Bittersweet, downbeat electronica ushered in careful, minimalist style with a pop appeal betraying the artist’s indie-pop background
““By restricting myself, I feel like I'm connecting with a larger arc of producers throughout time,” explains Leo Maymind. “People who were crammed into a corner of their bedroom with headphones on while the rest of the world was out gallivanting.”
Following nearly a decade entrenched into the Brooklyn DIY scene, a move to Los Angeles signalled a change in approach for Maymind, limiting his gear to a small tabletop hardware setup, sometimes as little as a single drum machine and a rackmount effects unit. Illumina is Maymind’s first full length release since this change of location and approach, focusing in on the liminal and transitional moments within the musical spectrum. The limited timbres across Illumina shift and evolve before your ears, each track unfolding at its own pace. Sometimes they reach a resolution; other times simply fading off into the ether.
“I think the commodification of music and having streaming available at all times has made listeners very impatient,” says Maymind, “even when it comes to ambient or drone music.” Illumina battles against this, the deep buried rhythms consistently getting disrupted by stray new percussive notes, or the gently sketched melodies getting spliced overhead, mutating into new textures. Inspired in part by his own stuttering problem, this element of aleatory interruption informs Maymind’s adroitly crafted minimalism on Illumina. “I wanted to make music that mirrored life more closely,” says Maymind. “Things cutting off sharply—life is full of twists and turns.””
Pompin’ teutonic techno riddled with playful nods to classic krautrock and Kölnisch ‘90s dance music...
“Hailing from Cologne, Mikrovolt is the nom de plume of music journalist and radio author Veit König. Recorded sporadically over the last six years, his first release I is the culmination of a hitherto undocumented musical journey. König has always made music for the last two decades, initially starting more pop-oriented before heading into a space disco direction, ultimately arriving at the retro-robotic synthesizer kraut of Mikrovolt’s I.
Assembled in his DAW from a host of vintage organ, mellotron, drum machine, and rhythm loop samples, König stays true to this music’s cybertronic roots, locking into epic robotic pulses that sprawl into futuristic jams. König colors the synthetic palette with guitar, harmonica, or other percussion when necessary, but it’s his dab-hand for driving grooves that defines the music here. While the influence of classic German acts like Neu!, Cluster or Kraftwerk is discernible, Mikrovolt’s sprawling minimalist grooves owe just as much to composers Steve Reich and Philip Glass, Italian horror movie soundtracks and the era of techno and electronica in which he grew up.”
Low-key, decayed and moody ambient electronica from Switzerland via Mexico City and Chicago.
“Recorded with a modest hardware setup in Geneva - one drum machine, a few synths, a sampler, plus effects - the ten miniatures on LEVELS’ debut S/T are nonetheless dense in atmosphere and mood, often immensely beautiful beyond their means. As suggested by the project’s name, each track has the feel of a new level on a video game; a new environment to explore, to feel around for new clues, and ultimately to conquer.
Referencing classic anime, movie, and videogame scores, LEVELS’ willfully minimal sound palette is designed to give the listener a cinematic sensation. The sparser and more lo-fi sounds on side A have the listener tentatively exploring futuristic new spaces, wandering hallways of ambient beds and kick drum heartbeats. However, the busier rhythms and crisper melodies of the second side tell of the action that happens next, picking up the pace for keyboard-heavy chases, drum machine action sequences, and some gorgeously redemptive emotional peaks.”
Following a decade playing bass for Disappears, Damon Carruesco aka TüTH forwards a more expressive solo sound with the meterless greyscale prangs and looming drone shadows of Transgression
“Aiming to search out his own limits, potential, and abilities as an artist, the atmospheric sounds on Transgression are Carruesco’s attempt to make atmospheric electronic music that exists outside of "the grid". Transgression draws from field recordings and hand-made sounds, taking key inspiration from brutalist architecture, the acousmatic music of Romanian composer Iancu Dumitrescu, and the passing of somebody very close to the artist. Throughout Transgression throbbing tones play out into cavernous otherworldly atmospheres, while bass demons collide with far icier synthesizers issuing moody melodic patterns.
The references for this deeply abstract music are few and far between - the most fractured and sparse dub, Tangerine Dream’s earliest primordial trips, György Ligeti’s creaking galactic symphonies - so with Transgression, TüTH has appeared as his very own, unique, and fully fledged new voice.”
Hayley Fohr tends to her Circuit Des Yeux alias after last year’s country excursion as Jackie Lynn, returning to relay a compelling tale about a pivotal, existential awakening she experienced in early 2016, all delivered via her signature vocal - somewhere between Nico, Diamanda Galas and Scott Walker - against a varied topography of brooding brass, stirring folk strings, arpeggiated keys and synths, and intermittent rocking squalls.
Reaching For Indigo is arguably set to become a modern classic in the same vein as her In Plain Speech [2015, Thrill Jockey] record, mostly thanks to a number of standout songs such as the plaintive power of Brainshift and Black Fly at its prow, and the natural, dreamlike possession of her swelling Geyser beauty and the free-floating kosmiche elegy, Falling Blonde.
It takes some sort of special virtue to make an indie-folk record that doesn’t sound super cliché nowadays, and evidently Circuit Des Yeux has it in abundance.
Ólafur Arnalds and Janus Rasmussen's Kiamos duo follow their 2012 debut 12" with a fully fledged LP of posh dance music.
Both artists approach the project from similar angles, marrying mutual taste for mnml tech-house rhythms with more mannered neo-classical sensibilities. It includes the previous single track, 'Thrown' plus seven new compositions, at best in the elegant swing of 'Swayed' and the melancholic electro-house shuffle of 'Bent'. "“We decided to start almost completely over with this record, so most of the material is written this year with the idea of making a record that can stand as one piece rather than a collection of songs. I am very excited to get a proper record out exploring a different territory than I am used to. I touch a lot on electronic genres in my own music but never have the opportunity to go full out electronic like we do here.” – Ólafur Arnalds. “
The Kiasmos project has been around since 2009, but because of all our other projects we never really got the time to sit down and write all the tracks we always wanted to. So when we early this year finally found the time to sit down and make a full length album there was so much we wanted to try out. The result surprised us a bit, it's deeper and more emotional than we imagined it to be, but that's the beauty of being able to make an album.” – Janus Rasmussen"
A 45 minute mix of previously unreleased Untold productions with a 45 minute studio-recorded live PA by Duckett, following on from Hodge and Don’t DJ’s initial edition.
Untold runs the gamut of lop-sided techno, digi-dancehall drops, pneumatic grime and deconstructed club stuff drawn from no less than 25 unreleased dubs on his side.
Duckett draws for a special, studio-recorded live PA on his turn, wiggling thru spades of slinky minimal tech-house and bleeping, grubbing electronic mutations.
Co-founder of Berlin’s Fith, Enir Da saddles up a brooding “imaginary soundtrack” featuring his bandmate Dice Miller’s vocals on one track, but mainly exploring a forlorn instrumental solo sound strung out somewhere between the intros of GY!BE, the Western filmic influences of Monte Cazzazza, or the dustbowl atmospheres of Jon Porras.
Definitely one for those who like to sketch full scenes on the back of their eyelids while in darkened rooms, Accalmie conjures an impending tension across its 38 minute span, animation the sort of sound that comes from a lifetime absorbed by the subtleties and enigmatic emotive signposts of underground and classic cinema and its soundtracks.
Reverberating guitars, electronic contours and stripped percussion frame its seven parts, arching up with a blood red dawning vibe with the horizon-scanning guitar jangle and cantering drums of Desert, teasing tape loops into slow swirling dust devils around Dice Miller’s gently plangent vocals in How I See You, and seemingly diffusing her into dynamics gasps around the electronically swept L écume, whilst the honky swagger of Present suggest some kind of quizzical saloon scene, and Sky and Colours smartly ties it all together with an uncertain, dreamlike resolution of scrabbly electronics and minor key molasses bass shift.
The erstwhile wild man of Can captured in full flight, backed by the best Berlin had to offer that night.
“Damo Suzuki in performance with Château Laut, recorded at Ausland, Berlin, 30.iv.2010 by Stephan Laackman.
Château Laut's Stefan Fähler writes: I contacted Damo in 2009. He didn't reply immediately and at one point I just forgot about it… So, it was a huge surprise when he replied, exactly a year to the day later, explaining his email's calendar was weird and he had only just now received my mail. Quickly, we arranged all details for our concert-to-be.
We first met a couple of months later, at the airport. We picked him up in the morning and were stoned just an hour later in our kitchen. The energy for the whole day was so peaceful and warm. On the way to soundcheck we saw barricades and police vans on the streets in readiness for 1 May – a date famous in Berlin for rioting and protest. We joked about this predictable riot, marked in calendars for all to see.
The gig at Ausland proceeded organically. We shared many beautiful moments, both on and off stage. Damo was so much into the atmosphere and the crowd that, after our main set, we went on-stage a second time. Afterwards, we crashed at our place, downing a couple of whiskeys before going to sleep, happy.
We kept in touch. He became something close to a spiritual mentor for me. He gave us contacts around the globe for travels and put me in touch with many nice people. He once said to me, one of the most important things in life is to travel. We were glad he stopped by our place on his journey. – Stefan Fähler, Berlin, 23.viii.2017”
Mesmerising instrumental blues duets from Toronto’s Kevin and Patrick Cahill, whose symbiotic, fraternal connection is beautifully self-evident on this, their 2nd tape for the UK’s blues obsessives at the Death Is Not The End label.
On Fayet the brothers regale a quietly captivating narrative or dialogue in two extended parts, gently stereo panned - or just recorded that way - in a hushed but urgent back and forth that leads us upriver, across mountain trails and inside the log cabin of their shared mind.
One for autumn days with the rambleman.
Jay Glass Dubs melts Guerrilla Toss’ hyperactive post punk styles into air on this killer overhaul of tracks from the Boston band’s GT Ultra LP with DFA, resulting a spellbinding sound holding etheric space between Maximum Joy and Golden Teacher, for example.
If you know anything of either act, you’ll be aware of the gulf between their respective styles. And while it’s maybe fair to say that Guerrilla Toss have refined their sound slightly for the new DFA release, when compared with the zaniness of their Tzadik, NNA Tapes and Feeding Tube Records releases, Jay Glass Dubs has radically diffused their mad energy into something practically unrecognisable, far more elusive here.
Like Mad Professor with Massive Attack or Dennis Bovell with Golden Teacher, the selected song structures of GT Ultra are progressively dissolved and and sublimated in the echo chamber in a woozy declension from the D&B-style intro and thunderous pressure of Skull Dub to the nagging, almost Forest Swords-like plangency and steppers roil of String Dub, then coming to pool in the horizontal scan of TV Do Dub, and letting it all ride out for ten minutes of reclined trip-hop in Can I Get The Real Dub.
The curious label arm of Lucerne’s zweikommasieben magazine, Präsens Editionen introduce local artist Bella Winnewisser and Berlin’s L. Zylberberg with this trippy little split tape, making up the label’s 10th release after scattershot releases ranging from a Raime lathe cut to a C60 by Robert Turman.
Both artists are new names to us, at least, and PE-010 gives a subtly enigmatic account of esoteric sounds that should lure listeners you farther down their respective rabbitholes.
Lucerne’s Belia Winnewisser blesses the A-side with a brooding three part suite of concrete electronics and vocals that speak to her background in goth unit Evje as well as the darkwave duo a=f/m with Rolf Laurels, who has previously released on Präsens Editionen. Belia’s Mattress of Wire is a dank display of bruised toms, keening drone and eerie strings, like Bourbonese Qualk at a tea dance with The Caretaker, whereas the percolated ambient steppers drums and choral motifs of Voices comes across like Karen Gwyer meets Kara-Lis Coverdale, and the stark mix of industrial and new age elements in My Life Is Your History feels like a blissed out Burial Hex piece.
The B-side is taken by Chatter from L. Zylberberg, a regular at Berlin parties; Sameheads, Griessmühle, O Tannenbaum. Hers is 15 minutes of ethereal kosmiche electronics with a certain sylvan quality, like strolling a secret garden of artificial flora under synthetic moonlight.
For fxck’s sake, Ste Spandex mind-dumps his debut album on Cerberus Future Technologies: the home-baked label home to his myriad, nefarious disco activities involving Licking Mirrors, The Zest and Montauk Boys (which could get you locked up in some countries if done at the same time).
The Video Collection follows Spandexedrine’s pair of EP’s for Red Laser Records, and one for Tusk Wax, with 17 tracks harvested from recording sessions at The Brown House and The Boneyard over the last 5 years, including a handful of guest vocals by his bae Sarah Bates and pal Crispy Duck.
Huffing influence from Detroit, Chicago, New York and Brescia, as well as the last 30 years of Manchester club/disco history, he turns gold into potent crud, most often improvised on banks of vintage (read: a bit knackered) hardware and all recorded direct to VHS - Jamal Moss style - for that crudest, shabby chic crunch.
That said, these are some of the smartest, punchiest cuts in his special medicine cabinet, roving from the Italo/dub techno hybrid of Mother Tiger, thru strapping EBM torque in Untitled, to bandy-legged cosmic dub in Orgone Matrix Material and with two highlights in the aforementioned vocal pieces, namely the DMT-affected whorl of Ducky’s First Blast, and particularly Sarah’s spot on the chugging boogie flare, Got To Give The People (Album edit).
African Ghost Valley gets right down to the nub of it with DMIR, a dubwise package of prolapsed rhythmic noise rumble and atonality perhaps best described as the bridge between Thought Broadcast, Uon and Wanda Group.
DMIR is dub-noise in effect. Luring us in with the unheimlich mystery of Curo’s moist, gravelly ginell, he offers scant handrails inside, with the oceanic NK only offering the faintest, plasmic resonance of scudding dub chords to keep your head above, before Tanz consumes all light into its viscous black mass.
Viv finds him inverting that aesthetic as easily as he shifted shape between the first two, leaving us in eviscerated sci-fi terrain to be welcomed by the first light of a phosphorescing harmonic presence, then DMIR slydes along that scale into denser, overgrown noise, smothering the chords until then glint there in the last strokes, where Timothy appears as the most tangible silhouette of murky, acidic ambient dub recalling Helm’s Olympic Mess sound.
Uncannily Coil-esque meditation aid from Cera Khin & Ossia, reprising their duo heard on the sold-out Blue Baboon [JSMË, 2016] mixtape, but this time with a dangerously heavy-lidded appeal perhaps best received during chemsex come-downs or particularly tedious, packed-out commutes for optimal effect.
The first product of Cera Khin and Ossia’s Lazy Tapes, Guided Meditation is just that: a suite of sounds for the moments after your head has (or wants to) hit the pillow; meshing slopped ’n screwed vocals in an Alvin Lucier-meets-DJ Screw style on a stygian descent into the sandman’s hands, which just happen to be plastered in rubble and fragments of metal as the trip becomes denser and slips your lucid dream past possible hyping jerk triggers to a sort of burial at sea by the time it finishes.
Where the collaboration ends, Cera Khin picks up with her first solo material. On Frogs In My Bed she commits a bleak tract of echoic croaks and wide-open spatial dimensions recorded on a trip to Tunisia, proving a real patience and sleight of hand when it comes to dream-state atmospheres. Ants Don’t Have Lungs follows with a stranger blush of anaesthetised, chromatic convolution collaged from field recordings into a steeply hallucinogenic finale with an effect that Coil would surely have approved of.
Originally released in 1991 as a limited run of 100 self distributed cassette tapes.
The 5 tracks touch upon Ambient, Dub, House and Balearic styles and show an ambition to create timeless music in the vein of Ultramarine and The Orb. 25 years later these songs finally reach a wider audience....on cassette, again....
Memorias Vol.1 - Bugandan Sacred Places is based on a series of recordings made by Ross Alexander in 2016 at sites of sacred importance to the Bugandan Kingdom and other associated clans.
"These recordings were combined with recorded sounds from urban Kampala, extracts from a recording session with musician Albert Sempeke and the sounds of a Nilotika Collective drum circle. Further notes and tones were added using the Yamaha DX7 and programmed FM synthesis.With deepest thanks and praise to the people of Uganda, Albert, JaJa and the Nilotika collective, Arlen, Derek, Richie Tevin, Vincent the driving king, Nessim and the Nyege Nyege tribe! Love is peace, and freedom is harmony! "
Vicki Bennett’s People Like Us in often hilarious effect with 30 minutes of collaged Early Radio Works prodding the soft, protruding underbelly of talk radio, radio plays, and MoR music stations.
All material on the 1st was collaged from recordings made between 1992 & 1999 - Originally released on Lowest Common Dominator (1994), Jumble Massive (1996), Beware The Whim Reaper (1996), Lassie House (1997), Thermos Explorer (2000) & A Fistful of Knuckles (2000) - and the 2nd comes from her Guide To Broadcasting (1994) & Thermos Explorer (2000).
Miami’s Marks pulls back to Coyote Records with a wickedly cold, stripped-down fusion of footwork, drill and grime components. Coming off the back of his Green EP in 2016, this one goes shades darker and ropes in Spokes on a stellar cyberpunk trap remix.
Drain is an icily perfect example of Afro-Cuban drum patterns applied to eerie grime/drill dimensions; South Cold glares with dissonant synths and hard-bitten, reticulated percussion on a tight-belly halfstep[/triplet waltz; Lantern and Dash are like schizzy sides of the same coin - like medieval themes for snow-slinging trap baws.
What those riddims perhaps lack ion spatial sophistication, Spokes makes up for with a staggering remix of Drain that sounds like it was ripped right out of the upcm,going Bladerunner OST, framing the original deeper in-the-mix against snarling brass flares and reverb contrails, precipitating a toxic shower of Salem or Araabmuzik-style hardstyle/trap rhythms.
Cosmogony was commissioned by and created for ina GRM and features 45 minutes of brand new and exclusive Demdike material based on, inspired by and making use of GRM’s extensive archive. This is Demdike at the top of their game: a harrowing and brilliant set of collage-pieces splicing sampled fragments with newly composed material.
"We were asked by Ina GRM to create a performance for their yearly festival Presence Electronique, exploring their archive of phenomenal avant garde releases using our own GRM records. In essence the material here features sections of releases by Pierre Henry, Bernard Parmegiani, Guy Reibel and many others interwoven with our own improvisations using two elektron octatracks, various effects units (Eventide h3000, Time factor, Space, Ekdahl Moisturiser, and Akai MFC42) and two technics 1210's.
We planned for certain channels to be mixed across GRM's unique Acousmonium system, (a unique surround sound setup) complete with GRM’s software Tools at our disposal. This allowed us to send and modulate certain sounds and effects to any point around the venue, which were throughout. The full sonic potential of the Acousmonium can't be replicated on tape unfortunately!"
Demdike Stare, 2017
Violence seemingly refreshes the proggy, avant chops of John Zorn and Mr. Bungle for the PTP gang and post-genre, anti-banger kids in 2017
“Olin Caprison, a visual artist and multi-instrumentalist originally hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, composes and performs all aspects of the VIOLENCE project. Compositionally, each of their songs fearlessly disrupts any notions of genre division – creating a universe that is equal parts at-home in the realms of noise, rap, industrial, and the more extreme deviations of metal. Lyrically, VIOLENCE meditates on the oppressive nature of history, and explores ideas of archetypal memory and the stigmas which come with those memories.
"The focus of 'Human Dust to Fertilize the Impotent Garden' is the overwhelming quality of history's perpetual occurrence. My palette consists of the shattered micro-architecture of an unprejudiced, undiscerning, cosmopolitan, anti-culture massive music archive. A piece of this, a piece of that. The shattered remains of the ‘genre’, utilizing the mythopoeia behind each cultural movement to fight for meaning, schizophrenic terror, where you can’t tell which real aspect of a life coincides with which narrative, which model, or which came first. This music is a struggle. It is a struggle from within this anti-history vacuum, a struggle against the all-embracing, multicultural, ahistorical ecosystem of contemporary music that renders all hierarchies impotent and null.””
Altered States Tapes and Creep Dreams proprietor Cooper Bowman unspools a greyscale thread of unsteady loops and fizzing synthesis on Resistance Restraint after self-releasing Six Loops [For Gregorian Sweepstakes] and Isle Of Isms with Berlin’s Portals Editions already in 2017.
In its free, keening structure, gritty plasmic texture and off-kilter feels, Maud Variations feels very much like a partner piece to Bowman’s Portals Editions release. Cleft in six, the pieces seem to expand, contract and dissolve with a combination of elastic and viscous qualities; thrumming rhythms ooze and slosh in tarry sequence, convecting vaporous harmonic and dissonant overtones as noxious/alluring as fresh bitumen infused with valerian.
With subtly curious effect, it all serves to convey s fine range of emotive sensation, from somnolent drowsiness to paralysingly pensive tension and melancholic enigma recalling Arca’s heartsore electronic hymns as much as Helm’s discomfiting concrète ambience.
A proper bobby dazzler, this; DJ Finn ramps his favourite regional U.S. heroes - DJ Technics, Jammin Gerald, Rod Lee, DJ Tameil, Dukeyman and more - to a hi-energy 150bpm, regardless of their original tempo, and the results are just fucking irresistible, really.
It’s a concept and tempo close to our tachycardic hearts and executed with all the enviable adroitness we’d expect from one of the baddest yung DJs in Manchester and beyond. One for the whip!
DBA catch a batch of off-the-cuff house experiments with some canny results calling Jamal Moss in full flow, or Legowelt going eyes-shut in the studio...
“Hamburg's Achim Maerz arrives on DBA with an expansive twelve track package. Split across a 12 ep and a cassette, 'Experiments' is a collection of live, improvised house jams recorded in the summer of 2015 in the artist's home studio. The title refers to the fast and rough recording of the material, with the aim of catching a mood before process and self-awareness take over. Fans of Maerz' previous releases on the essential Wake Up! label amongst others will immediately recognise his trademark, ethereal house sound.”
Hamburg’s Phil Struck joins Quiet Time Tapes’ somnolent series with a steeply acousmatic session of grayscale tones and organic electronics that feels like the results of Basic House on a febrile bender with Helm in Wanda Group’s basement, which just happens to have a secret hatch into Henry Spencer’s apartment.
Found in a half light between lo-fi, small sound scrabble and ambient queasy listening, QTT5 unfolds in eight parts along the reel’s ∞ axes, dragging the listener across the tapehead from the reclaimed mechanical ambience of 24, to zoom in on Black To Comm-alike sci-fi dankness in Telescope and document some arcane game involving rusty pipes and seagulls in CCLT, before bathing in puddled new age tones with Untitled.
Rosegate opens the B-side at a more abstract angle with piercing string glissandi, waterlogged chords and spasming electronics like something that escaped from Actress’ studio late at night, before the beautiful, mirage like Amber hovers into view like a Huerco S vision, dissipating into the noxious atmospheric swamplands of Delta and the bittersweet harmonic resolution of Oaoa at its perimeter.
The sense of ambiguity is strong and key to the appeal of QTT5, which operates right on that jagged line between OOBEy detachment, romantic introspection and discomfiting yet compelling sensations of “maybe I shouldn’t be here, but…”
NYC’s Solpara keeps Quiet Time Tapes’ ambient agenda mutable and off-kilter with a lucid dream of alternately crisp and melting hyaline structures following releases for Nico Jaar’s Other People, and his own Booma Collective label.
Where his previous releases explored rugged strains of techno, here he follows his instincts along more abstract lines of enquiry on a roaming dérive from subterranean chromatic whorls in Psyzch to the fluffy electronica charms of Dodokéhidra, traversing thru lushly resonant sound sculptures recalling Phil Julian’s Relay CD such as Broken Turbine and the algorithmic chain reaction of Ego Death, to find a contemplative centre in Meditation of the Wounds and a contrasting, piquant counterpoint of distorted, crystalline design in Aguirré.
The 2nd half seems to flow with more urgency, lurching into action with the panicky Brush Leaves and possibly pointing to his Lebanese heritage with the rapid, tar-like twang of Fungi In Communication and the recalling the strange metastable states of Aught’s Xth Reflexion or Anòmia/Hospital Production’s Exoteric Continent, then settling down into the pointillist minuet of Ristretto, which almost feels like a orchestration of dripping taps in an abandoned, glazed tile-clad restroom at the bowels of the city.
Here it is, kids: volume 1 of Kyle Dixon & Michel Stein’s widely adored soundtrack to Stranger Things Season 1; all 36 tracks, 68 minutes of its synthy feels.
From the cute charms of Castle Byers to the ethereal theme of Eleven and the pensive quantum dynamics of The Upside Down Now you can relive all your favourite scenes, only sans Winona Ryder’s melodramatic gurns and the creepy hairline of Matthew Modine.
We recommend shaving your head, building a fort and inviting your mates around for a spot of psychokinesis while you consume this collection.
The Second Volume of the ‘Stranger Things’ OST.
"Volume Two seamlessly wanders through the 80s world of ‘Stranger Things’, breeding an unthreatening serenity with a gentle shift toward a darker mood. Floating between sweeter moments which temporarily blossom amidst the danger and decay, VolumeTwo is the second part of the ‘Stranger Things’ score, reaching climactic highs as the series comes to an end.
This soundtrack is instantly reminiscent of works by John Carpenter (‘Halloween’, ‘The Thing’), Tangerine Dream and Vangelis (‘Blade Runner’), whilst also delving into the ambience of Aphex Twin and more modern composers such as Cliff Martinez (‘Drive’, ‘Solaris’)."
Diagonal’s Elon Katz (Streetwalker, White Car) and Robert Girardin (Jaws, Sex Boys) couple up as Zero Grow for a tuff-playing, wonkily psychoacoustic batch of techno screwballs landing somewhere between Physical Therapy or Actress on their “pseudo-debut” 0g - self-described as a “tongue-in-cheek draft on electronic music’s metaphysics in the age of media accelerated liberalism.”
Swerving common tropes in favour of mutant, off-kilter tones, 0g has little aspiration for “brand platform or big rooms” as they put it, with production specifically attuned to “the spaces of the individual like headphones, automobiles and laptop speakers”, which is both astutely contemporary and yet fairly unique in its intentions, for techno or dance music, at least.
In that sense, 0g plays out a funky analysis or reflection of dance music’s current condition, where breathless mix-downs disrupt the democracy of sensuality and automated FX perhaps encourage a solipsistic homogeneity that refers to nothing beyond the end of its nose, whether thru ignorance or just plain stupidity, we’re not sure.
Through the EP’s seven parts, Katz and Girardin find routes beyond those binds to express a strangely absorbing narrative kicking off with the fierce velocity and insectoid disturbances of Angel Motto and taking in cranky, breakbeat-laced slugs such as Play Dead Baby and the febrile tribalism Johanis, making turns into deeper, Actress-like house abstraction on Ddeok, and invasively psychoacoustic techno with Brick People, before Coughin’ collapses into fizzy bass murk, and checking out at a squirmy IDM angle of Final S.
Make no mistake, the theory never gets in the way of the tunes or their effect, but it does come thru in the level of detail and subtly off-kilter drive.
Bokeh Versions finds Equiknoxx and Modern Love soundman daggering with crampons in Glacial Dancehall II, following Jay Glass Dubs’ lead with a side each of ruggedly slow, warped riddims and noise.
Coming after a busy year of releases for Modern Love and his Editions Gravats label, Paris-based Low Jack flips classic and lesser-known Jamaican riddims in his own, acidic style for 30 minutes of screwed ‘90s bashment, diffused steppers and duppied electronics that rudely smudge the divide between edit, remix and version.
Time Cow’s B-side wickedly follows suit with a more frayed, freakier adjunct to his Equiknoxx output alongside Gavsborg for Swing Ting and DDS, coughing up five loosely sprawling pieces that push dancehall into abstract, electroid terrain between the grungy slam of Yellow and Purple Equals Yurple, and the echo chamber collapse of How They Clap In North Korea.
No doubt this will sellout in a flash. Run come get it!
After introducing the world to Lanark Artefax, Manchester’s Cong Burn Waves pair up Leeeds-based newcomer BFTT with Manchester yungblood Lack for a smoked out session of ghost-in-the-machine electronica and broken electro-techno.
BFTT takes pole position with his first ever showreel, committing a 35 minute session emerging from gristly electronic abstraction into a roiling slew of fractured breakbeats and hydraulic electro-techno functions in reticulated arrangement. It’s neither ecstatic nor grim, treading ambiguously with a melancholic sort of sci-fi atmosphere and vibe that clearly hears the virtue in not giving everything away, keeping us curious for the duration.
On the B-side Manchester’s Lack follows a slightly funkier hunch with a seamless thread of simmering, viscous, off-centres grooves elegantly shifting its weight from pendulous, warped beatdown and broken beats to pockets of gauzy ambience and cosmic electro torque and back with coherently knotted style.
Bocian Records give Kevin Drumm’s grim archival piece gtr/synth 2000 some room to breathe on tape, presenting the full 40 minute work which was excerpted as Old Shit on Drumm’s Necro-Acoustic boxset.
Compared with the pensive hi-register focus of his recently reissued Interference, for example, this is a much older, tempestuous Drumm working in the bowels of his sound, eking out a grittily textured roil of guitar and synth in a way that defined his late ‘90s explorations of the guitar as a member of the forward-facing Chicago school.
To be specific, he uses prepared guitar and analog synthesiser here to create an immersive tangle of atonal shards and viscous drone, the sort of stuff that feels like committing yourself to a pool of quicksand in the hope that there’s something worth it below the surface.
What occurs down there is a lightless and intensely physical experience, as though systematically dissolving your flesh and bones thru attrition into you’re nourishing the earth around your emulsifying cadaver.
Glacial Dancehall is the slowest dancehall mixtape ever heard. Culled from his private 7" archives, each side figures dancehall mutations, pitched and screwed by Jay Glass Dubs' hardware acceleration.
For fans of records on the wrong speed, Rhythm & Sound’s slittiest grooves, or DJ Screw, it doesn’t get much more potent than this, a seriously red-eyed stagger thru Jay Glass Dubs’ personal record collection.
Operating at a muggy 60bpm-ish, spotters will definitely have fun attempting to correct the selections for speed in their notebooks, while everyone else is sure to be seduced by the knackered tempo and blunted vibes, allowing for X amounta noise and clag and slurred voices spun out thru the echoplex.
Don’t miss out a 2nd time around!
Exquisite hyaline electronics from the quieter ends of Kevin Drumm’s mind.
“Five sequentially numbered pieces of phantom electronics, preceded by an opener/overture that pulls you right in, appropriately entitled Intro. An aural investigation, down the rabbit hole. This is KD to the bone. Essential.”
Grassroots selection of 17 covers played, recorded and mixed by Glasgow youth at Green Door studios. Includes satisfyingly raw, freaky and swaggering takes on Bowie, Joy Division, Gloria Jones, Devo, The Normal…
“One glance at this brazen cassette's track list offers a litany of seminal funk works, garage rock standards, R&B classics, loose disco, and new wave dirges, as well as several artifacts that seem to derive from no extant source. Unsurprisingly, this is not the cover compilation of a music-by-numbers, keyboards in the classroom, kumbaya-strumming enterprise. This is the real deal: music made by Glasgow youth not in employment, education or training (NEET).
Created, inexhaustibly managed, and exhaustively taught by Emily McLaren, Stuart Evans, and a host of Glasgow's musical players, the Green Door Studio's NEET course allows young people to record & mix their own efforts– for free– by drawing on production techniques of modern history's wildest studios: those of Phil Spector at Gold Star, Lee Perry's Black Ark, Visconti's Good Earth Studios, Sly & Robbie at Compass Point, and Conny Plank in his farm at Wolperath. Banded together in session groups, the young people run through old instructional staples, take these to heart, take them apart, bring new things to bear, and record the results.
Spiraling teenage riffs; loping, mopey bass lines; vocals both sanguine and sangfroid; haunted percussion; rude sequences; and baggy drums are whirled together through really reel-to-reel analogue production that leaves David Bowie's mix of Raw Power in the dust. With a kick drum mic taped to a brick, this is a sweet, kaleidoscopic slice of life in the Green Door Studio, and many seasons' worth of work that might make other musical efforts sound like cynical after-school specials.
Witness the next: extreme Martin Hamnett-baiting drum gating on Digital; why-not strings for synths on Jocko Homo; the essentialist sweat of Me and My Baby Brother; an office-party photocopy of Hurdy Gurdy Man; one of the best versions of Tainted Love ever recorded; plus two more large handfuls of precious stones and rough gems– rooftop bootlegs, hair-raising rip-offs, dead-thing-prodding freakouts, and lengthy excursions across the highways out of here– that openly defy your rules and question your technical comprehension.”
A playfully wigged-out wonder from the bowels of Glasgow’s avant garde, 'Cable to the Grave' quietly and steadily bucks boundaries and descriptive shackles at every turn, in a way perhaps best compared to Ghédalia Tazartès jamming with NWW and Maja SK Ratkje.
“Vernon & Burns (Mark Vernon & Barry Burns) are a duo of sound makers who create radio plays, records and performances through a mix of samples, field recordings, voice and music.
‘From the Cable to the Grave’ includes 19 new tracks featuring harmony bombs, erotic grotesque nonsense, frolicsome demon beats, stimulators of vice, confusion ciphers, faster silences, declarations of indulgence, necessary noise, abstract paradises, and excerpts from the minutes from the AGM of the Dream Prognostication Circle & Astral Radiation Trance Club.
In summary: A once in a lifetime’s clinch with gaiety.”
One of our favourite discoveries of recent years, Melbourne’s CS + Kreme share this sublime split tape with Vancouver’s Yu Su (aka You’re Me), who both impress with a mix of sylvan, grown-up ambient-pop and 4th World-inspired chill-out for Wichelroede - the label behind celebrated mix-tapes and original material from Beatrice Dillon, BUFO, Cloudface and Jayda G, a.o since 2016.
With their incredible CS + Kreme debut 12” for Total Stasis still glowing brightly in the background, HTRK and Blanck Mass collaborator Conrad Standish meets Sam Karmel ov F Ingers infamy on a side-long jam Roast Ghost, stirring up 21 minutes of lean, crisp 808 and quietly breathtaking synth arrangements gilded by Standish’s melancholic vocals, held low in the mix to draw us in ever deeper to its six minute boogie soul breakdown and glittering reprise. In effect, it’s practically an extension of the CS + Kreme EP, very much in key with its dusky aura and every bit as seductive - a sort of modern day balearic blooze for what ails ya.
Yu Su’s side of feathered silicon chirrups and rhythmelody is the perfect companion piece. Where CS + Kreme hover around the line between downbeat introspection and lush melancholy, Vancouver-via-Kaifeng artist Yu Su percolates coolly optimistic vibes with the healing soul-wash of Little Forest (Spring Mix), blooming metallic petal-like motifs and a refreshing spritz of effervescent pads encouraging listeners to shut eyes and drift its floating ecosystem without fear of sharp angles or any dark surprises.
So nice this one.
Theo Parrish in full flow, DJing at Sound Signature’s legendary annual Music Gallery sessions in Detroit.
We can spot Theo and Specter's own joints and a couple from Soundstream and KDJ inside, perfectly segued with Chicago classics by Virgo Four and a damn healthy haul of soul, funk and fuck-knows-what in between. Properly ‘up’ stuff. All killer, no filler!
Glasgow’s Alex Menzies (Alex Smoke) keens the experimental techno leanings of Love Over Will  and his Mechanical Marvels: Clockwork Dreams  to logically investigate new forms and modes of composition in Other World Music Vol.1.
Pulling from his research into psycho-acoustic and electro-acoustic dimensions and modal forms, OWM Vol.1 sounds distinctly like an Alex Menzies record, but with stranger things happening to the tunings and spectral dynamics on highlights including reverberant blue twang of Greek Mode and the melting drone of Ghazali, or the plasmic electro-folk audness of Balm.
Created from field recordings collected at various low islands in and around the Baltic Sea from 2012-2015. Processed via cassette and Nagra 4.2 in Manhattan and Ithaca winter 2016. Mastered by Giuseppe Ielasi.
"This tape, a map of sorts, resituates recordings of five disparate islands into an archipelago built up from layers of sound fragments. A study in accretion and the sedimentary parallels of geological formations and sound design; islands imagined as repositories for environmental memory, above and below.
Joshua Bonnetta is an interdisciplinary artist working with film, video and sound in various modes of theatrical exhibition, performance and installation. His work has shown at The Berlinale, The Toronto International Film Festival, The Images Festival, Mutek International Festival of Electronic Music, Exis Festival, European Media Arts Festival, Rotterdam International Film Festival and at festivals and venues through out Europe, U.K., Russia, North & South America. He was the 2009 recipient of the National Film Board of Canada award to 'Best emerging/mid-career Canadian filmmaker' and the winner of the Deluxe Cinematic Vision Award in 2010 and 2012 from The Images Festival. He has released albums with Senufo Editions, Experimedia and Shelter Press. He is an Associate Professor in the department of Cinema, Photography and Media Arts at Ithaca College in New York state."
Raw house freak Arvid Wretman (Your Planet Is Next) lets his mojo flow on a grubby session of jacked-off acid pop that comes up and off like Tin Man recording with PTV circa ’89...
“Sexazoid keep using his pheromones to triggers social response in members of his species. So follow the dog walker in to the metal chamber now dripping with zoid sweat. Ace, dusky, metallic house sleaze!”
This tape is basically as weird and hard to place as its cover suggests. It’s an impressionistic ‘radio tale’ describing private listening life conducted in Albania under the totalitarian communist rule of Enver Hoxha (1944-1985), whose restrictive regime meant that radio become the sole source of connection to the world beyond Albania’s borders. It was made by Jonida Prifti, documenting her own experience living and documenting under that regime.
You don’t need to have experienced the same repression to understand the pathos and raw, alien wonder of her hauntoligcally-related recording, which lands somewhere between the haunting electro-acoustic documentations of Áine O’Dwyer, alien radio transmissions, and the kind of spectral enigmas released by Venetian label Von Archive.
Part of the latest batch from Canti Magnetici - the esoteric young label operated by Gaspare Sammartano, Andrea Penso and Loopy’s Donato Epiro from an area in South Italy across the Adriatic from Albania - Acchiappashpirt Tola is a steeply abstract incursion to Jonida’s formative years, sharing, in her own words, “the tale of a girl who discovers freedom through the frequencies of a radio” - a medium which was forbidden, and only legitimately accessible to those who supported the regime. Tuning into indecipherable ‘“foreign” frequencies’ was therefore both a form of resistance and exploration which, although ostensibly simple and passive, clearly had a powerful impact on the young woman who “felt sucked in by the radio waves until I disappeared into the frequencies”, calling it “a kind of metamorphosis from human being to a free pure wave without boundaries”.
Starkly greyscale and billowing with negative space, the 23 minute piece opens with a dramaturgy of primitive electronics and voice, with bleeps and distant Italian vocals establishing widely reverberant, hard-to-grasp dimensions perfused by acousmatic disturbances and thrilling in their pranging, unpredictable and operatic nature. At around the half way mark percussion joins the mix in a way recalling the early electronic poems of Edgar Varèse, tumbling into stilted syncopations and sharing dusty space with wistful, prodding organ notes in a way just like Áine O’Dwyer’s Music For Cleaners.
It’s rare and quite shocking to find music so astute and bold in its primitiveness, at once reminding us of similarities between our own formative fiddling with tuning dials and the rawness of early electronic recordings. And that’s where the blank B-side comes into play, intended for listeners to fill up the space with their own recordings, in a way getting back in touch with what made music and sound at the rawest level so seductive, alien and key to all of our listening lives.
Elisha Morningstar produces abstract sound pieces through manipulation of different kind of sources. Recent releases were out on Strange Rules, Total Black, Ascetic House.
MTS is made of audio materials collected during the summer of 2016; the two tracks combine and try to reproduce the muteness of documents and various misperceptions.
iDEAL pay dues to formative influences with expanded reissue of cult early work by Thee Temple of Psychick Youth Scandinavia act, The White Stains. Expect fugue state rhythms and lacquer-bubbling noise from mental spaces lesser travelled. Properly zonked and ritualistic sonics RIYL The Hafler Trio, Russell Haswell, John Duncan, Joachim Nordwall over even that new Agnes 12” on Chained Library
“In the process of exploration of ritual, a multitude of musical sources were listened to, tried out and evaluated. Ethnic, traditional, old, contemporary, electronic, acoustic, percussive, drone-based, noisy, still, violent, peaceful. I experienced, took notes and felt what could bring out an optimal sonic atmosphere for my own “intellectual decompression chamber”.
Patterns began to emerge. Depending on the ritual in question – physically excited, calmly meditative, intellectually probing – distinct sounds and combinations seemed better fitted than others to optimise the highly important sound aspects. 25 years later, I can very vividly remember those sounds, the light, the emotions, the work and the outcome(s). Perhaps not all instances, as they were many. But certainly on an overall level: a phase of intense experimentation with body, soul and will. It looked in certain ways (dark colours, fire, shadows), it smelled in certain ways (heat, dust and sweat, added to by Tibetan incense mostly) and it definitely sounded in certain ways (psychically soaring, surging and searching).
With this in mind, I discussed a series of soundscapes and rhythms with my musical partner in the project White Stains, Thomas Tibert, who then masterfully programmed, evoked and filtered different combinations. Over the weeks that followed, I tried them all in a temple setting and rearranged/suggested alterations. Eventually we had four pieces of literally workable music that made the transition from normal intellectual state to the meta-programmatic inner zones smooth and highly pleasurable.
These soundscapes were integrated in my own meditative and meta-programmatic work for personal life issues, music, photography, business, writing & publishing and for general success. They worked excellently as creativity enhancers then and I suspect they still do. There’s only one way to find out though, and that’s to… Work!
I wish you the best of luck with your own explorations.
Carl Abrahamsson, Stockholm 2015”
Opal Tapes' Basic House cracks out a trans-North Sea dialogue with Nina and Good News’ Hamburg-based V I S label, taking their carte blanche remit to commit an imposing selection of concrète chicanery, broken games consoles, electric razors and shortwave interceptions into six animalistic spells.
Starting out as a mixtape, Stephen Bishop aka Basic House’s natural predilection for textural complexity and encryption lead the project off on its own path into something much more difficult to define, perhaps best grasped as a bouquet of thistly representations of his North Eastern english psyche and the blurred boundaries of rolling moorland, sawn-off coastlines and stark, post-industrial landscapes that can’t help but influence his work.
The album’s last track, an inversion of the shipping forecast translated into MIDI and used to trigger samples of fog horns and ships horns, forms the most literal and immersive manifestation of that impressionist or even situationist aesthetic. For 9 minutes we’re bathed in a sound recalling the Souter Lighthouse Requiem as much as Ingram Marshall’s Fog Tropes or Jim Haynes’ “rusted” soundscapes, only much more somnolent and echoing the atmospheric haar of BM from the opposite side of the North Sea.
Using that as the key, the decayed grain and deathly rumble of the rest of the album’s collapsing contours and convolutions may be easier to get a dog grip on, as the spectral greyscale mass of Double XP calves scree into the deepwater harbour pressure of Season Pass 4 D-Nest, and the visceral gargle of A Cat With A Throat gives way to the lushly vicious attrition of Calc and Towers Of Simple with little recourse to conventional narration or syntax.
But then again, if you’re reading this and know Basic House’s music, you’re probably not looking for ease of use.
‘Black Up’ was the new sonic move in 2011 from Shabazz Palaces.
"Like rich velvet hijabs or gold threaded abayas. Luxury as understood by the modest. If Bedouins herded beats instead of goats and settled in Seattle instead of the Atlas Mountains, this would be their album. Forward thinkers but nostalgic for a sparer time when ancient astronomers only recognized five planets. Hip hop.
Black light uses electromagnetic radiation to eradicate microorganisms but Shabazz didn’t come to kill a sound, just to shine their own incandescent lamp on this. Hear. Hard and clear. Fifty thousand years in the making. Honorable. Produced by Knife Knights.plcrs at Gunbeat Serenade Studio in Outplace Palacelands. It was recorded and mixed in Lixx-alog by Blood."
Super smart 2nd album from Seattle's foremost hip hop accelerationists. Fronted by Ishmael Butler, formerly of the brilliant Digable Planets, Shabazz Palaces have cornered a unique take on contemporary hip hop melding traces of electronica, cyberactive dub and jazz inna cerebral but instantly gratifying style that swerves self-conscious oddness in favour of genuinely psychedelic lushness and off-the-dome freedom. Borrowing its title 'Lese Majesty' from a French term for offending about offending the dignity of a royal, the album is framed as a "…sort of sonic attack on the "me-mania" that's sweeping our culture of late" according to Ishmael Butler, taking umbrage with the narrow-minded, self-referential themes of so much materialist hip hop against deft beats buried beneath a shape-shifting patina of electro-dub-wise textures that mark the project miles away from stodgy, regressive "indie" hip hop, syrupy styles or darkside drill and EDM trap. It's crammed with surprises and convention bucking-arrangements destined to become one of 2014's finest hip hop LPs.
Stellar first part of an Afro-futurist concept album cycle from Ishmael Butler (Digable Planets) and Tendai Maraire’s Seattle-based Shabazz Palaces, propagating the sonic fiction of Quazarz vs The Jealous Machines through a poetic and elaborately psychedelic of suite of sci-fi Hip Hop. You’ll do well to try and penetrate the accompanying sleeve notes, but if you’ve ever read ‘More Brilliant Than The Sun’, and can follow the lines between Sun Ra - George Clinton - Rammellzee - Drexciya - Flying Lotus, this is the next chapter you’ve been waiting for… From the mind-bending typography and production to Butler’s psychopomp delivery, this one’s quite special/spatial. Chekkit!
“Quazarz came to the Earth from somewhere else, a musical ambassador from his place to ours. Somehow, through fire or through fury, the Palaceer of Shabazz Palaces caught wind of the tale, and it is through his prism that we hear the story.
The beach was there, and Atlaantiis, and chemical alterations and cell memories and Andre Norton, Richard K. Morgan, and always Octavia Butler. There were killings and there were votes, and brutality in both. There was sound and there were other worlds, and there was a vastness so participation sometimes came only at the edges. And the Palaceer coasted down with the alien notion, like Quazarz, and so became.
On Quazarz when they look at this place they see the inhabitants, the humans, but they don’t assess as we do. And so Quazarz was sent to meet a cat with vibration, a creative and courageous, caring, compassionate dude that stood out. The dude was a drug dealer, but that was neither here nor there, until his dealings squashed the rendezvous, leaving our alien alone to figure out what this place is really all about.
Coming from a simpler, more essential, innocent place, the hero could not make heads nor tails of most advancements. From an aerial view, he saw that a good percentage of earthly vibrations were on very small squares and it became his belief that this world was very disposable and the spans short. His opinion was not of anything good nor bad but simply the truth. The machines—he noted—though at the behest of their master’s voice, are scorned, and jealous as all hell.
And so the tale is told while surfing on the board of Shabazz Palaces, with its sturdy base angled for takeoff on a new trajectory. There is new blood and space and room to be different and have different assets and different art and different ways to talk and also open up some space inside to do something new. There are pages and there are drawings, and color and faces and inked dialogues written in ancient futuristic hieroglyph. There are scales and there is melody and there are Sunny days and there is Darkness, but that—it should be noted—to the Palaceer is not a lack of illumination or brightness. Maybe it is dark, but in it is always optimism and joy, a bright darkness and a full, hopeful one as well.
It comes in gold, and it comes for the night. And so Quazarz sang the Jealous Machines. And so too did the Jealous Machines sing the Gangster Star.”