Sickly sweet neo-soul/lo-fi nocturnes from members of the Young Echo crew
“Blackest Ever Black presents Sleep Heavy, the debut album of broken-hearted, downtempo R&B/street-soul and supremely atmospheric, introspective electronics from Jabu: a trio comprised of vocalist/lyricists Alex Rendall and Jasmine Butt, and producer Amos Childs.
The group was born out of Bristol’s Young Echo collective: an ecosystem unto itself which has birthed and nurtured a number of other notable soundsystem-rooted projects and artists to date including Kahn & Neek, Sam Kidel, Ishan Sound, Ossia, Asda, chester giles (the title Sleep Heavy comes from a giles poem) and Killing Sound (Childs with Kidel and Vessel).
Jabu’s previous 7” singles, though arresting, barely hinted at the level of accomplishment and emotional heft that Sleep Heavy delivers. It’s a future Bristol classic with a universal resonance, with songs that are highly personal but deeply relatable, and tripped-out, time-dissolving sound design that both haunts and consoles. It is, first and foremost, a meditation on grief, on loss, making sense of separation and death; but it also looks forward to what might come after the aftermath: healing, acceptance, the chance to begin again.
Childs is one of the most gifted producers of his generation and his work here, grounded in hip-hop but floating free, is a thing of sustained wonder: crepuscular, melancholic – funereal, at times – subtly psychedelic and heavily dubwise, but always concise and purposeful. Stitched together from deep-dug and beautifully repurposed samples, it draws on influences from US R&B to Japanese art-pop minimalism – Mariah to Mariah Carey, if you will – and a rich seam of underground UK soul, boogie, DIY/post-punk, library music and lovers rock; refining and reconstituting these inputs into powerfully immersive, emotionally ambiguous soundscapes as eloquent and engaging as they are understated and bottomlessly mysterious.
There is also of course a distant connection to the Bristol blues of Smith & Mighty and the sultry urban gothic of Protection-era Massive Attack, but Jabu’s orchestration of womb-like ambiences, cold synth tones and brittle beats feel entirely sui generis. They provide the perfect setting for Rendell’s wounded, imploring and carefully weighted vocals, which are no less extraordinary: nodding to giants like Teddy Pendergrass and The Temptations in terms of phrasing and front-and-centre vulnerability, with something of The Associates’ Billy Mackenzie in there too; defeated but defiant. Meanwhile Jas’s heavenly interventions, sometimes leading but more often parsed and layered into tremulous, gossamer abstraction, draw a line between the Catholic choral harmonies of her childhood and the ethereal, oceanic sweep of Cocteau Twins. Oceanic is the word: this is music to drown, and drown gratefully, in.
By its end, Sleep Heavy’s world-weariness is intact and scarcely diminished, but some light has been admitted, and is visible from the sea-floor. A chance, not a promise. Something to swim towards.”
A spectacular comp of previously unheard D.I.Y. anthems from an assortment of stray producers brought to life/compiled by local polymath Matt Wand, he of Stock, Hausen & Walkman fame, an artist much loved by everyone from Beastie Boy Mike D to Autechre, Pulp, Matt Groening, Harry Hosono and John Peel, returning here 15 years since he was last in action.
He corrals a uchronic psychobiography of “synthetic post punk for the bedridden or terminally indolent” with this possibly apocryphal compilation dedicated to now-defunct Urmston record shop, Spin-A-Disc, an off-centre hub of the late ‘70s/early ‘80s Manchester music scene whose influence still resonates today.
Covering minimal synth anthems, D.I.Y. jazz punk, grey industrial sci-fi and new wave disco crossovers by a roll call including suspicious characters such as Schützengrabenvernichtungspanzerkraftwagen, Wetfinger! and Technicezna Nizkotopliwa.
The music is full of first rate musty nuggets of the ilk you’d find stuffed down a threadbare sofa in Whalley Range or a record shack that only opens under the full moon of the third month of a leap year. We’re talking bleepy post punk polka such as the Joystick Jerk by Diskette and DAF-alike EBM raunch from Kleinstein, thru to the jazz-ponk blurts of Arthur Appliance & The Warm Suds’ Cheese Thieves and the belgian-coloured cold wave of The Baby Snatchers, which all touches on such a breadth of styles that it couldn’t possibly be the work of just one obsessive music fiend with a legendary arsenal of equipment, could it?
Dälek return to Ipecac for their new album, ‘Endangered Philosophies’.
"Pioneers of alt hip-hop, Dälek features rapper / producer MC Dälek, producer / live electronics Mike Manteca and turntablist DJ rEk. With roots in the mid-90s DIY scene, Dälek have consistently released groundbreaking albums, starting with their 1998 debut EP, ‘Negro Necro Nekros’, to 2016’s ‘Asphalt For Eden’, hailed by Pitchfork for its subtlety and restraint, saying “on ‘Asphalt For Eden’, hip hop ascends into the noosphere.”
With signature gusto GY!BE put the world to rights in Luciferian Towers, a statement of individual vulnerability and communal resistance holding steadfast against complex, crenelated forces.
Roaring with raw emotion harnessed in banks of guitars, drums, brass and electronics, the Montréalais phalanx cluster as one tight and powerful unit in four parts, reprising the format of their last two LPs to pack all you need into one satisfying disc.
For disambiguation, the band were informed by, in their own words; “the following grand demands: an end to foreign invasions + an end to borders + the total dismantling of the prison-industrial complex + healthcare, housing, food and water acknowledged as an inalienable human right + the expert fuckers who broke this world never get to speak again”.
For the listener, that results in some of GY!BE’s sorest and most swollen work, with Undoing Luciferian Towers aiming their fire at the shiny obelisks of big money which adorn every big city, while Bosses Hang rails against “labor, alienated from the wealth it creates” with optimistic militancy, then Fam/Famine heads for burning orchestral horizons, and Anthem For No State laments kanada’s ecological crises with dustbowl-scanning country and raging rock tropes fired up to get listeners off the sofa and joining the march.
The Black Dice freak ratchets his most fecund phase in years with a hyper new batch of dancefloor x-ing garage-punk-tronic oddities
“Eric Copeland (Black Dice) returns to DFA with a brand-new set of hyper & hectic leftfield club music. Goofballs places its emphasis on playful melodies, ear worm hooks & vocals mixed with trademark machine funk rhythms that hit hard and land off-balance. Any other way would be too obvious for an artist like Eric. Perhaps he even invented a new dance genre: ‘Goofstep’. We’ll see if that one sticks…
Eric explained the creation of this new LP to us via email from his home on an island in lovely Balearic Palma Spain:
“i made it here in Palma at my studio, this is the first full record i’ve made entirely here since moving. some of this material was road tested September 2016 on tour supporting Animal Collective. This album was the result of real isolation here, countless hours, focused only on this. The whole recording & writing was a fast process. I focused most on the bass groove. I had a very minimal gear setup: 90’s drum machine, cheap bass machine and a sampler. But most important was a homemade ‘drum brain’ that Barry’s London custom made for me. Barry was in the Van Pelt Soldiers of Fortune & Oneida. That piece of gear was a big part of this record and informed the direction it took the most.”
Eric Copeland is a founding member of Black Dice as well as a prolific solo artist. Besides DFA, he has released albums on L.I.E.S., Post Present Medium & Paw Tracks.
Goofballs was mixed by Rusty Santos (who has mixed everyone from DJ Rashad to Panda Bear to Owen Pallett) and mastered by Joe Lambert. It is Eric’s third solo album for DFA Records.”
Rune Reilly Kølsch completes a bout of nostalgia with the autobiographical 1989, looking to his ‘difficult’ teenage years for inspiration after previously drawing on his early childhood and memories in 1977 and 1983.
The result is the Danish producer’s most wistful batch of posh trance pulses and proggy arrangements, describing a ‘journey’ from those greyed memories into the ‘colour’ of maturity thru swelling orchestral strings from The Heritage Orchestra, alongside his patented pill-belly keys and arpeggios plus sparingly used vocals from Aurora.
Steffi follows up her Doms & Deykers LP alongside Martyn with a plush 3rd solo album harmonising classic Detroit, UK and Dutch AI and electro-techno styles with personally expressive style.
“World Of The Waking State is Steffi's third solo album for Ostgut Ton and a musical departure for both her and the label. It's also a serious statement of intent. Over ten tracks she embarks on entirely new electronic terrain for her productions, marking industrial spaces with superlunary warmth while exercising a refined knowledge of polyphony and arrangement. Subdued melodies interact with each other over implied harmonies and microcosmic drum patterns, luring us into a world that is introverted, bewildering and gratifying all at once.”
On FABRICLIVE 94, Midland shapes up a smooth playing transition from deeper Berlin and Detroit house to melancholy electronica, dub and techno, including some choice picks by Beatrice Dillon, Convextion, Shinichi Atobe and LFO, among many others.
Really enjoyable set...
Blue-eyed souljazz music...
“At only 25, the multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and producer - born in New Zealand to a Kiwi mother and father from the Cook Islands - is a rare talent whose distinct take on soul captures a sonic and emotional awareness many artists spend their entire careers chasing. He writes with a maturity and flair that belies his years and new album “Wallflower” sees Jordan edging beyond the peripheries of the genial, often sun-flecked sound his fans have come to know him for. The easy swing that has been the backbone of his sound from the outset is ever present, harking back to teenage days spent in his bedroom with his beloved MPC trying to emulate 9th Wonder and Pete Rock.
On “Wallflower” the tools and the process have evolved - the focus is on live instrumentation - but the groove and the cadence are unmistakable, framing soul and jazz in a truly vibrant oeuvre that simultaneously recalls his predecessors The Roots and peers The Internet, Nick Hakim and Hiatus Kaiyote.”
Completing the one-two of soundtrack discs from Twin Peaks The Return, this is the Music From the Limited Event Series, containing pretty much all the songs from the Roadhouse scenes; from a new Nine Inch Nails song to classic rock by ZZ Top and even Dirty Beaches’ Alex Zhang Hangtag with Dean Hurley and Riley Lynch (David’s son) as Trouble.
In classic Lynch fashion, the closing scenes were often total non-sequiturs to the madness which preceded them, and, despite a few duds, they were mostly watchable as we all tried to figure out the past hour’s events.
There are strong moments in the likes of NIN’s heaving industro-dub growler, She’s Gone Away, and likewise in the cocksure swagger of Trouble’s Snake Eyes, or the diaphanous latin torchsong of Rebekah Del Rio’s No Stars (the one with Moby on bass).
However, Julee Cruise's already familiar (and re-recorded?) version of The World Spins ends the set, and the series, to spine tingling effect - just so damn good.
In our clammy mitts at last, one of two soundtrack sets compiled from the incredible 3rd season of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks.
This is the instrumental collection, featuring 18 tracks including recurring evergreens such as Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks Theme and Audrey’s Dance along with Badalamenti and Lynch’s Thought Gang, gems from Lynch & Dean Hurley, and the hair-raising Threnody To The Victims of Hiroshima which accompanied the climax of Part 8, arguably one of the most brilliant pieces of TV in recent memory.
Everyone who has seen "The Return" will no doubt have their favourite moments - Wally Brando’s fleet homecoming is among our’s - but musically speaking, two of them appear here, firstly with David Lynch’s cracking DJ Screw-style re-drag of Muddy Magnolia’s American Woman, as deployed in the 1st episode, and particularly the mottled jazz loops of Lynch & Dean Hurley’s Slow 30’s Room, also from he amamazing Part 8, that was originally realised for a Lynch retrospective in Paris - also found on his The Air Is On Fire  release - and sounds uncannily like a special dram from The Caretaker’s dusty teak cabinet.
The version of Windswept included here is different to Johnny Jewel's original and is to die for, while the closing track will take you straight back to that fade to black final moment as the credits rolled up to bring the whole thing to a close...
Hannah Peel's third album is a seven-movement odyssey for analogue synthesizers and traditional colliery brass band.
"Only a year following on from the release of her album ‘Awake But Always Dreaming’ (‘Album Of the Year’ – Electronic Sound Magazine), ‘Mary Casio: Journey to Cassiopeia’, explores one person's journey to outer space, by telling the story of an unknown, elderly, pioneering electronic music stargazer and her lifelong dream to leave her terraced South Yorkshire home in the mining town of Barnsley and see Cassiopeia for herself.
Artwork by the Grammy award winning designer Jonathan Barnbrook (David Bowie collaborator on ‘Blackstar’ and ‘The Next Day’). Recorded live on location in The Barnsley Civic Theatre by Peter Gabriel’s Real World studio team."
Following Belief Defect’s appearance at Atonal 2017, Raster-Noton cough up their gristly debut LP of crushed industrial technoise.
Sounding for all intents and purposes like Franck Vigroux meets Byetone, Decadent Yet Depraved stems from “a life-long devotion to electronic music: from dance floor to primal anger and self-annihilating noise, to transcendental, ambient escapism and intense self-reflexive sonic layering.”
The ten tracks tend toward slow, lurching rhythms and growling noise with a real bite, scooping up some rotted highlights in their agitated stepper Slipping Awy and likewise with icy dancehall bogle of Opium Den, which lends itself to comparison with Pan Sonic’s Ilpo Vaisanen clashing Zomby.
Geir Jenssen aka Biosphere rounds up 18 tracks in honour of Christian Hollingsæter, director of the Insomnia Festival, who died unexpectedly in May 2017, only 35 years old.
All material comes from artists based in Trømso, the Norwegian city within the arctic circle, covering a gamut of styles from Ande Somby’s yoiking to the wistful space of Biosphere’s Northern Oscillations and blue techno by Mental Overdrive. All proceeds from label sales go to Christian’s son, Julian.
Kenneth Kapstad’s June 2016 departure from Motorpsycho left the remaining psychos Hans Magnus Ryan and Bent Sæther fending for themselves. An almost ten-year ride was over, and things were again changing in the Psychoverse.
"After a fall busy at the Trøndelag teater, writing and performing the Begynnelser music live for 40 performances, the search for a replacement started, and by December 2016 Tomas Järmyr had become the new drummer in Motorpsycho. The fit was natural, and it didn’t take more than a couple of rehearsals for the old-timers Snah and Bent to figure this out: the chemistry was there from the get go, and by mid-January enough new material was ready for the band to start contemplating recording.
When the initial plan to work with Alain Johannes fell through due to conflicting schedules, the back-up plan - to self-produce with engineer Noah Shain and executive producer Dave Raphael at White Buffalo in Downtown L.A. - became reality, and in early March the band found themselves in Los Angeles, well-rehearsed and ready to record. The band and their cohorts hoped to get most of the work done over a three-week period, and tracking began on March 6. After about ten days of recording basic tracks for the more brutal stuff at White Buffalo, the gang decamped to Rancho De La Luna in Joshua Tree for three effective days to focus on a little more laid-back material. The final week was spent in L.A. tracking vocals and adding overdubs. After a few weeks of further work back in Norway, Noah Shain mixed the songs in L.A. in May.
As ever stretching the boundaries of their musical understanding and looking for new ways to express themselves, this is a pretty adventurous album even by Motorpsycho standards. It is easy to hear that both the new environment and the new co-conspirators influenced the band: this sounds nothing like any previous Motorpsycho album! Musically this is in parts the hardest album Motorpsycho has perpetrated in a while, and the material runs the gamut from short and sweet to lengthy and mean - even touching on heavy or stoner rock in places. It certainly is of a rather more explosive nature than most of their last album Here Be Monsters: the sounds are gnarlier and the riffs bigger, and where the last album to some perhaps was a tad too introvert, this album reflects the period it was written and is more concerned with us than me - with changes in society rather than personal issues.
These are strange days, and the lyrics reflect this. Surviving yet another change in personnel, Motorpsycho bounces back and shows yet again that the band is bigger than the individual players and that it intends to survive whatever challenges fate throws at it. The Tower, then, is a statement of intent from a band that is very much alive and kicking: this is the start of a new era in the Psychoverse, and the album stands as proof that there’s bite in the old dog yet!"
Quite literally the definitive and perhaps most complex of all post-rock albums is given a remastered reissue 23 years since its original release back in 1994. If you’re into Talk Talk’s Laughing Stock / Spirit of Eden and you don’t know this album - welcome to your new obsession.
Back in 1994 Hex sounded like a new kind of music - albeit one guided by foundations laid by Talk Talk on that pair of albums half a decade earlier, as well as by so much of what was going on in the electronic scene at the time - and especially electronic music’s fascination with dub (the Kevin Martin compiled Macro Dub Infection that came out the following year provides a good measure of this intersection, featuring everyone from Coil to Tortoise and 4 Hero). In hindsight it’s easy to join the dots from what was happening in Chicago around the nebulous web of artists revolving around Thrill Jockey and the more esoteric end of UK’s electronic scene, but at the time it really did sound like something completely alien.
Bark Psychosis suffered from the derision with which Post Rock was ultimately treated by the British music media at the time, but Hex has grown in stature over the years, and it has aged beautifully - a perfect marriage of stoned ambition, innovative recording techniques and a refusal to settle on one stylistic trajectory.
It laid foundations for so much of what was to follow over the following decade to the extent that it’s bewildering that it hasn't been given the accolades it so obviously deserves. Perhaps this new, gorgeously remastered edition will put that right.
Running Back marks its fifteenth anniversary with the release of its first label compilation, the Running Back Mastermix.
"As befitting the celebration of a landmark year in the life of Gerd Janson's widely adored imprint, Janson has invited one of house music's original & greatest proponents of the Mastermix, NYC's Tony Humphries, to curate and mix the CD & digital editions of the compilation, accompanied by an unmixed double-LP which features a handful of the compilations rare & exclusive cuts.
Beginning with Todd Terje's blockbuster 'Ragysh' and traversing tracks from across the label's history, it includes contributions from long time label regulars alongside more recent additions and reminders of some of RB's best reissues.
Label mainstays Tiger & Woods, Matthew Styles, Redshape and Leon Vynehall all appear, alongside Mr G, Paul Woolford and recent breakthrough artists Shan, Jex and Roy Camanchero. Tiger & Woods's 'Don't Hesitate' appears on vinyl for the first time, while the Dixon edit of Precious System's anthem 'The Voice From Planet Love' will be available on wax again after only appearing on a super limited 12" run the first time around.
The choice of Tony Humphries to mix the compilation is a significant one. Having received his break in the early 80s as an understudy for the legendary Shep Pettibone's Kiss FM show, Humphries went on to become one of the defining DJs of house music's formative years with his residency at New Jersey's Club Zanzibar and London's Ministry of Sound. His previous mixes illustrate his continuing ability to bridge dance music's past & present, with prior contributions to Resident Advisor and Fabric's respective series in addition to label compilations for King Street Sounds and West End Records.
"It's truly an honor to partake in this special anniversary Running Back imprint. Gerd Janson's extraordinary palette of releases are unique - it was a privilege to be involved with this project." - Tony Humphries
‘Electric Trim’ was recorded in New York City and Barcelona in collaboration with producer Raül ‘Refree’ Fernandez and extends the work of Ranaldo’s solo canon, the most recent being his 2013 album, ‘Last Night On Earth’.
"Through his collaboration with Fernandez, Ranaldo moves into some rich new sonic territories and production techniques, experimenting with electronic beats and samples alongside live players.
Ranaldo is a co-founder of Sonic Youth, a visual artist, producer and writer. In addition to Fernandez, he worked with several special guests on ‘Electric Trim’, including Sharon Van Etten, who sings on six of the tracks and duets on ‘Last Looks’ and Kid Millions (aka Man Forever), as well as longtime friend and collaborator Nels Cline (Wilco). In addition, the album features Ranaldo’s band The Dust (fellow Sonic Youth member Steve Shelley, guitarist Alan Licht and bassist Tim Luntzel).
Ranaldo collaborated with award-winning New York author Jonathan Lethem (Motherless Brooklyn / The Fortress Of Solitude) for lyrics on six of the songs. American artist Richard Prince, who previously painted the sleeve for Sonic Youth’s 2004 album ‘Sonic Nurse’, created the artwork for the album."
Sixth instalment of Gizeh’s Dark Peak series - will appeal to collectors of the series. The band have previously released on Sacred Tapes, Little Crackd Rabbi.
"A.R.C. Soundtracks is the audio/visual project of K.Craig and David Armes. DERELICTION//MIRROR is the duo’s third release, following on from a debut album; Archive: Volume One (Little Crackd Rabbit) and a cassette release for Sacred Tapes, From A Shattered Beam.DERELICTION//MIRROR was created on-residency at Salford's Islington Mill, home to GNOD, Sacred Tapes and many other noise/experimental musicians and labels. It is an audio/visual piece that uses the semi-derelict attic spaces as both inspiration and source material. Focussing on the notion of ruins and their potential for reappropriation, DERELICTION//MIRROR combines a dense, multi-layered sound-world with ritualistic visuals to create an immersive, hypnotic work.
This new film and soundtrack takes us into a bleak auditory realm of post-industrial structures and traces the role of the body within these liminal spaces. Strained harmonics and industrial, discordance mesh with veiled rhythms and spoken-word narrative to create a heavy, static energy to both sound and visuals."
Available officially for the 1st time this decade, Geinoh Yamashirogumi’s dramatic Symphonic Suite Akira arrives just ahead of the seminal sci-fi animation’s 30th anniversary. This is a facsimile reissue of the original Symphonic Suite Akira album, featuring original unremixed and complete versions mastered from same files as the 1988 release. This is not the version with dialogue and all the madness!
The ten track Symphonic Suite Akira essentially documents the film’s sonic architecture - a magisterial blend of musics from around the world, meshing the disparate systems of Bulgarian choral music, Buddhist Temple chants and Balinese gamelan in a lushly complex alliteration of sounds which framed the film’s post-apocalyptic Tokyo backdrops and cyberpunk themes.
It took Shouji Yamashiro and the 200 musicians, engineers, scientists who comprise Geinoh Yamashirogumi over six months to make Symphonic Suite Akira, apparently recording with an effectively limitless budget, and it shows. At the time of release this was an ambitiously proggy effort in consolidating various harmonic systems, building on the technologically enhanced examples of YMO and early ‘80s 4th World styles in the grandest style.
It may not contain anything quite so immediate as, say, Kenji Kawai’s OST for Ghost In The Shell, but it’s a different thing really, with a different story to tell, and it does so beautifully.
Nick Cave and Warren Ellis come together once more to score brand new thriller ‘Wind River’, directed by ‘Sicario’ writer Taylor Sheridan and starring Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner.
“The soundtrack to the beautiful ‘Wind River’ was first and foremost the incessant wind or the grieving silence of the snow,” Cave and Ellis said in a press release. “Amid those elemental forces, we made a kind of ghost score where voices whisper and choirs rise up and die away and electronics throb and pulse.”
This score is instantly reminiscent of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ ‘Skeleton Tree’, along with the pair’s recent acclaimed scores to ‘Hell Or High Water’ and ‘Lawless’.
The debut album from this Norwegian-American trio consists of two long tracks that move between intimate lyricism and hardcore expressionism, shaping one of the strongest free jazz offerings we have heard for quite some time.
"Filipino-American Jon Irabagon has topped both the Rising Star Alto Saxophone and the Rising Star Tenor Saxophone categories in Down Beat´s critics polls and been named one of Time Out New York´s 25 New York City Jazz Icons. Among the seemingly endless praise we can read "stalwart technique and a deep understanding of avant-garde vocabulary" (JazzTimes), "a musician of intense concentration who wants nothing more than to indulge a spirit of play, emphatic and unreserved" (New York Times), "some of the most galvanizing jazz of the past few years" (Time Out New York) and "one of the strongest, most flexible, and daring saxophonists at work today" (Peter Margasak).
A founder member of Mostly Other People Do The Killing, he is also an integral member of the Mary Halvorson Quintet, Dave Douglas Quintet and Barry Altschul´s 3Dom Factor and has taken part on a vast number of records. Guitarist John Hegre and drummer Nils Are Drønen have both been central on the fertile music scene in Bergen for many years, Hegre possibly most known for his long partnership with Lasse Marhaug in Jazzkammer and Jazkamer, while Drønen has played in a number of project and groups including The Last Hurrah!!. They met up with New York resident Irabagon during one of his many visits to Bergen where he has established a deep musical friendship with The Last Hurrah!! founder HP Gundersen.”
‘Birthdeath Experience’ was the band’s first album, recorded in 1980 and using only an effects pedal, two synths and a tone generator.
The recordings are raw and unpolished and the trio of William Bennett, Paul Reuter and Peter McKay use their equipment to belch out a Throbbing Gristle inspired noisy, pseudo industrial slop. Crackling static and swirling feedback sounds soar over wobbling subbass and of course William Bennet’s screamed poetry.
Vol.II of Edition RZ’s documentation for the Inventionen Festival which ran between 1982-2010. Following Vol. I, Horatio Radelescu’s String Quartet No.4, this volume collects nine pieces by Hildegard Westerkamp, Salvatore Sciarrino, John Cage, Sainkho Namtchylak, Joe Jones, Giacinto Scelsi, Masanori Fujita, John Driscoll.
Hildegard Westerkampf opens with a ten minute electro-acoustic study based on the sentence from Indian mystic Kirpal Sing, When there is no sound, hearing is alert, which she feathers out ionto Whisper Study (1975-79) from the festival’s 1986 edition. Salvatore Sciarrino’s Sciarrino: Codex Purpureus (1963-83) For String Trio follows in tense, quiet fashion from the 1994 festival.
John Cage’s super sparse Cage: Music For Piano 55-63 (1956) from the 1992 festival is an exercise in purposelessness, following structureless notation - “Nosies were crotchets without stems”. Sainkho Namtchylak’s haunting overtone singing and gong work in, Namatchylak: Roots And Vibrations (1994) comes next, from the 1994 edition of the festival.
Joe Jones Solar Orchestra (1982/90), is a binaural recording of the titular, solar and wind powered installation at work at the TU Berlin, 1990. John Cage’s Music For Piano 78-84 (1956), a piece dictated by the I-Ching, is performed by Herbert Henck and recorded at the 1992 festival.
Giacinto Scelsi’s Scelsi: From 20 Canti Del Capricorno (1962-72) (No. 1, No. 4) For Voice (And Additional Instruments) is written for and performed by japanese vocalist Michio Kirayama, including some remarkable extended technique trills and microtonal singing, recorded at the 1992 festival.
A strong highlight of the set is Fujita: From Jü-Jü-Shin (1986) For 15 Buddhist Monks, a complex 23 minute piece written 1200 years ago for the Shingon-Buddhist sect and recorded at the festival’s 1986 edition. John O’Driscoll’s kinetic sculptural sound installation A Hall Is All completes this volume.
Yasuaki Shimizu’s Music For Commercials  is here given a much needed first ever reissue some 30 years since it appeared on Crammed's Made To Measure library music series, which also included editions by Tuxedomoon and Hctor Zazou. Very safe to say that if you were enchanted by Visible Cloaks’ Reassemblage LP or their Fairlights, Mallets & Bamboo mixes, this one is a must!
In 24 parts Shimizu unfolds a tightly packed lattice of crystalline gems and vignettes crafted for TV commercials, plus the 15 minute Ka-Cho-Fu-Getsu piece for a Computer Animation Video which is practically worth the price of entry alone.
Presumably titled after the corporations who employed him, you’ll find stacks of super sweet, pastoral 4th world emulations patched from keys, sax, gamelan, drum machines and electronics for the likes of Seiko, Ricoh, Sharp, Honda, Knorr and Bridgestone, each as exactingly cute and piquant as the last.
Known for his numerous albums, soundtracks, and collaborations including with the likes of Ryuichi Sakamoto and Bjork, this is perhaps Shimizu's most sought-after and influential work and one that perfectly encapsulates our collective yearning for peace and quiet in an increasingly commercialised, chaotic world.
Laurel Halo focusses and diffracts her energies into the hi-tech jazz-fusion advancement of Dust; her stellar 3rd album with Hyperdub following the modern classic Quarantine  and the harder-to-grasp Chance Of Rain .
Whilst fully formed in their own rights, those records now appear to be a playground or warm-up for the stunningly loose yet instinctively coherent geometries and ideas that crystallise, slosh and flit all over this one, and which should surely place Halo among the most enigmatic artists in her astral field.
While swarmed with a daring roll call of collaborators such as Klein, Eli Keszler, Julia Holter, $hit & $hine and Max D, Laurel’s myriad ideas both anchor and form a glowing lattice which beautifully perfuses the whole record, tying together her roots in Detroit techno’s makeup - sci-fi, jazz, electro, japanese electronics, dub and nEuropean concrète - and seamlessly incorporating up-to-the-minute gestures from pop, R&B and 4.1 world dimensions in the most elusive yet insoluble style of her own.
If pushed to reduce that concoction to any one common factor, it’s got to be the sense of keening electronic soul that lights up the whole album, lending a cybernetic sensuality and pathos that’s entirely of its time yet totally transcendent for anyone with ears open wide enough to accept the interrelated nature of all the above references.
It would take a braver scribe than us to properly dissect each track, but the exercise would also be a a little pointless or, at least like like describing architecture thru dance, which funnily enough is perhaps the best analogy; a prism thru which to view the deliquescent R&B physics of Solar To Sun and Jelly at the album’s front, to the 3D weft of tribal percussion and Kraftwerkian bleeps wrapped into the avant-pop structure of Moontalk and the insectoid perspective of Nicht Ohne Risiko, or drifting out of 10th storey windows in the dusk of a hot summer day in Who Won? at the album’s core, whilst Syzygy sounds like an ancient construction site visited by a choir of swooping R&B angels from the future.
There’s little doubt that Dust will be one of our favourite albums for the (hopefully) long hot summer of 2017 and beyond; it’s just a brilliant, imaginative and inspiring piece of work.
Zola Jesus lets it all bleed out on Okovi, a typically grandiose new album of towering gothic opera-pop and embittered electronic textures.
Save for a few guest appearances on records by Jozef Van Wissem and Run The Jewels that displayed her artistic mutability, Nika Roza Danilova has arguably been conspicuous by her solo absence since Taiga for Mute in 2014, and corrects that in a big way inside Okovi, which relocates her sound to the clash of aching pop and experimental instincts that made her early sides so memorable.
We could largely put that switchback down to a rekindled relationship with Sacred Bones, site of Zola’s Stridulum sides, Conatus and hook-up with Dean Hurley. In this safe space for her tortured sound she’s clearly more comfortable to express personalised styles, as opposed to the radio-ready pop of Taiga, teaming up with Stridulum producer Alex DeGroot and also working with like-minded dark soul, James Kelly aka Wife to properly realise her potency.
Underlined by a sextet of strings, electronics and percussion, Zola mounts some of her most impressive work in years with a big highlight in the industrial thunder and pealing vocals of Exhumed, while benefitting from Wife’s sore gothic trap tics on Siphon, and really sharpening her taloned industrial instincts in the warped, glum thump and arena-sized escalation of Veka and, by contrast, the poised restraint of Wiseblood.
On his absorbing 2nd album for Planet Mu, Canada’s Antwood becomes the latest artist to take cues from the world of ASMR (Auto Sensory Meridian Response) after making sampled references in his debut LP, Virtuous.scr.
However, with Sponsored Content, do not expect an album of soothing tones and pleasing haptic rustles; rather it is a fractious, uncomfortably sensuous set written in response to the artist’s dissatisafaction with a popular ASMR YouTuber incorporating sponsored content - advertisements - into her videos, which Antwood was then using as a sleep aid.
Sponsored Content is therefore on the surface an album about, in his own words “the ubiquity of ads and commodification of online content”, but ultimately as he came to realise, it was just as much about “intentionally devaluing the the things i’ve invested myself into, and over-complicating my work”. Simultaneously serious in concept but playful with it - as any record dealing with ASMR has to be, really - the result is a strangely hyperreal sort of avant-pop experience, quite explicitly so in the extreme autotune application of closing track, Human or with a sort of James Ferraro meets 0PN at Visionist’s aesthetic for the majority, with highlights in the fibrillation designs of ICU and the grimy trap tang of Commodity Fetish Mode or the sublime thizz of Don’t Go.
Mount Kimbie follow-up their Cold Spring Fault Less Youth  with a 2nd LP for Warp, Love What Survives, featuring guest vocals from their mates; King Krule, Andrea Balency, James Blake and Mica Levi.
"Love What Survives’ is the third studio album from Mount Kimbie. It is a melodic yet robust electronic record for driving with the windows down - a distillation of their career to date, mixing multiple singing voices and musical personalities, flirting with freeform experimentation, pop tropes and an expansive sonic palette."
Lunice weighs in a tightly packed album of new hip hop and club mutations with CCCLX for LuckyMe landing in the wake of production for Lil Wayne, Le1f, Azealia Banks and Kanye West since the start of the decade, and even a slot as Madonna’s 2015 tour DJ.
Subtly framed like a sort of stage play or futurist hip hop opera, CCCLX follows a finely structured dramaturgy with titles such as CCCLX (Curtain) and CCCLX (Intermission) or CCCLX (Costume) and a revolving roll call of voices and production characters coming into play including Québécois MCs Speng and CJ Flemming, and Denzel Curry and Le1f appearing alongside contribution from SOPHIE.
Standout cuts come in the form of Drop Down, featuring ratchet production from SOPHIE and catty bars from Le1f, and also the fiercely icy but bugged-out O.N.O., but safe to say if you’ve followed Lunice since the start, you’ll be all over the whole thing.
Lush dream-pop meets sleek electro and synth-pop in diaphanous phorm, delivered with trust by Mike Simonetti’s 2MR label
“Moscow's Kedr Livanskiy (real name Yana Kedrina) confesses "Synthesizers help me maximally feel the present moment." Livanskiy was born into a shifting and critical time for Russia. The Soviet Union had exhausted and old values were anathematized because of reconstruction. A sense of displacement drove Kedr to find herself. She's escaped reality repeatedly in her explorations into the imagery and ideas of romanticism, mythical and fairytale themes which visibly bleed throughout her work and especially on her debut full-length 'Ariadna'. The title track which was named after the Greek goddess, Adriane, debuted via THUMP today who've described it "anchors its elegantly drifting shoegaze melodies with a knocking electro beat."
Kedr considers this album to be divided into a couple of different parts - like how one person can contain many different moods. The first half revolves around mythological thoughts and the second takes cues from the urban and suburban environments around her, all the while in the middle of everything is the hero who experiences real feelings and emotions.
Kedr also channels the places in her neighborhood on the outskirts of Moscow (affectionately dubbed by her as "BORDER MOSCOW"). There's a river there where identical Soviet high-rises stand on both sides, with a bridge and garbage processing plant adjacent. Where nature and industry meet. The whole scene looks very apocalyptic, but also mystical and mysterious, especially at twilight.
Her inspiration for this record comes from the Izhevsk (sometimes referred to as "the capital of Russian electronic music") sound of the 80s, including groups like Stuk Bambuka V XI Chasov (Bamboo Crash at 11AM) and Samtsy Dronta. The movement in Russian experimental music is especially inspiring, with acts likes Valery Chkalov, Sergey Kuryokhin and Pop Mechanica; in general, the late-Soviet period was very inspiring with all its figures in music, cinema, their energy and their approach towards life and art.
'Ariadna' marks a change in her recording approach: her critically acclaimed breakthrough EP 'January Sun' was written and recorded completely in Ableton, while 'Ariadna' was written using the Roland SH-101, Roland Juno 106 and Korg Minilogue synthesizers, then mixed down in Ableton. According to Kedr, "This way, one gets into a flow of live interaction, here and now, with the instrument."
To her, this interaction is more "raw and sacred" than actually mixing the track down, which seems like "mere formalism" in comparison. There is a definite leap in production values this time around, but Kedr manages to keep true to her sound despite the greater polish and depth.”
Liturgy’s highly regarded drummer, Greg Fox beats out a levitating, freeform, rhythmelodic swirl connected as much to his math metal roots as ambient and jazz schools. If Bruce Ditmas got down with TCF and Alice Coltrane…
“The Gradual Progression is a transformative collection of new music by Greg Fox. The seven pieces of The Gradual Progression activate spiritual states through physical means, Fox’s rigorous inner rhythms the mandalic vessel for unbound expression and arrangement. TGP signals both a reconciliation of disparate musical ventures and a new nirvanic stage in the artist’s oeuvre.
Fox views TGP as an exploration of selfhood, and more specifically, the search for his true voice as an artist. Though such a journey is by nature ongoing, if not essentially elusive, the discoveries along the path are the musical riches of TGP. For his second solo album, Fox employs new methods of externalizing his polyrhythmic virtuosity into non-physical realms.
This transfer of energy is achieved through responsive environments tethered to various aspects of the performance. Sensors attached to Fox’s drum kit trigger tonal palettes, or virtual instruments invented for each piece, which Fox communes with in the post-Free Jazz manner. That is, locating and emphasizing states of universal resonance in solo and ensemble settings in place of demonstrating individual ability.
This is where the album’s canonic influences – and inventors – are most recognizable. Pharoah Sanders’ Elevation and Don Cherry’s Organic Music Society come to mind, though the guidance of master drummer and holistic healer Milford Graves ultimately made TGP possible. For Fox’s astonishing 2014 album Mitral Transmissions, Graves assisted Fox in adapting software that translated output signals from biological sources to virtual instruments. For TGP, Fox again used percussion to initiate passages whose intensity and vibrancy match Fox’s energetic presence and focus.”
Hushed, sylvan songwriting from Mexican-Norwegian artist Carmen Villain, including subtly captivating production from Helge Sten (Deathprod) on Quietly, and a ghostly highlight in collaboration with Jenny Hval on Borders.
“We’re all on our own unique emotional road trips. Infinite Avenue happens to be Carmen’s. Here she is, holed up in the Motel Nowheresville, unpacking a suitcase full of stories of guilt, desire, rage, apathy, love and friendship, loneliness, nature, inner demons and other tales of twenty-first century womanhood. Carmen Villain is half-Norwegian and half-Mexican, born in the USA and now living in Oslo, Norway, having moved back after living in London for a few years. She has a lot of stories to tell.
Writing, recording and producing alone, Carmen’s intensely personal songs are entirely self-created in her makeshift studio, made up of tapestries of guitar, piano, programmed drums and synths, making the most she could out of her limited gear. Once she had arrived at more than enough tracks for a follow-up album to 2013’s 'Sleeper,' some of them were mixed with experimental house producer Matt Karmil and ‘Quietly’ was treated by noise improviser Helge Sten (aka Deathprod).
Taboo-busting Norwegian artist Jenny Hval contributes lyrics and vocals on ‘Borders’, a song especially relevant among today’s tightening frontiers in America and elsewhere. ‘Red Desert’ is titled after the legendary Antonioni movie about a woman’s survival tactics in a surreal industrial landscape full of existential crisis. ‘To me the movie feels like a perfect visual representation of what it can be like to be anxious and uncomfortable in your head sometimes,’ says Carmen. Musically, 'Infinite Avenue' has a similar effect.
With 'Infinite Avenue,' Carmen Villain’s songwriting and production skills have taken a major leap forward, and on the final, ethereal ‘Planetarium’ her voice shoots into the stratosphere, riding the comet tail of a Korg bass drone. It’s about acknowledging the immensity of the universe, while remembering that we’ve each got our own private constellation of issues to deal with down here. It’s a typically Villainous contrast of rapture and irony, with a murmured coda recorded as she was falling asleep one night. ‘Everything I write has to be true,’ she says, ‘even if I sometimes find it’s too confessional. Whatever was my truth at that moment.’
The hollow-eyed woman on the cover, that’s Hollywood actress Gena Rowlands, partner of the late director John Cassavetes – a heroine of Carmen’s because of the way her face and body can so brilliantly express psychological states, nervousness, being stressed out, desperation, anxiety, joy without necessarily using words. A freakish dream sequence in 'Love Streams,' where she gambles with the love of her estranged husband and child and desperately tries to make them laugh with a bunch of practical-joke toys, is manic genius – and one of Carmen’s favourite film scenes. Ms Rowlands, by the way, personally approved the use of her image for this project.
A famous movie maker once called film ‘truth at 24 frames per second’. With 'Infinite Avenue,' you get an earful of truth at 33 1/3 revs per minute.”
The National return with their seventh studio album, ‘Sleep Well Beast’.
It was produced by member Aaron Dessner with co-production by Bryce Dessner and Matt Berninger. The album was mixed by Peter Katis and recorded at Aaron Dessner’s Hudson Valley, New York studio, Long Pond, with additional sessions having taken place in Berlin, Paris and Los Angeles.
The arch avant cuties rope in Juana Molina, Matana Roberts, and Lætitia Sadier a.o. for their most accessible album pretty much ever. The disco friendly ‘Come Down Here & Say That’ feat. Stereolab’s Lætitia Sadier is particularly choice and a great way in!
“Though Deerhoof have often made albums from start to finish with virtually no input from the outside world, now is not the time for artists to operate in isolation. Mountain Moves throws the doors wide open. Working quickly, the band invited myriad guests to participate, some of them dear friends, others practically strangers. They are of different ages, different nationalities, different disciplines. The only common thread was that each and every artist on Mountain Moves doesn't fit into a single, neatly-defined category – and doesn't wish to.
The results, as expected, were unexpected. Guide vocals and simple melodies were dispatched via email, only to be answered with an outpouring of alternate harmonies, suggestions for arrangements, additional instrumentation. Every file received triggered a new rush of jumbled emotions. Some guests crafted their contributions in the small hours of the dawn, toiling in hotel rooms before driving eight hours to the next tour date; others hopped on the subway and recorded with the band in-person.
Collisions and collusions abound on Mountain Moves. In addition to its bounty of originals, the program includes three covers that epitomize the album's assemblage of disparate ideas and personalities. Reducing Bob Marley's "Small Axe" to a beat-less fragment of hymn-like simplicity magnifies the song's rebellious spirit and undercurrent of violence. Deerhoof vocalist Satomi Matsuzaki, a Japanese immigrant, lifts the Staple Singers' "Freedom Highway" out of its original place and time, imbuing it with a new sense of alienation from one's own country. Snippets of the bass recitative "For behold, darkness shall cover the earth" from Handel's Messiah provide the foundation for a fresh take on Chilean folk hero Violeta Parra's bittersweet masterpiece "Gracias a la Vida."
Adventures outside the United States also informed the making of Mountain Moves. During a recent visit to Brazil, the band was astonished to see how enthusiastically audiences at concerts sang, danced, and reveled – a cultural response, they learned, to the scarcity of resources for all but the nation's wealthiest elites. Elsewhere, the experience of confronting unfamiliar audiences of fired-up Red Hot Chili Peppers fans taught them that one of their greatest skills – the ability to recalibrate their sound nightly to suit a particular venue – wasn't limited to basements or small clubs. The broader strokes of Mountain Moves sprang forth from lessons learned while trying to engage audiences of 20,000+ across the vast distances of Northern European sporting arenas.
If Mountain Moves were a movie, it would be a double feature, Journey to the Center of the Deerhoof and Escape from Planet Deerhoof, shown side-by-side simultaneously. The record epitomizes the band at its very best, exploring new realms between the poles of independence and invention. It also serves as a welcoming point of entry for new listeners outside Deerhoof's traditional orbit, an opportunity to bring even more voices into the communal conversation. We're all in this together.”
DeepChord’s Rod Modell, together with peers Chris McNamara, Walter Wasacz and Michael Mantra [R.I.P.], offer an immersive, hour long portrait of Lakeport, Michigan in the spring rain with Shoreside’s Summer Cottage Soundscapes. Expect a sublime suspension system of wistful ambient strokes, distant bird calls and crackling ambient embers evoking intimate times up-country.
“Shorelights, "Summer Cottage Music" Recorded in the drizzle at Armstrong's Lakeport Resort Campground, Lakeport Michigan, Spring 2017. A quadraphonic recording. EQ curves optimized for low-volume playback. Mastered to Tandberg TD20A. Field recordings via Sound Devices 702 + Core-Sound High End Binaural Microphones, and Marantz PMD-430 stereo cassette + Crown SASS Microphone. The sound of sitting on the back-porch, watching Lake Huron during a spring drizzle. Strange lights glistening in the trees. The omnipresent pulse of Mother Earth in the countryside.
Quiet sonics / energies not experienced in today's busy metropolises. This and a pair of headphones is a ticket to a lakeside camp in a warm spring rain. Sensuous and evocative. A 60 minute sound sphere designed for escapism and exquisitely emulates an environment to drift and engage in quiet relief, one that is highly-dynamic and seriously sublime.”
Dextrous new experiments in ambient-related electronics from original West Coast new age adepts, K. Leimer and Marc Barreca
“Dual Mono is the third Barreca | Leimer collaboration. The process used for producing Dual Mono was designed to destabilize established habits and predilections in favor of responding to the music in at least subjectively new ways. It was also designed to reduce the illusion of control, to become more responsive to and accepting of unpredicted outcomes, and to give the music—as much as possible—a voice less tampered with.
Each piece for Dual Mono was authored by only one of the participants, the other receiving MIDI data and being limited to revoicing the composition. With a general goal of maintaining a result that was somewhat, though not purely, minimalist in sympathy, each piece was then assembled in its final form by the originator, now limited to controlling relative levels, crossfades, editing and processing. The final fifteen pieces that span two CDs embrace a range of emergent, generative and traditional forms that express a calm, informed ambience amid unsettled, shifting soundscapes.
Of an earlier collaboration, Textura stated “the sheer density of sound presented in representative settings such as ‘Loess’, ‘Talus’, and ‘Oram’ is incredible, and one comes away from Field Characteristics convinced that the claim regarding the hundreds of sounds involved in the recording’s presentation is clearly fact, not hyperbole.””
Country-rock meets ambient electronics on the debut LP by Madeline Kenney and producer, Chaz Burdock aka Toro Y Moi. RIYL Mazzy Star, Calexico...
“Madeline Kenney begins her new album with a helpful reminder: “Don’t forget, there’s room for you.” The declaration is meant to lay to rest unnecessary competition. The universe is pretty large. It’s a fitting welcome to Kenney’s debut full-length, "Night Night At The First Landing." The record is framed by meditative, repetitive recordings that each offer some kind of encouragement. "Don't you worry about a thing, you're fine." "I won't give up on anything now." The trip on "Night Night" is deciding whether the narrator is full of confidence or talking to themselves privately.
Kenney began working on the record immediately after completing her first EP, 2016’s Signals. As with Signals, Company Records label head Chaz Bear (Toro Y Moi) was on hand as producer, but with Kenney as the arranger and key creative force, "Night Night" reveals more of the artist. Kenney wrote and arranged all the songs and tracked most of the instruments at home.
"No one's a hero for just being strong," Kenney sings on first single “Rita,” letting us know it’s about action and how that strength is utilized. It takes guts. The song bursts with an exhilarating guitar workout providing a clear-headed version of distorted bliss. Similarly euphoric is a math-y tapout on “Witching Hour.” Narratives of people and how those people affect others are surrounded by musical worlds of echo and propulsion. The melody through-line of “Always” is a transfixing piano part of royal heritage. “Big One” is a lyrical puzzle and a musical skip across happy times.
The album is unavoidably dreamy, dipping into sweet fuzz while usually sailing through smooth, crystalline production. The songs are about people, and though people sometimes disappoint, this record is meant to comfort. Fall into it and imagine the clouds scooping you up, or the changing tide’s ripples gliding you past a gentle moon’s new reflection.”
Echospace nuzzle your cochlea with a painstakingly restored demo of Steve Hitchell’s work as Radius, initially recorded live to tape between 1995-2000, now restored to gauzy bliss and repackaged with a bonus disc of CV313 reworks. Oceanic, intergalactic, timeless; total manna for dub house ambient fiends!
“An unreleased classic from the vaults emerges with beautiful reshapes by cv313 (recorded and reshaped from 2007-2016). This is where the sound of cv313 was realized, culled from cassette tapes recorded live (1995-2000) with nothing but analog/digital hardware, no computer in sight (excluding our Commodore 64 midi sequencer, which is still alive and well today). The radius project has been absent since the final release in 2001, the first 12" appearing in 1996 (limited white label run of 100 copies pressed at Acme pressing in Canada) after revisiting these works we realized there was truly some magic here. This project was initially sent to Rod Modell & Mike Schommer shortly after they launched their brilliant deepchord label in 2001. They were incredibly kind in saying it was the best demo they had ever heard and passed it on to Octal records for release, sadly, that didn't materialize and since then these masters have been collecting dust in our cassette rack for nearly 20 years now. We've spent months doing our best to restore the old tapes from our Tascam 688, an 8 track cassette recorder purchased and abused since 1992 and to our ears still sounds quite impressive even by modern standards. (that is of course, if you can get past the tape hiss) We've had nearly every component replaced and re-calibrated to bring this obsolete machine back to life, it's been a truly nostalgic experience re-visiting these masters.
We truly hope you enjoy reliving these magical times of music, very inspired by all that was happening in those years, there was just something in the air, an undeniable energy, long may it live on…”
In Pessimist, Blackest Ever Black’s furtive D&B agent submits a killer debut LP recce from the no man’s land between jungle, tekno and greyscale electronics - a definitively Bristolian sound. Forming a logical expansion of the themes explored in his work with the Ruffhouse trio and in solo shots for A14 and Osiris Music UK over recent years, his first album finds him working in acres of negative space to fully indulge his worries for the dance, arguably resulting in a new high-water mark for the D&B album format.
Thanks to a natural predilection for minimalism and a fine tuned sensitivity towards textured, atmospheric detail, Pessimist succeeds where the vast majority of D&B long-players fail; fundamentally keeping our interest without resorting to beating us around the head with the latest plugin acrobatics. Rather, Pessimist uses techniques of stealth and guile to draw in and toy with his prey, resulting a far more intriguing and satisfying dispatch from the dark side of the echo chamber.
Like we say, it’s sculpted as a proper album, as opposed to a clutch of middling bangers, replete with intro, outro and a tempered transfer of energy between the tracks that necessarily curves the listener’s enthusiasm between pockets of dank ambience, dread dub dimensions and rolling, ghostly tech-steppers.
Aside from the bolshy techno of Peter Hitchens and clinical badboy rolige of Through The Fog, it’s all exclusive new material, churning up some robust highlights with Grit’s hunched and grubbing torque, and the stark, crispy Spirals, but we’d have to point to his No Matter What collaboration with Overlook for the LP’s most impressive mutation of pure UK bassbin pressure. If we’ve any gripes, though, it’s from the splashback of his breakbeats that come in half way thru Grit and dominating his Glued link-up with Loop Faction, but apart from those, it’s a proper dark fantasy.
Collaboration between French ensemble Astrïd and American pianist and composer Rachel Grimes.
"Rachel Grimes is best known for her chamber music project Rachel’s, a hugely influential group formed in 1991 in Louisville, Kentucky, releasing six studio albums between 1995 and 2005. She has also released a string of contemporary classical works in recent years on labels such as Temporary Residence. Astrïd is a collective of four musicians based in Nantes, releasing records on Rune Grammofon and Home Normal.
After years of mail and email back and forth over the ocean, from Nantes to Kentucky, astrïd invited Rachel to come for a residency to make music together and play shows in France. They gathered for a few days, here and there, in 2012 and 2013 to write songs in Cyril and Vanina’s home studio in the countryside.
The compositions found on Through the Sparkle glow with a unique, connected energy and a pure, instinctive musical understanding. Considered contributions from all sides allow the pieces to unfurl naturally. Each note and phrase feels like it simply couldn’t be placed anywhere else in the album.
Charming, gentle and cinematic sounds are found here in abundance. Melodies circle and reveal themselves without force, allowing the listener to focus and explore the depths of what is on offer. Musically, Through the Sparkle is an expansive and evocative album. There is a presence to be felt throughout, from Cyril Secq’s emotive tremelo’d guitars of M5 to the darker, more haunting mood of The Theme, to the tension in Mossgrove & Seaweed. Strings and woodwind coalesce around intricate piano and guitar movements creating a wealth of harmony and melancholy.
Through the Sparkle is a record of miniature symphonies, of elegant restraint. A gracious and generous offering from a group of musicians at one with each other and at the top of their game."
Kompakt’s Total series gracefully approaches adulthood with its 17th annual showcase of family and friends, rounding up material issued over the last annum alongside a grip of eight exclusive new bits.
For highlights, we advise checking out Danny Daze / Shokh’s rave-ready charge Aire; the lean tribal swerve of Dawn by Locked Groove; some lush early ‘90s house pressure in Voigt & Voigt’s Tribute To A Greek God; or the wistful breakbeat budge of Weval’s Metazoa for something a bit more off kilter.
Pretty mirriboard jacket housing some ‘avant’, psychy art rock. RIYL lentils, beards
“The idea that rock music ever pretended to promise ‘transcendence’ is ridiculous, or at least it seems so under present conditions. Leaving aside the obvious question even (‘transcendence’ of what?), the idea seems archaic, optimistic in a way that’s hard to access in the Trump/Brexit era. Chris Forsyth’s music is too kinetically aware, too intelligent, and frankly too goddamn punk to make any such outsized promises, but also nearly impossible to hear without considering the idea. Because as sure as Dreaming In The Non-Dream is subject to all the dread pressures that have contorted us all of late —it would be a drab mistake to call this a “political record,” but also straight-up lazy to miss its subtle cues— it offers . . .one won’t say a “way out,” exactly (hardly), but something along the lines of a way through. It’s a record that conveys ecstasy as surely as Pharoah Sanders does, or the Velvet Underground did.
In this respect, it’s hard to imagine who Forsyth’s contemporaries might be. But then it’s always been this way: the greats tend to feel a little out-of-plumb with their moment (only hindsight lets us see it otherwise), and Forsyth’s music has been sparring with some large forces from the beginning. He’s always united the homely with the astral, the abstract with the visceral in his Solar Motels and Intensity Ghosts. There’s something different about Dreaming In The Non-Dream, though. There’s a fresh economy involved here, a sense, strange as this is to say about a record with two songs longer than eleven minutes, of not a note wasted. Despite psychedelic leanings, Forsyth’s records have always trained toward concision — plenty of space, yet never slack— but these tunes erupt with startling swiftness, then spend the rest of their quick-burning lives teasing multiple moods and patterns out of relatively simple materials. “History & Science Fiction” pads in on the back of a slinky, almost shy, bass line, then —after a little blast of glassy percussion— hurls us about a mile into the air before arriving, startlingly, at a saxophone arrangement (!) that evokes early Roxy Music. The title track seems to gene-splice two of the great minimalist themes, Pere Ubu’s “Heart of Darkness” and Neu’s “Hallogallo,” into one surging, winding, pulsing ride: Music For Speeding Tickets. Even the pensive, aqueous “Two Minutes Love,” which sounds a bit like something Ry Cooder could’ve written for the Paris, Texas soundtrack troubled by ghosts both placid and deranged, does a lot —really, a lot— with barely more than a whisper.
Those titles, though. It’s hard not to notice that “History & Science Fiction” might refer to the intersection we’re all standing at now, pinned by the consequences of the former and living, abruptly, within the latter; “Two Minutes Love” inverts Orwell’s “Two Minutes Hate” from 1984; as for the title track, well, that utilitarian “non-dream” could just as well be a euphemism for nightmare. But it’s “Have We Mistaken The Bottle For The Whiskey Inside?” that’s most explicit. Over a prowling, stabbing, Stones-ish backdrop —one that, naturally, will accelerate itself into something different— Forsyth sings about, well, transcendence: about “los(ing) my senses” and the suspension of self-judgment, about the gaps between ideation and execution, and, of course, between container and content. Perhaps the most canny thing about Forsyth’s music is how little explanation he’s willing to attach to it. Not out of coyness, or any need to gin up a little mystery: there just isn’t any need for it. When the whiskey’s this strong, who needs a bottle at all? - Matthew Specktor”
Guitarist and composer Terje Rypdal (1947) is probably as close as one gets to a living legend in Norwegian music.
"Born in Oslo on 23rd August, Rypdal was already a star at home in his teens with pop-rock group The Vanguards. This was followed by the timely and inevitable passage through psychedelia with quartet The Dream, releasing their only album, Get Dreamy, in 1967. In 1968, still only 21 years old, Rypdal released Bleak House, the first, quite extraordinary album under his own name, fully showing what direction he was moving into. Min Bul, his trio with Bjørnar Andresen and Espen Rud, followed with their only album two years later. Rypdal and fellow Norwegians Jan Garbarek, Arild Andersen and Jon Christensen were quickly picked up by Manfred Eicher, starting his ECM label.
The quartet released Afric Pepperbird in 1970, only the seventh album on ECM, and Rypdal would follow with Terje Rypdal the year after. The four of them would soon establish themselves as pillars of a progressive jazz movement in Norway and indeed Europe. Rypdal was at an early age also drawn towards contemporary composers like Ligeti and Penderecki, and would later write a number of symphonies and genre-crossing orchestral works. He would also revisit his rock roots on several occasions. Terje Rypdal has received a number of awards, including three Norwegian Grammies (Spellemannpris), the last being the honorary award in 2005. Sky Music is a humble and heartfelt celebration of an inspirational artist and truly unique guitarist that hasn´t fully received the due credit and recognition he deserves for over 50 years of music making.
Initiated by the experimental US guitarist and lifelong Rypdal fan Henry Kaiser, we put together a Rune Grammofon all star band including keyboardist and long time Rypdal side-kick Ståle Storløkken (Elephant9, Supersilent), bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (Scorch Trio, The Thing), drummer Gard Nilssen (Bushman´s Revenge), guitarists Even H. Hermansen (Bushman´s Revenge) and Hedvig Mollestad, Finnish guitarist Raoul Björkenheim (Scorch Trio) and Swedish guitarist Reine Fiske (Dungen). Kaiser also played and produced while Hans Magnus Ryan (Motorpsycho) added bits and pieces and Jim O´Rourke beamed in his exquisite contributions to "Sunrise" from Tokyo. Bill Frisell, Nels Cline and David Torn delivered their solo interpretations, Cline with the aid of cellist Erik Friedlander. Sky Music is their birthday present to Terje Rypdal at 70."
Mogwai return with their 9th studio album which was recorded with producer Dave Fridmann at his Tarbox Road Studios in New York State.
"Every Country’s Sun, named after a friend’s lack of knowledge in how the universe works, takes two decades of Mogwai’s signature contrasting sounds and distils it, beautifully, into 56 concise minutes of gracious elegance, hymnal trance-rock and transcendental euphoria. It will definitely appeal to fans of the band and will gain many new ones along the way."
20 years since they peaked out with a seminal, eponymous techno album, Thomas Köner and Andy Mellwig’s Porter Ricks return with a super robust, dynamic new LP of hydro-tech mutations for Tresor, following up the gritty example set on last year's Shadow Boat 12”.
Tough but deep whatever way you view it, Anguilla Electrica revolves around a signature Tresor sound in effect, toiling well into the trench between aerobic proprioception and psychoacoustic sound design with an immersive, sensational impact that’s just as bracing on headphones as when felt over a big rig - although we’d definitely recommend the latter!
Its six cuts are optimised to a pair of LP's, giving nuff room for the likes of their scowling, skudgy title track and the distended, subaquatic stepper Scuba Rondo to fully flex their thrilling dynamics over a side-a-piece, while elsewhere they perfectly reprise the elemental psychedelia of their early releases with the pendulous swang of Shoal Boat and the sloshing skanker, Port of Tangency.
But if we’re talking about techno psychedelia in terms of amorphous dexterity and elusiveness, then the most impressive examples are reserved to the breathtakingly intricate flux of Sandy Ground, and no doubt the near-weightless, water-treading abstraction and unquantised polymetrics of Prismatic Error.
Take it as a firm yet mutable reminder of what’s possible within the dub-tech-noise paradigm; a deeply smart way of consolidating keening experimental impetus with proper dancefloor pressure.
In annual sequence, Fred P deposits the 3rd and final batch of FP-Oner works spanning esoteric jazz, field recordings and driving NYC/Berlin club music
“Children are laughing and playing in the back, a baby screams happily: handsome field recordings welcome the listener to the final chapter of Fred P's Fp-Oner trilogy for Mule Musiq. The New York City native's 7 features tunes for deep meditative club use and beyond. 7 brings the listener house music full of cosmic realities, odd jazzing moments, Japanese spoken word pop, synth spheres for ambient use, and an overall outer-national atmosphere that handsomely dances between roughness and subtle, tuned-in deepness.
Fred P explains: "I chose to base this project on numbers in order to impart a bit of depth and substance. '5', '6' and '7' have a meaning in both the literal and esoteric sense. We as a species are a combination of matter and energy, so it is a matter of relating the two in harmony. . . . It's like a testimony to the human condition and how we relate to treat and mistreat one another. . . . So rather than doing a project that highlights ego posture, my intent is more about what can I give to the listener." At large, the trilogy is a journey inward -- compelling, mesmerizing, and enchanting.
Fred P produced the final chapter mostly in his studio in Berlin on various synths and with a bunch of mysterious samples, all later organized and programmed in Ableton. Fred P explains further: "This project has a beginning, middle, and end. The record 5 (MUSIQ 048CD/187LP, 2015) was intended to introduce a meditative energy within a rhythmic construct, as the number '5' represents the dynamic and unpredictable. . . . The album 6 (MUSIQ 055CD/200LP, 2016) is of an earthly and more harmonious discord. I attempt to bring the inner conflict in the form of natural unnaturalness. The raw energy of the search in this project I think is self-explanatory, which is the point I believe to show how flawed one can be but express very specific themes honestly. Finally, with 7 my goal is to merge the two into balance, as one focused state of mind, as '7' is the thinker beyond understanding or beyond the illusion."
Listen deeply, open your doors of perception, dance the atomic mess around, stay small, be true, and don't forget, Fp-Oner's music is a traveling zone with a universal meaning. It can mean many things to different people. "Light Years" features Minako.”
Betty Davis was riding high in the 70s. A new record label, a series of high profile relationships, and intensely sexualized live performances made her a rising star. It seemed like everything was aligned to take the music world by storm.
"So Betty and band got back into the studio where she would act as writer, producer, and performer, creating what she thought would be her definitive release... What emerged was the unapologetically uncompromising, self-referential 1975 album Nasty Gal. Now - thirty-five years later - Light In The Attic Records is proud to announce the first official CD reissue of this final label-release by unparalleled funkstress Betty Davis.
The re-release features new liner notes by John Ballon (writer of the Wax Poetics Betty Davis cover story in 2007), original album art, complete lyrics, beautiful digipak, full color booklet, rare photos, and interviews. Ahead of its time, Nasty Gal shows Betty digging deeper into her musical and cultural expression than ever before, and delivers from every angle. This is Hendrix and Sly Stone inspired funk-rock at its finest. From the title track's mutant groove and grunt to her onetime husband and jazz legend Miles Davis co-written ballad ("You and I"), this lady will tear your heart out! Betty's time is now..."