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.
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.
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?
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.”"
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.
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.
The dub dentist's deep blue 1974 reggae masterpiece bubbles up on a crucial remastered reissue, available for first time since the 2004 pressings on Mark Ernestus’ Basic Replay. Hudson's mood is tormented and dazed - making for a magnificently and deadly serious album that’s hauntingly unique, unmissable, unforgettable.
Renowned among the greatest roots reggae albums of all time, Hudson’s seminal side now sees a necessary, timely reissue. Still brimming with a dusky blues soul and intoxicating atmosphere, it followed a series of solid-gold productions for Ken Boothe, Delroy Wilson, John Holt, U-Roy and many others, and documents Hudson's removal from JA to London, New York studios and transatlantic audiences, inaugurating a sequence of albums - classics like Pick A Dub, Brand, Playing It Cool - which demonstrated his troubled experimentalism was so much better suited to the LP than the cardinal 7" reggae format.
Hailing from a musical family, Hudson trained as a dentist but found his calling in the studio, establishing his own label Imbidimts with a recording of Ken Boothe’s ‘Old Fashioned way’ before going on to work with legendary singers John Holt, Delroy Wilson and Alton Ellis, and toaster deejays U-Roy and Dennis Alcapone, who he produced in a trademark lean and mean, bad to the bone bass and drums style. ‘Flesh Of My Blood’ would come out on Brent Clarke’s Tottenham based Atra label, and marked an early highpoint of his work, melding strong soul influences with reggae proper in a supremely moody vibe that’s lost none of its late night pull.
We advise running straight to the flickering guitar licks and heads down bass of its definitive centrepiece ‘Darkest Night’, with its ohrwurming chorus for the strongest flavour, also found reduced to essentials on the dub with masterful touches of glaring synth, but anywhere you look, it’s pure gold. From the spectral electro-acoustics of ‘Hunting’ evoking midnight jungle atmospheres, to the lissom reggae soul of ‘Testing My Faith’ and the shimmering depths of his dubwise ’Nocturne (Talk Some Sense Version)’ it’s all cut of peerless cloth and holds treasures awaiting to be found.
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.
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.”
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.
Liz Harris's 12th album is a heart-melting anthology of songs written over the last 15 years. A mixture of 'Dragging A Dead Deer...' emotional rawness and 'AIA' -style tape-dubbed sonic fog, it's a timely reminder of why she's one of the crucial underground voices of the era.
When Harris's early Grouper material began to emerge thru the cracks in the wall of wyrd folk CDRs and hand-made cassette tapes, we could already sense it was something different. There was a bare quality to it that set it out of time: this was music that sounded as harmonious with Slowdive's melancholy shimmer as it did with the Olympia and Washington DIY set. 'Shade' is a career-spanning set that accurately charts her evolution thru the years, running a course that broaches ambient music, Laurel Canyon folk, grunge, dream pop, and everything in-between.
Her music is unified by its unique spirit and personified by Harris's voice - a ubiquitous element that's sometimes an elasticated, ghostly whisper and at others a spiraling coo. On opening track 'Followed the ocean', it's an assured driving force, but her powerful tones are reduced to glowing cinder beneath the burn of overdriven, tape-distorted noise. Words are present, but indecipherable - it's like hearing a song taped from radio and endlessly re-duplicated for heightened ghosting. The fog dissipates on 'Unclean mind', harking back to 'Heavy Water' with a grunge-y strum and angelic moans.
'Shade' is a good title, because the interplay between openness and insularity lies at the heart of the album. From track to track is sounds as if Harris is revealing herself and then retreating under a blanket of tape hiss. 'The way her hair falls' is so clean you could hear a pin drop, making out every nuance in Harris's voice. The biggest surprise is the album's closing track 'Kelso (Blue sky)', where her vocals are finally given a grand treatment, drenched in reverb but completely tangible. The result is a glimmering slice of lingering acid folk that sounds divorced from time and space.
‘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...
Chicago composer and trumpeter Jaimie Branch serves a gripping live iteration of her ‘Fly Or Die’ sessions, recorded with her quintet in Switzerland on her early 2020 EU tour - RIYL Irreversible Entanglements and Moor Mother
Captured in full flight in Zurich, just weeks before the pandemic really hit, ‘Fly Or Die Live’ sees Jaimie lead her ensemble on proper no wave jazz manoeuvres, freely swaggering between agitprop bullets aimed at the dome of Trump (‘Prayer for Amerikkka pt. 1 & 2) to oodles of taut but supple stick work by Chad Taylor that clearly gets the cord going, and thru to woozy Morricone-eque western themes again lit up with incredible percussion, and one almighty passage of no wave doom jazz in ‘The Storm’.
Aye, it’s a lot, paying testament to the band’s punkish, dextrous drive and sparking energy for the full 90 minutes, with Jaimie front and centre switching between blazing trumpet and snarling vocals.
Compiling the final three albums in the 'Everywhere At The End Of Time' series - 4 x CD's and almost 5 hours of material cataloguing the ultimate descent into dementia and oblivion, using a patented prism of sound to connote a final, irreversible transition into the haunted ballroom of the mind that The Caretaker first stepped into with 1999’s ‘Selected Memories From the Haunted Ballroom’.
Invoking Jack Nicolson’s caretaker character in Stanley Kubrick/Stephen King’s ‘The Shining’ as metaphor for issues revolving around mental health and a growing dissociation/dissatisfaction with the world, the project really took on new dimensions in 2005 with the 72-track, 6CD boxset ‘Theoretically Pure Anterograde Amnesia’, which was accompanied by an insightful unpacking of its ideas by cultural critic Mark Fisher aka K-Punk; a stalwart of the project who identified it (alongside music from Burial and Broadcast) among the most vital, emergent works of Hauntological art - a form of music often preoccupied with ideas about memory and nostalgia (but one distinct from pastiche), and the way that they possibly overwhelm, occlude, or even define our sense of being; ideas that resonate with Fisher’s own assertion that capitalism essentially undermines collective thought, distorts the individual, and has tragically lead to a worldwide increase or even ubiquity of mental health-related issues.
By using fusty samples from an obsolete analog format, and by doing so in the 2nd decade of the 2nd millennium, The Caretaker perfectly and perversely bent ideas of anticipation/expectation with his arrangements, playing with notions of convention and repetition with effect that would lead some listeners to wonder if the same record was being released over and again. When combined with Ivan Seal’s bespoke painting for each release from 2011’s ‘An Empty Bliss Beyond This World’ onwards, the project crystallised as a real gesamtkunstwerk for these times, and one arguably defined by a stubborn and intractably chronic drive against the grain of modern popular culture, or even a refusal of it.
And so to the project’s final goodbye. Drifting from the silty departure of ‘Confusion so thick you forget forgetting’, thru the smudged anaesthetisation of ‘A brutal bliss beyond this empty defeat’, and the abyssal, distant echoes of ‘Long decline is over’, to the increased pauses that punctuate the final side’s piece, ‘Place in the World fades away’, it eventually leads to a final coda that breaks the fourth wall.
Here, with the outside world muted and only the timbral residue remaining like smoke, everything moves as slow as a Lynchian dream sequence - until a conclusion so ineffably sublime occurs that we can’t mention it for fear of waking up.
Long out of print and much in demand, this classic NWW CD is now back. This time as a double CD set with a CD of a completely unreleased alternate mix.
In 2007 Steven Stapleton and Andrew Liles were invited to provide a live soundtrack to FW Murnau's Der Brennende Acker by the Friederich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation. The sounds the duo devised were to become the primordial constituents of The Surveillance Lounge. In the wake of the recent Huffin' Rag Blues, this long-player feels like a continuation of the older, darker Nurse With Wound material, with each of the four compositions delving into narrative rabbit-holes for quarter-hour-plus durations.
The dynamics are extreme and bathed in mystery, evolving from whispered electronic necromancy to stark metallic noise annunciations, all of which is peppered with scrambled unintelligible vocal contributions from a number of guest artists. One of the more curious aspects of this release is the crediting of David Tibet with voices (fine), Big Muff (a fuzz pedal, righto) and Hawtrey. What's that last one mean? My best guess would be that somewhere within the catacombic capillaries of this album the Current 93 frontman is doing his best impersonation of Carry On star Charles Hawtrey. I'm yet to find evidence of this but it's as good an excuse as any to keep replaying the album.
Much needed reissue of Porter Ricks’ 1997 follow-up to ‘Biokinetics’, plunging deep in the interzone between ambient, noise, and dub techno across its expanded and reshaped 2021 version
Re-floating an overlooked vessel from their 25 year voyage, ‘Same’ returns to the surface subtly resequenced to change its direction of flow, front-loading its rolling dub techno depths and pushing its mid-late ‘90s smoker-funk hip hop and D&B tracks to the back (to be fair they could have omitted them fully). Dodgy bits aside, what remains is a killer example of Porter Ricks’ patented subaquatic pressure in effect, oscillating waves of skanking and stepping groove with canny turns to funkier house and disco loop styles that acknowledge the era they were launched into.
Anyone smote by Porter Ricks’ preceding run of classics for Chain Reaction and Milel Plateaux will be in their element with this album’s dub techno dynamics, with wickedly offset grooves in the ‘Redundance’ parts at their skudgy best in the discoid grind of ‘Redundancy 3’, darker textural ambient scapes in ‘Redundance (Version)’, and a gorgeous scanner ‘Redundance 5’ surely laying the ground for Convextion’s album tracks. At its deepest point, ‘Scuba Lounge’ exerts 11 mins of menacing pressure, before the residual deep house throb of ‘Spoiled’ comes on like a rave heard from miles across dark sea, and ’Spoil’ cuts the filters to reveal a proper Chi-style disco-house loop in action.
Barmy and quite brilliant new album from Mira Calix, that cuts thru a ruff clutter of abstract ideas and wildly disparate elements with a digital hotknife, collaging elements from avant garde experimental music, rap, footwork, opera, industrial and dubstep. Somehow the result is coherent and utterly compelling - perhaps her best album yet.
It's easy to forget that Durban-born Chantal Passamonte was the first woman signed to the Warp label, and she's been hard at work doing her own thing since 1996's still-underrated "Ilanga" 12". She's managed to completely avoid classification too, working with experimental electronics and mutant dance forms initially, over the years she's made the transition into installation and theatre work without sacrificing the uniqueness of her voice. So "a̵b̵s̵e̵n̵t̵ origin" follows these decades of invention and reinvention, and is influenced by feminist artist Hannah Wilke's collage works.
Passamonte compares her studio process to a Scandi-noir detective's office as she assembles her inspirations and influences. Each track on the album is formed using a different collage process that reflects the output of a different visual artist, and yet somehow Passamonte manages to find a connection between each one, assembling a cast of 17 tracks that form a complex narrative.
There's a confident, theatrical quality to "a̵b̵s̵e̵n̵t̵ origin" that feels risky and modern. Passamonte has experience working with theater - she composed for the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2017 - and her stark, recognizable sound has never felt more lavishly displayed. It's a challenging, rewarding and bold work that grabs influence from throughout the artistic spectrum without cynicism or polite restraint - a rare thing.
Guitarist Ben Chasny (aka Six Organs of Admittance) whips up an emotive suite of psych-folk library music on "The Intimate Landscape". A sharp and lushly cinematic set of acoustic vignettes for fans of John Fahey, Robbie Basho et al.
Since the late 1990s, Chasny's name has been synonymous with the resurgence of American folk wyrdness that saw a grip of artists across the continent pick up where John Fahey and his contemporary accolytes left off. "The Intimate Landscape" is his umpteenth full length, but deserves special attention because it was original recorded for library music label KPM and was intended to be used as such. So we find Chasny in a particularly cinematic space, tying uncharacteristically positive acoustic guitar compositions around evocative riffs and ominous textural elements.
The album isn't simply a collection of loose studies, it feels like a selection of related themes - if we didn't know better we might mistake the album for being a complete soundtrack - and can easily be enjoyed from beginning to end. There's a cheerful positivity to these tracks that reminds of the mid-00s nu-folk boom and points to a future that just might be more hopeful than we think. Recommended.
West African drum and funk fiends, your time! Master Ghanaian percussionist Okyerema Asante ov Oneness of Juju returns for a 20 year follow-up to his part on ‘African Rhythms 1970-1982’, one of the earliest aces on Strut
Nose to tail, it’s 100% bad-to-the-bone grooves inside, shimmying around the square roots of the Afro-American dance dialogue during the years after Asante had cut his teeth playing with Ebo Taylor’s Blue Monks band, and gigging at Fela’s Shrine, which led to him touring with Hugh Masakela and Oneness of Juju alongside James Branch aka Plunky (Ndikho Xaba & The Natives).
Recorded during the golden years of disco and boogie, ‘Drum Message’ strongly bears their traces, but bent with a proper Ghanaian highlife suss and deadly jazz skill, exemplified in the likes of his classic ‘Asanate Sana’ and the bustling upness of his anthem ‘Sabi’, and its deeply concentrated ‘Sabi (Black Fire Mix)’, while ‘Never Fly Away From The Funk’ gets right on the funky nerve, ‘To The Ancestors’ pushes right out into proper rhythmic psychedelia, and oh my days, if you aren’t snagged on the cowbells and whistles of ‘Play a Sweet Rhythm on Them Drums’ you’re a lost cause, basically.
Salford psych rawk collective Gnod murder the meaning on their latest set, recorded through a period of confusion and turbulence. Grizzled, acidic sounds 'ere >> RIYL Melvins, Harvey Milk, Electric Wizard, Neurosis.
There's a disorientating boxed-in quality to "La Mort Du Sense", which makes sense given its recording history. The band laid down the demos back in 2019, but when COVID-19 hit Gnod rethought everything - this gave the tracks fresh motion, and noisy, post-punk mettle. In fact, the album sounds as urgent as Gnod have been in a while, harnessing the rhythmic throb of Joy Division and crossing it with the angular oddness of "Gluey Porch Treatments"-era Melvins.
'Regimental' is angry and charged, but ordered - almost dancefloor-ready with its chunky rhythm section, but 'Pink Champagne Blues' strikes a different chord, increasing the temperature (and the tempo) before burning into ten-ton overdriven riffs. The entire album feels as if it's a slow wind-up to the 12-minute finale, 'Giro Day', that seethes and hisses through noisy feedback, ritual drums, bells and cell-melting stoner drones.
Originally released in 1977 on the Cobra label, 'Paradia' is the debut solo album from keyboardist Roland Bocquet who was best known for his work with cult French rawk outfit Catharsis. One for fans of 'Plantasia' mastermind Mort Garson and the Trunk catalogue of oddities, this quirky selection of oddbod Latin pop and wyrd library bossa is a proper find.
Whenever you think all the best library oddities have been flushed out from the basement, another one pops up and reminds us just how much there is out in the world that we're still yet to hear. The latest discovery to grace our desk is this explorative gem that initially emerged on the Cobra label who released French legends like Heldon, Lard Free and Magma side project Weidorje. It's real crate diggers' gold, that will certainly appeal to movie soundtrack obsessives: tracks like jaunty piano-led opener 'Fête' and the synthy, exotica-adjacent title track sound almost like Goblin after a sedative and a blunt.
Elsewhere, 'Djerba' taps into a jaunty Gallic funque mode, and 'La Marche Des Canards' is pure analog silliness that wouldn't sound out of place on the Ghost Box label. Each track feels completely different from the last: 'L'Abeiile' is cosmic bossa, 'Bee Flat' takes a sexy piano ragtime turn, and 'Exotique', arguably the album's high point, is a beatbox-led haunted electronic jammer.
Well this is a charm: solo pianist Fred Thomas leads an ineffably light and gorgeous transigurations of 24 organ chorale preludes, vocal cantata movements and orchestral sinfonias by JS Bach, accompanied by Aisha Orazbayeva and Lucy Railton.
Thru twenty four works transcribed by Fred Thomas for trio and his solo piano, and sequenced by ECM’s Manfred Eicher, ‘Three Or One’ offers a quietly joyful reading of the late Baroque master’s abundance of organ chorale preludes, vocal cantata movements and orchestral sinfonias and perhaps act as an inviting portal to fresher ears.
The set includes the famous chorale prelude ‘Ich Ruf Zu Dir, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 639’, here resplendent in its timeless simplicity thanks to the fresh character of Aisha and Lucy’s performance. Their effervescent touch counters the gravity of Fred Thomas’s lead where needed, but his own solo works are also gently luminous and inventively playful, speaking to a variegated background ranging from interests in rhythmic cultures of Africa and South America to improvised counterpoint that’s detectable in his rhythmelodic filigree. Trust this is a collection for the ages; accessible, enchanting, and beautiful in execution.
Les Disques du Crepuscule present a new 76-minute CD edition of The Culling Is Coming by 23 Skidoo, originally released on vinyl by Crepuscule and sister imprint Operation Twilight in February 1983.
"The Culling Is Coming signposted two radical new directions for Skidoo following the success of their indie chart-topping debut Seven Songs the previous year. Drawing from two extraordinary live performances, Culling combines a collaboration with the Balinese Gamelan Orchestra recorded at Dartington College of Music in October 1982 (subtitled A Winter Ritual), together with extracts from a more extreme improvised set performed at the first WOMAD festival in July 1982, using scrap metal and tape loops (A Summer Rite).
The original vinyl album is expanded on CD by the inclusion of a complete (and equally extreme) 26 minute loop performance (An Autumn Journey) at Tielt in Belgium on 8 October 1982, recorded as part of Crepuscule’s short Move Back-Bite Harder tour with Cabaret Voltaire, Tuxedomoon, Antena and The Pale Fountains."
First vinyl edition of Scritti Politti’s hip hop-inspired 4th album, originally released in 1999 after a decade long hiatus, and to head-scratching reactions from longer term listeners.
After crafting some of the ‘80s most enduring classics, Scritti Politti’s Green Gartside ended that decade disillusioned with music, and retreated home to the Welsh Valleys where he spent years listening to US hip hop. By 1999 he returned with a hip hop-skooled album ‘Anomie & Bonhomie’ that boldly challenged the band’s legion fans, setting his unmistakably blue-eyed soul vocals to production that leaned almost into rap-metal and pop-punk, and even featured Mos Def guest spots, with one of its highlights ‘Tinseltown To The Boogietown’ being remixed by Pete Rock, Rob Swift and Ali Shaheed Muhammad.
First album in five years from Luke Slater’s Planetary Assault Systems, mainlining pure techno in the classic vein of Jeff Mills, Terrence Dixon, Steve Bicknell
Proper tackle built for all night sessions, loaded with hard working highlights in the effortless, pounding drive and glyde of ‘Bang Wap’, the palpitating Chi-style toms of ‘Say It Loud’, the funked up shuffle of ‘If I Die’, and the pulsating throbber ‘The Drag Train’, plus spacier cakes for the cosmic crew in ‘Nano Chameleon’ and ‘Abstract.’
"A figure who needs little introduction to fans of the genre, but whose consistency in the studio and on the road has repeatedly marked him out as true pioneer of sound design and performance with a singular vision, Slater first minted the PAS alias in '93. Since then, a slew of singles and LP's from the industrious artist have made sure Planetary Assault Systems has become a byword for hypnotic, funk-heavy Techno in a purist tradition. Toeing the line between heady, psychedelic material and all out main room fare - Slater's work as PAS captures the very best facets of the genre, with economically selected parts exquisitely arranged and engineered with a shrewd and uncompromising ear for what really makes people move.
On the new LP, Slater draws on studio material but also components recorded during the PAS live show - and he's keen to let fans know the focus is well and truly on the dance floor with this one: Sky Scraping is a loud and unabashed celebration of the formative and familiar environments so loved by the electronic music community, the dark clubs and festivals made special by their unique ability to bring like minded people together.
Sky Scraping kicks off in characteristically dense, psychedelic fashion with Labstract - a slice of classic PAS with cavernous low end and a tight, looping sequence doing the driving work while frenetic drum machine cuts and wide angle synth sirens shift the track onwards from one phase to the next. Follow up One For The Groove showcases the chunkier side of Slater's production as PAS with an infectious 909 pattern propelled on in the high mids by a squelching synth patch. Bang Wap revisits the artist's last outing on Token - a monstrous, unforgiving roller designed with peak time in mind. Say It Loud - the idiosyncratic proto-anthem that accompanied Bang Wap earlier in the year leads the LP onwards, before sequing into new recording Give In - a masterclass in dense, funky, face-melting Techno. Drums take centre stage on If I Die, as the artist returns to the 909 for a marginally slowed down cut that really highlights the artist's connection to and natural affinity with groove and drum machine cuts. Coal thrusts the listener straight back down the wormhole - an extraordinary, driving piece propelled by a guttural lead synth sequence and ghostly drums, before giving way to Run - a dry, pared back recording with plucked, staccato synths that makes for a good contrast to its fathoms deep predecessor. Though not without moments of hysteria in its closing quarter, The Drag Train, featuring a classic, more mono finish begins the wind down towards the LP's close. Nano Chameleon ties up Sky Scraping, a track as forceful as anything that has come earlier on the record - as it approaches its close, a warping lead powers the recording home with shuffling white noise percussion dipping in and out of the sonic main stage before giving way to a delicate, controlled chaos."
Piero Umiliani's mid-70's album "Polinesia", reissued on Dialogo.
"Piero Umiliani was capable of traveling not only in a physical sense but also with a long series of geographical-themed albums that have always been among his best productions, and his interests weren't just limited to distant Africa, to its percussive sounds and unexplored territories - especially with the Africa and Continente Nero releases.
In his vast and complex discography - including works recorded in his own name, in solo with groups and orchestras, but also under aliases such as Rovi, M. Zalla, The Soundwork Shoppers, Moggi, Catamo - there are excellent space-time excursions such as Genti e Paesi del Mondo, Paesi Balcanici, Il Mondo dei Romani, Storia e Preistoria, Medioevo & Rinascimento, Panorami Italiani and Paesaggi, where the musician could free an unstoppable creative vein that combined an artistic path intimately bound to Italy and to its traditions with the world's sounds (and even more, given the cosmic ventures of Tra Scienza e Fantascienza and L'Uomo nello Spazio).
Among his most adventurous efforts, Polinesia deserves a special mention, since it was fully recorded with glowing percussion and exotic suggestions that remind of Martin Denny, bringing to mind sunny white beaches, Oceania and the famous Bora Bora, defined by the well-known Italian writer and documentary maker Folco Quilici as the most beautiful island in the world. Prepare a colorful cocktail and enjoy the full moon, you already have the perfect soundtrack for that...""
Thirteen tracks from Piero Umiliani out on Dialogo, "L'Uomo E La Città".
"In the intricate panorama of Italian library music, the themes of city, factories, metropolis, work, urbanization and technology have always been among the most fascinating (and used), relying on dozens of fundamental records by composers such as Alessandro Alessandroni, Farlocco, Gerardo Iacoucci, A.R. Luciani, Narassa and many others. The attempt to provide a plausible soundtrack to a continuously and rapidly ever-changing world, especially in the hectic seventies, has often produced masterpieces that combined avant-garde techniques with sounds, risky experimentation with easy-listening songs, the traffic chaos and assembly lines with the silence of the night, the end of the work shift with Sunday's rest.
Piero Umiliani's L'Uomo e la Città perfectly fits into this rich and varied field, an album where our Man is accompanied by a jazz musicians sublime parade that includes celebrities like Bruno Tommaso, Oscar Valdambrini, Dino Piana and Nino Rapicavoli, here delivering the most of a sound that is highly based on the richness of the wind instruments and on the rhythm of the Umiliani-led ensemble.
L'Uomo e la Città is a less risky effort when compared to other releases by Piero Umiliani, but that's in favor of an extraordinary jazz tightness (Rete Urbana, Quartieri Alti, Città Frenetica), but the wish to amaze appears when least expected in the two excellent renditions of Centrale Termica and Suoni della Città, among the best tracks of the album."
Whew! Montreal’s Light Conductor brings the epic space energy on a pulsating and then sublime 2nd album for Constellation, replete with all that label’s widescreen connotations
Picking up where the pre-pandemic vehicle ‘Sequence One’ left off in 2019, the 2nd mission manned by Stephen Ramsay and Jace Lasek aka Light Conductor continues their trajectory into unfettered psych-kraut-disco-rock zones and beyond into shoegazing synth ambience across a 4-part, 45 journey sure to get the longhairs bristling and reaching for their silver capes.
It’s really all about the opening number here, with ‘Splitting Light’ taking all the time it needs to warm the synth engines and ascend to orbit-breaking velocity, when outta fucking nowhere a holographic Jimmy Somerville bursts into full song, appearing to be overseen by 10CC and Sonic Boom at the mixing desk in a outrageous choral escalation for the ages. Unfortunately it’s a bit of sore thumb, as the rest of the EP never quite achieves those giddy heights again, preferring to terraform vast scenes of textured, off-world ambient and more cliched space music, but it’s all gravy after that flash opener.
A special reissue of Terre Thaemlitz’s multi persona Fagjazz set from 2000, studded with over two hours of inventive, vintage diamonds replete with a masterful, hour long ’Superbonus’ piece on the 2nd disc that’s practically worth the cost of entry alone.
Among the most definitive, early examples of Thaemlitz work, ‘Fagjazz’ renders a palette of styles ranging from experimental deep house to ambient jazz at its most absorbing and effortlessly comprehensible. The nine pieces of ‘Fagjazz’ work as an ideal primer or briefing on Terre’s important work, spelling out the fine integers and incredible nuance of her style for those paying attention and keen to know more.
The first disc kisses the ears with ‘Pretty Mouth (He’s Got One),’ puckering a naturally rarified solo piano and keyboard rendition in an all too brief vignette, before exploring a formative passion for deep house at its most abstract in the full 13’ mix of ’Sloppy 42s (Terre’s Neu Wuss Fusion)’ - think Sun Ra meets Larry Heard on a disco break tip - while the flurried syncopation of ’Turtleneck’ showcases their most ravishing rhythmic instincts. Casting even further back, as Chugga they hail early inspiration from bass-heavy Memphis hip hop in a swaggering deep house fashion, and their prized, one-off alias Social Material crops up with 10 minutes of spirit-gripping piano house underlined by a sumptuous subbass movement.
Dancefloor aside, super early cut, ‘Thirty Shades of Grey’ harks back to their debut album ‘Tranquillizer,’ and the 2nd disc’s ‘Superbonus’ is a a properly incredible, hour-long slow burning piece of ‘Funk Shui’ unfurling double bass and signature keys to a dusky horizon, guided by brushed jazz drums and growing in tempered intensity with a sound sensitive approach that defines all Terre’s work, no matter if its party-starting house or double deep ambient experiments.
Taken in combination with the recently issued DJ Sprinkles 2CD set '"Gayest Tits & Greyest Shits” and the available-again 'Midtown 120 Blues’, that’s basically over 7 hours of no-filler, all killer from one of the greatest to ever do it.
Please remember that we support Terre and Comatonse Recordings' efforts to keep projects offline, minor, and acting queerly. When purchasing this item, we ask you to refrain from uploading and indiscriminate sharing in any form. <3
New music specialists Apartment House render the tremulous glory and ceaseless drive of Eastman’s 1974 classic on their captivating 2019 recording
Following Frozen Reeds’ 2016 release of S.E.M. Ensemble’s 1974 take, and preceding the more recent iteration by Belgium’s ensemble 0 & Aum Grand Ensemble; Apartment House’s ‘Femenine’ is one of the first modern performances and recordings of the seminal, but long overlooked slice of c.20th avant-classical genius. It lands in the wake of Mary Jane Leach’s concerted and longstanding work in tending to Eastman’s legacy, holding some of the most remarkable classical compositions of its epoch, which has necessarily renewed interest in Eastman's sorely overlooked, yet hugely distinctive, work.
As a gay, black composer in a field dominated by white men, Julius Eastman shattered conventions merely by his presence, and his music was daring and distinctive, offering a more fluidly unified and singularly thizzing adjunct to the kind of repetitious minimalism explored by downtown NYC composers such as Steve Reich and Philip Glass. Eastman was just as adept at working with Arthur Russell on Dinosaur L’s landmark ‘24→24 Music’ and ‘Another Thought’ set as he was working on Peter Maxwell Davies’ monodrama ‘Eight Songs for a Mad King’ or Meredith Monk’s ‘Dolmen Music’ - all revered in their sphere - yet his own, remarkable compositions went practically unnoticed for decades and he ultimately ended up destitute and unsng, living on the streets of Buffalo, New York State.
Only in recent years has ’Femenine’ become recognised for the towering piece of work that it is, and this recording by Anton Lukoszevieze’s Apartment House helps spread the good word. It renders the full piece in all its colourful majesty, driven by insistent sleigh bell percussion and coursing with the purpose of a great river from streams of cello, flute, keys, vibraphone and violin that entwine and lushly gather with a ravishing torrent of ecstasy by the end of its 67’ flow. In effect it does away with notions of beginning/middle/end in a more cyclical, endless form and style that takes on Reich’s African inspirations at a more fundamental level, yet hasn’t been afforded the same sort of critical ear until only relatively recently. Trust Apartment House to handle the material faithfully and with the hypnotic traction we imagine Eastman intended.
Hungarian mystic Hortobágyi graces avant classical titan ECM in trio with his Hortogonals, György Kurtág Jr. and Miklós Lengyelfi for an exquisite elision of deep space and spectralist musicks with remarkable runs into dub techno, for all intents and purposes like some stray ~scape or MVO Trio wonder
Originally issued beyond our peripheral vision in 2009, the trio’s only release to date plugs a hole in our collections that we didn’t even realise existed until recently. Their ‘Kurtágonals’ form a lattice like bridge between disciplines and worlds, discretely weaving formerly exclusive bedfellows into a richly imaginative soundsphere fizzing with influence from Romanian spectralist traditions and Hortobágyi’s worldly research of alternate tunings and modes, as much as the deepest German dub techno abstractions. It’s a totally unexpected but entirely welcome direction of exploration to our ears, seemingly manifesting an idea that we’d wager many of us have longed for, but never heard executed quite so well.
‘Kurtágonals’ is released by Manfred Eicher’s legendary ECM label, highly regarded for their production values, and as such patently benefits from an opulent sound staging, with Hortobágyi assisted in the August 2008 recording and engineering by Ferenc Haász at the Guo Manor, Budapest. Between them they conjure an unfathomably wide and vertiginous soundfield strafed by acéphalic chorales and sliding electronic pitches, and arced with resonant string harmonics, but really given depth by its ultra subtle layers of distant dub chords and padded subbass ballast, both of which we never really expected to hear on an ECM recording, and especially in this sort of seamless, playthru arrangement resembling a dream mixtape.
We could offer any number of add n to x allegories for this sound, but they’d all fall short of the stylistically transcendent end product. It’s simply extraordinary stuff that needs to experienced in highest possible fidelity and with good speakers to reveal its spellbinding nuance.
Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds have produced a truly prodigious quantity of material in their 30-plus year recording career, a fact that is highlighted by this huge, 3CD collection of B-sides and rarities.
Spanning everything from the obligatory BBC sessions through to limited edition B-sides and previously unreleased studio material, this career straddling cross-section will act as a treasure trove to signed up members of the Cave fan club, yet will be just as accessible to those for whom the Bad Seeds have always been a peripheral musical entity. Exhibiting why they can headline the main stage at Glastonbury one week then put in a curate's egg performance at some back alley club the next, 'B-Sides and Rarities' shows that music can be esoteric and intelligent without sacrificing its listenability. With Cave's peerless recasting of 'What A Wonderful World' as an after hours, caliginous beast, you soon find yourself getting sucked in to Cave's strangely borderless realm. Gems include the fiercely polemical acoustic version of 'Jack the Ripper', the previously unreleased original casting of 'Where the Wild Roses Grow' featuring Herr Bargeld in the role Kylie would later assume and the full orchestral pomp of the (again unreleased) 'Red Right Hand', a song written for the soundtrack of Scream 3 (you read right...). Not even mentioning the studio out-takes of 'Sheep May Safely Graze' and the utterly heartbreaking piano-led melancholy of 'Little Ghost Song', 'B-sides and Rarities' is exactly what a collection of extra material should be; welcome, intriguing and utterly refreshing.
PART I CD1
1. Deanna (Acoustic Version)
2. The Mercy Seat (Acoustic Version)
3. City of Refuge (Acoustic Version)
4. The Moon Is in the Gutter
5. The Six Strings That Drew Blood
6. Rye Whiskey
7. Running Scared
8. Black Betty
10. The Girl at the Bottom of My Glass
11. The Train Song
12. Cocks 'n' Asses
13. Blue Bird
15. God's Hotel
16. (I'll Love You) Till the End of the World
17. Cassiel's Song
18. Tower of Song
19. What Can I Give You?
PART I CD2
1. What a Wonderful World
2. Rainy Night In Soho
3. Lucy (Version #2)
4. Jack the Ripper (Acoustic Version)
5. Sail Away
6. There's No Night Out in the Jail
7. That's What Jazz Is to Me
8. The Willow Garden
9. The Ballad of Robert Moore and Betty Coltrane
10. King Kong Kitchee Kitchee Ki-Mi-O
11. Knoxville Girl
12. Where the Wild Roses Grow (Original Guide Vocal Version)
13. O'Malley's Bar Pt. 1
14. O'Malley's Bar Pt. 2
15. O'Malley's Bar Pt. 3
16. Time Jesum Transeuntum Et Non Riverentum
17. O'Malley's Bar Reprise
18. Red Right Hand (Scream 3 Version)
PART I CD3
1. Little Empty Boat
2. Right Now I'm A-Roaming
3. Come Into My Sleep
4. Black Hair
5. Babe, I Got You Bad
6. Sheep May Safely Graze
7. Opium Tea
8. Grief Came Riding
9. Bless His Ever Loving Heart
10. Good Good Day
11. Little Janey's Gone
12. I Feel So Good
13. Shoot Me Down
14. Swing Low
15. Little Ghost Song
16. Everything Must Converge
18. She's Leaving You
19. Under This Moon