album presents headphone and speaker mixes of the title track, offering an immersive sonic inspection of the transitional area between open sea and sea ice, where the world’s biggest bloom of phytoplankton - the micro-organisms that produce half of the oxygen on the planet - accounts for the most critical CO2 sink in the biosphere.
The results are unmistakably foreboding, layering the sounds of blooming plankton with the tense cracks, pops and creaks of sea ice, and the subaquatic sound of bearded seals, migrating humpbacks and orcas, crustaceans and spawning cod, into a properly suspenseful and eerily alien experience.
Revolving around hot-wired sluggers, Melvin Oliphant III (Traxx), Beau Wanzer and Jason Letkiewicz, Mutant Beat Dance turn out a monstrous debut album packing 25 tracks of zig-zagging, raw electronic blatz for the dancefloor and beyond.
Including more gear than you can shake three sticks at, the MBM posse make up for lost time since their ‘PolyfonikDizko’  outing by throwing some of their strongest gear into the pot and stirring it good and proper for those dancers and DJs who prefer buffets over fine dining. That’s not to say this all ain’t tasty AF, but there is a f***ck tonne of it.
We could be here all day playing favourites, but there are some obvious numbers to highlight and give taste of the breadth of styles on offer. Most unexpectedly, the trippy recursions of ‘From Another Source’ come off like a cyberpunk take on Torsten Pröfrock’s Traktor aces, Funk Groove (skit) sounds like a killer reworking of Prince's Erotic City while ‘Revival 80s’ trades in killer proto-Drexciyan vibes; ‘Midi’ offers proper, scowling darkwave pressure. For the sickest sequencer tweaks, check out the ruddy swerve of ‘Uncanny Ignorance’, and try not to buckle in the psychoactive recursions of ‘The Fear of Future and Euphoria’ or spin your limbs off in the razorblade whirling arps and scissoring rhythms of ‘No Ambition’.
Reto A Ichi is the new alias of Guillermo Scott Herren, also known as Prefuse 73.
"The act of escaping that which is predestined. / A hustle. Reto A Ichi is a sonic tabula rasa for Guillermo Herren AKA Prefuse 73. There are identifiable elements of the artist you already know - an uncanny sense for rhythm, an ability to shape samples and frequencies like clay, an affinity for the subtle changes of repetition - yet this is first and foremost music born from the need for silence. There is no easy entrance point or index for the listener.
The first album, The Lapse of Exchange, is the sound of life as heard from a small Chinatown window in downtown Manhattan, the thunder of populism on the horizon. The album opens with music that reflects the inherent tension between the life of the artist - the self-doubt, the late nights, the aspirations - and the world outside - the hustle and bustle of a city that never sleeps, the wars abroad, the politicians at home. It's a tension felt in the repeating, circling keys of "Let The Pianos Freeze", the pulsating rhythms of "No Juntos", or the call and response of pitched vocal samples in "A Sword In The Rain". Ultimately it all becomes too much for our unwitting hero: the car horns outside the window, the 24 hour news cycle, the early stages of an election that tears down any remaining semblance of normality. Reto A’ichi can no longer grasp his humanity or connect to that of people around him.
With the walls closing in, he packs his small life and escapes. This change in situation is reflected in the second half of the album, with tension giving way to a rush of emotions: modulated elation on "All Regrets", sweeping melancholy on "Tuesdays Always Awful", and soaring hope on "Broad Plant Pt.2". On Alone Moving Often, the second album, we find Reto A’ichi away from the city, lost in the vastness of empty summer houses and the complications that solitude brings. Sitting in the prison of his own quiet, Reto A’ichi seeks to capture the essence of silence: the compositions are stripped back further ("Pforever Reto"), the instruments given prominence ("So Contra"), and the chaos of the city replaced by the cacophony of nature ("Criminality"). To be alone, one must learn to constantly move in both work and purpose. As the rest of the record unfolds, Reto A’ichi comes to realize that nothing is ever truly quiet and that to run from the world is to simply find yourself in another part of it. A sense of acceptance for these unsettling realities is reflected in the music, from the harsher tones and frequencies that resonate throughout "Noise Counter Melody" and "Ghost Arpeggio" to the heavy stroke of the keys on "Alone Moving Often" and the haunting drone of "Mountainside Hillside"."
‘Chindia Tower Impalements’ is Âmes Sanglantes’ foul and torrid 3 hour dedication to Vlad The Impaler, the infamous Voivode of Wallachia during the 15th century. Three years after the original tape release, and in parallel with a new 3CD reissue, Hospital Productions see fit to dispense this downloadable version, remastered for purpose by Paul Corley.
“Âmes Sanglantes means "bloody souls". Nowhere else in Âmes Sanglantes' sprawling and massive wild/punk/junk discography has this idea been more focused than on the epic and original Chindia Tower Impalements, as well as on cult tapes like Anti-Anti (1999), Mega Star Barbies, Violation, and the immense and impossible 12-hour-long Crackdown cassette box from Hospital Productions last year. This newly remastered version is the definitive document revealing the cruelty of the Wallachian landscape myths and realities. Dracula vs. Vlad Tepes... Caustic, brittle, and eerie, the six long-duration tracks secure Âmes Sanglantes as one of the most original and overlooked extreme electronic monikers of the '90s North American cassette underground.
Distorted but textural where the voices of young androgynous screams mingle together with chirping birds and wolf breath. It's the subtle layering and tape splicing structure beneath the crust that elevates this above the average "noise" recording. You will have to dig and claw past the walls built out of clay bricks, but beyond that is a rich and subtle world of loops equal parts Georges Braque and William Basinski, like collapsing scaffolding melting and crumbling on top of each other. This is rotting electro-acoustic studies where one can see a portrait float to the surface in the rippling and muddy puddles. Shockingly, after nearly 100+ cassette-only release since 1996, this comes forward as the first Âmes Sanglantes compact disc. A true student of the '90s, you'll find a stunning presentation that is equal parts in reference to Cold Meat Industry as well as Japan's Alchemy Records. So open up the old CD changer, light a few candles, and a pour the red wine for an epic that revives the imagination of times lost and losses yet to come. RIYL: William Basinski, Incapacitants, Brighter Death Now, and the early works of Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement. Remastered by Paul Corley (Oneohtrix Point Never, Ben Frost, Prurient).”
Barn Owl’s Jon Porras (Elm) arrestingly redresses his sound from the ground up in ‘Voices Of The Air’, a diaphanous new album of tempered ecstasies crafted with the multi-timbral voices of the Yamaha DX7 synth
“Taking the Yamaha DX7 as his main instrument on Voices of the Air, Porras read about John Chowning's work with FM synthesis, where a sound waveform's frequency, called the carrier, is modulated with a frequency similar in range. The result is a nuanced and multidimensional voice, and the possibilities are endless. Yamaha specifically licensed Chowning's creations for the DX7, and Porras spent a sleepless weekend poring through the manual, figuring out how to build textures. Taking a conscious step away from improvisation, Porras used these new sounds "as a plastic source to shape and mold." He stacked, arranged and adjusted through digital synthesis and effects. "The process felt like mixing paint to get the right color and texture, then laying down a brushstroke, each day returning to the canvas to build on something I left there from the day before," says Porras.
Once he had the basic structures he experimented with them in live performance,e took the stand-up comedian route with new material and tried out performing it live, (kinda weird esp in the experimental music context ha) seeing what worked, what provoked reactions in the audience, how to perfect each composition to its ideal form. This process went from June 2017 to February of this year, when into he recorded the album at Gary's Electric Studio in Greenpoint with Al Carlson to record the album. Voices of the Air broadcasts these intricate balance of sounds that slowly set together like wet concrete. In their final forms, Porras has created an album of delicacy and power, one that is only fully realized by a listener ready to allow it to take full effect.”
Punch Drunk & Tectonic pay dues to pivotal Bristol duo Smith & Mighty with an unmissable compilation marking 30 years of crucial, if overlooked, influence on Avon bass styles and the UK scene at large. Anyone into dubby strains of breakbeat rave, jungle, dubstep - the ‘ardcore ‘nuum - needs to check this one!
Weighing in 10 massive riddims recorded between 1988-1994, ‘The Ashley Road Sessions’ drills down to the mutant roots of deep, UK rave music as a synthesis of Jamaican dub, rolling hip hop breaks, deep house pads and nagging electronics - a sound that was arguably unprecedented in British dance music for its bias toward proper, wide and glutinous subbass and stoned, rolling structures, rather than wide-eyed nuttiness.
Back in the late ‘80s this sound sort of had parallels in the rolling dance forms of SoYo bleep techno and NYC house, but Smith & Mighty were out on their own in Bristol, a city steeped in Caribbean culture perhaps more than any other in the UK. It was here that Smith & Mighty shaped a definitive Bristol sound at the time when The Wild Bunch and Massive Attack were also coming into their own. It’s maybe stating the obvious that Massive Attack have had the most financial success since then, but ask almost any Bristolian DJ or raver and they’ll tell you Smith & Mighty were the real dons of that era.
‘Ashley Road Sessions’ is another timely reminder, then, where needed, of S&M’s masterfully grooving, deep and rude style. Stepping down the timeline from Bristol Sound Archive’s ‘The Three Stripe Collection 1985-1990’ to the most critical phase of UK rave music circa 1988-1994, you’ll hear acid house moulded for play on proper sound systems, with proper scoops that could recreate the sensuous pressure of their subs and crisp, lithe percussion and filigree moire of FX. Sounds that could equally work in a big dance or a packed, smoky blues, provided the system was rite and nice.
If pushed to pick favourites from this set, we’d highlight the bare bones pressure of ‘Through A Dark Cloud’, where the division between UK steppers dub, D&B and hard techno is only a slight pattern change; also the beautiful slow chuggers’ recoil and spine-tracing arps of ‘Higher Than Tempo’; the skittish jungle dexterity of ‘Filmscore’; the haunting dread dub dirge ‘Tumbling (Death March)’; and the proper ravers’ spesh, ‘Always Be There (Step Up)’, but we’d be remiss to not state it’s all killer, absolutely no filler.
For any with an interest in the history of UK dance music, the technoid links between dub and techno, the Black Atlantic, or who simply like getting red-eyed and having a bubble, this set is 100% indispensable.
Planningtorock - aka Jam Rostron - return with their radical fourth album ‘Powerhouse’ via DFA Records.
"‘Powerhouse’ was written and recorded across Berlin, London, New York and Los Angeles. It comes couched in the precision-tooled synths that have become Rostron’s signature, though critics and fans will hear a subtle, ear worm-y shift in style here: from the Noughties US R&B swagger of ‘Transome’ and the bubbling old school 90s house of ‘Beulah Loves Dancing’ and ‘Non Binary Femme’, to the funky, flute-laced ‘Much To Touch’ (the only track on ‘Powerhouse’ to feature a co-producer, long-time friend and collaborator Olof Dreijer of The Knife).Ultimately, ‘Powerhouse’ is a celebration of liberation, a groove-filled record that sees Rostron consolidating power both personal and artistic."
‘Ke I Te Ki’ documents the prepared intuitions of Akio Suzuki and Aki Onda, performing live in 2015 at The Emily Harvey Foundation - former studio of Fluxus founder George Maciunas. The pair make particular use of the room’s acoustics by moving around a lot while they “play” electric fans, radios, stone flute, and other assorted ephemera, resulting a fluid dispersal of sound from all corners of the stereo spectrum. An immersive recording, prone to surprise...
“This album "ke i te ki" was recorded in New York City in Fall 2015 at The Emily Harvey Foundation - a SoHo loft-style art space that was once the studio of Fluxus founder George Maciunas. Nam June Paik and Shigeko Kubota, whom Akio met around the early ‘80s, used to live in the same building; another former resident and friend of Akio, Yoshi Wada, was said to have done some of the carpentry and plumbing. It is a historic building of New York avant-garde culture, and the last of the artist co-ops that Maciunas created in New York City. How could this not have an effect on the recording?
We had one day of preparation for the multi-track recording, performing for two nights surrounded by a limited but packed audience. The Emily Harvey loft is itself quite constrained, and Akio and I needed a significant portion of the floor to place our gear and roam around. Microphones were everywhere, since our sounds diffused across the space.
My role was to set an assortment of “scenes” with field recordings, sustained drones generated by an industrial electric fan, and electronic tones and pulses from radios, et cetera. Akio then built upon these with layers of melodies and rhythmic patterns, while we both engaged in fabricating distinctive texture and timbre. Akio kept changing his instruments—such as the Analapos, the stone flute, discarded objects, et cetera—bringing surprises and sudden changes, creating contrast and powerful tension.
“ke i te ki” in Japanese means the sound of an alarm, or a whistle to call attention to a hazardous event. We hoped to further develop our unconventional style by adopting a set of self-imposed rules related to the multi-directional soundscape, acoustical response to the space, implementation of visual elements, and so on. Akio suggested the name “ke i te ki” as a reminder to push ourselves further. It was a lesson for us in questioning ‘norms’ and exploring other possibilities. It’s having no determined limit or boundary.”
RVNG Intl mint their promising reissue label, ReRVNG with the superb first anthology of Michele Mercure’s home-brewed synth-pop and electronic experiments circa late ‘80s/early ‘90s.
It’s actually a co-release with Freedom To Spend, the Pete Swanson and Jed Bindeman-helmed reissue label that Michele kicked off with her acclaimed ’86 debut ‘Eye Chant’ in 2017. Following the mood of that long overlooked side, ‘Beside Herself’ collects 19 further songs and instrumental pieces from hard-to-find tapes, documenting a creative development from her earliest, skeletal guitar, rhythm box and tape loop sketches through the era of her mutant, theatrical synth moves on ‘Eye Chant’ and beyond.
“Michele is a natural collaborator and has made music for all sorts of contexts, film, theater, dance, etc. You get that impression though this set, you hear different sonic collaborators, but you might also be able to pick up on one track being more kinetic, another more cinematic, another taking wild turns that may be due to edits or changes in a performance or just because she made some interesting choice here or there. Spend a little time with “An Accident Waiting To Happen” or “No More Law In Gotham City” and you’ll be taken on a bit of a ride through different movements, sounds, concepts, concerns, all in about four minutes. Some of this music is functional, some of it is dysfunctional, it’s all good.
For those familiar with Eye Chant, you’ll hear some familiar elements in Beside Herself. You’ll find the cool synthesizers and beautiful samples, storytelling through pop gestures, an apparent dedication to technological and aesthetic experimentation.”
Optimo’s JD Twitch cherry-picks classics, rarities and percies from Germany’s original independent post-punk scene from 1979-1985, including necessary oddball grooves and songs ranging from Malaria!’s snotty ohrwurm ‘Your Turn to Run’ to Andreas Dorau’s NDW rocket ‘Fred Vom Jupiter’, an edit of Christiane F’s sleazy ace ‘Wunderbar’, and the killer disko mission of ‘Veb Heimat’ by Weltklang
“This was an era of particular artistic upheaval in Germany; emphasis was placed on expression rather than technical perfection, artistic impact rather than skill. Bands consciously abandoned the English-speaking mainstream with German band names and lyrics. “Although we had a small underground scene, it was very vibrant,” explains Gudrun Gut of Malaria! “Bands like Die Haut, our first band Mania D., Malaria!... we organised gigs ourselves, hung around together in a handful of clubs like Risiko or Dschungel and went to gigs at SO36. West Germany had other regional scenes too: Düsseldorf and Köln around Der Plan and the Ata Tak label and there was the Hamburg side with Abwärts. Germany didn’t have a real music industry like the US or UK back then.”
This new collection is a personal selection from JD Twitch: “The compilation is not designed to tell a definitive story of what was going on in Germany in this era; it is more an arbitrary collection of records I adore from a specific era with a specific attitude that hopefully together sum up some of the musical undercurrents in Germany at that time.”
The package features a host of rare and unseen photos from the period along with extensive interviews with artists including Beate Bartel (Mania D.), Gudrun Gut (Malaria!, Mania D.) Christoph Dreher (Die Haut), Michael Hirsch (P1/E, ExKurs) and Thomas Voburka (Weltklang).”
Reissue of a wicked, rugged punk-funk/no-wave/jazz-fusion blast from Japan, 1983. Sounds like Les Vampyrettes meets 23 Skidoo at Haruomi Hosono’s studio for a proper lark. Not hard to hear why 2nd hand copies are highly coveted...
“Straight from the delirious minds of beautiful provocateur Kaoru Sato (who had previously released an album as R.N.A. Organism on legendary Osaka label Vanity Records) and unconventional genius Yuji "Banana" Kawashima, Lingua Franca-1 is a seamless voyage of spellbinding mutant funk grooves, joyful post-punk explorations, synth fantasies, sexy distortions, and fluid cool-no-sweat vocals. Constantly mutating in an almost biological way (similarly to Colored Music’s self-titled album), always mysterious and seductive, sometimes reminiscing of a freaky cross between PiL, Liquid Liquid, Bowie and Yello, EP-4’s debut is hard to label, although "Debonair Wave" could be a legitimate way to describe this Japan’s best-kept-secret of an album.
Defying the rules wasn’t limited to sonic experimentations for band leader Kaoru Sato. To promote Lingua Franca-1, he and his crew plastered gigantic (illegal) billboards all over Shibuya and Harajuku, announcing performances in four different cities on odd hours of the same day (May 21st 1983) - and yes the shows did happen. Other of his notable antics included originally sub-titling the album Death to the Emperor Showa causing a controversy (which led to censorship and a title-change), trying to release two albums on the same day without the concerned labels being aware of the plan or, in the R.N.A. Organism days, fooling Vanity Records into believing the demo he sent them came from a foreign band (it worked). Unique personality, unique music!”
Sterling 8th album by contemporary cold wave queen Molly Nilsson, baiting an apocalyptic near-future with some of the sweetest hooks and nagging lyrics you’ll hear before the world implodes. Lovers of John Maus, Courtney Love, and pop songs that won’t leave your head, need to give it a whirl
‘"After a cancelled flight I found myself stranded at the Tokyo airport overnight. Between my interrupted bench naps the surroundings found their way into my dreams, particularly the big banners in the departure hall stating: 2020. Not aware that they were announcing upcoming Olympic games, my imagination wandered. 2020, a leap year. The year of the rat, the election. Perfect vision. The year of hindsight. The repetition, the ritual of the superstitious. A spell cast on the approaching future; not yet there, but close enough to be seen with full clarity. The year itself seems to draw a circle around its followers, as to protect anyone who dares enter. And it all begins on a late-Capitalist night…"
Twenty-Twenty is Molly Nilsson’s 8th album; the latest opus of an artist in a constant state of development and strength. Twenty-Twenty is about emerging from the husk of your old self, about binning the chrysalis and daring to stand up both to power, and also to your own limits. In 2018, we see the climate changing, democracy crumbling, inequality and injustice erupting. 2020 examines the near future, seeking out clarity, reflection, renewal and opportunity. It contains anthems so tall as to induce vertigo, leaving the taste of Euro Dance in your mouth, albeit without a four on the floor beat. Here, the pop auteur is haunted by the late Prince, channelling Courtney Love and Lou Reed, anger and love.”
Atlantan electro contortionist Richard Devine presents his first significant body of work since ‘Risp’  with the complex designs and computerized soul of ‘Sort\Lave’ for Venetian Snares’ Timesig .
Recorded between 2016 and 2017 on Devine’s custom Eurorack modular rig and a couple of Nord G2 units, ’Sort\Lave’ is a hi-tech rinse-out best compared with the work of Autechre or indeed, Timesig boss, Venetian Snares’ recent modular output. And we don’t use either comparison lightly.
Where Devine has been releasing music on a computer for more than 20 years now, this is the first time he’s made tracks nose-to-tail on a modular set-up and the results are just staggering, and certainly worthy of those five years - pretty much since the completion of ‘Risp’ - spent just establishing the systems that would be used on the album.
Within this complex modular playground/framework he goes thru his exercises like a double-jointed gymnast with a mind & body-bending disarray of polymetrics thru insectoid swarms of percussion and diffracted chromatic madness.
If we’re playing favourites, the most dancefloor-ready pieces are in that list, including the tense, pendulous electro of ‘Opaque Ke’, the outstanding tech-step rolige of ‘Sentik Pin’, and the slow-fast teeter of ‘Revsic’, if you’ve got the legs for it, but if you’re in it for the next level sound design, the dizzying designs of ‘Microscopic Recurse’, the plonging torque of ‘k-0’ and the viscous roil of ‘Brux’ are waiting your dropped jaw.
Oh my days this is amazing! David Lynch & Angelo Badalamenti’s psycho-jazz duo Thought Gang commit a full album of music in this mode after previously racking up credits on the Twin Peaks, Fire Walk With Me, and Limited Event Series Soundtracks.
Recorded in the early ‘90s , Thought Gang’s “long-lost” LP revolves around 12 tracks that were made years apart yet add up to a most ominous dish of huffin’ blues, psycho-jazz and tumbles into breakbeat horror themes, including pieces which have previously turned up everywhere from an Adidas commercial to Mulholland Drive and deleted scenes from Fire Walk With Me.
I mean, we were under no illusions as to Lynch and Badalamenti’s inimitable skills, but this set only ratchets our admiration to new levels, with pieces such as the lounge lizard freakout ‘Jack Paints It Red’, the enigmatic mash of vocals and splayed jazz beat on ‘Woodcutters From Fiery Ships’, thru to the Gray and Bill Laswell-like ‘Frank 2000 Prelude’ and the 16 minute ‘Frank 2000’, or the doomy slink of ‘Multi-Tempo Wind Boogie’, all revealing that these guys operate on a parallel plane.
Welcome to your new favourite Lynch & Badalamenti record.
Nurse With Wound rework The New Blocakders rare AF 1982 début, ‘Changez Les Blockeurs’ in a mechanically reclaimed reflux of the OG, as gruesome as McNuggets, and just as tasty.
For the uninitiated (or sensible-minded) listeners who are unfamiliar with The New Blockaders: they’re one of the cheeriest acts to ever emerge from Newcastle-upon-Tyne; a pair of siblings responsible for some of post-industrial/noise and avant-garde music’s greatest oddities, ranging from a severe collab with an early iteration of Coil, to pioneering cut-up recordings with Mixed Band Philanthropist, and even later recording for Prurient’s Hospital Productions. They’re basically certified noise music heroes (anti-heroes?).
As ever, NWW’as Steven Stapelton was way ahead of the curve in 1982, and the first person to pick up TNB’s début LP, which he subsequently distributed via United Dairies. 36 years later, he’s returned to that slab, seemingly with a hatchet and some steam-powered Victorian loom, to extract its guts and weave them into a sound which physically lives up the record’s title; Changez Les Blockeurs.
Across two sides, he hacks, splices and hacks up the OG in a tirade of frayed rhythmic complexity and decimated racket, at times sounding like a Saturday afternoon’s worth of striped geordies fed into a massive sausage grinder.
As grim as your life.
Soul queen Georgia Anne Muldrow blesses her new home, Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder, with a deeply rooted but properly fresh album ‘Overload’ after taking a minute out since ‘A Thoughtiverse Unmarred’ . Watch out for the dripping late night vibes of ‘Canadian Hillbilly’ and the ruggeder knocks of ‘Play It Up’ and you’ll know which side your bread’s buttered...
““Music is my discipline. It’s my way of meditating, it’s my way of thanking God, it’s my way of communicating… It’s my way of life,” Georgia explains. Typically working alone, her new album flips that dynamic and takes Georgia out of her comfort zone for the first time since “Seeds” (2003) which was entirely produced by Madlib. “Overload” bears the fruits of numerous collaborations, most notably with duo Mike & Keys (50 Cent, Nipsey Hussle, Snoop Dogg, G-Eazy) who contribute production to four tracks including the sleek, anthemic title track - Pitchfork ‘Best New Track’ on 25 June 2018 - alongside Khalil (Dr Dre).
“Overload [the album] is an experiment in restraint,” she explains. I pack myself into something as clear as possible with the help of gifted artists from all over the world. The live show is an experiment in interpretation. That's when [my band] The Righteous and I unpack into a joyful noise. Both of these dynamics have been striving to balance themselves within me since birth… since wanting to record anything. And by the grace of Patience, Discipline and Devotion, a sweet spot has started to appear.”
Elsewhere Dutchman Moods and Manila’s Lustbass bring the slo-mo funk heat on ‘Aerosol’ and ‘Vital Transformation’ respectively, and Shana Jenson (Muldrow) and Georgia’s partner Dudley Perkins crop up on ‘You Can Always Count On Me’ (a cover of the Gap Band classic) and ‘These Are The Things I Like About You’. Flying Lotus, Aloe Blacc and Dudley Perkins share Executive Production credits on the album.
Themes of Love, Spirituality, Self-Actualisation are woven into Georgia’s music, but she also does not shy away from politics and has been loudly and vigorously critical of the persistent state of inequality between Black and White in the US. Nowhere more directly than on ‘Blam’ - a song about self-defence. “I believe that it has the bones of spiritual song,” says Georgia. “It’s an updated negro spiritual in aesthetic”.”
Akira Rabelais' small but perfectly formed catalogue of releases has created one of the most complete and consummate identities in electronic music. On this album for David Sylvian's Samadhisound imprint, the Texan-born artist returns to the guitar - an instrument he wielded during his early years on the Austin live scene, playing in industrial bands during the 1980s.
Although processed guitar music became something of a staple on the experimental electronic scene of the earlu 00's, 'Caduceus' sounds very different from other records in the field, taking on a far more radically abstract tone. 'Seduced By The Silence' introduces the record with an almost percussive, grinding sound that resembles an annihilated tabla than a stringed instrument. More subtle, implicitly melodic episodes follow, with the crumbling timbres of 'Then The Substanceless Blue' and the blissful cacophony of 'Where To Let Our Scars Fall In Love' representing early highlights.
Considering this album is derived from a single instrumental source, the dynamics are remarkably broad, ranging from the quiet AM radio-style lullabies of 'Comme Un Ange Enivré D'un Soleil Radieux' to the howling distortion surges of 'Night Dances Through Heaven's Black Amnesia'. In both cases there's a magical otherness at work that goes beyond the realms of electronic music's conventional cold logic, and holds the kind of mysterious appeal you'd associate with artists like Steven Stapleton and Andrew Liles. 'Surface Of Soft Steps, Violets Whisper' and 'On The Little In-Betweens' momentarily unshroud the guitar to reveal more conventional harmonic structures, while 'In A Cadence Of Vanishing' spies untreated acoustic guitar as it shifts through an ominously stationary chord sequence and a backdrop of static jetisons tarces of melody.
A remarkable, deeply absorbing album from a modern great.