Lindstrøm launches his most concerted pop effort with 4th solo album, It’s Alright Between Us As It Is, neatly incorporating vocals by Jenny Hval, Frida Sundemo, and Grace Hall in a seamless segue of seven sleek and disco-ready songs adapting 40 years of dancefloor history to a timeless but fresh style.
Spire lifts off with lagging ‘70s drums and Vangelis-style synth streaks, tailing off into the lattice of latinate ‘80s arpeggios in Tensions, and a purring beauty named But Isn’t It starring Sweden’s Frida Sundemo, and something resembling ‘90s trance breaks for disco mums and dads with Shinin feat. Grace Hall.
Drift gives room for some twanging instrumental expression, and Jenny Hval voices the album’s most impressive piece with a hushed, cryptic performance on the bittersweet acidic twyst of Bungl (Like a Ghost), fading out into a neo-classical keys and tempered symphonic lift of Under Trees.
Sublime dream-pop beauty from Colleen, a gorgeous and crucial push and pull of experimental urges and pop immediacy. Make sure to check the brain-dancing percolations of ‘Another World’ and her exquisitely off-kilter title track. RIYL Arthur Russell, Teresa Winter, Delia Derbyshire...
Recorded in the wake of the 2015 Paris attack, which occurred just as she was visiting, A Flame My Love, A Frequency, finds Colleen setting aside her trusted viola de gamba to incorporate a Critter & Guitari pocket piano synthesiser and newly acquired Moog filter pedal into her feathered dub propulsion system, buoying her reflections on life and death, and bird-watching, with a creamy, bubbling backdrop that’s perhaps at odds, or even in defiance of personal strife in the preceding year.
Described in avian swoops, zig-zagging arpeggios and aerial shimmers, she flies the fine line between sorrow and beauty in a way that reflects that brutality and grace of the natural world as much as the scenes of Parisian cafes under blue skies which would turn into a bloodbath only hours later. This dichotomy lies at the heart of A Flame My Love, A Frequency, as Colleen navigates a flux of strong feelings between the exquisite instrumental melancholy of November thru to the title track’s plaintive cubist folk keen, emulating the sensation of flapping your wings hard against the headwind with Separating, and offering a sublime, necessary space for introspection with Summer Night (Bat Song), whilst the gently frothing, pizzicato piquancy of The Stars vs Creatures and One Warm Spark lend a more optimistic spin in their wistful shimmers, crucially not forgetting to dream in the face of so much shite.
'The Winds Rise in the North' is a colossal, trance-inducing, yet largely overlooked pillar of 20th century American minimalism.
Regarded no less than a "holy grail" by Keith Fullerton Whitman, it spans 100 minutes of atonal, amorphous string composition scored in four parts for a quintet, here performed by Linda Cummiskey (Violin), Malcolm Goldstein (Violin), Kathy Seplow (Violin), Stephen Reynolds (Viola), David Gibson (Violoncello).
By all accounts Harley Gaber was a colourful fella, a complex American artist, composer and filmmaker who dropped it all not long after release of this 1976 work to become a full time Tennis player and coach. He would return to the arts, and later music, writing soundtracks for his own films before sadly committing suicide in 2011.
'The Winds Rise in the North' is a frighteningly heavy and rewarding master-stroke, giving rise to dense, gripping harmonic overtones which prickle, seduce and get under the skin in a way that few others achieve. Lock the doors, turn off your phone and give yourself two hours with this. You won't regret it.
"We would like to point out that this piece is extremely quiet. Please choose the volume setting of your sound system so as to just barely mask the ambient sounds of the room"
Jakob Ullmann: "voice, books and FIRE is the result of my reflections about the relationship between music and language: language as sound and language as text, the numerous relationships between texts of different cultural and religious traditions, between the work of the human spirit in the present and in the past and the questions arising from the problem of understanding these different traditions, languages and texts and representing them in a present, which has lost knowledge about substantial parts, even of its own tradition and history."
In Jakob Ullmann's 2nd release through Editions RZ, solemn, practically whispered incantations and creaking extended vocal technique of eight singers play in half-lit, wide open mid-air against the phosphorescing resonance of viola, violoncello, saxophone and flute. Recorded 1st July, in the Abteikirche Neresheim. Recommended
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.
Lee Gamble jacks directly into a latent stream of electronic wonder with his dream-like 'Koch' opus for PAN.
Running to 76 minutes over 16 tracks, it's Gamble's most substantial and arguably definitive work, following the beautifully effective 'Diversions 1994-1996' and 'Dutch Tvashar Plumes' releases for PAN in 2012. Where those records deconstructed the elusive, enigmatic timbre of '90s electronic dance music - jungle, techno, ambient - 'Koch' (pron. 'Cotch' - UK slang for relax) is a sort of 'Pataphysical reflection and projection of what lies beyond; a symbolic, imaginary solution to what could be perceived as a dearth of "soul" in modern electronic dance music, searching for a feeling that's all too often forgotten in current styles. And quite crucially, 'Koch' provides considered answers from a singular, if ever-shifting perspective, at once uncannily detached yet incredibly intimate, with the acute ability to recalibrate the mind's lense between abstract dimensions.
To pick individual tracks apart would be beside the point. The album works as a wormhole, or perhaps how we've come to imagine what a wormhole is from VR representations in movies, TV, and computer games - seeming to dissolve us between first and third person narratives, club and home listening environments, and the fleeting waves of emotion (narcotised or not) which perfuse and colour the hallucinatory spaces between. It's a very timely reminder of electronic music's efficacy in expressing the alien and a contemporary "otherness", and comes with a huge recommendation for immersive heads and dancefloor freaks alike.
Faith In Strangers’ was written and produced between January 2013 and June 2014, and was edited and sequenced in late July this year. Making use of on an array of instruments, field recordings, found sounds and vocal treatments, it’s a largely analogue variant of hi-tech production styles arcing from the dissonant to the sublime.
The first two tracks recorded during these early sessions bookend the release, the opener ‘Time Away’ featuring Euphonium played by Kim Holly Thorpe and last track ‘Missing’ a contribution by Stott’s occasional vocal collaborator Alison Skidmore who also appeared on 2012’s ‘Luxury Problems’. Between these two points ‘Faith In Strangers’ heads off from the sparse and infected ‘Violence’ to the broken, downcast pop of ‘On Oath’ and the motorik, driving melancholy of ‘Science & Industry’ - three vocal tracks built around that angular production style that imbues proceedings with both a pioneering spirit and a resonating sense of familiarity.
Things take a sharp turn with ‘No Surrender’- a sparkling analogue jam making way for a tough, smudged rhythmic assault, while ‘How It Was’ refracts sweaty Warehouse signatures and ‘Damage’ finds the sweet spot between RZA’s classic ‘Ghost Dog’ and Terror Danjah at his most brutal. ‘Faith in Strangers’ is next and offers perhaps the most beautiful and open track here, its vocal hook and chiming melody bound to the rest of the album via the almost inaudible hum of Stott’s mixing desk. It provides a haze of warmth and nostalgia that ties the nine loose joints that make up the LP into the most memorable and oddly cohesive of Stott’s career to date, built and rendered in the spirit of those rare albums that straddle innovation and tradition through darkness and light.
Bruce Russell is a New Zealand experimental musician and writer. He is a founding member and guitarist of the seminal noise rock trio The Dead C and the free noise combo A Handful of Dust (with Alastair Galbraith). He has released solo albums featuring guitar and tape manipulation.
"In summer of 2013, Bruce Russell's daughter Olive Russell uploaded a documentary of her father that she shot and edited herself called "27 Minutes with Mr. Noisy: A Documentary about Bruce Russell" to Vimeo.com. "This will be alien music to many listeners. Guitars tuned to the occult settings of revenants like Skip James and then played with a knife in an uncanny re-contextualising of the sound of beer bottles against guitar strings on the original Metallic K.O.; massively deformed electronics that sound like swarms of static, that sound like the needle eating the vinyl; radio interference; broke down piano; sledgehammer fuzz… this is the sound of taking a live Stooges meltdown as the keys to the goddamn kingdom and as a secret intimation of the arc of the future. Now here it is" Taken from the sleevenotes of 'Metallic OK' by David Keenan, author of 'This Is Memorial Device'.
After a long hiatus, Hyetal comes of age as a dance-pop artist in the mould of Jam City with ‘Youth & Power’, incorporating synths and songwriting by Gwilym Gold and post production by James Ginzburg (Emptyset).
"Coming together over three years since his critically acclaimed last album, Hyetal completes his transformation from off-kilter dance music producer to futurist pop visionary on Youth & Power. 'Previously my approach to writing music was very rooted in escapism,' says David Corney aka Hyetal. 'I began experiencing a sense of detachment in my life which led me to question how healthy this approach was. I wanted music to help me feel connected again.' Wrenching his music free from the 'confines of computer grids' and pushing melody to the forefront, Youth & Power's texturally rich, psychedelic palette is littered with live played synths, electric guitars, drum machines, processed noise and 'some under-loved 70s home keyboards' recorded at Hyetal's South London home studio.
'I'd describe it as experimental pop music,' says Hyetal. 'the sound is in part a return to music I was listening to as a kid, more song- and instrument-based.' Youth & Power is Hyetal's debut as a vocalist, also scrapping samples in favour of live instrumentation and hook-laden songwriting laced with myriad influences. 'I took some time out to teach myself how to sing using an app on my phone. At first I found my vocals worked best for me when there was some distance from the natural sound of my voice so everything was abstracted through a few different processes.' he explains, 'As I became more comfortable singing I decided I wanted to contrast this approach and use some natural sounding vocals that embraced the imperfections'. The album strikes a balance between robotic Kraftwerkian simplicity and soulful organic pop, contrasting the various pitch-shifting and abstracting vocal effects with sharply concise lyrics. Semblances of Hyetal's origins in Bristol's early dubstep movement are still present too, deep inside the album's meticulous rhythm beds. Elsewhere chiming retro keyboard notes and drum machine beats at times recall the likes of Yellow Magic Orchestra contrasting against waves of guitars and noise which bring to mind the influence of Bauhaus and other post punk experimentalists.
Written as a form of catharsis for Hyetal in his search to return his music from detachment, Youth & Power seeps a sense of hope. 'I found from a distance the most immediate workings of humanity can appear extremely brutal', says Hyetal, 'but when looking through this lens you miss the beauty that happens in the moment.'
Redeemer is the brutally seductive debut album by Phase Fatale, a key player in the recent charge of EBM and post punk-informed industrial techno infecting ‘floors from his home city, NYC to his DJ residency at Berghain, Berlin.
In Dominick Fernow’s Hospital Productions, Phase Fatale finds a fitting home for his personalised brand of clinical, rictus rhythm programming and searing synth and guitar lines, adding a vital streak of black and blue electric energy to the legendary label in its 20th year of cultish operation.
In seven parts (and a trio of extended Silent Servant mixes due to come), Redeemer follows the direct, jagged lines of his 12”s for Jealous God and Unterton to a deeply personal realisation of weaponised sonics, upholding a strong tradition of techno as a prophetic exercise or ritual to gird dancers and listeners for the onset of future war. It presents Phase Fatale as an ultimate emissary of electronic violence and domination in the process, steeling the limbic system and muscle memory thru a fine-tuned disciplinarian approach to pharmacokinetics and biomechanics.
Picking from the leather-bound cadaver of industrial dance music past, he reanimates his influences with pointillist precision and unapologetic force. Alloying muscular bass and metallic percussion with wire-combed 16th note synthlines and a barbed perimeter of guitar distortion, his sound can be heard as a metaphorical representation of holding your line against the attrition of a degenerated present.
Each track dances concisely around the 5 minute mark, unfolding a series of densely packed and subtly rendered minimalist/maximalist structures. The shuddering tension of Spoken Ashes opens with banks of rotted chorales against a coalface of hacking stabs, establishing a pent vibe that vacillates precariously thru the adrenalised battery of Operate Within, to the clenched funk of Human Shield and the bombed-out, Alberich-alike Interference, seeming to resolve slightly with the supple roll of Order of Severity, before Beast bottoms out into immolating synth distortion, and Redeemer brings up the rear with a coolly-tempered, stoic form of industrial ecstasy.
New album from Dominick Fernow’s most intriguing alias with "Sound on Sound” processing by Silent Servant and a remix from Substance (Chain Reaction). A huge recommendation if you're into Vainqueur, Huerco S, Talk Talk, Carl Craig, Rhythm & Sound...
Following a still-ongoing series of reissues of the earliest, previously tape-only releases from Dominick Fernow’s Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement, this long-in-the-making new album proper is an epic 80 minute set featuring additional production from Silent Servant, a remix from Substance and some of the deadliest subs we've heard in an age.
It’s by far the most ambitious and far-reaching Rainforest dispatch, taking that artificial, tropical humidity as a starting point before heading deep into a kind of textured ambience, moving away from the extreme saturation of those early cassettes and the industrial environmentalism of his previous album Green Graves and instead creaiting a kind of 'Fear Dub’ - as the label call it - which is essentially the perfect encapsulation of the deep sense of paranoia contained within.
The opening Jungle Is A Shapeshifter is a gargantuan 35 minute head-melter that’s split across the first two sides of the vinyl pressing. Co-Produced with Silent Servant, it’s the most absorbing piece of "Ambient" music we’ve heard in a long while - slowly unfurling via chorus pedal guitars that gradually degrade, while a fathoms-deep bass pulse and tape-delay gives the piece its shape. It’s like an updated, tranquillised, fever-dream variant of the kind of ambient dub Vainqueur made his own back in the mid-90’s - we could listen to it on a loop for hours.
Beyond The Yellow-Spotted Bamboo, another Silent Servant co-production, clocks in at a relatively modest 17 minutes and heads off into more open terrain, this time with submerged percussion providing some propulsion, while shards of coloured synth pull you back into the swamp. It’s another humid, breathtaking session - bringing out the best in both Fernow and Silent Servant via perhaps the most important and satisfying work either artist has been involved with.
Praying Mantis Black Arts is another masterclass in sub-bass construction, while Chile’s Crimson Tide is the shortest track on the album, a kind of broken coda before Substance ends the set with a remix of Beyond The Yellow-Spotted Bamboo, deploying a tribal reduction that references classic Chain Reaction from a producer who was part of it first hand.
It’s a relatively upbeat conclusion to one of the most immersive listening experiences you’ll have in 2017; those of you looking for escape should dive in - you won’t want to re-engage with the world around you for a while.
Kjetil André Mulelid – piano Bjørn Marius Hegge - double bass Andreas Skår Winther – drums
"Following in the footsteps of In The Country and Espen Eriksen Trio, Kjetil Mulelid Trio is the third piano trio to appear on Rune Grammofon. Although they can be placed in the same musical landscape, it´s also fair to say there are certain obvious differences. There´s a solid dose of youthful playfulness and curiosity at work here, at the same time they show an assured maturity that belies their age (26, 26 and 29).
The music is based on compositions by pianist Mulelid - inspired by everything from psalms to free jazz - but there is also room for collective improvisation. It can be energetic, rhythmically complex and harmonically rich, but also intimate and with a beautiful melody. They work purely with acoustic sounds and timbres and are constantly reaching for new ways to express themselves within these frames."
Alessio Natalizia aka Not Waving rides the wave of a lifetime on his magnum opus, Good Luck.
His second album for Diagonal is an emotional but fiercely optimistic LP of skewed cathartic dance-pop written in the midst of these dark and uncertain times, fine-tuning 20 years of recording and rave experience into a vibrant, pop-ready statement that’s never felt so necessary.
It abandons the sensitive streak hinted at on Animals, his debut LP for Diagonal, to pursue a creative hunch for concision and social unity. This new perspective drives the album’s flux of emotions and guides what some may find to be a utopian outlook, wrapping his trademark experimental urges, clever song arrangements and winking edits in a larger narrative: a new system, if you like, that offers a way out of the contemporary condition towards something pure, sweaty and wild. After all, rave ‘floors were conceived for many as a way to forget/abandon the dark undercurrents of late 80s political turmoil.
The record is constructed as an album proper and follows a novel narrative: from the ego-pinching computer punk of Me Me Me, which jabs it into action, to the new wave thrust of Tool [I Don’t Give A Sh*t] and the ambient flush of Roll Along With The Pain Of It All [I’ll Text U], Natalizia clearly delights in taking us on a frenzied ride, but he never forgets his fondness for contemporary club culture [see the fulminating iridescent EBM-pop of Where Are We — with Marie Davidson guesting on vocals — or the acidic punk jabs of Watch Yourself].
Good Luck is a thrillingly positive record — like a big slice of pink and blue sponge cake, it’s delicious, sweet, creamy and wonderful. And that’s the thing: even the title feels like a much-needed injection of optimism, a return to the utopian ideals of rave. Contemporary politics/culture/life/love/music/media seem to be infected by a feeling of impending dread — of fear, alienation, division. Perhaps it’s the job of artists to present an alternative vision for the world [and music] rather than simply to reflect one’s reality back into the echo chamber of their own lives.
Sound artist Tomoko Sauvage adds the gorgeous, elemental waterbowl recordings of Musique Hydromantique to a wonderful run of 2017 releases on Félicia Atkinson & Bartolomé Sanson's Shelter Press. Quite possibly the most soothing hour of music you'll experience all year
It will become hard to believe once you’ve heard it, but all sounds on the LP were improvised with acoustic technique and recording - meaning no electronics, edits or overdubs - whilst they effectively sound like the microtonal output of some unique, natural synthesiser affected by subtle variables such as temperature, architecture, humidity and human presence. If Philip Corner and Eliane Radigue ever made a record together, it may well sound like Musique Hydromantique.
Using a set-up of hydrophones (underwater mics) and porcelain bowls filled with varying amounts of water, developed by the artist over the better part of this decade, Musique Hydromantique forms a meditative, experimental study in rhythm and pitch which resonates with gamelan and ancient divination techniques as much as it does with minimalist modern electronics. The results are utterly captivating in their fluid timbres and plaintively plangent structure, rendering the elusive, ever-changing and hypnotic phenomena of moving water in three diverse states or sonic sculptures that patently demonstrate a deep, underlying and innate connection between the performer, her medium, and the listener.
Clepsydra - meaning ‘water clock’ - most closely resembles a form of gamelan practice, or, even some form of minimal electronic music. For ten minutes she renders a series of exquisitely variegated sonic glyphs gestured from her struck bowls and hands changing the quantities of water, and by extension, the pitch of each bowl. Tomoko makes a real virtue of everyday sounds, resulting in a time-dilating passage of smooth glissandi, elegantly unshackling our internal clocks from the anticipation of quantised convention.
Fortune Biscuit follows in a very different style. Here, the brownian flow yields a remarkable micro-ecology of sounds that almost mimic animals, cyborganic mechanisms and insect choruses, yet they were entirely generated by a piece of porous terra cotta (biscuit) dipped into water. The scuttling patterns are perhaps understandable in that context, but we’re utterly baffled how they also make those pealing, arcing harmonic partials. In the final, 20 minute piece, Calligraphy those techniques serve to gel and diffuse her water-based sounds in even more bewildering fashion, as she employs the 10 second reverbs of an old textile factory to render her delicate, subaquatic sounds in a play of fractious drips, haptic rubs and their resonant feedback, feeling to melt time entirely and open a tranquil space for divination of your own senses in between those perceptions of time and tone.
This is a record that seems to have been designed to promote ultimate well being, it will completely engulf and subsume your senses and keep your attention rapt from start to finish. And we'd echo Tomoko's request that you listen to it at the start or end of the day for optimal results - far healthier than a spliff or night cap and will set your mood like some kind of ancient tuning fork.
Beautiful new album from longtime Room 40 friend and collaborator Ueno Takashi
"I confess to being in a state of ceaseless awe when it comes to Tokyo guitarist, Ueno Takashi. I have had the pleasure to know Ueno now for well over 10 years. In that time he has remained a source of constant curiosity and surprise. Just when I think I have the man pegged, he throws out some unex-pected musical gesture that completely catches me off guard. Whether it be his work with Saya in Tennis-coats, or his almost endless stream of solo releases, many of which exist in very short run editions, his mu-sic typifies a tireless desire to explore. Recently Ueno’s curve ball has been his project Off Strings with Vice Japan, where he talks to leading Ja-panese guitarists. It’s an incredible series of interviews, which I heartily recommend checking out.
The re-sults have been quite extraordinary and his session with Haino Keiji a personal favourite of mine. Yet an-other pleasant surprise from this maestro. Over the course of his previous solo recordings for Room40, Ueno has tested very reductive compositional approaches. Each of the records has created a precise and unique approaches to guitar. Sui-Gin, his first solo for us, almost 10 years old, remains one of Room40’s most individual sounding recordings. It’s a col-lection of alien tones, uneasy yet beautiful. To this day I still can’t quite imagine how he drew so much harmonic richness from such a limited palette; one instrument and one pedal. Smoke Under The Water, a title I can only assume maintains at least a little humour about it, is easily the most beautiful record Ueno has made in recent years. Here, the lushness of his playing meets head on this is minimalist compositional heart. This record bares a close attention to detail. That is not to say it is fussed over or seeking some kind of state of perfection. On the contrary this is a record about perfor-mance, about taking a beautiful compositional idea and seeking to document it with the life and breath that is so critical to solo instrumental works. I implore you to listen to one of Japan’s true master’s of his craft."
Lawrence English, October 2017
As promised, Throbbing Gristle cough up what is essentially their Best Of… on vinyl for the first time, repackaging and expanding their 2004 CD, The Taste of TG (A Beginner’s Guide to the Music of Throbbing Gristle), with Almost A Kiss, taken from the Part Two - The Endless Not album, which serves to now bookend the collection between 1975-2007 and offer a broader, truer picture of the nonpareil, infinitely influential group’s jagged timeline.
There’s nowt we can add to the mountain of writing already on Throbbing Gristle. But, in context of the release, for the uninitiated, afeared, or just plain ignorant listeners out there who haven’t a clue what TG are about, we advise cupping this album with both hands and drinking deeply, then deciding which of their bloods tastes the strongest, and pitching yourself down the rabbit hole of their corresponding catalogue. Then read Cosey Fanni Tutti’s Art Sex Music to put it all in historic context.
You’ll thank yourself for it soon enough, even if the neighbours don’t.
Prodigal avant synth-pop star John Maus - an important early collaborator with Ariel Pink (who guests here) - returns to the scene he was instrumental in setting with Screen Memories, marking up his first album since We Must Become The Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves  and one of the most addictive records of the year thus far.
The palette remains mostly unchanged from his chain of previous Maus classics, as written for and released by Upset! The Rhythm and Ribbon Music during the ‘00s. But the tone, timbre and layering of his synths, drum machines and vocals in Screen Memories are discernibly tweaked for emphasised flavour and emotive affect. The results find Maus better expressing his contemporary concerns thru the prism of outmoded equipment, giving voice to the truth of timeless, absurd matters in an ever-more personalised style of pop articulation.
Under the wonderfully evocative header Screen Memories, a title which simultaneously conjures reflective, nostalgic imagery and possibly suggests a sort of picnoleptic reaction to the hypermodern narcissistic condition, Maus parses his own image and sense of self from the TV ‘snow’ or distortion of reality. It appears as a self who can’t escape the formative digital tang of the ‘80s which underlines so much of the modern world, yet a one who lives and dreams in the here-and-now.
It’s a supremely smart demonstration of avant-pop as playful metaphor, with Maus merging/duetting ever closer to his fine-tuned synth as a form of basic AI, occupying a strange harmonic uncanny valley of phosphorescing shadowplay between his probing hooks, bathing in the plasmic timbre or temporal and cognitive dissonance of late capitalism.
The Basic Channel don meets the folk musicians of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan for a beguiling exchange and fusion of traditions crossing paths between haunting acapella vocals, virtuosic instrumentation and sublime, dub-wise 4th world panoramas.
Locating MVO diversifying his bonds along outernational vectors, just like his BC bandmate Mark Ernestus with Ndagga Rhythm Force or Obadiah, the results form a series of studio portraits and wistful, impressionistic abstractions. They transport us to a place well off the usual map, to rugged lands once crossed by The Silk Road, where preserved, ancient traditions still reveal ghostly traces of the voices and sonic cultures which passed thru them.
The original arrangements of Ordo Sakhna range from complex, airborne string flights to nerve-jangling mouth harp pieces and a few stunning acapella pieces, which to our untrained ears resemble both Middle eastern, Indian classical and Chinese traditions, whilst the Drums track would appear to catch MVO in lissom fusion with live percussionists.
The multiple MVO dubs are a huge attraction, too. None more than the jaw-dropping Facets, where drums are swept in mountainous dynamic across the stereo field, joined by Hassell-esque dream tones and twanging mouth harp in one of the master’s most abstract, mercurial works in memory, whilst Bishkek, May 2016 catches them in live form at the Kyrgyzstan edition of Unsound festival, and the rolling Draught, and its version frame the spirits of Ordo Sakhna in his signature dub techno style, with results comparable to Shackleton when he removes the straight kicks.
Without question, some of the most beautiful and arresting quiet music you'll likely ever hear, compiled in a 4 hour-long triple disc set.
'Fremde Zeit - Addendum' collects five pieces of engrossingly etheric, liminal composition by Jakob Ullmann (1958), the widely acknowledged master of quiet music and cover star of The Wire magazine.
For us, as we'd imagine many others, this is a striking first introduction to the devoted German minimalist's very particular body of work. Comprising 4 hours of barely-there strings, percussions, wind instruments and voices prefaced by the instruction "Please choose, for each piece, the volume settings of your sound system so as to just barely mask the ambient sounds in the room", this is music made for concentrated listening, recorded and specifically designed to give listeners "the opportunity to hear more, and better" by the simple but essential notion that "We hear better because we make an effort to hear better."
With this is mind, we're invited into a sound world which actively, yet effortlessly and sublimely challenges our perceptions of space and time with a compelling, transcendent effect akin to that of listening to music by, say, Eliane Radigue or Morton Feldman, yet with an alien, detached appeal entirely its own. Due to their extended durations - no piece is shorter than 34 mins, and over an hour at the longest - we form temporal impressions which blur the boundaries between our immediate space and the apparent vastness of the recording, teasing our sixth sense to wander on a knife edge of trepidation and somnolence.
Yet, musically, it covers a far more subtle spectrum of emotions and cabalistic atmospheres casting metaphoric allusions to "…antiquity, to the Middle Ages, to the Baroque, to the 20th Century and to the present" by means of its extreme dilation of space/time and anticipation, and relegation of distortion or any untempered gestures.
Once you've heard this music it should come as little surprise Ullmann studied sacred music in Dresden from 1979-1982 - his music could be the lingering resonance of an Arvo Pärt piece played in a huge cathedral, and it carries the weight of history - spanning over 18 years of work, the results are duly, deeply considered.
A revelatory package, whose impact will surely emerge and manifest as slowly, yet powerfully, as the music itself.
New Energy is Four Tet’s first album in two years
Leading on from the Morning / Evening set to a new age-inflected sound encompassing hang drum pieces with Tom Baker thru to modular synth input from Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, all produced on a laptop computer using Ableton Live software to control and mix VST plugins as well as manipulations of audio recordings.
Brian Shimkovitz returns to SA with pure house heat from Professor Rhythm. Check for infectiously slower parallels to the NYC garage/house and New Beat phenomenon of the late ‘80s in the strident, acidic ‘Leave Me Alone’, the piano house lixx of ‘Kancane Kancane’ and the tuffer push of ‘Zama Zama’
“Professor Rhythm is the production moniker of South African music man Thami Mdluli. Throughout the 1980’s, Mdluli was member of chart-topping groups Taboo and CJB, playing bubblegum pop to stadiums. Mdluli became an in-demand producer for influential artists (like Sox and Sensations, among many others) and in-house producer for important record companies like Eric Frisch and Tusk. During the early '80s, Mdluli projects usually featured an instrumental dance track. These hot instrumentals became rather popular. Fans demanded to hear more of these backing tracks without vocals, he says, so Mdluli began to make solo instrumental albums in 1985 as Professor Rhythm. He got the name before the recordings began, from fans, and positive momentum from audiences and other musicians drove him to invest himself in a full-on solo project. It was the era just before the end of apartheid and house music hadn’t taken over yet. There wasn’t instrumental electronic music yet in South Africa. As the '80s came to a close, that was about to change.
Professor Rhythm productions mirror the evolution of dance music in South Africa. They grew out of the bubblegum mold—which itself stems from band’s channeling influences like Kool & the Gang and the Commodores—into something based on music for the club. His early instrumental recordings First Time Around and Professor 3 mostly distilled R&B, mbaqanga and bubblegum grooves into vocal-less pieces for the dance floor. Musically, these were a success and commercially the albums all went gold. There were countless bubblegum albums flooding the marketplace, with nearly disposable vocalists backed by mostly similar-sounding rhythm tracks. Most of the lyrical content was light and apolitical. But the keyboards used formed the musical basis for what would come next.”
Remastered edition of Throbbing Gristle's best known and most suavely subversive LP, the one that completely re-defined the meaning of industrial music.
Referencing the band's influences outside of the avant-garde - among them ABBA and Martin Denny - it's the most outwardly accessible thing they ever recorded, but it's not without its harder, grimier moments, like the pummelling 'Discipline', with P.Orridge barking orders at you like the SM drill sergeant of your nightmares.
The shorter instrumentals are especially satisfying: we open with the droning, dysphoric ambience of 'Beachy Head' (think Eno's On Land via Lustmord), a paean to the suicide hot-spot that appears on the album's cover, while 'Tanith' and 'Exotica' sound like a seriously strung-out, sleep-deprived jazz ensemble channelling Aphex's Selected Ambient Works II.
Of course it's the "pop" numbers which stand out: Gen has never sounded so drolly superior as on 'Convincing People' and 'Persuasion', while the Cosey-vocalled, Carter-helmed 'Hot On The Heels Of Love' remains an absolute game-changing masterpiece, its influence on techno, disco and electro-pop as profound and palpable today as it ever was.
Stop listening to what you're listening to, and listen to 20 Jazz Funk Greats instead.
Visionist returns with his combustible 2nd album, Values; an intense meditation on themes of “machismo and effeminacy, self-deprecation and self-love”. The results are blisteringly compelling and affective quite unlike muxh else in circulation, bar maybe Arca’s music.
After leaving an uncanny impression with his debut album Safe for PAN, which was his bold attempt at modelling and resolving the onset and dissipation of anxiety or panic attacks - and perhaps circumvent the safe-ness of so much other music from the UK grime and electronic scene - this time he moves forward, emboldened by that experience to ‘fess up searing emotions in a way not normally associated with grime, or even cisgendered blokes for that matter.
At this point, we’re not even sure if it is grime anymore, as he’s seemingly transcended to somewhere else entirely, dissolving its stylistic rigidity and entangling elements of classical composition, computer music and trance into bold new forms in order to better convey his feelings and art. In doing so, and by grasping thornier issues head on - albeit in abstract style - he leaves himself vulnerable to critical value systems not usually associated with the club and road paradigms of grime, and does so with admirably unflinching, steadfast conviction.
Of course, without accompanying context listeners may not be aware of all that, but context in this kind of art is important, and when held up against it, the outpouring of emotive chamber keys and megadome trance gestures in instrumental songs such as Homme and Made In Hope sorely live up the conceptual thrust, while the album’s sole (human) vocal track Your Approval channels it ambiguously thru Rolynne’s gender fluid R&B voice. Likewise, his roiling, blasted rhythms undermine grime’s rigidity - which have pretty much become pop currency, not underground and experimental like they once were - on the convulsive New Obsession and No Idols in an almost sado-masochistic manner.
Just like Safe, there’s a a density of detail and information in Value that’s going to take a while to settle in, but it ain’t hard to tell this is a viscerally thrilling, refreshing piece of work which stands out far from the field, for what it’s worth.
Stephen O’Malley picks up the enchanted duo of Andrew Chalk and Timo Van Lujik for their immersive 12th release of shimmering chamber music as the cultishly adored Elodie. Since 2010 Elodie have stealthily charmed pretty much all who’ve crossed their path, whether on record through the Faraway Press and La Scie Dorée label, or in their achingly quiet and mesmerising live performances.
With Vieux Silence, Ideologic Organ takes the honour of issuing Elodie’s first material outside of their own labels, building on a relationship formed after they performed, alongside Jessica Kenney and Eyvind Kang, at an event in London curated by O’Malley. Naturally that night stuck in his memory, as O’Malley recounts; “Elodie's performance was among the most delicately engaging and savant I have witnessed… so very quiet, with snow falling in London outside Cafe Oto's windows, the audience palpably entered a high intensity listening focus. The impression of this vivid memory is striking, considering how spare each of the individual elements present that night were.”
Coincidentally, our first encounter with Elodie was a live performance, too (cheers, Sam!). And snow aside, it was almost exactly as O’Malley recalls, keeping us perched, rapt for the duration like nothing we’d ever heard before. Even better, their records somehow capture that quiet intensity perfectly, as you’ll hear on the beautiful example of Vieux Silence.
Accompanied by in/frequent collaborators Tom James Scott (piano), Jean-Noël Rebilly (clarinette) and Daniel Morris (steel pedal guitar), Elodie’s 12th release renders 41 minutes of their sublime music that will leave connoisseurs of quiet music agape at the telepathic levels of control and ineffable coherence in their improvisations, unfurling as a sort of oneiric, watercoloured tableaux of genteel jazz strokes, electro-acoustic spectres and chamber-like gestures.
Lovers of anything from Badalamenti soundtracks and Bohren And Der Club of Gore, to Cotton Goods or Ryuichi Sakamoto owe themselves time with Elodie, and this is great place to start.
SAICOBAB are the Japanese quartet comprised of acclaimed vocalist YoshimiO (Boredoms, OOIOO), Yoshida Daikiti (sitar), Akita Goldman (bass) and acclaimed in Japan Motoyuki ‘Hama’ Hamamoto (percussion, gamelan).
"SAICOBAB masterfully blend traditional Indian music with melodies and unexpected rhythms using unorthodox instrumentation to create utterly distinct modern ragas.
On their debut album ‘SAB SE PURANI BAB’, YoshimiO’s leaping, animated, effected vocal melodies dance fluidly through Daikiti’s intricate sitar patterns. The entrancing synergy of Goldman and Hama’s rhythmic pulse drives and shapes the aptly named SAICOBAB’s sound to one that is at once rooted in ancient tradition and wholly new. YoshimiO has been a trendsetter as a member of OOIOO and Boredoms for over three decades. She has collaborated with Kim Gordon and Sean Lennon, has been featured on the covers of The Wire and The Fader and The Flaming Lips named an album after her.
“In the seemingly impenetrable, fantastic murkiness of Japanese experimental psych pop, more often than not,Yoshimi has been a beacon.” - FADER (cover)"
Whoa, like: this is a kinda stunning debut album from 77 year old American photographer and legend William Eggleston, a contemporary of Andy Warhol in the ‘70s, who has been quietly recording himself for decades. ‘Music’ is nothing less than an American Dream recording..
“Native Memphian William Eggleston, 77, who is widely regarded to be the most important photographer of the late 20th Century, presents his debut record, Musik.
It was during Eggleston’s Sumner, Mississippi childhood, where he discovered the piano in the parlor that ignited in him a lifelong passion for music. It was a passion he carried forth his entire life, playing quite adeptly when a piano was handy: improvised turns on Bach, Handel, gospel, country, and popular selections from the Great American Songbook for friends and family. Though his travels found him rubbing elbows with Andy Warhol‘s Factory superstars in New York, where he lived for several years with Viva at the Chelsea Hotel, and observing a music scene in Memphis that included Big Star’s Alex Chilton, and his old friend and owner of Ardent Studios, engineer Jon Fry, his own music went largely unheard by the general public.
In the 1980’s, Eggleston, who disdained digital cameras and modernity in general, became surprisingly fascinated with a synthesizer, the Korg OW/1 FD Pro, which had 88 piano-like keys, and in addition to being able to emulate the sound of any instrument, also contained a four-track sequencer that allowed him to expand the palette of his music, letting him create improvised symphonic pieces, stored on 49 floppy discs, encompassing some 60 hours of music from which this 13 track recording was assembled.
Eggleston lives today in a small apartment off Memphis’ Overton Park that he shares with a 9-foot Bosendorfer grand piano and an arsenal of ultra-high fidelity audio equipment, some of which was designed by his son, William Eggleston III. The synthesizer, alas, is broken and stubbornly refuses to be repaired, so for the purpose of this project another was purchased in order to be able to play back the floppy discs, which, along with a handful of DATs and other digital media, though frail, were digitized and mastered for this and future releases.
Mr. Eggleston often says that he feels that music is his first calling, as much a part of him, at least, as his photography. We take special pride in allowing the world to hear this side of a great artist who may now be rightly called a great musician.”
Rod Modell returns to Soma with a slow-baked batch of rolling dub techno in Auratone some two years since Ultraviolet Music and reissues of myriad, related projects over the interim.
This is full fat DeepChord, swollen with bass and bristling with combustible, oxidising textures that their legion disciples will relish. Includes some sweeter highlights in the roving subs and dancing melodies of Wind In Trees and the insistent mesh of ghostly, pealing partials with pneumatic bass in Point Reyes.
“A foray into deep, organic, cinematic dance music. Subterranean bass, intercepted alien transmissions, and stripped down dance-beats meld with sheets of sounds that roll over the listener like waves lapping up on the shore. Shimmering, watery, brain hemisphere synchronization tones caress and melt stress away. Dance floor friendly tracks that work equally well in one s private listening space. Immersive music with a distinctive aquatic quality. Inspired by Detroit & Berlin s dance genres, but tempered by more ambience / atmosphere than one would expect from those genres. Music without harshness or rough edges. Fuzzy, out-of-focus, soft-sounds that slip in and out of the listener's consciousness.
Uniquely melds current dance rhythms with lushness and spirituality. Synesthetic sounds that trigger sensory experiences in cognitive pathways other than hearing smells of perfumes, thoughts of colours, and altered perception of time and space. Psychoacoustic, cerebral, electronic listening music for those wanting a different experience than the current harsher, darker dance trends are offering. Responsibly made gentle music designed from the ground-up to have a positive effect on the nervous system and leave the listener invigorated and recharged. Chi-building sonic balm. Timeless, exotic dance tracks for a new school of electronic music enthusiasts who are searching for beautiful sounds, crafted with a higher purpose in mind.”
Lessons marks 10 years of the on-going experiment that is the Front & Follow record label, and their 50th official release
Bringing together artists from across the years in old guises and new inc Pye Corner Audio, Leyland Kirby, Laura Cannell, Ekoplekz, Time Attendant, Howlround and more...
Following 16 months after Scottish artist Claire M Singer's debut album comes the release of the beautiful and intriguing 'Fairge', meaning 'the ocean' or 'the sea' in Scottish Gaelic. 'Fairge' is a single 21-minute piece for organ, cello and electronics, composed, performed and produced by Claire, it's very much a companion work to the title track on her debut album 'Solas' (Touch, 2016).
"Commissioned by Amsterdam's oldest building and parish church Oude Kerk, 'Fairge' premiered at the church in February 2017. Claire M Singer's performance on the Ahrend and Bunzema organ, cello and electronics is truly captivating. The work very much encapsulates her signature style of expansive soundscapes full of intricate textures, rich overtones and powerful swells, emotionally resonating from beginning to end.
'Fairge' was written specifically for the Ahered and Bunzema organ and explores the precise control of wind through the pipes using mechanical stop action. This creates a lush harmonic backdrop against the harmonics and melody of the haunting cello.
"Oude Kerk were very generous in letting me have time to explore and really get to know the instrument. The work was developed over many visits sitting in the church until the very wee hours over the winter months, which was incredibly magical and inspiring. When working with mechanical stops and precisely controlling the amount of air that passes through the pipes it requires a lot of practice and exploration to learn each incremental sound the organ can make and what the quirks of the instrument can be. As every organ is unique, the piece will differ on other organs but that's what makes writing and working with the organ so fascinating. The tuning is mean-tone temperament, which I have not worked with previously. With 'Fairge' I really wanted to show how special this relatively small organ is and the beautiful pallet of sound it can produce." [Claire M Singer, September 2017]
Claire is Music Director of the organ at Union Chapel and Artistic Director of the Organ Reframed festival."
Following the Turkish collaboration of Dalmak and the more rock-inflected Lost Voices, Esmerine embarked on a soundtrack commission for the National Film Board documentary "Freelancer on the Front Line" (about independent journalism in the Middle East), which also led to a deep dive into archival and previously unreleased recordings.
Sessions for the film soundtrack provided various seeds for a new album concept and composing/recording continued rolling into early 2017, informed by anxiety over the reactionary, regressive, seemingly irresolvable disharmony of human oppression/domination and the ever-accelerating degradation / denial of nature and social justice. Stylistically, Mechanics Of Dominion took shape with mallet instruments brought more to the fore (relative to Esmerine’s previous two outings): marimba, piano and amplified music box provide a more prominent through-line on this new album's otherwise quite diverse material. Multi-instrumentalist Brian Sanderson's contributions also continue to shape Esmerine's songwriting to an ever greater extent – his stately melodic lines on horns and acoustic strings are bracing, compelling elements in the ceremonious lyricism and keening vitality of this new song cycle. And the album revisits and further develops two previously recorded and heretofore unreleased pieces (the origins of the modernist piano, string and horn piece "Northeast Kingdom" date back to some of Esmerine’s earliest recordings in the mid-2000s; the sizzling free-improv of "¡Que Se Vayan Todos!" was captured during the Dalmak sessions.)
Mechanics Of Dominion is perhaps Esmerine's most dynamic and narratively-driven work, tracing an arc through Neo/Post--Classical, Minimalism, Modern Contemporary, Folk, Jazz, Baroque and Rock idioms to paint a soundtrack of lamentation, meditation, resolve, resistance and hope. It is Esmerine’s humble requiem for our intractably suffering planet and a paean to the inscrutable, essential dignity of indigenous ethics and the natural world. Mechanics Of Dominion is also another superlative example of Esmerine's acclaimed and award-winning dedication to album artwork and packaging, this time featuring the work of Montreal artist Jean-Sebastien Denis in beautiful resonance with the album's balance of stylistic tensions and emotional colourations."
Carpenter has established a reputation as one of the greatest filmmakers in the history of modern cinema, as well as one of its most influential musicians.
"The minimal, synthesizer-driven themes to films like Halloween, Escape From New York, and Assault on Precinct 13 are as indelible as their images, and their timelessness was evident as Carpenter performed them live in a string of internationally sold-out concert dates in 2016. Anthology: Movie Themes 1974-1998 collects 13 classic themes from Carpenter’s illustrious career together on one volume for the first time. Each theme has been newly recorded with the same collaborators that Carpenter worked with on his hit Lost Themes studio albums: his son, Cody Carpenter, and godson, Daniel Davies.
Anthology is a near-comprehensive survey of John Carpenter’s greatest themes, from his very first movie, the no-budget sci-fi film Dark Star, to 1998’s supernatu¬ral Western, Vampires. Those sit alongside the driving, Led Zeppelin-influenced Assault on Precinct 13 theme, Halloween’s iconic 5/4 piano riff, and the eerie synth work of The Fog. Carpenter and his band also cover Ennio Morricone’s bleak, minimalist theme for The Thing.
We also get vital new recordings of the themes to ’80s classics and fan favorites Big Trouble in Little China, Escape From New York, Christine, and They Live, along with the romantic Starman, which earned Jeff Bridges his first Oscar nomination as a lead actor. The collection is rounded out by the menacing, heavy themes to Prince of Darkness and In the Mouth of Madness, the latter a Metallica-inspired riff originally played for the film by Kinks guitarist Dave Davies, and now played by his son Daniel.In the weeks following Anthology’s October 20 release, Carpenter will return to the road, playing both classic movie themes and material from his two Lost Themes albums. The performances will once again affirm the power of the Hor¬ror Master’s brilliant work as a composer and musician, and undoubtedly send audiences rushing home to their DVD libraries to dive yet again into the most rewarding filmography in genre cinema."
Kerri Chandler conducts a deeply soulful psychogeographic tour of NYC and the lesser-heard folds of his mind for his DJ-Kicks instalment
Weaving debonaire between personal picks of soul, jazz, hip hop, boogie and disco, including, as standard, one of his own productions in the laid-back dub reggae of Stop Wasting My Time.
On Lee Gamble’s stunning first major work since Koch , the rave dreamer reawakens to decode and interpret his hallucinations for Hyperdub, coming to terms with the idea of Mnestic Pressure - a confluence of individual and collective pressures on contemporary memory - in an astonishly febrile, vivid collision and projection of jungle and ambient structures.
With his move to Hyperdub following a string of modern classics for PAN, Lee Gamble has effectively reset his sound to realise a more intricate, restless matrix of ideas that seems to emulate the sound of a mind that’s too wired to sleep, rushing from an overload of inputs which it struggles to make sense of. In this case the struggle is perfectly sur/real, making the listener unsure of whether he’s awake or dreaming, or perhaps experiencing some combination of the two ostensibly opposing states of mind.
As with his previous releases, Mnestic Pressure finds Lee acting as a conduit or plugged in psychopomp, absorbing the physical and mental pressures of life in London and online, and then transmuting, firming up those feelings in an elusively abstract style that conveys the daily bombardment of the senses, and by turns the memory, in a way which the written word will never fully capture.
But in a marked departure from earlier releases, Mnestic Pressure reveals a subtle but decisive shift away from straighter 4/4 patterns towards a constant, broken flux of meters and velocities which can perhaps be heard to reflect the shift in popular perception of time as a linear sequence, to a more complex, difficult-to-grasp weave of timelines which expand and contract, sometimes folding in on themselves or short circuiting in a sort of Déjà vu or jolting hypnic jerks.
It’s really best consumed from front-to-back in order to really allow that tempestuous momentum to take hold, as it plays out like a live or DJ set in some of the more slippery passages, especially the psychoacoustic smudge between East Sedducke, 23 bay Flips and Swerva, and the deft transitions from You Hedonic’s amniotic suspension to the glancing arrhythmic ballistics of UE8, but the DJs will also find very useful parts to extract in the Rian Treanor-meets-Demdike Stare flex of Ignition Lockoff, and his absolutely deadly jungle bullet, Ghost.
For our money, it’s Lee’s most essential release since Diversions 1994-1996.
Sugai Ken follows in the vein of RVNG Intl’s Visible Cloaks release with an exquisite meditation on traditional Japanese percussion and 4th world electronics ruptured by unpredictable runs into more abstract terrain. RIYL YMO/Haruomi Hosono, Visible Cloaks, Foodman...
UkabazUmorezU works like a stage set or a variegated series of sonic scenarios, at once smartly demonstrating his compositional versatility as well as a dilated vision of the connections between Japanese tradition and western-rooted electro-acoustic practice. In a way it resonates with Visible Cloaks’ perspective on Japanese electronics as much as Foodman’s dextrous mutations of Chicago footwork, but still it’s weirder and more enigmatic than either of them.
In his own words, UkabazUmorezU is intended to reflect a “style that conjures [the] subtle and profound ambience of night in Japan.” Arguably, for someone who has never visited or experienced night in Japan (us), it does so as richly as a Murakami novel, sensitively using electronic instruments and process to emulate and evoke an intimate sense of the spiritual, supernatural recalling the effect of, say, Kenji Kawai’s Ghost In The Shell OST, but again, with a more elusive, amorphous and playful quality of his own.
Ultimately it’s a beautifully and subtly suggestive album, skillfully making use of pregnant lacnuæ and negative space, but also riddled with flighty melodic figures, and prone to wonderfully disorienting jump-cuts that ping us from serene garden and temple scenes to stranger, bestial ginnels of the Japanese mindset with an effortless sleight-of-hand.
Hayley Fohr tends to her Circuit Des Yeux alias after last year’s country excursion as Jackie Lynn, returning to relay a compelling tale about a pivotal, existential awakening she experienced in early 2016, all delivered via her signature vocal - somewhere between Nico, Diamanda Galas and Scott Walker - against a varied topography of brooding brass, stirring folk strings, arpeggiated keys and synths, and intermittent rocking squalls.
Reaching For Indigo is arguably set to become a modern classic in the same vein as her In Plain Speech [2015, Thrill Jockey] record, mostly thanks to a number of standout songs such as the plaintive power of Brainshift and Black Fly at its prow, and the natural, dreamlike possession of her swelling Geyser beauty and the free-floating kosmiche elegy, Falling Blonde.
It takes some sort of special virtue to make an indie-folk record that doesn’t sound super cliché nowadays, and evidently Circuit Des Yeux has it in abundance.
Music From Memory follow up the enchanting Suso Sáiz retrospective Odisea with a far more recent survey of the Spanish ambient and new age pioneer’s contemporary output, Rainworks; spanning wistful ambient vignettes to mind-engulfing drone, brittle concrète and drifting solo piano studies commissioned and written in 2016.
Highly regarded for his work with Orquesta De Las Nubes and Música Esporádica for Grabaciones Accidentales (home to Finis Africae, Luids Delgado, Randomize) in the early-mid ‘80s, Sáiz has followed that path ever since, resulting collaborations with Steve Roach and dozens more releases over the interim.
Rainworks finds him still feeling out a sublime, etheric otherness, bringing to life a series of atmospheric pressure systems with a deft, elemental touch in key with the original commission from Hidraulica, Tenerife (Canary Islands), gradually expanding and contracting in ambition from the opening arabesque to the abstract yet richly evocative tract of A Rainy Afternoon at the album’s perimeter.
For their first multi-artist compilation, Music From Memory take us on a trip to the heart of the Amazon rainforest. Outro Tempo: Electronic and Contemporary Music From Brazil, 1978-1992 is a double LP that explores the outer reaches of Brazilian music, where indigenous rhythms mix with synthesizers and where MPB mingles with drum computers.
"As Brazil faced the last years of its military dictatorship and transition to democracy, a generation of forward-thinking musicians developed an alternative vision of Brazilian music and culture. They embraced traditionally shunned electronic production methods and infused their music with elements of ambient, jazz-fusion, and minimalism. At the same time they referenced the musical forms and spirituality of indigenous tribes from the Amazon. The music they produced was a complex and mesmerising tapestry that vividly evoked Brazilian landscapes and simultaneously reached out to the world beyond its borders.
.The product of extensive research, this compilation is a unique introduction to this visionary music and features many fresh discoveries in a country well trodden by record diggers. It gathers tracks from obscure albums that have for too long been neglected by even the most avid collectors of Brazilian music. It includes now highly sought after music by Andréa Daltro, Maria Rita, and Fernando Falcão, as well as unknown gems like those of Cinema, Carlinhos Santos, and Anno Luz. This is an essential release that reveals a broader spectrum of Brazilian music, striking a unique sonic signature that is full of innovation, experimentation, and beauty.
Compiled by John Gómez and featuring extensive liner notes, Outro Tempo showcases this overlooked corner in Brazil’s rich music history for the first time."
Written and performed by Yasunao Tone. Recorded at ISSUE Project Room, Brooklyn, June 9th, 2016 by Bob Bellerue Mix and mastered by Russell Haswell. Photo by Cameron Kelley. Layout by Stephen O’Malley.
"I have had an idea if I apply the neural network to create my sound work for long time. When I had a performance at Centre Pompidou with Peter Rehberg and other friends I tried to talk about the idea with a French guy from IRCAM. But, he couldn’t understand my idea, which by using neural network the sound I create would never have any repetitions. That was 2002 and I had to wait until 2015 when I had a grant from New York State Council on the Arts through Issue Project Room, then its director Lawrence Kumpf applied for my new work. The grant finally made possible for making my cherished idea, the neural network piece, reality. I had talked about the idea with Prof. Tony Myatt at Surrey University, UK and he developed the software for the piece with a team included Dr. Paul Modler. At the lab in the University a series of my performances of my MP3 Deviation were captured and used to train Kohonen Neural Networks to develop artificial intelligences that simulate my performances. Hence a birth of new piece AI Deviations. I had a premiere at Issue Project Room on June 9th 2016 and the venue was more than packed and here is the performance of the piece." (Yasunao Tone)
Première release of a pivotal piece by important American composer, Julius Eastman.
After more than 40 years, Julius Eastman’s Femenine - a euphoric, colourful, and inventive work by the brilliant but criminally overlooked composer with the S.E.M. Ensemble - finally sees the light of day thanks to Finland’s Frozen Reeds, bringing to life a wondrous iteration of the highly fertile 1970s north american minimalist/modern classical nexus for a whole new generation of ears.
Notable not least as the only known recording of Femenine, recorded live in 1974 at Composers Forum in Albany, New York - which makes it only the 2nd CD with Eastman’s name at the top - this release also documents the composer on piano (whilst wearing a dress, as it goes) and features his unique innovation, a set of mechanised sleigh bells, rattling throughout the 72 minute performance, which, in a way, neatly characterises the artist’s wide-open, pioneering idiosyncrasies and dichotomies for anyone new to his work.
Un/fortunately, depending your perspective, far too many folk will be new to his work or even unaware of Eastman’s involvement in some true totems of the time; whether that’s as lead vocalist on Peter Maxwell Davies’ Eight Songs For A Mad King (1971), playing keys on Dinosaur L’s disco-not-disco classic 24→24 Music (1981), or conducting Arthur Russell’s Tower of Meaning (1983). And we say too many folk, because, all considered, until quite recently, Eastman has been long overdue the shine afforded to many of his peers and contemporaries.
As a Gay, Afro-American new music composer, pianist and vocalist in the ‘70s, Eastman’s work was innately politicised and exceptional by the nature of its provenance, not to mention the music itself, which pulled from his personal history as much as wider social movements to represent a uniquely fluid perspective on minimalist music’s rigid process and presentation right up to his untimely death, aged 50 in 1990.
With that in mind, Feminine stands at a crossroads between Eastman’s earlier chamber work Stay On It, and later pieces such as his iconic, majestic Evil Nigger and the ambiguous flux of emotions in Gay Guerilla; sounding quite unlike any of them thanks to its sense of communal joy (there were somewhere between 12 and 15 players) and the polymetric meter of his mechanised sleigh bells, coupled with a display of massed, pitching tonal colour that moves with the kind of deliquescent, flighty optimism that’s hard not to be wowed by.
Ultimately, it genuinely lives up to the mantle of “new music” and presents its ideas in a deeply refreshing, insistent, yet never-cloying manner.
A huge recommendation.
Fred P finds his jazziest techno-house headspace in a sequential partner piece for Mule Musiq.
As night follows day, 6 follows 5 (2015) with an expansion of its conscientious aims - “6 represents the number of man and his or limitations, weakness and imperfections. This body of work examines and looks towards one awakening. Adapting to a new way of being creating an alternative and raping a higher state of mind and being. Enhanced by love and serenity, satisfaction and joy. 5 presented the possibility of manifestation 6 is the manifestation taking place. The journey continues…”
Take that breeze with a pinch of salt, but take these tunes to ‘floor for some proper vibes, from the frictional minimalism of Awakening Co Creator to what sound like Mike Parker gone jazzy in Learning Process, to the sublime deep garage hustle of Reap Love and the broken, free-floating swing structures of Alternate Reality.
Archie Marshall aka King Krule oscillates between channeling strung out jazz crooners and mucky denim wearing rockabillies on a long-come follow-up to his 2013 debut.
“One of the most celebrated figureheads on the independent British scene, Archy Marshall returns with the dense, sprawling “The OOZ”, the much anticipated follow up to his debut “Six Feet Beneath the Moon”. Drifting and seeping through the cracks of South London like the album title, King Krule casts an unflinching eye over his kingdom, transforming his observations of all the disorientation and heartbreak of his youth into piercing narratives and poetry that are both startlingly honest and brutally beautiful. With “The OOZ”, Marshall finally takes the crown as poet laureate for the dazed and confused generation, painting a bleak and sometimes harrowing picture of a rapidly splintering city.
“The OOZ” is released October 13th on XL Recordings, preceded by the raucous new single “Dum Surfer” as well as a brilliant Brother Willis directed video. This autumn also sees Marshall hitting the road for a worldwide tour this autumn
Where “Six Feet Beneath the Moon”, released in 2013, was a rigorous, rambling excavation of Marshall’s expansive body of work to date, “The OOZ” snaps into focus quickly and sharply, his modus operandi coming into view almost immediately. Over jazzy curlicues and guitars, the opener “Biscuit Town” sets out its stall irresistibly as Marshall sings about rapidly disintegrating romance and personal dissolution with acute, almost painful detail. These wrenching themes of self-annihilation and fraying relationships seem inextricably linked in Marshall’s eyes – once you lose yourself to someone else, you inevitably wind up losing yourself completely when they leave – and recur in other tracks. “Why’d you leave me? Because of my depression? You used to complete me but I guess I learnt a lesson” he spits on the roiling “Midnight 01 (Deep Sea Diver)”, and, even layered with the warm vocals of Okay Kaya, “Slush Puppy” is an unsparing dissection of a couple with nothing left to give, like a Gainsbourg and Birkin ballad gone toxic. Elsewhere, things only get darker, as Marshall desperately tries to find safe harbor in the city he knows and loves, only to be thwarted constantly, as on “The Cadet Leaps” and first single “Czech One”. Not even the synthetic high of chemicals, as shown in “Emergency Blimp” and “A Slide In (New Drugs)”, can stanch the suffering.
Although seeming at first abstract, “The OOZ” as a title proves oddly fitting. There are references littered throughout about its physical manifestation, or as Marshall himself says, “about earwax and snot and bodily fluids and skin and stuff that just comes out of you on a day to day basis”. But it works on a more figurative level too, with the OOZ also representing the unknown depths or horizons the solitary mind can travel to, whether it’s sinking into the deep sea or soaring through the night sky. It may be messy, unwieldy, even unsightly, Marshall seems to say - but we need The OOZ in order to exist.”
Paul Woolford presents the definitive Special Request opus with Belief System, a brobdingnagian reflection upon his early years raving in Leeds, using samples from tapes dating back to 1993, diffracted thru the prism of up-to-date production aesthetics to visceral effect.
It’s pretty much the last word in Special Request’s coming-to-terms with nostalgia for the golden days of hardcore, jungle, rave, looking back to a time of rapid stylistic mutation and innovation from the relative safety of rose-tinted 2017 filters.
Rather than reviving the rabid energy and naive invention of rave proper, however, Woolford spends the first half of the album turning his sample pack into a UK Breaks and wonky techno set full of line-dancing grooves and electronica, before sparking off some breaks on pretty much the same base rhythm with the big room styles of Make It Real and the Amen Andrews-esque Brainstorm.
To be fair, the ruffneck Leviathan fares better with its boisterous tech-step barrage, and Replicant (Nexus 7 VIP) nearly grasps the nuttiness of hardcore proper, but the finale of Light In The Darkest Hour is a hybrid of Chicane and DJ Trace that never needed to happen, and people probably would have laughed off in the late ‘90s.
Frankfurt’s minimal house and electronica statesman steers Fabric 95 on slinky trip
Starting with a blend of Psychic TV with his and Ricardo Villalobos’ RiRom track, RoRic, thru the Metalheadz-esque breaks and synths of Koehler’s Oblivious Pool (Invisible Dub), to the Italo-house dream of Come Home by Pale Blue, foundational Chicago house from two of a Kind, the aerial breaks of Lanark Artefax, and even Sam Kidel’s Kachinja under his El Kid alias for Left Blank.
This the first CD released by drøne, after two vinyl albums on Anna von Hausswolff's label, Pomperipossa.
"Workers toil in smithies, call signs and chants-at-prayer reveal attempts to order the chaos, which always remains one step ahead. Post-lapsarian for sure, but smoke signals and drums have morphed into the 'bing bong' of the attention-grabbing, mind-polluting PA system. The coded simplicity of the whistle ("Start!") has evolved into a more deliberate attempt to control rather than inform by explicit, structured language. Announcements have become commands; signs bark orders. Thus 'no' becomes a powerful rejection, rather than merely an inclination; and no-ers are more easily to spot… "You're going the wrong way"! (To which the only sensitive and mature response is: "Indeed!")
Organic and man-made call signs, IDs, audio sigils and signatures all combine to describe a polluted, confusing atmosphere which threatens to leave us powerless and bewildered. "Decipher the sounds and you win the game! First prize is, guess what? You get to take the audio poison! Congratulations! You've lost!". A dynamic and involving result ensures a challenging but no less enjoyable listen.
The first album, 'reversing into the future' drew this response from Lend Me Your Ears: "This thrilling piece – surely the most kinetic non-dancefloor record in an age". Anna herself wrote of the follow up record, 'a perfect blind': "I love everything about this release. Such a great presentation and exciting project! And most important: the music is sublime."
The Quietus wrote: "Last year's distinctive debut from drøne was likened to a hurtling journey. It's combination of field recordings, shortwave radio and modular synths possessed an excited, driving energy whose route was hitherto unexplored and destination unknowable. But with an expanded sound pool boasting instruments across the ages - from guitar, through pipe organ and strings to dulcimer and psaltery – its follow-up takes a sideways step into more cognizant, reflective pastures."
Compiling the first 3 albums in the 'Everywhere At The End Of Time' series - two and a half hours long, each album reveals new points of progression, loss and disintegration, progressively falling further and further towards the abyss of complete memory loss and nothingness...
Embarking on the Caretaker’s final journey with the familiar vernacular of abraded shellac 78s and their ghostly waltzes to emulate the entropic effect of a mind becoming detached from everyone else’s sense of reality and coming to terms with their own, altered, and ever more elusive sense of ontology.
The series aims to enlighten our understanding of dementia by breaking it down into a series of stages that provide a haunting guide to its progression, deterioration and disintegration and the way that people experience it according to a range of impending factors.
In other words, Everywhere At The End of Time probes some of the most important questions about modern music’s place in a world that’s increasingly haunted or even choked by the tightening noose of feedback loops of influence; perceptibly questioning the value of old memories as opposed to the creation of new ones, and, likewise the fidelity of those musical memories which remain, and whether we can properly recollect them from the mire of our faulty memory banks without the luxury of choice
Mule Musiq’s master selector Kuniyuki Takahashi (Koss) distills the Soundofspeed vibe for house connoisseurs everywhere with A Mix Out Session
Drawing on fresh versions of label gear from DJ Sprinkles, DJ Nature, Vakula, and himself. Almost goes without saying but Sprinkles Deeperama mix of Kuniyuki & Jimpster’s Kalima’s Dance is a big highlight.
Reissue of Mika Vainio's final album under the Ø moniker...
Following on from the crushing technoid scapes of 'Kilo' under his own name and the blackened alloys of his ÄÄNIPÄÄ album with Stephen O'Malley, 'Konstellaatio' reveals the revered producer at his most sensitive, teetering on the brink of the abyss and projecting to the stars. Between the goosebump-inducing panoramic pads of opener 'Otava' and the twinkling electro-dub of closer 'Takaisin' we're made privy to some of the strongest material in his whole oeuvre, and we really don't say that lightly.
His tactile manipulation of bass and sub-bass dynamics and spacious application of pure, isolated frequencies is just mindblowing, evoking imagery on sub-atomic scales. Far from being an academic exercise in production, there's an awe-inspiring and compelling sense of pathos and wonder at its core owing as much to the grandeur of Beethoven as it does the diffuse sound sculptures of Parmegiani.
It's pointless listening to this material on shit speakers because you're gonna miss half of it's extreme subtleties, but for those who know and care about this music, prepare to bunker down with one of Vainio's finest.
After leaving us hanging for too long, the enigmatic R&B starlet pays up on the promise of her Cut 4 Me mixtape and Hallucinogen EP with an impeccable album of proper, star-dusted songs about love and life as “…a black woman, a 2nd generation Ethiopian-American, who grew up in the ‘burbs listening to R&B, Jazz and Björk”. Yh yh, count us in!
Sweeping us up in the heart-in-mouth dream sequence of Frontline’s sylvan soul and gently fading with the deliquescent sensuality of Altadena at its curtain close, Take Me Apart is arguably a modern classic blessed with widely resonating appeal. Marking a sublime demonstration of Kelela’s personal development over the years since literally everyone jumped on Cut 4 Me, her first opus is a more mature, layered and more coherent set which defines the difference between a mixtape and album thanks to its fluid logic and and intimately involving narrative structure.
Jupiter allows a moment to catch your breath in its bittersweet pirouettes before the rugged LMK - the album’s lead single - takes hold, triggering an amazing 2nd half loaded with Arca’s tell-tale pitch bends in the boogie knuck of Truth Or Dare and the almost industrially-toned drums and maaaad wide bass on S.O.S., but we’re not sure who’s responsible for the radioactive lead line of Blue Light, or the Burial-esque 2-step of Onanon, and it doesn’t really matter anyway, cos Kelela’s really the star of the show in every part.
It’s All True is an opera-in-suspension from New York ensemble Object Collection based on the complete live archives of iconic underground band Fugazi.
"Grounded upon the DC post-hardcore outfit’s 1987-2002 Live Archive series, composer Travis Just and writer/director Kara Feely’s work uses only the incidental music, text and sounds, none of Fugazi’s actual songs. An obsessive leap into 1500 hours of gig detritus – random feedback, aimless drum noodling, pre-show activist speeches, audience hecklers, police breaking up gigs – is the foundation of an ear-body-and-mind-flossing 100 minutes for 4 voices/performers, 4 electric guitars/basses and 2 drummers. It’s All True is overloaded, maddening, mundane, properly funny, and a radical incitement to action.”