Matthew E. White’s first solo album in six years.
"K Bay is the astounding record he has forever aspired to make. A bold reclamation of independence and identity, K Bay establishes White as one of his era’s most imaginative artists. These 11 pieces are retro-futurist magic tricks that feel instantly classic and contemporary, the product of a musical mind that has internalized the lessons of his idols and used them to build a brilliant world of his own."
Low's thirteenth album is a brutally overdriven, but slow-as-fuck offering from a band who resolutely refuse to stay still. Unlike 2018's "Double Negative" it's not soft and hyper-electronic, "HEY WHAT" is distorted but achingly beautiful - like church songs banged thru a broken radio and blown speaker cones.
We gotta admit we were pretty surprised when we heard Low's last full-length. The band has always played with perceptions of their influential slowcore sound, but "Double Negative" was a death-defying drop into territory usually inhabited by artists like Andy Stott and Newworldaquarium. "HEY WHAT" subverts expectations again: Low stick with "Double Negative" producer BJ Burton but drive him to hone in on a completely separate aspect of their sound.
Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker's dueling vocal harmonics are at the center of the album, spruced up by sparse sonic elements that sound so fucked they're almost completely unrecognizable. Is it guitar, drums, synth? It's hard to tell as chaotic, fractured sounds buzz and break off beneath Parker and Sparhawk's melancholy chorals. Opener 'White Horses' sets the stage, with mic hiss and axe fuzz slowly breaking into stuttering ear-bending electronics.
It's music that feels dangerously experimental, but never loses the magic of Low's idiosyncratic songwriting in the lead clouds of white noise, wobbling subs and ear-splitting fuzz. This time around Low have found a comfort zone making devotional music that forces itself thru our era's deafening cultural cacophony, finding a place of euphoric resonance. It's proof that a band can exist for nearly three decades and still find relevance in change, self-exploration and sonic rehabilitation.
Inimitably eclectic figure Richard Youngs effectively sings thru his Spanish guitar strings upon return to Richo’s Fourth Dimension Records
‘Iker’, pronounced “eeker” and translating from Basque as ‘Visitation’, showcases Youngs’ lyrical solo guitar prowess at its stripped down best in a vein of practice shared by John Fahey and Sir Richard Bishop. It’s the most serene of his sides for the label, and absorbingly porous to his environment, very subtly incorporating street sounds and bird song, tape loops and synth that enliven the spare, afternoon air of the recordings and lend extra nuance for attentive listeners to lose themselves in, before becoming more noticeably foreground in the final part..
Hungarian mystic Hortobágyi graces avant classical titan ECM in trio with his Hortogonals, György Kurtág Jr. and Miklós Lengyelfi for an exquisite elision of deep space and spectralist musicks with remarkable runs into dub techno, for all intents and purposes like some stray ~scape or MVO Trio wonder
Originally issued beyond our peripheral vision in 2009, the trio’s only release to date plugs a hole in our collections that we didn’t even realise existed until recently. Their ‘Kurtágonals’ form a lattice like bridge between disciplines and worlds, discretely weaving formerly exclusive bedfellows into a richly imaginative soundsphere fizzing with influence from Romanian spectralist traditions and Hortobágyi’s worldly research of alternate tunings and modes, as much as the deepest German dub techno abstractions. It’s a totally unexpected but entirely welcome direction of exploration to our ears, seemingly manifesting an idea that we’d wager many of us have longed for, but never heard executed quite so well.
‘Kurtágonals’ is released by Manfred Eicher’s legendary ECM label, highly regarded for their production values, and as such patently benefits from an opulent sound staging, with Hortobágyi assisted in the August 2008 recording and engineering by Ferenc Haász at the Guo Manor, Budapest. Between them they conjure an unfathomably wide and vertiginous soundfield strafed by acéphalic chorales and sliding electronic pitches, and arced with resonant string harmonics, but really given depth by its ultra subtle layers of distant dub chords and padded subbass ballast, both of which we never really expected to hear on an ECM recording, and especially in this sort of seamless, playthru arrangement resembling a dream mixtape.
We could offer any number of add n to x allegories for this sound, but they’d all fall short of the stylistically transcendent end product. It’s simply extraordinary stuff that needs to experienced in highest possible fidelity and with good speakers to reveal its spellbinding nuance.
Very canny breakthru debut album from John Glacier, expressing her East London soul with executive production by LA-based Vegyn - a strong look for fans of Coby Sey, Tirzah, Mica Levi, Dean Blunt
‘SHILOH: Lost For Words’ frames Glacier’s singular sort of punk poet rap in 12 concise cuts that lay out her sound at the fringes of electronica, indie-pop and rap, proper. A remarkably diverse but collected whole, the album’s variegation owes to its plethora of like-minded producers - Vegyn, Holly, Psychedelic Ensemble and Tn_490 - who keep the ground shifting woozy and curious at Glacier’s feet, underlining droll lyrics about her hopes and dreams with suitably hazy, suggestive beats, at best in the over-compressed Dean Blunt styles of ‘If Anything,’ the sweetly skewed soul of ‘Trelawny Waters,’ and must-check highlights on the crystalline rap of ‘Boozy’ and the screwed jungle blues hymnal ‘Some Other Thing.’
“John Glacier says she chose her stage name because she's "icy". But, like her pitch-shifted vocal and deadpan stare, that dissembling coldness is shattered by the blistering reality of her lyrics. Everything she writes, in her punk-poet electronic pop songs, is viscerally vulnerable. Her debut album, produced with fellow London-born, LA-based producer Vegyn, is what she calls a "selfish" record, documenting "how I feel, what I'm going through, and where I want to go in my life." But like everything John touches, even this answer shapeshifts, revealing itself to be something unexpected by the time she's finished speaking. SHILOH is a document of healing and evolution that John created over the course of a year. Each track is a reflection of a moment, captured fleetingly, showcasing a different face of John Glacier. "The songs are all completely different spaces," she notes, but the common theme of the album is reflection, and processing – like chipping away at ice.”
This edition of "Pennsylvania" is newly remixed by David Thomas and reissued on Fire Records.
"From the turn of the millennium, ‘Pennsylvania’ was the eleventh studio album from this uncompromising and influential group, presenting their dark take on pop music. “Everyone talked about our artiness and our unlikeableness, people completely ignored for decades me saying, ‘We’re a pop band’.” (David Thomas). With ‘Pennsylvania,’ Pere Ubu welcome you to a barely recognisable secret country drawn out of its own spectral geography. This is much more than just music."
This edition of "St. Arkansas" is newly remixed by David Thomas in 2021 and reissued on Fire Records.
"Pere Ubu's darkest and most dramatic statement, ‘St Arkansas’ remains a work of offhand brilliance by a band who often seem capable of miracles. Following ‘Pennsylvania’, ‘St Arkansas’ (2002) was Pere Ubu’s next studio album featuring a travelogue of characters encountered on the Mighty Road from Conway Arkansas to Tupelo Mississippi, I-40 to US 49 to State 6. “I drove the route and wrote down what the Road was telling me.” (David Thomas)"
Nomadic drum outlaw Stefan Schwander hitches his wagon to Bureau B again for a strong follow-up to the streamlined contours of ‘Plong’
For over ten years Harmonious Thelonious has ploughed a singular, strident path thru a plethora of outernational percussive styles, distilled into his own groove. With ‘Instrumentals’ he follows the subtle readjustments of 2020’s mesmerising ‘Plong’ album with a greater focus on effortlessly rolling structures, consolidating a world of influence from Pan African, South American, Antipodean and Middle Eastern percussive styles with a proper, fine-tuned sort of minimalist, motorik German suss rooted in the perpetual electronic drive of his native Düsseldorf.
Oblivious to trend, the eight supple fusions drums and widescreen flatland atmospheres are a very canny exercise in rhythmic world building, articulated in a drum language bound to be understood by moving bodies. With no tricks or stunts, or less gritty textures than early works, the tracks flow with a glistening quality, unfolding in nuanced permutations of sultry, tango-like elegance on ‘Beiläufige Muziek’, or knitting thumb piano-like rhythmelodies and pealing horns into swingeing syncopation on ‘Halb Ding’ and ‘Apakapa’, while saving a massive highlight for the heads down and shoulder bouncing ‘Yusuf’, which appears to imagine an elision of indigenous Australian and Kurdish Dabke reference points to our ears.
Susanna plays to her strengths in transformed cover versions of Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits, Neil Young, Lennon-Mccartney and more in collaboration with her cousin, David Wallumrød.
Recorded in Oslo and Asker during 2019-2020, right before the pandemic hit, ‘Live’ is a strong testament to Susanna’s durable skill in resetting classic songs to her lowlit, chamber style, as previously highlighted in her sublime take on Joy Division’s ‘Wilderness’ on ‘Go Dig My Grave’, for example. It’s also a revelation of David Wallumrød’s instrumental tactility, sensitively weaving backdrops of Fender Rhodes, Clavinet, Arp Synth, MiniMoog bass, and vocals that perfectly support and complement his cousin’s timeless tone.
Perhaps no surprise coming from a pair of Norwegian artists, the mode of ‘Live’ is ripe for long evenings alone or with close company. Picking up with a shimmering take on Leonard Cohen’s ‘Chelsea Hotel’, Susanna casts her romantic magic at each turn, distilling the salient elements of Joni Mitchell’s ‘This Flight Tonight’ with dusky finesse, and following a fine line of bluesy suss between her take on Tom Waits’ ‘Gin Soaked Boy’ to midnight jazz feels on a cover of Julie Miller’s ‘All My Tears’, with a killer piece of jazzy rudeness showcasing David’s chops on their take of Waits’ ‘Underground’, with sweeter salve saved for their lilting spin on ‘For No One’ from the Lennon-McCartney songbook.
F.S.Blumm and Nils Frahm have confirmed details of their fourth collaborative album, "2X1=4", which will be released by LEITER, the new label formed by Frahm and his manager, Felix Grimm.
"The seven-track album finds the duo unexpectedly exploring a dub influenced universe, though in truth it’s one already familiar to both. F.S.Blumm, for instance, is co-founder of Quasi Dub Development, whose 2014 album, Little-Twister vs Stiff-Neck, featured Lady Ann and Lee Scratch Perry, while Frahm’s music – not least 2018’s All Melody – has occasionally betrayed a fondness for the form’s associated studio techniques, though he concedes wryly that his approach has always been “a little bit more German” than his influences.
F.S.Blumm, a revered mainstay of the German underground for over two decades, and Nils Frahm, who’s enjoyed significant success in recent years with his ground-breaking compositions for piano and synths, first met in the early 2000s. Frahm was a big fan of Blumm’s 2001 album, Mondkuchen – he refers to his fellow Berlin resident admiringly these days as “a vital brick in the Berlin Wall” – while Blumm was soon dazzled by Frahm’s studio set up. “Compared to mine,” he says, “it was like a space ship!” Soon they were working together on a variety of projects – including theatre pieces and animated films – and by 2010 they’d released their first collaborative album, Music For Lovers Music Versus Time. A second, Music For Wobbling Music Versus Gravity, followed in 2013, and a third, Tag Eins Tag Zwei, in 2016.
2X1=4 is very different to its predecessors, but its final track, ‘Neckrub’, first took shape as they wound up work on Tag Eins Tag Zwei. “We had a certain sound in the back of our heads,” Blumm recalls, “which was influenced by these 80s rhythm machines, and we suddenly discovered a common love for dub.” Most of the new album, therefore, was initially developed in 2016 during improvisation sessions recorded by Frahm to two-track cassette. “It was like we were running a combine harvester,” Blumm laughs, “so we could write our names on a single grain!”
Afterwards, they worked on editing and overdubs in Frahm’s new studio at Berlin’s legendary Funkhaus. “We kept on making new songs out of these sessions and starting over and over again,” Frahm smiles. “It was a process that was time consuming but really fun.” Not that either of them is eager to claim a purist approach. “I love ending up somewhere where I’m surprised by myself or the machine or the person with whom I’m making music,” Blumm concludes, while Frahm emphasises that, “None of this is too serious. The record is only as much of a dub record as the ones before are jazz records…”"
Dntel returns with a collection of 10 pop-infused vocal hymns. "Away" is the second of two Dntel albums to be released in 2021 by Morr Music in collaboration with Les Albums Claus.
"Jimmy Tamborello AKA Dntel is a musician who changed pop music forever – and still works in this never-ending labour of love, both effortless and highly focused, constantly tweaking the universe of our musical perception. Whether beatless or uncompromisingly embracing the limelight of collective ecstasy with one of his most remembered tunes "(This Is) The Dream Of Evan And Chan", his almost forgotten anthem "Don’t Get Your Hopes Up" or his work as James Figurine. "Away" features 10 of these extravaganzas – uniting his audience once more in hope and future-bound optimism.
"I grew up with 80s techno-pop – these influences always come through in my music", Jimmy writes from Los Angeles. For this album, though, "I was thinking more of 80s indie pop or labels like 4AD. It is a mix of those influences along with trying to figure out what elements of my own discography I still connect with. I wanted it to reflect old Dntel records as well as the techno-pop band Figurine I used to be in. I have always considered my music basically being techno-pop, but not referring to pop as popular music – I just like pretty melodies. But with the Dntel moniker, I never had the ambition to produce music for a really big audience.”
It is exactly that looseness in approaching music which makes Tamborello’s style of composing so unique. On "Away" he combines a healthy dose of distortion with the most-sticking melodies, vocals and bitter-sweet lyrics he ever came up with – performing all vocals himself, with the help of technology. "My voice has a limited range. When I applied this vocal processing it seemed to bring out the emotions more. I don’t see it as the same as the more artificial, autotuned style of modern pop music. I think it still sounds like it could be a real person singing, just not me."
Using this technique, Dntel disembodies himself from his own art, welcoming all kinds of interpretations re. his current state as an artist. "Somehow this processed voice feels closer to how I see myself than my normal voice, for better or worse…", he writes. Pop music is a fragile entity, making its kingpins vulnerable. Many emotions reveal a lot of the originator’s personality –this is something one has to be prepared for. On "Away", Jimmy Tamborello finds the perfect way of marrying his unique musical personality with both the demands and possibilities of pop music. Just listen to "Connect" and you’ll know what we’re talking about. A perfect, yet timeless album for less than perfect times."
This collection of damaged subsonic headmelters was originally released back in 2001 under the CTI moniker, and used Carter's 1970s and '80s Throbbing Gristle rhythm tapes to inspire industrial vignettes that have been used on countless installations, TV ads and Hollywood movie trailers since. Still so far ahead of the game - frozen ambient void soundtrax.
This second collection of ambient reworks takes his pioneering Throbbing Gristle sounds into a sub-aquatic cave of watery textures, rumbling sheet subs and chattering alien echoes. It's not drone material by any means - Carter retains the rhythmic push of his TG beat tapes, but flexes them in dilated time, reminding of Thomas Köner or Kevin Drumm.
Tracks don't so much play from beginning to end as twist thru the perceived audio field like weightless blunt smoke diving between hi-frequency whirrs and lo-end growls. It's music that can pretty much only be enjoyed on a decent set of speakers or headphones - the original release read "not mono compatible" and "contains sub-sonics and resonant frequencies which lower specified audio apparatus may find difficult to faithfully reproduce".
But if you're in possession of a half-decent setup you're in for a treat. There are few artists who possess Carter's wizardry working in this mode. As a pioneer he changed the game, but he also rarely repeatshimself. Billed as "ambient remixes", these eerie versions are several steps removed from the cloying ambient music that clogs up playlists and soundtracks. Carter's take on the genre exists in negative space and hinges on dub flavor, hypnotic texture and pure sonic confusion. It's next level shit, from beginning to end.
New album on Ninja Tune from Swedish musician and producer DJ Seinfeld (Armand Jakobsson).
"If much of DJ Seinfeld’s previous work was characterised by a sepia-tinged haze, a result of the producer’s deliberately lo-fi production techniques, then brand new album ‘Mirrors’ sees his music come firmly into focus.
“On this album I wanted to retain a lot of the raw emotionality that brought people to my music in the first place,” says Armand Jakobsson, better known as DJ Seinfeld. “But I also wanted to become a much better producer. It’s been an arduous process but it’s a real statement of where I’m at as a producer and person right now. I’ve been through various sonic explorations in the past few years but have come to understand what people like about my music and how to move forward with it.” "
From Lawrence English
"I am ceaselessly fascinated by how memory operates and, I’m regularly struck by how individually subjective a collective experience can be when recalled by its participants. Lynch’s Lost Highway comes to mind here, specifically Bill Pullman’s character Fred Madison who says “I like to remember things my own way. How I remembered them, not necessarily the way they happened.” Like Madison, I can’t help but sense that memory takes shape through an accumulative process that reflects how each of us have lived (and maybe even wanted to live) up to that point in time.
Going back to listen again to these recordings of which I was a part with David and Akio, I was surprised by what elements had stayed with me and what others had slipped into the eternal greying of my mind. I have vivid recollections of listening to a Lyre bird before recording the pieces together at Witches Falls. I remember both Akio and David finding musicality in decaying palm fronds. I remember Akio’s voice, amplified through his Analpos, bouncing off the stones and trees. I remember David’s flute, so quiet in the pitch black of the night forest as to appear like a hushed tone of wind or a distant animal calling. I also remember trying to match my modest hand held electronics with the pulsing and pitching of the insects around me.
Reading David’s text, which is included in the book published alongside this edition, he recounts several things I had forgotten. Conversations about memory, ironically enough, had vanished from my mind until reading his words. I also didn’t really remember my role as tick surgeon, removing a living insect from David’s ear. I do remember his cooking though, as does Akio (captured aptly in his drawings), no doubt a testament to David’s improvisational culinary expertise.
Breathing Spirit Forms represents a distinctive exchange between friends and collaborators. Tamborine commands a special presence and encourages a deep patience from those who are willing to give time to its varied environments. For the three of us, we were fortunate to share these moments together, fleeting in our lives as they might be, to sense the mountain’s unique qualities, to respond to them through our exchanges and to form memories (as disparate as they might be) we carry forward with us in time."
‘Yellow’ is the life-giving debut album opus from pivotal London jazz player and band leader Emma-Jean Thackray, channelling sacred strains of everyone from Sun Ra to Alice Coltrane and even Funkadelic
Cementing a solid reputation as a catalyst of London’s jazzy groundswell in recent years, Thackray gathers a crack squad of the city’s finest for 14 variegated tracks deeply informed by ‘70s jazz fusion, but just as prone to veer off on cosmic or P-funk tangents. Recorded over the past 12 months of strife, ‘Yellow’ ultimately conveys a message of positivity thru classically schooled means, drawing upon examples of high black art, and effectively where they came from, to offer a whole vibe for those in need.
Hailed by the label as “exactly like the sort of thing we’ve been longing for over the last 12 months: a transcendent, human, shared experience” we’re inclined to agree; ‘Yellow’ is just the ticket to clear the murk with its cloud busting bursts of harmonic colour, plush vocals and elastic bounce. We advise checking for the effervescent bustle of ‘Third Eye’ at its core for a proper spirit lifter, and looking out for Sun Ra-esque gems in the cosmic beauty of album opener ‘Mercury,’ while dancers will be charmed by the bubbling takers of ‘Venus’ and the swingeing rug-cutters ‘Rahu & Ketu’ or ‘Our People.’
The architect engineer of Industrial music, Chris Carter (TG, X-TG, CTI, Chris & Cosey) turns classic early works inside out in an Electronic Ambient style on the first of reissued volumes with Mute.
Effectively rendering his seminal solo debut album ‘The Space Between’ in hyperspace, Carter measures distance travelled between the end of the ‘70s and 2000AD with ‘Electronic Ambient Remixes One.’ Originally issued under the CTI alias that he shares with creative and life partner Cosey Fanni Tutti, the album exemplifies his switch from angular manipulations of bespoke hardware to a mixture of hardware and computer-based systems, practically melting the tensile hard edges of his early classics with infinitely smooth gradients and more sensual pulses that reset their meaning from club and living room laboratories to a headier abstract metaspace.
For anyone familiar with Carter’s 1980 debut album, it’s all the more remarkable to hear those tracks utterly transformed and transposed into their reflections here. Unrecognisable from the originals, Carter translates their original post-Industrial vernacular into an alien language of vaporous signs and suggestive textures, dematerialising any semblance of fixed structure in favour of sheer amorphousness and floating amniotic sensation somewhere between lush and unheimlich. But for anyone unfamiliar with the originals, we’d even advise doing them in reverse chronology to hear what were once deeply futuristic forms emerge from Ur flux and vice versa.
Finders Keepers' 3rd volume of Ilaiyaraaja tunes offers a bounty of south subcontinental '80s electro-disco-pop. While their previous collections have homed in on his work with the "Tamil Nightingale", K.S. Chitra, and "The Electronic Pop Sound Of Kollywood 1977-1983", this one follows in the same vein as Bombay Connection's excellent 'Fire Star: Synth Pop & Electro-Funk From Tamil Films 1984-1989' or Cartilage Records' amazing 'Play That Bat Mr. Raja' compilations with 17 songs selected for their dancefloor potential.
Drawn from a collection of over 4500 (and counting) songs mostly written for original soundtracks hardly known outside of his home region, 'Ilectro' follows up Raja's appearance in the Olympics opening ceremony of 2012 with a techno-coloured burst of sonic joy bound to thrill with its crammed arranegments and highly idiosyncratic application of early DX7 synths and cut-up drum machine patterns to traditional raga-style melodies and typically emoting vocals. To this extent his music can be likened with Charanjit Singh's acidic ragas or even the electronic orientations of early adopter Ilhan Mimaroglu in Turkey. Yet, ultimately, as you'll hear, this music is in a league of its own, augmenting Western pop ideas and electronics with a unique accent individual to gayaki style Carnatic music and the bombastic emotion of Kollywood cinema.
Charming expo of mbira music from Zimbabwe, 1983, charting its symbolism during early years of the country’s independence and as a means of contacting the spirit world
Showcasing the playing of Ephat Mujuru, the descendent of a respected spirit medium and master of the mbira dzavadzimu - “a handheld lamellophone used in Shona region to make contact and receive council from deceased ancestors” - the four pieces on ‘Mbavaira’ document Ephat working with a newly formed band, The Spirit of the People on their 2nd album of acoustic mbira music.
While named for the Shona for something like “chaos”, the album was intended to foster unity between Zimbabwe’s two dominant ethnic groups, the Shona and the Ndebele, and arrived on the country’s only label Gramma Records as one of few commercially issued mbira recordings at the time, and was practically received as a pop record, an immediate quality that it carries thru into 2021.
Ephat tragically died from a heart attack at Heathrow Airport in 2001, aged 51, en route to perform and teach in the US, and ‘Mbavaira’ is a lovely testament to his legacy, flowing free with four tracks of complex rhythmelodic colour and soulful vocals by his uncle Mude, sweepign from he lilting dealign music of the title track to the trad hunting song ‘Nyama Musango’ (Meat in the Forest) via the swingeing hustle of ‘Kuenda Mbire’ *Going to Mbire) and the more brooding tone of ‘Mudande’, named for a remote northern village in Zimbabwe.
Shades of Ariel Kalma’s bio-feedback systems meet Colin Stetson’s grandly cinematic North American landscapes on the 3rd album by Land of Kush saxophonist Jason Sharp.
“The Turning Centre Of A Still World is Sharp’s first purely solo record and his most lucid, poignant, integral work to date. Following two acclaimed albums composed around particular collaborators and guest players, Sharp conceived his third as an interplay strictly bounded by his own body, his acoustic instrument, and his evolving bespoke electronic system. The Turning Centre... is a singular sonic exploration of human-machine calibration, interaction, expression and biofeedback.
Using saxophones, foot-controlled bass pedals, and his own pulse – patched through a heart monitor routed to variegated signal paths that trigger modular synthesizers and samplers – Sharp paints with organic waves of glistening synthesis, pink noise and digitalia. Melodic strokes and harmonic shapes ripple and crest across ever-shifting seas, through an inclement cycle from dawn to dusk. The album’s six main movements navigate a world where placid surfaces are always roiled and disquieted by a deeper inexorable gyre: the gravitational pull and tidal perpetuity of our bodies made of water, buffeted by terrestrial atmospheric pressures, wrung out by emotions, coursing with blood, sustained by breath, inescapably yearning for and returning to ground again and again. Sharp’s heartbeat literally courses through these compositions – while only occasionally surfacing as a clearly audible pulse or rhythm, it physically feeds into a spectrum of generative synthetic processes that help constitute and conduct the music.
The immersive, intensive, widescreen electronic works on The Turning Centre… could sit comfortably as a masterful and stellar contribution to the space/sci-fi/synth soundtrack genre, owing to their overall sound palette and oceanic scope. But this is ultimately deeper, grittier, earthier stuff – pulsing with terrestrial granularity, charting subterranean geographies of the heart and soul.”
Portland-based folk guitarist Marisa Anderson teams up with "First Cow" composer William Tyler for this blurry set of guitar-led melancholia influenced by Anglo-pessimist in chief, Mark Fisher.
'Lost Futures' was conceived in Portland after Anderson and Tyler had connected at a tribute show for Silver Jews' David Berman. Tyler had played in Silver Jews, as well as in Lambchop, and while the two had an immediate connection, they wondered whether their busy schedules might allow time for collaboration. When COVID hit a few months later, it provided them with the time they needed to fire ideas back and forth, using Fisher's theories as a jumping-off point.
Hearing Fisher's theories untethered to British electronic music's obsession with dusty nostalgia and post-BoC/Burial hauntology is actually quite refreshing. Anderson and Tyler's music is rooted in a different - and more resolutely American - idea of the lost future; Tyler's background is in Nashville and Anderson's folk playing was shaped by her collaborations with Tuareg musicians like Mdou Moctar and Kildjate Moussa Albadé. So the music here feels as if it funnels well-worn American ideas into new places, challenging the listener by fusing the familiar and the unexpected.
The result is post-rock adjacent, with tracks like 'Something Will Come' building a chugging Kraut groove and 'Pray For Rain' sounding painfully epic. But the duo hit their stride in the moments of subtle, soulful Americana, like the utterly heartbreaking title track and the lengthy closer 'Haunted By Water', that sounds like a bleak, instrumental take on the lavish Nashville sound.
Based on March's levitational "Cedars", "Maples, Ash and Oaks" strips away the Arabic and English poetry and leaves Field Works' frozen instrumental soundscapes.
Field Works' Stuart Hyatt went back to the original tracks to assemble this special release, stripping away the layers from "Cedars" and rebuilding them into a new album. Instead of vocals, pianist Julien Marchal now takes a central role, playing alongside material from musicians like core Field Works members Marisa Anderson and Fadi Tabbal, and contributing performers Julien Marchal, Youmna Saba, Dena El Saffar, Danny Paul Grody, Bob Hoffnar, Stuart Hyatt, Tomás Lozano, Nathan Bowles and Alex Roldan.
The music is faint, verdant and whimsical. If the original album was influenced by the Welsh forest (with environmental recordings from Harrison Ridley to match), then "Maples, Ash and Oaks" heads further down the leafy trail, deep into the mud and twigs. It's a fairytale world that matches simmering ambience with woodland folk and emotive solo piano for fans of Helios, Julianna Barwick or even Sufjan Stevens.
Swedish psych outfit Goat hoover up a career of odds 'n sods on "Headsoup", combining singles, B-sides and edits with unreleased burners.
Since 2012, Goat have been reminding their legion of fans that Northern Europe has always been a hotspot for truly spangled psychedelic sounds. This bumper collection is further proof, and within moments of opening blues rawk jammer 'The Sun The Moon' it's pretty clear that the masked troupe have their sights set on late 1960s/early 1970s pedalboard fritz. But Goat have never stayed in one place too long: 'Dreambuilding' combines brittle folk ideas with fluid Tuareg rock fretwork, 'It's Time For Fun' is quirky rhythm box synthcore, 'Relax' is wormhole drone and 'The Snake of Addis Ababa' is spidery microtonal exotica.
Completely torched material from beginnig to end - mind-altering substances not included.
'Perfect Vision' is another defiant set from enduring D.C.-based blues-rock guitarist and songwriter Thalia Zedek. Her dissenting voice has never sounded clearer than right here, on an album finished only moments before the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Zedek has been challenging the system of control since 1980, and her latest doesn't break the tension for a second. Her last album "Fighting Season" was about resistance as tension grew across the USA; "Perfect Vision" is focused on the search for clarity as the world languishes in isolation.
It shouldn't surprise any regular listeners that the album is toothy, serrated and to-the-point. Zedek's overdriven blues rock is accurately in-key with current malaise, and her voice - booming and incisive - sounds poignant, sober and prophetic.
Digitalis/RVNG survivor Steve Gunn enlists help from Julianna Barwick, Mary Lattimore, Bridget St. John and others on his sunny, kosmische-influenced sixth solo album. Somewhere between Mercury Rev, later Popol Vuh and Nick Drake.
'Other You' illustrates coolly just how much Gunn has developed his songwriting since his early minimalist work that explored the intersection between Appalachian folk and Indian raga. Now all that DIY grit has disappeared almost entirely, and Gunn's music - recorded by Elliott smith producer Rob Schnapf - sounds as compositionally complex as The Beach Boys or Kurt Vile, who Gun performed with for a stretch. But that's no bad thing, "Other You" twinkles with much-needed sunshine and Gunn's take on Americana is effortless and enjoyable. His choice to swerve the somehow overly-folksiness of many of his contemporaries has led him down a more cosmic path that, on tracks like the eponymous opener and 'Good Wind' drags him closer to Florian Fricke's acidic fretwork than John Fahey's.
His choice of collaborators is also thoughtful and harmonious. Julianna Barwick's contribution on 'Good Wind' adds a flash of golden light from heaven as she harmonizes with Gunn's cracking voice, and Mary Lattimore's unmistakable looping harp phrases on 'Sugar Kiss' stand out on the album's singular instrumental. It's pop music, just about, but some of the more hopeful, more adventurous and more resonant you're likely to hear this year.
Yann Tiersen (Amélie, Goodbye Lenin) ushers a classy suite of keys, strings and electronics on his follow-up to 2019’s ‘Portrait’
Composed at his studio, The Eskal based on the sparsely populated island of Ushant, off the coast of Brittany in the Celtic Sea, ‘Kerber’ takes its melancholic shape over seven parts of ponderous, and occasionally rapturous, solo piano gnawed by tart electronics, and with parts written for Ondes Martenot, mellotron and harpsichord. At the risk of generalising, it’s all every bit as sentimental and romantic as one might be lead to expect from a french soundtrack composer, rife with emotive turns of phrase and textured for intimacy, with standout moments lodged in its rushy ‘Ker al Loch’ and his grand, titular 10 minute denoument.
‘Be a Rebel Remixed’ collects all the official versions of this track on physical formats for the first time and includes brand new remixes from Arthur Baker, JakoJako, Mark Reeder and Melawati.
"Also includes mixes from the band’s own Bernard Sumner and Stephen Morris, plus club mixes from Maceo Plex and Paul Woolford."
Manchester family Space Afrika's Dais debut is a sprawling, genre melted tapestry of charged diasporic innovation and unshakably Northern, British working class eccentricity >> Like Dean Blunt, DJ Spooky, Cocteau Twins, Klein, West Mineral, Tricky, Third Eye Foundation, Actress 'n Michael Nyman boiled into a waxy narrative epic, 'Honest Labour' is as smoky and mysterious as it is rewarding. Undoubtedly one of the most viscerally affecting records of 2021.
Since 2014's "Above The Concrete / Below The Concrete" Joshua Inyang and Joshua Tarelle have been drawing a complex blueprint, displaying their influences and re-drawing each element to fit their ambitious creative vision. Initially spurred on by nth wave dub techno, and Raster Noton 'n Mille Plateaux's glacial, arty minimalism, the duo dug deeper into their shared musical DNA on 2018's sferic-released "Somewhere Decent to Live". This time they anchored their productions in 'nuum history, liquefying garage, jungle and grime hallmarks into glistening trails of pulses, pads and gestures.
Spurred on by last summer's global anti-racist protests, the duo widened their sonic universe with "Hybtwibt?", a heady collage of political subterfuge, biography and raw emotion. It was a rap beat tape without beats or raps, or an ambient album that had shelved the ambience completely, leaving inverted space and covert cinematic storytelling. This year's short, sharp "Untitled (To Describe You) OST" offered similar brainfood, mulling over concepts of identity and class with traces of drill and musique concrete.
'Honest Labour' is the sum of these component parts, and Inyang and Tarelle's defining statement to date. It's a fully silver-lined patchwork of high and low cultural squares that dissolves class, race and state identifiers in searing washes of familiarity and anxious experimentation. The euphoric post-jungle sparkle of tracks like 'yyyyyy2222' and 'solemn' is cut with warbling vocal dream pop ('indigo grit' and 'rings'), post-SND beat fukkery ('ny interlude') and k-holed industrial fuzz ('ladybird drone', 'like orchids').
But it's the duo's use of trip-hop and illbient tropes that truly tips their sound into jaw-to-the-floor territory. Standout single 'B£E' welds a vivid rap from MCR's Blackhaine over eroding breaks that sound like they've fallen off the back of Tricky's misunderstood "Nearly God" album. As words spell out a rainy working class reality where hope cracks thru grey concrete, Tarelle and Inyang bleed orchestral strings into the mix until they drown the rhythm completely. It's Massive Attack's 'Unfinished Sympathy' completed finally, evolved in a battle-scarred south Manchester petri dish.
"Honest Labour" is a Black British story that painstakingly weaves theory and raw open wounds with a passion for discovery and obsessive ear for sound. It's an album that linx Goldie's euphoric melancholy with Tricky's gender-flexing working class poetics, Actress's fuzzed-out high-minded syfy storytelling and Klein's noizy theatrical experimentation. It's one of 2021's most essential albums so far >> no doubt.
A bearhug of chill-out room gouching gear from MFM spanning the golden era of ‘90s ambient dance music with gems from David Moufang, LFO, Global Communication, Kirsty Hawkshaw, Sun Electric and many more notables of that era.
Since the world turned into a big chill out room in early 2020, albeit with a heavy sense of anxiety, this set could hardly be better placed for downtime in the comfort of your own home, rolling out mystic highlights such as LFO’s MDMA-tingle arps and pads in ‘Helen’ and the sublime suspension systems of Global Communication’s remix of ‘Arcadian’, along with Move D’s early nugget ‘Sergio Leone’s Wet Dream’, and the lush pads of his close spar Jonah Sharp’s Spacetime Continuum, plus a strip of killer slow acid in Sideral’s ‘Mare Nostrum’, and the blissed romance of ‘Love 2 Love’ by Sun Electric.
One for the lovers and the ravers.
New one from Kevin Martin, back with his first new full-length album under The Bug moniker in seven years featuring the MCs Moor Mother, Flowdan, Daddy Freddy, Irah, Roger Robison, Nazamba, FFSYTHO, Manga and Logan.
Biding his time to soundtrack the onset of the eschaton, Kevin Martin is here weighted by a plethora of vocalists who really step up to the plate, going over easy on the war cry horns and galvanised with his signature, metal-plated percussion and bass distortion.
It’s all done at the service of the vocalists, who are placed front and centre of the mix, with longterm collaborators such as award-winning dub poet Roger Robinson (also of King Midas Sound) returning for his 4th LP with The Bug, alongside the comeback of Flowdan and Daddy Freddy, plus new voices such as Moor Mother lending her seething, disciplined aggression beside grimy bars by Manga St. Hilaire, Nazamba dialling in from JA, fast chat from Logan_olm, and roadwise UK barbs by FFSYTHO.
Seemingly ready made to be played off back of a truck at this summer’s riots, the vibe is utter gutter, ramping thru 14 cuts, as Roger Rbinon’s scene-setter ‘The Fourth Day’ sets it some Children of Men-like future that’s all too close for comfort, and Flowdan lights the fuse of ‘Pressure,’ triggering a chain reaction that takes in barrelling gruffness of Irah, concentrated rufige of ‘Vexed’ starring Moor Mother, and goat-stare badness of ‘Clash,’ with scudding madnesses caught in ‘Hammer’ and ‘High Rise,’ before Roger Robinson helps bring the lead curtains down in crushing fashion on ‘The Missing.’
Berlin's Sebastian Counts continues his German approximation of British hauntological eccentricity on his second album. "Vaganten" is as colourful as Plone or The Belbury Poly, but serves the nursery rhyme synths and Radiophonic beats with cold beer, bratwurst, and a side of dark rye bread.
On Counts' first ToiToiToi album, 2017's "Im Hag", the conceptual artist proposed that Ghost Box's home of Belbury was twinned with Germany's Ethernbach im Hag, and provided a dusty soundtrack as proof. 'Vaganten' is the next chapter in the story, and brings an air of continental Medieval whimsy into Belbury's charming psychedelic realm.
The album's title track expresses this best, sounding like a Medieval drinking song - flutes 'n all - recomposed using an Atari ST and a 1980s digi-dub synth setup. There's even an almost indecipherable vocal funneled through a vocoder so it warbles as if it's being drowned. Similarly, on 'The Inner Hobo' Counts' vintage monosynths are overshadowed by evocative archaic flutes and Medieval strings. It's these fairytale moments that work best on "Vaganten" and set Counts out on his own.
"Psalms" is a collection of new arrangements of Biblical psalms, sung in Hebrew by Nathan Salsburg with a backing band which includes Joan Shelley, Will Oldham, James Elkington and Spencer Tweedy.
"Acclaimed guitarist Nathan Salsburg has announced a new record Psalms which will be released on August 20th. Salsburg, an archivist with the Alan Lomax Archive, says the project came of "a desire for some kind of rigorous and creative Jewish engagement, which came to take shape in the irregular practice of opening a bilingual Book of Psalms at random, scanning the English of a particular chapter for passages that resonated conceptually and emotionally, and scanned rhythmically. Copying those selections over to a separate page," then threading them into new melodies.
He goes on to say: My formative experiences with Jewish music were collective and participatory, at synagogue and summer camp in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, where the repertoire was heavy with “American nusach.” Played on acoustic guitars, combining liturgical Hebrew with contemporary English translations and Israeli folk-song lyrics, it was meant to be sung with maximum physical investment (jumping, shouting, dancing, swaying) for maximum emotional return, which it absolutely delivered. Its earnestness was its cardinal virtue, as it provided an experience of catharsis similarly guileless and really quite liberating for the young Upper Southern/Midwestern Jew I was. It was not, however, music that I could carry into adulthood—I was too old for summer camp; I stopped attending synagogue with any regularity; I sought more than unadulterated emotionalism. I became drawn, then, to Jewish music in which I was incapable of participating: in time, klezmer and cantorial performances on 78-rpm records; in space, the devotional traditions of Sephardic and Mizrahi communities. So when I heard Dark’cho, David Asher Brook and Jonathan Harkham’s 2004 album of traditional Chasidic melodies and liturgical pieces, I was smitten by it and brought it in close. It was delicate, intentional music, made by sensibilities I felt in tune with. It was sung quietly and played sparely on instruments I might have chosen. Its spirit was of private meditation as opposed to collective ecstasy; its sound more of seeking than of finding. It was the stuff of aspiration, and it served as a guide to the practice from which Psalms emerged."
ANNA, Rrose, Jlin, The Exaltics, Kangding Ray, JakoJako, Barker and Chris Liebing diffract the recent solo album by Depeche Mode’s Martin L. Gore in a spectrum of technoid forms
Jlin impresses with the forward rhythmic gymnastics of her take on ‘Capuchin’ and Barker takes a chufty post-rock route with his rework of ‘Mandrill.’ Brazil’s Wehbba and German producer bring the big room techno bosh with their respective takes, and Rrose takes a grungier experimental route to pounding conclusions. Cult electro unit The Exaltics reset ‘Howler’ in a pendulous mid tempo electro roll cage, and Kangding Ray works around, in between the groove with gleaming steel tipped arps, for Italy’s MoReVox to round off with a stone cold highlight in their grinding, bruxist spin on ‘Mandrill.’
Tolouse Low Trax plucks out obscure slow-mo zingers across time and place for a class taste of the Salon Des Amateurs style he was instrumental in shaping alongside Vladimir Ivkovic and Lena Willikens
Commanding a perfectly groggy collection for the latest Bureau B compilation, Düsseldorf’s Detlef Weinrich aka Tolouse Low Trax (and catalyst of Toresch) joins the dots between 11 artists and groups who are all new to our ears, at the least, and all share a seuctive grasp of downtempo motion and elegance. It’s all the kind of sultry late night gear that one might hear at Salon Des Amateurs, the low-key bar tucked away in a Düsseldorf art museum, where he honed an inimitable style of slow, post-kraurock dance music before the joint shut in 2018 after 14 years in business.
Playing it close to home for local label Bureau B, Weinrich sums up the Salon spirit with a breezy selection that we’re sure will be ideal for a long night of drinking and unravelling conversation. From the kinky gloom of Macromassa’s ’92 Spanish gem ‘El Consecuente Aspecto de Geometría’ to the gorgeous synth ethers of Viola Renea’s ’85 Japanese obscurity ‘Chariot of Palace’, it’s all A++ material, extending necessary introductions to Techno Twins with the screwed synth-pop of ‘Donald and Julie Go Boating’ and US poet Lydia Tomkiw with the rippling marimbas and droll delivery of ‘Hot June Evening,’ with the creepy 11 minute ace ‘Basset’ by The Stupid Set recalling an extension of Conny Plank & Holger Czukay’s Les Vampyrettes, and an unmissable cut of parping 1990 midi fanfare by Italy’s DsorDNE.
No doubt this is a low-key masterclass in the art of thematic, but unblinkered, curation that both prompts and leaves lots to the imagination. An absolute must check!
Famed in the past for taking the stage with completely different arrangements of their recorded songs, Wire have extended that principle to 'PF456REDUX'.
Concieved in the spirit of the polar opposite of the now-traditional dj friendly triple album concept; all tracks from the cd release of 'Send' and both 'Read & Burn' EP's have been truncated, edited and reduced to their barest essentials, to create a fast-cut stop-frame version of Wire‚s current phase of activity. 16 tracks colliding with each other, "just like real life, only faster"
This deeply immersive first solo album by EMS legend Peter Zinovieff since 1974’s brief "A Lollipop for Papa" arrives as a posthumous testament to his probing research and practice, one that has informed several generations of synth-worshipers around the world via his Electronic Music Studios (EMS) which he co-founded with Tristram Cary and David Cockerell. It arrives just weeks after his death on June 23 this year, and is an "extended computer work" based on hydrophone recordings of blue whales, a time-warping excursion into an underwater realm essential for fans of Roland Kayn, FUJI||||||||||TA's "Kōmori" or Jana Winderen's complex, detailed field recordings.
After founding London's EMS in 1969, Zinovieff spent the rest of his life quietly sculpting the curve of contemporary music, developing game-changing synthesisers like the VCS3 and the Synthi 100, and working alongside artists ranging from collaborator Delia Derbyshire (White Noise, BBC Radiophonic Workshop) to Pink Floyd, Bowie, J.M Jarre, Todd Rundgren and countless others, as well as presenting the first ever performance of unaccompanied computer music during pioneering concerts in London in 1968. Legendary status assured, it’s all the more remarkable that Zinovieff released very few of his own compositions, with this recording marking up as his first since 1974’s ‘A Lollipop for Papa’ and 2015’s unofficial ‘Electronic Calendar’ compilation, and his more recent 'RFG Inventions for Cello and Computer' collaboration with Lucy Railton which was issued by PAN last year,
The material here was assembled between 2013 and 2017, and derives from recordings oceanographer Susannah Buchan made off the coast of Chile. For 30 minutes, the piece plunges us into a nuanced, prototypical sort of hybrid analog-digital soundsphere, drawing on the eternally mysterious sound of blue whale communications as the basis for an unusual work thrumming with natural sounds woven thru the magick of computer music, effectively conveying its ability to induce the strangest otherworldly sensations. It's only the occasional washing of salt water that brings us down to earth; the rest is fluttering and communicative, filtered and distant.
Never one to shy away from big ideas, the piece unfolds in five parts that practically document Zinovieff in a one way dialogue with the largest mammals ever to have existed on earth, rendering their cryptic comms in richly reverberating electronics of the sort that dreams are made of. Sadly, Peter passed away only weeks before its intended release date, but leaves behind an inspirational legacy, with this recording framing his work at its most timeless and transcendent.
Konstantinos Soublis aka Fluxion follows Type's reissue of his classic 'Vibrant Forms' with this set of buoyant dub house riddims recorded in New York for Echocord and starring reggae vocalist, Teddy Selassie.
Taking clear inspiration from the seminal precedents of Main Street and Rhythm & Sound, Fluxion gives the Tikiman-alike Teddy Selassie a plush suite of stepping, skanking riddims rent with widescreen dub techno atmospheres, oscillating back and forth between lean, fluidly 4/4 instrumental steppers and dread-heavy future roots styles topped by the achingly mellifluous vocals. Arguably, it's one of the most accomplished long-players you'll hear in this niche and tightly defined sound. RIYL Rhythm & Sound, Deepchord.
And lo, it was reissued - Coil’s pivotal dose of post-industrial/acid bath-house psychedelia reappears, remastered and expanded with a bonus disc of mostly unheard alternate versions, marking 30 years of soundtracking dreams and party afterlives.
Borne from intensive studio sessions circa 1988-1990 and served hot and slippery in 1991, ‘LSD’ is widely recognised as a key entry point to Coil’s illustrious, but sometimes hard to grasp, catalogue. Their 3rd long player features Jhonn and Sleazy working with Danny Hyde (who was then fresh from remixing Seal’s ‘Killer’) to realise a richly layered and hallucinogenic masterpiece that would influence the visions of everyone from Æ to NIИ, irrevocably infecting electronic music’s water table for a whole generation and beyond.
Their significant studio successor to ‘Scatology’ (1984) and ‘Horse Rotorvator’ (1986) simply sounded like nowt else at the time, aligning their esoteric interests and pursuits in 13 kaleidoscopic forms on the original album, and now supplemented by 10 bonus tracks on the new 2nd disc. The body-gurning cut-up of ‘Disco Hospital’ is now held up for contrast with its loping ‘Unedited’ version, and the crepuscular groove of ‘The Snow’ is featured in multiple Apollonian mixes for the darkroom dwellers, and all time classics like ‘Dark River’ and ‘Chaostrophy’ appear shivering and naked in their alternate, stripped down mixes, giving vital glimpses into their cabalistic studio process.
Alongside untouchable classics such as ‘Things Happen’ starring Annie Anxiety and Charles Hayward, and the This Heat drummer’s sizzling percussion on the title tune, the effect of LSD endures with wide eyed, future-proofed effect that’s bound to infect listeners for another 30 years, at least.
Featuring old pals Lucy Railton on cello and Kit Downes playing the Skáholt Cathedral's massive pipe organ, 'Subaerial' sounds like a consecrated bridge to a higher realm = utterly transformative music that bends and braids the old and new together like hot iron and bronze.
Railton and Downes first met while studying in London, and have been playing together ever since. ECM alum Downes has a background in jazz, while Railton has moved from classical music into the experimental realm on her acclaimed recent run of recordings. On 'Subaerial' the duo improvise on organ and cello, capturing a sound that reimagines the familiar motifs of sacred music as complex contemporary drones and washes of eerie ecclesiastical resonance.
They picked Iceland's Skáholt Cathedral to record the album, dazzled by its warm acoustics and impressive pipe organ. Rather than compose specific pieces, they instead decided to record spontaneously, improvising together in the cathedral for three hours and then slicing out seven discrete moments for the album. Railton and Downes have been improvising together for fun since their school days, but this is the first time they'd used the process as the core for a release.
Their process lends a particular tone to the music. It's as if both musicians are receiving direction from some higher force, their performances weaving in and out of each other and the building's acoustics. In such austere and sacred surroundings, it makes sense that the music echoes Northern European tradition, but both artists succeed in elevating into more difficult places, infusing their unusual improvisations with meaning and relevance.
Railton's cello leads and as the album develops, Downes builds harmonic tones with magnificent restraint, allowing the organ to mimic the elasticity of a synthesizer. The sound they create is chilling and brave rather than "cinematic" - the two blazing a path skywards, cutting unique sonic sculptures from a space that was intended to link heaven and the earth. It's a remarkable achievement.
New York-based percussionist and sound artist Eli Keszler dropped jaws last year with his unstoppable one-two punch of the ‘Red Horse’ LP on Type and ‘Cold Pin’ on PAN. Admittedly this was the first most listeners had heard from him, but new devotees were quick to fall over each other to grab anything else Keszler had put his name to, so it’s a fan service from PAN that they’ve put together this bumper double CD that collects up all the disparate pieces of the Cold Pin recordings.
The original installation was set up in Boston’s cavernous Cyclorama gallery, and finds Keszler stretching gigantic strings across the walls and letting small motorized hammers ‘play’ them at random intervals. Accompanied by a group of similarly outré minds (Geoff Mullen, Greg Kelley, Reuben Son and wife Ashley Paul) the musicians played to the randomized booming strings, and now, unlike the studio recordings we heard on the previously released LP we can hear the piece in full unedited form, together with the gigantic reverb of the room itself.
Probably the most stunning addition to the original pieces though is Keszler’s recordings of the Cold Pin exhibit he set up in Shriveport Louisiana, where the strings were stretched across two large empty water purification basins. You probably have an idea of how that might sound, but needless to say Thomas Koner’s peerless ‘Permafrost’ might be a good place to start. Elsewhere we’re treated to a full ensemble recording (with the Providence string quartet), which reframes the piece as a defiantly modern re-imagining of Ligeti – dissonant, disconcerting and gruesomely eerie. Even if you’ve already bagged the LP you won’t want to miss out on ‘Catching Net’, it’s yet more proof that at only 28 years old Eli Keszler is already one of the most important voices in the experimental music scene right now. Highly recommended.
'Live Knots' presents two immersive live recordings of Oren Ambarchi playing the epic 'Knots' from 'Audience Of One' (Touch, 2012) in Tokyo and Krakow's Unsound Festival.
Captured with alternately intimate and widescreen fidelity, the original elements of cyclonic guitar harmony and quicksilver percussion are twisted different ways across the two performances, exploring and testing every nuance of the track's framework. 'Tokyo Knots' intimately documents their show at SuperDeluxe in March 2013, Ambarchi cautiously stalking Joe Talia's prickling, Dejohnette-esque percussion with viscose bass tone and heady harmonic incense, progressively whipping up a free form storm of buzz-saw guitar attacks and crashing drums, organically resolving to a lean motorik groove flecked with spring reverb.
By contrast, the twice-as-long performance of 'Krakow Knots', featuring Sinfonietta Cracovia led by Eyvind Kang on viola, presents a more expansive reading of the same structure, adding a prelude of sliding string dissonance before swelling against Talia's adroit patter with a burgeoning tension, ratcheting the mid-section squall to blistering barrage of buzz-saw flares and strobing fuzz, before burning out to reveal a captivating resolution of string glissandi swept against Joe Talia and Crys Cole's skittish percussion objects and retching spring reverb. The applause at the end is very well earned.
The keenly awaited debut full length from Joy O arrives as a proper friends and family affair, packed with guest co-production and vox by Herron, James Massiah, Bathe, Léa Sen, Goya Gumbani, and many more
Twelve years since his anthemic first single ‘Hyph Mngo’, ‘still slipping vol. 1’ shapes up as a definitive long-player/mixtape with 14 choice cuts that speak to breadth of his tastes and stylistic bonds. Also spirited with a number of voice notes sent from family during lockdown, it offers a vicarious glimpse into the personal world of an artist who has come to define a certain aspect of UK rave over the past decade, exerting a kinds spotless spin on mutations of UKG and sub-bass heavy techno, with shades of D&B-style production. Here he continues and expands that agenda with dips into woozy beatdown and drill alongside signature swangers, finely toggling the London pressure gauge to a modestly homely, home-listening and headphone vibe.
Personalised by the presence of family everywhere from the opener’s sample of his dad, to the cover photo of his aunt Leighann, who introduced Joy O to garage and jungle at a formative age, the results prefer a slow burn intimacy over any raving madness. He keeps everything in-the-pocket and dialled down from Air Max bounce to Hush Puppy hustle from the Reese bass dembow of ‘sparko’ with Herron, to the lissom 2-step of ‘born slipping’, craftily drifting into a D&B lane on ‘layer 6’ and testing out soulful drill style on ‘runnersz’ and the bloozier ‘’rraine.’ But the album is really defined by its vocals, with James Massiah (DJ Escrow ov Babyfather) nimbly dancing around ‘swag’ and Léa Sen lending some Morcheeba vibes to the tech house of ‘better’, with conscious bars by Goya Gumbani on ‘Playground’, each complemented by sprinkled samples of his family giggling and chatting.
Intriguing echoes of Arthur Russell, Mark Hollis and Richard Youngs from the debut of US guitar/synth explorer Matthew O’Connell aka Chorusing, naturally slanted with deep south lilt and shaded by off kilter synth wooze
“On his debut album Half Mirror, Matthew O’Connell superimposes warm analog synths onto self-described “confessional folk” with a simultaneously cosmic and earthly outcome. Tracked at home in the mountains of North Carolina using a vintage tape delay, electric guitar, and a self-designed synthesizer named ‘Balsam,’ Half Mirror is at once a lonesome push-pull of electronics humanized by folk elements, and folk music made alien by electronic adornments. O’Connell’s own story is just as captivatingly segmented. While growing up on a farm in Palmyra, Indiana, he became obsessed with metal drumming and spent most of his free time practicing in the garage, occasionally recording on four-track tape machines with his brothers Joe (Elephant Micah) and Greg. Reflecting on those formative years, O’Connell says, “I think that period instilled two things in me: a long attention span, and the ability to work obsessively on something in solitude.” It’s these monastic inclinations that helped form the spirit of Half Mirror.
The album opens with the spare meta-song “Cold,” on which O'Connell repeats, “I wade in,” referring to himself wading into his own memories. On “Midday Sun,” he sings, “Wide-eyed in the midday sun” over an eerily ascending and descending electric guitar and tightly layered instrumentation, inspired obliquely by the Louisville post-hardcore band Young Widows. “Sprawled out on the floor / Heavy from the nights before,” he continues, a chastened recalling of hungover anxiety. It’s tempered by tracks like “Whitewaterside,” which describes with meditative awareness the sensation of setting bare feet into a cold river. On Half Mirror standout “Watching the Beams,” he channels a panic attack he had on a stalled subway train while en route to a gig in Brooklyn: the relentless arpeggiator mirrors his rapid heartbeat as it becomes subsumed by the pulse of the city. On “Ohio,” O’Connell recounts evenings sitting by the Ohio River in Louisville, drinking bourbon with a friend as the barges floated by like memories drifting through the mind. The album’s closing track “Mirror” serves as an epilogue, like a rose-colored moon that drops below the horizon to be extinguished by distant sands.
O’Connell made a deliberate effort to keep the album's production sparse. His interest in restraint stems in part from his love of albums like Nearly God by Tricky and Ghost Tropic by Songs: Ohia, both of which feature uncomfortably bare vocals and uncanny production that commands the listener’s attention. Additional inspiration came from Mark Hollis' striking minimalism, and the freeform songwriting of Arthur Russell and John Martyn. This skillful incorporation of influences evokes the same sense of balance and natural grace O’Connell may have gleaned in his physics and math studies;in fact, Half Mirror’s cover bears a visual translation of its songs’ waveforms.”
Sonic ghost hunter CM Von Hausswolff and LA’s Chandra Shukla (Xambuca) disclose their sublime travelogue of Nepal with nearly an hour of subbass bathing and steeply hypnagogic magick
For the first in a series of global dispatches, following the Touch: Isolation series, ’Travelogue (Nepal)’ invites listeners to pay closer attention to the metaphysical presences of Kathmandu, Pokhara, and Kirtipur, cities at the roof of the world, each with a deep history of Buddhism and mysticism that Von Hausswolff and Shukla tap into. Using a range of microphones/spooky action detectors, they document a spectra of sounds, from the infrasonic to birdsong, amplifying and layering the inaudible to become tangibly present but hauntingly elusive at the same time.
The results document seven days in September 2019 spent between the Bagh Bhairav Temple and Chilancho Stupa in Kirtipur, Durbar Square, Boudhanath Stupa, Swayambhunath Stupa and Shri Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu, and Pokhara’s World Peace Pagoda, The Shiva Cave, Devi Falls and Phewa Tal Lake, reworking the locations’ mix of diesel-fuming traffic and sacred sites into intoxicating aural vapours and the kind of drones that make our eyes defocus and roll back in the head.
Devendra Banhart and Noah Georgeson's collaborative ambient album, "Refuge".
"Last spring, Devendra Banhart and Noah Georgeson started to make a record that was like nothing they had made before — an ambient album that would be both a haven from a suddenly terrified world and a heartfelt musical dialogue between two artists who have been friends and collaborators for over two decades. Refuge is an album of profound meditative beauty which offers the listener a much-needed sense of peace and renewal. But while it was recorded in 2020 its roots go back much further — all the way to the start of their friendship and, beyond that, to the shared sounds and ethics of their childhoods.
Devendra grew up in Venezuela while Noah, six years older, is a native of Nevada City, California. But as they got to know each other, they realised that they had a similar history in the New Age subculture of the 1980s: a world of meditation, Eastern music, the Bhagavad Gita and The Whole Earth Catalog. Childhood memories were coloured by the aromas of health food stores and the sound of New Age labels like Windham Hill Records. Noah, whose production and mixing credits include Joanna Newsom and the Strokes, came on board as co-producer of Devendra’s 2005 album Cripple Crow and they have been working together ever since.
It was while making Devendra’s 2019 album Ma that the pair finally decided to make their ambient record. Despite complicating logistics, 2020 created an emotional craving for music with this contemplative, therapeutic quality. Inspired by both memories of the past and the needs of the present, Refuge is an act of companionship and generosity which gives the listener room to breathe. “We’re hoping to create a sense of comfort and coming back to the moment,” Devendra says. “It’s really important to have a little bit of space between us and our anxieties and impulses. What you do with that space is up to you.”"
Gescom’s infamous ‘MiniDisc’ was the first ever MiniDisc-only release back in 1998. This CD reissue edition contains all 45 tracks (in 88 pieces) from the original MD version, ready for listeners to use on random shuffle function just as the original MD was intended, featuring a photograph of Alan Phillips of Sony showing off the minidisc in a Sony Conference. LOL.
Back in 1998, MiniDiscs were the most advanced iteration of portable music players, soon to be usurped by the mass emergence and use of portable media players. At a quick glance, Discogs only lists 1,668 total MiniDisc-only releases, however, ‘Gescom:MiniDisc’ remains a true oddity in its field; a proper novelty hated by some and loved by others, especially those with a taste for Russell Haswell or Autechre’s more extreme angles of inquiry.
So ‘Gescom:Minidisc’ is effectively a Haswell + Æ +++ release, only they’d probably never let us or you describe it as such. Inside you’ll find all sorts, from longer trips such as the 4 minute ambient float of ’Sheogazer’, to reverberating echo chamber pieces in ‘Cranusberg’ and the haunting dimensions of ‘Fully’, plus quite literally dozens of shorter cuts which turn the whole thing into a mosaic of a maze.
A sought-after pinnacle of Venetian Snares’s early catalogue returns for its 16th anniversary reissue, including his flip of Billie Holiday’s take on a banned Hungarian “suicide song”
Arriving in 2005 after Snares’ had established himself among the most thrilling artists of his time, ‘Rossz Csillag Alatt Született’ saw him sampling from stacks of classical records, as well as Billie Holiday, for a concept album that imagined him as a pigeon on Budapest’s Királyi Palota (Royal Palace). In one fell swoop the album tilted his sound from pure breakcore extremity to a more “grown up” elision of breakcore and classical music, including a number of compositions where he ditched the ballistics all together. It was kind of a watershed moment for us, an undeniably impressive feat of pointillist tracker programming and lush sample rearrangement, and also the point where we thought OK, he can’t really take this aesthetic any further.
Taking sampled cues from the metric freedom and complex structures of classical works by Bartók, Stravinsky, Mahler, Paganini, Prokofiev, Elgar and Telemann, the Funk draws extraordinary links between their diametrically opposed paradigms; lending classical music a raving fire in the belly, while pushing the dynamics of jungle/D&B/breakcore to the nth degree. Paralleled in its intricacy by scant few others such as Aphex’s ‘Druqks’ album a few years prior, Snares’ efforts are arguably the last word in the original jungle formula of fast, choppy beats and sampling, and now interestingly sits equidistant to the OG sound and now for anyone making historic comparisons.
Following the essential first volume in 2017, this is another bumper compilation of North African and Middle Eastern sounds: Libyan reggae, Moroccan disco, Egyptian organ funk, Algerian soundtrack music and much more!
In the few years that followed the release of the first compilation, the label has dug further into the Middle Eastern and North African funk world and unearthed plenty more oddities. They just released an album with James Brown-influenced Moroccan mystic Fadoul, who shows up here with the trippy 'Ahl Jedba', and bring back Algerian soundtrack composer Ahmed Malek for the blaxplotation-esque 'Casbah'.
But some of the label's choice point towards their future releases. Libyan musician Ibrahim Hesnawi introduced reggae to his country - a style that's still popular now - and he appears here with the bass-heavy 'Tendme'. Also spotlighted is Libyan Najib Alhoush's 'Stayin' Alive' interpolation 'Ya Aen Daly' is one of the comp's quirkiest moments.
Although it's probably now buried within the subterranean depths of his CV, Ryoji Ikeda was one of a number of 'sound artists' commissioned to provide aural installations for the Millennium Dome a few years back.
What's more, his piece 'Matrix' was actually used during the Dome's brief existence as the tabloid's public-enemy number one and possibly constitutes one of the oddest things many coach weary school-kids had ever heard. Just don't blame Ikeda for the travel-sickness!
Ikeda first released 'OºC' in 1998, combining his love of firm rhythmic frameworks, cut-ups and rolling fogs of pristine soundscapes. Opening through a tumbling set of brief vignettes, 'Check', 'Cacoepy', 'Circuit' and 'Contexture' splice clipped vocals with finely tuned machine malfunctions; resulting in a sound somewhere between alva noto and komet.
Ikeda feeds Morse code into the matrix on 'Continuum', while 'Coda' morphs from a soothing electronic bubble-bath into a metronome panic attack without you noticing, whilst 'Zero Degrees ' is a dubby, minimalist tundra.
‘Exiles’ is as close as you’ll get to a Max Richter remix album, presenting five expansive “reimaginings” of his contemporary classical anthems, plus the brand new, 33 minute title piece
As deployed everywhere from Hollywood blockbusters to a ballet about Virginia Woolf and a Fendi runway, Richter’s arrangements are prized for their capacity to swell hearts. On ‘Exiles’ he reworks some of his own highlights such as the instantly recognisable and frankly massively overused ‘On The Nature of Daylight’, and the Bowie favoured ’Sunlight’ (off ‘Songs From Before’) with renewed vigour and scope, while also expressing his feelings on the ongoing tragedy of the migrant crisis in ‘Exiles’, a hauntingly tense, widescreen and dramatic 33min work that places the record in the here and now.
The reimagined take of ‘On the Nature of Daylight’ reinforces its stately swell, while Bowie fave ’Sunlight’ lands in the shadows of his Berlin classics, and the reworked peak of ‘Infra 5’ is bound to get driving gloved hands slapping the walnut dash. But the real standout is ‘Exiles’, a compassionate elegy for migrant crisis, developed from a conversation with Dutch choreographers Sol León and Paul Lightfoot into a soundtrack for Nederlands Dans Theater.
An unusual release for Berlin minimal mainstay Stefan Goldmann. Here, the artist sidesteps the sequencing and layering of his usual output and works spontaneously to create some of his most unusual and experimental work to date.
Opening track '29.09.2019' was recorded at Nomart Gallery of Osaka in Japan, and after playing an individual set alongside improv duo .Es, the three musicians were told in front of an audience that they would be playing together. Goldmann thought on his feet and loaded up samples from his previous Tapeworm release "Haven't I Seen You Before", firing these sounds thru FX while Sara Dotes added piano and percussion and Takayuki Hashimoto played sax, shakuhachi, guitar and harmonica.
The result is surprising and unusual, an almost 20-minute improvisation that bubbles through squiggly electronics and screaming noise, stopping occasionally on angular drones and ending on ominous, rhythmic techno. 'Echoes of an Era' is more straightforward, a guitar improvisation from the "Haven't I Seen You Before" sessions, and closing track '12.07.2012' was recorded at the Tapeworm's 10th anniversary party at London's Cafe Oto.