UK bass mutant Neana locks off a singular style of dance pressure informed by neeky sci-fi culture in his self-released sophomore album
Hailing from North West UK, Neana spent the latter half of the last decade affiliated with Night Slugs and Gang Fatale, the latter of which also included Clara La San in their now-inactive crew. With ‘Renegade Lakes’ he returns to the fray in a big way, adapting his nods to Jersey house, Ballroom bangers, and classic grime with a rudely playful cyberpunk style that’s informed by time spent in the fringes of Berlin’s club scene.
Leaving no nanosecond of music begging for detail, ‘Renegade Lakes’ is an intensely absorbing listen if you’re into that kind of thing, throwing up highlights for the club in the barking, sleazy shunt of the title cut, the recoiling breaks and jagged stabs of ‘Copters’, and the giddy uptempo groove of ‘Gravy’, but to be fair the whole album lends itself to the club as much as a headphone mission, and is balanced as such for a playthru listen that resembles a ‘90s neo-noir cyber soundtrack, kinda like a knowingly cooler answer to The Crystal Method.
Minimum Resistance is Jonas Munk's most abstract and minimalist album to date. Ten ambient pieces based on guitars – often processed into soft, slow billows of sound.
"There's a rare aesthetic clarity in these pieces, allowing each sonic component to breathe and resonate. Here Munk works with a restrained sonic palette and it's an album which demands patience from the listener. Yet, in its bold simplicity, it carries enough emotional weight to be deeply rewarding.
It's an immersive album, an invitation for the listener to sink deep into a series of mesmerizing, but peculiarly undefined, moods. Minimum Resistance celebrates slowness, reclusiveness and simplicity. There's hardly anything groundbreaking about this kind of music, but rarely does it flow as naturally and effortless as on this set. It's clear this is the work of someone who has been refining his craft over the course of two decades. Besides producing his own music, Jonas Munk also works as a recording and mastering engineer, and has slowly but surely established his own sonic signature. It's the kind of work where subtle gradual changes and miniscule textural details has a tremendous impact on the listener."
Ben Chasny sets fire to his sound in ‘Companion Rises’ with a strong influence from kosmische electronics and psych-pop added to his root blues and avant-garde inspirations, arriving at a sort of Sci-Folk style shared by the likes of Current 93, Alexander Tucker and Sun City Girls.
“Six Organs of Admittance is back after 3 years with a new record, new techniques in sound generation, and a new attitude. Companion Rises has a driving force only hinted at with previous releases. Manipulating the rhythmic DNA from songs such as the bass-dominated “Taken by Ascent” (on his last record, Burning the Threshold), Ben Chasny has grown a new sound creature in his lab that is as welcoming as it is terrifying and as fun to listen to as it provocative and intriguing.
Methodologically, Companion Rises sometimes recalls the early-mid low-fi work of Six Organs, with modern techniques swapping digital processes in for the analog techniques of those early days, and algorithmic programs creating the rhythms rather than Ben’s overdubbed hand percussion. Also like those early records, Companion Rises has Ben creating all the sounds, doing all the recording and mixing the entire record himself. But do not mistake this as some sort of return to an older sound. One listen and it is obvious that this Six Organs of Admittance release is all in the present. One thinks of Octavio Paz’s oft used metaphor of the concentric circle, as Companion Rises returns to a similar place but is much farther out from the center.
Sonically, Ben’s songs are bursting with ideas, harmonically rich, gorgeously arranged; often presenting two versions at once, overlaying electric and acoustic treatments that interlock like two shards that form a single key. Companion Rises plays like a mutant joining of avant and good-time forces, as if Faust produced The Revolution instead of Prince, or This Heat recorded on top of Amon DuuI’s classic "Paramechanical World," but left a few of the original tracks to bleed through. Waves of electric fields wash across the record like a charged Pacific Ocean and guitar solos slice through at various intervals in a warped and fractured way of shreddage, not totally unlike the imagined sound of Edie Hazel jacking into the CPU in Tron.
Thematically, many songs on Companion Rises seem to navigate a similar Stellar-Gnosticism that 2012’s Ascent explored, but with a completely different set of stories. Whereas Ascent was locked into a narrative concerning a sentient Jupiter, Companion Rises presents a handful of folk-tales whose topics span in scope from panspermia to specific constellations, all written in a way that eschews new age presentation tropes and embraces the now. With Companion Rises, Ben has created a Sci-Folk record that feels totally in the right place welcoming in the new decade.”
The voice of the late, great Mark E. Smith appears riddled into four parts of freakish electronics by Jan St. Werner, his erstwhile bandmate in Von Sudenfed. Includes a chuckle-worthy cut featuring Mark reading Domino’s rejection letter to VS, lol
“Molocular Meditation is a bespoke light and sound environment featuring the voice of the Fall’s Mark E Smith. Smith is heard making observations on mundane objects, events and a range of meditation techniques basically associating his discontent with an apolitical british upper class. His voice forms the narrative component of an electroacoustic composition by Jan St. Werner placed in a hyper-real scenario evoking a state of transformation and deceleration. Molecular Meditation premiered at Cornerhouse, Manchester in 2014. This album presents a re-edited stereo version of the original multi-channel installation. Voice and guitar feedbacks were recorded by Werner and Smith at Blueprint Studios Manchester, electronics in Werner’s Studio in Berlin.
The B-side consists of unreleased new work partly written around the same time as Molocular Meditation in context of Werner's Fiepblatter Catalogue on Thrill Jockey. Back to Animals is a non-metric rhythm exercise frantically hybridizing percussive accents with synthesized pulse. On the Infinite of Universe and Worlds is the layout for an electronic opera on Giordano Bruno’s Renaissance writings which Werner was asked to conceptionalize for Finish festival Musica Nova. VS Canceled finds Mark E. Smith reading an email from Domino Records explaining their discontinuation of Von Sudenfed, a band Mark E. Smith had founded with Mouse on Mars' Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma in 2006. Their debut album Tromatic Reflexxions came out on Domino in 2007.
The vinyl record, cut with a diamond needle, delivers as much dynamic range as the digital format.”
ISAN’s Robin Saville speaks to the salubrious qualities of a good mooch in a very sweet album inspired by what he sees and feels during his daily perambulations and incorporating field recordings, drones and acoustic instrumentation.
"A lot of things have been written about what happens to the mind when the body starts moving. Instead of reciting poems of the inevitable self-help books, let’s get straight to the point: For many, taking walks on a regular basis is both liberating and empowering. It is not necessarily so much about the exercise, but rather finding one’s own rhythm in life. Robin Saville – of ISAN fame – is such an ambler His walks inspired him to base his third solo album – his first one for Morr Music – on the out of the way places he came to see and experience while being out and about.
Clocking in at just under 40 minutes in total, "Build A Diorama" is both a subtle culmination and a poignant antipode to what Saville has achieved together with Antony Ryan as ISAN. While the aesthetics might seem similar in places, Saville opts for a decisively different pace when it comes to writing and producing. Progress is steady, and change, however, is slow – like looking at a diorama for a long period of time in the ever so slightly changing light or as a flaneur focussing on one particular spot, a found object so-to-speak, waiting for the mind to orchestrate it appropriately, giving it sense and meaning.
Built around quiet field recordings, Saville’s six compositions transform this highly personal and, therefore, difficult-to-convey experience into a comprehensible exploration of beauty. Where ISAN almost exclusively uses electronics, Saville deliberately expands this well-established palette with acoustic instruments like bass guitar, chimes and glockenspiel, aiming for an even more suitable musical manifestation of what the walker sees and feels once he fully engages in his passion. Ranging from blissfully pulsing pads allowing for complete associative freedom ("The Deepdale Halophyte Economy") to the playful minimalism of an orchestra dominated by busy bells ("Bosky"), Saville’s "Build A Diorama" is not just a valuable addition to his musical output, but an essential audio guide for those striving to explore, learn and understand.”
Aïsha Devi’s Danse Noire imprint returns with this absorbing new album of glassy electronics and futuristic soundscaping from French-Canadian newcomer Racine, sitting somewhere in between the artificial life forms of Kara-Lis Coverdale’s ‘Aftertouches' album, the sweeping vistas of Autechre’s ‘Amber' and Arca at her most glacial.
Transmuting the worries of the world into sorely bittersweet electronic compositions, 'Quelque Chose Tombe' (something falls) offers a fully realised sound that makes a virtue of biting point dissonance, something that places Racine in good company among Danse Noire’s roster of fleshy conduits for what Aïsha Devi terms her "Spirit Liberation Front”. Fluidly adept at speaking the language of hyper-contemporary electronic music, they gradually sketch out a labyrinthine album intended to reflect a modern life of “grinning through worry, living in insecurity”, where “to be vulnerable is the new normal; afraid, a bare minimum”.
Racine wring as much emotion as possible from each curdled chord and warbling note in fractal patterns that connote the elusive nature of the future and the intense flux of emotions that never seem to go anywhere, but only compound into feedback loops of anxiety and impotent anguish as the bridges burn in front of us. They run from the remarkable ‘Sujet’ - a dead ringer for some of Kara-Lis Coverdale’s most emotionally absorbing and complex work, to the sublime 'Désordre Baroque’, where the same motifs are wrapped around barely-noticeable key changes that remind us of Talk Talk’s 'Laughing Stock's quietest moments, before a heavily vocoded voice fractures into several trajectories all at once, like mercury slivers on the loose.
By the time ‘Geranium’ arrives, choral voices, flutes and distortion take things to more epic and forlorn dimensions, with "Sans Titre” prescribing drone and bird song as a kind of short-lived catharsis.
Virga I is the first album in a new ambient music series by Eluvium.
"Matthew Cooper, the composer behind the Eluvium moniker, explains: "I had recently been playing around with various forms of generative music and long-format looping, as well as practicing patienceinteracting with musical systems and recordings, hesitantly dueting with them, trying to keep things minimal while also encouraging as much depth as possible. It was really just something fun to privately experiment with for personal gain. Over time I'd created a group of pieces and had them on various mixes that I would make for myself, but I hadn't really given them much thought. Over the winter, my wife and I were subjected to an unexpected move from our home, into our tiny garage studio as we had some work done on the house. It was a little like an unexpected backyard camping trip but with two dogs and two people in a very small space, with the majority of our belongings in boxes on the driveway all while weathering a snowstorm. It got a little weird in there, but also oddly comfortable. At some point, my evenings became very much about relaxing, stretching, and breathing to these pieces. They gradually fostered a very specific mood that I found intoxicating. The music seemed to enhance the soft orange glow in this small room in the dark of night, with the snow falling just outside. They also reminded me of some of my earliest works, those which were a bit less researched and considered. Perhaps they were simply more "felt" than anything.
It occurred to me that other people might find that peculiar feeling inside these works in the same manner that I have, and that I might enjoy returning to working in this way again soon. I decided it might be nice to start a series inspired by this setup. A place for me to relax and experiment with emotions, and slow movements with various toys in my studio, in honor of strange deep feelings, gentle touches, and memories from a long time ago. I titled it Virga, after the drifting of rain we sometimes catch drooping on the horizon, disappearing before it reaches the ground."
Spinning Coin release their second album, ‘Hyacinth’, via Geographic.
"‘Hyacinth’ registers a number of changes for the group since their debut album ‘Permo’ in 2017: personnel changes, geographical changes, a new context, an ever-changing world outside."
Sightless Pit may be a new name in heavy music but its members are some of the most groundbreaking artist of the genre. Lee Buford (The Body), Kristin Hayter (Lingua Ignota) and Dylan Walker (Full Of Hell) recorded their debut ‘Grave Of A Dog’ at Machines With Magnets with Seth Manchester (The Body, Lightning Bolt).
"Fans will recognize immediately Buford’s singular percussion and production, Walker’s venomous howl and Hayter’s virtuosic voice. The three share a bleak vision of existence and a willingness to follow each other into the musical abyss. Sightless Pit are a group of expansive ideas, extensive experience working together and shared vision. Over the course of the eight tracks the trio reflect the extremes and emotional weight of their world view through elegiac dirges, driving beats and explosive crescendos. Together, three strong voices unite to create a work of remarkable clarity of expression of enormous sorrow, futility and, most of all, beauty."
Pivotal Montréalais musician Tellier-Craig (Fly Pan Am, Set Fire To Flames) leaves post- and avant-rock for dust with a long-form suite of probing electro-acoustic abstractions and decompositions comparable with classic GRM works for the excellent Second Editions label...
“Second Editions is pleased to present Études by Roger Tellier-Craig. This holds four new compositions conceived by Roger Tellier-Craig during his studies at the Conservatoire de Musique de Montréal. Merging subject into object, opposing chance to narrative, putting source against sound. Tellier-Craig constructs and simultaneously questions the relation of composition and/as deconstruction. These pieces, or studies, are as much about organization as they are about irruption, or attention and idleness. Seeking to configure tensions through the use of differences, creating an extensive network of relationships between differing sonic phenomena. Time and sound coherent and in contrast in an acoustic space. But this goes beyond homage, and has nothing to do with electroacoustic nostalgia. These pieces carry a present day urgency. What does it mean to utilize, to arrange, to listen?”
Blasting from the recent past, Neana’s boisterous 2018 one-two and accompanying DJ Spider remix
‘Private Joke’ works out in the digitally rendered shadow of Jam City’s ‘Classical Curves’ with oodles of shiny synth optimism and a rugged groove control on the cusp of broken beat, whereas ‘Scrub’ goes harder on a tropical jack spiced up with trilling bird/phone-calls. We’re really not sure if DJ Spiider is a spelling mistake for NYC’s DJ Spider or a unique entity unto themselves, but either way they turn ‘Private Joke’ into a prism of sweetly iridescent, cascading harmonies and below-the-waist ballroom drive.
crys cole beckons us to listen closer with the skin touch intimacy, isolationism and drone poetry of her 2nd solo album, leading on from a string of uniquely quizzical collaborations with Oren Ambarchi, Francis Plagne, Leif Elggren.
“Beside Myself is the second full-length release from Canadian sound artist crys cole. Known to many through her extensive collaborative practice with artists such as Oren Ambarchi, Leif Elggren and James Rushford, in her solo work cole uses contact microphones, voice, simple electronics and field recordings to create sonic environments that linger uneasily at the threshold of perception. Demonstrating how cole’s work has developed and deepened since the relative austerity of her first solo LP Sand/Layna (2015, Black Truffle), Beside Myself offers two lushly immersive side-long pieces that explore ideas of compositional drift.
'The Nonsuch' is inspired by the aural hallucinations experienced in the hypnagogic state during the onset of sleep. Opening with scratching contact mic textures and unintelligible vocal murmurs, the piece threads together live and studio performances with field recordings of urban environments to create a texture that is at once seemingly consistent and marked by constant transitions. Individual elements rise up from the background thrum only to disappear just as we become conscious of them; heterogenous sounds and spaces succeed one another with the unassailable logic of dreams.
'In Praise of Blandness (Chapter IX)' also focusses on drift and transition, but in a much more single-minded way. Over a rich, slowly-evolving organ drone, cole reads a passage from the French sinologist François Julien’s book In Praise of Blandness exploring the concept of ‘blandness’ in the Taoist aesthetics of sound. Beginning crisp and clear, cole’s voice becomes gradually less distinct over the course of the piece, the spoken words blurred by resonant frequencies à la Lucier’s I Am Sitting in a Room until we are left with only the rhythm of incomprehensible speech. The text that cole reads acts a perfect description of her aesthetic project: ‘We hear it still, but just barely, and as it diminishes it makes all the more audible that soundless beyond into which it is about to extinguish itself. We are listening then, to its extinction, to its return to that great undifferentiated matrix’.
- Francis Plagne (November, 2019)”
IDM diehard Konx-Om-Pax pulls together a Skee Mask remix, plus his own edits and alternate mixes of cuts from his 2016 + 2019 albums for Planet Mu
Skee Mask gets right into Funckarma or Funkstörung-style mode with a hyperkinetic remix of ‘Rez’, alongside Konx-Om-Pax’s original, vocodered breakbeat techno roller ‘Return to Cascada’; a 303-powered bleep techno-style ‘Club Edit’ of ’Säule Acid’ featuring Silvia Kastel; a flighty beat-less ambient mix of ‘I’m For Real’ with Lightwave; a thudding live version of the emosh ‘Caramel’; and the exclusive weightless grime/IDM hybrid ’Teufelsberg’.