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.”
The perfectly unpredictable Tapeworm gently approaches it’s 100th release with #96 coming from Lightning In A Twilight Hour, following in serene suit to TTW’s lush dispatch from Pinkcourtesyphone.
Bobby Wratten (Northern Picture Library, The Field Mice, Trembling Blue Stars) makes the music and Anne Mari Barker-Davies (Northern Picture Library, The Field Mice) sings. Production/engineering is handled by Ian Catt, who has produced several Saint Etienne records.
On the A-side, Abandoned Islands they stroke up a cloud of melancholy shoegaze harmonies hobbling along a close-mic’d drum pulse recorded off a portable cassette player. It’s a fine example of the melancholy we’d associate with that region, which comes to life in a more literal way via subtle field recordings in the B-side’s Suspended Animation, threaded into a shimmering moire of plasmic guitars and levitating electronics where Barker-Davies plaintive coos eventually percolate thru the mix leaving us all fluffy, like.
Kreidler’s Andreas Reihse underlines and processes texts read by Dice Miller (Dalia Neis) and Mohammad A. Gawad with a bed of concrète electronics and head-bending, illusive effects on the 5th release by Berlin/Salford’s highly curious Wanda project, proceeding from their ace Fith LP and the imaginary OST Wanda is not here, which featured a strong roll cal of characters from Islington Mill.
The texts to Timehelix and Sermon are included on the inlay for anyone who struggles to follow the readings, which appear to cross sonic/literary leylines between critical film theory, psychogeography and sound poetry with a synaesthetic short-circuiting of the senses and experimental convention.
Predictably unpredictable movements from NoCorner here featuring Japan Blues and Ossia on remix duties.
Sacreligious iconoclasts, Chester Giles and Seb Gainsborough (Vessel) aka ASDA genuflect at the greasy altar of Ronald and co with the succinct McDonald’s Prayer backed with a downcast Regrind by erstwhile Japan Blues resetting Giles’ ‘prayer’ to a coolly pendulous boom clap and church organ, before the EP ends in the puddled dub of Ossia’s queasy Milkshake Mix.
Fast food. Slow music. Very satisfying
This is a reeeel bewt, featuring half an hour of previously unreleased, creamiest ambience from Huerco S. - if you loved his excellent 'For Those Of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have)' album, think of this is an essential companion piece, dilating the timeframe and smudging our perception of momentum with an uncanny effect somewhere between the rolling smoke trails of Wolfgang Voigt’s Gas and the anaesthetised harmonic diffusions of Kevin Drumm’s Imperial Distortion.
Where his For Those Of You Who Have Never found Huerco at his gauziest since the lush Untitled piece on his Opal Tapes debut, this tape is a sort of logical next step within those ambient parameters. For 31 minutes, he conjures an unfathomable valerian ambience, the equivalent of longing middle distance gaze frozen in time and thawed out with each new listen, making for an experience as dreamily suggestive as it is intangible.
Totally unmissable, for you and your lucky buddy.
An absorbing ambient abstraction from LA-via-NYC, Quiet Time With Baby unfurls serene simulacra in key with corresponding instalments of somnambulant and sci fi-styled sonics from Huerco S, MONEY and Aquarian also recently issued by New York’s Quiet Time.
BABY is a new name to us, at least, and one who appears to be in possession of a widely varied sound palette, one just as likely to take in chromatic new age wormholes as avant-garde pop flights.
Perhaps the nearest analogies for this sound, in terms of its waking dream surreality and freeform nature, range from the psilocybic aspects of Finland’s Islaja and Tomutonttu thru to Grimes’ warped pop refractions or the unsettling oneiric logic of Julia Holter and Jenny Hval, but the way in which BABY traverse all those reference points without missing a step is impressive and distinctive around its smudged edges.
Legit reissue taken from analogue masters, Coil's sorely coveted Astral Disaster (1998) for Gary Ramon’s Prescription (UK) is returned to circulation on its original format. 2nd hand copies now trade for at least a K, just sayin’…
At the behest of Ramon - who is absorbed into a line-up revolving Jhon Balance, Peter Christopherson, Drew McDowall, and Thighpaulsandra - over two days at Samhain 1998, Coil descended into the bowels of his Sun Dial studios, surrounded by manacles and chains under the level of the River Thames in the Ancient Borough of Southwark, to commit what would become one of their most possessing sides.
Astral Disaster was the result: two correlating hemispheres channelling, meditative, eastern raga drone with sage-like poetry and electro-acoustic phantasmagorias, projecting a plasmic miasma of pharmaceutical shimmer and surreality that’s pretty much arch Coil.
If there’s any one big reason you need it, though, that would be the amazing B-side, The Mothership and The Fatherland, framing creaking wooden drums and the gibber-chin shivers of swarming, translucent studio duppies in a diaphanous soundfield of freefall ambient atmospheres - basically the sound of ketamine in the ‘90s.
Makes us want to melt. Massive recommendation!
London’s premier new age and ambient music social, New Atlantis, have put together a 14 track compilation as the first release of their new label inc exclusives from Yamaneko, Talbot Fade, Throwing Shade & Deadboy, Webstarr, India Jordan and more...
New Atlantis - Vol.1 is a sublime survey of London’s premier, eponymous new age and ambient social, hosted by India Jordan and Deadboy out of the Rye Wax basement and on air at Radar Radio since 2015. Revolving 14 crystalline pieces from the hosts and their pals, and including Sign Libra’s amazing choral cover version of R Kelly’s I Believe I Can Fly among its mirage-like treats, their squad portrait-come-compilation arguably offers one of the sweetest new ambient suites that we’ve heard this side of Pan’s Mono No Aware set in 2017 thus far.
Clasping properly lovely pieces from Yamaneko, Throwing Shade, Coral Riff and many more, it’s the kind of gear you’d imagine Graham Hancock to check in downtime between excavations and doing Indiana Jones impersonations, offering a beautiful, optimistically spirited collection of (mostly) beatless structures and hyaline harmonics as perfect for accompanying a snooze in the shade as browsing the latest edition of Alternative Archaeology journal.
Between the chromatic DMT exhalations of Coral Riff’s New World Science and Pyramid Scheme’s sweetly pickled Life Sequence, each contributor embraces the vibe with a refreshing lack of ironic distance or gauziness, rendering a pellucid and transportive set that’s mercifully free of lactose queasiness and high on wistfully imaginative, weightless suspension, cradling particular highlights in the diaphanous choral contours of See Four by India Jordan, or the deliquescent cadence of Gran’s Orgasm from Falling On Deaf Ears, and with special mentions also to Eye Measure’s soothing True Aloe; a very Leyland Kirby-like turn from Talbot Fade; and the Vangelis-like mystic synth vision of Dianetics Over MIDI from L’Ron.
For BBQ’s, commutes and long journeys alike, you can simply trust your head is in very safe hands with this one.
Another sterling instalment from NYC’s Quiet Time, looking close to home with MONEY’s nuanced, serpentine slide thru the undergrowth of lo-fi house, cyboogie and unheimlich ambient musics, helping to piece together the label’s elusive image alongside tape packs from Huerco S, BABY and Aquarian.
This one appears to be equal parts mixtape and original material, strafing moody blue electronics to hypnagogic filter house and Lorenzo Senni-esque pointilllisticT via poignant samples of rave classics, emphasising the importance of creating your own world and inhabiting it, as they do here.
In the best sense of a mixtape, Quiet Time With MONEY affords a perfectly obfuscated view on their warped perspective, scanning a scene of discrete cultures becoming mongrel and united by plasmic electronics, and punctuated by the infidelities of contemporary technology.
Practically in the shadow of the Vatican, offering respite from souvenir shops and murderous moped drivers, Rome’s pocket of burger and techno heaven, Knick Knack Yoda show what they’re about on this weird chocolate box confection of styles drawn from their inner circle.
The vibe is arguably perfect for soundtracking a late night dérive amid the storied city, traversing Invader 300’s exotic beat experiment, Brasy’s Chilly to the acid-dipped Jersey breaks of 9.3Breako (Version Haram 303 x 2) from Drew C. Mance, taking in the ambient sights of Valerio Moscatelli’s furtive electrical noise sculpture, Gork and cosmic chuggers from Cosimo Damiano alongside the acid braindance and ambient tang of O. Xander’s parts, plus nose-drip electro from Zina Tina, and the charred hip hop techno swang ov Banging Ex Dogana from Rawmance, who’s previously appeared a few times on the label.
Ono’s brilliant lil’ secret, Dispilio makes a fully fledged solo debut with this heady tape filled with low key concrete acrobatics and scrabbly electronics. Your guess is as good as ours as to Dispilio’s provenance, but suffice it to say that if you were into their remix of Tom Boogizm’s ECM, you’ll definitely need a piece of this one, too.
In gauzy form the album unfurls a fizzing microcosm of haptic, lower case sounds diffused into ambient ether according to a playful, elusive logic known only to the artist. In the best sense they make a real experimental meal of it, dicing sounds like ingredients and cooking them together in various odd ways to probe your palette with bugged-out flavour combinations.
Their seven course taster menu convenes a selection of strange small plates on the A-side, serving up a dish of worming electronics dissolved in sea salt with The Spleen and Humors Blood, then a sort of lime and coriander modular tart with Affinity Incorpz and the haunted goat’s eye juice of Zebrida.
It’s time for two mains on the flipside, opening with the curried modular twang and tongue-dancing herbal hyperprisms of the highly impressive Linear 2B, which warrants strong comparison with quieter, abstract moments of TCF or Arca productions, and then the weightless ambient dessert of Randy Savage Klip, which feels to emulate the effect of eating a celestial body and single-handedly makes the majority of vaporwave out there sound like the low grade Second Life massage parlour music that it actually is.
Gary Myles ov Notts DIY unit Spoils & Relics glumly unspools his woes for Entr’acte with something akin to an inverted, knackered Sleaford Mods on Extended Technique, which is framed by the label as “Last-orders mumblings in an empty pub where the jukebox plays your thoughts.” - basically a typical night out in the British midlands.
Forming Myles’ first solo effort outside Spoils & Relics, who’ve previously released on local label Harbinger Sound, among others, he hunches drawled spoken word with collapsed drums loops and moldy drones in a manner that feels like you’re a voyeuristic mindreader tapping into the thoughts of the guy who’s about to slip off his seat next to you on the night bus.
Aesthetically, it’s a sound that recalls the more grumbling, fetid nooks of Luke Younger’s early catalogue as much as the greyscale grind of Thought Broadcast or DJ Yo-Yo Dieting’s slopped and screwed sessions, but the heavily accented lyrics serve to set Extended Technique on its own B-road to the bedsit, lending it a drily sozzled and apathetic sort of shrug that’s certainly going to entice some mardy buggers.
Recommended to be consumed with the last of your baccy and an episode of Love Island playing on mute.
Lenticular is the full length debut of Nadia Struiwigh, an electronics music producer from Rotterdam who work recalls the fluffy but melancholy styles of Warp’s AI series or the likes of BoC and Biosphere.
Two of the album’s highlights, Lenticular and Trip In Fiction are given a side per piece on the accompanying 12”, but there’s also seven more on this full version, gliding between the smooth harmonic developments of Intrope to alien pastoral tribal feels on Space Tribe, Extra Terrestrial, and 4Es, or The Orb in Genetically, while the 2nd half of the album takes turn towards moodier intervenes, culminating in the moon-booted PLCS and the album’s most insistent push with 010101.
Porest aka Mark Gergis returns with a 'trapped in the box' experiment, featuring his non-nonsense radio collages, blurring the lines of reality with hard facts and proof...
''When you’re allowed to walk away from captivity, there’s a fairly good chance you’ll return on your own accord. A mini-album created from Porest’s Hanoi, Vietnam base for Dr Klangendum. Framed by a claustrophobic radio drama, and featuring a wide range of sound and music from the Porest archives as well as material recorded exclusively for this program.
Big and small songs, tape collage, on-location radio recordings, horror and humor – tightly sunk into a 30-minute tomb.''
On their 4th release, Kampala, Uganda’s Nyege Nyege Tapes thicken the plot with a rudimentary cinematic synth suite recorded as “a soundtrack to an imaginary film” by Mysterians in Athens, Greece between 2009-2013.
Performed and recorded on Roland Juno 6, a Novation Bass station, a Roland TR-505, a Korg Z1 and a KorgMS2000, as well as several noisemakers and drone machines, the spirit of Vangelis clearly inhabits this one...
Bokeh Versions transmit a stony cold ace from the dub void with Japanese producer, Mars89’s icy extractions of gqom, grime, drill and dancehall in the Lucid Dream EP. To be fair it should probably be called the ‘lucid nightmare’ EP, but if this is their idea of a dream we’re not going to argue.
Hailing from Tokyo’s Chopstick Killahz crew, Mars89 trades in a brusque vernacular of hollow bass hits, needling hi-hats and raw claps embedded in cranky,weather-worn atmospheres, variously nodding to road-ready UK, US and SA styles, whilst making allegorical connections with sparse, minimalist Japanese percussive traditions thanks to a clipped turn of phrase of his own.
Rather than a straight up dancefloor set, the Lucid Dream EP is arranged with an immersive narrative that runs from dense intro to diffused outro via the haunted trap house shudder of Poltergeist thru the bullet-riddled gqom burial, Sensory Deprivation to bring in the Japanese element in a way recalling SP:MC’s Taiko ace rubble by Aaron Dilloway in Shaman’s House.
At the EP’s apex, we find the rude highlight of chest -knocking drums and grunts in Bandersnatch, and again with the warped DX7 bassline and ragga chat of Biological Tides tilting off into a grim, baroque dirge called OOBE.
This is a baaad. Recommended.
Sublime debut of ambient/house mulch from a promising new artist hailing from the island-minded English north-east, dispatched as the first release on the Paris/Peckham-based Panatype label.
Home casts the listener adrift in tranquil but murky, nocturnal waters, navigating a course from the gorgeous, slow-bubbling textures and puce hued pads of Meed Trope to what sounds like a Burial sample opening Probe (One Full Rotation), which soon morphs into a perfectly low key, swinging house hustle aching with a bruised brass motif and ghostly pall that sends shivers down the spine, before entering dark ambient freefall with the Deathprod-like Springbok.
Flipside, a lethargic throb carries PSR into a foggy echo chamber, layers peeling away like of lo-fi analog to the grafts of Kara-Lis Coverdale’s eponymous piece, and the Burial tones return in crackly formation on Probe (EYB Reductions), returning us to plangent, glass rubbed tones recalling K-LC in the closing sanctuary of Home.
Some heads are going to fall in love with this one…
Marking their 20th anniversary year, Hospital Productions mete out a brutal package of “violent riot brut noise” by Quebecois artist Pierre-Marc Tremblay, aka Âmes Sanglantes and the mighty Contrepoison, among other titles. A regular fixture on the label this decade, Âmes effectively tops all of his previous work with the sore and and often overwhelming tract of new, previously unreleased material contained in Crackdown.
For those brave souls willing to submit to this grimoir of spellbinding noise expression, you will be rewarded in spades of of material, enough to sully a full working day or night spent in its company and effectively gird yourself for a potential summer of civil unrest.
Quite patently this set is not meant for the Hospital Productions dilettante or noise hypochondriac; Crackdown is uncompromising in its vision and remorseless after contact - an unflinching body of material awaiting undivided attention.