Temporary Residence Limited and City Slang hook up to release Volker Bertelmann's eighth full-length outing as Hauschka (includes two bonus tracks).
Never afraid of dabbling in concepts, Volker Bertelmann’s latest Hauschka album finds the German in inspired form exploring life on earth some thirty years into the future which extends to the hypothetical nature of each track title.
Seemingly not content with his reputation for inventive techniques with prepared piano, Bertelmann expands his instrumental remit on ‘What If’ through toying around with the pianola, a Roland Jupiter 4 synth and an Eventide H3000 Harmonizer.
This results in an even richer, more unpredictable Hauschka experience across the nine tracks with the titles seemingly conducting the mood of Bertelmann’s compositions. The apparent nervous, fidgeting energy of I Can’t Find Water, the solemn piano romanticism of I Can’t Express My Deep Love, and the playful instrumental harmonics of We Live a Thousand Years
Barnt, Jens Uwe-Beyer, The Field and the rest of the Köln über-group gather for a second album of freewheeling kosmische.
Seven years after Cologne Tape’s ‘Render‘ mini LP launched the Magazine label, the nine-strong crew have reconvened at the city’s Dumbo Studios for a second collection. Again reflecting that uniquely-Kölnish strain of musical creativity, ‘Welt‘ draws plentifully from both the krautrock well and the more recent minimal source championed by Kompakt et al. Repurposing Dumbo Studios to near-earth orbit on Welt 1, the Cologne Tape troopers commence in spangled, post rock territory before veering off into the gauzy, windblown ambient beat explorations of Welt 2 and the slack-jawed Krautechno bliss burn of Welt 3 (Magazine Edit).
The spectral Welt 4 marks the point where Cologne Tape really let loose, PNN affiliate Isis Lace making her presence felt through some ritualistic chants over a lolloping, improvised kraut composition. Welt 5 unfurls into some sort of spiritual Cologne-based brethren to the rainforest techno of SUED, the mood seeping into the superb Gas gone minimal kosmische immersion that is Welt 6. A brief vignette of experimentation led by grand piano on Welt 7 follows before the assembled mass combine for a space rock finale on Welt 8, whose chunky live drums sort of spoil the mood cultivated from the album’s midway point.
Pivotal NYC noise figurehead Margaret Chardiet marks the 10th anniversary of Pharmakon with a mentalist projection seeking to highlight humankind’s perpetual struggle to transcend mind and body. Working at a sharp conceptual adjunct from her 2nd LP, Bestial Body , Chardiet’s tertiary album is concerned with distilling the “energy/empathy exchange” of her infamous live performances into a structure which conveys a trance state - the point at which the spirit leaves the body and reviews itself.
In that sense, Contact can be viewed as a method of getting beyond anthropocentric, solipsistic thought processes “How starkly human, so desperate for the sense of vantage over all version of its own reflection!”, by methodically and metaphorically mirroring the four stages of trance - preparation, onset, climax, and resolution - thru the album’s arrangement and intention.
Of course, the album every listener’s reception will differ but, for us at least, she’s nailed that heightened state of physical and mental awareness that really only comes with sincerely delivered and uncompromising noise music, doing so with a sense of poise and lush wretchedness that’s captivating if nothing else, holding our mental gaze like a hypnotist between the time-flattening squall and shrieks of Nakedness of Need and thru to free falling contours of Sentience to the cadaverous hulk of Sleepwalking Form and the violent resolution of No Natural Order.
Universal Sound presents this reissue of an extremely rare and in-demand spiritual jazz album by flautist/composer Lloyd McNeil.
Also a multidisciplinary painter, poet and photographer, Lloyd was born in Washington, D.C., in 1935 and thus grew up through the Civil Rights Movement of 1960s America. He studied at the Morehouse College in Atlanta, where Martin Luther King had previously been educated, and would later become one of the first black professors in the the American University system, teaching music anthropology among other subjects.
Since the 1950s he'd been playing and studying Latin music, besides his native Jazz, and from the mid-1960s he travelled widely, befriending Picasso during his Paris period and later Brazilian musicians Dom Salvador, Paulinho Da Viola and Paulo Moura during stays in Brazil and West Africa. All of this experience can be heard in this, his 1970 opus, composed for Washington, D.C.'s Capital Ballet company, a suite of elegant, refined and quietly effervescent Jazz music with rich traces of Brazilian and American jazz forms.
The 15th studio album from musical pioneers Wire. It arrives on the 40th anniversary of their debut performance.
"Colin Newman and Matt Simms’ guitar work is alternately jagged and luminous, while bassist Graham Lewis’s ear-catching lyrics are vivid yet oblique. Meanwhile, drummer Robert Grey provides a virtual masterclass in percussive minimalism. But it’s how the various instruments mesh together that really counts. And Newman’s production creates a sonic space in which even the smallest gesture is accorded some recognition.
Highlights include the optimistic dazzle of ‘Diamonds In Cups’, with its almost T. Rex-style buzz and chug, and the moody swing of ‘This Time’. Elsewhere on the musical spectrum, there’s the menacing widescreen grandeur of ‘Playing Harp for the Fishes’ and breakneck-paced guitar pop of ‘Short Elevated Period’.
Wire are one of the world’s most ground-breaking bands, their influence acknowledged by bands as diverse as Blur, Sonic Youth, R.E.M. and Savages. But they have never been interested in exploiting past glories. For Wire, there is only ever one possible direction: forwards. So it’s perhaps not surprising that over recent years, they’ve played strings of sold-out shows, achieved career-best record sales, and been cited as a strong influence by yet another generation of bands. Wire’s last three albums garnered nothing but rave reviews.
From 2013’s strangely beautiful Change Becomes Us (“It’s fantastic.” – Pitchfork) to the crackling motorik of 2015’s Wire (“It’s all really well turned, potent and crisp.” – The Guardian), and last year’s punchy mini-album Nocturnal Koreans (“It's a cracker and sounds defiantly modern.” – The Quietus).
Consequently, although it may be being released on the band’s 40th anniversary, Silver/Lead is an album which has nothing to do with the past and everything to do with the future.”
Billow Observatory – the trans-atlantic duo consisting of Detroit's Jason Kolb (Auburn Lull) and Danish producer Jonas Munk (Manual) – are back with a follow-up to the their debut album from 2012.
”II: Plains/Patterns” departs from the first LP’s amorphous ambient haze with a more rigid, albeit subtle, underpinning of rhythm and pulse. The duo’s obsession with “place and space” comes clearly into focus with an album that draws deeply from Munk and Kolb’s individual proximity to the geographically distant, but oddly similar, sounds of Germany and Michigan, past and present.
Traces of shoegaze, modern minimal electronica, and kosmische appear on every track, but are mutated into something mysterious and new. ”Pulsus”, for example, opens the album with a driving teutonic stutter and washes of serene guitar loops that are punctuated by bursts of filtered synth patterns; a combination that seamlessly bridges the gaps between disparate genres and periods of time. Centerpiece, ”Plains”, expands the ambient formula into a inspired epic in three parts, where swells of processed guitars, distant voices and faint echoes of Detroit techno are weaved together to form a kaleidoscopic whole.
Tracks such as ”Vex” and ”Plum” seem to pay as much homage to Slowdive and Eno's Harold Budd collaborations as to the modern minimalism from Cologne or Berlin. For ambient aficionados, "II: Plains/Patterns" is a gorgeous sounding full-length not to be missed. Out March 31 on milky transparent vinyl (limited to 300 copies!), CD and Download on Azure Vista Records."
Recommended if you like: Brian Eno, Cluster, Slowdive, Pole, Stars Of The Lid, Kompakt Records
The Salford collective return with an album length rebuke at the ever-growing shit-stain that is the current political regime.
With many modern day musicians content on stockpiling social media kudos or chasing sync money, leave it to Tesla Tapes antagonists Gnod to offer up a dissenting voice against the post-Brexit, alternative truth-heavy, fascist malaise 2017 is currently descending into. Never a band whose sound you should second guess, the clear anger and intentions of this album’s title is more than matched by the politicised fury and antagonism unleashed within.
“It seems like we are heading towards even more unsettling times in the near future than we are in at present.” reckons Gnodder Chris Haslam. “2016 was just the beginning of what I see as the establishment’s systematic destruction of liberalism and equality as a reaction to the general public’s loss of faith in their system.”
With this renewed creative focus driving the band, ‘Just Say No To The Psycho Right-Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine’ embellishes their hard-edged rock repetition and heavily-dubbed out underbelly with a darkly-satisfying new hue.
In the shimmering wake of The Boats’ boxset, Andrew Hargreaves tends to his Tape Loop Orchestra alias with the poignant, revenant symphony Held To The Light, which forms the latest in this excellent, limited-run series.
Originally conceived for a performance in Chicago and later re-arranged as this extended studio version, Held Against The Light peals with a rare soreness that speaks to severed connections.
What starts with an almost liturgical layering of voices and strings gradually decomposes into a lonely vapour trail, growing in intensity and distortion before once again reaching a meditative space, this time punctuated by plucked bass notes. We’re transported from some of TLO’s most radiant, voluminous energies to a saturation point where it all begins to decay.
We can only assume that this is a figurative manifestation of what TLO means in the accompanying text, “once the lines to the etheric have been crossed, call on the flow of knowledge contained in the infinite light, which reaches every plane of existence" as the piece’s harmonic structure begins to fall in on itself and resolve from internalised feelings to exigent sorrow and finally an upward sweep into higher frequencies of understanding and empathy, as opposed to literally higher sonic registers.
Those in search of beautiful modern classical/drone works that steer clear of heavy-handed emotional signposts should investigate without delay, especially if you’re into works by William Basinski, Stars of The Lid, Deathprod, GAS etc.
UK techno boss Sigha packages powerful 2nd album for Token some five years and a dozen releases since Living With Ghosts appeared on Hotflush.
Classically skooled yet contoured and rendered with up-to-the-minute production values, Metabolism lands at the lonely forefront of techno proper, skulking between dystopian, melancholic and ecstatic moods in eleven variations, some of them playing to convention, some of them pushing that prime.
It’s at its best when dealing with physical matter, as in the melted girder torque of Down at the front, or with the tornado simulation buried into the clubbing kicks of Interior, whilst the album’s most lucent highlight, Black Massing finds the right balance of rolling pressure and thizzing high-register atmospheres.
The Kid gives his wrist a rest to unfurl a suite of cinematic strings underlined by heavy bass and voiced by the elven-voiced Icelandic signer, Emiliana Torrini.
“Kid Koala’s Music To Draw To: Satellite is an uncharted musical journey: an expansive work of ambient electronic soundscapes and chilling ballads in collaboration with Icelandic artist Emilíana Torrini. This inaugural volume in the Music To Draw To series is Kid Koala's first non-sample-based record, instead using an array of synthesizers, keys, guitars, strings, turntables, and inventive recording techniques to portray this heartrending musical story about a couple separated by a mission to Mars.
The output is over 72 atmospheric minutes of stardust settling like fresh snow over Kid Koala’s trove of turntables and sentiment.”
Arvo Pärt has become something of a yardstick by which all modern classical should be measured, and 'Alina' is arguably his most beautiful piece of work. If you're into Max Richter, Johann Johannsson, Nils Frahm etc - this is perhaps the single most influential piece of music on any of those artists and has come to define the contemporary genre. When you realise this music was composed between 1976 and 1978, it's evident just how ahead of the game Pärt has really been.
'Spiegel Im Spiegel' and 'Fur Alina' have both been used in countless films, the former being perhaps one of the most beautiful pieces of contemporary classical music compoised in the last half-century, rendered with nothing more than piano and violin, captured on this definitive ECM version from 1999 featuring Vladimir Spivakov, Sergej Bezrodny, Dietmar Schwalke and Alexander Malter providing alternate versions.
Pärt's ability to distil so much emotion and spirituality into his work really is quite hard to fathom, regardless of how many times you've heard these magical pieces. If you're new to Pärt, this is really the best place to start.
Restored and remastered by Chris Carter from 24bit 'baked tape' digital transfers of the original first generation analogue master tapes.
Vinyl Tracklist - 1/Industrial Introduction 2/Slug Bait, Live at the I.C.A. London 3/Live at Southampton 4/Live at Brighton 5/Maggot Death, Studio Recording 6/Live at Rat Club London 7/Live at Southampton 8/Live at Brighton 9/After Cease To Exist Soundtrack.
Reinhold Friedl’s redoubtable Zeitkratzer Ensemble tackle Kraftwerk’s earliest, eponymous pair of LPs in the latest demonstration of their ability to revitalise and present new perspectives on important historical and contemporary compositions - mostly avant-garde; often originally electronic - in the context of a live, acoustic performance.
With takes on Stockhausen, Keiji Haino, Whitehouse and Lou Red under their belt in recent years, Zeitkratzer now turn to that strange early phase of Kraftwerk, shortly after they were called Organisation, when Ralf and Florian were exploring a fluid, early iteration of Krautrock that’s inarguably miles shy of the hook-laden pop discipline found in their later output. So yeah; basically there’s no vocoders or drum machines in earshot on this one. And we’d wager that anyone checking Zeitkratzer releases is probably geeky enough to know of the 1st two Kraftwerk albums, so it shouldn’t come as such a surprise.
Anyway, the band tuck into Rucksack with some relish at the top, traversing from proggy flute (thank fuck they dropped that) and motorik stomp to an aggressive breakdown that really flashes their teeth in a powerful take on Kraftwerk’s opener, Ruckzuck, and then an alternately frightening and lush take on that album’s Megaherz at the other end of the disc.
All the other material comes from Kraftwerk 2. That includes a great opportunity for the group to test their limits in the 17 minute+ Klingklang, which arches up from spatial clangour to a swaying pastoral lounge groove and proggy folk-rock stomp, but they’re most affective when connecting with the more mannered, chamber inspirations of Strom, and a near facsimile recreations of the extended breathing techniques deployed in Atem, which is surely a key to Kraftwerk’s kinkier side and cycling obsessions which would emerge later in their catalogue.
First new Letitia Sadier album since Something Shines . Crammed with glittering Gallic pop suss
“Another New Year, and new shapes are forming — if only we are fortunate enough to notice them! As we spin through this world, we are witness to all manner of combinations unfolding before us — familiar arcs and breaking waves alike, upon all of which it is our choice, our chance and our challenge, to possibly ride. Find Me Finding You, the new album from the new organization called the Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble, manages to strike new chords while touching familiar keys in the song of life.
From its percolating opening beat, Find Me Finding You locates new systems within the sound-universe of Laetitia Sadier. This in itself isn’t a surprise — Laetitia has relentlessly followed her music through different dynamics and into a variety of dimensions over the course of four solo albums since 2010 (not to forget her three albums with Monade and the long era of Stereolab)—but the nature of the construction here stands distinctly apart from her recent albums. Laetitia was inspired by a mind’s-eye envisaging of geometric forms and their possible permutations. As she sought to replicate the shapes in music, this guided the process of assembly for the album.
Part of the freshness of Find Me Finding You comes from working and playing within the Source Ensemble and exploring new sound combinations via a set of youthful and evolving musical relationships. Laetitia recognized the energy of the tracks in their initial form, and sought to preserve their vitality by not retaking too many performances — instead, the rawness in the tracks was retained and refined at the mixing stage, maintaining an edge throughout. When we hear synth lines diving, lifting and drifting, unusual guitar textures, the plucked sound of flat wound bass strings or the bottomless pulsing of bass pedals stepping out of the mix with an exquisite vibrancy, this is the sound of the Source Ensemble.
Expressing great compassion and expectation with startling immediacy, as well as an abiding belief in an underlying unity that permeates and intimately binds all things and beings, Find Me Finding You combines a rigorous process for music-making with a deeply invested mindset, making captivating music that promises many stimulating spins to come!”
Grade A headfloss from Phil Julian; processing, reworking and reducing multichannel pieces by Sandra Kazlauskaite and Tom Mudd into a stereoscopic string of dense and intensely dynamic noise salvos revealing the subtle infidelities of shifting patterns as grippingly violent and unstable structures, almost organic in their natural complexity and chaotic force.
All you really need to know about this one is that it rips like a f**ken goodun. The title cut is a blinding piece of hyper avian squabble that turns into a fight between two electricity pylons, whilst Coherence 1 seems to emulate the experience of evacuating your brain between your legs and the asphyxiating field recording of ventilation system in Aperture perhaps most clearly presents the album’s idea of repeating mechanical patterns as being prone to fluctuations in voltage. There’s also the totally luscious dissonance of Field, some very Hecker-esque invasive tones in Coherence II and ten minutes of escalating psychotomimetic madness in Tropic to contend with.
Fiercely bass-heavy club pressure volleyed in from USA’s Distal for the good of your glutes.
On Psychologic he’s got that grasp of layered, booming bottom end that Black-rooted American music does better than most firmly on lockdown. It’s there and present under the sparking chops and hazy chords of Psychomagic in an Adobe Home on a warped B-more bounce, whereas Icy 92 goes innnnn on a cowbell-struck Chicago booty slap, and Bullets Through Water deploys it at a frenetic footwork pace.
However the last two are also notable for a finer balance of high end registers, squirting an acidic, chromatic rainbow of pads over the crudely rugged bass jabs of Red Pill Jam, and Above Nimbus polishes off properly with a hybrid, hardcore rave mutation splicing classic vocal stabs with radioactive midrange flares and razor trap beat.
Sun Araw totes one of his most surreal, daftest fancies with The Saddle Of The Increate, despatching the band’s first new recorded material on Sun Ark Records since the psychedelic excursion, Belomancie .
With only a few trips made on Sean McCann’s Music For Public Ensemble and alongside Laraaji on Professional Sunflower and the S. Araw “Trio” XIII to quench our thirst in the meantime, this loosely strung and sprawling set renders Cameron Stallones and the gang at their most ir/reverent and dare we say, North American; delivering a subtly funny and playful suite that’s more Billy Crystal on magic beans than Alejandro Jodorowsky on mescaline, as far as desert trips go.
Incorporating a phalanx of drummers including Butchy Fuego, Jon Leland and Caitlin Mitchell, plus Dave McPeters on pedal steel, Sun Araw come off like a gang of cattle-ranchers who lost their herd a long time ago and subsequently decided to follow old dirt tracks deep into the desert, navigating their way by the stars and with only a batch of turnt haricots for sustenance. What ensues is a progressively light-headed and sorta-mystic journey of discovery following an unstitched narrative which leads them right up to a sincere yet lysergic cover of Bob Dylan’s I Shall Be Released - as previously worn by Jef Buckley, Joan Baez, The Deftones, Nina Simone.
As you might expect from a trip to the desert with Sun Araw, you’ll lose your own herd quite quickly, and mirages, fata morganas and the like become commonplace; with expectations perpetually teased and thwarted from the fusion of heat-warped synth strokes and pitch-bent steel licks in A Golden Boot thru the quicksilver clip-clop of A Chute, and the tropical, latinate influences that creep over the border into Orthrus, which also features McPeters’ pedal steel at its most plangent; with Campfires framing a charmingly ludicrous scene of quiet, acousmatic rustle pierced by parping modular spurts, and even allowing for a spot of sun-dazed native folk dance in the jerky boned jig and processed croon of 40 Hooves, serving Sun Araw at his most alien and yet uncannily familiar.
This is exactly what psychedelia should be for us; weird, silly, cryptic, inexplicable - not earnestly unimaginative and derivative. It would take a fool to accuse Sun Araw of the latter, and this album should hopefully be a smoke signal to all those pedestrian churners who call their music “psychedelic”.
Almost a year in the making, with tracks having been mislaid or buried underneath piles of original demos, then reconstructed and remastered, this compilation aims to highlight the core elements of French Synth-Pop from it's earliest incarnation to newer acts influenced by the earlier protagonists distinctive sounds and imagery.
"Many of the tracks are completely unreleased or are early demos. For the aficionado we hope this fulfils a rediscovery of old classics or to the late-comer a decent collection of tracks that serve as an introduction to the uniqueness of French Synth music and the burgeoning new scene.
Conceived and curated by Jason B Bernard. The album comes in a luxurious digipak and is limited to 500 copies. Artwork by Oleg Galay and remastered by Martin Bowes @ The Cage"
Divided: Mind stretches out Ena’s sound with 13 introspective slices of developed ambience.
"Fresh from collaborating with Rashad Becker for the Atonal Tokyo edition, Divided: Mind contains the kind of innovation that allows Ena to adapt perfectly to this electronic improvisation environment."
Two of the heaviest c*nts on the planet pit their wits on Concrete Desert, with Kevin Martin a.k.a. The Bug framing Dylan Carlson ov Earth’s deathly axe chops in a deeply strung out and apocalypse baiting clash of the titans.
Coming from distinctly idiosyncratic backgrounds - one steeped in generations of doom metal, grunge and bleakest country music; the other saturated with Jamaican dub, shoegaze noise and the ‘ardcore continuum - they evidently find common ground in terms of sheer heaviness on Concrete Desert, with Carlson’s glacial but sprawling gestures harnessed and sublimated in 13 super wide and crushing riddims from Martin’s triple-locked top drawer.
Making good on the promise of their Boa/Cold  hook-up, which was effectively an addendum to The Bug’s Angels & Devils LP, this fully fledged collaboration locates their sound between the eyes, overhead, all around you in plangent sheets of harmonised soreness and jellying waves of subbass pressure at a lugubrious pace that’s faithful to both artist’s individual sound.
The standout moments ring clear and true in the likes of Dog, which comes on like a rabid, overweight Raime who just swallowed Rapeman, or in the almighty, sky-collapsing keen of American Dream and the knackered halfstep slugger Hell A, but you can simply take it on trust that the whole thing is as heavy as your life.
The veteran mutant noise unit mint their new Lower Floor label with the 100th Wolf Eyes album.
Hurtling ever closer to their 20th anniversary as a band, albeit in various iterations, ‘The U$A’s longest-running homemade primitive electronic poetry & vibes trio,’ offer a semblance of hope 2017 will be alright after all with the arrival of their own label, Lower Floor Music.
Leading by example, this label - or ‘scotched taped nuclear audio radioactive front on humanity’ as they refer to it - is heralded by a new Wolf Eyes long player, ‘Undertow,’ which doubles up as the trio’s one hundredth album release by our estimations.
This is a real ugly bastard of an album, with Nate Young, James Baljo and John Olson intent on shredding minds from the off, adopting a free jazz approach to mangling discordant guitar beyond all recognition on Laughing Tides. From there, Empty Islands sounds like the heroic Pod Blotz attacking the classic shred metal sound of America and Texas spangles further, deeper into abstracted, wailing noise.
The metallic textures and Lou Reed-esque vocal mutterings of the title track are set to an irradiating metronome, setting you up for the near-fourteen-minute finale Thirteen which is Wolf Eyes at their absorbing, decimating best.
Masterful producer and mastering engineer, Stefan ‘Pole’ Betke, is next up for a creative undertaking of the Schnitzler archives.
By his own admission, a late adoptee to the sizeable canon of Conrad Schnitzler’s work, Stefan Betke is a fine choice to rework the late Kraut icon’s deep tape archive for the latest ‘Con-Struct’ album. Largely occupied with mastering duties since his most recent Pole LP, ‘Wald’, this six-track undertaking is perhaps the best ‘Con-Struct’ yet, offering a sharply-poised exercise in dub dynamics.
Betke coaxes you in with the first two tracks, Wurm and Sieht Hoch, which share the same lazy-eyed string refrain whilst subtly implementing an upwards shift in momentum. From here there is some real head-crushing moments. Lacht is a largely beatless affair that squeezes plenty of unease out through the queasy, sinewy dub FX, and the tripped-out Drachenbäume sind friedliche Wesen has a unique sense of continually fraying at the edges.
The brief Und fängt den Vogel! offers an interlude-shaped lesson in maximal sound design before Betke ends on an extended palate cleanser with a slab of classic Pole dub techno in the shape of Wiegenlied für Katzen.
Paul Woolford’s ruder leanings come to the fore again on this weighty fabric-approved exploration of ambient, jungle, electro and techno.
Ever wondered what the musical DNA of Paul Woolford’s Special Request project looks like? A few listens to ‘Fabriclive 91’ will give you some insight. Equal parts AFX, grime, techno, electro and ambient, you get the feeling Woolford has been itching for a chance to make this mix for some time. Easing in with the Colundi experiments of Rephlex vet Aleksi Perälä, Wooly confidently rips through 30 tracks spanning several decades and movements – all mixed with laser levels of precision.
The early movement from RDJ’s anthemic Italo techno as Caustic Window through typically apocalyptic Stingray, OG Croydon nu step from Plastician and one of several upcoming Special Request tracks highlights Woolford’s guile in SR mode. A later transition from the swelling sub-laden ambient drama of Shapednoise’s hookup with JK Broadrick into the amen arsenal of vintage Dillinja proves Woolford’s class at exploring tension.
All this plus cuts from ASC, Carl Craig, Mika Vaino and Keith Fullerton-Whitman make this a mix worth exploring.
Logan Takahashi and Nick Weiss pitch up on Planet Mu with a belated third Teengirl Fantasy album.
First surfacing at the turn of the decade with the naive paean to Chi-town euphoria of Cheaters, Teengirl Fantasy duo Logan Takahashi and Nick Weiss have seemingly been chasing their own sound and sidestepping dodgy genre tags ever since. A prolonged bout of label hopping took the pair from indies like Milo Cordell’s trendjetting Merok and True Panther to a second album campaign for R&S in the label’s awkward A&R phase circa 2012. You know when they put out Vondelpark and Egyptian Hip Hop records….
8AM is Teengirl Fantasy’s latest creative statement, finding them back on a major electronic player in Planet Mu after a brief dalliance with North Carolina’s smartly-named Break World Records. Attempting to overlook their undercooked R&S LP Tracer, this 12-track collection picks up on the lineage of TGF’s 2010 debut album, 7AM, and veers off in a more introspective and abstracted direction.
8AM is a more confident glance into the Teengirl Fantasyverse, picking away at the burning embers of dance music history reinterpreting them in their own voice.
Hauntingly tender solo debut LP from London’s Kelly Lee Owens, delivering on the promise of her excellent Jenny Hval and Daniel Avery collaborations/remixes in a full album of sylvan tech house and synth-pop beauties.
Prefaced by the head-turning single, Oleic - which featured a smart rework of Jenny Hval’s Kingsize - Kelly Lee Owens’ eponymous album introduces a well rounded yet subtly detailed sound to the world at large, one brimming with the rare promise of an artist who wants to extract something more precious, personalised from the dance music and pop prisms which clearly enthral her music.
There’s probably always going to be something about ethereal, floating vocals and the sensual contours of European tech house, when at its best, which will eternally grab our attention. And this album delivers strongly on both counts - striking an impeccable balance of classic, timeless pop songwriting and purring, contemporary electronic grooves that places it in an exulted space on the shelves.
Collaborators Jenny Hval and Daniel Avery appear on the record’s highlights; Jenny lending her poised delivery and lyrics, framed by KLO’s breathy gilding, on the baroque pop-house dream sequence of Anxi., with Avery assisting on the Fever Ray-meets-Liz Fraser stylings of Keep On Walking; whilst the rest is subtly aided by the mixing and engineering treatments of James Greenwood, who’s best known as Ghost Culture on Erol Elkan’s Phantasy Sound.
That combination of KLO’s chamber-like arrangements and Greenwood’s rendering results a string of other pearls in the strung out balearia of S.O. at the front, thru the gorgeous Arthur - which is surely a play on that library record Aphex Twin sampled on Xtal?! - whereas Evolution flexes some properly toned dancefloor muscle, and Throwing Lines could very nearly be mistaken for a cut from Grimes’ Halfaxa period.
After years of plaudits from all corners, Jacques Greene distills the ecstatic/melancholy sentiment of modern electronic house music within Feel Infinite, his debut album for LuckyMe.
Throughout the album’s 11 tracks, the Montreal-based producer synthesises the see-sawing feels of a night with pals, fingers tasting like acrid saffron and skin flush with water retention, using a range of contemporary house, R&B and electro-pop conventions to convey the warmest, user-friendly vibes.
Tom Krell (How To Dress Well) is partly responsible for one of the album’s highlights with pleading vocals on the swinging soft trance R&B gesture, True, and an uncredited female (or processed male) voice sparkles as an instrumental element across many other, with ear-snagging style in the filter-disco chops of Real Time, and cooing from the snappy 2-step structure of Afterglow.
Throughout their time together, the Baltimore-based Arbouretum have been praised for their ability to weave elaborate vocal lines and guitar solos that often unravel into extended improvisation but never with as much finesse as on the masterfully crafted ‘Song Of The Rose’.
"In less practiced hands, these ideas could easily fall into contrivance but on ‘Song of the Rose’ Arbouretum use these elements to perfect their craft of storytelling in song, both lyrically and sonically.
Arbouretum recorded ‘Song Of The Rose’ with Steve Wright at Wrightway Studios. While previous records were recorded in a matter of days, ‘Song Of The Rose’ took weeks. Attention to production details augment their time-tested emphasis on capturing the energy of performance. ‘Song Of The Rose’ is the first time the band has mixed with Kyle Spence (Kurt Vile, Luke Roberts, Harvey Milk) at his studios in Athens, GA."
Whereas Pontiak’s 2014 album ‘Innocence’ tore through rowdy riffs and melancholic balladry in a neat half hour, it’s immediately clear from the reverb-heavy trip of opener ‘Easy Does It’ that new album ‘Dialectic Of Ignorance’ is altogether a different beast.
Euphorically defying spatial constraint, brothers Jennings, Van and Lain Carney instead opt to guide each song along its own cosmic trajectory: confident in the outcome but even more excited to enjoy the ride.
Daniel Brandt, co-founder of Germany’s electroacoustic ensemble Brandt Brauer Frick, joins Erased Tapes with his solo debut album.
"What started off as a more simplistic idea soon evolved into something a lot more complex as the London and Berlin based music producer travelled across the world, experimenting with various other artists and different instruments. From his father’s cabin based in the German countryside with access to nothing but cymbals, to being surrounded by guitars in Joshua Tree, his unexpected journey soon progressed into what became his first solo album.
Daniel played nearly all instruments himself with the only exception being fellow musicians Florian Juncker on trombone, Manu Delago on hang drum and Andreas Voss on cello. Using his Berlin studio as his main base for recording, Brandt created an album that encapsulates the idea that despite setting out with a particular creative vision, external influences and environments will always shift the process, and create an Eternal Something."
Famed Labradfordians Mark Nelson and Robert Donne exhibit an even stronger desire for freeform synthetic experimentation on this second Anjou album for Kranky.
Picking up belatedly where their celebrated eponymous debut LP left off, Mark Nelson and Robert Donne’s Anjou project sounds as sublimated and spacious as ever on Epithymía. No longer in need of Kranky percussionist Steve Hess, Donne and Nelson distil the Anjou approach of framing their synthesis into a state of constant fluctuation down to a suite of six tracks. Largely favouring the long-form approach, this allows Donne and Nelson the freedom to truly express their creative intentions with Anjou
14-minute opener Culicinae is a fine example of this. Framed of five distinct movements, the track shifts between them with a subtle mastery that reveals itself with close attention. There are still whispers of Donne and Nelson’s post-rock inclinations from their Labradford days, evident in the percussive rainstorm that briefly filters through Culicinae, the abstracted bass that cuts through the gauzy, shapeless ambience of Greater Grand Crossing and the smartly deployed guitar drones towards the solemn closing moments of An Empty Bank.
The duo does find a semblance of rhythm on the swelling Soucouyant, choosing to toy with just a few refrains rather than let their fingers wander, whilst Glamr and Georgia combine for an eerie, intangible finale.
Expertly-curated survey of Mali’s incredibly rich musical traditions. Includes gems from the region’s best known artist, Salif Keita along with plenty more nuggets such as The Rail Band’s AfroFunk zinger, Mouodilo; the mesmerising reverbs and distant drums of Worodara or the enchanting, reggae-tinged lilt of Bimoko Magnin by Super Djata Band; calypso from Le Ambassadors du Motel de Bamako.
“‘The Original Sound of Mali’ compiled by David ‘Mr Bongo’ Buttle, Vik Sohonie (Ostinato Records) and Florent Mazzoleni. As featured as 'Compilation of the Week' on Lauren Laverne's BBC 6Music show.
Malian music is arguably deeper, more sophisticated and lyrical than any other form of African music. Those of us deeply entranced by Malian culture, and, in particular, the immense hypnotic beauty of Malian music, have put together a selection of songs from across the country.”
Not for the first time, but arguably the most significant, Pye Corner Audio crosses paths with Ghost Box for his first LP of 2016; a narcotically hypnagogic and dystopian trip entitled Stasis.
At least one leap year cycle since his last album with the GB’s, Sleep Games, right now this one feels like a stygian trudge into bleakest futures, operating at such a stoned pace that it moves slower than actual time, and by submitting to its temporal warp we’re allowed to regress back into a pre-digital epoch of paranoid cold, or even civil war atmospheres and paranoia.
It could almost be the soundtrack to a Ben Wheatley flick (low budget, not the over-glossy high rise) about British time travellers, forgoing Dr. Who queso for a more hard-boiled, furtive vibe about anachronistic assassins sent back to kill Nigel Farage at birth, only to uncover that he’s part of an exceedingly dangerous non-human race with ties to Johnson, Cameron and all the other pebble-people, so they round them all up and lock them in a hostel in Middlesbrough with a broken kettle and packet of poisoned monster munch between the lot.
Of course, that fantasy is all set to a soundtrack of wistful electronic mists and pulsating arpeggios that could be right out of some late ‘70s / early ‘80s synth library, and ultimately shows that whilst technology has advanced in the meantime, that ostensibly archaic music still reflects an underlying eldritch darkness contemporary and relevant to both eras, then and now.
The seventh volume of our acclaimed Spiritual Jazz series examines the influence and impact of Islam on four decades of jazz innovation.
"Through Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, the civil rights era in America saw African American liberation politics famously associated with Islamic belief. This was not the first time that radical developments in African American cultural life had been widely and famously associated with Islam - that distinction belongs not to political or sporting giants, but to the progressive jazz musicians of the bebop generation. Kenny Clarke, Art Blakey, Sahib Shihab, Gigi Gryce, Idrees Sulieman, Ahmad Jamal, Yusef Lateef; all these legendary jazz pioneers - and countless more - were early converts to the spiritually charged Ahmadiyya school of Islam.
Their faith profoundly influenced the music that they made, and the presence of prominent and innovative Muslim musicians at the heart of jazz culture in America has been recognised ever since. The tracks on this collection follow the story of Islam and jazz from the 1950s to the 1980s. Recorded by Muslim jazz musicians, they often draw specifically on
Middle Eastern or Islamic music, dream of an esoteric or spiritual Afro-East, or invoke the landscape and sound worlds of Islamic Africa. Spiritual Jazz 7 presents a selection of visionary music - inspired by faith, powered by jazz."
Fiction / Non Fiction is a wonderful debut album of quietly inquisitive and poetic compositions from Olivier Alary - the Montreal-based Frenchman with form for Rephlex (as Ensemble) and Björk (production on Medulla and Voltaïc) - offering an absorbing suite of instrumental soundtrack works produced alongside Johannes Malfatti and various members of the Montreal firmament for some ten arthouse films from the last decade.
FatCat’s modern classical outpost 130701 play willing host to this compilation of Alary’s film work, sequencing an hour of music from the Frenchman’s past five years of soundtrack compositions. There is a clear and soothing sense of flow to ‘Fiction / Non-Fiction’ despite the fact it’s been pulled from a variety of film sources, dates and locations, and this is obviously down to Alary’s talent as a composer and musician.
Commencing with a pair of tracks from Alary’s contribution to Yung’s Chang’s award-winning 2012 boxing documentary ‘China Heavyweight,’ the album retains an evocative poise as he eases through an assemblage of instruments. Nestled in amidst the soundtrack work are two compositions Alary recorded specifically for this album that further enlighten us to his unerring instrumental skill. Pulses (For Percussion) is a sumptuous exercise in polyrhythmic harmony using gong, marimba and vibraphone whilst Pulses (For Winds) works similar wonders with an array of woodwind.
It definitely recalls a whole host of experimental works from the world famous Montreal scene, but also dovetails with the recent brace of scores by Jóhann Jóhannsson as well as Stars Of The Lids’ solemn airs, whilst the composer also finely incorporates nods to Julia Wolfe, Julius Eastman, and the GRM within his uniquely coruscating and tenderly decayed post-tonal timbres.
Rough Trade squeeze more emotive bombast out of Anohni on this companion piece to last year’s ‘Hopelessness’ album.
The ‘Paradise’ EP collates material from the same sessions as last year’s 0PN and Hud Mo-produced Anohni LP, so it’s no surprise to find it continues the musical and politically agitating themes of ‘Hopelessness’.
Leaning in quietly with the ambient sorrow of In My Dreams, Hud Mo’s rhythmic cush comes to the fore with the ripe trap rollage and purple grade synth searage of Paradise. Hud Mo’s behind the buttons influence continues with the fluttering Oriental beatdown of Jesus Will Kill You, complemented superbly by Anohni’s downbeat delivery. You Are My Enemy offers a moment of subdued contemplation before the warped side of Anohni comes the fore on the vibrant, angered pop of Ricochet.
Soul Jazz return from Haiti for the 3rd time with another unmissable collection of pure percussive vodou from The Dreamers of The Société Absolument Guinin, following from Spirits of Life: Haitian Vodou (2005), and Voodoo Drums (2005).
Back in 1804, Haiti was the first Caribbean island to gain independence from its slave owners and a fundamental part of that revolt was down to the way its displaced population found unity thru religion and percussive communication, adapting and mutating their mix of deeply rooted West African drum rituals - as practiced by the Fon and Ewe, and incorporating elements of Yoruba and Kongo cultures as well as indigenous Taíno beliefs - into a new, syncretic language of spirituality and rhythmelodic meaning which couldn’t be understood by oppressive ruling classes, and could be used to encrypt non-verbal messages between the island’s many respective groups.
Bearing that in mind, Haiti therefore developed one of the richest percussive traditions in the world, which has more or less become a byword for rhythms that possess the mind, body, and soul like few others. And that’s exactly what you’ll find inside Drums In Haiti 2: The Living Gods of Haiti; a gripping, totally hypnotic set of 16 rituals that demand the attention of any and all DJ, dancers, rhythm-obsessed anthropologists and bored congregations looking for a new religion. The religion of the rhythm.
Ben Frost’s impendingly gloomy soundtrack to Fortitude, comes to CD via Mute.
The Icelandic-based Australian composer is clearly the right man for this job, offering up a swell of emotive string arrangements shrouded in cold, wide electronic tones that convey the feel of the TV series thru a combination of incidental dialogue, cues and themes.
Fans of contemporary sci-fi soundtracks and the expansive electro-acoustic designs of the Subtext label, Jóhann Jóhannsson or indeed Ben Frost will be totally in their element here.
Adam Lee Milelr and Nicola Kuperus a.k.a. Adult. return with a brace of high profile guests in tow on Detroit House Guests, slotting vocals from Michael Gira, Shannon Funchess, Douglas J McCarthy, Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, Dorit Chrysler and Lun*na Menoh into their urbane electro-pop frameworks.
As such Detroit House Guest is an album full of songs, rather than pure dance tracks, albeit leaning toward a category of avant-dance-pop songwriting shared by the likes of Chris & Cosey and members-only darkrooms in private buildings that many will never visit.
The dancefloor highlights come in the form of their pumping EBM-pop stompers We Chase The Sound and Stop (And StartAgain) feat. Shannon Funchess, and the nasal drip tang of We Are A Mirror feat. the authentically snotty snarl of Nitzer Ebb’s Douglas McCarthy, but our preferred parts are reserved to the trippier pieces such as the Fever Ray-like creep and reverberant electronic tone of P rts M ss ng and This Situation’s descent into a dissonant abyss, featuring choral harmonies and modular gilding, respectively, by synth whizz Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe.
The celebrated Polish electroacoustic composer returns with a new offering for Ghostly.
The metaphysical musings of 17th Century English poet Robert Herrick form the creative impetus for Jacaszek’s first album since the Touch-released ‘Catalogue Des Arbres’ in 2014.
Inspired by reading an anthology of Herrick’s poems, particularly the song-like structure of the rhymes, the Gdansk composer revisited an archive of unreleased recordings and set about shaping them into the eleven tracks that form ‘KWIATY.’ The big difference to previous Jacaszek albums is the prominence of vocals – courtesy of Hanimal’s Hania Malarowska, Joasia Sobowiec-Jamioł and Natalia Grzebała – which lends ‘KWIATY’ an extra semblance of accessibility.
Experimental accordion player Mario Batkovic’s debut full length a captivating and resolutely unique solo album, which carelessly expands the possibilities of the accordion.
"The accordion heard as never before - a magnificently intense ocean of pulsating and shifting notes, with engrossing and mesmerising melodies which deeply grip human emotion. This release will appeal to fans of Nils Frahm, Stephen O’Malley, BEAK>, Colin Stetson and Lubomyr Melnyk."
Steeply hypnotic and tenderly textured solo guitar and loop pedal excursion from Swans’ guitarist Norman Westberg...
“A few years ago, my dear friend and bandmate Jamie Stewart and I were talking about SWANS. I started to mention how much I admired the utterly personal approach to guitar that Norman Westberg had developed on those early records and moreover how that had blossomed out so richly on this latest incarnation of the band. During the course of the conversation Jamie mentioned a CDR that Norman had passed to him, which collected a few pieces of solo work that Norman had been working on. I was instantly curious to hear these pieces and started to track down the recordings online. After some investigating I found Norman’s CDRs available through an Etsy shop he had set up. I ordered one and a couple of weeks later, after I’d listened to that first CDR non-stop for a few days, I order all the others I could get my hands on.
The first solo work I heard from Norman was this recording, Jasper Sits Out. I was instantly struck by the textural sensitivity he managed to create with nothing more than a guitar and some modest pedals. He managed to find a depth in what was a very limited palette and that impressed me greatly. The connections to his work with SWANS was clear, in that his trademark relation to tonality was present. Instead of relying on volume to achieve this sonic state though, Norman’s solo practice relied on a sense of swaying harmony and orbiting loops to create a tonally dense sound world that was very much personal, but overtly invitational to the listener.
Jasper Sits Out, the title referencing the Westberg family mascot who has now sadly departed, reflects Norman’s interest in minimal structures and the processes of iteration that are formed through the manipulation of looping fragments. Creating almost tidal surges across these pieces, Jasper Sits Out speaks to his abilities to contour sound in time. The lead track for example is truly oceanic in that is has a remarkable tidal flow of strumming textures that seem to sink below one another in a effortless wash of textural density.
I could not be more pleased to be able to share this music through Room40. This edition comes completely remastered and features a bonus piece recorded exclusively for this edition. I encourage you to listen deeply. Lawrence English, January 2017.”
A haunting debut for The Infected Mass project from Winnipeg-based composer Matthew Patton.
Long-running Montréal outpost Constellation play willing host to this haunting new project from the celebrated American composer Matthew Patton. Describing Those Who Walk Away as an "ever evolving working group of melodic constructivists," this debut album from the project finds Patton striking up a symphonic understanding with a local Winnipeg string quintet and a quartet of Iceland Symphony Orchestra players, utilising the implicit restraint and tension of their craft alongside musique concrète methods. Despite the interaction of these musicians, ‘The Infected Mass’ is clearly a very personal one for Patton and framed in honour of his brother who passed away in a plane crash.
He elects to exorcise the demons of this tragedy in a disturbing manner (a fact Patton freely admits to in the press notes) by implementing audio from black box recordings of commercial flights in distress. These appear notably on two tracks, First Partially Recollected Conversation and Second Partially Recollected Conversation, interspersed with field recordings of hushed, indecipherable hums and whispers. “This work is disturbingly personal for me. The music is filled with ghosts and artifacts I couldn't erase,” Patton notes solemnly.
Elsewhere, the obvious chi between Patton and his fellow constructivists offers an equally chilling feeling, the ‘ghost choir’ of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra expertly arranged over the calming vista of almost-silence that is opener Before the Beginning. Looking to Morton Feldman for inspiration, Patton’s usage of silence is equally as important to ‘The Infected Mass’ as the participation of the violin, cello and double bass players.
Scott Morgan (Loscil) reprises his collaboration with cellist Mark Bridges following the Adrift EP (2015) with a lofty, elevated perspective on the topography of Wyoming, USA, rent in sweeping strings and electronics.
“High Plains is the duo of Scott Morgan and Mark Bridges. Morgan, based in the Canadian Pacific Northwest, is predominantly known for his drifting, textured soundscapes released under the pseudonym LOSCIL. Bridges is an accomplished, classically-trained cellist residing in Madison, Wisconsin.
The two met in Banff, Alberta while they were simultaneously there on residencies at the Banff Centre for the Arts in 2014. They first collaborated when Bridges contributed cello parts to Morgan’s generative music app ADRIFT, recorded in Seattle in 2015.
In early 2016, the duo embarked on a collaborative set of compositions in the oxygen thin air of Wyoming, spending two weeks holed up in a refurbished school house in the town of Saratoga, where this album was recorded. Inspired by Schubert’s Die Winterreiseand the rolling landscapes of their surroundings, the collaboration culminated in a collection of recordings that evoke a shadowy, introspective and dizzying winter journey.
Cinderland takes cues from classical, electronic and cinematic musical traditions but is mostly a product of the rugged, mythic landscape; vast and sprawling with a wild, uncertain edge. The recording was made with a portable studio and all sounds were sourced on site, most notably from Bridges’ cello, the resident Steinway D piano, and field recordings collected from the local soundscape. The results are a site specific, wide scope view of the high valley terrain the duo worked in, a mix of analog and digital, neoclassical and modern electronic sounds, a complemental series of tracks to become absorbed in, a truly deep listening experience.”
One of the last ONO releases for the time being, presents the sonic aspects of an A/V installation/performance by Manchester’s SLIP-associated contemporary artist; Vitalija Glovackyte. A suitably bittersweet and unusually emotive addition to Micky Holland’s lovingly-curated label
“WE ARE FOR A WHILE is a sonic and visual tale about recycling. Offering new life to broken instruments, borrowed music and battered machines recovered from across UK’s dumpsters, seashores, alley ways and other odd places, the work is a deep-felt and jovial exploration of the forgotten and the unwanted. These material outcasts prove their own worth in sonic beauty against the more conventional instruments, making this work as much about the art of re-using as it is an ode to trash.
Originally a 50 min. multimedia perfjoamcne for acoustic instruments, found objects, live lighting and electronics, WE ARE FOR A WHILE was created for and first toured with Apartment House, as part of Vitalija Glovackyte’s 18-month residency with the group.”
Features members of OM, Holy Sons, Lilacs & Champagne, and Watter.
"At the start of 2005 Grails returned to the US from a month-long European tour. Stepping off the plane, most of the band walked in one direction and the violinist strayed off into another. It ended up being the last time most anyone would see or talk to him. A bandmate for three albums in five years had vanished only to exist in the form of vague rumors.
As the varied reports of brief encounters and sightings grew stranger and darker, the band began a series of recordings called Black Tar Prophecies. With newly liberated instrumental roles came new possibilities for the band’s sound. In this way the collected Black Tar Prophecies Vols. 1, 2, & 3 ends up being a more idiosyncratic mission statement for future Grails recordings, revealing their fondness for the ‘60s and ‘70s experimental artists that saw music as a process of discovery. A parallel was now forming between Grails and pioneering experimental bands like Faust who, rejecting their past, started over from the beginning to build new languages in music.
Black Tar Prophecies Vols. 1, 2, & 3 is a massive evolutionary step in the established Grails sound and is shrouded in change and pain. The somewhat clinical studio sound and recording style with which they had established a tremendous following has been replaced with a much more free and conceptual recording style. This method liberated the group in the studio and these recordings feel much more open, heavy, and psychedelic. This sound has always existed within Grails, but it was here that it became their identity."
More than ever, Grails' doomy krautrock experimentation is charged with a muscular, stoneage potency on pieces like 'Take Refuge' or the slow moving pentatonic riffs and Eastern instrumental flourishes that prop up on the illustratively titled 'Stoned At The Taj Again'.
The likes of 'PTSD' and '11th Hour' carry more of a pensive, atmospheric feel, with the latter fashioning a sinister, baroque mood while the former comes across as slightly less structured, but heavier on the (dare I say it) 'vibes'. Almost a polar opposite of the avant-garde gloom that colours much of this, the glistening, undistorted guitar tones and vaporous soundscaping qualities of 'Clean Living' sound lighter than air, floating on a bed of strings and pianos that hint towards discordance but never quite go that far.
Grails have delivered five great instrumental pieces - as detailed and thorough as they are unclassifiable. It's another masterful album from one of the great undiscovered bands.
First ever repress of a joyful 1979 jazz-funk slab originally issued on the splendidly titled Integrated Performance Systems International Incorporated label, now dug out by Melbourne’s Left Ear Records.
Original copies go for the price of a lovingly used small Japanese hatchback.
The legendary Prescription Records defined the 1990s deep house sound and this epic new comp holds numerous classics that have been out of press for years + previously unreleased tracks, huge tip!!
Deep house music’s most eloquent operators pull together 24 sublime examples of their timeless, widely influential oeuvre c. 1993-1997 in Prescription: Word, Sound, Power, dispensed by the kings at Rush Hour.
Hailing from the Windy City and with both feet firmly planted in Chicago’s club scene since the ‘80s, Prescription came to define house music’s transition from raw, “tracky” minimalism to a more sophisticated, layered and jazz-skooled sound with a seminal run of two dozen, now sought-after releases during its mid ‘90s golden phase - many of which are included in this very necessary box.
Consolidating house music’s Black Atlantic roots in a sensual, psychedelic way unprecedented by its peers, this era of Prescription output set the template for deep house at its most esoteric and enigmatic. Adapting the experimental recording techniques of classic dub and jazz to house music’s rolling grooves, they created an open yet cryptic template woven with vocal samples used as conscious, symbolic reference in a way which elevated the fidelity of the artform to degrees which have rarely been bettered.
Where Virgo Four and Larry Heard laid house’s deepest foundations, it was Prescription’s Ron Trent and Chez Damier, and their pals, who built those foundations into the deep house’s classic landmarks such as the body-melting Morning Factory - if you haven’t heard this at 5am on a good system and under the influence, you haven’t lived! - or the sublime, rugged tension of Ron & Chez D’s Don’t Try It and their skipping arrow Space Riddims, and especially their vocal works such as Ani’s Love Is The Message, or Noni’s Antony-esque grip on the delectable Be My.
If we’ve any gripes, they’ve missed a trick by omitting Ron N Chez’s inimitable dubs to focus almost exclusive on main or vocal mixes, but here’s hoping they’re saving that one for a rainy day in the future. But we’re not complaining; this is an invaluable document of the reasons why so many people have fallen head over heels for house music since the early ‘90s, as much as a reminder of what’s missing, or has become lost ion translation with subsequent generations.
If you’re into anything from 4-Hero to DJ Sprinkles or SND, Calibre, Call Super or Jamal Moss’s more sublime side, you owe yourself some time with this catalogue.
Little known ‘fact’: Thundercat has 15 fingers and 3 thumbs, which enables him to play all the chords, in every combination, and invent a few ones, on Drunk; his 4th album with the Brainfeeder family, featuring guest turns by Flying Lotus, Kendrick Lamar, Pharrell, Wiz Khalifa, Kamasi Washington, and Kenny bloody Loggins! It’s the closest you’ll find to ‘70s soul and jazz-fusion beyond the original thing...
“The album is a 23-track epic journey into the often hilarious, sometimes dark mind of the Grammy-winning singer/bassist and finds a few of his friends joining him along the way including: Kendrick Lamar, Pharrell, Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, Wiz Khalifa, Kamasi Washington and Brainfeeder mastermind Flying Lotus. “Drunk” is the follow up to his widely praised 2015 mini album “The Beyond / Where The Giants Roam”, and features fan favourite tracks ‘Bus In These Streets’ and ‘Them Changes’.
‘Show You The Way’ is the first single from “Drunk”, and the ballad features two of Thundercat’s heroes: iconic musicians Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald. And how did this collaboration come to be? Thundercat mentioned his love of Loggins several times during his press tour for “The Beyond…” (Dinner Party Download, Billboard), leading to an introduction via his keyboard player Dennis Hamm. He tells Red Bull Music Academy Daily: “These are guys that I've listened to and where I felt that I've learned that honesty in the music. Kenny Loggins is one of my favourite songwriters.” Loggins was the one that suggested bringing McDonald in on the track and, Thundercat adds: “I think one of the most beautiful moments was realising how amazing Michael McDonald is. He would go through so many ideas and have so much to offer.”
Thundercat also notes: “That song to me is about going down the rabbit hole, taking you to another place… On the edge of dark, there's the brightest light. It means a lot to me in the sense of... the experience that I've had growing up with friends and people that I've been around where it's inviting them into where I come from emotionally. Sometimes it's a pretty intense thing. The point is how weird things can get. I feel like it's very funny that, in a way, of course Michael McDonald and Kenny would be there.”
The album title, like the rest of the album, is meant to be both humorous and serious. “I’ve always tried to hold true to what Erykah Badu and Flying Lotus told me: It has to come from an honest place. I feel like it’s a place that I’ve been in different ways, seen different angles of and it’s been a bit inspirational - the drinking,” he tells RBMA Daily. “It has its ups and downs and everything, but I felt like it showed the human side of what goes on behind things, something that I see with all of my friends… I felt like it was kind of interweaved in the music culture. And it’s something that’s never talked about.”
Brilliant synth wave and noise pop record featuring Charlemagne Palestine, Kristof Hahn (Swans) and many more. Produced by John Congleton (Blondie, Sigur Ros), Greg Saunier (Deerhoof) and Angela Seo (Xiu Xiu).
"To Forget is the mighty engrossing new album from Jamie Stewart and co’s Xiu Xiu; following up Plays The Music Of Twin Peaks with a dreamily damaged set of urgent, technoid and operatic songcraft starring a fellow cast of avant stars such as legendary minimalist Charlemagne Palestine and Swans virtuoso guitarist Kristof Hahn, and all wickedly offset by vocals from LA Banjee Ball (ballroom for yungers) commentator Enyce Smith and drag artist Vaginal Davis. That may sound like there’s a possibility for too many cocks to spoil the breath, but Jamie Stewart handles his squad with visionary aplomb, resulting one of his strongest, approachably pop-wise yet fierce Xiu Xiu records, bar none.
Realised during a period of unprecedented fecundity which also resulted an album with Merzbow, an experimental reworking of the Mozart opera, The Magic Flute, and a soundtrack for Danh Vo’s art installation, To Forget binds the strongest stands of Xiu Xiu’s far-reaching output to date in a volley of succinct pop shots that alternately come off like Cold Cave meets Mykki Blanco or Scott Walker bunking off with Erasure at Matmos’ place, for comparison, yet firmly holds to a sound that can only, patently be described as Xiu Xiu’s own.
Between the record’s foot-stamping standout Wondering and the arcane melodrama of Faith, Torn Apart at its close, Stewart and team fuse and fit disparate elements and juxtapositions with an alchemical frenzy which is remarkable in itself, but might mean much less if it wasn’t all so coherent, economical and pointed with highlights such as the skulking, scalding and Suicide-like Jenny GoGo and the epic chamber noise pop of its title track and the incendiary slow slugger Queen of the Losers, with each adding up to a subversive, emotive episode whose nuance and effect will warrant many return listens."