KID A MNESIA is coming, a triple-album release marking the 21st anniversary of Kid A and Amnesiac, collecting both albums alongside a newly compiled third disc titled 'Kid Amnesiae' which is exclusive to this release and features unearthed material culled from the Kid A / Amnesiac sessions plus alternate versions and elements of Kid A and Amnesiac album tracks and B-Sides, Kid Amnesiae features the never-before-heard "If You Say the Word” and a previously unreleased studio recording of "Follow Me Around.”
These are the formats:
3LP: Three 12" half-speed cut black vinyl pressings of KID A (A/B), Amnesiac (C/D) + KID AMNESIAE (E/F) bonus volume containing unreleased material, in artwork sleeves - available on limited edition Red or Black vinyl.
3CD: Three compact discs containing KID A, Amnesiac + KID AMNESIAE bonus disc containing unreleased material, in artwork sleeves.
Otto A Totland completes his trilogy of piano compositions, following 2014’s Pinô and 2017’s The Lost.
"As a self-taught pianist, Otto further determines himself as a timeless composer who follows nothing but his own gut and heart. The outcome is something so pure it’s hard to not be affected. The development of his pieces over the years has grown into something so himself that it’s almost immediately recognisable. With Companion he has matured in his own craft, and the various pieces here feel confident and absolutely beautiful in a way that sees the end of the trilogy as a warm, empathic document for the times.
As with the previous two albums, Companion was again recorded at Nils Frahm’s Berlin studio for optimal warmth and space, Pinô and The Lost at his previous Durton Studio while Companion at the historic Studio 3 at Funkhaus. All three records are released by Sonic Pieces in hand-crafted limited edition covers as a statement showing that craftmanship and humanity still exists in this world constantly moving towards the exact opposite.
This quote by Norwegian philosopher Guttorm Fløistad seems an appropriate connection to both Otto’s music and the way we are all heading : “The only thing for certain is that everything changes. The rate of change increases. If you want to hang on you better speed up. That is the message of today […] In order to master changes, we have to recover slowness, reflection and togetherness. There we will find real renewal.” With this in mind, Companion is exactly what it’s title sets out to be. A friend that can follow and comfort in both good or bad times."
The 1987 film soundtrack to Werner Herzog’s Cobra Verde.
"Born as Florian Fricke’s brainchild, Popol Vuh needs little introduction, the band stayed active between the late 1960s and late 1990s (until Florian’s passing in 2001). Regarded as pioneers in avant-garde German electronic music, their early works practically laid down the foundations for ‘Kosmische Muzik’ (Space Music) with the then new sounds of the Moog synthesizer joined with ethnic percussions. Later the group evolved to include all kinds of instruments (both electric and acoustic alike) shrouding their music in a spiritual and introspective mystical aura. Popol Vuh influenced many other European bands with their uniquely soft but elaborate instrumentation, which took inspiration from the music of Tibet, Africa and pre-Columbian America. With music sometimes described as "ethereal", they created soundscapes through psychedelic walls of sound, and are regarded as precursors of contemporary ‘world music’, as well as of ‘new age’ and ‘ambient’.
The band regularly contributed soundtracks to the films of Werner Herzog that include classics like Aguirre, Nosferatu, Heart Of Glass of course Cobra Verde. Cobra Verde (featuring Klaus Kinski) was the final collaboration between Popol Vuh and director Werner Herzog. Regal chants accompanied by hand drums, guitars, piano and clavier in a sacred manner are alternated with synthesizer themes that have a tense / dramatic and haunting effect. African ceremonial music and the Choir of the Bavarian State Opera corner this as a landmark meditative and ambient piece of cosmic music. A necessary purchase for both Popol Vuh fans and Herzog collectors."
Nairobi, Kenya’s KMRU debuts on Mego with a suite of serene ambient scenes after emerging with Four Tet-like electronica releases in 2019 and recently starring on ‘Alternate African Reality - Electronic, Electroacoustic And Experimental Music From Africa And The Diaspora’
Known as Joseph Kamaru to his pals, KMRU was hailed by RA as one of ’15 East African Artists You Need To Hear’ in 2018 and is a regular performer at Nyege Nyege Festival in Uganda, beside performing at CTM and Gamma Festival. For his Mego release ‘Peel’ it appears he’s been listening to label hero Fennesz, the Austrian experimental guitarist, or Will Long aka Celer, with whom his tracks share a certain, longing melancholy in their long, sighing arrangements of glistening and creaking ambient pads and mournful post-rock/cienmatic elegance.
“The subtle calming atmosphere within Peel belies the compositional prowess as layers of delicate sounds wrap around each other creating a hybrid new form ambient musics both captivating through it’s textural depth and kaleidoscopic patterns. The track titles lend themselves to the themes and mood set within: Why are you here, Well, Solace, Klang, Insubstantial and the title track. This is a deep heartfelt journey with a new strong voice being expressed through the means of organically presented electronic ambient sounds, one which reveals further layers on repeat listens.”
Carsten Nicolai embarks on a new series of works with this new full-length, commissioned to score Richard Siegal's choreographed performance "Oval" and influenced by astrophysics phenomena, cinema and scientific events. Not easy listening then.
At this stage in his career, Nicolai has his methodology nailed down like a dining table on a cruise ship. His precisely-engineered infusions of drone, noise and glitch have inspired a generation of producers, and truly, few do it quite like him. So although "HYbr:ID I" sounds familiar, the only person he's really aping at this point is himself. And Panasonic.
The album is saddled with an expectedly heady concept; it takes its track names from "static images portraying scientific events" and is inspired by "cinematic visual techniques". Which is to say, it's kinetic, spacious music made out of soundsystem-shaking slabs of wavering bass and chattering pinprick rhythms that encourage movement as much as they suggest abstract imagery.
Nicolai has always had a knack for crafting art that inhabits an area between audio and visual, long before it was de rigeur - "HYbr:ID I" continues that tradition: it's intensely visual music, even without accompaniment, and sounds like a blend of his more upfront material (best represented on the "Uni" series) and his textured "Xerrox" ambience. It's excellent, expectedly, like a VW Passat. Play loud, maybe in the Passat?
Versatile cornet player and elecro-acoustic composer Ben Lamar Gay takes an assured step into ambitious territory with his second album, touching soul, funk, jazz, experimental electronics, ambient and psychedelic zones with help from Tomeka Reid, Angel Bat Dawid, Ayanna Woods, Ohmme and others.
Gay's debut album, 2018's "Downtown Castles Can Never Block The Sun", was assembled from material he'd produced over a seven year period. "Open Arms to Open Us" was a quicker process, and stands as a far more coherent work. Gay began writing the music in Spring 2020, as the world changed and we were all forced to reconsider our place in the world; "things have never been okay," he admits in an accompanying statement. What pulled him back from the brink was thinking about the future - his family, his young nieces and nephews - and Gay puts this into music by focusing on rhythm. "More than anything, I’d like my babies to always trust in rhythm," he explains. "It’s the one trueness that travels great distances and constantly survives the crumbling of facades."
Gay has put his finger on the pulse that travels through culture and history. Rhythm is a unifying force, and he uses it to pull together a wide cast of collaborators and a plethora of genres that all bend to his creative will. On opening track 'Sometimes I Forget How Summer Looks on You', Chicago duo Ohmme back up Gay's vulnerable vocals with ethereal choral wails, but it's the clattering drums - layered over shifting xylophone clonks - that make the song so memorable. 'Aunt Lola and the Quail' is less showy, but no less impressive, with bubbling oscillator gurgles over a loose, pulsing downtempo funk shuffle; the jazz pressure is palpable, but Gay never allows his cornet prowess to overshadow his general theme.
Dorothée Munyaneza sings on the magical 'Nyuzura', vocally pirouetting through skeletal drum skitters and ethereal dulcimer clangs. 'S'Phisticated Lady' meanwhile finds Chicago legend Angel Bat Dawid and Gira Dahnee trading rhymes, seemingly live in situ, over rattling tamborines and a struck tom. Each track feels stylistically different, but philosophically related - it's quite a feat.
9-track mini-album "Broken Hearts & Beauty Sleep" from Mykki Blanco.
"This body of work also marks their debut release as part of a recently signed deal with Transgressive Records in London (supported by PIAS worldwide). The music of this new mini-album introduces a more nuanced and genre- spanning set of work, suggesting the reflective wisdom of one who has experience and maturity on their side. Ushering in a fresh era for the artist, the songs take life and love into account, but also personal stakes that are higher than they've ever been. “I couldn’t continue on that same trajectory,” they say, calling up releases of old. "I can't call myself a serious musician if you can't go on a journey bumping a Mykki Blanco record from start to finish."
Mykki’s desire to elevate their artistry provided the lifeblood. They felt the approach of the early part of their career had long resembled that of a performance artist rather than a musician; and as much as they hungered for longevity, they wanted more to connect with the mechanics of how they created their own work. “I liked my life. I liked the life my career had given me. I loved songwriting, but I was afraid,” Blanco admits. “There was still a level of musicianship that I was relying too much on other people for, and I could feel that spiritual gap.” To that end, the unique partnership they formed with producer FaltyDL — one that has been continuous since they first found themselves collaborating in 2018 — was instrumental in its creative process.
When the two began working on music together in 2018, Blanco was fresh out of a serious relationship — Mykki’s actual first — that had spread out over three years. After a twenties that was characterized by “a lot of sexual trauma,” an actual committed relationship proved to be a balm. “It was healing. It was like God brought that man into my life to teach me how to love myself better. It was through his love of me that I was able to realize that I was worthy of love.” And though that relationship has ceased, the impact of it remains powerful in Blanco's mind as both a beautiful memory and an experience they sought to capture in composition. At its core, Broken Hearts & Beauty Sleep is a collection of songs about love that grew out of the end of this cherished romance. This mini album is further informed by Blanco’s childhood spent between California and North Carolina, listening to acts as disparate as Jamiroquai (their first concert) and Macy Gray (the first CD they paid for) to Riot Grrrl bands and the Neptunes. They’ve also been further influenced by being based primarily in Europe for the last few years and collaborating with a wide cross-section of artists in these years that have passed since their debut album. Mykki Blanco’s music and artistic career has long been an amalgamation of their broad tastes and continuous evolution; and with great intention, Broken Hearts & Beauty Sleep is the next step on this long road."
Instant life upgrade gear, starring guitar maestro Omar Khorshid showcasing one of the most important Arabic composers of the c.20th, who has written for legends including Umm Kalthum, Abdel Halim Hafez, Sabah, Warda, and many others
Packing opulent string orchestrations, intoxicating sitar work, sizzling drums and the psych-surf guitar fire of Omar Khorshid - a big fave around here - Baligh Hamdi’s ‘Instrumental Modal Pop of 1970s Egypt’ collects 19 relatively stripped back examples of the composer charting modernized directions for Arabic music during the open-minded ‘60s & ‘70s. Compiled and annotated by Sublime Frequencies don Hisham Mayet, the selection is deliberately shy of vocals, in order to best reveal Hamdi’s intricate weave of influences from subcontinental classical music to Afro-American jazz and west coast US surf and psych rock, all subtly and seamlessly incorporated into the lushest of psychedelic exotica.
Under Hamdi’s direction, the crack squad of Omar Khorshid on guitar, Magdi al-Husseini on organ, Samir Sourour on saxophone, and Faruq Salama on accordion, aka his legendary group “Diamond Orchestra”, articulate a new musical language porous to peripheral influence, yet firmly located in the sophistication of cosmopolitan Cairo during that specific era. Abundant with tonal colour and, crucially, driven by a suave swagger, it’s hard not to be charmed by the passion and patent intellect of this music, sweeping us up on a deadly cool but exhilarating trip for the ages that still surely conveys its urges to mingle myriad musics and make you dance better.
Just essential stuff, really.
µ-Ziq and Mrs Jynx release a collaborative album on Planet Mu.
"In Spring 2021, Mike Paradinas (µ-Ziq and the owner of Planet Mu) spoke to long time friend and past label signing Hannah Davidson (Mrs Jynx) about the therapeutic power of writing music when times are tough. Both had recently been dealing with the loss of a parent due to cancer, and fresh from writing Scurlage, Paradinas suggested a collaboration. “I’ve always thought Hannah’s melodic sensibilities chime well with my own," says Paradinas, "and I've wanted to collaborate with her for a long time, since [her 2010 album] 'Shark Carousel' in fact, because she'd written some melodies that I wish I had.” In a matter of weeks the two collaborated online, sending stems back and forth, each encouraging the other and fitting perfectly together. “After about ten days we had ten tracks we were happy with." adds Davidson, "It was exciting to hear what Mike would do with the stems I sent, and equally exciting to see what he thought of my additions to his stems.” Overall the result is an opus of deeply personal moments of grief, depicted in a feeling of serene, misty tranquility that makes it easy to get lost in.
Davidson and Paradinas settled on the title 'Secret Garden' due to the melodic vista which unexpectedly opened up before them on the final track. The album truly is a melodic exploration that is so often missed in this genre. There are twists and turns in mood, from the pastoral loveliness of 'Jynxiq' and 'Unheard Melodies' which fall away to the dubby beats of 'Hi Jynx'; the sadness of 'Loss' leading into the beatless forlorn 'The Ballad of Darth Vader. The album ups the pace with the muffled kicks and warm atmosphere of 'Afternoon Sunshine', which sets the tone for the happier mood of the second half. This all leads up to the album's denoeument in final track 'Secret Garden' whose naïve meandering synth melodies, orchestral accompaniment and glockenspiel end the album in happy resolution."
Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra's Jessica Moss paints another evocative nighttime scene on her fourth album "Phosphenes". Using violin, vocals and electronics, she creates visceral, ghostly soundtracks that are certain to appeal to fans of Deaf Center, Stars of the Lid or Marcus Fjellström.
Jessica Moss has added her signature sound to so many essential artists it's almost pointless listing them all. Most memorably, she toured with Vic Chestnutt's band, co-founded Black Ox Orkestar, performed alongside Carla Bozulich, and experimented with electronics with Growing's Kevin Doria as Total Life, but that's only the half of it. On 'Phosphenes', however, the most striking aspect is Moss's ability to harness the power of restraint, allowing minuscule strokes and small touches do the heavy lifting.
Epic three-part composition 'Contemplation' makes up the bulk of the album's first half, showing off Moss's instrumental skill without any kind of fanfare. Her playing is the central focus, but her knowledge of production and electronics infuses her productions with subtle elements that never detract from the instrumental sounds. On 'Let Down' and 'Distortion Harbour', these elements begin to strangle the strings as if a transition is taking place; by the end of 'Distortion Harbour', light starts to crack through the fog. A child's voice burbles up from the silence: "don't be sad, I love you."
Coldcut curate an ambient compilation for Ninja Tune sub-label Ahead Of Our Time. "@0", the 29-track compilation album features new recordings by Ryuichi Sakamoto, Skee Mask, Helena Hauff, Juliana Barwick, Sigur Rós, Laraaji, Suzanne Ciani and Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, among others.
"Speaking on the compilation, Coldcut’s Matt Black said: “@0 refers to that liminal state experienced many times where my mental and emotional stability was not solid and it felt like teetering on a zero axis about to fall into depression, or more rarely, mania. I found that ambient music, by making no psychic demands, often opened some space and with its soft fascination, subtly raised the energy, helping to avoid that downward spiral and navigate slowly up and out. @0 is a balance point.”"
Chris Liebing's follow up to his 2018 debut for Mute, "Another Day".
"Another Day sees Liebing once again collaborating with an eclectic mix of artists, including several who were involved with Burn Slow. Miles Cooper Seaton, in one of his last performances following his sad and untimely passing earlier this year, and Polly Scattergood lend vocals to a track each, while Ralf Hildenbeutel returns to produce. Ladan (formerly known as Cold Specks), Tom Adams and Maria Uzor (Sink Ya Teeth) are new collaborators for Liebing.
“With this album, I wanted to take myself out of it as much as possible,” explains Chris Liebing. After three decades working dancefloors with pummelling techno, Chris Liebing formidable reputation as a DJ and is certainly comfortable with being in the spotlight, but for his solo work he has chosen a different avenue."
Collecting Eleh's three heavyweight drone albums on CD. Very precious, pure and meditative sounds strongly recommended to followers of Eliane Radigue, Pauline Oliveros, LaMonte Young.
"Retreat is a collection of exploratory sound assemblages put together during a cabin sojourn. New timbral richness, tonal expansion and deep synthesis make these pieces rather different from previous work. Return reflects on time away.Repose contains only one piece, the final recording of Circle Two: Coastal Rotation For Dune Loop which was debuted at 2010's Mutek festival in Montreal. This piece completes the Retreat/Return trilogy with Repose and is intended to stand very much on its own. Rain on your hood. Your heart beats. A beach break roaring in the distance. Isolated pines are played by the wind. A fine spot for repose. You turn around and head home. "Eleh demonstrates once again how a single amplified gesture delivered just so can reveal the inner workings of an entire cosmos." Tony Herrington/Wire"
Enveloping 38-minute piece from Eleh written for performance at the Cleveland Museum Of Contemporary Art.
'For Moussavi Atrium' marks the first new Eleh material since 2012, following an invaluable programme of reissues for their Important early releases during the 2013. It starts off in near silence before fleshing out a supple sinewave flux modulating at rapid intervals to a pulsing, brain-worming coda that'll hypnotise and control anyone susceptible to a good 'wave. This is one of those instances where the format plays some part - the clarity and duration afforded by the CD really holds us under without breaking the spell, and by the time we're 30 minutes in - the point you'd have to turn the wax - it really strikes serious depths of sub-harmonic intensity that feels like the world is geared in slow motion...
Fluxion's best album in years, the Greek dub techno veteran sculpts pristine dub-jazz moods that eschew the genre's usual foggy melancholy in favor of mind-expanding, horizontal landscapes. One for fans of Moritz Von Oswald Trio and Vladislav Delay's underrated "The Four Quarters".
There's an airy lightness to "Parallel Moves" that's unexpected in the dub techno canon. Fluxion's best work - his Chain Reaction two-parter "Vibrant Forms" - is rightly hailed as a genre milestone, and while "Parallel Moves" echoes that work's faded atmosphere, there's none of the eerie mystery. Instead, the Greek producer has augmented his production with a deep house-indebted jazziness, bringing in broken two-step rhythms, feather-lite electric guitar and warm electric piano. It's almost balearic.
Tracks like 'Passage' are as warm and bright as an acid sunrise, with aerated pads that cut through a supple kick and breezy horns that practically drag you to the sand dunes and frothing waves. 'In Limbo', a tight, uptempo deep house burner, sounds looped into Theo Parrish's sonic universe as it drifts around subtly plucked guitar and kinetic electric piano, and 'Spreads' sounds like waking up on a mountainside, watching the clouds part slowly. This is sunny, hopeful stuff, and breathes some happiness into a usually buttoned-up sound.
Compelling textural electronic experimentation in long form from Californian operative Robert Takahashi Crouch, who considers the relationship between abstract sound and personal resonance on "Jubilee", fizzing from luscious filigree drone to dense, crushing tonal destruction. RIYL Lawrence English, Tim Hecker or Jefre Cantu-Ledesma.
'Jubilee' is a major release for Crouch, arriving four years after his last full-length, the Touch-released 'Sublunar'. He admits in a soul-baring artist statement that it took him an unusually long time to complete; the recording evolved at a time when he was re-assessing his priorities.
So often, loud sound - from metal and noise to so-called power ambient - is used as a way of expressing frustration, or worse, repression. But Crouch uses his shifting dynamics to instead represent pain, anxiety, trauma and transgression. These feelings come from a similar place, but he treats them with sensitivity and bounded distance as he melts from liquid bass drones and glassy electronics in 'A Ritual I' to tectonic-shifting overdriven fuzz in the second part, before shifting into pensive, circling tones on the final act. 'I've been a part of evil doing' provides a breather between the album's two sides, evoking Steve Reich or Philip Glass, before Crouch shifts into more emotional territory for the two part 'Reconciliation'. Here, he hits a more jubilant tone - closer to My Bloody Valentine's noisy stompbox grind, or Jefre Cantu-Ledesma's romantic laptop crunch - and reaches into a ghostly, peaceful shimmer before fading into the aether.
Crouch has found a musical way to process world-defining emotions and experiences, and it shows. Maybe it's not just abstract sound, after all.
Important Records release this early piece by Eliane Radigue, pre-dating her use of synthesizers.
Consisting solely of tape feedback, Vice Versa, etc was conceived in 1970, and originally, the feedback piece was issued in an edition of ten signed and numbered copies containing a magnetic tape and a handwritten note, conveying that the listener is free to experiment with playing the tape back at a variety of different speeds, and in both forwards and backwards directions so as to explore the timbral properties and minutiae of the feedback tone.
In their issue of the piece, Important Records have selected four playback speeds (one disc with the tape going forwards, the other with the tape spooling backwards) corresponding to the settings on tape recorders of the era. These drones are even more minimal and steadied than the works Radigue would go on to record with her ARP 2500 and represent an early manifestation of the creative principles that would go on to govern her better known work.
Original score by Jónsi for Tom Clancy’s "Without Remorse".
"Jónsi releases his latest score, for the new Amazon Original movie Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, starring Michael B. Jordan, Jodie Turner- Smith and Jamie Bell, directed by Stefano Sollima. The score is 23 tracks of pure action, adrenaline and anxiety."
It's impossible to overstate the unique brilliance of Arthur Russell's posthumous release, 'Another Thought'.
Originally issued on Phillip Glass's (then Decca financed) Point Blank label (CD only) a year after Arthur's tragic death in 1993, Another Thought features a mostly bare-boned Russell, his vocals mixed with cello plucks and bowing, occasional percussion and other subtle touches. Almost all the tracks are exclusive to this release, two tracks appeared on the Soul Jazz comp and here you also get an alternative take on the classic 'In the Light Of The Miracle’.
We're not ashamed to admit shedding a tear or two listening to the sheer life-affirming qualities of this record over the years. It's not sad, it's just heart-breakingly beautiful, stripped to the bare essentials of Arthur's voice and cello dappled with effects and backed with his own drum machine, plus congas, sax and keys from longtime collaborators Peter Zummo, Elodie Lauten, and Mustafa Ahmed, among others. In the most transcendent sense, it's music that occupies its very own genre, a magical soundworld all of its own, ready for you to visit when times are good, and perhaps even more so when they're bad.
Although it’s been available on CD, first on that 1994 pressing for Point Music, and later in 2006 for Philip Glass's Orange Mountain Music, the magic is arguably enhanced on wax. It's like finding a new, secret entrance to your favourite place in the world. Even passing Russell fans will likely know a few of its charms such as 'This Is How We walk On The Moon', 'Another Thought' itself, or the alternate version of 'Keeping Up' from 'The World Of...', and we envy those of you about to encounter it for the first time.
Staggering, transcendent composition rescued from the dust of Eliane Radigue's archives by Important Records.
'Transamorem Transmortem' has been virtually unheard since it was first premiered on March 9th, 1974 at The Kitchen in NYC, at an event organised by the venue's music programmer, Rhys Chatham. Like the majority of Eliane's works, it was created with her favoured ARP Synthesizer, and would surely count as one of her most subtle and still pieces - which is quite something, considering her status as an almost peerless master of sonic stasis. Like the very best of her canonical works, she challenges, or heightens, our perceptions of temporal awareness, seemingly expanding carefully organised frequencies or even a single note, or moment, into a meditative stillness with only the slightest of timbral transformations to create a near-unparalleled effect of immersion. If you've ever submitted yourself to one of her compositions before, you'll know what we mean.
Because the piece was originally intended as an installation, it's organised with clearly spatialized high, mid, and low frequencies to be played on a quadrophonic speaker set-up. If you follow the instructions you may well experience the localised physicality of these frequencies quite differently, but we'd equally recommend simple, linear home listening on a stereo setup for enveloping results. Stunning.
Maiden vinyl voyage of Thomas Köner’s seminal dark ambient album inspired by cosmic ephemera, available on wax and digital formats for first time since 1995.
Originally released by Barooni, who also issued Köner’s first trio of solo albums (and Roland Kayn’s titanic ‘Tektra’ boxset), ‘Aubrite’ checks into the German artist’s resoundingly dark, isolationist headspace a few years later for a profound meditation on the void. To be fair, it’s obviously “dark”, but more in a sense of its starkness and lonesome nature, rather than anything overbearingly gothic or cinematic, holding to a canvas of barely-there, near infrasonic inference and suggestion, and with a timeless fascination as evocative as the small achrondite meteorites that fell near Nyons in 1836 and lend it its title.
"Whoever hears the distortion of all sounds, will soon become Ultrablack. Whoever listens to this world, but has no affection for any of its sites, even to the place of Black Noise, may soon reach Ultrablack. Whoever understands the spirit of impartiality through ten thousand million partial tones, hears Ultrablack and can no longer be measured. No measures, no enclosures, no properties are the sign of ultrablack scores." Thomas Köner
Returning from the brink for the first time in 26 years, ‘Aubrite’ still imparts a message that’s best translated by atavistic instinct. Like Roland Kayn’s work, the level of scope and layered depth is just unfathomably cavernous and even on some levels unheimlich amniotic, yielding a series of quietly reverberating and sensational sort of non-musical events that suspend the senses and send its recipient floating thru richly imaginative deepsea, boreal, and cosmic headspace.
The Mill Pond first surfaced in 1997 as a double 7". Over a decade later, Important Records reissue the EP on CD, accompanied by an extensive booklet reproducing Fahey's paintings.
Characteristic of the great guitarist's work from the period, there's little on The Mill Pond to suggest Fahey's past as a curator of ancient Americana. Instead these four pieces, aided by the electronics of Jeff Allman, are far more esoteric, more in line with the Table Of The Elements classic Womblife than those famous early ragtime jaunts. After the spooky, hummed vocals and vacant strums of 'Ghosts', the ten-minuter 'Garbage' spews blasts of noise and buried, tuneless guitar effects in a hypnotic, dazzling swirl. Yet more ear-shredding dissonance is in store during the almost sludge metal-like 'You Can't Cool Off In The Mill Pond, You Can Only Die' which leads into a more considered finale: 'The Mill Pond Drowns Hope', whose digital effects bolster Fahey's lonesome, echoing guitar picking which eventually leads ferociously into a crescendo of eerily bluesy electronics. Another essential Fahey recording from the archives, saved from obscurity by the good folk at Important. Highly Recommended.
Venerable minimalist Éliane Radigue continues her ‘Occam Ocean’ adventures at the threshold of perception on a third volume in collaboration with string trio Julia Eckhardt, Silvia Tarozzi and Deborah Walker
Performed and recorded in September, 2019 at the Abbazia di Santa Maria Assunta, Bologna, Italy, the 3rd volume of ‘Occam Ocean’ features the pioneering French composer’s radical thoughts on time, tone and timbre carefully manifest thru the trio’s fingers and strings in the model of preceding volumes, also for France’s Shiiin label. Incredibly patient in its sustained drones and incremental developments, the results return an experience that really only comes with Radigue’s work, among a few others, holding the ability to generate moments of revelatory epiphany from the subtlest alterations.
Where previous ‘Occam Ocean’ instalments fielded a mix of solo and duo works (Occam Ocean 1) and a broad orchestra (Occam Ocean 2), this one is perhaps most focussed in its triumvirate of works written for solo, duo and trio configurations of Julia Eckhardt (Viola), Silvia Tarozzi (Violin) and Deborah Walker (Violoncello). The first, for Tarozzi and Walker resonates with an intense immanence as the Violin’s icy high register is underlined by glyding lower end Violoncello contours, creating a unique weather system of mid-air dissonance, which makes Walker’s lone performance on ‘Occam VIII’ only appear hauntingly nude by contrast.
When all three players converge at ‘Occam Delta III’ they create a more sublime tension, adhering the composer’s instructions to follow a razor fine line between microtonal frequencies and making the piece’s technical challenges feel effortlessly natural, really honing in on tones that resonate the pharynx and get up in your head quite unlike anything else.
A definitive edition of Philip Corner’s ‘The Judson Years’, spanning works for tape, electronics, and instrumental-vocal from a vital period during the early ‘60s. Includes stellar avant-garde cast revolving Ayo, David Behrman, Malcolm Goldstein, Dick Higgins, Joe Jones, Alison Knowles, Jackson Mac Low, Charlotte Moorman, Nam June Paik, and Chieko Shiomi, and more
“It's hard to overstate the importance of Philip Corner. For more than half a century he has been a cornerstone of the American musical avant-garde. Once a student of Otto Leuning, Henry Cowell, Olivier Messiaen, and Dorothy Taubman. A founding member of Fluxus, Corner made waves fast, creating a body of singular work, both on his own and within ensembles like Gamelan Son of Lion and Tone Roads, founded with Malcolm Goldstein and James Tenney, which has cut its way across the decades. Among Corner's most fascinating works are those created between 1962 and 1964, during the period when he was resident composer at the Judson Dance Theatre, one the great occurrences in the emergence of avant-garde dance, movement, Happenings, and performance art. Even today, it stands among the most important examples of collaborate create exchange in the history the American arts. Alga Marghen present a three-CD box, issued in early 2000s by and now out of print, gathering much of the work created during these important years in Corner's career, signed by the composer himself.
Alga Marghen's triple box gathers On Tape From the Judson Years, and More from The Judson Years (Early 60s) Instrumental and Vocal Works Volumes 1 and 2, bringing you to heart of Philip Corner's brilliant practice and mind. Across the first disc Corner's tape works -- complex textures and sonority coming to life. The second disc is of an entirely different sort, featuring works created with a great many of Corner's closest collaborators and friends. Recorded at Judson, 1965, the disc features a knock-out cast of Ayo, David Behrman, Philip Corner, Malcolm Goldstein, Dick Higgins, Joe Jones, Alison Knowles, Jackson Mac Low, Charlotte Moorman, Nam June Paik, and Chieko Shiomi, and more. The third disc takes the ear further afield, with "Everything Max Has" (1964), a performance of Max Neuhaus solo recorded at the ONCE Festival (1965), captures the composer and percussionist taking down an overwhelming amount of equipment. It also includes Big Trombone (1963), with Jim Fulkerson improvising over tape collage, "Homage to Revere" (1962) a work for an ensemble of copper-bottom kitchen utensils, and "Punkt" (1961) for an ensemble of staccato sounds, and a number of other astounding works from the era. As a totality, Alga Marghen's three-CD set of Corner's years spent at the Judson Theatre, are a mind-boggling entry into an overwhelmingly exciting moment in time.”
Now compiled into a single handy package, Judee Sill's first two albums here resurface with extensive bonus tracks included.
Sill's place in history is assured by the fact that she was the very first artist to sign to David Geffen's Asylum label at the beginning of the '70s, recording the two now legendary albums (her eponymous 1971 debut and 1972's Heartfood) found on this release. Sill's lyrical concerns tended to converge upon particularly eccentric Christian themes, never more successfully than on her debut single 'Jesus Was A Crossmaker', produced by Graham Nash.
Frankly, it's as good an example of 1970s West Coast songwriting as you're every likely to hear - the almost uncomfortably intimate live version that rounds off disc one of this collection stands as a testament to its incredible compositional elegance. The second disc contains Heartfood in its entirety plus ten bonus tracks made up of outtakes from the original recording sessions for the album, solo demos and alternate versions. These two albums have achieved 'lost classic' status by now, and there's never been a better presentation of them than this.
"The Nearer The Fountain, More Pure The Stream Flows", is the new studio album from Damon Albarn on Transgressive Records.
"The Nearer The Fountain, More Pure The Stream Flows was originally intended as an orchestral piece inspired by the landscapes of Iceland. This last year has seen Albarn return to the music in lockdown and develop the work to 11 tracks which further explore themes of fragility, loss, emergence and rebirth. The result is a panoramic collection of songs with Albarn as storyteller. The album title is taken from a John Clare poem Love and Memory.
Albarn says “I have been on my own dark journey while making this record and it led me to believe that a pure source might still exist.”"
The Berlin-based duo hackedepicciotto return with "The Silver Threshold", their fourth full length album.
"This cinematic and hypnotic release combines swirling electronics, shimmering autoharp and the beautiful vocal harmonies of Danielle de Picciotto (co-founder of Berlin’s legendary 'Love Parade', prolific solo artist and illustrator) and Alexander Hacke (Einstürzende Neubauten), blended with a plethora of instruments from around the world.
Danielle and Alex have contributed to a vast and varied legacy of electronic music, although The Silver Threshold is their the first album in partnership with Mute, they are not new to the label, with both Danielle and Alex members of the last incarnation of Crime and the City Solution and Alex a member of Einstürzende Neubauten whilst also contributing to releases by Phew and Miranda Sex Garden."
Curated by Wolfgang Voigt, Kompakt's ongoing Pop Ambient series continues with this latest set, featuring gauzy sadbient contributions from Blank Gloss, Andrew Thomas, Thomas Fehlmann, Yuo Onodera and more.
Started in 2001 "Pop Ambient" series long predated the current global obsession with ambient music, but somehow has still managed to stay completely mired in its own reading of the sprawling, bloated genre. The label's latest compilation is completely free of surprises, and again highlights the dedication to their chosen theme. There's no darkness here and few blustery field recordings, the world of "Pop Ambient" is right there in the title - whimsical pop (or post-rock) bluster has been reduced to Gas-eous fog.
Cali duo Blank Gloss start things off calmly with a dream pop jangle and occasional kick drum, before Yui Onodera gets us back on the usual path, blending watery environmental sounds with Reich-ian phasing, evocative piano and strangled strings. Markus Guentner and Joachim Spieth do their best Wolfgang impression on 'Kari', before Thomas Fehlmann lightens the mood slightly with the cheery 'Rosen Fliegen'. For the most part, these tracks are almost interchangeable - a granulated pad there, a twinkling piano there - so it's fitting that, as usual, there's a mixed version.
Unmissable first showcase of pioneering Vietnamese rock ’n bopper Phương Tâm; a real labour of love compiled by her daughter and the Sublime Freq’s, all bubbling over with catchy rock ’n roll, blues, jazz, twist and surf nuggets
‘Magical Nights: Saigon Surf, Twist & Soul (1964-1966)’ spans dozens of songs written a lifetime ago, when Phương Tâm blazed a trail of US-influenced songwriting, which she promptly left for family life after only a few years. It was only in 2020 that Phương’s daughter, Hannah Hà, now in the USA, began to fully uncover her mother’s fantastic - if short lived - pop and rock career, leading her to Sublime Frequencies via their much-loved collection ‘Saigon Rock and Soul’, where Phương’s ‘Magical Night’ is a centrepiece, and whose title lends itself to this archival bonanza. Reaped from far flung collections thanks to the efforts of Hannah, plus Mark Gergis and a network of proper diggers, its 26 songs speak to Phương’s remarkable range which saw her in high demand at Saigon nightclubs and a regular in the recording studio, penning songs that would become popularised by others years later, after she exited stage left to marry her love and start a family, still against the backdrop of the Vietnam war.
After 55 years, Phương encountered many of her recordings for the first time since they made, thanks to the compilation process. Including 25 of her known 30 recordings, the set proves her natural dexterity at both driving, early rock ’n roll, and a fine vein of sultrier jazz soul ballads, and crucially with influence from traditional Vietnamese melodies in parts. We find ourselves most snagged on the likes of her strolling bewt ‘Đêm Huyền Diệu’ with its haunting woodwind and choral backing, and likewise the smokier sashay of ‘Ngày Phép Của Lính’ or ‘Buồn Lên Thành Phố’ and ‘Lá Thư’ just drip with timeless elegance, whereas the likes of her slinkily infectious ’60 Năm’ and the reverberating surf rock licks of ‘Tình Mơ’ surely scream late night good times.
Legendary balearic disco and house player DJ Harvey adjusts the temperature on his 3rd volume of peachy picks for Ibiza’s Pikes
Named after his residency at the seminal Ibizan hotel, ‘The Sound Of Mercury Rising Vol. III’ packs 16 prime, and as yet (at time of writing) undisclosed, cuts of glistening yacht boogie, star-eyed house, debonaire boogie disco and blissed out downstrokes. We’ll be honest, we can only ID Twice of Love’s sexy New Beat ace ’24 Hours From Culture’, but we’d love to know what that 10 minute closer is. Trust it’s all bound to get you unbuttoned and feeling dead glam. Add your own pool and cocktail bar for best effect.
Wounds and Blessings is a brand new studio double album by Blaine L. Reininger, the Colorado-born composer and founder member of avant-garde music group Tuxedomoon.
"Wounds and Blessings is a collection of 28 new tracks organised into 4 distinct suites. While all the music is performed and produced by Reininger, featured guests include his Tuxedomoon colleagues Steven Brown and Luc van Lieshout, as well as former Indoor Life member Bob Hoffnar and Reininger’s Greek guitarist, Tilemachos Moussas.
On this expansive double set Reininger employs all the tools in his current arsenal, from AI-assisted lyrics to sampler bricolage, to violin and guitar virtuosity, a vast array of computer plug-ins and effects, and a trompe l’oeil assortment of 20th century avant-garde compositional methods.
"When I’m working," explains Blaine, “and a piece begins to reveal itself to me, I always follow where it leads. It becomes clear that it requires a violin, or a guitar, or lyrics. Whether it should be harsh or serene, orchestral, or entirely electronic. So it is with this new collection. Also, in the vocal songs, the subject of mortality has surfaced time and time again, albeit in a lucid manner and without becoming morbid, or fearful. I’m pleased with the results, and grateful to have the means to write every day and present my music to you.’"
Raster mark their 25th anniversary with Greek composer Novi_sad’s epic episode of elemental field recordings made on five continents and sculpted into thunderous and sublime scapes.
Rooted in Greek mythology, ‘Κεραυνóς’ is composed of environmental recordings made in Oceania (Tarkine Forests), Asia (Okinawa), Europe (Ancient Olympia and Iceland), Africa (Uganda, Botswana and Namibia), and America (Amazon rainforest and Niagara Falls) to impressionistically relate a mythos that connects Gods of thunder from Greek, Celtic, Slavic, Norse, Finnish, Indian, Chinese and Roman traditions. Aye, it doesn’t sweat the small stuff, and tends to the broadest frame of references for a release befitting of Raster’s lofty reputation.
The five durational works obliquely and evocatively elicit their subject by means of textural inference and timbral nuance; Oceania’s Tarkine forest recordings result a wall of nocturnal bird calls that become soused in flames and give way to lush aftermath; location sounds of Okinawa form a rich blanket of insectoid chatter that sounds like recordings of cicadas slowed 1000%; the various locations of Europe are knitted into a transition from foreboding low end to sublime noise; the Africa piece offers the most haunting, suspenseful scenes of warbling drone wow and flutter; and America’s transformed sounds rainforest squall and cascading water are pregnant with portent.
Veteran sonic alchemist BJ Nilsen returns with a Sartre-influenced hall of mirrors, using recognizable elements (voices, trains, bells, birds etc) to create fantasy "irreal" soundscapes struck thru with beauty, intrigue and mischief. Chris Watson and Lawrence English devotees take note!
Swedish sound artist Nilsen has spent almost two decades impressing us with his skillful blend of environmental recordings and deep drone. His '06 collaboration with Chris Watson, "Storm", is a classic, and his records with Icelandic duo Stilluppsteypa remain some of the experimental canon's most slept-on tomes. "Irreal" is Nilsen's most impressive solo work in a while, combining his philosophy of sound with evocative field recordings and engrossing deep listening experimentation.
Using recordings from Austria, Russia, South Korea, Belgium and The Netherlands, Nilsen creates fresh, unique landscapes that exist in neither one place nor another. Insects and birds hum in the distance, snow crunches, grass blows in the wind, but this isn't documentary, it's pure fantasy. The environmental sounds form a textural landscape for Nilsen's careful synth work, and drones and wobbling rhythmic sequences ping in-and-out of the more recognizable sounds.
This is meditative music, created with a distinctly philosophical concept in mind. The title is taken from a Sartre quote, and the music is intended to investigate the effect natural sounds have on humans. On the epic almost 40-minute closing track 'Beyond Pebbles, Rubble and Dust', Nilsen's ideas come together with the force of an orchestra. In less capable hands, this would fall into "power ambient" traps, but Nilsen only teeters on the edge of the extreme, never allowing his slow-building composition to overwhelm the cautious, complex palette. It's a masterclass, honestly.
Bewitching magnum opus from Lotic, arriving at her definitive album statement with 3rd LP ‘Water’ after helping reassert avant-club dimensions over the past decade.
A dramatic tour de force, ‘Water' is dominated by the confident appearance of Lotic's operatic R&B vocals, lending a vaulted new perspective and embellishment of ravishing electronic backdrops. She arrives at this point after spending the last decade moving from the USA to Germany, and co-founding the influential clubnight Janus in Berlin, where her adventurous DJ sets helped redraw boundaries of contemporary, queer club music and beyond.
Björk is also big fan, enlisting Lotic’s remix skills for the ‘Vulnicura’ album produced with Lotic’s peer Arca, but recent years have seen Lotic withdraw from the release schedule to spend time on this, the most ambitious realisation of a style that transcends club and home listening distinctions and places her music in a loftier dimension of avant-R&B.
Song to song, Lotic's soaring vocals take on an aqueous quality, variously processed into emotional cascades or shimmering passages, with strings and rhythms also allowed to slosh with a freedom of meter that stems from formative classical training. Embodying a siren like character, she summons the storm with ‘Wet’ and makes great use of what sounds like water drumming in the tremulous ‘Emergency’, while binding the club and classical dimensions in a lush manner on ‘Always You’ that also informs the Ariel/aeriel inversion of ‘Apart.’
Her theatric arrangements ultimately come to a head with the final strokes, on the woodwind and Reese bass mise-en-scene of ‘Oblivious’ channelling a sort of Klaus Nomi cabaret for the Berghain generation, while the spotlighted vocals of ‘Diamond’ give way to a killer orchestral death drop and windswept drums that epitomise her grasp of dramaturgy and heightened classical sensitivities.
Songs of resistance and gratitude in a Latin pop mode from Chicago’s Dos Santos, one of the longest running groups on International Anthem Recording Company.
Vintage-sounding, but polished to modern tastes, ‘City Of Mirrors’ feature the septet playing to their latin heritage in a style that will appeal to all members of the extended family. It’s rich with melody and impassioned vocals, driven by coolly urgent tresillo rhythms and equally given to elegiac ballads that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Lynch flick, as it is to party-gathering bops and jangling, psychy, indie-rock verve.
"Cinematic in its journey, the album was produced by multimedia artist and long-time friend of the band Elliot Bergman (NOMO, Wild Belle), and reflects sounds from across the Americas combined with Chavez’s compelling poetic narratives. Its 13 tracks consolidate the band’s unique identities, creative and cultural roots, and their penchant for honoring traditional Latinx music with contemporary compositional expressions and production techniques. It achieves the band’s mission to push against their own musical boundaries while also exploring themes of social justice, immigration, and contemporary human struggle.
Chavez, a scholar who has produced albums for Smithsonian Folkways and conducted extensive ethnographic work on the music of the Texan US/Mexican borderlands (where he is from), articulates beautifully: “City of Mirrors is an assemblage… glimpses of tradition… reflections on our collective present… luminous echoes between love and solitude, hope and absurdity, euphoria and mourning. This album grapples with and transgresses these binaries because we have/and continue to cross borders. Yet, for us, the border is no metaphor — too much real staring back at us. We embody the border. We (our families) have crossed it. We (our stories) are coated with its residues. And so… we cross the border of self through our art – out of necessity.”"
‘Morton Feldman Piano’ is a major 5CD collection of virtually all of Feldman’s music for piano, performed by Philip Thomas with a tactility befitting of this extraordinary, quiet, intimate music. It’s the most extensive survey of Feldman’s piano music since John Tilbury’s long unavailable 4-CD set was released 20 years ago, including several pieces which weren’t included there, and three works which have never been released on disc before at all.
Feldman was part of a radical group of experimenters, alongside the likes of John Cage, Christian Wolff and Earle Brown, who looked beyond the strictures of serialism to innovative with and embrace aspects of chance and “indeterminacy” in their compositions. Most often associated with the piano, Feldman is perhaps best known for his perceptively time-slowing later works, but this boxset presents the widest angle possible on his approach to the piano, spanning surprisingly cranky recordings from the 1940s thru to the exquisite delicacy of his acclaimed ‘Triadic Memories’ and ultimately ‘Palais de Mari’ in 1986. Feldman died in 1987, leaving behind a remarkable catalogue that has previously been tackled by John Tilbury in the 4CD set ‘All Piano’ (1999), which is now long out of print and trades for triple figures on the 2nd hand market, making this boxset of Philip Thomas’ Feldman interpretations an even more indispensable collection.
Accompanied by pianist Philip Thomas’ lucubrate and extensive book of notes on Feldman’s music, its development, unique notation, and his close personal relationship with it, ‘Morton Feldman Piano’ methodically and artfully unpackages the great composer’s often forbiddingly vast oeuvre for anyone looking for a way in or seeking to enrich their knowledge of his life and work. In great depth, Thomas writes about Feldman’s holistic approach, recognising the connection between ears, mind, and fingertips which resulted in the music’s quietly extreme dynamic, and which singularly revolutionised historic approaches to the instrument thru the artist’s attempt at refusing attack in the notes - essentially a near-impossible idea when considering that the piano is a percussive instrument, and needs to be hit to be played. The sensitivity of the results are quite astonishing, and most beautifully executed and evidenced in Thomas’ playing throughout all 31 pieces included.
While the later works will be well known to even the casual Feldman follower, and are sure to entrance newcomers, his early and mid-period works between the late ‘40s and into the ‘60s provide a fascinating grounding for his sound and style, ranging from a solemnly inquisitive ‘Untitled piano piece’ (1942) to the almost jazzy flourishes of ‘Illusions’ (1949), thru to his increasingly sparser ‘Music for the film ‘Sculpture by Lipton’’ (1954), and up to the barely there ‘Piano Piece’ (1964) before he took a 13 year hiatus from writing for solo piano (although he would still write parts for piano in larger ensembles), only returning to it with ‘Piano’ (1977).
Yet for all the technicality and philosophy surrounding Feldman’s compositional process, it remains to be said that his music is strikingly easy on the ear. With a little focus and patience in the right mindset, Feldman’s music has the capacity to lead the thinking mind into unusual places, and as his catalogue proceeds, it becomes an increasing pleasure to find the notes flickering, illuminating contrasts with the shadows of his lacunae.
Disarmingly haunted recordings of piano tuned to fit the Persian classical scale; without knowing what instrument was being played you'd likely mistake it for a santur, while the ferric recording process disintegrates the sound with the resonant intention of Basinski. Incredible, really.
Morteza Mahjubi developed a special tuning system to allow him to play the piano, a Western instrument, using Persian microtonal scaling. His technique was known as Piano-ye Sonnati, and allowed him to play music usually perfomed on tar, setar or santur on an instrument intended for a completely different use. A highly unusual sound that's rare even in Persia now, these recordings were made for radio between 1956 and Mahjubi's death in 1965 and are a testament to the composer and performer's skill.
If you're familiar with Persian classical music the compositions themselves won't surprise you, but the piano gives them a ghostly quality - they're familiar yet just unusual enough for the brain to jolt, in the best way. Incredible find this.
Maverick electro-acoustic composer Marina Rosenfeld returns to Room 40, host of 2009’s standout ‘P.A./Hard Love’ album, with an investigation of dub plate decay and the haptic, physical interaction of skin, sweat and grime on acetate, with results recalling Bellows, Stephan Mathieu, early Wanda Group
“For over two decades, New York-based artist and composer Marina Rosenfeld has pioneered a specific language for turntable music, based on an ever-expanding collection of dub plates she creates.
The dubplate is a one-off, hand-cut record. Each dubplate can be made to contain any array of sounds decided on by its creator. For Rosenfeld, her discovery of the dubplate in the late 1990s was a pivotal moment, when she recognised the material instability of the medium as critical tool for performance and composition.
On Index, the investigation of this materiality is paramount. The physical intimacy that colors the relation between the hand and the plate is revealed through a very particular reading of the turntable, one which sits in parallel to the more recognised ways in which that technology has been deployed as a performative tool.
This edition features a series of live recordings and related materials that trace the development of Rosenfeld’s tactile approach and her shifting collection of sound materials. The recordings are published alongside a book featuring extensive archival documentation, photography and a long-form conversation between Marina Rosenfeld and Lawrence English.”
Danish duo Bremer/McCoy— with Jonathan Bremer on acoustic bass and Morten McCoy on keys and tape delay.
"What were they up to? They couldn’t explain it. But not explaining it was part of the point. Bremer/McCoy recorded straight to tape so that they had as little time as possible to think about it. They just laid it down.
The duo has been making music that defies categorization since 2012. They started as a dub group, bringing their own sound system to shows. Now their sound lilts between jazz, ambient, and neoclassical, with contemplative, propulsive melodies that capture the Nordic woods they walk in. Their last full-length release, 2019’s clear-eyed Utopia, gained them a cult following in the U.S. and a roster of notable fans, including Nils Frahm and Gilles Peterson.
The duo’s latest release Natten, which means “The Night” in Danish, strives for even more transcendence, more freedom, more of everything in whatever sound they’re making. It’s still hard to explain. It’s not meant to be explained. These 11 tracks are tinged with the sublime: watching the setting sun, feeling the planet tilt on its axis. If you listen closely, you can hear the constellations. Let Bremer/McCoy bring the night mood to you, whatever you’re up to."
Hana Vu's debut LP for Ghostly International, "Public Storage".
"Storage units hold possessions on pause from the outside world, objects capable of reconnecting us to a time or place. Hana Vu (born in 2000s California) grew up with her family making regular use of public storage spaces in Los Angeles, moving every few years, leaving a mix of the sacred and the mundane to sit inside concrete and steel. The 20-year-old musician sees the art of making and releasing songs in a similar sense: “these public expressions of thoughts, feelings, baggage, experiences that accumulate every year and fill little units such as ‘albums.’” She lived next to one of these buildings when she started writing her full-length Ghostly International debut, Public Storage, and its towering presence lends a metaphor to a record that sounds far bigger than the bedroom it came from.
"Public Storage" underscores Vu's strengths as a songwriter with a deeper sense of luster, sophistication, and urgency. She calls it “very invasive and intense sounding music,” refreshingly out of step with contemporary trends; this is music to engage with rather than lean back to. For the first time, she welcomes a co-producer, Jackson Phillips (Day Wave), who helps Vu create a vast, grainy, multifaceted world to stretch into vocally, her distinct contralto drifting freely between evocative low-lit ruminations and soulful, skyward bursts."
‘Zurufe’ is the captivating debut of orchestral drone by Mol Quartetto, who count Hans-Joachim Roedelius (Cluster), Christopher Chaplin, CM von Hausswolff, and Tim Story in their gloaming mass, resembling the late stages of The Caretaker project.
Mol Quartetto introduce themselves in the most elusive, spectral terms on their first venture, a sort of hybrid, semi-improvised version of a performance at the Arnulf Rainer museum in Baden, for the MoL festival. The 45 minute piece features original recordings made in situ, where the players were sequestered in separate rooms, using the centuries old bathhouse-turned-museum’s marble clad pools and walkways as a giant acoustic reverb unit for communication between Roedelius’ grand piano, synths and tapes, Chaplin’s orchestral choir samples and synths, von Hausswolff’s Nepalese location recordings and oscillators, and Story’s sound design. However, someone forgot to push record on Chaplin’s line out, and the results were shelved until he re-recorded his parts, which were re-amplified by Story, along with the other parts, back into the museum space, resulting this richly ghostly interplay of resonant impressions and afterimages.
Mixed down from some 30 mic tracks, the final piece evokes the feeling of drifting palatial settings that could just as easily be The Overlook as Marienbad, doubtlessly conjuring a dreamlike, OOBEy sensation and perspective of place and space that deeply stimulates subconscious responses. As we say, The Caretaker’s latter stages are a clear reference point for us, and also Stephan Mathieu’s manipulation of ancient 78s, but it’s the natural acoustic complexity of the resonant reverberations that really sets this one apart, perhaps best compared with something like Howlround’s ‘The Ghosts of Bush’, and serving to smudge each performers parts into an insoluble whole where we can only pick out the most fleeting, glancing impression of Roedelius’ keys, or Chaplin’s orchestral chorales, which are seamlessly subsumed back into the mass by Story.
It’s a sound of incredible, rarified substance and ambiguity, absolutely primed to get lost in and detach oneself from reality for the duration. Seriously, you’ll want to return to its haunted corridors and halls over and again. A proper trip, this.
It can’t be easy following a record as beguiling as 2008’s genre-defying ‘The Drift’, but pounding to life with the incessant woodpecker percussion of album opener ‘See You Don’t Bump His Head’, it’s clear that 69-year-old Scott Walker has shock and awe in mind.
He’s never been an artist who’s struggled with originality, and ‘Bish Bosch’ takes his aural cubism even further than ever before with confusing instrumentation and some of his finest vocal work to date. Where its predecessor profited from a hoarse, growling electronic backdrop, ‘Bish Bosch’ is almost circus-like in its approach, draped in horns, strings and crushing guitars - but rarely does the cacophony encroach on Walker’s hallowed vocal tones.
In what feels like a conclusion to a trilogy (along with ‘Tilt’ and ‘The Drift’) Walker has turned in a delightfully difficult to navigate masterpiece, filled with wrong-turns and red herrings. From the much hyped chorus of farts (it works, seriously) to the humorous asides on ‘SDSS14+13B (Zercon, A Flagpole Sitter)’ it feels like Walker delights in making an generation of music listeners have to sing for their supper for the very first time. ‘Bish Bosch’ is a million miles from the instant gratification we’d hope to glean from the majority of contemporary releases, and yet it doesn’t sound dated or stuck in time; rather Walker has created a record that sounds conscious of its surroundings while it tears them down relentlessly.
The near-doomed, close apocalyptic holler of ‘Bish Bosch’ isn’t likely going to appeal to everyone out there, but those of you looking for originality, craftsmanship, challenge and sheer imagination should look no further. Defiant, beautiful and occasionally spine-chillingly frightening, ‘Bish Bosch’ is a late contender for album of the year, and one that will be hard to shake from the mind any time soon.
The latest from Eleh is surprisingly busy, considering the mysterious synth botherer's usual output. Composed in a storm, it's silky, oscillating material that's part deep listening and part psychedelic, k-hole dissociation - think Eliane Radigue, "Time Machines"-era Coil, "Imperial Distortion"-era Kevin Drumm or even early Tangerine Dream.
Over the years, Eleh's music has developed from hyper-minimalist studies of tonal fluctuations into more confidently composed drone epics. "Snoweight" feels like his most musical edition in a while, a further development of the tonal gliding found on last year's ace "Harmonic Twins". There's an ominous, uneasy quality to the record, that's enhanced by Eleh's attention to minuscule details; if his early material was barely perceptible shifts and variations, all those psychoacoustic flexes are still present here, they're just employed differently.
The album is split into two compositions, and while the first sounds as if it might launch into an Emeralds-style sci-fi arpeggio trip at any moment, Eleh makes sure the payoff is more subtle. Slowly revealing the character of his oscillators, he builds the brassy drones into thick sub bass instead of bleeps, using overtones and resonance to suggest a creeping counter-harmony.
'Snoweight 2' is even more restrained, with Kubrickian clonks punctuating a falling sine tone that eventually gets swallowed by white noise that forces us to consider the weather and the conditions in which Eleh was working. It's a neat trick, and proof that you don't always need high-end field recordings to evoke a time, place and mood. By the time it draws to a close, Eleh unexpectedly deploys a melody that wouldn't sound out of place on Tangerine Dream's first run of atmospheric tomes, or perhaps more fittingly - Ennio Morricone and John Carpenter's ominous score for icy horror milestone "The Thing".
The excellent Death Is Not The End label has done it again with this stunning collection of early Japanese ryūkōka music, documenting the beginnings of a sound that was popular in Japan until the 1960s.
Before the US occupation of Japan and the dominating influence of Western pop, there was ryūkōka, which literally means "popular song". The term now means a specific style of music that emerged in the 1920s, and fused Western classical music techniques with traditional Japanese folk sounds and kobushi singing.
On "Longing for the Shadow", we get to hear the subtle beginnings of the form, before it was influenced by postwar US presence in Japan. The music's theatrical qualities stand out most, with decadent vocal parts hovering over folk instrumentation. Due to the time period, the quality of the recording itself gives the music its own unique character, offering us the chance to travel into a completely different universe.
Some of the sounds might be hazily familiar from their usage in Japanese cinema, but most of the pieces here are startlingly unique. If you enjoyed the Kouta Katsutaro tape Death Is Not The End put out a couple of years ago, this one's going to be completely essential.
It's always worth considering the route Scott Walker could have taken following his flirtation with the charts back in the sixties - an endless procession of 'farewell' tours, some dodgy dance collaborations and a slew of moribund chat-show appearances.
He might have even got rediscovered at Glastonbury. However, rather than set-off down the tried and tested slope of endless rehashing of the mythical glory years, Scott Walker has somehow installed himself as one of our most esoteric songwriters - fusing a love of European poetry and experimentation with the intense melodies of A-grade Americana.
Opening through the death-rattle and roll of 'Cossacks Are', Walker's new album 'Drift' is the dictionary definition of the word singular - taking the listener on a highly personal journey that veers from the baroque ('Cue') though to the flippantly paranoid ('The Escape'), without once breaking sweat. With a vocal style that can't help but draw comparisons with the somersaulting larynx of Antony, Walker seemingly delights in the grand gesture; making the likes of 'A Lover Loves', 'Jolson And Jones' and 'Buzzers' edicts on the power of bare-bone production when mixed with such raw talent.
As a new generation emerge in his vision (see London's The Irrepressibles), 'The Drift' proves that Walker still has the modernistic streak which makes his records so enduring. Drift away...
10 new tracks from Scorn, "The Only Place".
"Combining the signature soundscapes of Scorn with tartareous textures, the newest album “The Only Place” reaches a psychedelic groove, based on what Harris calls “Pushing an original idea further” with his own shades of light and dark and celestial electricity of what SCORN is. These new tracks add elements unheard in Scorn since Evanescense and Gyral - ethereal ambiences and floating, near-melodic-but-not-quite moments, a signature of Harris’ abilities to generate feelings in a lost world of his own creation."