HTRK mint their new label with a perfectly formed 5th studio album - in our opinion a career best - finding the duo stripped to a quietly cathartic, windswept arrangement of bare vocals rent with spectral webs of guitar and synth in a modern, classic, wholly inimitable style that will lodge itself deep in your heart. AOTY gear especially recommended if yr into anything from Dean Blunt to Mark Hollis, Gillian Welch to Slowdive.
Recorded in their native Dandenong Ranges, Australia earlier this year, ‘Rhinestones' contains some of HTRK's most aching/gratifying songwriting secreted in subtly plangent sheets of dubbed guitar, synth pads and crackling 808s that foge a sort of quasi-Americana that feels both intimately familiar and entirely new. It’s an album that seems to have been precision-tooled for tortured romantics and atomised souls, reverberating with a gentle pathos that’s therapeutic to succumb to.
The metaphysical soul of their songcraft somehow bleeds out more clearly than ever, infusing every song from the heartbreak pucker of ‘Kiss Kiss and Rhinestones’ to the intoxicating, spirit-catcher sway of ‘Gilbert and George’ with the tumescent glow of MDMA-tingled flesh and the uncanniest air of déjà vu. All nine songs land with a level of sound sensitivity that reveals every shimmering string, pad and echoic snare contrail like a halo around Jonnine’s voice, which regales tales of love, friendship and the mysteries of the night with an observant, diaristic directness that has a devastating emotive clout.
In key with the times, the songs feel like the soundtrack to emptied cities, casting gothic shadows in the spellbinding reverbs of ‘Valentina’ and mottled beauty of ’Siren Song,’ with the fragged ketrock of ‘Fast Friend’ imagining a séance with Prince and Anna Domino, while Conrad Standish (CS + Kreme) lends bass guitar gilding to the empty saloon sashay of ‘Real Headfuck,’ and ’Straight To Hell’ basks in a transition between the golden and crepuscular hours. Oh - and 'Sunlight Feels like Bee Stings’ - what a title?!
For real, no other band do it quite like HTRK, and ‘Rhinestones’ feels like their purest iteration, conjured in a mist of feeling, love and inebriation.
10 years since his debut, Container holds his line of bolshy, distorted machine rhythms for Alter.
Bringing his studio recordings closer than ever to the sound of his cultishly praised live shows, ‘Scramblers’ is as much mucky fun as the nippy motorbikes it’s named after. With the possible addition of some new software or bit of kit that gives this record a really nasty edge, he tears out between the evil revs of the title cut hacking up pure electro-punk havoc with ‘Nozzle’ and jabs like Rian Treanor on PCP with ‘Mottle’ and ‘Queaser’, with he spring-loaded rage of ‘Haircut’ and the scum bucket razz of ‘Duster’ there to clean any meat left on your dancing bones.
‘Morton Feldman Piano’ is a major 5CD collection of virtually all of Feldman’s music for piano, performed by Philip Thomas with a tactility befitting of this extraordinary, quiet, intimate music. It’s the most extensive survey of Feldman’s piano music since John Tilbury’s long unavailable 4-CD set was released 20 years ago, including several pieces which weren’t included there, and three works which have never been released on disc before at all.
Feldman was part of a radical group of experimenters, alongside the likes of John Cage, Christian Wolff and Earle Brown, who looked beyond the strictures of serialism to innovative with and embrace aspects of chance and “indeterminacy” in their compositions. Most often associated with the piano, Feldman is perhaps best known for his perceptively time-slowing later works, but this boxset presents the widest angle possible on his approach to the piano, spanning surprisingly cranky recordings from the 1940s thru to the exquisite delicacy of his acclaimed ‘Triadic Memories’ and ultimately ‘Palais de Mari’ in 1986. Feldman died in 1987, leaving behind a remarkable catalogue that has previously been tackled by John Tilbury in the 4CD set ‘All Piano’ (1999), which is now long out of print and trades for triple figures on the 2nd hand market, making this boxset of Philip Thomas’ Feldman interpretations an even more indispensable collection.
Accompanied by pianist Philip Thomas’ lucubrate and extensive book of notes on Feldman’s music, its development, unique notation, and his close personal relationship with it, ‘Morton Feldman Piano’ methodically and artfully unpackages the great composer’s often forbiddingly vast oeuvre for anyone looking for a way in or seeking to enrich their knowledge of his life and work. In great depth, Thomas writes about Feldman’s holistic approach, recognising the connection between ears, mind, and fingertips which resulted in the music’s quietly extreme dynamic, and which singularly revolutionised historic approaches to the instrument thru the artist’s attempt at refusing attack in the notes - essentially a near-impossible idea when considering that the piano is a percussive instrument, and needs to be hit to be played. The sensitivity of the results are quite astonishing, and most beautifully executed and evidenced in Thomas’ playing throughout all 31 pieces included.
While the later works will be well known to even the casual Feldman follower, and are sure to entrance newcomers, his early and mid-period works between the late ‘40s and into the ‘60s provide a fascinating grounding for his sound and style, ranging from a solemnly inquisitive ‘Untitled piano piece’ (1942) to the almost jazzy flourishes of ‘Illusions’ (1949), thru to his increasingly sparser ‘Music for the film ‘Sculpture by Lipton’’ (1954), and up to the barely there ‘Piano Piece’ (1964) before he took a 13 year hiatus from writing for solo piano (although he would still write parts for piano in larger ensembles), only returning to it with ‘Piano’ (1977).
Yet for all the technicality and philosophy surrounding Feldman’s compositional process, it remains to be said that his music is strikingly easy on the ear. With a little focus and patience in the right mindset, Feldman’s music has the capacity to lead the thinking mind into unusual places, and as his catalogue proceeds, it becomes an increasing pleasure to find the notes flickering, illuminating contrasts with the shadows of his lacunae.
Low's thirteenth album is a brutally overdriven, but slow-as-fuck offering from a band who resolutely refuse to stay still. Unlike 2018's "Double Negative" it's not soft and hyper-electronic, "HEY WHAT" is distorted but achingly beautiful - like church songs banged thru a broken radio and blown speaker cones.
We gotta admit we were pretty surprised when we heard Low's last full-length. The band has always played with perceptions of their influential slowcore sound, but "Double Negative" was a death-defying drop into territory usually inhabited by artists like Andy Stott and Newworldaquarium. "HEY WHAT" subverts expectations again: Low stick with "Double Negative" producer BJ Burton but drive him to hone in on a completely separate aspect of their sound.
Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker's dueling vocal harmonics are at the center of the album, spruced up by sparse sonic elements that sound so fucked they're almost completely unrecognizable. Is it guitar, drums, synth? It's hard to tell as chaotic, fractured sounds buzz and break off beneath Parker and Sparhawk's melancholy chorals. Opener 'White Horses' sets the stage, with mic hiss and axe fuzz slowly breaking into stuttering ear-bending electronics.
It's music that feels dangerously experimental, but never loses the magic of Low's idiosyncratic songwriting in the lead clouds of white noise, wobbling subs and ear-splitting fuzz. This time around Low have found a comfort zone making devotional music that forces itself thru our era's deafening cultural cacophony, finding a place of euphoric resonance. It's proof that a band can exist for nearly three decades and still find relevance in change, self-exploration and sonic rehabilitation.
Terre Thaemlitz digs deep into her archive for a dead strong 80 minute CD compilation of all her 'Neu Wuss Fusion’s' releases to date, including adjusted and tweaked versions of classics and hard-to-find gems dating back to ’93, including a remarkable liquid D&B cut and an utterly unmissable take on Tangerine Dream - exclusive to the set.
The overarching vibe here hits even deeper than the recent DJ Sprinkles 'Gayest Tits…' set, hovering between the edge of the floor and a late, late night flex instead of driving club pressure, with a focus on bustling breaks and spellbinding ambient jazz atmospheres.
The material here reaches back to the early ’90s, with the kick-less deep House shimmy of opener ‘Thirty Shades of Grey (Demo Version)’ harking back to their debut solo album ‘Tranquilizer’ (1994), and the ambient jazz house lather of ’Sloppy 42s’ connecting to 1999’s ‘Love For Sale’ album, both elegantly edited here, and shuffled up next to both sides of 1998’s ’She’s Hard,’ in its glorious ambient-to-breakbeat mix and rousing ‘Live At Hug Parade’ take.
The set only gets stronger on its 2nd half. The original 11:30’ mix of ‘A Crippled Left Wing Soars with the Right’ makes a welcome first digital appearance beside a mix of its ‘Steal This Record’ edit omitting the ambient breakdown, while also highlighting its incredible, liquid D&B-like ‘1-Step Forward, 2-Step Back’ version - think Calibre meets MvO Trio - seriously - and, just to absolutely polish us off, they include an e-s-s-e-n-t-i-a-l cover of Tangerine Dream’s ‘Love On A Real Train,’ re-titled and remodelled as their orgasmic ‘Sex On A Real Train’ version alongside the 12 minutes of lush, pastoral flutes and subbass in ‘She’s Hard (2007 Archive of Silence Mix.)
Utterly essential, once again.
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Chock full of humid, resonant soundscapes that bend time and emphasize texture, tone and timbre, Sarah Davachi's latest is her most defining and rewarding full-length to date. We're floored, again - there's nobody else doing it quite like this.
Composed using a Mellotron, electric organ, piano and synthesizers, "Antiphonals" takes all the elements we know and love from Davachi's impressive catalogue to date and refines them into eight tracks of expertly-sculpted deep listening stickiness. If you're familiar with her work, the content won't be surprising, but Davachi's dedication to her craft has resulted in music that feels more and more revelatory each time.
Here, she brings her obsession with the tonal and textural character of early music to the fore, playing confidently with sounds that exist two or three steps from the contemporary sonic spectrum. Her favored outpost is a cocoon of soft-focus resonance, where sounds graze lightly and hypnotize rather than scrape or bruise. It's not background music - this is art that requires attention and understanding to appreciate its layered beauty and subtle complexity.
There are no real standouts or big moments, rather "Antiphonals" is a single long-running excerpt of Davachi's sonic thesis that plays continuously without a defined beginning or a defined end. It's a privilege to spend time in her world, listening to sacred music melt into prog rock and sensual, experimental drone into blurry neoclassical ambience. There are plenty of musicians who attempt to reach this jewelled nirvana, and precious few who get close - Davachi is currently sitting near the center. Breathtaking.
Colin Potter’s legendary ICR host the debut issue of powerful drone improvisations by London’s Jason Barton aka BArTc
Hand-picked and mastered by synth master Potter (NWW) for this release, the 13 tracks of ‘Insubstantial As Ghosts’ evidently share a realm of fascination with Potter’s own work. They are richly textured and immersive tracts of seemingly organically occurring electronics where its composer feels more like a fleshy medium for the circuit boards than the guy in charge of what’s happening.
In waves of thick, viscous tone he seamlessly consolidates raw synth sounds with field recordings, sometimes breaking off into unexpected pockets of inquiry, but more often helming to tunnelling vectors that drag its listeners into properly zonked head spaces with purpose and dread, perhaps best felt in the mighty traction of ‘Energy Field’ and the vertiginous dimensions and thousand yard stare dynamics of ‘Looking Into The Abyss’, recalling to our minds everythign from Potter’s work with Nurse WIth Wound to Giancarlo Toniutti’s grinding hypnagogia.
FUJI||||||||||TA's new album is a time-dilating soundtrack to butoh dancer Kentaro Kujirai's 'Gingan Arahabaki', and might just be his deepest work to date. Watery environmental recordings wash against resonant tones from the Japanese instrument builder's unique DIY pump organ = completely singular, evocative sound to file alongside your Kali Malone, BJ Nilsen and Davachis.
For “Gingan Arahabaki”, Kujirai looked to the life of his writer grandfather and painter father - who died only days after the show's premiere - to develop a performance rooted in memory and identity. Fujita responds by playing slow and careful drones with his custom-built pipe organ, mimicking the body's movement with glassy resonance and evocative tonal variations, overlaying more recognizable sounds to paint a time and place lost between history and perception.
Waves rumble and crash far in the distance on opening track 'Umi', growing closer and gaining clarity as the piece develops. It almost feels as if we're walking through a cave, greeted by the guttoral animal groans of Fujita's pipe organ. On 'Taki', Fujita plays with high-frequency tones like an inverse Sunn O))), and meets these with gentle koto plucks and strums, suggesting a fusion of Japan's past and present. Closing track 'Ibuki' returns to rumbling waves, but this time the organ sounds are harder to place, and eventually lost in the water.
'Arahabaki' is a poetic, theatrical work even without Kujirai's physical accompaniment; anyone who enjoyed last year's "Kōmori" or the artist's stunning run of Bandcamp drops should grab this immediately; it's the opposite of "power ambient" somehow - minimal, unashamedly beautiful drone pieces whose power lies in its context and gestural quality. It's an immersive, revitalizing listening experience.
Very canny breakthru debut album from John Glacier, expressing her East London soul with executive production by LA-based Vegyn - a strong look for fans of Coby Sey, Tirzah, Mica Levi, Dean Blunt
‘SHILOH: Lost For Words’ frames Glacier’s singular sort of punk poet rap in 12 concise cuts that lay out her sound at the fringes of electronica, indie-pop and rap, proper. A remarkably diverse but collected whole, the album’s variegation owes to its plethora of like-minded producers - Vegyn, Holly, Psychedelic Ensemble and Tn_490 - who keep the ground shifting woozy and curious at Glacier’s feet, underlining droll lyrics about her hopes and dreams with suitably hazy, suggestive beats, at best in the over-compressed Dean Blunt styles of ‘If Anything,’ the sweetly skewed soul of ‘Trelawny Waters,’ and must-check highlights on the crystalline rap of ‘Boozy’ and the screwed jungle blues hymnal ‘Some Other Thing.’
“John Glacier says she chose her stage name because she's "icy". But, like her pitch-shifted vocal and deadpan stare, that dissembling coldness is shattered by the blistering reality of her lyrics. Everything she writes, in her punk-poet electronic pop songs, is viscerally vulnerable. Her debut album, produced with fellow London-born, LA-based producer Vegyn, is what she calls a "selfish" record, documenting "how I feel, what I'm going through, and where I want to go in my life." But like everything John touches, even this answer shapeshifts, revealing itself to be something unexpected by the time she's finished speaking. SHILOH is a document of healing and evolution that John created over the course of a year. Each track is a reflection of a moment, captured fleetingly, showcasing a different face of John Glacier. "The songs are all completely different spaces," she notes, but the common theme of the album is reflection, and processing – like chipping away at ice.”
Nomadic drum outlaw Stefan Schwander hitches his wagon to Bureau B again for a strong follow-up to the streamlined contours of ‘Plong’
For over ten years Harmonious Thelonious has ploughed a singular, strident path thru a plethora of outernational percussive styles, distilled into his own groove. With ‘Instrumentals’ he follows the subtle readjustments of 2020’s mesmerising ‘Plong’ album with a greater focus on effortlessly rolling structures, consolidating a world of influence from Pan African, South American, Antipodean and Middle Eastern percussive styles with a proper, fine-tuned sort of minimalist, motorik German suss rooted in the perpetual electronic drive of his native Düsseldorf.
Oblivious to trend, the eight supple fusions drums and widescreen flatland atmospheres are a very canny exercise in rhythmic world building, articulated in a drum language bound to be understood by moving bodies. With no tricks or stunts, or less gritty textures than early works, the tracks flow with a glistening quality, unfolding in nuanced permutations of sultry, tango-like elegance on ‘Beiläufige Muziek’, or knitting thumb piano-like rhythmelodies and pealing horns into swingeing syncopation on ‘Halb Ding’ and ‘Apakapa’, while saving a massive highlight for the heads down and shoulder bouncing ‘Yusuf’, which appears to imagine an elision of indigenous Australian and Kurdish Dabke reference points to our ears.
Susanna plays to her strengths in transformed cover versions of Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits, Neil Young, Lennon-Mccartney and more in collaboration with her cousin, David Wallumrød.
Recorded in Oslo and Asker during 2019-2020, right before the pandemic hit, ‘Live’ is a strong testament to Susanna’s durable skill in resetting classic songs to her lowlit, chamber style, as previously highlighted in her sublime take on Joy Division’s ‘Wilderness’ on ‘Go Dig My Grave’, for example. It’s also a revelation of David Wallumrød’s instrumental tactility, sensitively weaving backdrops of Fender Rhodes, Clavinet, Arp Synth, MiniMoog bass, and vocals that perfectly support and complement his cousin’s timeless tone.
Perhaps no surprise coming from a pair of Norwegian artists, the mode of ‘Live’ is ripe for long evenings alone or with close company. Picking up with a shimmering take on Leonard Cohen’s ‘Chelsea Hotel’, Susanna casts her romantic magic at each turn, distilling the salient elements of Joni Mitchell’s ‘This Flight Tonight’ with dusky finesse, and following a fine line of bluesy suss between her take on Tom Waits’ ‘Gin Soaked Boy’ to midnight jazz feels on a cover of Julie Miller’s ‘All My Tears’, with a killer piece of jazzy rudeness showcasing David’s chops on their take of Waits’ ‘Underground’, with sweeter salve saved for their lilting spin on ‘For No One’ from the Lennon-McCartney songbook.
Inimitably eclectic figure Richard Youngs effectively sings thru his Spanish guitar strings upon return to Richo’s Fourth Dimension Records
‘Iker’, pronounced “eeker” and translating from Basque as ‘Visitation’, showcases Youngs’ lyrical solo guitar prowess at its stripped down best in a vein of practice shared by John Fahey and Sir Richard Bishop. It’s the most serene of his sides for the label, and absorbingly porous to his environment, very subtly incorporating street sounds and bird song, tape loops and synth that enliven the spare, afternoon air of the recordings and lend extra nuance for attentive listeners to lose themselves in, before becoming more noticeably foreground in the final part..
Dntel returns with a collection of 10 pop-infused vocal hymns. "Away" is the second of two Dntel albums to be released in 2021 by Morr Music in collaboration with Les Albums Claus.
"Jimmy Tamborello AKA Dntel is a musician who changed pop music forever – and still works in this never-ending labour of love, both effortless and highly focused, constantly tweaking the universe of our musical perception. Whether beatless or uncompromisingly embracing the limelight of collective ecstasy with one of his most remembered tunes "(This Is) The Dream Of Evan And Chan", his almost forgotten anthem "Don’t Get Your Hopes Up" or his work as James Figurine. "Away" features 10 of these extravaganzas – uniting his audience once more in hope and future-bound optimism.
"I grew up with 80s techno-pop – these influences always come through in my music", Jimmy writes from Los Angeles. For this album, though, "I was thinking more of 80s indie pop or labels like 4AD. It is a mix of those influences along with trying to figure out what elements of my own discography I still connect with. I wanted it to reflect old Dntel records as well as the techno-pop band Figurine I used to be in. I have always considered my music basically being techno-pop, but not referring to pop as popular music – I just like pretty melodies. But with the Dntel moniker, I never had the ambition to produce music for a really big audience.”
It is exactly that looseness in approaching music which makes Tamborello’s style of composing so unique. On "Away" he combines a healthy dose of distortion with the most-sticking melodies, vocals and bitter-sweet lyrics he ever came up with – performing all vocals himself, with the help of technology. "My voice has a limited range. When I applied this vocal processing it seemed to bring out the emotions more. I don’t see it as the same as the more artificial, autotuned style of modern pop music. I think it still sounds like it could be a real person singing, just not me."
Using this technique, Dntel disembodies himself from his own art, welcoming all kinds of interpretations re. his current state as an artist. "Somehow this processed voice feels closer to how I see myself than my normal voice, for better or worse…", he writes. Pop music is a fragile entity, making its kingpins vulnerable. Many emotions reveal a lot of the originator’s personality –this is something one has to be prepared for. On "Away", Jimmy Tamborello finds the perfect way of marrying his unique musical personality with both the demands and possibilities of pop music. Just listen to "Connect" and you’ll know what we’re talking about. A perfect, yet timeless album for less than perfect times."
This collection of damaged subsonic headmelters was originally released back in 2001 under the CTI moniker, and used Carter's 1970s and '80s Throbbing Gristle rhythm tapes to inspire industrial vignettes that have been used on countless installations, TV ads and Hollywood movie trailers since. Still so far ahead of the game - frozen ambient void soundtrax.
This second collection of ambient reworks takes his pioneering Throbbing Gristle sounds into a sub-aquatic cave of watery textures, rumbling sheet subs and chattering alien echoes. It's not drone material by any means - Carter retains the rhythmic push of his TG beat tapes, but flexes them in dilated time, reminding of Thomas Köner or Kevin Drumm.
Tracks don't so much play from beginning to end as twist thru the perceived audio field like weightless blunt smoke diving between hi-frequency whirrs and lo-end growls. It's music that can pretty much only be enjoyed on a decent set of speakers or headphones - the original release read "not mono compatible" and "contains sub-sonics and resonant frequencies which lower specified audio apparatus may find difficult to faithfully reproduce".
But if you're in possession of a half-decent setup you're in for a treat. There are few artists who possess Carter's wizardry working in this mode. As a pioneer he changed the game, but he also rarely repeatshimself. Billed as "ambient remixes", these eerie versions are several steps removed from the cloying ambient music that clogs up playlists and soundtracks. Carter's take on the genre exists in negative space and hinges on dub flavor, hypnotic texture and pure sonic confusion. It's next level shit, from beginning to end.
From Lawrence English
"I am ceaselessly fascinated by how memory operates and, I’m regularly struck by how individually subjective a collective experience can be when recalled by its participants. Lynch’s Lost Highway comes to mind here, specifically Bill Pullman’s character Fred Madison who says “I like to remember things my own way. How I remembered them, not necessarily the way they happened.” Like Madison, I can’t help but sense that memory takes shape through an accumulative process that reflects how each of us have lived (and maybe even wanted to live) up to that point in time.
Going back to listen again to these recordings of which I was a part with David and Akio, I was surprised by what elements had stayed with me and what others had slipped into the eternal greying of my mind. I have vivid recollections of listening to a Lyre bird before recording the pieces together at Witches Falls. I remember both Akio and David finding musicality in decaying palm fronds. I remember Akio’s voice, amplified through his Analpos, bouncing off the stones and trees. I remember David’s flute, so quiet in the pitch black of the night forest as to appear like a hushed tone of wind or a distant animal calling. I also remember trying to match my modest hand held electronics with the pulsing and pitching of the insects around me.
Reading David’s text, which is included in the book published alongside this edition, he recounts several things I had forgotten. Conversations about memory, ironically enough, had vanished from my mind until reading his words. I also didn’t really remember my role as tick surgeon, removing a living insect from David’s ear. I do remember his cooking though, as does Akio (captured aptly in his drawings), no doubt a testament to David’s improvisational culinary expertise.
Breathing Spirit Forms represents a distinctive exchange between friends and collaborators. Tamborine commands a special presence and encourages a deep patience from those who are willing to give time to its varied environments. For the three of us, we were fortunate to share these moments together, fleeting in our lives as they might be, to sense the mountain’s unique qualities, to respond to them through our exchanges and to form memories (as disparate as they might be) we carry forward with us in time."
From Will Long:
"It was months ago, but it could have been weeks, days, or even hours since then. I stopped wanting to hear loops, I wanted to stop it. I added brass; trumpets, trombones, and more horns. I cut it out like words from a book, and sewed it back together. Burroughs. These movements are merely to stay alive, to stay moving.
You wake up from a truck horn passing in the early morning hours on the nearby freeway, or from a dream that you can't tell was a nightmare or a loving memory.
Someone walks by on the street wearing the same perfume. I drew out each place, each scene, and put the story there. It might have been with you, or without you. All I know is that you were there somehow the whole time, even if you weren't.
I saw rainbows from under the bridge by the river, and the sun shot up through the clouds of the golden hour. It didn't help, and there was no one around. Your chest is even with your knees, and you're sitting in the dirt. The sun keeps going down, and eventually you make your way home. It's not very much the same as it was anymore. The horns are deafening, but after, the echoes let me see the way away.
The light keeps coming, and it keeps going. Songs of surroundings, the silent, the heartbeats, the tears. We've all had them, and we'll never be rid of them."
‘Yellow’ is the life-giving debut album opus from pivotal London jazz player and band leader Emma-Jean Thackray, channelling sacred strains of everyone from Sun Ra to Alice Coltrane and even Funkadelic
Cementing a solid reputation as a catalyst of London’s jazzy groundswell in recent years, Thackray gathers a crack squad of the city’s finest for 14 variegated tracks deeply informed by ‘70s jazz fusion, but just as prone to veer off on cosmic or P-funk tangents. Recorded over the past 12 months of strife, ‘Yellow’ ultimately conveys a message of positivity thru classically schooled means, drawing upon examples of high black art, and effectively where they came from, to offer a whole vibe for those in need.
Hailed by the label as “exactly like the sort of thing we’ve been longing for over the last 12 months: a transcendent, human, shared experience” we’re inclined to agree; ‘Yellow’ is just the ticket to clear the murk with its cloud busting bursts of harmonic colour, plush vocals and elastic bounce. We advise checking for the effervescent bustle of ‘Third Eye’ at its core for a proper spirit lifter, and looking out for Sun Ra-esque gems in the cosmic beauty of album opener ‘Mercury,’ while dancers will be charmed by the bubbling takers of ‘Venus’ and the swingeing rug-cutters ‘Rahu & Ketu’ or ‘Our People.’
The architect engineer of Industrial music, Chris Carter (TG, X-TG, CTI, Chris & Cosey) turns classic early works inside out in an Electronic Ambient style on the first of reissued volumes with Mute.
Effectively rendering his seminal solo debut album ‘The Space Between’ in hyperspace, Carter measures distance travelled between the end of the ‘70s and 2000AD with ‘Electronic Ambient Remixes One.’ Originally issued under the CTI alias that he shares with creative and life partner Cosey Fanni Tutti, the album exemplifies his switch from angular manipulations of bespoke hardware to a mixture of hardware and computer-based systems, practically melting the tensile hard edges of his early classics with infinitely smooth gradients and more sensual pulses that reset their meaning from club and living room laboratories to a headier abstract metaspace.
For anyone familiar with Carter’s 1980 debut album, it’s all the more remarkable to hear those tracks utterly transformed and transposed into their reflections here. Unrecognisable from the originals, Carter translates their original post-Industrial vernacular into an alien language of vaporous signs and suggestive textures, dematerialising any semblance of fixed structure in favour of sheer amorphousness and floating amniotic sensation somewhere between lush and unheimlich. But for anyone unfamiliar with the originals, we’d even advise doing them in reverse chronology to hear what were once deeply futuristic forms emerge from Ur flux and vice versa.
Manchester family Space Afrika's Dais debut is a sprawling, genre melted tapestry of charged diasporic innovation and unshakably Northern, British working class eccentricity >> Like Dean Blunt, DJ Spooky, Cocteau Twins, Klein, West Mineral, Tricky, Third Eye Foundation, Actress 'n Michael Nyman boiled into a waxy narrative epic, 'Honest Labour' is as smoky and mysterious as it is rewarding. Undoubtedly one of the most viscerally affecting records of 2021.
Since 2014's "Above The Concrete / Below The Concrete" Joshua Inyang and Joshua Tarelle have been drawing a complex blueprint, displaying their influences and re-drawing each element to fit their ambitious creative vision. Initially spurred on by nth wave dub techno, and Raster Noton 'n Mille Plateaux's glacial, arty minimalism, the duo dug deeper into their shared musical DNA on 2018's sferic-released "Somewhere Decent to Live". This time they anchored their productions in 'nuum history, liquefying garage, jungle and grime hallmarks into glistening trails of pulses, pads and gestures.
Spurred on by last summer's global anti-racist protests, the duo widened their sonic universe with "Hybtwibt?", a heady collage of political subterfuge, biography and raw emotion. It was a rap beat tape without beats or raps, or an ambient album that had shelved the ambience completely, leaving inverted space and covert cinematic storytelling. This year's short, sharp "Untitled (To Describe You) OST" offered similar brainfood, mulling over concepts of identity and class with traces of drill and musique concrete.
'Honest Labour' is the sum of these component parts, and Inyang and Tarelle's defining statement to date. It's a fully silver-lined patchwork of high and low cultural squares that dissolves class, race and state identifiers in searing washes of familiarity and anxious experimentation. The euphoric post-jungle sparkle of tracks like 'yyyyyy2222' and 'solemn' is cut with warbling vocal dream pop ('indigo grit' and 'rings'), post-SND beat fukkery ('ny interlude') and k-holed industrial fuzz ('ladybird drone', 'like orchids').
But it's the duo's use of trip-hop and illbient tropes that truly tips their sound into jaw-to-the-floor territory. Standout single 'B£E' welds a vivid rap from MCR's Blackhaine over eroding breaks that sound like they've fallen off the back of Tricky's misunderstood "Nearly God" album. As words spell out a rainy working class reality where hope cracks thru grey concrete, Tarelle and Inyang bleed orchestral strings into the mix until they drown the rhythm completely. It's Massive Attack's 'Unfinished Sympathy' completed finally, evolved in a battle-scarred south Manchester petri dish.
"Honest Labour" is a Black British story that painstakingly weaves theory and raw open wounds with a passion for discovery and obsessive ear for sound. It's an album that linx Goldie's euphoric melancholy with Tricky's gender-flexing working class poetics, Actress's fuzzed-out high-minded syfy storytelling and Klein's noizy theatrical experimentation. It's one of 2021's most essential albums so far >> no doubt.
A bearhug of chill-out room gouching gear from MFM spanning the golden era of ‘90s ambient dance music with gems from David Moufang, LFO, Global Communication, Kirsty Hawkshaw, Sun Electric and many more notables of that era.
Since the world turned into a big chill out room in early 2020, albeit with a heavy sense of anxiety, this set could hardly be better placed for downtime in the comfort of your own home, rolling out mystic highlights such as LFO’s MDMA-tingle arps and pads in ‘Helen’ and the sublime suspension systems of Global Communication’s remix of ‘Arcadian’, along with Move D’s early nugget ‘Sergio Leone’s Wet Dream’, and the lush pads of his close spar Jonah Sharp’s Spacetime Continuum, plus a strip of killer slow acid in Sideral’s ‘Mare Nostrum’, and the blissed romance of ‘Love 2 Love’ by Sun Electric.
One for the lovers and the ravers.
Finders Keepers' 3rd volume of Ilaiyaraaja tunes offers a bounty of south subcontinental '80s electro-disco-pop. While their previous collections have homed in on his work with the "Tamil Nightingale", K.S. Chitra, and "The Electronic Pop Sound Of Kollywood 1977-1983", this one follows in the same vein as Bombay Connection's excellent 'Fire Star: Synth Pop & Electro-Funk From Tamil Films 1984-1989' or Cartilage Records' amazing 'Play That Bat Mr. Raja' compilations with 17 songs selected for their dancefloor potential.
Drawn from a collection of over 4500 (and counting) songs mostly written for original soundtracks hardly known outside of his home region, 'Ilectro' follows up Raja's appearance in the Olympics opening ceremony of 2012 with a techno-coloured burst of sonic joy bound to thrill with its crammed arranegments and highly idiosyncratic application of early DX7 synths and cut-up drum machine patterns to traditional raga-style melodies and typically emoting vocals. To this extent his music can be likened with Charanjit Singh's acidic ragas or even the electronic orientations of early adopter Ilhan Mimaroglu in Turkey. Yet, ultimately, as you'll hear, this music is in a league of its own, augmenting Western pop ideas and electronics with a unique accent individual to gayaki style Carnatic music and the bombastic emotion of Kollywood cinema.
Charming expo of mbira music from Zimbabwe, 1983, charting its symbolism during early years of the country’s independence and as a means of contacting the spirit world
Showcasing the playing of Ephat Mujuru, the descendent of a respected spirit medium and master of the mbira dzavadzimu - “a handheld lamellophone used in Shona region to make contact and receive council from deceased ancestors” - the four pieces on ‘Mbavaira’ document Ephat working with a newly formed band, The Spirit of the People on their 2nd album of acoustic mbira music.
While named for the Shona for something like “chaos”, the album was intended to foster unity between Zimbabwe’s two dominant ethnic groups, the Shona and the Ndebele, and arrived on the country’s only label Gramma Records as one of few commercially issued mbira recordings at the time, and was practically received as a pop record, an immediate quality that it carries thru into 2021.
Ephat tragically died from a heart attack at Heathrow Airport in 2001, aged 51, en route to perform and teach in the US, and ‘Mbavaira’ is a lovely testament to his legacy, flowing free with four tracks of complex rhythmelodic colour and soulful vocals by his uncle Mude, sweepign from he lilting dealign music of the title track to the trad hunting song ‘Nyama Musango’ (Meat in the Forest) via the swingeing hustle of ‘Kuenda Mbire’ *Going to Mbire) and the more brooding tone of ‘Mudande’, named for a remote northern village in Zimbabwe.
Shades of Ariel Kalma’s bio-feedback systems meet Colin Stetson’s grandly cinematic North American landscapes on the 3rd album by Land of Kush saxophonist Jason Sharp.
“The Turning Centre Of A Still World is Sharp’s first purely solo record and his most lucid, poignant, integral work to date. Following two acclaimed albums composed around particular collaborators and guest players, Sharp conceived his third as an interplay strictly bounded by his own body, his acoustic instrument, and his evolving bespoke electronic system. The Turning Centre... is a singular sonic exploration of human-machine calibration, interaction, expression and biofeedback.
Using saxophones, foot-controlled bass pedals, and his own pulse – patched through a heart monitor routed to variegated signal paths that trigger modular synthesizers and samplers – Sharp paints with organic waves of glistening synthesis, pink noise and digitalia. Melodic strokes and harmonic shapes ripple and crest across ever-shifting seas, through an inclement cycle from dawn to dusk. The album’s six main movements navigate a world where placid surfaces are always roiled and disquieted by a deeper inexorable gyre: the gravitational pull and tidal perpetuity of our bodies made of water, buffeted by terrestrial atmospheric pressures, wrung out by emotions, coursing with blood, sustained by breath, inescapably yearning for and returning to ground again and again. Sharp’s heartbeat literally courses through these compositions – while only occasionally surfacing as a clearly audible pulse or rhythm, it physically feeds into a spectrum of generative synthetic processes that help constitute and conduct the music.
The immersive, intensive, widescreen electronic works on The Turning Centre… could sit comfortably as a masterful and stellar contribution to the space/sci-fi/synth soundtrack genre, owing to their overall sound palette and oceanic scope. But this is ultimately deeper, grittier, earthier stuff – pulsing with terrestrial granularity, charting subterranean geographies of the heart and soul.”
Portland-based folk guitarist Marisa Anderson teams up with "First Cow" composer William Tyler for this blurry set of guitar-led melancholia influenced by Anglo-pessimist in chief, Mark Fisher.
'Lost Futures' was conceived in Portland after Anderson and Tyler had connected at a tribute show for Silver Jews' David Berman. Tyler had played in Silver Jews, as well as in Lambchop, and while the two had an immediate connection, they wondered whether their busy schedules might allow time for collaboration. When COVID hit a few months later, it provided them with the time they needed to fire ideas back and forth, using Fisher's theories as a jumping-off point.
Hearing Fisher's theories untethered to British electronic music's obsession with dusty nostalgia and post-BoC/Burial hauntology is actually quite refreshing. Anderson and Tyler's music is rooted in a different - and more resolutely American - idea of the lost future; Tyler's background is in Nashville and Anderson's folk playing was shaped by her collaborations with Tuareg musicians like Mdou Moctar and Kildjate Moussa Albadé. So the music here feels as if it funnels well-worn American ideas into new places, challenging the listener by fusing the familiar and the unexpected.
The result is post-rock adjacent, with tracks like 'Something Will Come' building a chugging Kraut groove and 'Pray For Rain' sounding painfully epic. But the duo hit their stride in the moments of subtle, soulful Americana, like the utterly heartbreaking title track and the lengthy closer 'Haunted By Water', that sounds like a bleak, instrumental take on the lavish Nashville sound.
'Perfect Vision' is another defiant set from enduring D.C.-based blues-rock guitarist and songwriter Thalia Zedek. Her dissenting voice has never sounded clearer than right here, on an album finished only moments before the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Zedek has been challenging the system of control since 1980, and her latest doesn't break the tension for a second. Her last album "Fighting Season" was about resistance as tension grew across the USA; "Perfect Vision" is focused on the search for clarity as the world languishes in isolation.
It shouldn't surprise any regular listeners that the album is toothy, serrated and to-the-point. Zedek's overdriven blues rock is accurately in-key with current malaise, and her voice - booming and incisive - sounds poignant, sober and prophetic.
Digitalis/RVNG survivor Steve Gunn enlists help from Julianna Barwick, Mary Lattimore, Bridget St. John and others on his sunny, kosmische-influenced sixth solo album. Somewhere between Mercury Rev, later Popol Vuh and Nick Drake.
'Other You' illustrates coolly just how much Gunn has developed his songwriting since his early minimalist work that explored the intersection between Appalachian folk and Indian raga. Now all that DIY grit has disappeared almost entirely, and Gunn's music - recorded by Elliott smith producer Rob Schnapf - sounds as compositionally complex as The Beach Boys or Kurt Vile, who Gun performed with for a stretch. But that's no bad thing, "Other You" twinkles with much-needed sunshine and Gunn's take on Americana is effortless and enjoyable. His choice to swerve the somehow overly-folksiness of many of his contemporaries has led him down a more cosmic path that, on tracks like the eponymous opener and 'Good Wind' drags him closer to Florian Fricke's acidic fretwork than John Fahey's.
His choice of collaborators is also thoughtful and harmonious. Julianna Barwick's contribution on 'Good Wind' adds a flash of golden light from heaven as she harmonizes with Gunn's cracking voice, and Mary Lattimore's unmistakable looping harp phrases on 'Sugar Kiss' stand out on the album's singular instrumental. It's pop music, just about, but some of the more hopeful, more adventurous and more resonant you're likely to hear this year.
Yann Tiersen (Amélie, Goodbye Lenin) ushers a classy suite of keys, strings and electronics on his follow-up to 2019’s ‘Portrait’
Composed at his studio, The Eskal based on the sparsely populated island of Ushant, off the coast of Brittany in the Celtic Sea, ‘Kerber’ takes its melancholic shape over seven parts of ponderous, and occasionally rapturous, solo piano gnawed by tart electronics, and with parts written for Ondes Martenot, mellotron and harpsichord. At the risk of generalising, it’s all every bit as sentimental and romantic as one might be lead to expect from a french soundtrack composer, rife with emotive turns of phrase and textured for intimacy, with standout moments lodged in its rushy ‘Ker al Loch’ and his grand, titular 10 minute denoument.
New one from Kevin Martin, back with his first new full-length album under The Bug moniker in seven years featuring the MCs Moor Mother, Flowdan, Daddy Freddy, Irah, Roger Robison, Nazamba, FFSYTHO, Manga and Logan.
Biding his time to soundtrack the onset of the eschaton, Kevin Martin is here weighted by a plethora of vocalists who really step up to the plate, going over easy on the war cry horns and galvanised with his signature, metal-plated percussion and bass distortion.
It’s all done at the service of the vocalists, who are placed front and centre of the mix, with longterm collaborators such as award-winning dub poet Roger Robinson (also of King Midas Sound) returning for his 4th LP with The Bug, alongside the comeback of Flowdan and Daddy Freddy, plus new voices such as Moor Mother lending her seething, disciplined aggression beside grimy bars by Manga St. Hilaire, Nazamba dialling in from JA, fast chat from Logan_olm, and roadwise UK barbs by FFSYTHO.
Seemingly ready made to be played off back of a truck at this summer’s riots, the vibe is utter gutter, ramping thru 14 cuts, as Roger Rbinon’s scene-setter ‘The Fourth Day’ sets it some Children of Men-like future that’s all too close for comfort, and Flowdan lights the fuse of ‘Pressure,’ triggering a chain reaction that takes in barrelling gruffness of Irah, concentrated rufige of ‘Vexed’ starring Moor Mother, and goat-stare badness of ‘Clash,’ with scudding madnesses caught in ‘Hammer’ and ‘High Rise,’ before Roger Robinson helps bring the lead curtains down in crushing fashion on ‘The Missing.’
Berlin's Sebastian Counts continues his German approximation of British hauntological eccentricity on his second album. "Vaganten" is as colourful as Plone or The Belbury Poly, but serves the nursery rhyme synths and Radiophonic beats with cold beer, bratwurst, and a side of dark rye bread.
On Counts' first ToiToiToi album, 2017's "Im Hag", the conceptual artist proposed that Ghost Box's home of Belbury was twinned with Germany's Ethernbach im Hag, and provided a dusty soundtrack as proof. 'Vaganten' is the next chapter in the story, and brings an air of continental Medieval whimsy into Belbury's charming psychedelic realm.
The album's title track expresses this best, sounding like a Medieval drinking song - flutes 'n all - recomposed using an Atari ST and a 1980s digi-dub synth setup. There's even an almost indecipherable vocal funneled through a vocoder so it warbles as if it's being drowned. Similarly, on 'The Inner Hobo' Counts' vintage monosynths are overshadowed by evocative archaic flutes and Medieval strings. It's these fairytale moments that work best on "Vaganten" and set Counts out on his own.
ANNA, Rrose, Jlin, The Exaltics, Kangding Ray, JakoJako, Barker and Chris Liebing diffract the recent solo album by Depeche Mode’s Martin L. Gore in a spectrum of technoid forms
Jlin impresses with the forward rhythmic gymnastics of her take on ‘Capuchin’ and Barker takes a chufty post-rock route with his rework of ‘Mandrill.’ Brazil’s Wehbba and German producer bring the big room techno bosh with their respective takes, and Rrose takes a grungier experimental route to pounding conclusions. Cult electro unit The Exaltics reset ‘Howler’ in a pendulous mid tempo electro roll cage, and Kangding Ray works around, in between the groove with gleaming steel tipped arps, for Italy’s MoReVox to round off with a stone cold highlight in their grinding, bruxist spin on ‘Mandrill.’
Tolouse Low Trax plucks out obscure slow-mo zingers across time and place for a class taste of the Salon Des Amateurs style he was instrumental in shaping alongside Vladimir Ivkovic and Lena Willikens
Commanding a perfectly groggy collection for the latest Bureau B compilation, Düsseldorf’s Detlef Weinrich aka Tolouse Low Trax (and catalyst of Toresch) joins the dots between 11 artists and groups who are all new to our ears, at the least, and all share a seuctive grasp of downtempo motion and elegance. It’s all the kind of sultry late night gear that one might hear at Salon Des Amateurs, the low-key bar tucked away in a Düsseldorf art museum, where he honed an inimitable style of slow, post-kraurock dance music before the joint shut in 2018 after 14 years in business.
Playing it close to home for local label Bureau B, Weinrich sums up the Salon spirit with a breezy selection that we’re sure will be ideal for a long night of drinking and unravelling conversation. From the kinky gloom of Macromassa’s ’92 Spanish gem ‘El Consecuente Aspecto de Geometría’ to the gorgeous synth ethers of Viola Renea’s ’85 Japanese obscurity ‘Chariot of Palace’, it’s all A++ material, extending necessary introductions to Techno Twins with the screwed synth-pop of ‘Donald and Julie Go Boating’ and US poet Lydia Tomkiw with the rippling marimbas and droll delivery of ‘Hot June Evening,’ with the creepy 11 minute ace ‘Basset’ by The Stupid Set recalling an extension of Conny Plank & Holger Czukay’s Les Vampyrettes, and an unmissable cut of parping 1990 midi fanfare by Italy’s DsorDNE.
No doubt this is a low-key masterclass in the art of thematic, but unblinkered, curation that both prompts and leaves lots to the imagination. An absolute must check!
This deeply immersive first solo album by EMS legend Peter Zinovieff since 1974’s brief "A Lollipop for Papa" arrives as a posthumous testament to his probing research and practice, one that has informed several generations of synth-worshipers around the world via his Electronic Music Studios (EMS) which he co-founded with Tristram Cary and David Cockerell. It arrives just weeks after his death on June 23 this year, and is an "extended computer work" based on hydrophone recordings of blue whales, a time-warping excursion into an underwater realm essential for fans of Roland Kayn, FUJI||||||||||TA's "Kōmori" or Jana Winderen's complex, detailed field recordings.
After founding London's EMS in 1969, Zinovieff spent the rest of his life quietly sculpting the curve of contemporary music, developing game-changing synthesisers like the VCS3 and the Synthi 100, and working alongside artists ranging from collaborator Delia Derbyshire (White Noise, BBC Radiophonic Workshop) to Pink Floyd, Bowie, J.M Jarre, Todd Rundgren and countless others, as well as presenting the first ever performance of unaccompanied computer music during pioneering concerts in London in 1968. Legendary status assured, it’s all the more remarkable that Zinovieff released very few of his own compositions, with this recording marking up as his first since 1974’s ‘A Lollipop for Papa’ and 2015’s unofficial ‘Electronic Calendar’ compilation, and his more recent 'RFG Inventions for Cello and Computer' collaboration with Lucy Railton which was issued by PAN last year,
The material here was assembled between 2013 and 2017, and derives from recordings oceanographer Susannah Buchan made off the coast of Chile. For 30 minutes, the piece plunges us into a nuanced, prototypical sort of hybrid analog-digital soundsphere, drawing on the eternally mysterious sound of blue whale communications as the basis for an unusual work thrumming with natural sounds woven thru the magick of computer music, effectively conveying its ability to induce the strangest otherworldly sensations. It's only the occasional washing of salt water that brings us down to earth; the rest is fluttering and communicative, filtered and distant.
Never one to shy away from big ideas, the piece unfolds in five parts that practically document Zinovieff in a one way dialogue with the largest mammals ever to have existed on earth, rendering their cryptic comms in richly reverberating electronics of the sort that dreams are made of. Sadly, Peter passed away only weeks before its intended release date, but leaves behind an inspirational legacy, with this recording framing his work at its most timeless and transcendent.
Konstantinos Soublis aka Fluxion follows Type's reissue of his classic 'Vibrant Forms' with this set of buoyant dub house riddims recorded in New York for Echocord and starring reggae vocalist, Teddy Selassie.
Taking clear inspiration from the seminal precedents of Main Street and Rhythm & Sound, Fluxion gives the Tikiman-alike Teddy Selassie a plush suite of stepping, skanking riddims rent with widescreen dub techno atmospheres, oscillating back and forth between lean, fluidly 4/4 instrumental steppers and dread-heavy future roots styles topped by the achingly mellifluous vocals. Arguably, it's one of the most accomplished long-players you'll hear in this niche and tightly defined sound. RIYL Rhythm & Sound, Deepchord.
And lo, it was reissued - Coil’s pivotal dose of post-industrial/acid bath-house psychedelia reappears, remastered and expanded with a bonus disc of mostly unheard alternate versions, marking 30 years of soundtracking dreams and party afterlives.
Borne from intensive studio sessions circa 1988-1990 and served hot and slippery in 1991, ‘LSD’ is widely recognised as a key entry point to Coil’s illustrious, but sometimes hard to grasp, catalogue. Their 3rd long player features Jhonn and Sleazy working with Danny Hyde (who was then fresh from remixing Seal’s ‘Killer’) to realise a richly layered and hallucinogenic masterpiece that would influence the visions of everyone from Æ to NIИ, irrevocably infecting electronic music’s water table for a whole generation and beyond.
Their significant studio successor to ‘Scatology’ (1984) and ‘Horse Rotorvator’ (1986) simply sounded like nowt else at the time, aligning their esoteric interests and pursuits in 13 kaleidoscopic forms on the original album, and now supplemented by 10 bonus tracks on the new 2nd disc. The body-gurning cut-up of ‘Disco Hospital’ is now held up for contrast with its loping ‘Unedited’ version, and the crepuscular groove of ‘The Snow’ is featured in multiple Apollonian mixes for the darkroom dwellers, and all time classics like ‘Dark River’ and ‘Chaostrophy’ appear shivering and naked in their alternate, stripped down mixes, giving vital glimpses into their cabalistic studio process.
Alongside untouchable classics such as ‘Things Happen’ starring Annie Anxiety and Charles Hayward, and the This Heat drummer’s sizzling percussion on the title tune, the effect of LSD endures with wide eyed, future-proofed effect that’s bound to infect listeners for another 30 years, at least.
Featuring old pals Lucy Railton on cello and Kit Downes playing the Skáholt Cathedral's massive pipe organ, 'Subaerial' sounds like a consecrated bridge to a higher realm = utterly transformative music that bends and braids the old and new together like hot iron and bronze.
Railton and Downes first met while studying in London, and have been playing together ever since. ECM alum Downes has a background in jazz, while Railton has moved from classical music into the experimental realm on her acclaimed recent run of recordings. On 'Subaerial' the duo improvise on organ and cello, capturing a sound that reimagines the familiar motifs of sacred music as complex contemporary drones and washes of eerie ecclesiastical resonance.
They picked Iceland's Skáholt Cathedral to record the album, dazzled by its warm acoustics and impressive pipe organ. Rather than compose specific pieces, they instead decided to record spontaneously, improvising together in the cathedral for three hours and then slicing out seven discrete moments for the album. Railton and Downes have been improvising together for fun since their school days, but this is the first time they'd used the process as the core for a release.
Their process lends a particular tone to the music. It's as if both musicians are receiving direction from some higher force, their performances weaving in and out of each other and the building's acoustics. In such austere and sacred surroundings, it makes sense that the music echoes Northern European tradition, but both artists succeed in elevating into more difficult places, infusing their unusual improvisations with meaning and relevance.
Railton's cello leads and as the album develops, Downes builds harmonic tones with magnificent restraint, allowing the organ to mimic the elasticity of a synthesizer. The sound they create is chilling and brave rather than "cinematic" - the two blazing a path skywards, cutting unique sonic sculptures from a space that was intended to link heaven and the earth. It's a remarkable achievement.
New York-based percussionist and sound artist Eli Keszler dropped jaws last year with his unstoppable one-two punch of the ‘Red Horse’ LP on Type and ‘Cold Pin’ on PAN. Admittedly this was the first most listeners had heard from him, but new devotees were quick to fall over each other to grab anything else Keszler had put his name to, so it’s a fan service from PAN that they’ve put together this bumper double CD that collects up all the disparate pieces of the Cold Pin recordings.
The original installation was set up in Boston’s cavernous Cyclorama gallery, and finds Keszler stretching gigantic strings across the walls and letting small motorized hammers ‘play’ them at random intervals. Accompanied by a group of similarly outré minds (Geoff Mullen, Greg Kelley, Reuben Son and wife Ashley Paul) the musicians played to the randomized booming strings, and now, unlike the studio recordings we heard on the previously released LP we can hear the piece in full unedited form, together with the gigantic reverb of the room itself.
Probably the most stunning addition to the original pieces though is Keszler’s recordings of the Cold Pin exhibit he set up in Shriveport Louisiana, where the strings were stretched across two large empty water purification basins. You probably have an idea of how that might sound, but needless to say Thomas Koner’s peerless ‘Permafrost’ might be a good place to start. Elsewhere we’re treated to a full ensemble recording (with the Providence string quartet), which reframes the piece as a defiantly modern re-imagining of Ligeti – dissonant, disconcerting and gruesomely eerie. Even if you’ve already bagged the LP you won’t want to miss out on ‘Catching Net’, it’s yet more proof that at only 28 years old Eli Keszler is already one of the most important voices in the experimental music scene right now. Highly recommended.
'Live Knots' presents two immersive live recordings of Oren Ambarchi playing the epic 'Knots' from 'Audience Of One' (Touch, 2012) in Tokyo and Krakow's Unsound Festival.
Captured with alternately intimate and widescreen fidelity, the original elements of cyclonic guitar harmony and quicksilver percussion are twisted different ways across the two performances, exploring and testing every nuance of the track's framework. 'Tokyo Knots' intimately documents their show at SuperDeluxe in March 2013, Ambarchi cautiously stalking Joe Talia's prickling, Dejohnette-esque percussion with viscose bass tone and heady harmonic incense, progressively whipping up a free form storm of buzz-saw guitar attacks and crashing drums, organically resolving to a lean motorik groove flecked with spring reverb.
By contrast, the twice-as-long performance of 'Krakow Knots', featuring Sinfonietta Cracovia led by Eyvind Kang on viola, presents a more expansive reading of the same structure, adding a prelude of sliding string dissonance before swelling against Talia's adroit patter with a burgeoning tension, ratcheting the mid-section squall to blistering barrage of buzz-saw flares and strobing fuzz, before burning out to reveal a captivating resolution of string glissandi swept against Joe Talia and Crys Cole's skittish percussion objects and retching spring reverb. The applause at the end is very well earned.
The keenly awaited debut full length from Joy O arrives as a proper friends and family affair, packed with guest co-production and vox by Herron, James Massiah, Bathe, Léa Sen, Goya Gumbani, and many more
Twelve years since his anthemic first single ‘Hyph Mngo’, ‘still slipping vol. 1’ shapes up as a definitive long-player/mixtape with 14 choice cuts that speak to breadth of his tastes and stylistic bonds. Also spirited with a number of voice notes sent from family during lockdown, it offers a vicarious glimpse into the personal world of an artist who has come to define a certain aspect of UK rave over the past decade, exerting a kinds spotless spin on mutations of UKG and sub-bass heavy techno, with shades of D&B-style production. Here he continues and expands that agenda with dips into woozy beatdown and drill alongside signature swangers, finely toggling the London pressure gauge to a modestly homely, home-listening and headphone vibe.
Personalised by the presence of family everywhere from the opener’s sample of his dad, to the cover photo of his aunt Leighann, who introduced Joy O to garage and jungle at a formative age, the results prefer a slow burn intimacy over any raving madness. He keeps everything in-the-pocket and dialled down from Air Max bounce to Hush Puppy hustle from the Reese bass dembow of ‘sparko’ with Herron, to the lissom 2-step of ‘born slipping’, craftily drifting into a D&B lane on ‘layer 6’ and testing out soulful drill style on ‘runnersz’ and the bloozier ‘’rraine.’ But the album is really defined by its vocals, with James Massiah (DJ Escrow ov Babyfather) nimbly dancing around ‘swag’ and Léa Sen lending some Morcheeba vibes to the tech house of ‘better’, with conscious bars by Goya Gumbani on ‘Playground’, each complemented by sprinkled samples of his family giggling and chatting.
Intriguing echoes of Arthur Russell, Mark Hollis and Richard Youngs from the debut of US guitar/synth explorer Matthew O’Connell aka Chorusing, naturally slanted with deep south lilt and shaded by off kilter synth wooze
“On his debut album Half Mirror, Matthew O’Connell superimposes warm analog synths onto self-described “confessional folk” with a simultaneously cosmic and earthly outcome. Tracked at home in the mountains of North Carolina using a vintage tape delay, electric guitar, and a self-designed synthesizer named ‘Balsam,’ Half Mirror is at once a lonesome push-pull of electronics humanized by folk elements, and folk music made alien by electronic adornments. O’Connell’s own story is just as captivatingly segmented. While growing up on a farm in Palmyra, Indiana, he became obsessed with metal drumming and spent most of his free time practicing in the garage, occasionally recording on four-track tape machines with his brothers Joe (Elephant Micah) and Greg. Reflecting on those formative years, O’Connell says, “I think that period instilled two things in me: a long attention span, and the ability to work obsessively on something in solitude.” It’s these monastic inclinations that helped form the spirit of Half Mirror.
The album opens with the spare meta-song “Cold,” on which O'Connell repeats, “I wade in,” referring to himself wading into his own memories. On “Midday Sun,” he sings, “Wide-eyed in the midday sun” over an eerily ascending and descending electric guitar and tightly layered instrumentation, inspired obliquely by the Louisville post-hardcore band Young Widows. “Sprawled out on the floor / Heavy from the nights before,” he continues, a chastened recalling of hungover anxiety. It’s tempered by tracks like “Whitewaterside,” which describes with meditative awareness the sensation of setting bare feet into a cold river. On Half Mirror standout “Watching the Beams,” he channels a panic attack he had on a stalled subway train while en route to a gig in Brooklyn: the relentless arpeggiator mirrors his rapid heartbeat as it becomes subsumed by the pulse of the city. On “Ohio,” O’Connell recounts evenings sitting by the Ohio River in Louisville, drinking bourbon with a friend as the barges floated by like memories drifting through the mind. The album’s closing track “Mirror” serves as an epilogue, like a rose-colored moon that drops below the horizon to be extinguished by distant sands.
O’Connell made a deliberate effort to keep the album's production sparse. His interest in restraint stems in part from his love of albums like Nearly God by Tricky and Ghost Tropic by Songs: Ohia, both of which feature uncomfortably bare vocals and uncanny production that commands the listener’s attention. Additional inspiration came from Mark Hollis' striking minimalism, and the freeform songwriting of Arthur Russell and John Martyn. This skillful incorporation of influences evokes the same sense of balance and natural grace O’Connell may have gleaned in his physics and math studies;in fact, Half Mirror’s cover bears a visual translation of its songs’ waveforms.”
Sonic ghost hunter CM Von Hausswolff and LA’s Chandra Shukla (Xambuca) disclose their sublime travelogue of Nepal with nearly an hour of subbass bathing and steeply hypnagogic magick
For the first in a series of global dispatches, following the Touch: Isolation series, ’Travelogue (Nepal)’ invites listeners to pay closer attention to the metaphysical presences of Kathmandu, Pokhara, and Kirtipur, cities at the roof of the world, each with a deep history of Buddhism and mysticism that Von Hausswolff and Shukla tap into. Using a range of microphones/spooky action detectors, they document a spectra of sounds, from the infrasonic to birdsong, amplifying and layering the inaudible to become tangibly present but hauntingly elusive at the same time.
The results document seven days in September 2019 spent between the Bagh Bhairav Temple and Chilancho Stupa in Kirtipur, Durbar Square, Boudhanath Stupa, Swayambhunath Stupa and Shri Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu, and Pokhara’s World Peace Pagoda, The Shiva Cave, Devi Falls and Phewa Tal Lake, reworking the locations’ mix of diesel-fuming traffic and sacred sites into intoxicating aural vapours and the kind of drones that make our eyes defocus and roll back in the head.
Gescom’s infamous ‘MiniDisc’ was the first ever MiniDisc-only release back in 1998. This CD reissue edition contains all 45 tracks (in 88 pieces) from the original MD version, ready for listeners to use on random shuffle function just as the original MD was intended, featuring a photograph of Alan Phillips of Sony showing off the minidisc in a Sony Conference. LOL.
Back in 1998, MiniDiscs were the most advanced iteration of portable music players, soon to be usurped by the mass emergence and use of portable media players. At a quick glance, Discogs only lists 1,668 total MiniDisc-only releases, however, ‘Gescom:MiniDisc’ remains a true oddity in its field; a proper novelty hated by some and loved by others, especially those with a taste for Russell Haswell or Autechre’s more extreme angles of inquiry.
So ‘Gescom:Minidisc’ is effectively a Haswell + Æ +++ release, only they’d probably never let us or you describe it as such. Inside you’ll find all sorts, from longer trips such as the 4 minute ambient float of ’Sheogazer’, to reverberating echo chamber pieces in ‘Cranusberg’ and the haunting dimensions of ‘Fully’, plus quite literally dozens of shorter cuts which turn the whole thing into a mosaic of a maze.
A sought-after pinnacle of Venetian Snares’s early catalogue returns for its 16th anniversary reissue, including his flip of Billie Holiday’s take on a banned Hungarian “suicide song”
Arriving in 2005 after Snares’ had established himself among the most thrilling artists of his time, ‘Rossz Csillag Alatt Született’ saw him sampling from stacks of classical records, as well as Billie Holiday, for a concept album that imagined him as a pigeon on Budapest’s Királyi Palota (Royal Palace). In one fell swoop the album tilted his sound from pure breakcore extremity to a more “grown up” elision of breakcore and classical music, including a number of compositions where he ditched the ballistics all together. It was kind of a watershed moment for us, an undeniably impressive feat of pointillist tracker programming and lush sample rearrangement, and also the point where we thought OK, he can’t really take this aesthetic any further.
Taking sampled cues from the metric freedom and complex structures of classical works by Bartók, Stravinsky, Mahler, Paganini, Prokofiev, Elgar and Telemann, the Funk draws extraordinary links between their diametrically opposed paradigms; lending classical music a raving fire in the belly, while pushing the dynamics of jungle/D&B/breakcore to the nth degree. Paralleled in its intricacy by scant few others such as Aphex’s ‘Druqks’ album a few years prior, Snares’ efforts are arguably the last word in the original jungle formula of fast, choppy beats and sampling, and now interestingly sits equidistant to the OG sound and now for anyone making historic comparisons.
Following the essential first volume in 2017, this is another bumper compilation of North African and Middle Eastern sounds: Libyan reggae, Moroccan disco, Egyptian organ funk, Algerian soundtrack music and much more!
In the few years that followed the release of the first compilation, the label has dug further into the Middle Eastern and North African funk world and unearthed plenty more oddities. They just released an album with James Brown-influenced Moroccan mystic Fadoul, who shows up here with the trippy 'Ahl Jedba', and bring back Algerian soundtrack composer Ahmed Malek for the blaxplotation-esque 'Casbah'.
But some of the label's choice point towards their future releases. Libyan musician Ibrahim Hesnawi introduced reggae to his country - a style that's still popular now - and he appears here with the bass-heavy 'Tendme'. Also spotlighted is Libyan Najib Alhoush's 'Stayin' Alive' interpolation 'Ya Aen Daly' is one of the comp's quirkiest moments.
Although it's probably now buried within the subterranean depths of his CV, Ryoji Ikeda was one of a number of 'sound artists' commissioned to provide aural installations for the Millennium Dome a few years back.
What's more, his piece 'Matrix' was actually used during the Dome's brief existence as the tabloid's public-enemy number one and possibly constitutes one of the oddest things many coach weary school-kids had ever heard. Just don't blame Ikeda for the travel-sickness!
Ikeda first released 'OºC' in 1998, combining his love of firm rhythmic frameworks, cut-ups and rolling fogs of pristine soundscapes. Opening through a tumbling set of brief vignettes, 'Check', 'Cacoepy', 'Circuit' and 'Contexture' splice clipped vocals with finely tuned machine malfunctions; resulting in a sound somewhere between alva noto and komet.
Ikeda feeds Morse code into the matrix on 'Continuum', while 'Coda' morphs from a soothing electronic bubble-bath into a metronome panic attack without you noticing, whilst 'Zero Degrees ' is a dubby, minimalist tundra.
‘Exiles’ is as close as you’ll get to a Max Richter remix album, presenting five expansive “reimaginings” of his contemporary classical anthems, plus the brand new, 33 minute title piece
As deployed everywhere from Hollywood blockbusters to a ballet about Virginia Woolf and a Fendi runway, Richter’s arrangements are prized for their capacity to swell hearts. On ‘Exiles’ he reworks some of his own highlights such as the instantly recognisable and frankly massively overused ‘On The Nature of Daylight’, and the Bowie favoured ’Sunlight’ (off ‘Songs From Before’) with renewed vigour and scope, while also expressing his feelings on the ongoing tragedy of the migrant crisis in ‘Exiles’, a hauntingly tense, widescreen and dramatic 33min work that places the record in the here and now.
The reimagined take of ‘On the Nature of Daylight’ reinforces its stately swell, while Bowie fave ’Sunlight’ lands in the shadows of his Berlin classics, and the reworked peak of ‘Infra 5’ is bound to get driving gloved hands slapping the walnut dash. But the real standout is ‘Exiles’, a compassionate elegy for migrant crisis, developed from a conversation with Dutch choreographers Sol León and Paul Lightfoot into a soundtrack for Nederlands Dans Theater.
A rare window into Angolan musical culture. Guitarist Mário Rui Silva folds traditional Angolan and West African rhythms into European jazz forms, creating music that's subtle, beautiful and completely distinct.
'Stories from Another Time' compiles music from three of Silva's 1980s albums, "Sung’Ali", "Tunapenda Afrika" and "Koizas dum Outru Tempu". Silva was a researcher and intellectual who was motivated to find the roots of Angolan culture in spite of its centuries-long struggle with colonization. Spurred on by Angolan musical legend Liceu Vieira Dias of traditional band Ngola Ritmos, Silva wanted to understand the politics and spiritualism behind Angolan music. Dias took traditional semba and kazukuta rhythms and infused them into contemporary music in the '40s and '50s, helping Angola to find national pride as the country struggled to assert itself after years of colonial rule.
Luanda-born Silva attempted to do similar with his music - and while it sounds aesthetically similar to Brazilian music of the 1970s, this was almost accidental. Silva was in fact attempting to move away from Portugese-centered culture and its tropical fetishism, and develop a sound that was purely Angolan. The music is hard to place, it sounds almost out of time, both ancient and surprisingly contemporary, with soft pop hooks underpinned by complex polyrhythms and chiming mbira. The fusion feels fluid and considered - there's no cynicism here at all, rather Silva approaches his sounds with a deft, open-hearted charm that rings from every word and lightly-picked note. Huge recommendation.
An unusual release for Berlin minimal mainstay Stefan Goldmann. Here, the artist sidesteps the sequencing and layering of his usual output and works spontaneously to create some of his most unusual and experimental work to date.
Opening track '29.09.2019' was recorded at Nomart Gallery of Osaka in Japan, and after playing an individual set alongside improv duo .Es, the three musicians were told in front of an audience that they would be playing together. Goldmann thought on his feet and loaded up samples from his previous Tapeworm release "Haven't I Seen You Before", firing these sounds thru FX while Sara Dotes added piano and percussion and Takayuki Hashimoto played sax, shakuhachi, guitar and harmonica.
The result is surprising and unusual, an almost 20-minute improvisation that bubbles through squiggly electronics and screaming noise, stopping occasionally on angular drones and ending on ominous, rhythmic techno. 'Echoes of an Era' is more straightforward, a guitar improvisation from the "Haven't I Seen You Before" sessions, and closing track '12.07.2012' was recorded at the Tapeworm's 10th anniversary party at London's Cafe Oto.
A special reissue of Terre Thaemlitz’s multi persona Fagjazz set from 2000, studded with over two hours of inventive, vintage diamonds replete with a masterful, hour long ’Superbonus’ piece on the 2nd disc that’s practically worth the cost of entry alone.
Among the most definitive, early examples of Thaemlitz work, ‘Fagjazz’ renders a palette of styles ranging from experimental deep house to ambient jazz at its most absorbing and effortlessly comprehensible. The nine pieces of ‘Fagjazz’ work as an ideal primer or briefing on Terre’s important work, spelling out the fine integers and incredible nuance of her style for those paying attention and keen to know more.
The first disc kisses the ears with ‘Pretty Mouth (He’s Got One),’ puckering a naturally rarified solo piano and keyboard rendition in an all too brief vignette, before exploring a formative passion for deep house at its most abstract in the full 13’ mix of ’Sloppy 42s (Terre’s Neu Wuss Fusion)’ - think Sun Ra meets Larry Heard on a disco break tip - while the flurried syncopation of ’Turtleneck’ showcases their most ravishing rhythmic instincts. Casting even further back, as Chugga they hail early inspiration from bass-heavy Memphis hip hop in a swaggering deep house fashion, and their prized, one-off alias Social Material crops up with 10 minutes of spirit-gripping piano house underlined by a sumptuous subbass movement.
Dancefloor aside, super early cut, ‘Thirty Shades of Grey’ harks back to their debut album ‘Tranquillizer,’ and the 2nd disc’s ‘Superbonus’ is a a properly incredible, hour-long slow burning piece of ‘Funk Shui’ unfurling double bass and signature keys to a dusky horizon, guided by brushed jazz drums and growing in tempered intensity with a sound sensitive approach that defines all Terre’s work, no matter if its party-starting house or double deep ambient experiments.
Taken in combination with the recently issued DJ Sprinkles 2CD set '"Gayest Tits & Greyest Shits” and the available-again 'Midtown 120 Blues’, that’s basically over 7 hours of no-filler, all killer from one of the greatest to ever do it.
Please remember that we support Terre and Comatonse Recordings' efforts to keep projects offline, minor, and acting queerly. When purchasing this item, we ask you to refrain from uploading and indiscriminate sharing in any form. <3
A bumper three volume collection of 1950s/60s doo-wop and R&B that shines an important spotlight on Jamaica only moments before the rise of ska, rocksteady and reggae. It's a history lesson that's full of hope and optimism for a future we now take for granted.
London's Death Is Not The End label has done us a favor here, combing the archives to dig up and compile a huge collection of music that widens our understanding of Jamaica's influential 20th century output. The influence of the 1970s and beyond is set in stone at this stage, but before then the island was offering its own versions of American sounds and experimenting in ways that would quickly blossom into new forms.
This three disc set (complete with liner notes from the legendary David Katz) is pretty much all you need to get educated on the sounds, with music from local, obscure performers and some who would go on to have long careers, such as Alton Ellis, Derrick Morgan and Derrick Harriott. It's charming from beginning to end and seriously enlightening.
Originally self-released back in January, Desire Marea's outstanding debut solo album gets the deluxe reissue treatment courtesy of Mute. Operatic, experimental and exceptionally outward-looking, 'Desire' is an exuberant, no-holds-barred contemporary electronic classic. Fans of Mhsya, Dreamcrusher, FAKA, Lyra Pramuk or even DJ Lag do not sleep on this!
Even before its Mute co-sign, "Desire" was one of the chase underground deployments of 2021. Desire was a founding member of Johannesburg's FAKA so is no stranger to global acclaim, but now based in Durban, they have settled comfortably into a constellation-bending solo sound that's one part concert hall and one part catwalk. Disorienting operatic wails roll around urgent flurries of kicks on 'Zibuyile Izimakade'. It's a collision of styles that feels lashed to FAKA's vivid, genre-melting club music but also pushing into new territory. Desire makes widescreen soundscapes that draw from club ideas but exist in a different space completely.
'You Think I'm Horny' is almost gospel pop, but set to a backdrop of inverted gqom and tweaky expressionist electronics. Desire uses their voice to loop words, tones and phrases against themselves as beats toss and turns alongside - it's like a sci-fi choir sent from the future to ease contemporary anxiety. 'Thokozani' meanwhile welds an almost highlife guitar jangle with sandblasted hi-BPM drums and the kind of time-bending drones you'd expect to hear on a Black To Comm album. 'The Void' heads even further into the outerzone, with guttural roars and ping-pong synths creating a spine-chillingly humid soundscape, but Desire quiets things to allow space for the epic 10-minute finale "Studies in Black Trauma".
'Desire' is a brilliantly challenging album that rolls thru good ideas with a lavish fabulousness that's impossible to ignore. It's a bold, vivid statement from an artist who has already given us so much, and promises even more.