Sarah Davachi’s quietly stunning first side for Sean McCann’s Recital Program. It arrives in the tremulous wake of the widely acclaimed 'All My Circles Run' album to offer a sublime reaffirmation of Davachi's genius for anyone who’s followed her work over the last few years, and also acts as an unmissable entry point for curious newcomers, especially anyone smitten with the methods and effects of music by Eliane Radigue, Kara-Lis Coverdale, or Mark Hollis.
Sarah’s work has been intimately concerned with the phenomenology of sounds and the way in which, once “released” from the player and instrument, they move in chaotic and unpredictable ways, effectively taking on a new life of their own. In order to exert some control over those factors, it’s perhaps understandable that Davachi's music is most often slow and the result of ostensibly simple gestures, but thanks to her preternatural attention to space and tone, those careful motifs generate a complexity of overtones that have become her coveted secret ingredient.
After alchemically turning her hand to whatever instrument is within reach (she’s been known to turn up at venues without an instrument and improvise on unfamiliar gear) for previous releases and shows, Davachi opts for the Mellotron and an electronic organ on Let Night Come On Bells End The Day, rendering five variegated improvisations that feel vulnerable yet somehow increasingly assured in her perceptive powers.
Most impressive among them are the gently coruscating chamber figure of Mordents, which makes an imperceptibly glacial transition from legible motifs to a gorgeous blur, and the heartbreakingly funereal drift of Buhrstone, especially when it really starts to keen out of the lines. But that’s not to say less of her hyaline beauty At Hand, or the time-melting dimensions of Hours In The Evening - as with all of Sarah’s work, they’re just aspects of the same, amazing whole.
Tri Angle’s difficult grown-up phase continues with the freakish gurns and theatrics of Dear God by mmph, yet another debut lamb to the label who introduced The Haxan Cloak and Evian Christ to the world at large.
Dear God harnesses five refluxes of instrumental electronic emotion, each swept up with a sense of dramaturgy and heart-eating passion that’s akin to a form of silent theatre, focussing all attention on the actor’s face expressions, which sonically contort from alien madness to despair, anger and ravenousness.
Washington D.C.-based Flautist, Sami (Yenigun) ov 1432r and NPR, steps to Max D’s Future Times with two lean and fresh aces; springing the corkscrewing drums and avian flute chatter of Planing up top, and tucking that hustle deeper with the more blunted, dubbed-out shake of Sickos underneath.
TVO and SPR vacillate dense, visceral and sublime electronic reflections on society’s current sh*tstorm for Nina & Good News’ V I S label
“Difficult times call for difficult measures. What is the point of an artist in dark moral times? Is art an impotent affectation or can artists use their work to reflect and magnify bigger concerns for the scrutiny of an audience? Over two sides of tape, two artists take very different approaches to how to respond to a fluid, uncertain time. Not political, but motivated instead by an existential moral absence at the heart of events; one reaches introspectively, the other at the broader canvas.
SPR's helplessness and frustration at reality being bent to the will of those with their hands on the controls of perception pushes outwards as an overwhelming, out-of-control amalgam of tiny layers; the truth being the sum of many untrue parts, a congruence of facets each being seen by others as a dark reflection of their own prejudices, a mirrored facade reflecting self-evident truths and withheld bias erupting in a tumult of uncertainty; lancing the boil of the unreliable narrators. And on the flip, TVO literally tries to spin gold from the basest raw materials possible; in this case, a week's worth of output from the alt-right news website Breitbart.com, with all the constituent parts of his piece emanating in one form or another from the site, be it the raw code, image files, hidden audio files or the text itself (vimeo.com/234060174). Can something so irretrievably riddled with venom and falsehood be alchemically redeemed, and in doing so shine a penetrating light on the existence of such widely consumed falsehood?
Whether dark mirror or golden light, to say nothing is to passively accept everything; to say something - to reflect something - is to be a voice, however small, in defiance”
From Bogotá via Manchestá, Florentino brings serious dancefloor heat to his Mixpak début with an anthemic, vocal-heavy set of dembow drum break mutations enhanced by signature laser-precision production and guest appearance from Barcelona’s Bad Gyal.
Building on the examples of two thrilling 12”s for Swing Ting and remixes for D∆WN and Kid Antoine, Fragments also explores personal themes of introspection, heartbreak and melancholy hinted at in those previous releases, but with a new level of arrangement and production detail that poises both the EP and Florentino for worldwide impact.
His stunning Por Ti link-up with Bad Gyal exemplifies this upswing as Florentino’s strongest vocal composition to date, while the effortlessly seductive Mentirosa catches a sublime blend of freshest reggaeton and UK-styled production more commonly heard in D&B, and the sultry 2 Late (Don’t Call) is practically a Latinate take on Ciara filtered thru nightvision goggles, with Seductora giving a proper, raved-up sting in the tail.
So damn strong. Massive tip!
Completing the 2nd Volume of NON Worldwide Compilation, the pivotal label gathers 14 diverse cuts from new and well established family members such as Elysia Crampton, Why Be, and Blackpunx.
It could hardly be a more mixed bag of vibes, ranging at its extremes from Blackpunx ferociously overdriven Death Grips styles on DROPTHEPIN to cut-ups of a B-ball game and dissonant chamber music in Pit Of Self by Cities Aviv, while dancefloor moves come on strong in the form of Alienation of Affection’s gristly banger FetalTissueTrafficking, Why Be’s bumping marimba workout Creased, and the doom Armor Riddim from Pantoo.
Strongest moments belong too Elysia Crampton with the sawn off Dembow drums gyrating in Rainbow Twilight Theme and the emotive synth gestures of The Black God Cries Sometimes by Lamin Fofana and the almost Lonnie Holley-like elegy Mother Losing a Child by Simpson.
A charming take on Arthur Russell’s A Little Lost
Performed by Stephen Black (Sweet Baboo) and Paul Jones a.k.a. Group Listening, and taken from their forthcoming album; Clarinet & Piano: Selected Works Vol.1.
AnD shelve the kicks for a minute and prang out under their Shadows alias for Opal Tapes
“Brutish, noise-inflected modular machine music from the Shadows duo of Andrew Bowen & Dimitri Ploumpidis (AnD)
Unlike the big-room sound of their usual hard-techno as AnD, Shadows explores a hinterland of radioactive waste. The six tracks within cover free-form experimentation and more propulsive fare as geiger-rhythms shell outward caked in liquefying synthesis (Pulsar, Waveshaper).
Complete malfunction is achieved on some tracks as fully bugged electronics scream away in derailed union (The Arrival, Galactic Traveller) and near intelligence is found amid the toxicity in the ugly purring of "Cuthands" and closer "Badman" which calculates a primitive digi-dub smeared and smudged.”
Pan Daijing lends a cyber punk pop pucker to AS Chaos, the first signal from AS Scanner since their AS Truth mixtape.
Radiactively buzzing electro riffs, mechanical trills and Pan’s shouty, warped vox add up to something best compared with SOPHIE meeting ATR at a fetish club.
The Kingston/Manchester axis comes correct with a killah family affair from Equiknoxx and Swing Ting.
On the nice ’n nasty Rum & Buckfast Riddim, Rtkal, Shanique and Fox trade bashment commanding bars in a mix of classic but up-to-the-second party vibes.
Diskotopia’s dreamer of the dream BD1982 unveils an oneiric sequence of memes pulled from garage, boogie, ambient electronics and game music to resemble something like a sonic version of Google’s deep dream AI...
Shapeshifting Whities artist Quirke reels between clattering and assymetric strains of ambient techno for Nic Tasker’s label.
Vatied City sounds like ‘90s AI techno played on wood drums and jawbones by some ancient peoples; Transport is more faded, elusive and ghostly, a sort of after-image of the real thing, but still with a strong bass presence; and Hydraulic Deer reminds of 154’s smoky deep techno detachment in a similar way to Actress and Lee Gamble.
Joker sidesteps expectations with an immense deep space sound design on the B-side of this 12” marking the 10th anniversary of Kapsize’s conception.
We still clearly remember when Joker’s Kapsize EP début dropped on Tectonic’s Earwax label in 2007, bringing a rugged US hip hop sensibility and colour to the by then calcifying dubstep sound. That EP’s title consequently became the name of Joker’s own label, which he celebrates with a Janus-faced mix of roots and present future vibes here.
The A-side tends to his roots with razor tipped digits on the sawtoothed halfstep jag of Anamorphic, but we’re far more into the beatless futurism of the B-side, Forever, where he makes an unprecedented (for him) right angle turn into deep space sound designs with ecstatic, noisy, tumultuous effect recalling Emptyset or Roly Porter productions.
Shorelights is a collaborative ambient techno project feat. Rod Modell (Deepchord, Echospace, Waveform Transmission, Transformations), and Walter Wasacz and Christopher McNamara of the Detroit-based audio visual collective nospectacle.
"Ancient Lights expands the vision and the range of the Shorelights aesthetic, heading into deeper territories of inner and outer space. It's ambient for body and spirit, sound designed to make the human heart dance."
Hypnotic new EBM techno project from Juan Mendez aka Silent Servant and Ori Ofir, highly recommended if yr into Nitzer Ebb, DAF, Boy Harsher, Phase Fatale!
Juan Mendez a.k.a Silent Servant finds his ideal EBM vocal foil in Ori Ofir under their Sterile Hand moniker. The duo’s first vinyl round for Not Waving’s Ecstatic label is a dark and sleazy run of deviant industrial techno and pugilistic EBM cuts made over the last year.
Following Silent Servant’s killer split 12” with Not Waving and Pye Corner Audio in 2017, and two fierce 12”s with Marcel Dettmann and Phase Fatale in 2018, the L.A.-based artist behind Sandwell District and Jealous God is at the apex of his game right now, combining EBM and techno in faithful but inventive new ways. If there was anything previously missing from Silent Servant’s music, it’s only become apparent thru the seamless and natural incorporation of Ori Ofir’s classic-styled but unique vocals.
The two L.A.-based artists push each other down tightening alleys of EBM and industrial techno, with Ofir’s stark, blunted declamations haunting and highlighting the most fetid corners of Mendez’s rolled-steel productions. It’s a style that works to cryptic, head-turning effect in the Voigt Kampff-like probe of Personality Test, then with increasing dancefloor force in the Nitzer Ebb-esquer flow of The Hunter and the punishing, gnashing bite of Security, whereas Listen For Water and the creeping figures of Untitled explore the esoteric powers and parameters of Sterile Hand in mesmerising psychoactive detail.
Cam Deas is a guitar virtuoso who has switched to modular synth and computer productions resulting in these staggering studies in polymetric, mercurial and dissonant tunings - hugely recommended if you’re into the work of Autechre, Rashad Becker, Roland Kayn, Fis, Coil, Xenakis.
Time Exercises is a complex study in amorphous polymetric rhythms by Cam Deas for The Death of Rave. His first album composed solely for modular synths and computer, Cam’s follow-up to the acclaimed String Studies for Luke Younger's Alter label marks a headlong tilt from acoustic to electronic spheres with a staggering effect resulting from meticulous research and process. It sounds as advanced as Xenakis or Roland Kayn superstructures, with the rhythmic displacement of FIS or Autechre, and with a grasp of slippery, mind-bending timbral dissonance comparable to Coil and Rashad Becker records.
Cam’s six Time Exercises form both a bold break with - and an extension of - the avant, folk, blues and outernational traditions that he’s worked to deconstruct and fluidly syncretise over the past decade. In the past four years he’s stepped away from the guitar as a compositional tool, turning to electronic hardware in a focussed effort to consolidate myriad tunings and meters with a precision that had previously eluded him in the acoustic sphere.
Severed from the tactility and sentimentality of instrumental inflection, Cam’s disembodied music plays out a thrilling dramaturgy and syntax of alien dissonance and disorienting rhythmic resolution. Harmonic shapes as densely widescreen as those in Roland Kayn’s Cybernetic Music roil in unfathomable fever dream space, where massed batteries of synthetic percussion swarm like an orchestra of Cut Hands in viscous formation, and where polychromatic mentasm figures converge like cenobites laying siege to Rashad Becker’s utopia.
On Time Exercises Cam articulates a synthetic musical language that speaks to the listener in myriad, quantum tongues awaiting to be deciphered by keen ears everywhere. It’s an outstanding record for lovers of forward-looking but deeply rooted electronic music.
Hunee plucks out a bouquet of peaches cross-bred from boogie edits, outernational grooves, and deep house and techno for Hunchin’ All Night.
It’s all killer no filler packed with highlights including Hunee’s uptempo edit of Belgian beauty Trance Fusion by Mappa Mundi, Ron Trent’s sexy AF beat down remix of Blak Beat Niks’ Ritual Of Love, and the pendulous subbass and sublime chord washes of Larry Heard’s Burning 4 You.
Antinote pull out a ruggedly bittersweet pair of bleep techno swervers by Slowglide, a new artist hailing from Reims in the middle of France’s Champagne region.
Worry not though, this is not champagne music - it’s much better suited to garys and a bottle of Evian. On Reign he percolates a rude groove of pinging bleeps and rolling, wooden bass heft akin to Beneath but giving way to a dead sweet breakdown and vocal ident that recalls The Connection Machine (jeeez when are they going to reissue that one!) in the best way.
Haipa is dreamier, infused with a dusky melancholy that coins thru beautifully in a way reminding of Huerco S, but on a swung groove built from blunt drums definitely rooted in UK swagger styles a la Batu and pals.
Pulsating, psychedelic deep space techno probes from Metro Skim
Expanding on the hypothesis of his début EP Identifying Possibilities with an hypnotically effective batch of Mills-type mutations for Steve Bicknell’s 6dimensions label. Make sure to check out the mind-bending dynamics of Hidden Powers and the iridescent wormholer, Monotony.
Collectible ambient label New Atlantis unspool a sublime 3rd release, the solo debut proper by label family member JQ, who presents “…An album about guilt, paranoia, depression, the relationship with self, and growing up in the digital age.”
Five years in the works and split in two parts, Past + Present, said to be “signifying life before and after invasive technology” JQ meditates on the hauntological nature of digital culture thru the apt prism of ambient music - a style of music p’raps best described as symptomatic or a side effect of the digital era, and whose popularity, effect and use directly correlates with the ubiquitous expansion of digital technologies.
A product of its environment, Invisible renders what history will come to regard as a unique perspective of humanity, as the the expression of someone who has experience life before and after the internet came to dominate societal structures and strictures. With that in mind, the first half traverses from the innocent chimes of Komorebi and U_1644 to balmy balearic boogie, befroe a creeping sense of tension comes into play with Memories ultimately leading to the lurking introspection of Spyware, bringing the Past to a close.
The mood explicitly changes on the B-side as 10 minute piece You Can Never Escape What You’ve Done connotes a stark sense of coming to terms with the present, resolving with the phthalocyanine electro of Once, followed by the ambient equivalent of a ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ with the wistful new age flute drift of Acceptance.
Stochastic Moods is an absorbing slab of micro-rhythmic and cosmically attuned electronics from drummer turned synthesist David Ross for Sam Weaver’s excellent, Salford-based Cusp Editions.
It sounds to us like Bellows conducting esoteric electro-magnetic rituals in the ether with Rashad Becker and Christina Kubisch, or equally Mark Fell jamming in hyperspace with Pekka Airaksinen, and comes with some suitably heavyweight conceptual background that requires a bit of explanation, which is included below for disambiguation. However, you’re recommended to just dive in feet first and ask questions later for best effect as the music’s abstract polymetric discombobulations and knotted, wormholing nature will reveal its logic in due course.
“In ‘A Conceptual Framework for Consciousness’, Dr. Joachim Keppler elaborates on Quantum Stochastic Electrodynamic (SED) theoryto suggest that consciousness is a fundamental property of the universe rather than a material creation of the human brain.
Functioning as a resonant stochastic oscillator, the brain modulates with an all-pervasive radiation field of infinite energy and potential, termed the zero- point field (ZPF). The brain selectively filters resonant frequencies from the field’s spectrum into states of relative stability or balance situations that come to comprise our experience of consciousness.
Keppler compares the ZPF to Prana, the omnipresent ‘vital principle’ or life-force described in Hindu philosophy. It is believed that all forces of the human mind, (indeed the universe), are modifications of the life-force Prana. Ancient Indian philosophy and SED consciousness theory seem to share the notion that mind and matter are based on the same universal substrate and that their interdependence causes matter to shape consciousness and vice-versa.
I started thinking of improvising with control-voltage electronics as a parallel to these processes, regarding the electrical field as a metaphor for the zero- point field or vital principle.
Composing with volatile analogue systems now seemed an endeavour to distil stable voltage-states from the infinitely random potential of the electrical field, to determine audible balance situations for musical contemplation. Stochastic Moods is a paean to the joy of experiencing a pleasantly unexpected thought or feeling as it enters into consciousness."
D. Ross 6/03/2017
Further to the icy gothic designs of her Okovi album, Zola Jesus relinquishes four Additions plus augmentations of album tracks by Johnny Jewel, Katie Gately, Wolves In The Throne Room, and Joanne Pollock.
Of the Additions, the goth dance-pop of Bound and the prickling, off-key discord of Bitten Wool get us best. The remixes turn up some great highlights in Randall Dunn & Aaron Weaver ov WITTR’s diaphanous take on Exhumed, and the nocturnal glyde of JJ’s Ash To Bone remix.
RIYL: Popul Vuh, Henry Flynt, Arthur Russell, CAN, La Düsseldorf, Tony Conrad & Faust, Broadcast, Terry Riley & Alice Coltrane…
"A twelve-faceted sonic inquiry into celestial cycles, the rhythms of the natural world, and the illuminating nature of darkness, the accompanying album Bellowing Sun is the majestic culmination of Fennelly’s immersive explorations of the natural world’s sensory dimensions and the dialogues between musical traditions—acoustic and electronic, vernacular and avant-garde.
The solitary compositional genesis of the piece, and a significant portion of its early recording (before tracking and mixing sessions with John McEntire of Tortoise), occurred at Bean’s home atop a dune of fine quartz “singing sands” on the shore of Lake Michigan. Sonically, Bellowing Sun is both kaleidoscopic and telescopic in nature, offering a radiant palette of rhythmic, textural, and tonal complexity, as well as rapid shifts in scale, from the intimately corporeal to the dizzyingly cosmic.
All four J’s—Jaime, Janet, Jim, and Jon—appeared together on Undying Color, but have since solidified into a formidable, cohesive unit, a true band capable of increasingly expansive arrangements. Though divided into twelve movements, or aspects—zodiacal sectors, perhaps—the piece functions as a heroic, integral whole. The album’s sequence reveals a dynamic push and pull between contemplative stasis and headlong momentum, imparting a palpably physical mass to the cataracts of sound.
Bean sings on half of the tracks, including early stunner “Matchstick Grip” and the spectacular closer “Pause to Wonder.” Whether articulating words or intoning phonemes, her powerful, lucent voice elevates the proceedings to a devotional plane whenever it emerges from the saturated field of sound."
Gerry Read jacks the funk for Finn’s 2B Real label, pursuing the lead of his New Junk City album with four tracks worthy of following up Finn’s Late At Night zinger.
Stripped to the bone and jerked up for the DJs with itchy digits on the mixer, he tweaks out the jiggling skellington groove Mass Media beside the mutated Dance Mania-style trackiness of Big Boobs, then catches a more thizzy filter house breeze with Dreama That Girl, and gets right inside the jab-jacking mechanics of Pinky with frankly fucking weird effect.
One fo’ da freaks.
In a smart turn of events, Daniel Avery’s second album scales between lush ambient downstrokes and signature, rolling techno for a sublime dialogue between the ‘90s and now, all aided and abetted by guests including Teresa Winter, Manni Dee, and James Greenwood (Ghost Culture).
As lushly prefaced by the Slow Fade EP, Avery’s Song For Alpha continues to diversify his bonds in sublime style, strafing from slow acid to rolling and purring techno and back again with a time-dilating and immersively expansive effect that lends itself as well to headphone travels as smoky afters with a pack of pals.
On one level, its aesthetic and effect can be taken as a sincere nod to the hauntology of UK dance music, revelling in its phosphorescent ambient afterglow and beautifully distilling the paradoxical nature of being locked in your own world within a sweaty mass of dancers, whilst also conveying the detachment of perception between generations who experienced the original rush, those xennials who came in its slipstream, and a current generation raised on YouTube clips of the original.
On another level, he’s also tapping into a far more ancient, arcane thread of tribal ritualism and new age thought, of which Rave music, like the psychedelic movement of the ‘60s, is a manifestation of timeless esoteric desires that erupts in mass popular consciousness. In that sense, from the name to the cover artwork, Song For Alpha pursues a similar spirit to Ami Shavit’s In Alpha Mood, existing in a wider vein of hypnotic synthetic music with James Holden’s The Animal Spirits and AFX’s SAW volumes.
But that’s all another way of saying that the album, from the lissom Plastikman acid strokes of Stereo L thru to the diaphanous ambient techno of Endnote, which features a gasp of Teresa Winter teased into cirrus drones, is just a lovely example of that nostalgic but forward facing thing UK dance-as-folk music does best.
Nearly 10 years since meeting Mica Levi as Kwesachu, and 5 since his début LP ilp, Kwes. charmingly reminds us of his modern electronic soul on Songs For Midi - a 6 track EP written in dedication to his young niece, Midori and cousin, Connor, who both helped out on the artwork.
Clearly a personal endeavour, and very much inspired by an image of youthful innocence, Songs For Midi expresses, nay exudes, a bright optimism that really can’t be sniffed at. Kwes. gestures that it’s an effort in finding his own musical voice after working in the studio closely with everyone from Bobby Womack to Solange and Kelela in recent years, and we have to agree that he’s definitely located and rounded up his idiosyncrasies inside.
Popping with chromatic colour and beautifully freed of fixed meter, Songs For Midi is a brilliant study on the vividness of youth, as seen and heard thru a personalised prism of modern electronic jazz fusion. In freehand strokes and with balletic lightness, Kwes. keeps us rapt from ribboning sino-esque scales of Midori thru the off-kilter tangggg and pastoral lushness of Ungry/Milk, to the superbly curdled 99flake and the head-spinning Blox/Connor with its strobing pop chops and swallow-diving strings.
RIYL Mica Levi, Cy An, Maxwell Sterling
Tropical Interface’s OM1 is a heat seeking blast of deconstructed club music placing listeners in the midst of a hyper present.
A rush of ideas that feel like they were almost created in real time by a youth with VR headset and gloves in a Minecraft-like environment, wielding huge objects in a frenzy of explosive collisions generating polychromatic splashes of radioactive ectoplasm. But don’t worry, it’s not real.
Location recordings of a hot-rod drag car racing meet in England, 1999. Sounds exactly as you’d imagine
“RAW POWER '?' SONIC BOOM '?' EARS BLEED!!! PLAY LOUD - DO NOT MISTAKE THIS FOR A MUSICAL PRODUCT! 'A lot is good, but too much is just enough' (Old Hot-Rodders saying) 1999 marks the 50th year of drag racing, after the first official meeting was held in 1949 on the streets of Goleta in California. Then, the quarter of a mile course took 11 seconds with the vehicles travelling at over 150 mph. Now, they race at over 300 mph, taking just 4.5 seconds. The vehicles are completely purpose-built and represent the extreme fringe of non-commercially motivated technological research Santa Pod Raceway was started in 1966 on the site of an old American airbase.
It is the home of European Drag Racing and host to the FIA European Drag Racing Championships. Drag racing is the fastest and loudest motorsport on Earth with sensational race action from dragsters and door-slammers to beetles and bikes. See 0-100mph in under 1 second and make your ribs rattle, your brain shake and your ears roar! This CD captures all the thrills and spills of Drag Car Racing - an activity at the cutting edge of technology. For fans and audio buffs alike, use this CD to recreate the awesome power in your own living room, or frighten the daylights out of the dancefloor by using this as a DJ tool. Monster! Monster! All recordings by Paul Williams and all photographs by Jeremy Larkin @ SANTA POD, Podington, England on May 29, 31 & July 3 1999 Mastered by Denis Blackham @ Country Masters, Frimley, England on July 26 1999’”
“Turbatrix', the eighth release on Sheffield's Computer Club imprint, is provided by mysterious French artist Arandel. No newcomer to the musical spectrum, Arandel has long been associated with the French label InFiné, alongside global names such as Carl Craig and Apparat.
"'Locus I' surprises as analogue rasps and pings spar with lush synths and a driving 4/4 rhythmic code. Key track 'Locus II' is a siren to the ghosts of Sheffield's electronic musical heritage, with relentless bleeps and a concrete sub-bass.
'Locus III' is a midnight romp through a neon-tinged city where only the holograms know your name. The fourth and final track, a blissed-out ambient piece soaked in celestial sounds, is a meditative end to a thrilling journey of invention and musical mastery.”
Paul de Jong – innovative composer and cofounder of beloved collage-pop eccentrics, the Books - returns with new album, You Fucken Sucker, an uncompromising statement; an uncanny (and sometimes uncomfortable) reflection of our collective mental excess.
"Presented in the exact sequence in which it was conceived, You Fucken Sucker charts a route of personal tragedy and emotional fatigue, and the loss and eventual retrieval of the illusion of control. Over the course of its 14 tracks – which range in length from 15 seconds to nearly 10 minutes – we hear complex tapestries of acoustic and electronic instrumentation submitting to waves of unhinged screaming; found-sound assemblage seamlessly incorporating subtle R&B rhythms; Freudian funk; lo-fi prog-metal; and vast synth patch orchestration adding unexpected textures and tension to the whole spectacular mess.
Like much of Paul de Jong's work, You Fucken Sucker is a genre unto itself, overflowing with innovative exploration of sounds and senses. Unlike his previous work, it is an unvarnished exposition of his anger, frustration, misery and confusion. Perhaps most vitally, it is an opportunity for the rest of us to experience the kind of communal emotional purge more typical of pre-Internet basement punk rock shows, to bask in the rarified air of being unafraid of being afraid.”
Impending yet unsettlingly detached ‘dreadscapes’ realised in tribute to the “the next generation of Muslim kids who are left feeling sad, frightened, angry.” by wars fought in their name
“We were in an angry state of mind when we made these tracks. It began around the same time the US condemned Syria and Assad for the use of chemical weapons. The events took us back to the Halabje chemical attack in Kurdistan, Iraq, where exactly 30 years ago, Saddam, with the blind support of the West, killed between 3000-5,000 and injured 7,000-10,000, mostly Kurdish civilians. Have we not learned anything? It feels like history is less a source for understanding and growth, and more so to be exploited, mined, in search of tactics that are sure to cause havoc on humanity. These tracks are dedicated to the next generation of Muslim kids who are left feeling sad, frightened, angry.”
Saint Abdullah is the sound project of Iranian-Canadian brothers, Mohammad and Mehdi. Motivated by the history of Western misconception and opposition towards Muslims and the Islamic Faith, they began writing music to serve as "cultural translators,” with the goal of challenging stereotypes, acting as “a conduit between unnecessary enemies." 'Stars Have Eyes' is their 2nd album – a weaponized narrative of field recordings from the streets of Tehran transformed into hulking instruments of information, then sunk into a dreadscape of sub frequencies and foreboding echo chamber clatter.”
Samuel Van Dijk (Mohlao, Multicast Dynamics) gives some sorrowful Harbour City looks on Frustrated Funk under the codename VC-118A.
it’s beautifully brooding gear throughout, with dubwise and cinematic highlights in the OG X-Files-esque atmosphere of Enter and the sublime Sequence, plus killer hydroelectro dynamics in Verdictia.
Originally a track on the A Thousand Skies album, the cosmic Afro-dub of Ode To The Pleiades features as a crafty Live Band Version riddled with bustling drums and buzzing instrumentation and spread out nearly twice as long.
Photay condenses and transforms it into a rolling bass stepper, and Daniele Baldelli & Marco Dionigi even its keel to a swanging cosmic disco dub.
Belgium’s Locked Groove sets his sights on trance music in the Progression EP, scaling up the spine with the reticulated arps and airborne triplet groove of Progression, and with something like a gauzier take on Hybrid’s trance breaks in The Come Up.
Lithuania’s Prequel Tapes makes his first blip on our radar with two fine, contrasting reworks; a Going Up remix resetting the groove to a skyward techno trajectory, and a collapsed Going Down remix.
Pivotal player in Vancouver’s ambient/deep-house scene, Project Pablo makes his 2nd transmission on Ninja Tune’s Technicolor with There’s Always More At The Store
Showcasing the breadth of his sound in five parts exploring a spectrum of wonky house (Napoletana), hi tek jazz house pressure (Remind me Tomorrow), ambient soudnscaping (Last Day), broken electro-dub (Less and Less), and pendulous ambient electro-house (I Heard You Breathing).
Clarice Jensen, artistic director of the American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME), makes a gripping first solo mark on the cello with 'For This From That Will Be Filled', an expansive suite of Cello recordings alongside filigree electronics and tape loops designed to highlight and perceive the instrument’s unique fidelities. It notably features one striking work conceived with the late Jóhann Jóhannsson.
Ushering in Miasmah’s 12th year of operations in the nether fields of modern composition, Clarice’s début is exemplary of the intense, slow-burning aesthetic which connects many of the label’s releases. It unfold in four parts of languorously void-touching ideas, scaling and sustaining a sublime tension said to “explore the variable differences between acoustic and electronic sound as well as depiction of the simulated and the unconscious.”
Using an array of methods ranging from FX pedals to multi-tracking and tape loops, Clarice both gently and ruggedly severs the sound from its source and contrasts it against its own grain, conjuring a contemplative effect akin to gazing out of a bus or train window at night, with light reflecting and scattered at odd angles, distorting the view and providing fleeting, surreal glimpses of new dimensions in the process.
The effect really first comes into play on BC when the string cycle gradually disintegrates with the wilting warble of a GAS or Basinski work, whilst her performance of Cello Constellation, a work for multi-tracked cello and sine tones written for Clarice by Michael Harrison patiently shows her ability to distress the instrument, make it keen like a choir of cosmic banshees, before the staggering title track occurs on the B-side, from a glacial traverse of icy dissonance and cascading borealis light to something like the drone of a sub arctic seed bank nestling humanity’s future in the deepfreeze of For This From That Will Be Filled (B).
Christina Vantzou follows her role in the superb CV & JAB album for Shelter Press with the starkly haunting No.4 in her chrono-numeric series of albums for Kranky.
Her JAB foil, John Also Bennett (Forma) also assists on this one, as do Angel Deradoorian, and members of Belgium’s Echo Collective, all sensitively incorporated into her signature dimension of smoky dream sequence logic and texturally rich electro-acoustic timbres. A strong look for lovers of Angelo Badalamenti & David Lynch soundtracks, Bohren & Der Club of Gore, Global Communication - in other words: night time music.
“Belgium-based composer Christina Vantzou’s fourth full-length for Kranky ventures further into the uniquely elusive and evocative mode of ambient classical minimalism which has become her signature: a fragile synthesis of contemplative drift, heady silences, and muted dissonance. In regards to the new album she speaks of focusing particular attention on the effects of the recordings on the body, and of “directing sound perception into an inner space.”
No. 4 took shape across roughly two years, incorporating a diverse array of musical and conceptual collaborators, including fellow Kranky artists Steve Hauschildt and John Also Bennett (of Forma) as well as Angel Deradoorian (ex-Dirty Projectors), Clarice Jensen, Beatrijs De Klerck, and members of Belgium’s Echo Collective. During the creation process Vantzou wanted to “blur lines of hierarchy,” and thus allowed all ensemble members and technical assistants to add or delete elements. Despite such a spectrum of input the eleven tracks feel distinctly cohesive, weaving elegant textures and resonant open spaces within a twilit landscape of eclectic instrumentation: piano, harp, vibraphone, voice, strings, marimba, synthesizers, gong, and bells.
Vantzou describes the recording process as one of prepared spontaneity: that is, “having plenty of ideas ready to explore going into the session, but with enough time to depart from those ideas and see what happens.” This mindset of premeditated exploration informs the album’s emotive textural intuition, with hushed drones and delicate gestures eliding in the periphery of the mix. She cites sleep and “the loosening of time” as two formative practices in her private and professional life, which manifests in the quietly hallucinatory properties of Vantzou’s music. No. 4 feels both endless and ephemeral, immersive and immaterial. It’s a music of horizon lines and half-light, mapped with feeling and foresight.”
Diverse, colourful psych-house, breakbeat and ambient plays from Earth Trax & Newborn Jr, following the form of their Rhythm Section Intl and Echovolt releases with this 5-track bewt for Dopeness Galore.
Working in two distinct halves, the first side dances to a cantering acid ace called Maze with stealthily building acid harmonies spiralling into a lush sort of proto-trance sound, while Where There’s A Will There’s A Way tilts to a hazy and charming breakbeat roll set off with polychromatic synth plumes.
The B-side dips deeper, shedding the beats to leave lushly suspenseful bassline and choral percolations with levitating effect in Acid Burn, then bathing in new age dub on Technoir, and swooning out into the Carl Craig-like Diamond Edge.
London based record label Purely Physical Teeny Tapes (PPTT) presents its fourth offering A Crude Explanation of Russell’s Paradox by Baltimore based artist Max Eilbacher.
"A follow up from his release A System that Slips, on Nick Klein's Primitive Languages, A Crude Explanation of Russell’s Paradox sees Max continue his system based, sound generation practice delivering 11 piano, tone and snare based arrangements informed by the mathematical principles of Bertrand Russell. "These recordings originated with a system created on my computer that played abstract samples of a piano. I discovered the system worked better using only a select few of the many piano sounds I had recorded and intended to use. I found it also worked well with no piano at all. Instead, I employed white noise, a solid tone, and wavefolders. Randomly generated patterns control the sequencing, routings and various sound parameters in the system. I created rules for my system based off of my crude understanding of Bertrand Russell’s Paradox theory that then modulates those patterns"
- Max Eilbacher
The label that gave us that killer LP of Iranian Classical music from Morteza Hannaneh last year return with this curveball album of midnight anxiety and ambient trauma by ssaliva following on from releases for Leaving Records, Ekster, Vlek and Purple Tape Pedigree, among others. Highly recommended if you're into Oneohtrix, Arca, Mica Levi...
Pulling together material from blink-and-miss Bandcamp releases along with previously unheard works, WYIN coherently highlights a broader period of work than any of ssaliva’s previous releases, framing a probing and adventurous spirit at work in its element; modern digital ambient composition.
Coming off the back of Collapsing Market’s reissue of Tschashm-e-Del, an archival radio play of Persian Classical music conducted by the label’s grandfather, their first ssaliva entry keeps the label outlook as mutable as ever with a natural focus on atmosphere and feelings connoting existential angst and solitary psychedelia. It’s a product of the contemporary environment, which, more than ever, is bleakly electronic and at the mercy of rabid socio-economics, as symbolised in the sleeve’s illustration of a financial trader’s open palm, contrasting with the front cover’s zoomed in image of blood-spattered textures.
In six parts he just about keeps his head above the waves and acres of negative space, firstly buoyed by choral voices in Danger Came Smiling, then against the discordant fulgurite of Hell/Home, which both make the sublime timbral relief of a that much more effective, in the same way that the hyperreal, acrid sensation of For All I Care, the crystalline dimensions of 2drown and the spiralling, elusive complexity of b reflect and express the modern world with an intangible accuracy perhaps best compared to Arca.
Major, brilliant new work from acclaimed artist Ashley Paul following various collaborations with Rashad Becker, Lucy Railton, Mary Jane Leach, Rhys Chatham and Thurston Moore, debuting here for the Slip label following her last album 'Heat Source' for Important in 2014.
Singular avant garde voice Ashley Paul commits a bewitching début to Slip with Lost In Shadows; a tender yet discordant suite inspired by her new role as mother to a young child. Few would call Ashley’s music “easy”, but it is also heavily rewarding in its own, uncompromising way and now finds its audience on the acclaimed Slip imprint amid a roster of boundary-morphing composers including Chaines, Mica Levi & Oliver Coates, Yeah You, and Laurie Tompkins.
Recorded over three weeks at FUGA in Zaragoza, Spain and premiered at Counterflows 2017, on Lost In Shadows Ashley plays guitar, sax, clarinet, voice and percussion. In a mark of distance travelled since her last album, however, she draws on recent collaborations and work with pre-eminent composers such as Rashad Becker, Lucy Railton and Rhys Chatham to also delegate roles to a new ensemble of players on tuba, baritone sax, cello and percussion, who serve to render the dynamics of her music with stronger attention to bass rhythms and intricate, iridescent dissonance.
The expanded personnel lend new flesh to Ashley’s work, hingeing around her tremulous vocals and bringing her ideas to life in 11 parts that hold to a perceptive knife edge between lullaby-like and restlessly tooth-achy: mixing the off-key filigree of her vocals at asymmetric tonal angles to the instrumentals - a solution of jazz, chamber music, modern composition and folk craft expressing a complexity of ideas that may well have fallen apart if handled by composers unable to hold their nerve quite as well as Ashley.
As with all her works, a sense of intuitive, instinctive alchemy is at the core of the album, as Ashley’s jarring tonal juxtapositions and her own elusive vocals act out a metaphor for the challenge of nurturing new relationships in testing circumstances, an experience she describes as “many hours spent awake at night in a dream like state of half consciousness, darkness and solitude; an overwhelming feeling of loneliness and exhaustion made light by a profound new love.”
Ultimately, the results are cranky as much as they are delirious, uncannily relaying a state of mind and sensations which will only ever be felt by some of its potential listeners, yet offers myriad possibilities for interpretation to all.
Editions Gravats follow up that killer EP of mutant Dancehall bangers from label co-founder Low Jack with this completely wild, spellbinding mix of avant-garde electronics and chanson by truly original contemporary artist Laurent Gérard a.k.a. Èlg, part of the same broad scene that includes everyone from Ghédalia Tazartès to PAN’s Bill Kouligas, Luke Younger / Helm, Milan’s insane (und essential) Hundebiss crew and even Alan Bishop and Dylan Nyoukis with whom Èlg has also collaborated. Huge recommendation if you’re into anything from the PAN label to Recollection GRM, Ghedalia Tazartes or even Throbbing Gristle & Coil...
Vu Du Dôme is a staggeringly strange, brilliantly kaleidoscopic album resembling a sort of dramaturgy of a waking dream. It feels like a stroll around a topiary maze at twilight on a warm night, with Èlg acting as a spectral protagonist narrating in first person while a supporting cast including Catherine Hershey, Borja Flames and Ernest Bergez make the trip more unfathomable.
Forming a bridge between improbable dimensions of GRM / musique concrète, electro-acoustic and chanson spheres, Èlg riddles his music with a literal and metaphorical take on sound poetry; blending French language vocals against quietly enigmatic, impeccably produced backdrops whose low, shifting lighting and mid-fi resolution lends them to comparisons with illusive theatre stage designs as much as the overgrown corners of the imagination explored by Luc Ferrari or Èlg’s Reines D’Angleterre bandmate Ghédalia Tazartès before him.
A dusty revenant, a peaceful messenger: Èlg plays all those roles simultaneously. Combining pointedly purposed production and cryptic incantation, he acts as a souterrain psychopomp relaying energies from one reality to another, taking care not to stray too far explicitly in either direction and hold his ground ambiguously with the nous of an ancient Greek play or the kind of pathos and logic likely to baffle a computer. Taken in context of Roope Eronen’s artwork - a naif illustration of smiling cone faces on a bouncy castle - each listener’s perception of Vu Du Dôme is bound to differ from the next in an all too rare and precious way that’s testament to the genius avant-garde vision of its mercurial creator.
As we’ve said before; there may well be an underlying logic to Èlg, but we’re buggered if we can pick it out. All we know is that he’s just gone and made one of the most weirdly addictive and forward thinking, fxcked up pop albums we’ve heard for time...
Felicia Atkinson makes her first solo move since the widely acclaimed 'Hand In Hand' album with this intimate, quietly surreal tape for Geographic North, unfurling two side-long works clocking in at over half an hour, written in dedication to Bartolemé Sanson and inspired by Atkinson's last voyage to New Mexico when she visited and took in the geographic landscapes from Taos to Ghost Ranch. The same vistas also inspired much of Agnes Martin's and Georgia O'Keefe's painting, as well as Jerome Rothenberg's poetry and translation's works.
Atkinson continues her journey in pursuit of a style that’s singularly hers, expressing a coolly contemplative and free sound connoting waking dreams and barometric flux in its gently fleeting play of light and space. Cosseted with ferric white noise, the A-side’s Lighter Than Aluminium sits with an iridescent smudge of double bass and a moire of radiant metals shimmering across the stereo field, laced together by trickling keys and lilting marimba until her signature semi-whispered narrative holds the centre and our attention in a tense juxtaposition with palpitating synth notes, resolving to a Badalamneti-esque piano coda.
On the B-side's Abiquiu she employs wistful melodica, flutters of polymetric percussion and warbling organ lines convecting amorphous space and conjuring imagery of dusky scenes, the ferric hiss becoming a chorus of cicadas surrounding her deliquescent performance as nocturnal pads draw in a canopy of starlit bleeps and crimson to deep blue hues...
Exceptional, highly evocative material from one of the most interesting artists working on the contemporary field.
Fourth in a series of six albums from The Caretaker cataloguing the effects of early-onset dementia. Featuring four extended, smudged and hallucinatory side-long pieces - the darkest and most immersive music from The Caretaker to date.
The Caretaker slips into the first “post awareness” stage of Everywhere At The End of Time. The ability to recall singular memories gives way to confusions and horror; the beginning of a process where all memories begin to become more fluid through entanglements, repetition and rupture.
Leyland Kirby connotes the transitory cognitive breakdown of moderate into severe late stage dementia; memories of the good times are recollected in picnoleptic flashes as the music struggles to follow consistent trajectories, instead fluctuating between a fractured mosaic of ideas and elusive emotive gestures, still occasionally able to gather coherent thoughts.
In aesthetic, the sieve-like mindstate of stage 4 vacillates a serene sort of psychedelia with utterly paranoid and petrifying mental subsidence. Smudged traces of sublimated music hall memories give way to shocking tracts of atonality and discord with runaway logic, perpetually tumbling farther into states of mind perhaps best compared with K-Hole-like dimensions or the babble of after-hours psychonautic journeys.
The concision of previous stages is here replaced with wandering, side-long tracts. Three of those are titled Post Awareness Confusions and correspondingly explore and reflect agitated mindsets as they navigate an ephemeral, confusing complexity of structures. The other piece is called Temporary Bliss State and starkly contrasts the other parts in a coherently lush traverse of ambient crackle and glittering melody…
B12’s Steven Rutter rolls out his first solo LP, Brainfog in the vaporous wake of his solo début, a dedication to the Chuckle Bro’s; From Me To You. Again the artwork is properly rum, but the sounds therein are dead lush, wide-eyed in that early ‘90s AI style Steven was instrumental in forging alongside Michael Golding.
In solo mode, it’s interesting to discern Rutter’s input to B12 through the sounds on offer, and it becomes clear that he’s in possession of the sweetest electronica soul. Between the electro soma of Sleep Gives Freedom, the cosmic Indian references of Memories of You, his sylvan acid techno slinker Infinity Engine, the weightless metrics of Binary Breakdown, and a classically B12-styled electro floater Hand In Hand, you’ve got some highly satisfying and timeless-sounding machine music.
Voyage Direct captain Tom Trago works up his 1st album in 5 years with Bergen,
A slinky, low-key selection of house and disco-tech trax executed in a smoky, timeless style indigenous to the Amsterdam sound he’s been pivotal in shaping.
Avant-indie/post-rock hero and writer David Grubbs (Gastr Del Sol, Red Krayola, Codeine) gets to the core of his sound with the lyrically instrumental insight and poetic enigma of Creep Mission.
Issued just over a year and a summer since his Prismrose  LP, Creep Mission locates cult guitarist reprising a fruitful working relationship with in-demand drummer Eli Keszler, who provides percussion alongside electronic input from Jan St. Werner (Mouse On Mars) and Nate Woolley’s trumpet, all helping to unfurl a most compelling, elusive addition to Grubbs’ great American saga.
Grubbs’ nylon six string is front and centre, driving the narrative with a fluidity and plurality of voices worth three guitarists of similar talent, and with a cool virtuosity matched by Keszler’s deft drum fills, whereas the contributions of St. Werner and Wooley are reserved to subtle atmospheric presence for the most, but capably step in to set the whole thing at new angles when required.
Grubbs and Keszler make the perfect pairing in Skylight, opening the album like a mountain stream which, after snaking its way downhill opens out into roiling rapids buffeted by electronic squall and trumpet blare, before Mission Creep sets in with a jazz-wise curiosity that soon enough erupts into ragged raga-blues, and The Bonapartes of Baltimore - one of two solo pieces along with Jack Dracula In A Bar - finds him stripped back to succinct, emotive, nerve-braiding nylon string meditations, which he expands on with additional, woozy narration from Nate Wooley’s trumpet.
However the two biggest attractions for us come with the grubbing electro-acoustics of Jeremiadaic and the pitching abstraction of Return of the Creep, both cropping up at oblique angles in the tracklist to perhaps rouse listeners from getting too comfortable in the easy chair, as with the pranging, clangorous pointillism of the former, and the dissonant sludge/doom subduction zones that open up in the latter.
Superb curio from NYC-based Kathleen Baird, now Ka Baird for the purposes of this LP, sweeping from alien/avian electronics to Sun Ra-meets-Pekka Airaksinen electro-jazz freenuss, iridescent string and flute movements, and one a-m-a-z-i-n-g piece of flute, vox and pulsing bass that sounds like a winged sister of Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe - practically worth it for this one alone! Seriously - one of the most original and brilliant things we've heard this year...
"Sapropelic Pycnic is the world debut of music presented under the name of Ka Baird. While this record is a commencement of many sorts, it is in no way a mere beginning: Ka was one of the founding members of experimental psychlings Spires That In the Sunset Rise. Formed in 2001 out of the Chicago scene, and described by late guitar legend Jack Rose as a "female Sun City Girls," Spires' sisterhood of sound deepened the New Folk slant with an array of avant- and world-flavored directions drawing them ever-farther into the source.
Ka relocated to NYC in late 2014 and immediately embarked upon new directions - exploring piano improvisations, electroacoustic intervention, extended vocal technique, physical movement and the electronic processing of her flute playing.With the release of Sapropelic Pycnic, Ka manifests an evolving self-hood, expanding upon the essence of her first two albums' artist name, while replacing and thus becoming that name on her own. Reaching toward the ancient roots of music, Ka utilizes electronic manipulation on the single "Tok Tru" to take the ear past preconception, combining the linearity of the physical with the abstraction of the cerebral, crafting textural rhythmic noise with lush operatic passages.
Conceived live as a series of solo vignettes and played that way by Ka (featuring contributions from Max Eilbacher (electronics), Sandy Gordon (vibraphone) and Troy Schafer (violin), Sapropelic Pycnic draws from primordial ooze and raises high a sacrifice to the immemorial concept of the sacred. We are standing on the verge of a great chasm. Sapropelic Pycnic uses tools both ancient and modern to draw Ka Baird - and all who listen - upward, toward the eternal!"