Best known for playing guitar for Britain’s post-punk trailblazers Wire since 2010, Matthew Simms assumes his nom de plume Slows to craft slow and serene instrumentals. Recorded throughout winter in his small studio space in the Kent countryside, Enormous Pause comprises passages of electric organ and modular synth, variously droning and rumbling across two gorgeous sidelength pieces. In addition to Slows and Wire, Simms is also a core member of dream poppers It Hugs Back and improv supergroup UUUU, while increasingly in demand as a producer and session musician, recently working with Chastity Belt and Bill Fay.
“This is the first time I’ve recorded music knowing it was going to released on cassette,” says Simms. “I was reminded of how I first started recording music when I was 12 on a four-track; of the fantastic effect it has on capturing overdriven sounds.” Improvisation is at the core of Slows’ music, Simms attempting to come up with at least one entirely original piece for every live show he plays under the name. Much of the music on Enormous Pause originated while preparing to play opening slots for two of his favourite bands: Chicago’s Tortoise and London’s Tomaga. The result is two ethereal sides of gossamer keyboard melodies, buoyed by analogue warmth as they slowly move through space echo chambers. This is easily some of Simms most impulsive and varied solo to date, flowing freely between cosmic synth ambience and the all manner of tape-distorted emotion without ever ceasing to engage deeply with the listener.
Matthew Simms: electric organ, modular synthesizer & effect pedals. Artwork by Daniel Castrejón, Photos by Diego Berruecos."
Shamos takes after his Youth label mate FUMU with a roving tape of cranky-assed, sawn-off beats and synthy mood music
Listen in for highlights in the distorted bass flatulence and tuff pivot of ‘Try This Vitamin’ for its biggest dance track, or to the Jay Glass Dubs-style echo chamber inversion ‘A V 2’, and the washed out vignette ‘Unite For Mortgages’ for more abstract expressions of melancholy and psychedelia reminding of Actress.
Champions of melancholy, Low return on Sub Pop with 'Ones and Sixes' - their 11th studio album. It was co-produced by the band and engineer BJ Burton at Justin Vernon ov Bon Iver's April Base Studios in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and features contributions from Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche.
’Tomb Machines’ is a survey of work by John Powell-Jones, a Manchester-based artist whose gruesome and psychedelic illustrations have stained the sleeves of tapes and records by Moon Duo and for the Reel Torque, Diagonal and Opal Tapes labels, as well as great posters for the Faktion club events
Documenting and expanding upon ’Tomb Machines’, a body of work exhibited in February 2018 at Castlefield Gallery’s New Art Space: Great Northern, this boxset of the same name contains the first significant overview and analysis of John’s output to date, which covers a cross-section of multidisciplinary work in the fields of illustration, sculpture, screen-printing, video and music, and often simultaneously.
Without getting bogged down in art speak, John’s phantasmagoric imagination has long spoken to us on an intuitive level, consistently coming up with images that summon a sense of the eldritch, dreamlike and grotesque that’s hard to shake once encountered. In the book, Sara Jaspan’s essay provides a finer, informed grasp on the conditions and ideas that make up John’s warped weltanschauung, evidenced in the selection of physical curios to fondle and ogle over.
But perhaps of most interest to people on these pages is a red C40 containing some of the strongest music that John has put to tape. In its gurning, curdled drones and alchemical electro-acoustic atmospheres redolent of everything from Wolf Eyes and Aaron Dilloway to Gruppo at their most abstract, we possibly find the best way into his noumenal gooch between waking and dreamlike dimensions.
Temples of Jura roll out a synthy doozy with Fernando Pulichino’s cinematic debut as Filmico.
After releasing records for the past 10 years on modern disco labels including Bear Funk, Internasjonal and Gomma, Argentinian multi instrumentalist Flimico now commits to a classic late ‘70s/early ‘80s soundtrack style flush with warm analog synths owing much to the influence of Carpenter, Badalamenti and Johnny Jewel.
It's done with exacting amounts of emotive push and pull, coming riddled with evocative arps and bristling with bittersweet melodies that beckon eyes shut and a montage-like dream sequence to play out on the back of your ‘lids.
Ahhh yeahhh, this tape edition features the whole album on the b-side slowed down to half speed...
On the expanded tape edition of Bloodline, Steven Julien a.k.a. Funkineven explores a charmingly personalized sonic ontology under his own name for the 2nd time following 2016’s self-titled album, continuing to come into his own with a wickedly expressive meld of jazz-fusion and machine music inspired by his ancestry and written in tribute to Roland founder Ikutaro Kakehashi.
Bloodline is concerned with paying dues to Steven’s ancestral roots, but it’s also an acknowledgment of influence of new age synth styles, Japanese electronics and the history of East London raving, adding up to a sound that’s brilliantly timeless and distinctly his own.
It’s a sort of hauntological soundtrack, if you will, traversing in a range of jump-cuts and fades from the filmic synth atmosphere of Hunt to a killer 303 + Linn drum combo in Roll Of The Dice, and ruggedly debonaire electro-bass on Bloodline, before swerving hard into mutant jazz-funk with Apache. The vibe then takes a super sweet turn with the percolated electro-funk of Queen of Ungilsan, and wraps up with the classicist ‘80s boogie-meets-new age strokes of Temple Rd.
Jerman Gazz guys Max Graef and Julius Conrad on a super fruity fusion flex for Funkineven’s Apron Records.
Max Graef and Julius Conrad are Ratgrave. Electronic P-Fusion from earth. Recorded over a period of 3 years in different locations. One for fans of Tom Jenkinson, Kaidi Tatham, Herbie Hancock, Jimi Tenor.
Following on from that incredible ‘Coyotes' tape by Felicia Atkinson earlier this year, the Geographic North label return with a worthy follow up collection of pieces for electronics, piano, percussion and double bass (courtesy of Maxwell Sterling, no less) via L.A.’s Nick Malkin, highly recommended if you’re into The Necks, Talk Talk, Jon Hassel, To Rococo Rot.
Malkin is perhaps best known for his "noirish, backlit ambient dance music" as Afterhours for Not Not Fun, as well as a sometime collaborator with LA Vampires and Sun Araw, alongside his Post-Geography show for NTS. For this sophomore solo release (following a 10” for Non Projects a couple of years back) Malkin enlisted Maxwell Sterling and Jon-Kyle Mohr for a collaborative session, taking elements of loops created by the trio, embellishing and reworking them into 5 new pieces perfected over a number of years. For a collection of pieces borne out of improvisation, Slow Day on Brilliant Drive is a remarkably cohesive and engrossing affair; reminding us in turn of To Rococo Rot’s 1997 blinder Veiculo, Stewart Copeland’s under-appreciated but highly influential soundtrack for Rumble Fish, as well as Talk Talk’s hushed dynamics.
In stark contrast to the new gen Jazz championed by the likes of Kamaal Williams and Kamasi Washington, Geographic North are here mining a much more intimate variant; if you’ve found yourself immersed and bewildered by the music of The Necks in recent years. we urge you to give this brilliant album a listen.
'Elegant Universe' a full-length album by Matthew Hayes and Joel Trigg is a must listen for fans of the celestial jazz sound of ECM.
"Their soft, seductive duets are incredibly inviting, in a way that seems to encompass and enliven the space around you. Unsurprisingly, it’d be sure to add warmth to cold winter commutes, and dull the edge of even the fiercest hangovers.
The wintry “Downtime” is a tour de force of the duo’s sense of restraint and the importance placed on individual sounds that swell together and drift apart with organic ease. On “Light Through Edinburgh Leaves”, the sounds themselves seem so three-dimensional, ringing out like ripples on a lake. It’s hard not to be captivated by such beautifully formed music."
Klon Dump, an artist located in Berlin, known for his monthly Cashmere Radio interruptions and a collection of deft, pacey trax served on a double disc via A Colourful Storm last year, as well as recent excursions under a different alias, is now about to make his mark on NoCorner with a 32 minute and 19 second delivery of cold 'electro-acoustics...
Psychedelic batshit from Discrepant’s Sucata Tapes sublabel
“More (weird) South American tape freak out(!) sounds on the Super Triple Split "Odzer". Combining the sounds of Bardo Todol, M.M. Peres and Úgjü Sectas.
You will experience the distant sounds of the three different Argentinian projects melted together in one alzeimer night.
You are going to dance, you are going to have fear, you are going to explore the blue and white and purple oceans of inner voices that every little god has in nature and spirit. You are going to sit down into Bardo Todol’s quiet forest of field recordings, acoustic instruments and melted ice-cream.
You are going to dive into the deep ocean of M. M. Peres trance emissions when your compass strategies and methods are lost. You are going to meet the flash speed monk in Úgjü Sectas cave and enjoy his multiple octopus’ dance at dusk.”
Almost exactly a year since his first EP on Byrd Out (the Kiyadub EP), Andrew Weatherall returns with new material for a second release.
"Andrew invited a mate round to his studio to try out a Les Paul his friend was looking to buy. As it turns out, his mate was Ride's (and Oasis') guitarist Andy Bell. Anyway, Andrew suggested he test the guitar out over a track he was working on, and `Making Friends With The Invader' is the resulting track, which Andrew paired with the EP's title track `Blue Bullet'.
Both tracks plough the trippy, cosmic dub furrow, and come in at a weighty 8 and 9 minutes plus."
Mike Nigro runs Oxtail Recordings and performs in the group Aviary - he also has several releases under his own name. Andrew Osterhoudt has previously released music under the name Channeling, and works at RVNG Intl.
"Latitudes is spiritual / new age-ish / floaty / cosmic - referencing the interlacing common threads of all things, while dancing inside the stirring / moving spaces between those threads. A sort of micro/macro/micro observation of energy and movement. It finishes with a celebration of the impermanent / permanent."
Hardware info: Samplers / Processor: Elektron Octatrack Synthesizers: Sequential Circuits Prophet 6, Moog Sub 37, Roland Juno 60, Critter and Guitari Pocket Piano, Arturia Microbrute Guitars: Fender Jazzmaster, Fender Jaguar Bass Effect Units: Roland Chorus Echo Re-501, Eventide H9s, Moog MF-104MSD delay, Moog Phaser, Neunaber Wet Reverb.
Liai is the audio/visual project of Lo Bise, a Chicago-based experimental electronic musician and recent graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
"Working largely with digital platforms such as Ableton Live and Max MSP, they create pieces inspired by Minimalist composition, techno and ambient. Recorded 2016-2017 in Chicago, IL Art and music by Lo Bise"
Poemme is the ambient project of Angela Klimek, who first began creating music for fun in 2016 to supplement her husband’s sleep music radio station, Ambient Sleeping Pill. Since then, she hasn’t been able to stop recording tracks for sleep as well as brighter, more daytime-oriented drones from Cleveland, Ohio.
"Moments in Golden Light is a small collection of such daytime soundscapes, painting a forest scene during the magical hour after sunrise in which the earth is bathed in gold."
Concluding the "South America" batch from Sucata Taes comes this Andean mix from Tomás Tello, a Peruvian artist now residing in Tavira, Portugal. RIYL: Sublime Frequencies, Andean music, Chicha, Cumbia, Field Recordings...
"Using field recordings of the region, noise experiments and classic Latin songs, Tello creaties an absorbing and enigmanic soundscape of the continent’s Andean culture. The mix is named after the Ekeko, a Tiwanakan (pre Columbian civilization), a god of abundance and prosperity in the mythology and folklore of the people from the Andean Altiplano. Popular in Bolivia, Cochabamba, and neighboring regions, like southeast of Peru, northern Argentina and northern Chile."
A brand new South American tape batch on Sucata Tapes annonces itself with the premiere of Los Siquicos Litoraleños’ Radio Siquica (Psychic radio). RIYL: Sun City Girls, Sublime Frequencies...
"After their international debut ”Sonido Chipadelico" (Sham Palace/Annihaya) and their recent mind melting tape, Medianos Éxitos Subtropicales Vol.1 (Artetetra) the masters of rural homegrown psych cumbia/rock come to Discrepant (via Sucata Tapes) with an undefined tape of radio experiments done (not) some time ago. ‘’Their music is a unique triumph of homegrown rural psychedelia, standing alone on the edge of an unchartered vanguard. Here is the contemporary group you keep hoping exist, but can never find. Mind-melting tropical psych-rock, pitched-down cumbias soaked in dub brine, swirling solar instrumentals, and surrealist shamanic lyrics laid across guitars, drums, tapes and electronics – bringing together multi-fidelity electric and acoustic psychic sound-forms from the greater depths of sound and surprise.’’ (Mark Gergis)
Discrepant’s Sucata Tapes intercept cumbia dub signals from Buenos Aires, Argentina’s Panchasila. If SKRS Intl and Don’t DJ drank ayahuasca with Muslimgauze…
“Welcome Panchasila, the 3rd entry on our South American tape extravaganza for Sucata Tapes.Panchasila are the duo of Juan Jose Calarco and Guillermo M. Cerredo (M3Y, VLUBÄ) from Buenos Aires, Argentina. They started playing together with Panchasila around 2012 and define their sound as a mix of Dub music techniques applied to Cumbia and other South American rhythms. On this self titled debut tape they took inspiration from Bollywood, Thai films and Indonesian music to create an unique melting pot of genres and styles defying categorisation.”
OCA is a collaborative project by producer and musician Yo van Lenz (Through My Speakers, Monkeytown Records) and artist Florian T M Zeisig (Important Records/Cassauna, No Disk)
"At the intersection of music being presented in a certain framework, questions regarding musical quality, intentionality, virtuosity and purpose arise. The work 'Preset Music' engages with questions regarding compositional intentions. Notes, chords - and often times improvised snippets of music - are exclusively serving the purpose of showcasing the instrument itself. 'Preset Music' aims to display the juxtaposition of intentionality and non-intentionality in music and composition. With the gesture of intentionally sampling and composing, using non- intentional musical material - in the sense of purposive presentation regarding the instrument – the seven compositions stand in direct contrast to the presenters' original intentions.
'Preset Music' is the result of complex sampling strategies working with looped segments, automation, pitch, timbre, speed and mapping amongst other."
Only Now and Orogen depart terra firma in pursuit of habitable new zones, realising a stark, inhospitable sound that, in a Planet Of The Apes twist, turns out to be transmission from Urth, a parallel plane of existence practically indistinguishable from our own...
“"Unearth I and II" carves tunnels of resonance which mimic the cosmic proportions and monolithic movements of exoplanet existence. Slow, but unpredictable howls, lurks, and .00001 BPM rhythms visualize the life between the dust and atoms. Symphonies and loading docks echo a million miles away: slowed beyond belief, compressed into rhythmic ambience and flattened to unearthly oblivion. As the compositions grow on into side B of the cassette, the zero BPM landscape slowly transforms into cycles, distinctly organic and tribal, slipping out the very last, or the very first primitive signs of life on a planet, not of our own.
Only Now (Kush Arora) and Orogen (Lucas Patzek) grew up together in the San Francisco Bay Area, and have been collaborating on ambient and experimental sound projects for 19 years. In high school they began manipulating and arranging audio from minidisc field recordings, first-generation software synths, hardware samplers and FX pedals, and homemade contact mics. The sonic innovators that inspired their early work include Zoviet France, Brume, Lustmord, Alio Die, Haujobb, and Hafler Trio. They were drawn to the occult music scenes of California and beyond, and performed together from their teenage years through their 20’s at a variety of venues, from outdoor music festivals to artsy fashion shows.
Fast forward to 2015: the duo returned to the studio intending to craft some rhythmic compositions. They laid down some pummeling metallic drum work using physical modeling VST's and synths to create what can be described as WAX TRAX records meets Pole. They then decided to shatter and reform these on-time compositions, and the journey began into the aural nature of outer being, power music; drawing textures from the deep earth and subconscious.”
Fresh from opening Berlin Atonal 2018 and delivering the latest XLR8R mix, Barcelona’s Gemma Planell a.k.a. Tutu yields a recording of her warped and knotted DJ set at Atonal 2017
A peer of Diagonal pals EVOL and Lag OS in her home city, Tutu has risen thru word of mouth to become a fêted DJ, beloved for 3 deck sets that traverse the gamut of contemporary electronica, rave and harder-to-pigeonhole styles.
On ‘Senzu Beans’ Gemma pushes deep into abstract tonal scapes and arrhythmic patterning with an abstract, alien appeal, convulsing in jagged asymmetric structures between ecstatic trance rushes and pranging, sawn-off dance musics with masterful sleight-of-hand.
If you’ve never heard of Tutu before, or even if you’ve heard murmurs of appreciation for her sets, we’re sure this tape will convince listeners of her prowess and chess-playing DJ style.
Pivotal Golden Püdel düde and Helena hauff collaborator F#X yields an hour long live-set recorded at +4Bar/Tresor on 16th December 2016 for Nina’s roving V I S label
Known as Kris to his pals, and as both C (with Nika Son), and Black Sites (with Helena Hauff) on discographies, F#X is his solo vehicle for hot-wired, raw and off-kilter electronic grooves, previously found on two tapes sparring with his other alias, E.K.G on his private imprint, 999USD.
‘9.12+4’ is effectively the first F#X release proper and a strong example of his mostly improvised praxis. Over the course of an hour long set, brittle electro drums fray and spray over hypnotic, gibbering synths and plasmic drones, spooling into piquant, chromatic Braindance melodies and sputtering IDM that sounds like a raw echo of the D’Arcangelo brothers’ productions or indeed, a not-so distant relation to Helena Hauff’s scuzzy rinsers.
Kuedo’s Knives present a scintillating ‘mixtape’ of sorts by L.A.’s Nicholas Zhu a.k.a. bod...
With Limpid Fear bod invites listeners to swan dive into his mind and see/hear/touch the sights, unfurling as 30-odd-minutes of electronic filigree laced with traditional Chinese instrumentation subtly framed in classical chorus and composition.
It’s a style already familiar to Knives releases, from the expansive visions of Kuedo to the precision of J.G. Biberkopf or v1984’s melodramas, but bod distinguish themselves by the inclusion of sylvan sadlad bleats and Chinese instrumentation, which cannily loops back into Vex’d roots in sino-obsessed grime and dubstep as much as his fascination with classic anime soundtracks, which is possibly the best prism thru which to view this release - as an action-packed and emotive rush of sound images in flux between rapid motion, desolation, panic and ecstasy with an accelerated intensity of sensation.
Late 2016’s ‘Highway Songs’ brought Papa M back to us, after many years of silence and several harrowing dances with death for his Id-ego/host body, David Pajo. Now, two years on down the road, we’re all here again to witness ‘A Broke Moon Rises’.
"‘Highway Songs’ was a necessarily cathartic experience in all phases. Afterwards, with no tour dates forthcoming (partially due to lousy clubs and their lack of wheelchair-accessible stage doors), it felt good just to play for fun again, like being in the practice space instead of the psych ward - a much healthier change of pace than some might guess. David blew it out; all the different styles he’s played in over the years, from folk-blues to metal, electronic, pop, Bollywood... all of it. When the spasms subsided, however, a back-to-roots sediment remained in the bottom of the bowl, which he read as a motive for a new Papa M album done with all acoustic instruments.
That’s how there’s nothing electric about ‘A Broke Moon Rises’. Even the drums are acoustic. The five songs of ‘A Broke Moon Rises’ find David focusing his technique in unknown directions, to find out what he can do with them. When that happens, he finds himself on the very spot where Papa M music becomes alive. As the quietly funereal march of the opening track resonates with a spare drum beat, we are completely transfixed into the open spaces around the guitars. David’s been engineering and mixing his records for years, so the sensation of his sound-thoughts doesn’t entirely surprise us, even in their latest, acoustic anointment. Layers of guitars curl and unfurl, falling away from the centre with feathery softness. Slide figures cut through the progressions with a rusty glide. Arpeggiations flicker with light, leading into a change that’ll break on ones ear like a small revelation. Even the sound of Papa M playing in the room, leaning forward or untouching the strings, provides textural byplay in created space. ‘A Broke Moon Rises’ is meditative in the most active sense, with the unquiet mind leaping from place to place in a static, spartan theatre. All of which action makes hypnotic music, perfect for listening.
The album’s title is based upon his son’s observation of a half-moon one evening (when his son was 29) and it helped infuse the record with an essential feeling, which draws to a decidedly tasty conclusion with David taking on an Arvo Pärt piece. After years of fascination with the music, listening in passivity, he finally decided to do something about understanding it by playing it himself. If you’re wondering, that’s the key to ‘A Broke Moon Rises’."
Paris-based Iranian, Nima Aghiani makes a welting mark on PTP with the clawing, atonal electronics of REM following his violin input on Siavash Amnini’s acclaimed ‘TAR’ LP
Helping to further shape our conception of modern electronic music rooted in Iran, after examples from the likes of SOTE, Opal Tapes, Siavash Amini and Sohrab in recent years, Nima’s REMS follows similar lines of enquiry into bold realms of microtonal rhythm and noise operation, giving voice to a complex sound and logic that feels somehow familiar if you’ve previously heard work by Xenakis or Haswell, yet still feels properly alien to many conventions we can think of.
Rabit’s overproof, killer mixtape tribute to DJ Screw; Houston’s late, great pioneer of chopped and screwed hip hop. It comes as a prelude to Rabit's incredible new album 'Life After Death' which is coming this October.
Eric C. Burton a.k.a. Rabit also hails from Houston and has long named Screw’s radical style of slowed down and Codeine-infused rap and pop edits as a major influence on his own productions. ‘Cry Alone Die Alone’ was first issued online on 27th June - the famous date of a none-more-classic Screwed Up Click recording - and finds Rabit pulling back for a tarry hour of slurred rap and shoegazing electronic haze in keeping with the spirit of Chopped & Screwed. By the time RiRi crops up on side 2, it’s quite obvious this one is unmissable.
The heaviest mixtape you’ll hear in 2018.
Summing up a palpable zeitgeist, J M S Khosah & JR Chaparro limn the feeling of ‘Global Paranoia’ on NCA’s latest killer tape...
For 60 minutes, the pair mulch a wealth of salvaged samples and original material into a groggy trip that keeps on keeping on, but with an ever looming sensation of impending fu**ry around the corner.
Smudged drum machines, electronics, hip hop instrumentals and fizzing deep house cuts are punctuated with sawn off samples likely culled from TV, radio and net Tubes, resulting a frayed patchwork of anachronisms that suggest a time out of joint, haunted by its past, and realising itself in a world of Orwellian surveillance and double speak. And that would all be really bloody depressing and reduce us to torpor if cats like Khosah and Chaparro couldn’t make us dance and chuckle at the ridiculousness of it all.
Joanna Newsom's new triple-album, defies the notion of fast-turnaround appraisals. Apart from sheer abundance of music here, it's also very dense and scrupulously laboured over, not only by Newsom herself but a select band of fellow musicians and arrangers - not to mention ace mixing engineers Jim O'Rourke, and Noah Georgeson (best known for his work with Devendra Banhart).
The end result is like a classic, old-fashioned album in the finest, richest sense. And in triplicate. After the ornate majesty of Ys (a mere double-album), you might expect a record of even larger proportions to pursue similarly baroque themes and concerns, and yet for much of the time 'Have One On Me' is a more approachable work, featuring shorter, more pared down pieces in addition to complex orchestral concoctions like the resplendent 'In California'. Georgeson's recordings of Newsom's harp are preposterously lovely, capturing her art at its most intimate on '81' and 'Jackrabbits', during which she performs solo to heart-rending effect, her voice sounding stronger and far more mature than on anything she's done previously.
The untamed, childlike quality that ran through The Milk Eyed Mender has transformed into something far wiser and more collected for this album - a factor that only heightens the authority and intelligence of the 28 year-old Californian's songwriting. In musical terms, the level of her accomplishment as a composer and instrumentalist is strikingly evident throughout her discography, but lyrically, Newsom's hugely impressive on this album. Ys charted the ascent of a truly great writer in-the-making but was, perhaps, occasionally excessive in its various whimsies and flirtations with fanciful anachronisms. Here Newsom is on startling form, lacing her achingly lovely narrative pieces with various lines that invite the inference of allusion to her break-up with fellow songwriter Bill Callahan. More intriguing still is the possibility of a furtive Will Oldham reference during 'Go Long': "There's a man/Who only will speak in code/Backing slowly, slowly down the road/May he master everything/That such men may know/About Loving, and then letting go" - a verse that seems to paraphrase three separate Bonnie 'Prince' Billy album titles.
Incidentally, 'Go Long' is a fairly special piece all-round, uniting Newsom's harp with kora and Bulgarian tambura for an otherworldly confluence of strings from various musical cultures. Regardless of its magnitude, and despite all of its complexities, this epic three-part undertaking shouldn't be thought of as unwieldy or intimidating prospect for a listener - far from it: scarcely has such an expansive record felt so welcoming and conducive to repeat listens. With this album Newsom sheds genre concerns (no more talk of 'freak-folk', please) and becomes a truly stellar writer of songs, continuing to forge a path that's very much of her own making whilst occasionally still acknowledging a debt to the likes of Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush and Judee Sill (whose work springs to mind during the remarkable 'Good Intentions Paving Company'). A magnificent record that really shouldn't be missed.
Having long operated in orbit of the Cotton Goods label and it's constellation of related artists and labels, Thomas Shrubsole dilates definitions of his music with a sprawling solo debut of improvisations under his own name after years trading under various guises and in groups with Craig Tattersall (The Boats), and Jonny Russell (The Dissolving Orchestra). Highly Recommended if yr into Vincent Gallo, Moondog, Derek Bailey...
Coining his Parenthetical Activities label with ‘Themes and Variations’, Shrubsole reveals a series of acoustic snapshots recorded between 2011-2013. They range from Moondog to Sun Ra-esque jazz strains and Derek Bailey-ish free expressions, perpetually daring to intuitively head off on tangents and unafraid to challenge the listener to follow him, but only ever with a curious sense of playfulness, and not experimental obnoxiousness for the sake of it.
The majority of the set is given to works over 10 minutes in length (the album runs over 2hrs total), with each presented as-is and effectively capturing his mind in quiet flight from the charmingly glassy tinkle of ‘Instant Ellipsis’ to most barely-there, lower case gestures in ‘Jewels Of Obliquity’, remaining porous to all manner of freeness in ’Spectral Interior’ and the nerve-tickling dissonance of ‘Prismatic Obscurity’ in a softly uncompromising manner that’s going to win him new followers on top of anyone into his earlier, mostly field recording efforts.
RIYL Henry Caravan, Moondog, Sun Ra
Utilising the virtuoso talents of string arranger Van Dyke Parks (best known for arranging and co-writing Brian Wilson's 'Smile') for an album that's timeless and totally unique.
"The peculiar title, pronounced 'Ees' gives us some insight into the musician's mindset - apparently the title comes from a mythical French city built below sea level. The legend goes that the city was one of the most beautiful in the world, and due to the people's decadence the city was flooded and lost forever confining it to Chinese whispers, folk songs and poems. What better way to herald in an album dipped in fantasy and mysticism, and I'm not trying to say the album is jokingly old-world, rather her oblique and sometimes absurd lyrical content has never sounded so fitting when framed in this way. From the gold leaf coated pages on the cd booklet to the medieval-style cover painting which seems full of hidden signs and ambiguity, every part of the record is there for a reason.
The journey begins with 'Emily', a song dedicated to Newsom's sister (who guests on vocal harmonies) and we're already in simply heartbreaking territory with Van Dyke Parks' string arrangements making their first grandiose appearance. I'm in no doubt that this overblown, sometimes musical-like quality will polarise listeners but for me it makes perfect use of Newsom's ethereal vocal quality and her assured touch on the harp. The songs are now fully three dimensional and go through distinct movements using strange hooks which grab hold of you with both hands, refusing to let go. For me, the album's focal point comes on the earth-shatteringly good 'Only Skin'; a sixteen minute blockbuster containing more emotion and bravery than most artists will manage in a lifetime.
As Newsom takes us through happiness, sadness, sweetness and darkness the track begins again mid-way through helped along by current squeeze Bill Callaghan (of Smog) who lends his distinctive and masculine tones to the piece. It is one of those moments when you think a song couldn't get any better - and then, shockingly it does. Albums like this come along only so very rarely, give it time and space and trust me, you won't be able to leave it far from earshot for long."
Following a couple of sought-after EP's and repeated biggups from the Prince Billy himself Will Oldham, Joanna Newsom finally delivers her debut album for the Drag City imprint.
The lyrics are of much interest here, eccentric, playful and charming, weaving a sort of childrens story complete with a folk-infused childish vocal delivery that doesn't quite reflect the wisdom of the stories hidden within. Nice to come across a record that looks at the more deranged possibilities of Americana without seeming pretentious or contrived.
Panatype’s 4th physical release is an absorbing suite of electronica uniquely gelling ideas from 4th world ambience, Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality in four lushly detailed scenes
Conceived in pursuit of an aesthetic that seeks to “blur the line between field recordings and synthesis in order to render invented and impossible landscapes”, Puech’s first release for Panatype extends an immersive invitation to his singular, simulated dimensions.
Using mostly modular synth, coupled with self-built devices, Puech plots out his imaginary world in electronic filigree. Blended with inspiration from the overgrowing chaos and mathematic logic of nature in a similar way to the Transflora project, his works are self-contained environments that could be considered different aspects of the same, alternate world.
As with nature, Puech’s music can veer from modest beauty to barely controlled attacks on the senses, with his favoured, extended palette of machines enabling him to emulate the complex sounds of animals, albeit mutant ones that you may expect to be limned by Ballard or Google dream, especially when it all comes together in the side-long title track.
After some lovely turns for 12th Isle, NNF and Constellation Tatsu, X.Y.R. commits a fragrant and humid tract of new age synths, kosmiche pulses and rustling field recordings to the charming Quiet Time Tapes series.
"X.Y.R. is Cherepovets musician Vladimir Karpov, who now resides in St. Petersburg. Standing for Xram Yedinennogo Razmuwlenuja, the name is a reference to Nikolai Gogol's 1842 "Dead Souls," in which one of the characters is pretentious enough to build his own "Temple of Solitary Contemplation."
Inspired by a mix of ambient, classical and film score music heard throughout his life, and especially the music he heard in Soviet children’s sci-fi videos - X.Y.R. uses Soviet synths and drum machines coupled with field recordings to produce rhythmicyet contemplative music with a mystic and natural feel. The accompanying Zine contains original photos taken by the artist."
L.A.’s enigmatic Baby takes a 2nd bow on Quiet Time Tapes with a not so quiet QTT9 session spanning one part Björk-like avant-pop expression, a tract of subaquatic electronic collage, and a febrile traverse thru fractious, iridescent indie-dance-pop deconstruction.
"Adrienne, Marty, and Phoenix of Baby met at Rhode Island School of Design while studying Film/Animation/Video. Drawn together by their mutual love of music, they started playing spontaneous, unrehearsed shows at DIY shows and parties around Providence.
Baby is more of a collective than a band, relying more on the individual creations of its members which are then combined into coherent works. This is Baby’s second release on Quiet Time, after QTT2. Each of the three tracks was led by an individual member of Baby. What results is two freaky, jazzy and digital pop songs - sandwiching a long, evolving ambient piece with long breaths of noise and beautiful shimmering guitars and synth. Zine contains Baby’s original artwork."
Following an uncredited appearance of his ‘Fr3sh’ gem (off PAN’s Mono No Aware comp) on the new Kayne album, Cairo’s Kareem Lotfy gives a broader account of himself in a lush addition to the Quiet Time Tapes series
On QTT10 Kareem reprises and expands on the billowing aesthetics and melancholy feel of Fr3sh across a 33 minute set that reveals hitherto unheard aspects of his sound, from windswept rhythms to textured field recordings and vaporous dub influences.
In opener Asmar he pursues a sound somewhere between the mutating abstractions of Wanda Group and Xth Réflexion, while the layered field recordings and FM interceptions of Sundial Radio hint at an ancient futurism that come to light in sublime style, and Chromosome sounds out into vast ambient space between Global Communications and AFX’s SAW II - and we don’t use either of those comparisons lightly.
With GTO he inverts that epicness to a charming, lower case intimacy that effortlessly flows into the pastoral simulacra of Equilibrium, and Second Seed seems to bifurcate between a push and pull of sheer, alert high end tones and the secuctively hypnagogic attraction of the murky mid-ground, with Kwkab resolving the album at an gently upward ambient slant.
Quiet Time Tapes début Bas Relief on ’QTT8’, following lovely editions by Huerco S and Phil Struck with a new addition of breezy ambient dream pop full of swaying harmonies, wind-picked strings and post rock swells, with detours into clipped beats...
"Bas Relief is the Montreal-based project of David Mitchell from emo act Gulfer and Will Osiecki, featuring other voices of the Canadian indie music scene such as Valeda and Fog Lake. This project brings their emo sensibilities and songwriting to an electronic sound palette, combining with influences of bass music, IDM and ambient.
This tape unfolds like an album, interweaving structured songs with short interludes and bringing guitar, piano, synths, and rhythmic static together with complex, mathy rhythms. David and Will are joined with the voices of Valeda and Naomi Soares for a set of melancholic songs."
Blinding new batch of synth and computer music chaos from Dave Burraston’s cultishly regarded NYZ. With such a wild variation to his purist approach it’s perhaps silly to draw comparisons or contrasts, but these are patently some of NYZ’s sweeter treats, such as the curdled harmonics of ‘ARTOFNYZbitcompander’ and the funky lil’ vamps of ‘RLD syncs’ for more insatiable and curious listeners. In other words it’s fucking ace!
“When John Chowning discovered FM synthesis it was seen as the promised land. Anything and everything could be synthesized, it was said, by use of this brilliant, simple idea: sine waves modulating other sine waves in any number of patch matrices, producing complex combinations of sidebands. And as such; almost infinite spectral potentiality for composers and performers alike! In other words - spectrum splitting potential, which is exactly how NYZ approaches it in this collection of mad and utterly unpredictable pieces.
Seemingly held together by the determination (or lack thereof) of a chaotic system in a clinical, synthetic sound environment, these pieces are raw and made up of ploddy notes strolling through timbral in-between places from infamous synthesizer presets. Imitating organs, bass guitars and percussive instruments mutating seamlessly into alien non-referential sounds, some notes intensely are sustained and some strung together in vibrant and organic, breathing sequences by Burraston’s MANIAC Cellular Automata Sequencer.
‘NTE GDN’ is a thoroughly eccentric and expressive musical experience containing melodic interval jumps of what seems to be an algorithm impersonating Schönberg, only stopping to descend into a dronal stasis.”
A strong breeze of Cajun twang from 1920’s Louisiana, delivered by the excellent Death Is Not The End
Taking its title from the first in a series of Cajun recordings made in New Orleans and released by Columbia Records, namely the Segura Brothers’ Bury Me In The Corner Of The Yard, the rest of the set follows suit with infectious stompers, rattlers and wheezers about whiskey-running, unrequited love and turtle stew, by excellent names such as Artelus Mistric and Blind Uncle Gaspard, all with equally charming tunes to boot.
Spellbinding mix of cherry-picked Japanese gems, vintage and modern, from Dommune selector Yousuke Yukimatsu. From exquisite synth-pop to skronky no wave, traditional music to ecstatic noise and techno, this one’s packing some obscure heat and makes a great right run from the previous MBE tapes by Beatrice Dillon and Conor Thomas
“Founder of Zone Uknown, Dommune selector and recent affiliate of Asian Dope Boys, Yousuke Yukimatsu (Osaka, 1979) is a key figure in the Japanese electronic culture.
If you see him playing it’s impossible to not get caught by his unique and somehow visceral style of DJing.
For MBE series he recorded 90 minutes of music made strictly by Japanese artists offering us an extraordinary wide-eyed perspective on the far east electronic culture.
Imagine to be in Osaka or in Tokyo in an overcrowded obscure underground small cave listening to some sweating freaks playing distorted noise, or sitting on a bamboo mat in a machiya while Shigeo Tanaka is playing the yumi, or being in the Hozen Ji temple reaching the ascension with the chants of the priests, or getting lost into a cyberpunk scenario with DJs spinning dark techno into a foggy warehouse with just s low strobe light on.. well you can just get a glimpse of what this tape is.”
Jodie Lowther is a musician, illustrator & video artist from the UK who mostly records minimal and ethereal songs. In all of her art, she says she is mostly inspired by dreams, surrealism, psychedelia and horror.
"A.R.C. Soundtracks is the audio/visual project of K Craig and David Armes1 based in the north of England. Marrying bleak drones, echoed-out percussion and FX-heavy spoken-word to disorientating, ritualistic visuals, they make for an unsettling encounter."
Lock two men in a room with some shrooms and ‘No Beggin’’ is the kinda madness you might expect to go down, especially if those guys are Brassfoot and his m8...
Brassfoot kills ‘em with kindness in a mix of ragga chat and London Posse-like aggy hip hop swagger, interspersed with canny samples of gnostic pop prophets chatting about psilocybin’s use throughout myriad cultures, and arranged with some of the most frazzled, wicked beats on NCA thus far.
The two sides are entitled Tuesday and Wednesday - presumably the bandwidth of the trip embarked at their Black Void Studio in London - charting the results as a progressively munted, fractal transition from legible soberness to legit psychotomimetics, but smartly just about keeping their head together thru it all, as opposed to breaking down in a puddle of tears from laughter, or climbing the walls in fright when the mushy imps come out to rave with you.
Hospital Productions yield a tape recording of Regis DJing the label’s 20 Anniversary session at Warsaw, Brooklyn, on November 5th, 2017
Covering the gamut of North African guitars thru the sludge funk of World Domination Enterprises and Sun Ra’s Nuclear War, this tape catches Karl O’Connor perfectly not playing to presumptions of blistering techno, and instead exploring the post-punk tributaries and lesser trotted outsider ginnels of his sprawling record collection in a way we haven’t heard him do before.
Suffice it to say listeners should expect the unexpected in a class meeting of Hospital Productions and Downwards styles.
Princess Nokia - aka New York rapper Destiny Frasqueri - has been releasing music via YouTube and Soundcloud since she was in High School and catapulted herself to the next level with last year’s critically acclaimed rap opus 1992 ‘Deluxe’ - selling out venues across the globe and steadily gaining tens of millions of streams.
"Now, this shapeshifting emcee returns with a brand new collection of songs titled ‘A Girl Cried Red’, a self-described “emo mixtape” which will undoubtedly cement her place in the alternative underground as well as the hip hop world. “Black people created punk - the band Death was way before The Ramones,” she stated in a recent interview, “If you think about it, the wool has been pulled over our eyes. This is our shit. Very naturally, that’s why we return to it.” Drawing on influences as varied as the introverted acoustic sounds of Elliott Smith to the bombastic pop-punk energy of Paramore, ‘A Girl Cried Red’ showcases another fully formed side of Destiny that still taps into the uncompromising feminist ideology of Princess Nokia."
Seekersinternational deliver 26 tracks of VIP soundsystem psychedelia on Amsterdam’s Liquorish Records
Spliced and blended in the manner of their Gunman Cult Clasixx, LoversDedicationStation and Inna Dancehall Showdown selections, the Black Mazda Soundclash runs amok in the dance with mutant tessellations of classic ragga mixed with lilting Afro percussions and red hot soundsystem shrapnel for the maddest sound of summer 2018.
Astringent to the bashment, Seekersintenational keep the levels simmering on the cusp of absolute madness with MC chat chopped into machine gun chatter and swept up in a wild flow of sawn-off riddims and puffchest bravado that wickedly becomes scrambled and practically nonsensical thru the process.
Plonk this on in the middle of cattle-packed public transport for optimal madness. Actually try a BBQ with this on public transport for best laughs.
Playfully enigmatic, encrypted electronics from Celular Feel, making their recorded début (under this alias, at least) with seven tracks of ‘Soft Grunge’ for Ascetic House
Possibly generative, perhaps apocryphal, probably one of the weirdest things you’ll hear this week, the sounds herein are pretty mad in a similar vein to Dave Burraston’s NYZ output or the para-dimensional computer music of Justin Meyers. We’re most feeling the curdled chromatic tanggg of Canon Key 2 and the rugged jabs of 95.
West Coast synthesist M. Geddes Gengras yields a lushly meditative suite of ambient music inspired by his time on Hawaiki, the big island of Hawaii, paying particular attention to glistening high register tones and a sense of wide open Pacific space
“Recorded during a vacation on the big island, Hawaiki Tapes is somewhat of an anomaly in the M. Geddes Gengras music —A series of short, improvised sequences voiced by a small plastic digital synthesizer, minimally processed in real time & jacked straight into a handheld recorder. It was made at night, on a little hotel room desk. The internal sequencer of the volca greatly influenced the pieces, since it only goes so slow and is limited in it’s voicing.
It was windy and cold for most of the trip, and the sky was gigantic and filled with massive rippling clouds that flew between the horizons in minutes. The landscape was made of endless, black rock fields with little grassy spots where the lava hadn’t hit yet. In the process, Gengras had in mind some of the formative ambient music he had listened to in his early years: Brian Eno, Harold Budd, Aphex Twin, and his focus is in the interaction between the synth, the delay and reverb effects. A perfect album for sleepless nights —A new sound statement from M. Geddes Gengras.”
Destruction Unit drummer Andrew Flores presents his electronic music on Ascetic House
A mixture of live improvisation drawing on his talents as a percussionist, along with phasing ambient minimalism and spats of distorted noise.
Invada present the soundtrack to Stranger Things 2, produced by S U R V I V E’s Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein.
Expect plenty shlocky ‘80s FM synth cues and themes bound to yank your nostalgia nozzle.
KILLER 3rd volume of DJ Clara's 100% female MC-focussed Reggaeton mixtape series for Low Jack's Editions Gravatz label. Hyperactive megamix with loads of Clara!’s blends and re-edits, pure fire...
Hailing from Northern Spain but based in Brussels, Clara!’s previous tapes for Editions Gravats’ affiliates at PRR! PRR! are guaranteed party starters, serving to highlight stacks of female reggaeton MC from the ‘90s thru to the modern day.
Clara!’s 3rd mixtape is also her baddest by many measures, masterfully sweeping thru dozens of tracks in just under 30 minutes, and including a healthy handful of her own blends and edits (the dembow versions of Darude and the Outhere Brothers stand out) along with reams of Kalimotxo-soaked, beach-ready anthems from Demphra, Ivy Queen, La Sexy Rose, La Bori, La Goony Chonga, Sexy Vaguita, Las Culisueltas and many more.
Two years in the making, Ahwar (Arabic for marshlands) is an otherworldly record, not unlike an abstract mythological story-tale.
"Opening with the mangled and filtered vocals of the album's lead track Afqid Adh-Dhakira (I Lose Memory) like an alien dream, the drones of a bowed double bass lead us into a drum groove that lays the groundwork for El Shazly's sultry and captivating presence, singing: "(I am) coming, from a time far away. Going, escaping. Alone in the wilderness".The Arabic prose lingers over interjections of slap-back delayed guitar twangs and an avant-garde arrangement of dissonant winds, horns and seemingly random drum fills, ending with an eerie soundscape that wouldn't feel out of place in a Giallo classic.
A daring and potent statement that sets the foundations over which the rest of the album can unravel. Composed, written and produced by El Shazly herself in collaboration with The Dwarfs of East Agouza's Maurice Louca and Sam Shalabi on co-composition and arrangement duties, the album was crafted across two continents, between Canada and Egypt, and features the crème of Montreal's contemporary-classical and improvised music scene, most of whom aremembers of Shalabi's own Land of Kush ensemble. In between El Shazly's five original tracks, we are treated to an abstract coverversion of Sayyid Darwish's classic Ana 'Ishiqt (I Once Loved). El Shazly's haunting vocal floats over broken Kalimba and Harp arpeggios which slowly intertwine with a free, bowed double bass improv to nestle within the breaks between Younes Al-Qadhi's early 20th century verses of love and betrayal.
More than that, it is difficult to really describe, but imagine the worlds of Nico, Björk and Annette Peacock with the Arabic language as their mother tongue, re-approached through acoustic avant-jazz harmony and re-constructed with a dash of Kamilya Jubran's modern styling of Arabic maqam and you may be somewhere close. Recorded and delicately mixed through miles of analogue cabling by Thierry Amar at Hotel2Tango and mastered by Harris Newman at Grey Market Mastering in Montreal, the album is adorned with the surrealist artwork of Egyptian artist Marwan El-Gamal and designed with custom typography by Egyptian designer Valerie Arif . All editions come with dual-language booklets featuring the lyrics in Arabic with English translation by Nariman Youssef."