Celebrated Danish Fluxus artist Henning Christiansen gets another deluxe (and lengthy) boxset, this time focusing on his most ambitious and highly-regarded project - music for Heinrich von Kleist's 24 scene tragedy "Penthesilea". RIYL Vladimir Ussachevsky, Robert Ashley, Akira Rabelais, Iannis Xennakis.
'OP.176 PENTHESILEA' is a grand undertaking, both for Christiansen, and for anyone likely to engage with the five hour set. For those with stamina though, it's more than worth the effort. Christiansen and his widow Ursula Reuter Christiansen were both fascinated by the work of von Kleist, and in the 1980s the Danish composer decided to tackle the German playwright's 1808 tragedy "Penthesilea". A modernized Greek tragedy set in Troy that was struck through with visceral cruelty, the play was originally performed in Berlin - so it made sense that the premiere of Christiansen's original piece was in Berlin in 1984. This version is included in full here, and was composed using field recordings, tape machines and electronics.
For anyone fascinated by tape music's more austere fringe, it's startling stuff. Described in the press release as "an audiobook presented as sound," the 45 minute excursion is an evocative set of edited field recordings, with instrumental elements and sparse electronics reduced to ghostly traces. A recording of horses trotting on a dirt road with farm machinery rumbling in the background takes up almost an entire track, while a boxing match is the backbone of another. These precise captures are manipulated to trip us up or distort our expectations, and Christiansen lulls us into a false sense of security before playing with our perception and mangling the stereo field. The most tantalizing parts of this performance are the long-form drone compositions though, that sound more spine-tingling than any contemporary horror soundtrack, using elongated piano tones, corrosive electronics and mindbending tape FX.
Christensen expanded the set for a performance in Rome two years later, turning 45 minutes into four and a half hours. It's top shelf stuff that serves as a virtual primer for Christiansen's entire catalog, folding in a complete overview of his techniques, from his early classical works to his most uncompromising electronic experimentation. On this version, the original field recordings are filled out with even more processed drones and unusual instrumentation from Werner Durand (who plays a Persian ney and baritone horn with sax mouthpiece), Jan Tilman Schade on violonello and tuba, Carla Tatò on vocals and Ernst Kretzer providing extra sounds.
Honestly, it's a work that puts most contemporary electro-acoustic practitioners and field recordists to shame. Christiansen's patience and raw creativity is breathtaking, allowing him to functionally control a narrative for a duration that's tough to comprehend. Sometimes dissonant and industrial, sometimes more earthy - almost like a lost Discrepant oddity - and sometimes teetering into near proto-techno (really), it's an impossible album to anticipate. Just when you think you've heard it all, Christensen will wrongfoot you with a mid-'80s precursor to Akira Rabelais' oxidized embellishments. Genius.
Sublime, sylvan ambient dream-pop and Cinéma pour l'oreille by shapeshifting Japanese star Tujiko Noriko, for the label that helped introduce her to the world at large some 20 years ago - doubling as a sort of elegy for the gone-but-not-forgotten Peter Rehberg
“In the early days of MEGO prior to it’s transformation into Editions MEGO a most unexpected release appeared amongst the radical roster. Out of all the twisted hard drive activity from PITA, General Magic, Farmers Manual etc appeared a very different kind of release. One made from a computer, but one with a softer atmosphere, cloud-like in sonic shape and even containing discernible melodies (!). This was the debut release from Japanese artist Tujiko Noriko which not only launched her career to a larger audience but opened the doors of Editions Mego to a broader range of experimental musical forms.
Noriko’s particular synthesis of electronic abstraction, melody, voice and atmosphere has few peers as sound gently circles her mystical words morphing into a succession of emotive aural experiments framed as songs. Noriko’s evolution since her debut Mego release has seen further solo works alongside collaborations as well as a shift into cinema, both acting and as director.
On Crépuscule one can hear the influence the film medium has had on her music as visual insignia are invoked in the evocative audio at hand. Instrumental interludes further conjure a film landscape alongside the titles which also reiterate the cinematic form. This is synthetic music with a deep human presence. The mind of a human captured wandering the fantastic realms of the internal sphere is exquisitely rendered through machines which usually prompt one to disfigure such humanistic tendencies. The warmth, serenity and dream-like environment that Noriko conjures from her tools is what makes her such a unique and outstanding artist and Crépuscule is an epic testament to these powers.
The title Crépuscule perfectly encapsulates the somnambulant nature of the music where the nocturnal shifts evoke a broad sense of calm. Crépuscule I features a selection of shorter ‘songs’ whilst Crépuscule II allows more room for these songs / moods to breathe with only three songs running at broader longer duration. Crépuscule allows the listener to view the world through Noriko’s eyes. With her cunning ability to humanise machines a world of calm wonder is allowed to take focus in the frame.”
Epic set collecting Tindersticks' bespoke film scores for the films of Claire Denis, 1996-2009 - 75 tracks clocking in at over 3 hours of pure low-lit 'artmelters.
Ever since a chance meeting in Paris many moons ago, Nottingham's preeminent misanth-romantics Tindersticks have been providing subtly breathtaking instrumental scores for acclaimed French director Claire Denis. Now compiled by Constellation, these six feature-length soundtracks will obviously appeal to committed fans of the band, but really deserve to find a wide audience far beyond that.
Like the films they were made for; 35 Rhums, L’Intrus, Vendredi Soir, Trouble Every Day, White Material and Nenette Et Boni - the band’s, haunting and evocative pieces are all about the accumulation of detail, and build slowly but surely to crushing emotional climaxes. Denis is preoccupied with landscape and the individual's place within it, and Tindersticks respond with treatments that expertly navigate the intimate and the expansive: the default setting is somewhere between smoked-out brush-stroke Jazz, pastoral folk and modern classical, with shades of the most austere 90s Americana and post-rock, with guitar, harmonium and chamber strings prominent throughout.
For us it's the soaring, drum-driven material from Denis's most recent picture, White Material, that hits hardest, but really it's all crushing stuff, and rewards deep immersion. Classique.
Meredith Monk - The Recordings is a 13-CD limited box set edition compiling all Meredith Monk ECM New Series recordings to date, issued on the occasion of the composer and singer's 80th birthday.
"Meredith was the first singer to have a leader-date on ECM Records and has released her music with the label since Dolmen Music in 1981.
This beautifully designed box set incorporates a 300-page book reprising all original liner notes, as well as new texts and interviews. Additionally the book includes an introductory essay by Frank J. Oteri, "The Worlds of Meredith Monk", an autobiographical text by Meredith titled "The Soul's Messenger" and a preface by Manfred Eicher. Plus: many photographs (some previously unpublished), quotes from the press, archival documents, and more."
Includes the following CDs:
I - Dolmen Music
II - Turle Dreams
III - Do You Be
IV - Book of Days
V - Facing North
VI - ATLAS
VII - Volcano Songs
VIII - mercy
IX - impermanence
X - Songs of Ascension
XI - Piano Songs
XII - On Behalf of Nature
Almost universally derided when it came out in 1998 (I remember, it was shocking), TNT quickly became like a family member we'd listen to it repeatedly, totally entranced by its quirky combination of jazz, post-rock and experimental electronics.
Okay so some levelled that it was too 'light' and had lost the Kraut intensity of previous records, but it's an album that takes time to truly appreciate and hearing it now it seems bizarre that anyone could dislike it. With one of the most memorable sleeves of the 90s, it features 'Swung from the Gutters', 'I Set My Face to the Hillside' and 'The Suspension Bridge at Iguazu Falls' - combining everything that Tortoise do so well. Classic, innit.
Compiling all of Terre Thaemlitz’s incredible K-S.H.E productions beyond the 2006 debut album 'Routes not Roots' including some all-time classics making their maiden outing on any digital format - if you obsess over Terre’s 'Midtown 120 Blues’ album as DJ Sprinkles - this is as crucial as it gets.
Tending to the Kami-Sakunobe House Explosion musical persona which Terre has explored since 2006’s seminal ‘Routes Not Roots’ album (awarded a rare 5/5 on RA), and on a bunch of unmissable remixes, she sums up the project via an hour and a half of top shelf cuts in ‘Spirits, lose your hold (route 69: 2006-2012)’, spanning masterful deep house flips of a notorious “gay exorcism” alongside a couple of collaborations with avant-garde performance ensemble Zeitkratzer.
Like the preceding sets of Terre’s Neu Wuss Fusion, ‘Fagjazz’, and ‘Gayest Tits & Greyest Shits’, the stylistic diversity is incredible and inimitable, seamlessly integrated with their politics in the most engrossing way that’s guided their work since the early ‘90s. As Terre now approaches 30 years of releases, these retrospective comps prove the enduring, timeless quality and spirit of her oeuvre with collections that we can see ourselves returning to 30 years from now.
Frankly it’s essential for the opening couplet alone. Stemming from Terre’s ’Soulnessless’ (2012) sessions, the corresponding K-S.H.E. remix 12” is now long out-of-print and impossible to find, understandably so after one has submitted to its masterful 13min+ plays of spare, rolling percussion and demonic pastor sampled from the Manifested Glory Ministries. The more percussive ‘Homosexual Spirits’ cut is more delirious, and honestly one of the most powerful club cuts you’ll likely ever hear - you almost need the stripped down ‘Spirits, Lose Your Hold’ mix for the comedown reflection.
Factor in the cinematic deep house hustle of 2006’s ‘Melancholy Grow’ and its earthier dub, plus the sizzling slow/fast drums of her remix to a previously unreleased original version of ‘Reverse Rotation’, or the grander staging of ‘Down Home Kami-Sukunobe’ and ‘Hobo Train’, with its chugging drums and almost MES-like vocal, and you’ve got a Thaemlitz shelf essential - one of the best things we’ve heard in forever.
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
Terre Thaemlitz digs deep into her archive for a dead strong 80 minute CD compilation of all her 'Neu Wuss Fusion’s' releases to date, including adjusted and tweaked versions of classics and hard-to-find gems dating back to ’93, including a remarkable liquid D&B cut and an utterly unmissable take on Tangerine Dream - exclusive to the set.
The overarching vibe here hits even deeper than the recent DJ Sprinkles 'Gayest Tits…' set, hovering between the edge of the floor and a late, late night flex instead of driving club pressure, with a focus on bustling breaks and spellbinding ambient jazz atmospheres.
The material here reaches back to the early ’90s, with the kick-less deep House shimmy of opener ‘Thirty Shades of Grey (Demo Version)’ harking back to their debut solo album ‘Tranquilizer’ (1994), and the ambient jazz house lather of ’Sloppy 42s’ connecting to 1999’s ‘Love For Sale’ album, both elegantly edited here, and shuffled up next to both sides of 1998’s ’She’s Hard,’ in its glorious ambient-to-breakbeat mix and rousing ‘Live At Hug Parade’ take.
The set only gets stronger on its 2nd half. The original 11:30’ mix of ‘A Crippled Left Wing Soars with the Right’ makes a welcome first digital appearance beside a mix of its ‘Steal This Record’ edit omitting the ambient breakdown, while also highlighting its incredible, liquid D&B-like ‘1-Step Forward, 2-Step Back’ version - think Calibre meets MvO Trio - seriously - and, just to absolutely polish us off, they include an e-s-s-e-n-t-i-a-l cover of Tangerine Dream’s ‘Love On A Real Train,’ re-titled and remodelled as their orgasmic ‘Sex On A Real Train’ version alongside the 12 minutes of lush, pastoral flutes and subbass in ‘She’s Hard (2007 Archive of Silence Mix.)
Utterly essential, once again.
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
Uwe Zahn returns with another weighty slab of waxy ambience that's rooted in his advanced sound design techniques.
Zahn has been prolific in recent years, collaborating with artists like Taylor Deupree, Mike Lazarev and Porya Hatami, and developing a style of composition that links back to his beloved early work without repeating it. 'Sinter' is a set of beatless tracks that don't completely avoid rhythm, but concentrate most on Zahn's obsessive sound design - a key feature of his music since the very beginning. On 'Glimmer' we can hear a flicker of the finely-tweaked romanticism that drew us to 'Atol Scrap' all those years ago, but Zahn has a more peaceful resolve at this stage in his career, and the microscopic whirrs and hip-hop inspired beats have been replaced by heaving clouds of white noise and crunchy waves of synth.
'Muster' is more in line with the faded output of Taylor Deupree's 12k imprint (where Zahn has released some of his most recent records), and 'Wendung' is a tearful and gaseous answer to Brian Eno's 'An Ending'. It's when Zahn punctuates the heady atmospheres with staccato sounds - a key facet of his beatless work since the legendary 'Minth/Neel' 7" - that we get weak at the knees. Just check the brief but beautiful 'Skaal' or the dubby and spinetingling 'Decay'.
Ghost-hunter CMvH and illbient pioneer Chandra Shukla render psychosonic readings of Bali on their immersive 2nd travelogue for Touch after 2021’s visit to Nepal
Both hailing from radical experimental peripheries of contemporary music, Hausswolff and Shukla here pursue their interests in ritual musicks, psychoacoustics and sensorial perception to the ends of the earth on ‘Travelogue: Bali’. Part documentary, part fantasy, the nearly hour-long album features field recordings made in situ over nine days in February 2020, and augmented post-fact to play with with notions of memory and cultural displacement. The results offer a subjective take on ancient ritual in contemporary world, filtered thru their shared decades of immersion in the Western avant garde, ranging from roots in the US and European industrial/dark ambient/illbient scenes and related paranormal sonic research.
Their five pieces are comparable to aspects of Senyawa recordings as much as Phill Niblock’s ‘Ghosts and Others’ salvo or work by Shukla’s (and Genesis P-Orridge’s) departed collaborator Carl Abrahamsson. The outstanding opener ‘Kecak! (Sanghyang)’ plunges us into the intense titular ritual of massed chanting and astonishing theatrics, pulling listeners in and out of the box between field recording and reverberant choral processing for 10 gripping minutes. The further four pieces continue to sweep imaginations between humid nocturnal scenes in ‘Rahajeng Semeng’, to eerie spectral impressionism on ‘Sekala Niskala’, and ephemeral echoes of gamelan on ‘Gong Ageng’, and place us as a fly on the wall of temple ritual in ‘Ramayana Melukat’.
'Versions' leaves out the vocals and exposes the production as it drifts off into instrumental bliss...
All-time classic, life-changing biz.
The hallmarks are all there; Mark Ernestus and Moritz Von Oswald have already set the world ablaze once, twice, three, four times with their work as Basic Channel and its legendary offshoots by way of the M series, Main Street, Chain Reaction, Rhythm and Sound and, of course, Burial Mix.
This is, in fact, the second Burial Mix compilation, the first "showcase" concentrating on the label's collaborations with Paul St Hilaire, aka Tikiman, for its opening set of releases. This second installment divides itself into Vocal and Instrumental "Versions" (the instrumentals are collected seperately on a "Versions" release), displaying the last seven releases in their entirety, plus "Mash Down Babylon" (a new take on "March Down Babylon").
All-time classic, life-changing biz.
Mark Ernestus and Moritz Von Oswald already set the world ablaze once, twice, three, four times with their work as Basic Channel and its legendary offshoots by way of the M series, Main Street, Chain Reaction, Rhythm and Sound and, of course, Burial Mix.
This is, in fact, the second Burial Mix compilation, the first "showcase" concentrating on the label's collaborations with Paul St Hilaire, aka Tikiman, for its opening set of releases. This second installment divides itself into Vocal and Instrumental "Versions" (the instrumentals are collected seperately on a "Versions" release), displaying the last seven releases in their entirety, plus "Mash Down Babylon" (a new take on "March Down Babylon").
Peter Gabriel’s Real World host a memorable introduction to Guadeloupe’s Polobi & The Gwo Ka Masters, showcasing the 69 y.o. vocalist singing his heart out over dubby free-jazz, psych-funk and Cuban-meets-Congolese rhythms.
"A song of the earth, deeply rooted in tradition. Its deep growling tone pierces the air, with a curious speech-song full of resonances, but resembling nothing else on the musical map. The voice is that of Moïse Polobi, 69 years old, descended from a family of former slaves. He’s been singing and sounding his djembé-like Gwo ka drums since childhood, heart-beating the memory of his ancestors in Guadeloupe. He was initiated at an early age, thanks to his dancer mother, who guided him into the intricate universe of lewoz, traditional gatherings where mind and body commune, boosted by the explosion of drums and the chants of singers.
At twelve, Polobi entered the circle of a lewoz. “And from then on, my life was music.” The dance was also important, for one who won a five-franc piece for accomplishing two or three steps during a communal festival where Guy Konket, a renowned singer for all generations, was performing. This was another revelation. Since then, Polobi has remained faithful to the one he calls his ‘master’. “I took every opportunity to listen to Konket. I learned a lot from hearing him about how to project my voice.”
Polobi progressed, establishing himself as one of the masters of toumblak, the most famous Gwo ka rhythm today, associated with love, happiness and fertility dances among the many groups that make the drums resound in Guadeloupe. Based in his hometown of Petit-Bourg, his band is called Indestawas Ka, an ensemble with whom he’s performed in France and Canada, with eight albums behind them. However, it wasn’t until past his well-deserved retirement that the farm worker and lumberjack recorded under his own name. With a cap on his head, half rebel, half joker, Polobi comes over as a natural mystic, to borrow a song title from Bob Marley.
Recorded both during sessions at home and other sessions in the studio, the raw material at the heart of this disc was then entrusted to the good care of Paris-based Doctor L, a sound explorer for thirty years and producer of Les Amazones d’Afrique and Congolese group Mbongwana Star. Taking control he adds his distinctive touches, such as Cuban rhythms in place of the ka drum on ‘Neg Africa’. Curious echoes and delays, sounds recorded directly in the surrounding nature, techniques derived from free jazz and funk, all project the gwo ka into a new dimension. It’s an unprecedented hybrid for Polobi in which he becomes something like a dub poet. “This music is moving forward,” agrees Polobi, for whom this excursion into the electronic world is a first. Although he adds: “But in the end, the spirit of gwo ka remains!”
In both form and substance, the age-old wisdom has been transformed by these sound machines in tune with a new millennium. This transformation simultaneously acts as a bridge towards the unknown and towards a younger generation. Just as the prophetic message of poet and philosopher Édouard Glissant, also from Martinique, said the principle of Creolisation was to exchange with the other without getting lost or distorted. It’s a principle that’s clearly followed in this music.”
The eighth album by U.S. Girls, the nom de plume of North American multi-disciplinary and experimental pop artist Meg Remy.
"A dynamic suite of dexterous melodies and a nuanced artistic response to the complexities of motherhood, Bless This Mess was crafted in tandem with the conception and birth of Remy’s twin boys. It expands the sonic and thematic palette of U.S. Girls, fusing the muses of funk, mythology, and the radical disorientation of joy into an electric tapestry of anthems, aches, and awakenings. As Remy’s body changed so did her voice; her diaphragm lost breathing room, adjusting to the growing lives inside. Many takes on Bless This Mess were tracked with the babies in utero, or in her arms. (She even samples her breast pump on the album’s poetic closing cut, “Pump”). The resulting performances are suffused by the physicality of this journey: more blood, more feelings, the interwoven wonders, and wounds of procreation.
The ten songs on Bless This Mess were pieced together stem by stem with a vast cast of collaborators (Alex Frankel of Holy Ghost!, Marker Starling, Ryland Blackinton of Cobra Starship, Basia Bulat, Roger Manning Jr. of Jellyfish and Beck,) and audio engineers (Neal H Pogue, Ken Sluiter, Steve Chahley, Maximilian Turnbull). Long-time collaborator, husband, and co-parent Turnbull played a key role facilitating these fluid muses. The production throughout is exquisite, warm, and wood-panelled, framing the voice, keys, bass, and rhythms in heightened textural harmony."
Follow the Cyborg is the debut album from Korean-American musician Miss Grit.
"Follow the Cyborg moves towards deeper a electronic sound and is a sonic leap forward for the artist, occupying a world of chaotic electronic experimentation and stirring electric guitars.
Following the release of acclaimed EPs Talk, Talk and Impostor, Follow the Cyborg sees Miss Grit aka Margaret Sohn pursue the path of a non-human machine, as it moves from its helpless origin to awareness and liberation. This album was fully produced by Sohn in their home studio and features guest collaborators Stella Mozgawa of Warpaint, Aron Kobayashi Ritch of Momma, and close friend and fellow songwriter Pearla."
Faten Kanaan's fifth LP Afterpoem, via Fire Records.
"Faten Kanaan's Afterpoem is a mysterious, smudgy, bittersweet, and uniquely playful album. Deeply melodic, it continues her poignant exploration of counterpoint as a narrative tool. From the repetitive structures of modern minimalism and early music/baroque influences - to more languid textural ebbs & tides, there's a warmth in her use of electronic instruments that gives the album a curiously timeless feel. Composing intuitively, her music has often been described as 'strange', mostly because it creates its own world- one that isn't easily categorised.
The album's title refers to the haze of a poem's intended meaning being abstractly fleeting and barely graspable. Glistening threads of understanding still touch us - the poetry becoming intimately personal, and no further literal explanation is needed."
Nick Cave and Warren Ellis reconvene for a suitably elegiac vintage Eno-style synth-led accompaniment to Netflix's polarizing Marilyn Monroe biopic.
Nick Cave and Warren Ellis's umpteenth soundtrack collaboration since 2005's remarkable score for John Hillcoat's "The Proposition", "Blonde" finds them again in collaboration with director Andrew Dominik, who only recently released the documentary "This Much I Know To Be True" about the duo's creative relationship. "Blonde" is an adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates' novel of the same name, a complex deconstruction of Marilyn Monroe's legend that required an equally obtuse musical treatment. They appear to evoke the slippery, half-cut mystery of Brian Eno's most essential early solo catalog (think "Apollo" and "Music for Airports"), drowning obscure choral sections in vintage electronic pads and muted piano motifs in beds of tape-dubbed ambience.
Cave and Ellis's treatment works well because it's so assuredly self-aware; they balance self-consciously cheap electronic elements (portamento synths and talkbox vocals) with grandiose cinematic sweeps. Even at its most brittle, "Blonde" is almost painfully beautiful; Cave and Ellis's signature wash of outback melancholia is present in each watery chord and vintage, neon-hued pad. Tracks like 'Strawberry' and clear highlight 'Gemini' are the standouts, both incorporating tremolo-damaged analog electronics and whimsical vocals. It reminds us of Air's peerless "Virgin Suicides" soundtrack, and that's no bad thing at all.
nature morte from BIG|BRAVE.
"BIG|BRAVE, the elemental ensemble of guitarist/vocalist Robin Wattie, guitarist Mathieu Ball, and drummer Tasy Hudson, harness an earthen heaviness composed of distorted and textural drones, austere bombast, and Wattie’s heart-rending voice. The trio brandish sparseness and density like weapons, cast tense atmospheres with languid tempos and mutate feedback into eruptions of enveloping tempests. nature morte sharpens BIG|BRAVE’s ferocity and expansive sound into emotional elegies for the disenfranchised, wringing abstracted textures and pure fervence into songs of unfathomable mass.
The title nature morte is the French term for still life paintings whose literal translation is “dead nature.” BIG|BRAVE color the songs of nature morte with unease, creating an air of beauty in decay, chords suspended in contemplative stillness. Wattie’s experiences structuring lyrics and song forms on The Body & BIG|BRAVE’s Leaving None But Small Birds informed her work on nature morte, creating stories that, like many folk tales, are at once specific and universal. Wattie’s voice manages to be commanding and vulnerable with impressive range and intimacy. Even her gasps carve their way through the tidal crash of Ball’s distortion wail and the pummel of Hudson’s drums. “the fable of subjugation” conveys pain through strained drones free of time, an aching minimalism that withers slowly before bursting in an outright roar. nature morte is an excavation of dark inner chasms of feelings both ineffable and visceral. The album tackles the folly of hope, the consequences of trauma, often centers on the subjugation of femininity in all its pluralities. “It is violent and terrible. It is crushing and alarming. It is common and basic,” says Wattie. “It is catastrophic and disheartening.” "
In 1980, American pianist Katrina Krimsky broke free of her classical training and began to lean into American minimalism, jazz and non-Western forms. '1980' was recorded at Woodstock's legendary Creative Music Studio and pinpoints her unique solo style, melting Thelonius Monk's jerky unpredictability with Terry Riley's transcendental repetition.
In 1975, Krimsky recorded a rendition of Samuel Barber's 'Sonata for Piano, Op. 26'. It's a piece of music that's still widely respected for its forward-thinking use of then contemporary techniques and for Krimsky's virtuosic skill, but this wasn't the end of her story. She had initially studied at the Eastman School of Music before touring with the Ars Nova Trio and ending up in Europe. Somewhat inevitably, she found herself rubbing shoulders with the European experimental scene's more notorious figures such as Luc Ferrari, Henri Pousseur and Karlheinz Stockhausen. And when she returned to the USA, she set about working with Terry Riley (she recorded "In C" with The Pulse), Jon Hassell, David Behrmann, and La Monte Young, even joining the latter's Eternal Dream House ensemble. In the early '70s, Krimsky traveled across the country to San Francisco and joined the Mill College faculty, teaching alongside Robert Ashley and Prandit Pran Nath and developing her interest in jazz and world music, and all this experience fed into her eventual recording of "1980".
1980 was the year when Krimsky decided to focus on improvisation, pushing outside the boundaries of her rigorous academic education and following not just her interests but her gut. She was invited to give a workshop at the Creative Music Studio (CMS) in Woodstock, and traveled from Zürich where she was based to not just teach but perform. There are three long tracks presented here, all recorded live at the CMS and all showing the depth of her skill, not just her skill as a technical performer but as an improviser and composer. The opening piece 'Soundscape' runs over 40 minutes in length, and oozes from jagged jazz into loping minimalism, and from fourth world wavering into pan-Balkan ornamentalism. Sometimes, these musical fusions are concurrent, sounding as if it's not just Krimsky playing but another pair of hands; rhythms often criss-cross between melodies and motifs, and Krimsky is skilled enough to make it sounds not only effortless but as natural as the flow of a river.
'Apparitions' is a little shorter but no less intense. Another mind may have interpreted these influences entirely differently; her playing betrays a vast knowledge of baroque music (those notes!) but her scaling hints at South Asian theory, and her use of rhythm and repetition is unique even now, over four decades later. 'Stella Malu' finishes the set, a more placeable piece that begins almost joyfully, stopping at pacy furniture music prettiness before diverging into rumbling, tempestuous emotionality. There's a lot of solo piano music out there, but rarely does it manage to exhibit such passion and willingness to break with tradition.
Ndeya begins a three-part series of archival editions from fourth world trailblazer Jon Hassell with this well-presented double pack. The first disc is a Brian Eno-mixed recording of a 1989 performance at NYC's Winter Garden, and the second a reduced decomposition of the album that inspired the show.
Presented as a double anthology with plenty of detailed notes and photos (on the 2CD edition), "Further Fictions (Zones of Feeling)" is a gift to Hassell devotees. The proposed three volume series from Ndeya focuses on Hassell and his group in the 1980s, as they were pushing the boundaries of his fourth world concept. On the first disc 'The Living City', Hassell performs with Gregg Arreguin on guitar, Jeff Rona on keyboards and samples, Adam Rudolph on percussion and Daniel Schwartz on bass. Live mixed by Brian Eno, it's an interpolation of Hassell's beloved "City: Works of Fiction" full-length, which on the second disc Hassell works into with a precise blade, distorting the original session tapes into an alternate album that's markedly distinct and multi-dimensional.
At the time, Hassell was fascinated by hip-hop, particularly Bomb Squad's wall-of-sound collages of jazz and funk samples. He sampled the NYC troupe on "City" highlight 'Voiceprint', and wanted to make connections between his own fourth world concepts and rap's similar-but-different cityscape fragmentation. On "Psychogeography" he was inspired by situationist art and Teo Macero's innovative tape spliced productions on Miles Davis's "In A Silent Way" and "Bitches Brew". Hassell could see the through-line from Miles to Public Enemy, and linked that to the urban landscape, representing that on his "City" redux with heaving instrumental fuzz, slap bass loops and rhythmic oscillations. Like a speculative sci-fi landscape spied from an unmistakably 1980s viewpoint, the album is of its time but also a few paces outside of it - one to jam alongside "Akira" for peak OG cyberpunk aesthetic meltdown..
The music on Supersilent 11 dates back to the same recording sessions that birthed Supersilent 8 (released in 2007) which was originally planned as a triple album before Helge Sten (aka Deathprod) decided to split the five hours of music he'd finished across separate albums.
These sessions feature the since departed drummer, Jarle Vespestad and finds the band in a very different musical zone to their current state. You'll still encounter quieter moments of melody and lyricism - particularly when Arve Henriksen takes the lead - but pieces such as '11.3' and the album's apoplectic bookending numbers ('11.1' and '11.6') place far more arrhythmic focus on the band's performances.
Harking back to the disorientating ferocity of their debut release, Supersilent 1-3, these pieces are like choreographed group convulsions that at first sound disorganised and chaotic, though closer listening reveals them as impressive feats of collective improvisation. The more sedate moments reveal some beautiful instances of individual musicianship too - '11.4' proves particularly intriguing thanks to Stale Storlokken's distinctively phosphorescent analogue synth leads and Deathprod's volatile guitar contributions, while '11.2' provides an oasis of composure and clarity thanks to Henriksen's guiding presence. This could hardly be further removed from the kind of subtle, modern-composition influenced recordings heard on Supersilent 10 (released simultaneously with this album).
Supersilent 4 once again features the quartet lineup of Helge Sten (aka Deathprod), Ståle Storløkken (synthesizer), Arve Henriksen (trumpet), and Jarle Vespestad (drums).
If you haven't encountered their work before, Supersilent 4 is a good place to start - a sumptuous arrangements of tracks often described as "Death Jazz". Deathprod's arrangements and production techniques loom large over these pieces, coating the distinctive trumpet playing of Arve Henriksen and the endlessly reverberated percussion lines of Jarle Vespestad with an aquatic quality that's hard to define.
Take, for instance, the haunting smokey jazz textures of 4.2, a track already shimmering with dark whispering tones, listen closely to the mix and you start hearing buried voices that not only serve to unsettle but to form part of a percussive structure - inventive and creepy. That's just one facet of supersilent, move on a track and the scenery changes completely - you find yourself surrounded by hyperactive drums and a complete audio meltdown - you just never know what's around the corner.
Since Supersilent's inception the various members of the group have catapulted themselves to solo stardom (if indeed stardom is a term applicable to avant-garde Norwegian jazz), with trumpeter Arve Henriksen and super producer Helge Sten (aka Deathprod) coming close to overshadowing the band's success with their solo efforts - both Henriksen's Chiaroscuro and Deathprod's epochal 4CD box get heavy rotation round these parts.
Supersilent 8 comes as a decidedly triumphant return for the band. Having released a triple disc debut album characterised by noisy free jazz convulsions the group somehow ended up at the comparatively sedate Supersilent 6, a kraut-ish, post-rock influenced affair that provided an entry point for a whole new audience. This latest release is something else again. From the uncompromisingly obtuse real-time soundscaping of album opener '8.1' you know this isn't going to be a particularly easy ride, the band quietly stumbling their way through Popul Vuh-styled synthesizer explorations with a growing undercurrent of somnambulant, arrhythmic drumming and tides of low end fuzz worthy of Sunn O))).
It's a pretty heavy-going workout, and just when you're expecting something ferocious to turn up at, it doesn't. Instead you get the meticulously disciplined '8.2', a piece dominated by Jarle Vespestad's infinitesimally detailed percussion. Next up, Vespestad gives his toms a severe punishing on the angular feedback sculpting of '8.3', whilst the fourth piece marks a step towards low volume dynamics and eerie, mellifluous harmony. Storlokken's synthesizer joins Henriksen's trumpet for one of those explosions of improvised melodic coherence that would be beyond the limits of most improv ensembles. Every turn finds the group aborting one creative path and inventing another, reaching a new extreme on the electronic formlessness of '8.6', in which Henriksen calls upon his oddly disembodied falsetto vocal for a duet with some especially fractured-sounding Deathprod electronics. if Autechre were to release an album on ECM, this is what it would sound like.
The final fifteen minutes marks a return to more conventional improv, with the band in top form on the combustive noise textures of '8.7' (think Flower-Corsano Duo with added Radiophonic weirdness) only to wind down into the spooky electronic jumble of the eighth and final improvisation. Supersilent 8 is an impossibly rich banquet of sonic abstractions, and could hardly sound less like music that's been made up on the spot - I mean this is astonishingly complex material, to think that it's just been pulled out of the air is beyond impressive. The production of Supersilent 8 deserves a special mention too: the warmth and spatial clarity of the instrumental recordings is freakishly good, the entire project lovingly presented in that shroud of vintage analogue sound that's so synonymous with Deathprod's mixing.
From the monumental hardcore blizzard storms of 1-3 to the elegant electrojazz of 4 and the almost quiet soundscapes of 5, this new album is where the sum of all things Supersilent comes together in a shape of almost epic proportions.
More than ever it appears clear that their music lives in a no-man's-land between rock, jazz and modern composition. As with all their recordings and live performances, everything is improvised. That most of the music on 6 appears to be written or at least arranged is testament to the high, almost telepatic level they work at. Features the tantalising supersilent lineup of Helge Sten (aka Deathprod), Ståle Storløkken (synthesizer), Arve Henriksen (trumpet), and Jarle Vespestad (drums).
Supersilent's first recorded output since the departure of drummer Jarle Vespestad in late 2008.
"A brand new album from Supersilent is always a special occasion, even more so with ”9” as this is their first recorded output since the departure of drummer Jarle Vespestad in late 2008. This spurred no less than 3 recording sessions and the four tracks that make up this album are all taken from a session at Henie Onstad art center just outside Oslo where all three members rigged themselves with Hammond organs and nothing more. The result is nothing short of spectacular and probably their most avant garde and otherworldly recording so far and once again shows a band never looking back and always pushing their limits. Needless to say, this comes highly recommended."
The fourth album from Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, via Rocket Recordings.
"Whether inhabiting the realm of dreams or nightmares, the primordial drive of Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs is more powerful than ever and ‘Land Of Sleeper’, their fourth record in a decade of rancour and revelation is testimony to this. Arguably the most potent and assured record of their storied life so far, it’s the product of a band energised and fortified by their individual passions to incendiary effect.
After the travails of the years since 2020’s ‘Viscerals’ ‘Land Of Sleeper’ sees the Newcastle-based quintet not so much reinvigorated as channelling a furious drive which only appears to gather momentum as the band’s surroundings spins on their axis. For all that the last few years have seen Pigs’ stature rise in the wake of triumphant festival slots and sold-out venues like, this remains a band fundamentally incapable of tailoring their sound to a prospective audience, rather standing alone and impervious as a monument of catharsis.
The better to unite slumber and waking, ‘Land Of Sleeper’ is no less than an act of transcendence for Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs - new anthems to elucidate a world sleepwalking to oblivion."
Electronic duo Orbital's Optical Delusion, the Hartnoll brothers' first studio album since 2018’s Monster’s Exist.
"Recorded in Orbital’s Brighton studio, Optical Delusion includes contributions from Sleaford Mods, Penelope Isles, Anna B Savage, The Little Pest, Dina Ipavic, Coppe, and perhaps most surprisingly, The Medieval Baebes.
For the first single Orbital have joined forces with Sleaford Mods on their fabulous, furious single “Dirty Rat”. Featuring a searing vocal from Jason Williamson over kinetic, driving beats, “Dirty Rat” is Orbital at their most vital, still utterly relevant and pushing forward over 30 years since they broke through with their landmark single “Chime”. Think KLF or Underworld 'Born Slippy’ - ‘Dirty Rat’ is a primal scream which crosses genres and generations."
On Origins Chris Bartels takes on the role of singer-songwriter for the first time under his Elskavon moniker.
"Origins is vast yet intimate, fluttering yet cohesive, tattered yet clean, a little like rainfall during sunlight. Shedding the ambient-classical confines of his previous output, the album’s opener and title track, offers a swirling mosaic of acoustic textures that recall the beloved duo The Books, laced with warped vocal utterances flitting in and out of a club-friendly beat. “Origins” is followed by the equally danceable “Coastline,” which drives home the smiling melodies and intricate sound-design that form the spine of Origins, keeping Bartels’ voice in a largely decorative and impressionistic role up to this point.
“Blossom and the Void” dissolves the introductory tension as Bartels comes out lyrically swinging, his digitized voice chanting widely over the mutated New Wave-esque anthem. Here, Bartels shows his instinct for dynamics by rising to bombast and quickly dispelling it, making steep yet graceful descents into skilfully delicate sound-design.
Throughout Origins, the patient glacial aesthetic of his previous work is still discernible there are wordless, expansive panoramas that stretch out patiently for minutes at a time and smartly resist the impulse to pack each moment with a persona made even more impactful when Bartels chooses to wield it. At other times, his spokesmanship is woven discreetly into a larger tapestry, like on “See Out Loud” (and its ambient reprise) where Bartels’ voice shimmers from a distance, covering the scene in diffuse splendour."
Phew's furiously original 1992 album is a collaboration with D.A.F.'s Chrislo Haas, who helped mastermind the enduringly intriguing session alongside Einstürzende Neubauten's Alex Hacke, Can's Jaki Liebezeit, and Thomas Stern.
What better way to follow-up 'New Decade', Hiromi Moritani's stunning return to Mute, than with a reissue of her last brush with the label back in 1992? "Our Likeness" was an album that had been years in the making when it arrived. When Moritani had been recording her 1981 debut album in Conny Plank's studio, after parting ways with her punk band Aunt Sally, she ran into Chrislo Haas who sat and watched her record without saying a word. Soon after he visited her in Tokyo and the two vowed to work together; a few months later they revisited Plank's studio and recorded "Our Likeness" with Haas's carefully picked team of session players.
Musically it's an album that was painfully misunderstood on its release and has matured like a fine wine. Moritani's guttural delivery is well-matched to her band's tightly wound post-punk instrumentation; she's a versatile performer and easily slides from manic screaming to pitchy ballideering, riding the rhythms like a rapper at one moment and swooping like a circuit bent theremin at another. Opening track 'The Last Song' is dark and ritualistic, and introduces Moritani's vocals slowly, with sparse, haunted instrumentation, but the title track is a complete about turn, setting wobbly guitar riffs against Moritani's acrobatic Japanese phrasing.
It's on 'Being' that we get a taste of how far Moritani is able to push things, screaming over pounding drums and Wire-like serrated guitars - moments later the mood is reduced to a low-slung dub crawl on 'Like Water And Water', and Moritani's vocals are more like a possessed whisper. There's a level of ambition here that's hard to overstate; it's quite clear that both Haas and Moritani were driven to produce music that wasn't simply a carbon copy of what had already done, they wanted to craft something that challenged both of them. Years later it still sounds like a wrinkle in time, an album that exists just outside the established logic of the early 1990s.
Mute founder Daniel Miller and legendary engineer Gareth Jones (Einstürzende Neubauten, Erasure, Yann Tiersen) vibe out in enviably well-stocked studios on a 2nd batch of improvisations
The illustrious duo have used the Sunroof moniker for remixes dating back some 25 years to their rework of Can, and finally firmed up the project with original material on 2021’s ‘Electronic Music Improvisations Vol.1’. This next volume witnesses Sunroof following their nose for curious tones and pulses across eight parts of mercurial electronics that simply revel in the thrill of creation and the strangeness of electronic music for anyone who shares their fascination with wires and knobs. There’s no narrative or concept behind the release - just the sound of two boffins who know their kit inside out and fancy making some freaky nosies.
The results come to resemble a host of possible reference points ranging from the early electronics of Stockhausen or Dick Raaijmakers to more kosmik vectors of Conrad Schnitzler and the shapehifting quality of Kay Logan’s Otherworld works. They are diaristic pieces, sketched to tape canvas in-the-moment, and sprawling between the sloshing pulses of ‘January #2’, to club-adjacent freeform techno-kosmiche on ‘October’, taking in diced-up vox and spangled darkside noise on ‘July #2’, balletic kosmiche in ‘November’, and a collage of dial-strafing radio samples and alien electronics in ‘July #1’.
The fourth album from Avey Tare, the solo project of Animal Collective’s Dave Portner.
"You remember how it was, don’t you, back in the Spring of 2020? Knowing so little about what any of us should do, so many of us crawled inside our quarters to find new obsessions or indulge the familiar ones, unencumbered by anything else we could do. At home in the woods on the eastern edge of Asheville, N.C., Avey Tare took the latter path, sequestering himself in his small home studio to sort the songs he’d written and recorded with friends in the instantly distant before times—Animal Collective’s Time Skiffs, of course, their astonishing document of communal creativity a quarter-century into the enterprise. He often worked there for 12 hours a day, tweaking mixes alone, save the birds and bears and his girlfriend, Madelyn. By Fall, though, it was done, so what next? How else should Avey now occupy himself in his cozy little room? The answer became 7s, his fourth solo album (and first in four years), an enchanting romp through the playground of his head. He wasn’t, however, going to do it alone.
During the first week of January 2021, Avey began making regular drives to his friend Adam McDaniel’s Drop of Sun Studios to give guts and flesh and color to the skeletal demos he’d made at home. They turned first to “Hey Bog,” a tune Avey had been tinkering with since he wrote it to have new material for a rare live performance years earlier. The inquisitive electronic meditation—all tiny percussive pops and surrealist textures at first—slowly morphs into a gem about surrendering cynicism and accepting the world a bit more readily, the call buttressed by trunk-rattling bass and spectral guitar. It feels like a lifetime map for new possibilities, encapsulated in nine absorbing minutes. The plot for 7s, then, was set: trusting, intuitive, exploratory collaboration among friends, after a Winter without it. These songs are like overstuffed jelly jars, cracking so that the sweetness oozes out into unexpected shapes. Still, the sweetness—that is, Avey’s compulsory hooks—remains at the center, the joy inside these Rorschach blots.
If Animal Collective has forever been defined by its charming inscrutability, Avey surrenders to a new intimacy and candor with 7s. Take “The Musical,” a bouncing ball of rubbery synths and wah-wah guitars that contemplates what draws someone to sound and how turning that calling into a profession can alter the source. “I can hear the mountains singing,” he counters with an audible smile wiped across his face, painting a postcard of his home amid one of the United States’ folk hubs, “and I do believe they could do that forever.”"
Soul Jazz Records' Space, Energy and Light is a collection of music by early electronic and synthesizer pioneers (from the 1960s through the 1970s), mid-1970s proto-new age gurus and 1980s guerrilla D-I-Y cassette-era electronic artists, spanning in total over a near 30-year time frame.
It's hard not to fetishize the era when electronic music seemed full of hope, promise and mystery. From the 1960s up until the 1980s, artist who were lucky enough to get hold of synthesizers, computers or drum machines were able to paint on a virtually blank canvas - the sounds hadn't yet been absorbed completely into cultural history. Soul Jazz helps map out the development of electronic music in the deep underground, mining the DIY cassette/private press scene for gems like Baffo Banfi's opening blur of arpeggios and brassy waves 'Gang (For the Rock Industry)'.
Elsewhere we get a charmingly breezy new age jam from IASOS, a fascinating synth improvisation from Laurie Spiegel, a blunted, proggy burner from Richard Pinhas and another placement for Beverly Glenn-Copeland's well-known 'Ever New'. The comp closes on its most brief but most precious track - 'Piece #1' from tape scientist Tod Dockstader. That's the stuff!
Editions RZ collects historical recordings of Italy's forward looking and influential Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza 1967-75, a collective featuring Egisto Macchi (percussion + celesta), Ennio Morricone (trumpet), Walter Branchi (bass), Franco Evangelisti (piano), John Heineman (trombone + cello), Roland Kayn (hammond organ + vibes + marimbaphon), Giovanni Piazza (horn), Frederic Rzewski (piano), and Jesus Villa Rojo (clarinet).
All skilled players and composers, the Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza were formed in 1964 at the initiative of Franco Evangelisti with an aesthetic agenda looking beyond the boundaries of previous improvisational musics. They focussed on production and the qualities of sound itself, employing innovative recording and playing techniques at the limits of their capabilities as performers and composers in order to discover the "new consonance" inferred in their nomenclature.
These ten pieces spanning eight years are highly considered works of art, aware of the Neo-Dadaists attempts to disassemble the concept of a work of art, and instead attempting to expand its parameters as a transitory body of work in flux. We can hear traces of this work reflected in the more forward thinking Italian film soundtracks of the era and to a further extent, in Ennio Morricone's work for Hollywood, in turn casting an influence over much exploratory, non-academic contemporary music.
For new initiates and avant-garde fiends alike, this Xenakis collection renders a breathtaking survey of works by the radical composer, theorist, architect and engineer, spanning the period 1956-1974 and featuring some of the greatest works of the 20th century, including the awe-inspiring sonic architecture of ‘Persepolis’.
Inarguably one of the most important composers to blend electronic process and classical orchestration, Greek-French artist Iannis Xenakis made an indelible impression on the 20th century with his staggeringly complex feats of musical engineering. Regularly cited as an influence by composers ranging from Florian Hecker thru Autechre and Reinhold Friedl, Xenakis’s polymath pursuits in hybridising music, architecture and mathematics generated a bewildering array of sounds and structures which have rarely, if ever, been bettered in terms of their sheer scope, scale and technical ingenuity.
It’s possible to break down Xenakis’ approach to composition, and its results, as an extension of his experiences in armed combat, fighting for Greece’s left wing liberationists against the German army and later the British during WWII, with the latter leaving him blinded in one eye. He would eventually leave Greece in 1947 after graduating university with a degree in civil engineering, and before he could be conscripted into the Greek army, who didn’t look favourably on left wing sympathisers. Moving from Greece to Paris left him with a sense of guilt at betraying his friends, and a sense that “I had to do something important to regain the right to live. It wasn’t just a question of music - it was something much more significant.”
That significant something turned out to be a mind-blowing, multi-disciplinary oeuvre practically unprecedented in the history of music, architecture and art; a radical synthesis of ideas which embraced new technology and abstraction as a means to realise and create a new world in the aftermath of WWII. Like the Italian futurists before him, Xenakis would draw on the chaotic soundfield of war, and combined with a strong knowledge of experimental classical music and a special nous of maths, Xenakis’ subsequent studies with Olivier Messiaen and work with Parisian architect Le Corbusier would prompt him to composing groundbreaking new music during the 1950s.
This 2CD contains works from that era, stretching right back to the pranging clangour and jet-like eruptions of Achorripsis [1956-57], an early example of his stochastic style of composition, thru the dizzying, chronic dynamics of Syrmos , and to some of the earliest work composed by a computer, the 7090 IBM, in ST/48(St/48-1,240162).
But it’s Xenakis’ ’60s/‘70s work where his genius is mst evident, from the breathtaking scope of Polytope De Montréal  - written for four orchestras in the same space in the French Pavilion at Expo ’67 - to the gobsmacking dimensions of his seminal Persépolis , which was realised for the Shah of Iran, plus the frankly terrifying, computerised wormhole of Polytope De Cluny [1972-74].
We can’t reasonably describe this set as anything other than indispensable for fans of electronic music from its inception to the modern day.
This is a stunner, Michael Pisaro piecing unedited field recordings of L.A. with almost imperceptible sine wave tones, offering a poetic, 2 hour portrait of his home city...
Opening an impressionistic window to the hills, streets and coast of greater Los Angeles, ‘Transparent City (Volumes 1 & 2)’ consists of 11 x 10 minute field recordings which were later blended with sine waves at Pisaro’s home studio in Santa Clarita, and broken up by two minutes silence at the end of each track. Their effect is enchanting, subliminally drawing us into a naturally relaxed state, but with a subtle awareness of the sine wave’s presence that creates a sublime tension - nothing disturbing, more like a charming poltergeist who wants to play with your private ether.
That presence and its effect, in conjunction with the patently sunny scenes of the recording, lend a heady quality that recalls the surreality limned in Nozomu Matsumoto’s recent ‘Climatotherapy’, but with a far more subtle appeal, while also reminding of the meditative states of Jakob Ullmann’s music, the ambience of Murakami novels, or what may be heard from Pinkcourtesyphone’s porch, if she somehow wandered outside in a dosed-up daze.
A big recommendation from this amazing label.
Silken and surprisingly sunny, Kelela's long-awaited third full-length distills her ineffable essence into poetic, horizontal lyricism over murmured afterparty bumps and gaseous post-club ambience.
It's on 'Missed Call' that "Raven" begins to fully unravel. A very different album from its predecessor (2017's universally acclaimed "Take Me Apart") it hums like sulfur after a firework display - pink and green and blue becomes grey and yellow. When a near-invisible airhorn punctuates the fade-out of 'Let It Go' signaling a fresh mood, it's the memory of a fleeting high that's all but slipped away. A featherlight dancehall thud underpins Kelela's gossamer vocals; "Baby, you've been gone for so long," she coils and we hear it, loud and clear. The DC-raised artist has always shied from convention. On her debut "Cut 4 Me" she embraced Night Slugs and Fade To Mind's gaseous club construxions pre-empting (and informing) a wave of similarly-angled soundalikes. Its follow-up bundled these ideas into a more ambitious album format, leaving an aesthetic breadcrumb trail that led to both "Homogenic" and "The Velvet Rope" and wider stardom seemed pretty much guaranteed. But shortly afterwards she almost completely vanished from social media, taking the time out to breathe and read and listen and to figure how to represent her reality authentically - she did what so many artists struggle to, and took stock of the situation. So that first balmy pad that hovers into earshot on 'Washed Away' is a sharp release of breath, as if someone's just pressed play on a dormant CDJ. "The mist, the light, the dust that settles the night," she cries over a backdrop that threatens to mutate into Drexciya's 'Andreaen Sand Dunes' but never does.
Where its predecessor was guided by Jam City, Bok Bok and Arca's byzantine dancefloor anomalies, this album pulls its energy from alternative spaces. Kelela's revealed that 'Contact' - an aerated breaks-led kiss that sounds like 'Inner City Life' with the heat cranked up and the speed pulled right down - was dedicated to chatter speckled pre-gaming, and the psychedelic-erotic moments in the club's darkest crevices. Other moments, like the sunbleached, 'Teardrop'-hued 'Fooley' or 'Holier', with its drowsy electric piano reverberations and evolving drones, sound as if they're lashed to the experience of the afters, when the sun's cracking thru the curtains and noetics weave tired minds into mystickal, musical lattices. She's still plugged into the club experience, but is able to provide a more four dimensional perspective, and this time it's NYC-to-Berlin techno pin-up LSDXOXO whose presence is felt most prominently. He handles a handful of ambiguous club-not-club melters, like the soaked and dissociated 'Bruises' and the phantasmagorically nostalgic early single 'Happy Ending', while Nguzunguzu's Asmara adds a breath of polished restraint to tracks like 'Let it Go' and 'Contact', and Toronto head Bambii provides a hopeful pulse that draws from her hierarchy-free understanding of club music, whether it's baile funk and ballroom or footwork and rap.
Kelela's first full-length was a mixtape - a decade later she's absorbed its lessons and some of that pacing into a body of work that speaks to the club experience without attempting to function simply as club music. If a track like 'Missed Call' works at the dance it's a bonus, not an expectation - it's music whose purpose is chameleonic, hissing through crackly earbuds on bus rides just as well as it blares through expensive soundsystems amalgamated with chaotic substitute rhythms. She also smartly acknowledges the omnipresence of downtempo shades that encircle the scene, looping in textures and granulations from producers like Berlin's Yo van Lenz and Florian TM Zeisig. On the title track, soft-focus analog purrs from London's Fauzia guide Kelela's acrobatic voice into distorted FM bells and, in time, a Basement-ready kick roll from NYC's Acemo. Kelela straddles two worlds, letting her words serve as the bridge between memory and experience, the event and the essential aftercare. After 'Enough For Love' rebuilds the '80s electro-ballad as Afro-Brazilian-inspired R&B, with decadent keys placed between sounds from São Paulo's Badsista, 'Far Away' floats us off into the horizon - wherever that might be - washed over by a reprise of the weightless opener. Self-care is an awkward, leaden concept, but with "Raven" it sounds as if Kelela's suggesting an equally transportive alternative - a place where interaction can lead to satisfaction, even love. Keep your guided meditation, this is healing music.
Yo La Tengo keep it tight on their first album in five years, working without external producers and engineers and trapping their feathery songs in a tightly-controlled mesh of motorik rhythms and grotesque fuzz. It's their best set in years.
Yo La Tengo are unassumingly good, but "This Stupid World" is better than that - it's almost casually brilliant, but there's a level of drive and effortless skill that carries the album into another dimension. Made up of enduring spouses Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley plus bassist James McNew, Yo La Tengo were already a tight proposition, but their choice to approach this latest record without bringing in outside help is an important evolution. On 2018's "There's a Riot Going On", their 15th studio album, they handled most of it themselves but brought in post-rock legend John McEntire (who had helped out on previous recordings) to add finishing touches. Now, working in isolation they hit on a sound that feels like peak Yo La, like we're standing in the band's Hoboken rehearsal space and watching them play.
The music is a keen-eared aggregation of all the fond, longing indie rock they've put their stamp on over the last slew of records. Kaplan, Hubley and McNew have literally nothing to prove, and this lack of pressure has allowed them an overview of their career that's led to songs that aren't repetitive - they've sharpened their writing to a fine, masterful point. Just head to the flickering post-punk groan of 'Tonight's Episode', with its brushy, barely-there drums, dispassionately dissonant vocal part and tingling guitars, or 'Aselestine', a jangling alt-country/twee hybrid that sounds like a Sarah Records cover of Mazzy Star.
And once the album stutters through 'Brain Capers', a Who-via-Stereolab indie caper, it settles into its explosive finale, a one-two punch of sublime long-form shoegaze brilliance. 'This Stupid World' is MBV on benzos, all dissonant warbles and overdriven bliss, and 'Miles Away' might be the best thing Yo La Tengo have penned in years, a quietly electronic dubbed out masterwork led by Hubley's romantic hushed vocals. Like Seefeel or later Slowdive it hits that sweet spot between foggy, electroid atmospherics and shimmering dream pop, and it feels like sinking into an ocean of sand.
On Grace & Dignity from songwriter and producer Benjamin Woods' project, the GOLDEN DREGS.
"Hailing from Cornwall – a county in south-west England that draws thousands of tourists on holiday, and where thousands of locals could never hope of affording one – Woods grew up with a keen awareness of that gap between idealism and reality. the GOLDEN DREGS’ third album, On Grace & Dignity considers his home and what it means to be shaped by a place – in this instance, Truro, Cornwall’s capital, home to a rare three-spired cathedral, a peaceful river and a lot of empty shops and flimsy out-of-town housing estates.
Written, recorded and produced by Woods from his South London home and childhood bedroom in Truro, it was mixed by Ali Chant (Perfume Genius, Aldous Harding) who provided additional production.
In among the personal reflections on loss of innocence and inferiority, Woods spins subtly interweaving narratives about survival, desperate acts of violence, loss and the limitations of community in the face of rapacious gentrification. Nevertheless, it is, appropriately for an album about home, somewhere you’ll want to spend a while. Life here proceeds at a graceful pace grounded by Woods’s deep voice, which seems to resonate from his feet as he delivers the sort of meticulously written lunar wisdom worthy of Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner, or the tidy yet revelatory koans of Silver Jews’ David Berman."
Hollie Kenniff’s second LP for Western Vinyl, We All Have Places That We Miss.
"We All Have Places That We Miss is a gallery of cloudlike synths, seraphic strings, and humming guitars, all coaxed into cohesion by Hollie’s own wordless singing.
Here on Places... Hollie strides even further into reminiscence, seeking and commemorating the fondly tragic ache of half-remembered locales lost to time: A grandparent’s dim living room from an ambiguous decade; a lonely clearing beside a trail we can’t remember if we walked or just dreamt; the calming light of a movie that aired years before we were born though our feelings insist we were there with the characters. We All Have Places That We Miss transmutes such glimmers into a palpable sonic kingdom that can be revisited at will, recalling the pedal-board ambience of Windy & Carl, Adam Wiltzie, and Liz Harris.
For Fans Of: Grouper, Julianna Barwick, Christina Vantzou, Stars of the Lid, This Mortal Coil, Cocteau Twins."
A late pinnacle of the Drexciyan oeuvre, Storm 2 aka Transllusion's 'The Opening of the Cerebral Gate'.
It's all remarkably bass-heavy compared with a lot of other Drexciyan workouts, resulting in some of their most ruggedly stripped down electro-techno functions ranging from the pounding might of 'Transmission Of Life' to the militant march of 'War Of The Clones' and the funked come-on, 'Do You Want To Get Down'.
On the other hand, it also features stacks of gorgeous Drexciyan melodies in the aquatic flux of 'Cluben In Guyana' and the twinkling keys of 'Unordinary Reality', and to darkest effect on 'Crossing into the Mental Astroplane'.
Highly recommended to all aquanauts.
Remastered re-issue of Mogwai’s debut album ‘Mogwai Young Team’, originally released in October 1997.
"Mogwai’s groundbreaking debut album, ‘Mogwai Young Team’, originally released in October 1997, is reissued here, remastered and refreshed on CD and coloured double vinyl.
The original recording engineer for the album, Paul Savage, whose production credits include Franz Ferdinand and The Twilight Sad, has remastered the album for this special reissue. Recorded in what was soon to become Chemikal Underground’s own Chem19 studios by label owner and The Delgados’ drummer Paul Savage (for the princely sum of £15,000), the sessions were, by the band’s own admission, “turbulent, disorganised and hastily mixed.”
Apartment House perform three spellbinding chamber works by estimable Swiss minimalist composer Jurg Frey - some of his first recordings since stepping back from playing clarinet due to illness, and reconsidering his future work.
Frey’s latest work for Sheffield’s Another Timbre, the label he has been most closely associated with aside to Editions Wandelweiser, presents two single movement pieces, plus a departure from the form in the multi-part movement ‘L’Etat De Simplicite’. Written between 2014-2021, the pieces were originally intended for release prior to the pandemic but, due to obvious reasons, and an unfortunate illness during that period that forced Frey to stop playing clarinet, they were recorded at Goldsmith’s in summer 2022, and feature works reimagined due to circumstances.
The title part for quintet - Raymond Brien (bass clarinet), Anton Lukoszevieze (cello), Heather Roche (clarinet), Kerry Yong (piano), and Mira Benjamin (violin) - has a quietly floral, low-lit quality that plays with perceptions of the idea of “landscape” inspired by gardening, and the composers thoughts of its historic hierarchies - from Japanese gardens to French Baroque - and the final 30’ work ‘Movement, Ground, Fragility’ reworks a former composition, written for Wandelweiser festival in Minneapolis, into an atmospheric architecture as evocative as strolling through a midnight garden, accompanied by Simon Limbrick’s sonorous percussion.
The big attraction however, is Frey’s four-part ‘L’Etat De Simplicite’, which, unusually for him, unfolds over distinct sections of almost-perceptible melody, as with the haunting ‘Toucher L’air’, contrasting with the relative cinematic might of ‘La Discrète Plénitude’ and a return to zero in ‘Les Zones Neutres’, a reference to the empty spaces appearing in Patrick Modiano’s novel of the same name, and evoked via patient, tenebrious shading.
Hildegard von Bingen songs accompanied by pipe organ and electronics, beautifully and hauntingly realised by Belgian artist performers Lynn Cassiers & Jozef Dumoulin - RIYL Kali Malone, Áine O’Dwyer, FUJI||||||||||TA
‘Sibyl Of The Rhine’ finds the monadic songs of the C.12th mystic von Bingen adapted and subtly brought forward into the present, with an apt sense of time-lag or motion sickness of time travel arising from the use of haunted organ tones by Dumoulin, who has played the instrument since he was a teenager in the ‘80s. Together with Cassiers’ carefully pent, stately execution of the music’s ancient melodies, and the subtly intoxicating space of the recording (in an undisclosed location, but sounding like a church, replete with incidental rustles and infidelities) the effect of ‘Sibyl Of The Rhine’ is quietly transfixing and perhaps offers more to latch onto than recent investigations of the pipe organ and ancient sacred music.
The 10 parts are exactingly minimalist in a way that speaks to the players’ modestly assured confidence, grown over decades of collaboration. Between the harmonic glow and eerie transitions of ‘O Quam Miribilis’ and the sylvan bliss of ‘O Virtus Sapientiae (alternate take)’ they treat von Bingen’s songbook with respect, with results reminding of Susanna’s grand yet ascetic staging by Helge Sten in ‘O Virtus Sapientiae’ and allowing for a more psychedelic, sensuous appeal in ‘O Quam Preciosa’. Elsewhere they juxtapose the ancient songs with relatively modern works including a spellbinding recital of Schumann’s ‘Der Nussbaum’, replete with the sound of mechanical stops (or is it rain on stained glass windows?), and a final touch of absorbingly textured intimacy in their take on ‘Aguas de Marco’ by Brazilian bossa nova pioneer Tom Jobim.
The classic 12 disc Parmegiani Box Set finally given a reissue by INA GRM, covering the majority of Parmegiani's musique concrète output recorded between 1964 and 2007. Is there a more important, influential, totemic single-artist collection in all of electronic music?
The Wire magazine described this amazing package as "A bargain price treasure chest....containing worlds of inexhaustible spaciousness and strangeness" and, indeed, listening through just some of the 12 cd's included you find yourself drawn into a multi-faceted world of strange sound sources and audio manipulations designed to play tricks on your senses to an extent that has left this reviewer almost paralysed with wonderment.
Parmegiani was mentored by the founding father of Musique Concrète, Pierre Schaeffer. Making use of technological advances that gave the world magnetic tape and microphones, Schaeffer pioneered a method of taking everyday sounds and transforming them into unrecognisable, detached pieces of music with no identifiable sound source, a style that became known as Acousmatic music. Parmegiani was hugely influenced by Schaeffer's pioneering work and Groupe de Recherche Musicale (GRM), the French Radio institution that is often described as the French equivalent of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.
The work Parmegiani would go on to create would make use of these Acousmatic techniques in creating a body of work which is not only one of the most significant of the 20th century, but also hugely influential on a whole host of musical pioneers that would follow in his wake, with Christian Fennesz, Aphex Twin and Jim O'Rourke being notable disciples. These 12 cd's cover the majority of Parmegiani's musique concrète legacy and include pieces recorded between 1964 and 2007.
Hard to comprehend the immersive and often woozy effect of these recordings, ranging from eerie cut-out tape loops through to popular music plunderphonics and proto-distilled-dub that's impossible to absorb in one sitting. L'Œuvre Musicale is one of the most impressive and important collections of electronic music you'll likely ever hear, but also one of the most rewarding.
Newly restored and remastered, an expanded edtion of the 1973 release OZ Days Live : ‘72 -’73 Kichijoji.
"OZ Days Live was originally released in 1973 as a private press two-disc set, packaged in a brown paper bag with its album title hand-stamped in rainbow-colored ink. The self-distributed record was made to commemorate the closure of OZ, the now-legendary venue located in the Kichijoji neighborhood of Tokyo.
Operating out of a small upstairs space just around the corner from the train station, OZ was a scruffy, DIY affair that lasted not much more than a year. Over the course of its short existence from June 1972 to September 1973, the cafe and performance space became the nerve center for the city’s burgeoning underground and counterculture set.
Now, 50 years after OZ first opened its doors, OZ Days Live ‘72-’73 Kichijoji: The 50th Anniversary Collection, is a reconfigured special edition of the original LP. Available as a 3CD set, the new collection includes all the tracks from Les Rallizes Dénudés’ The OZ Tapes, plus bonus tracks from the same sessions that were first released in 2022 on a limited edition 12”.
The set also includes newly remastered versions of the Masato Minami and Miyako Ochi tracks from the original release, plus over 40 minutes of previously unreleased OZ recordings from Acid Seven, newly unearthed from reel-to-reel tapes that had been stored away for half a century by OZ manager Minoru Tezuka. A newly written 100-page oral history, compiled from hours of interviews, provides first-hand accounts of what made the OZ scene so special."
Three hours into the sublime with Kali Malone, who plays tuned sine wave oscillators alongside Lucy Railton on cello and Sunn O)))'s Stephen O'Malley on electric guitar. An exercise in tuning, harmonic theory and duration; it's meditative, deep listening music.
If Living Torch was Kali Malone in miniature, an economical and concise précis of her musical philosophy, "Does Spring Hide Its Joy" clicks the maximize button, boosting her durational process into three precise hourlong explorations of harmonic theory. In many ways, its a more fitting follow-up to Malone's breakout 2019 album "The Sacrificial Code", encouraging listeners to interface with the purity of sound and tuning as they interact with each other.
The piece was developed in Spring 2020, when Malone was invited to the Funkhaus studio and MONOM to develop a suite of music using their vast empty space for recording. A few technicians were left to help out (including electro-acoustic/ambient babe Jake Muir), but Malone, Railton and O'Malley mostly had the space to themselves to devise new work together. The inspiration was the perception of time itself, something that had come into sharp focus for many under lockdown. "Time stood still until subtle shifts in the environment suggested there had been a passing," Malone says. "Memories blurred non-sequentially, the fabric of reality deteriorated, unforeseen kinships formed and disappeared, and all the while, the seasons changed and moved on without the ones we lost."
Musically, Malone and her collaborators represent this timelessness by presenting a framework rather than a concrete composition. On this release, there are three renditions of the same piece, and since the recording the trio have performed it numerous times across Europe; each time shifting gently to represent the mood of the players and unique dynamics of each space. Hearing it in one three-hour chunk might seem like an undertaking, but it's the best way to disentangle the trio's themes and mark the simmering intensity of their work.
For his part, O'Malley has never sounded as restrained - his guitar, so often an abstracted marker of 20th century "metal" posturing, is so reduced that it's often hard to separate from Malone's tones and Railton's controlled movements. The inherent sound - a Sabbath via Earth amplified roll turned down to a resonant whistle - allows us to see it from another angle, and puts O'Malley's long-held interest in global minimalist music into perspective. In fact, it sounds as if Malone and O'Malley are two parts of the same coin here, their sounds blurring into one another sometimes completely, leaving Railton to add character and texture to their tonal canvas.
The use of distinct instruments and the centering of three discrete performances is key to the album. Each instrument represents a different strand of modern minimalist music: European classical tradition is marked by the cello, blues and metal by the guitar, and electronic music by the sine generator. Combining these without adhering to usual hierarchies, Malone and her collaborators essentially comment on musical history itself.
Deep listening recommended.
Long-awaited collection of "Ape Escape" composer and Far East Recording boss Soichi Terada's beloved OMODAKA material, a collaboration with Japanese folk singer Akiko Kanazawa. Completely bizarre gear - one part chiptune, one part J-pop, one part '90s house, one part ethno-folk?
Is there anything Soichi Terada can't do? The Japanese composer built a reputation on his knack for composing sickly melodies - just listen to the "Ape Escape" series for proof of that. But he's been just as successful penning innovative cross-genre dance music, releasing a slew of jungle and house-inspired albums on his own Far East Recording imprint. Terada initiated the OMODAKA project back in 2001 when he was attempting to write a boat racing song - the project stuck around and attracted a cult following for its uncompromising blend of video game bleeps, light dance bumps and Akiko Kanazawa's virtuosic vocals.
The best early example of this odd fusion comes with 'Iyano Kobiki', a simple '90s house bouncer that sounds like it could easily have accompanied any PS1-era videogame. But Kanazawa's vocal turn elevates the music to a different tier thanks to her training in min'yō, a traditional folk style that shifted from its original role as work songs or ritual songs into virtuoso performance music. Her vocals are deviously complex to the point of being acrobatic, and alongside Terada's earworm melodies and cheeky video game power-up sounds it sounds as if we're being dropped into a world that's familiarly surreal, and simultaneously alien.
"Zentsuu" is an anthology so it's not surprising how different it is track to track, but the raw concept is always the same. Sometimes the vocal parts are less present, and often Kanazawa's vocals seem to burst straight out of left field, but the album's always breathtakingly bizarre in the best possible way. Just head over to 'Chakkiri Bushi', a robotic interpolation of Anita Baker's 'Sweet Love' that's remarkable in its wackiness. Fourteen of the 18 tracks presented on "Zentsuu" have never hit vinyl before, so you know what to do.
The debut album from The WAEVE - composed of Graham Coxon and Rose Elinor Dougall, on Transgressive Records.
"Produced by The WAEVE and James Ford (Arctic Monkeys, Florence and The Machine, Foals, HAIM) and recorded in London in 2022, The WAEVE is a collection of 10 new tracks from songwriters Graham Coxon and Rose Elinor Dougall. Joining creative forces in The WAEVE gave the duo the opportunity to push past their instrumental comfort zones.
Many tracks feature Graham on saxophone, one of the first instruments he played as a young musician back in the 80s. First single ‘Can I Call You’ starts as a ballad then morphs into a krautrock-style motorik number with a sprawling Coxon guitar solo. ‘All Along’ features Graham on cittern, a medieval folk lute. Rose plays piano and an ARP 2000 modular synth. The heavy weather all over The WAEVE recalls the blustery folk rock of Sandy Denny or John and Beverly Martyn, while tracks such as ‘Kill Me Again‘ and ‘Over and Over’ recall the 70s rock of Kevin Ayers or Van der Graaf Generator, almost industrial in places."
How has it taken so long for Loscil and Lawrence English to team up? "Colours of Air" is built around heaving pipe organ sounds, and boils those raw elements into bright colors.
Could there possibly be a more obvious pairing than Scott Morgan and Lawrence English? Both artists have been sculpting sublime beatless music for years, skirting each other's sounds without treading on the freshly-mown lawn. On "Colours of Air" they finally convene, pulling apart thick, warbling recordings taken from the aging pipe organ at the Old Museum in Brisbane. If you've heard any of English's recent releases, particularly the faded "Approach" and 2021's organ-led "Observation of Breath" you'll be able to predict this record's loose sonic signature, but Morgan adds enough processing clout to direct these tracks westward.
At its best, the album floats into the clouds with the grace of a flickering colored LED cluster, hinting at beauty we can barely fully comprehend. On the lengthy 'Black' the duo sound perfectly at ease with each other's contributions: English is able to sand his sounds into haunted traces, and Morgan is able to layer harmonies until they course with melancholy. Nowt new, but very satisfying all the same.
Phil Ranelin & Wendell Harrison's entry in the Jazz is Dead series.
"It could only have happened in Detroit. It was in the ashes of this Detroit, that Tribe Records was born - a community-led platform where artists took control of marketing, promoting, and releasing their own music.
Two original founding members, saxophonist Wendell Harrison and trombonist Phil Ranelin, are still active in the Detroit jazz community, and act as global ambassadors for the Tribe legacy. In the years that have followed, the path Tribe blazed has become the blueprint for generations of independent artists With this entry in the Jazz Is Dead series, they continue the mission of Tribe to provide "a new dimension in cultural awareness.""