Carsten Nicolai concludes Alva Noto’s UNI-prefixed release cycle with UNIEQAV, the 3rd and most dancefloor-focussed instalment of the series. The follow-up to Unitxt  and Univrs  pairs pendulous minimal techno and electro rhythms with wide, sheer electronic drones in a way that strongly recalls recent Monolake output as well as Ilpo Väisänen in full swang. Comparisons aside, though, it’s unmistakably Alva Noto.
Pursuing the project’s roots in the dancefloor of Tokyo’s UNIT club to a satisfyingly logical endpoint, Nicolai rolls out 12 typically mercurial yet gripping sound designs defined by their fluid dynamics and seemingly fathomless dimensions intended to render the club or your head underwater, thanks to a still remarkable grasp of purified tonal minimalism/maximalism and studied sensitivity to proprioception.
The results are filigree yet robust, firmed up for deployment on the sickest sound system you can lay your hands on, but also highly pleasurable in a headphone or sofa-inclined context, keeping us rapt and twitching from the dubwise plong and looming pads of Uni Sub and the Robert Henke-esque pressure systems of Uni Mia.
The nervous skeleton of Uni Version flows into singular Alva Noto sounds in the jabbing pointillism of Uni Clip and the staggering scale of Uni Normal, with major highlights in the widescreen drama of Uni Blue, and footwork-like rapid movement join Uni Edit, while Anne-James Chaton’s vocal lend a sharp contrast in Uni Dna.
Glass offers the sublime results of a collaboration between Ryuichi Sakamoto and Carsten Nicolai (Alva Noto), as performed and recorded at Philip Johnson’s Glass House in Connecticut during the private opening to Yayoi Kusama’s installation marking the 110th anniversary of Johnson’s birth.
Making sterling use of the landmark architectural work’s pellucid dimensions, the pair fixed contact mics to its glass walls, which they effectively played as an “instrument”, rubbing it with rubber gong mallets to generate delicate tones which they combined with a sympathetic palette of singing glass bowls, crotales, keyboards and mixers.
The seamless performance of floating, weightless tones and exquisitely quivering timbres is without doubt one of their finest. For the duration we’re held static and spellbound by the pair’s interplay of microtonal shifts and plasmic chronics, keening the listener thru hazes of digital dust and vortices of angelic harmonics to locate, alchemise and resolve a rarified, deeply mysterious spirit before the piece closes.
As the follow-up to their OST for The Revenant  and the warbling keys of Summvs  before that, the achingly lush tension of Glass is perhaps the purest testament to the clarity of vision and endless minimalist mutability of this highly revered duo.
“Singularity marks the fifth album from the UK electronic producer and composer and the follow up to 2013’s Mercury Prize nominated Immunity.
Where Immunity charted the dark alternative reality of an epic night out, Singularity explores the dissonance between dystopian urbanity and the green forest. It is a journey that returns to where it began – from the opening note of foreboding to the final sound of acceptance. Shaped by his experiences with meditation and trance states, the album flows seamlessly from rugged techno to transcendent choral music, from solo acoustic piano to psychedelic ambient”
No collaboration is unlikely when the end goals are the same. A meeting of two artists who illustrate different corners of the musical landscape, come together to create a new statement that takes their collective strengths to higher elevations and encompasses new terrains.
"So it is on the first collaborative journey of Canadian musicians Venetian Snares and Daniel Lanois. What started as mutual respect for one another’s work, led to several years of a creative germination resulting in an eight-track full-length exploration. The path began in 2014, after Lanois reached out to Venetian Snares (Aaron Funk) as a fan of his work. The project started to take root in Summer of 2016, after Funk hung around Toronto between shows. Taking his gear to Lanois’ studio, the two began to play for the first time together in what would prove to be a formative moment in their creative journey together. “I love making music with Dan, he has a real understanding of how to create a world and build what may exist within that world. Bassdrums are trombones and they are a colossal whale which floats on clouds of leaves speaking to the blast furnace feeding the mammoth.
A small painting of forest horses hangs in the cranium of the sea horse.” – Aaron Funk Recorded live in a former Buddhist temple-turned-studio in Toronto, 'Venetian Snares x Daniel Lanois' travels to new zones in what Lanois describes as “a body of work driven by exploration”. Like all the best collaborations, it's brought something new out of both musicians. Equipped with their production acuity, they let their natural workflow guide them through uncharted waters. Funk laid the groundwork with drums while Lanois rode the pedal steel, weaving their sounds together in a new sonic tapestry."
Always working purely on their own instincts and co-ordinates, Gnod’s pathway into unchartered territory continues to move firmly on with nary a care for the sanity of anyone in their surroundings. Chapel Perilous is a still more indomitable chapter in a transcendental travelogue from an iconoclastic institution that only gathers momentum with the passing of time. Wherever Gnod go in 2018 and beyond, expect reality to be reinvented anew, whatever the consequences....
"Chapel Perilous exists whereby the supernatural converges with the everyday - whatever one’s definition of reality, this psychological realm serves to prove it endlessly subjective and changeable. Robert Anton Wilson may have laid claim to the modern use of this phrase - as in his 1977 tome ‘Cosmic Trigger’ - yet there can be few musical outfits in the here and now more worthy of carrying on its tradition than Gnod. In more than a decade on the planet this singular Salford-birthed entity have married intrepid musical exploration with psychic fearlessness - not to mention a tendency to leave any tag or bracket one attempts to place on them utterly redundant.
In a sense, the latest adventure bearing this title evolved both from the lengthy European tour that the band embarked upon in the wake of their stripped-down and paint-stripping 2017 opus Just Say No The Psycho Right-Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine. Yet recording in Supernova studio in Eindhoven under the auspices of Bob De Wit, the band found themselves free not only to lay down two tumultuous tracks that they had been honing and hammering into shape on the road - the pulverising fifteen-minute opener ‘Donovan’s Daughters’ and the bracingly brutal ‘Uncle Frank Says Turn It Down’ - but to sculpt more abstract material, utilising dubbed-out repetition, furious riff-driven rancour, bleak soundscapes and off-the-map experimentation to create an intimidating and invigorating tableau of dystopian dread and unflinching intensity.
The aptly named "Perfectly Unhappy" features eight new songs written with this collaboration in mind. These are enchanting and lyrical tunes, often melancholic and uplifting at the same time and will surely speak to followers of both the trio and Sheppard and attract many new ones.
"I knew from the first time I heard the trio play that I would fit right in. I loved the melodic sense and vibe and was thrilled when I was invited to guest with the trio in London in 2016. Since then we've had a chance to grow the music with tours in Korea and Norway, before Espen wrote a set of fantastic tunes for the recording session in Oslo. They played themselves and we had a ball recording, everything clicked and in two days we had made a very special album". Andy Sheppard Espen Eriksen Trio was formed in 2007 and released their first album in 2010.
4Since then they have released two more records on Rune Grammofon, and toured in 16 countries across four continents. The music relies on highly melodic and lyrical instrumentals and a “less is more” approach and is often credited for its unique voice within today’s jazz scene by the international press. To quote BBC in their review of the trio’s second album; “A wonderfully plaintive jazz record, abandoned to the lost art of melodic minimalism, stripped back and beautifully near bare. No smoke and mirrors, just the graceful chemistry of superb musicians at the top of their game”
With a career spanning over four decades, working together with the likes of George Russell and Gil Evans, Andy Sheppard is truly one of Europe’s leading saxophonists. Lately, his main focus has been with his own quartet and the trio with living legends Carla Bley and Steve Swallow, both acts recording for ECM. Eriksen´s background is ranging from jazz to pop music and the church organ, while Jenset lived and worked as a musician in Copenhagen for seven years before relocating to Norway. Andreas Bye is one of Norway´s most requested drummers in jazz and pop."
DJ Koze fully stretches out Knock Knock, a 16-song set of soul-fuelled hip hop downbeats, disco chops and swinging tech-house workouts featuring guest spots from Speech ov Arrested Development, José Gonzalez, Mano Le Tough, Sophia Kennedy, and more.
Working to a smart, sun-kissed, optimistic agenda that’s been at the heart of Koze’s charms since the end of the ‘90s, Knock Knock will likely work a treat for anyone with their head still in that era.
From the guest spots by golden era hip hop MC, Speech from Arrested Development, to the turn by José Gonzales, and two numbers featuring Róisín Murphy, it’s almost inarguably a sound for those that miss the heyday of cheap credit, semi-guilt free smoking, and bootcut jeans. In that sense, it’s a nice escape from reality...
The surrealist ambient/avant-pop experiments of Anticlines form the most significant solo release to date by Lucretia Dalt. It follows her releases with Human Ear Music, Care Of Editions and Other People - all dispatched prior to 2015 - with her finest, poetic study on the relationships between time-based arts, a.k.a music, and the time scales of geology.
Thanks to the inclusion of her own vocals and a tendency towards simple, melodic leitmotifs, and despite its heavy conceptual roots, the results find a fine line between experimental savouriness and pop sweetness, knitting Latin rhythms with her poetic gestures in the first side, before the 2nd side cannily finds those ideas fragmented, stratified into finer graded layers.
"Anticlines is a volume of poetic theory and sound contemplating the bodies of self above and beneath the earth’s surface. On Anticlines, Dalt conjures a sonic space of speculative synthesis and spoken word where South American rhythms rattle contemporary composition recalling Laurie Anderson, Robert Ashley, and Annea Lockwood. A portion of the proceeds from your purchase will be charitably designated on behalf of Lucrecia Dalt to Tierra Digna, an organization dedicated to the defense of Colombian communities affected by economic policies that violate human rights and devastate the environment. tierradigna.org. Come! Mend!"
On this newly released work Jakob Ullmann combines his appreciation of Cageian principles with sacred composition in utterly riveting ways, resulting in two of the most extreme and uncompromising examples of his “quiet music” - that is, a music which is composed and realised to be played just above the volume of each listener’s ambient background.
And in case you’re not aware of what we mean by “extreme”, we’re talking seriously quiet - bordering on silent - instrumental gestures; the kind of creaks and klangs that, on the most glib level, recall a “ghost” in your house at midnight, while on a more serious, theological level, are intended to heighten the listener’s sense of the unknown, the metaphysical, the spiritual: the sacred.
In both works the ‘hallmarks’ of Jakob Ullmann’s intently defined yet unfathomably open style of composition come to light. On Müntzers stern, a pre-recorded performance of a hymnal text written by the German theologian is played back at barely perceptible volume into the same space where Dafne Vicente-Sandoval translates the graphic score for bassoon. The result is a totally sparse yet breathtakingly pensive piece where it’s beautifully uncertain what we’re hearing - is that the chance sound of a distant plane or Dafne’s bassoon? Are those voices in your head, outside the window, or on the recording? Either way, the barely-there but complex results are genuinely ambiguous, forming a total breakdown of conventions that leave the listener with far more questions than they answer.
On solo II, part of a group of works relating to the notion of disappearing musics completed in 1992 following Ullmann’s conversations with John Cage, the effect of Dafne’s bassoon, recorded in Kartäuserkirche (Bürgerliches Waisenhaus) is even more extreme. Holistically taking into account everything from the thermal fluctuation of the space and the way it affects Dafne’s reed, to its unique acoustic imprint, and by turns what lies outside its walls, the piece directly builds on Ullmann’s dialogue with Cage, and induces us into a sort of lucid dream state where time dissolves, outside becomes inside, and we feel physically sublimated into the piece and its projected timbral architecture.
As Ullmann’s music has come to light beyond the most rarified classical corridors over the last decade (with thanks to its champions such as Stephen O’Malley and Bill Kouligas, among others), the composer’s radical approach and uncompromising beliefs have given us some of the most memorable and perception-altering musical experiences imaginable. We can surely add these two new Ullmann works to that set of life-affirming and quietly challenging experiences.
Deadbeat does dub poetry alongside Gudrun Gut, Thomas Fehlmann and Mike Shannon, with results ripe for fans of the Jay Glass Dubs & Leslie Winer LP, or downbeat moments from Strategy, Andreas Tilliander or The Bug
“On his latest studio album, Scott Monteith, aka Deadbeat, ruminates with hard-earned wisdom and confidence upon the notion of carrying on in the face of worldwide nonsense. Wax Poetic For This Our Great Resolve began with the simple idea of asking friends from across the globe for messages of hope. No musical input was provided beforehand, and each participant was free to interpret the request as they saw fit. Though some of the names involved will be familiar to electronic music listeners (Gudrun Gut, Thomas Fehlmann, Mike Shannon), the common thread linking all of them is their friendship with Monteith and the many hours he has spent enjoying their company over the years. As so often happens when good conversation is shared among good friends, the results are as surprising as they are inspiring, spanning original prose, dialectic word games, and timeless quotations in six languages. Each song on the album was then composed around the content received, and named after the people who did the speaking.
Ranging from the overtly political to the tenderly inspirational and many points in between, Wax Poetic For This Our Great Resolve provides verbal expressions of hope as diverse and rich as the experiences of the people who so generously delivered them. Musically the album sees Monteith taking his well-honed sound design abilities and widescreen arrangements to new heights, and exploring a deep interest in traditional analog recording methods to mesmerizing effect. Every sound on the record, whether generated from his tried-and-tested array of software-based tools, or from the enormous collection of guitars, organs, pianos, and percussion instruments found in the Berlin-based studio he now calls home, was recorded via microphone. Even as the very first track slowly fades into existence, it's clear that the smoke filled atmosphere of the place has penetrated the recordings to their very core. Indeed, it is no understatement to suggest that without the physical confines of the magical studio Chez Cherie, and the countless late night conversations and musical contributions of all the other beautiful souls who occupy it (T. Raumschmiere, Ben Laubner, Tilman Hopf, PC Christensen, and of course Cherie herself), this latest Deadbeat album would have been an impossibility. Wax Poetic For This Our Great Resolve is a document of collective action, and the power of community.”
Brilliant reissue of Maria Monti's Il Bestiario, originally released in 1974 and a prime example of the avant-garde art-song of the 1970s.
"Known for her renderings of Italian popular songs, Maria Monti is an Italian singer and actress with a noteworthy career: cabaret singer in the '60s, ambitious avant-garde folk artist in the '70s, and starring in films by directors as such as Sergio Leone's Fistful Of Dynamite (1971) and Bernardo Bertolucci's 1900 (1976).
Il Bestiario is a near perfect emblem of the fascinating territory gained through collaboration. It enlisted the radical poet Aldo Braibanti as its lyricist, features arrangements and synthesizer from Alvin Curran (Musica Elettronica Viva), the baritone saxophone of Roberto Laneri (Prima Materia), as well as the soprano saxophone of jazz legend Steve Lacy.
The result is absolutely stunning, musically unique within the respective outputs of its participants' long and noted careers. Unquestionably one of the most beautiful and neglected albums of its decade."
Strong survey of the current Italian crop, including highlights in Alessandro Adriani’s Drexciyan trip, the tentative ambient ephemera of Chevel, and the mercurial beauty of Catarina Barbieri
“Flowers from the Ashes is the latest multi-artist project to bear the acclaimed Stroposcopic Artefacts imprimatur. There is a sensibility of decadence and corroded grandeur etched within its four album sides, reminding us that historically "decadent" times have nonetheless resulted in some of the boldest acts of individual and collective creativity. Like the 'floral' theme that has remained a consistent feature of S.A.'s graphic presentation, the music here equally presents fragility and intensity in a way that really drives home this visual metaphor for good, while still holding out the promise that similar creations will be seeded in the near future, Though many of the artists involved have set of residence outside of their native Italy, all contribute here to make a captivating portrait of a shared spirit and cultural memory.
The album opens with “Errori,” deceptively fragile sonic ornaments crafted and suspended in space by Blackest Ever Black artist Silvia Kastel. This is followed closely by the mellifluous, warming glow of percussionist Andrea Belfi’s “Spitting & Skytouching,” and then by the resolute electric bass patterns and luminous fog of “Lux et Sonus,” from Eeri label head Marco Shuttle. Hospital Productions alumnus Ninos du Brasil open the B-side with a similarly dense, amorphous construction built from tribalistic chants and rhythmic patterns, to be followed by Mannequin label boss Alessandro Adriani’s “You Will Not Be There For The End,” showcasing his distinctive take on the ‘paranoiac breakdance’ aesthetic of classic EBM. S.A. veteran Chevel rounds out the first record in the program by interlacing several percolating synth lines together into a richly conversational piece.
The journey continues with “Starving The Mind,” an undulating mini-epic from S.A. founder Lucy that is animated by his signature balance of seductiveness and concentration. The bright, biting acid synth tones of “PRV-HH3-X”, by Lory D, then takes a sharp right turn into an invisible metropolis ruled by reflective high fashion and hidden intrigue. The imposing architecture of “Virgo Rebellion,” designed by modular synth futurist Caterina Barbieri, acts as an excellent companion piece, and sets up the closing “4G” from Spazio Disponibile co-founder Neel - a crepuscular serenade that accurately sums up much of the foregoing activity.”
Canada’s Tess Roby makes her long touted IDIB début, poised between dusky balearic romance and waking dream pop, with just a touch of folk-wise new age diva about her.
Quite remarkably for an IDIB releases, the hand of Johnny Jewel is unusually absent apart from some mixing treatment on Ballad 5. The rest of the record is written and produced by Toronto/Montreal’s Roby, whose measured vocals are the centrepiece of each cut, variously framed against languid Yacht boogie vibes in Given Signs, or most beautifully buoyed by creamy chromatic arps in Catalyst, and like Nico meets Tangerine Dream on the album’s exceptional parting missive, Borders.
"The Beacon crowns Ashurst Hill in Dalton, Lancashire, looming over the verdant English countryside nearly six hundred feet above sea level. This spartan brick monolith was erected in 1798 as a watch tower to warn of French invasion during the Napoleonic War — and there it silently remains, keeping infinite vigil. It stands in Tess Roby’s mind. The Beacon calls to her. “Throughout my life I have felt the pull to return to it,” she says. “I’m beckoned by father’s roots and by the sullen landscape of fields leading to the coast.”
Tess Roby is an artist with a vision. The Montreal-based photographer and musician, an eight-year veteran of the Canadian Children’s Opera Company, seems utterly original, moving with a restless energy toward the sublime. Her sound betrays an intrepid longing to discover and explore, to reject convention and transcend cliché: Roby is a born traveller, absorbing everything she hears and making it new. Ethereal and crystalline, bathed sumptuously in synths, her music is heady, dreamy, singular — a transmission from parts unknown. The classical training and aesthetic omnivorousness combine like worlds colliding.
Roby’s debut album Beacon was written in 2015, following the death of her father. She collaborated with her brother Eliot to create what they describe as a kind of spiritual homage — both to her father and to the Beacon, where the family travelled often. Roby recorded these songs with the drum machines and synthesizers she found in her father’s recording studio, and galvanized by his spirit she imbued the music with love, movement, whispers, memories, and pain. “All the while the Beacon remained effervescent in my mind,” Roby remembers. “Visions of it ablaze on the hilltop, standing motionless while I searched for understanding.”
Music For Installations’ is a collection of new, rare and previously unreleased music, all of which was recorded by Brian Eno for use in his installations covering the period from 1986 until the present (and beyond). Over this time, he has emerged as the leading exponent of “generative” music worldwide and is recognised as one of the foremost audio-visual installation artists of his time.
"Eno's recordings and other collaborations are endless and endlessly known, however his visual experiments with light and video covers an even longer span of time and have been exhibited all over the globe - from the Venice Biennale to the Marble Palace in St. Petersburg, from Beijing’s Ritan Park to the Sydney Opera House. Eno's installations are the fertile ground from which so much of his other work has grown and continue to parallel his musical career. Music For Installations is a collection of these original recordings from installations with new and unreleased work covering the period from 1986 until the present and beyond. 50% of the music contained in the box set has never been available in any format and the rest has only ever had very limited CD release direct to consumer release."
Boy Harsher’s début LP Yr Body Is Nothing is one of the strongest admissions to the recent wave of EBM and darkwave influenced synth-pop. This is a new edition pressing, following self-released version and a DKA Records release.
Revolving around cinema fiends Augustus Muller and Jae Matthews, Boy Harsher really came into their own on first album Yr Body Is Nothing , which paved the way for the Country Girl EP which landed to resounding cult acclaim on Ascetic House in 2017.
On Yr Body Is Nothing they work the barest essentials into slick (but not too slick) songs specially balanced with a classic mix of dancefloor pressure and emotive pathos, generating strong club potential in the grim burn of Suitor, the tight swerve of Morphine, and the pneumatic strut of Deep Well, but it works even better as an album end to end.
Berlin mainstays, Max Loderbauer (Sun Electric) and Tobias Freund (tobias., Hypnobeat) reprise their exploration of quietly refined electro-acoustic dimensions, variously touching on Satie-esque solo piano works, strung-out desert blues, Lakeland Kirby-like midnight etudes, warbling gamelan-like tones and a spectrum of shadowy integers between them
“A decade has passed since Tobias Freund and Max Loderbauer aka Non Standard Institute (NSI) released their enigmatic collection of ‘non-standards’. Playing with mystery is the name of the game here as well. The new CD, entitled with the code ‘5863′, is the result of collecting creative moments over years and stringing together twenty short pieces that jointly amount to almost an hour of playtime.
Meditative, reflective, introspective, but also occasionally exhilarated… All these descriptions come to mind. But there’s more to the story line which emerges in patient increments as the album unfolds. Music comes mostly in the form of sparse but evocative piano improvisations, layering personal expression and subtle references anchored within the depth of the musicians’ experience. As the cryptic title suggests, the scope of examined experience can be symbolized through dates or years. But what counts for much more here is the sonic narrative itself with all its openness to interpretation. Some of these concise tracks can swiftly transport the listener to iconic harmonies of other musical contexts as they seamlessly relink the piano avant-gardism of Erik Satie with echoes of modern psychedelia and futuristic soundtracks.
As a whole, however, the minimal instrumentalism of NSI is as much about the notes and emotions that punctuate the electronic soundscapes generated by Tobias’ unerring use of studio as it is about the space created between them.”
Ryan Lee West aka Rival Consoles presents his new album ‘Persona’.
"Recorded at his studio in south-east London, ‘Persona’ benefits from Ryan’s exploration of a dynamic production process that combines analogue-heavy synthesisers, acoustic and electric instruments with a shoegaze-level obsession with effect pedals. A greater depth of emotion and confidence can be heard across the album. From the deconstructed movements on ‘Unfolding’ that starts the album with a snap of delayed snares, the apocalyptic drones of the title track and thundering drums in ‘Phantom Grip’ to more restrained ambient feels of ‘Dreamer’s Wake’, ‘Rest’ and ‘Untravel’.
The latter transverses six beatless minutes of undulating melodies representing “a limbo space, a feeling of ennui, of not really ever being known to others and others not ever really being known to you”. ‘Be Kind’ reveals a musical connection with fellow Erased Tapes artist Nils Frahm, with its minimal approach and improvisational nature. On the more complex sounding ‘I Think So’ Ryan aims to replicate a colour collage with sound. Like a musical kaleidoscope, a flashing and convoluted mass. Written after he saw Slowdive perform live last year, ‘Hidden’ builds from whispers to landscapes of controlled noise. In an interview with XLR8R magazine, Ryan explains: “once you start trying to make a sound loud, then you turn your back on thousands and thousands of sonic possibilities. One of the best things to do is to start a track with a really quiet, weak sound.” T
aking this idea to its ultimate conclusion, ‘Fragment’ closes the album as an innocent sounding ambient piece, almost nursery rhyme like, yielding time for reflection on how the persona has changed. ‘Persona’ follows the success of a series of releases — the ‘Odyssey’ and ‘Sonne’ EPs, long player ‘Howl’, and 2016’s mini album ‘Night Melody’ — that saw Ryan mature into what Pitchfork has called a “forward-thinking electronic musician with his own ideas about sound”. Atypical of instrumental-electronic music, Ryan has achieved a signature sound that’s unmistakably identifiable as Rival Consoles. Going beyond typical electronic music production, Ryan defines it as “songwriting with an electronic palette of sounds”.
In the year of his 50th birthday, Earth’s Dylan Carlson mounts his 4th solo album Conquistador, spelling out a signature, disenchanted sound ideal for brooding in the desert while waiting for the eschaton.
Accompanied by Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou on 2nd guitar and production, as well as Emma Ruth Rundle (Red Sparrowes, Marriages), and his wife Holly Carlson (that’s her on the cover), Dylan saddles up another search for the unnamed and unnamable, continuing a journey which has seen various bandmates including Kurt Cobain fall off, leaving Dylan at the lead of his 1 wagon caravan, still fixed on horizons psychedelic and possibly unreachable.
The first Grouper album in 4 years finds Liz Harris stripped of FX, pairing her vocals with skeletal piano gestures in beautifully pregnant space. For anyone familiar with the miasmic fuzz of Grouper’s previous releases, the relative clarity is quietly shocking in effect, revealing her songs and sound at their most vulnerable, and, in the process, locating a newfound strength in fragility.
Grid Of Points was recorded in Wyoming shortly after Liz finished recording Grouper’s Ruins out in Aljezur, Portugal, and on the most immediate level it seems to describe the difference in recording locations between windswept Atlantic coastline and sparse, landlocked insularity. The seven songs were written over a week and a half, with the process curtailed by a bout of what she describes as “high fever”. What remains forms some of Grouper’s most legible lyrics and intimate instrumentation, with each piece framed by stark, unprocessed space working in the same role usually occupied by her billowing sheets of harmonic distortion.
Untreated and unfiltered, Grouper's voice rings plaintively clear, sometimes layered in ephemeral harmonies or curling off with jazz-soul wise inflections shadowed by modest piano phrasing in a crepuscular style that links back to all her previous work. Yet, in places the clarity is such that it almost feels like we the listeners have just been hearing her songs with clogged ears for the past decade and longer.
Ultimately, these results perhaps most acutely resonate with the etymology of Liz’s moniker - ‘Grouper’ as in member of a Fourth Way commune, The Group, which was inspired by the philosophy of George Gurdjieff, whose mystic meditations surely linger in the magick of Grid Of Points.
Boy Harsher’s début EP Lesser Man returns for a fresh pressing on Nude Club, who are also behind a new reissue of B.H.’s Yr Body Is Nothing album.
Thanks to an achingly tight blend of rictus grooves and perfectly gaunt vocals, Boy Harsher have steadily caught the attention of listeners worldwide, leading to the dispatch of their resoundingly acclaimed EP with Ascetic House in 2017.
This one packs some proper heat, tracing the pair’s metamorphosis from Teen Dreamz into the Boy Harsher of today thru the gothic darkwave elan of Lust and the infectious canter of Modulations, to the hypnotic engine of Pain, and taking in Hi-NRG zingers such as Run beside the drone descent Crimea, and the sore, sludgy synth-pop romance of Love.
RIYL Tropic of Cancer, Xeno & Oaklander, The Soft Moon
In the deeply absorbing Organism for German avant-garde label, Karlrecords, Iranian artist Porya Hatami deftly tempers the sweeter tendencies of Berlin’s Arovane to realise some of the subtlest, most elusive material in either’s catalogue. The original Organism is here packaged with its Organism_Evolution expansion on a 2nd disc
Organism takes shape as a series of 19 silty arabesques, each feeling as though it was sketched in sand and oil, full of shifting patterns that slosh and evolve with a sort of gauzy brownian motion in elemental electronic microcosms.
You can feel Arovane’s intricate harmonic urges practically deferred and diffracted by Hatami’s abstract, granular processing, if effect perpetually staving off the ghosts of convention and keeping the arrangement’s emotive impact wonderfully intangible, only occasionally allowing more discernible melodic and harmonic forms to rise to the surface, before smudging them back into the piece’s quantum flux. Maybe best to imagine yourself as a single particle flushed thru their system, detached of any handrails and left to the inherent logic of the Organism itself.
Their Organism_Evolution takes those ideas to a logical conclusion, growing the sounds into more complex and intricately hyaline, cosmic concrète structures.
RIYL Xenakis, Jim O’Rourke & Kassel Jaeger, Anthony Manning
Justin Swinburne (part of the duo 18+ alongside Samia Mirza) presents his first solo mixtape as jj18.
"jj's prayer will arrives alongside a 48 minute visual. jj's prayer is as political as it is personal - spanning themes of disaster fantasy, the presence of avatars in today's social spheres, identity, and co-dependency and the realities of being alone.
While 18+ was a project that touched on the relationship between two people, jj18 is about an individual attempting to piece together their own narrative of identity in an increasingly fragmented world.
jj18 is Justin Swinburne who was born in Los Angeles and lives and works in Berlin. jj's prayer, jj18's debut mixtape, features music and videos made over the past 5 years in LA, Berlin, Moorpark, London, Lofoten and New York City.”
Slow music maestro Michael Pisaro mans sine tones alongside Philip Bush on piano and Greg Stuart’s percussion in this sublime yet tense triad of time-dilating compositions incisively exploring the relationship between the note and its resonance, action and consequence. Close listening yields great rewards here...
“A mist is a collection of points, while a grid is an organized collection of points. There is the unspoken tension in this work between regular and aperiodic, solid and vague, artificial and organic, order and sprawl. This interplay takes place from one section to the next, and also in the interactions between the parts: between the pianist (Phillip Bush), the percussionist (Greg Stuart), and the sine tones (by Michael Pisaro). It affects the melody and the resonance, the timing and the coordination between parts. The intermingling of shadow pitches and extended resonances creates effects that are at least as vivid as any articulation.
Gradual change is a feature of the entire work, on the most local scale (measure by measure) and on the macro scale as well. Timing, resonance, melody, register, and dynamics are all intertwined in these slow transformations. "The work is essentially about the morphology and topography of this resonance." This recording, like the piece itself, best reveals itself when it is "let loose in an environment," played on speakers rather than headphones, in order to continue to develop its shape.
Michael Pisaro (b. 1961) is a member of the Wandelweiser collective, an international organization of musicians which he has defined as "a particular group of people who have been committed, over the long term, to sharing their work and working together." Its members have shared an interest in John Cage and experimental music, and extended durations, indeterminacy, and silence have featured in many works they have made; but Pisaro is quick to point out that the members of the collective have a far from uniform aesthetic stance. Pisaro's work over the past decade bears little surface resemblance to the pieces made by other members of the collective apart from a commitment to experimental music and to deeply collaborative processes. Many of the recent trajectories of his work intersect in A mist is a collection of points (2014).”
CUTS - composer and filmmaker Anthony Tombling Jr - releases music from his experimental film ‘EXIST’ for the first time.
"Inspired by a poem by HP Lovecraft, ‘EXIST’ explores night terrors and sleep paralysis. The 40-minute film, described by CUTS as an “existential journey into nowhere” features narration from cult graphic novelist Alan Moore (‘Watchmen’, ‘V For Vendetta’, DC Comics, ‘2000AD’). The film was premiered at Dark Outside, the unique 24 hour site specific festival in the Galloway Forest Dark Skies Park, in 2015; the music hasn’t been made available until now."
Groenland unearth and reissue DAF's 2nd album 'Die Kleinen und die Bösen'.
It predates 'Der Mussolini' by over a year and is actually much more diverse and fruity than much of their later work, yet still adheres to the stringently minimal aesthetics which have always been a prime component in the DAF machine. It was recorded at Conny Plank's legendary studio and hence still sounds amazing...
The striking first realisations of Morton Feldman’s previously unrecorded choral works, performed by The Astra Choir, and directed by John McCaughey. In a stroke of genius, the four previously unheard pieces are presented alongside new iterations of choral works written and recorded by Pauline Oliveros, Warren Burt, Earle Brown, Robert Carl and Will Ogdon during the same era as Feldman’s compositions, each serving to provide rich contemporaneous context
“The intense individuality of Morton Feldman's (1926 - 1987) art and its "painterly" aspect have tended to push his rich output of works into a zone all of their own, surrounded by a moat of stillness. This recording attempts the reverse process - to bring his choral works (the previously unrecorded Chorus and Instruments, Voices and Instruments 1, Voices and Instruments 2, The Swallows of Salangan) into a "gallery" of other choir compositions of his times. Through the interaction with works of other characters and aspirations, mutual illumination might become a new Feldman experience.
Two of the five other works confront Feldman's textless choral singing with words. These, however, carry their own special musical intent. Three early twelve-tone gems [Three Statements] of Will Ogdon (1921 - 2013) move with Walt Whitman "into the wordless . . . away from books, away from art," and reluctantly away from human desire, as embodied in the central poem by Thomas Campion. Robert Carl's (b. 1954) The City brings a transcendentalist layered sound to the mystical reflections of the architect Louis Sullivan, contemplating the natural and the built-human in the lake and city of Chicago.
The notion of wordless chorus fans out in varied directions in the other three works. As one of Feldman's closest associates in the New York School, Earle Brown (1926 - 2002) intrigues us as much for the stark differences from Feldman shown by his abstract choral mobiles (Small Pieces for Large Chorus). The Sound Patterns of Pauline Oliveros (1932 - 2016) are less abstract than their title might imply - moving in and out of singing itself into extended vocality, and towards newly-suggested verbal exclamations of a non-semantic kind. Warren Burt (b. 1949), a former student of both Oliveros and Ogdon at the University of California, San Diego, contributes with his Elegy the most recent piece, also the closest to Feldman's simple successions of chorale-like chords. His harmonies, however, acquire their elegiac qualities from chromatic memories and their contradictions, moving along unfamiliar paths.”
Dense, darkly cinematic drone works from Tehran via Newcastle
"I remember being 6 years old, locked in a closet and screaming and beating on the door until I couldn't feel my hands. I think it's because I didn't want to finish my mashed potatoes.
I remember feeling his rough, dry, red hands all over me. Moving down the length of me in the middle of the night. Putting himself inside of me. Telling me the same thing happened to him when he was my age. I knew crying didn't work. It didn't work all of the other times. I stopped after a while.
It was us in that house for years and then I was gone and I didn't see him again until I was a teenager. After that my mom found out what happened and we sealed off that part of our lives.
We got the news that he'd died alone in that house. It was 3 weeks before anyone found him. There's still a part of me in there with him that I'll never get back.
I've explored this on a few other albums but never in this depth. I didn't feel like I was a good enough writer to tackle something like that. I don't know if I am now but every road led me here. With Siavash's haunting music and never-ending friendship I felt like I could make this journey.
- Matt Finney”
Bonny sings Susanna, to simply try and save the world.
"Sonata Dwarf Mix Cosmos is an old companion of his and with the Chijimi house band +1 they bring it all back home again, this time to the space in Bonny’s place.
“As other practitioners are leaving the room in favor of novel forms of recording and distro and consumption, PALACE, fantastical and real
structures and practices. Like we are allowed into the museum at night. We can make a great essentially live record with great songs and great players because nobody else is? ‘Wolf Of The Cosmos’... is about, as much as anything, direct engagement with recorded music. So step right up to the replicant.” -
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy is joined by musicians Emmet Kelly (bass guitar, voice, acoustic guitar), Cheyenne Mize (violin, slide ukulele, voice), Chris Rodahaffer (banjo, voice, acoustic guitar) and Elsa Madeline Oldham (juice harp)."
Carsten Nicolai’s Noton present a masterclass in minimalist electronic discipline with Mika Vainio, Ryoji Ikeda + Alva Noto’s powerfully future-proofed Live 2002 performance, recorded at Newcastle’s Baltic arts centre.
The only known recording of the trio, as far as we’re aware, Live 2002 documents three visionary artists in seamless, indivisible collaboration segueing from sublime drone darkness (Movements 1) thru what sounds like a massive computer server centre playing dancehall (Movements 2 + 4), to fiercely dense electro dynamics (Movements 6) and passages of purest, rolling techno pressure (Movements 8), intercut with bodiless, beatless electronic frequency massages.
Being familiar with each artist’s respective, individual catalogues, we’re pretty astonished at the level of democratic control between the three singular producers. While it’s maybe possible (or pedantic) to pick out who’s doing what, and where and when, ultimately the 45 minute performance is a lesson in subtlety and restraint at the service of generating powerful, coolly organised pressure systems, without recourse to convention/cliché (delete as applicable), offering electronic sounds at the purest and perhaps even egoless. Definitely no grandstanding doofus in front of a massive IPhone screen filtering dull as fuck doofs here.
The Co-Ho people are an ethnic group living in the southern part of the central highlands of Vietnam. They speak a Mon-Khmer language.
"Co-Ho are animists who make a division between two types of supernatural spirits: the first type, with human characteristics, is called "Yang" - these are gods which are worshipped during ceremonies and important rituals to prevent bad luck, which is represented by the second type of spirits, called "Cha" = devils. The music of Co-Ho people serves different rituals and thus there are different styles of gong music, played on both flat and knobbed gongs.
Usually an ensemble consists of six gongs. On this recording, the number of gongs ranges from 2 to 6. On the occasions where music is performed in duo , a small ritual is conducted as a means to show respect to ancestors. If one of the gong players is unable to follow the other one, the player who fails to follow needs to drink rice wine from the vase. For this album, two locations for 2 groups in total were visited. "
The Ede groups live mainly in Tay Nguyen, the central highlands of Vietnam. Gongs are one of the most valuable instruments for Ede people. Each player strokes the back or front of the flat gong by a wooden stick aggressively, to create unique rhythmic patterns.
"However, for this recording, Bamboo instruments such as Cing Kram are played by bamboo-made mallets/sticks. For Ede people, they usually practice with the Cing Kram first, before they play the gong - a sacred symbol and instrument. So, these bamboo instruments are used for their practices and they literally call it as “bamboo-gongs.”
Another fascinating instalment in the history of Jewish recorded music, this time drawn from the Syrena — ‘Mermaid’— record label of Warsaw, when the city in its gloriously diverse, cultural heyday was known as ‘the Paris of the East’, before the devastation of the 1940s
Precious, thrilling 78s thronged with people arguing, soldiering, going bankrupt, praying, dancing to Klezmer, meeting the devil, failing to have sex, complaining about modern girls… and eating. With an informative, richly illustrated, twenty-eight-page booklet.
The Bahnar are an ethnic group in Vietnam, living from the north to the south and northeast of the Vietnamese central highlands. Bahnar speak a language in the Mon-Khmer language group. These recordings were conducted in Dak Doa, Gia Lai Province.
"Bahnar people use both knobbed gongs and flat gongs; knobbed gongs mostly have a rhythmic function, the flat gongs are used for melodies. Usually a gong ensemble comprises 8 or 9 gongs in total (6 flat gongs and 2 or 3 knobbed gongs), but the number of gongs can go up to 20 (10 flat gongs, 10 knobbed gongs) or even 22 (11 flat and 11 knobbed).
For this recording, the musicians brought different sorts of sharpened twigs as drumsticks. the biggest knobbed gong was played with a jackfruits twig. For Bahnar people, gongs - equivalent in value to several water buffaloes - are acquired through exchanges with the people from Laos, Cambodia and with Kinh groups of Vietnam.
Gong music is commonly played among the Bahnar on particular occasions such as harvesting, funerals, buffalo sacrifice, wedding ceremonies, etc."
This recording consists of the music played by the only the female group of Ede (Ede-bih – subgroup of original Ede). They only play the gong on special occasions such as festivals, funerals, and welcoming guests.
Christina Vantzou follows her role in the superb CV & JAB album for Shelter Press with the starkly haunting No.4 in her chrono-numeric series of albums for Kranky.
Her JAB foil, John Also Bennett (Forma) also assists on this one, as do Angel Deradoorian, and members of Belgium’s Echo Collective, all sensitively incorporated into her signature dimension of smoky dream sequence logic and texturally rich electro-acoustic timbres. A strong look for lovers of Angelo Badalamenti & David Lynch soundtracks, Bohren & Der Club of Gore, Global Communication - in other words: night time music.
“Belgium-based composer Christina Vantzou’s fourth full-length for Kranky ventures further into the uniquely elusive and evocative mode of ambient classical minimalism which has become her signature: a fragile synthesis of contemplative drift, heady silences, and muted dissonance. In regards to the new album she speaks of focusing particular attention on the effects of the recordings on the body, and of “directing sound perception into an inner space.”
No. 4 took shape across roughly two years, incorporating a diverse array of musical and conceptual collaborators, including fellow Kranky artists Steve Hauschildt and John Also Bennett (of Forma) as well as Angel Deradoorian (ex-Dirty Projectors), Clarice Jensen, Beatrijs De Klerck, and members of Belgium’s Echo Collective. During the creation process Vantzou wanted to “blur lines of hierarchy,” and thus allowed all ensemble members and technical assistants to add or delete elements. Despite such a spectrum of input the eleven tracks feel distinctly cohesive, weaving elegant textures and resonant open spaces within a twilit landscape of eclectic instrumentation: piano, harp, vibraphone, voice, strings, marimba, synthesizers, gong, and bells.
Vantzou describes the recording process as one of prepared spontaneity: that is, “having plenty of ideas ready to explore going into the session, but with enough time to depart from those ideas and see what happens.” This mindset of premeditated exploration informs the album’s emotive textural intuition, with hushed drones and delicate gestures eliding in the periphery of the mix. She cites sleep and “the loosening of time” as two formative practices in her private and professional life, which manifests in the quietly hallucinatory properties of Vantzou’s music. No. 4 feels both endless and ephemeral, immersive and immaterial. It’s a music of horizon lines and half-light, mapped with feeling and foresight.”
This is absolutely belter: a genuinely never-before-heard collection of punk-funk oddballs by Stretchmarks, the short-lived but dead good Manchester band fronted by Matt Wand and Rex Casswell of plunderphonic pioneers Stock, Hausen & Walkman and fuelled by a rhythm section with previous form for both Nico and Blue Orchids. It’s the kinda stuff Manc-y wet dreams are made of - funky as f*ck, feral and devilishly effective, and totally set to light up a lot of grins on those familiar with Mancunia c.1989-1991 as much as classic Material, Pere Ubu, ACR, ESG.
Pulled together from live recordings of shows at The Millstone, basement sessions down in Withington, and from various rehearsal sessions in rooms across the city, The Stretch m-ARKhives contains the best of this bunch’s efforts during the period that everyone putatively associates with baggy kids and ecstasy pipes. Basically, Stretchmarks were a sort of antithesis to what they called “the ‘baggy plague”, and it’s fair to say with hindsight that their live-wire mix of funk chops, punkish vocals and electronic blatz succeeded in creating an excellent alternative to the usual suspects. Only thing was, at the time, only a few people gave a flying fxck about Stretchmarks and they never made a proper record to prove their anti-thesis.
Fast forward nearly 30 years to now, and, by all rights, Stretchmarks should find their audience in a scene that’s been primed to tell wave goods from wave bads after a decade absorbing YouTube rips, blog posts and a deluge of reissues. Hence it should be easy to detect their flashes of devious genius inside, from the mad mix of upclose whisper and distant holler on the roiling Puddle Of Love, thru to the nipped Afrobeat-punk meter of All The Same, the free jazz mind splash of No Way, and the helpless madness of Let’s Get Weird with its bestial grunts and instantly memorable lyrics intoning “let’s get weird/you and me/in my kidney shaped swimming pooooool.”
Ultimately, The Stretch m-ARKhives is yet another example of how history always favours the winners, in this case The Cranky Tuesdays and The Bony Losers, at the expense of the interesting crud that happened beyond the sight of scenesters and there mainstream, of which this LP is a perfect example.
These songs originate from the city of Sanaa, the sheikdom of Lahej and the port of Aden.
"This record contains oudh playing, percussion and singing from Yemen. The three Kawkabani brothers sing traditional poems and play oudh (lute), double drums, tambourine and, occasionally, the kanoun (zither). They were recorded in Sanaa in 1973. The oudh player Hassan al Zabeede and his double drum playing brother sing songs in the Lahej style and were recorded in Taez in 1973."
‘Challenge Me Foolish’ is an almost lost album of µ-Ziq material circa 1998-99, an era that saw Mike Paradinas release ‘Royal Astronomy’ on the now defunct Virgin subsidiary Hut records, and also tour with Björk.
"It’s an era of his music that’s definitely worth re-exploring, in which Mike went against the grain by producing music that was baroque, melodic and whimsical, while the IDM movement he was lumped with made instrumental music that was often neurotic and complicated. His taste for melody and dreamy beauty above roughness and intricacy confused people who were hanging on too tightly to the rules. He even brought in Japanese vocalist Kazumi, adding an extra human touch.
‘Challenge Me Foolish’ is something of a companion to the Royal Astronomy record; arguably even better given the fresh ears selecting the material. It’s imbued with a confident sense of pastoral colour, and a gentle optimism, utilising bells, studied orchestral arrangements and airy synthesisers that sit the album somewhere between, Jean Jacques Perrey (the French electronic composer whose whimsy was always balanced with serious innovation and chops) and the colourful, optimistic soundtracks of Joe Hisaishi. There’s a strange sense of the old and new throughout, the sentimental and utopia, with nary a hint of darkness. Even when the album dips into the hyperkinetic rhythms of jungle, the melodies and mood still retain a sense of gentle warmth. Dive into peak time Paradinas."
Minimal techno boss Phillip Sollman cues up a smart 22-track DJ mix
Features cuts from his Efdemin alias, Pom Pom, Margaret Dygas, Inland, Steve Bicknell, Konrad Sprenger and many more for Curle, following from last year’s experimental excursion Gegen Die Zeit for Dial’s Sky Walking label.
Andi Toma and Jan St. Werner return with their most inventive album to date, Dimensional People.
"The new album finds the Berlin-based duo reunited with Thrill Jockey, a powerful aesthetic partnership marked by such seminal albums as Radical Connector (2004), Idiology (2001), and Niun Niggung (2000). After a series of notorious dance floor releases, Dimensional People reveals them working deep within their own vernacular, digging into fertile terrain of their inexhaustible vault of digital and acoustic experimentation, and charismatically making elemental components new again. This album makes clear how their craft is of discovery, of finding new contexts for places, sounds, memories, sensations, ambiences, technologies, relationships, and of course, people.
A number of prolific guests joined the production: Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Zach Condon (Beirut), Spank Rock, Aaron and Bryce Dessner (The National), Swamp Dogg, Eric D. Clarke, Lisa Hannigan, Amanda Blank, Sam Amidon, Ensemble Musikfabrik, and about 20 more musical collaborators. The cast of characters are as unique as they are vast, clearly a rich quarry for the prodigious duo.
Dimensional People, initially titled new konstruktivist socialism, gives each participating guest a platform to imprint the album as whoever or whatever they want to be: a narrator, a perfect moment, a jam, an ensemble member, an abstract sound, a multiple persona, a mood, a soloist. Originally premiering as a spatial composition using object-based mixing technology playing with the possibilities of sonic design and collective musicianship, the recording expands upon these ideas. Dimensional People expresses itself as a dynamic 50-piece orchestra, telling a story in sound. Each player is a multifaceted character, the recording an imagined stage, and the production is direction, lighting, and setting changes. Mouse on Mars offer sound as a means to encourage open-minded societies, aided by cutting-edge technology including their own MoMinstruments music software or a spatial mixing technique called object based mixing, with which a spatial version of the work was created. It is a conceptual puzzle composed around one harmonic spectrum within one rhythmic scheme, mostly in the tempo of 145bpm (inspired by Chicago footwork, so the dance floor is not entirely absent). Looking ahead, Dimensional People will also be realized through installation, presenting the work as an immersive listening experience, as well as performance.”
Forest Bathing, or Shinrin-yoku, is a term that means “taking in the forest atmosphere.” It was developed in Japan during the 1980s and has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine. “Taking in the forest atmosphere” became the inspiration for A Hawk and A Hacksaw’s newest album.
"Their forest bath of choice is the Valle De Oro National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. This new album features ten original compositions by Heather Trost and Jeremy Barnes. The opening track “Alexandria” features Barnes on the Persian Santur, an ancient hammer struck dulcimer, and Trost’s string and woodwind melodies. The composition evokes the long trader’s route between what is now Bulgaria and the wealthy cities of Istanbul and Alexandria. The band has always had a bird’s eye view of this part the world— looking for the connections between places and even eras: a belief in the power of music to reach across borders and unite. The band is based on the idea of collecting music and inspiration through travel.
They are not of a place, but their music evokes places along a route. This is not urban music. It’s rural: songs of the woods and roads where there are no sidewalks or street lamps to light your way. While the bulk of the music heard on this record is played by Barnes and Trost, they do have some incredible guest performances, namely the clarinet virtouso Cüneyt Sepetçi, from Istanbul, Hungarian cimbalom master Unger Balász, and closer to home, Chicago trumpeter Sam Johnson, Deerhoof’s John Dieterich and Noah Martinez, of the band Lone Piñon."
Opal Tapes wrest an unusually emotive suite of studies in alternate tunings from Bálint Szabó (12z) in succession with their Leaper  release and his previous work for Nico Jaar’s Other People. Think Arthur Russell’s Tower Of Meaning unravelled and riddled by Ashley Paul and NYZ. It’s arrestingly impressive stuff
“It is profoundly moving and as compelling as anything you’ll find around at the moment." (Brian Morton - The Wire Magazine)
Following his widely-acclaimed record Leaper, Gosheven leaps again and continues the never ending quest he started, to share the hidden treasures of alternate tunings. Bivaq is a natural continuation of Leaper: it is still an utterly personal record that places vulnerability in the heart of the things while it shares end-of-the-world spirits and creates unusual atmospheres of parallel universes. It is an imaginary shelter where one can feel comfortable, far from the maelstrom of the outside world, and can take a rest, collect the intuitive and creative powers while gazing at the Earth.
Almost half of the tunes were triggered by the extensive work with a group of contemporary dancers-choreographers and later became the score of the group's still running performance "Deeper". Not surprisingly the music served as an essential part of this ungraspable visionary work.”
Keith Kenniff’s output as Goldmund has established him as one of the preeminent composers of minimal piano-based ambient music alongside peers like Hauschka, Dustin O’Halloran, and even Ryuichi Sakamoto, who himself once described Kenniff’s work as “so, so, so beautiful”.
"Hyperbolic as it may sound, Goldmund’s newest collection Occasus may be his most exquisite yet. Where his previous recordings trod faithfully and sincerely on paths of dimly lit, polaroid-esque nostalgia, Occasus deepens the undeniable aesthetic that was hard-won over eight previous Goldmund albums, while expanding the palette to include desultory clouds of synthesizer and a tastefully distressed analog sheen.
The word Occasus means downfall, end, or the rising and falling of heavenly bodies. The title is apt in more ways than one: while the emotional tone of the album denotes bittersweet feelings of conclusiveness, it also perfectly soundtracks the quiet moments when we look up to the sky, and humbly relearn the smallness of our lives as cosmic objects churn slowly overhead with bewitching indifference. Occasus feels deeply personal, private, and hushed yet simultaneously grand, colossal, and profound. Remarkably Kenniff is able to capture micro and macro with equal fidelity.
Tangential to prior Goldmund material, there are a few moments of Occasus that feel dark and menacing like “No Story” and “Thread”, both of which broach urgent paranoia, and provide a refreshing counterweight to the idyll typical of the project. Kenniff’s music has always been unquestionably gorgeous, but seeing it set against an occasionally manic backdrop makes the moments of light shine that much brighter. Even when elements of Occasus play by the rules harmonically, they tend to unfold with a satisfying level of rhythmical disregard. “I like mistakes, I like when things don't go perfectly,” says Kenniff of his wabi-sabi ethos, “I do have a tendency to want for things to be perfect and precise, but I have to also realize that a lot of things I like about music and art are very rough and impulsive, the slight imperfections that give something or someone a unique voice.”
To that end there are few artistic voices as distinct as Goldmund’s. Using only a few simple ingredients (piano, synthesizer, reverb, and a little more) Kenniff’s sound has become so universal that you'd be forgiven for not knowing who it belongs to. Knock offs be damned, every Goldmund recording is cut from an inimitable fabric woven out of emotional intelligence, honesty, vivid imagination, and skillful restraint. Occasus is another strong chapter in an ever more gratifying catalog.”
Cult noise alchemists Skin Crime leave a fresh mark on Hospital Productions with 'Ghosts I Have Been,' following the label’s 20CD boxset release Case Studies In Early Taxidermy . Emerging at a fecund juncture in the Hospital Productions’ catalogue, Skin Crime’s latest miasmic pall serves a disciplined and elemental definition of ‘noise’ dynamics at their abstract, affective and invasively visceral best.
“Ghosts I Have Been is the first album from the supreme atmospheric noise band Skin Crime since their colossal 20-CD box set collection on Hospital Productions in 2015. Anyone who attended the Hospital Productions 20 Years Festival in New York City and saw Skin Crime perform their first live show in nearly 15 years will understand the deep masterful balance of tension, texture, and dynamism that has been the signature since the early '90s of this cult and collectible project. A defining characteristic is the fact that Skin Crime is a band with multiple members which brings live space and intricacy to a genre otherwise isolated to the confines of stagnation.
Ghosts I Have Been exhibits the usual mix of concrete sounds with raw electric noise slowly and seamlessly building into crescendo. Unlike the early obsession with various forms of butchery, Ghosts I Have Been shows the darker more austere side of the subject matter of decay, small rural towns, an antique shop with an uncanny selection of dusty old books of stories you might rather not know about, or an old library which seems eager to open its doors to readers but reluctant to open them.”