Choice art-pop/avant-funk bullets from 1983, on the line between This Heat/Lifetones, and Dome/He Said
"Tribal Earth's 1983 recording “Interaction/Reaction'' features a fusion of post-punk, DIY mutant wave and minimal synth-pop that is backed by infectious funk and dub elements alongside Linn Drum machine rhythms. Heavy basslines and synths swirl, stab, and ring alongside Bennett’s smooth vocal delivery into 3 timeless art-avant pop gems “Interaction/Reaction,” “Got to Move,” and “Who Are You (In the Movies).”
This 40th anniversary edition is remastered directly from the master tapes and is a collaboration between Invisible City Editions and Michael Bennett. For fans of 99 Records, This Heat, and Lifetones."
Unwound’s 1995 self-titled album.
"Meeting at the halfway point between Bleach and Damaged, Unwound arrived years after the original trio of Vern Rumsey, Justin Trosper, and Brandt Sandeno made their Avast Studios debut.
Compiling their EPs for Kill Rock Stars and Gravity Records with five more session outtakes, Unwound was released on Rumsey’s Punk In My Vitamins as the band began flirting with the mainstream. Witness a band’s prehistory as it plays out in a feral maelstrom of screaming, distortion, feedback, and abrasive promise."
Ruffneck junglist x footwork blow-out backed with a spine-coiling rework by Dwarde & Tim Reaper
Working shades away from the vintage jungl/D&B styles stewarded by Droogs and the likes, Pugilist and Tamen run ’95 styles into the red on ‘Lithium’, and give it a memory update with nagging footwork patterns, dub techno chords and moody electronica pads on ’Synaesthesia’, beside the rolling jungle tekno pressure of ‘Myth’. Darlo radge Dwarde links regular sparring partner Tim Reaper (fresh from listing on Forbes’ 30 under 30) on a choppier cut of ‘Lithium’ that benefits from both sets hands on the scalpel with devilish swerve.
Flawless pop syrup from Isabelle Antena following Numero's reissue of cult classic 'Camino Del Sol' way back when their catalogue numbers were in single digits. On "En Cavale" Isabelle flies closer to the pop sun, employing Orange Juice producer Martin Hayes, covering Sister Sledge's 'Easy Street' and absorbing influence from Sade, Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz.
After "Camino Del Sol" failed to springboard Isabelle Antena to pop stardom in 1982, she repositioned her expectations, breaking apart the trio and transitioning from electro-samba minimalism to a solo sound that was more in line with expected 1980s electronic pop. "En Cavale" was her first solo full-length, her second album for Les Disques Du Crépuscule after a short, but ultimately unsuccessful UK diversion recording for Phonogram. One thing she did take away from that perioid was producer Martin Hayes, better known for producing Orange Juice's seminal "Rip it Up", who lends his slick fingerprint to this set of disco, smooth jazz and piña colada balladeering.
At the time Isabelle was fascinated with Nile Rodgers' work in Chic and Sister Sledge, so her cover of 'Easy Street' might be the best introduction to the album. It's sickly disco-pop, but filtered thru that unmistakable Antena sound that left an indelible mark on underground pop music. There's also plenty of leftover jams from the Antena era: oily electro-samba numbers 'Playback', 'Seaside Week End', and 'Be Pop' were co-written by her ex-bandmates Pascale Moiroud and Sylvain Fasy. 'Be Pop' especially, with a chilly avant disco lilt, could have been the blueprint for Stereolab's defining 'Ping Pong', with similarly deadpan vocals and incongruous sparkling production.
And when Isabelle goes it alone, she impresses with major league pop moves on 'Booby Trap', 'Life is Too Short' and 'Magic Words', three bombastic '80s belters that concluded the album's original release. This reissue bundles up 'Don't Think About It' and 'Time to Work', fleshing it out with smooth funk-laced bubblers that capture an era that seems impossibly distant.
Tropical synth fiends will be rubbing their keks with glee at the remastered reissue of Alafia’s slick ’84 jazz-funk fusions, now augmented with a strutting Bosq remix
The original cuts by Philip Nikwé aka Alafia landed on prolific french label Career in 1984 and recoil with a slick mix of juicy synth vamps, wriggling bass guitar and layered drums in ‘Assassan’ bound to do the business on busy ‘floors, while ‘Assize’ dials up the horns and highlife guitar on a peppery groove arced with choral harmonies. The Bosq remix resets ‘Assanssan’ to a steadier but swingeing keel that builds the Afro-Latin groove to a pressure cooker finish.
Three hours into the sublime with Kali Malone, who plays tuned sine wave oscillators alongside Lucy Railton on cello and Sunn O)))'s Stephen O'Malley on electric guitar. An exercise in tuning, harmonic theory and duration; it's meditative, deep listening music.
If Living Torch was Kali Malone in miniature, an economical and concise précis of her musical philosophy, "Does Spring Hide Its Joy" clicks the maximize button, boosting her durational process into three precise hourlong explorations of harmonic theory. In many ways, its a more fitting follow-up to Malone's breakout 2019 album "The Sacrificial Code", encouraging listeners to interface with the purity of sound and tuning as they interact with each other.
The piece was developed in Spring 2020, when Malone was invited to the Funkhaus studio and MONOM to develop a suite of music using their vast empty space for recording. A few technicians were left to help out (including electro-acoustic/ambient babe Jake Muir), but Malone, Railton and O'Malley mostly had the space to themselves to devise new work together. The inspiration was the perception of time itself, something that had come into sharp focus for many under lockdown. "Time stood still until subtle shifts in the environment suggested there had been a passing," Malone says. "Memories blurred non-sequentially, the fabric of reality deteriorated, unforeseen kinships formed and disappeared, and all the while, the seasons changed and moved on without the ones we lost."
Musically, Malone and her collaborators represent this timelessness by presenting a framework rather than a concrete composition. On this release, there are three renditions of the same piece, and since the recording the trio have performed it numerous times across Europe; each time shifting gently to represent the mood of the players and unique dynamics of each space. Hearing it in one three-hour chunk might seem like an undertaking, but it's the best way to disentangle the trio's themes and mark the simmering intensity of their work.
For his part, O'Malley has never sounded as restrained - his guitar, so often an abstracted marker of 20th century "metal" posturing, is so reduced that it's often hard to separate from Malone's tones and Railton's controlled movements. The inherent sound - a Sabbath via Earth amplified roll turned down to a resonant whistle - allows us to see it from another angle, and puts O'Malley's long-held interest in global minimalist music into perspective. In fact, it sounds as if Malone and O'Malley are two parts of the same coin here, their sounds blurring into one another sometimes completely, leaving Railton to add character and texture to their tonal canvas.
The use of distinct instruments and the centering of three discrete performances is key to the album. Each instrument represents a different strand of modern minimalist music: European classical tradition is marked by the cello, blues and metal by the guitar, and electronic music by the sine generator. Combining these without adhering to usual hierarchies, Malone and her collaborators essentially comment on musical history itself.
Deep listening recommended.
Nigerian highlife-pop philosopher Alhaji Warizi Oshomah is still a legend in his community, and this first volume of five collects up the best of his material from the late 1970s.
Warizi hails from Afenmailand, a state in southern Nigeria where Muslims and Christians live in harmony. The musician is a devout Muslim who's been developing his own fusion of local folk, Nigerian highlife and Western pop since the 1970s, singing songs that speak of religion and togetherness. Singing in English, Etsako and other local languages, Warizi made dance music for his diverse community, and became notorious for being "the greatest entertainer in all of Edo State".
These four tracks epitomize his style, each is lengthy at over eight minutes a piece, and each centers Warizi's unforgettable voice. Musical comparisons could be made to Fela Kuti or Ebo Taylore but there's something else going on here. Waziri was fascinated by highlife when he was growing up, but was booted out of the family home by his parents who thought he was straying too far from Islam. His response was to integrate Quranic teachings with his music, and when he started a band he made sure it was between a sermon and a dance party. Triumphant, warm and good natured, it's an example of faith's power to heal and elevate.
Bardo Pond's Volume 3 on Fire Records.
"Super rare recordings from 2002 and pressed on vinyl for the very first time. The third in the band’s series of limited-edition releases showcasing jam sessions and other miscellany. Like Fugazi on acid, a rage for the Velvets, a mantra with real purity of tone.
Somewhere between the ‘Dilate’ album in 2001 (“a combination of Kyuss and Spacemen 3” NME) and ‘On the Ellipse’ in 2003 ("Nowhere is feedback more melancholic, more emotive, than that fashioned by Bardo Pond” Brainwashed), Bardo Pond transcended into a mantra-like, multi-layered, cross-dimensional, wah wah powered nirvana.
In some circles, they say, spaceships wafted them away and they only returned some-time later, mind-altered and bedraggled, ears ringing. But that is the stuff of supposition. As we already know, there is no ‘off’ switch on Bardo Pond, they are never knowingly unplugged. Indeed, the modal evolution of their sound continues unabated."
A vinyl-only regression session of modal chopped & screwed trance and ambient dance music from Alexis Le Tan and Joakim’s super collectable Full Circle project, newly minted by Good Morning Tapes.
A febrile, downtempo melange of screwed classics and original productions, ‘From Back There Again’ is Full Circle’s 5th full-length session in this fertile zone of dance music’s imagination. Serving the spiritual need for slower, more sensual movements in light of the contemporary BPM arms race, Full Circle look back to go forward - or, more pertinently - perpendicular to the dance music continuum; corkscrewing classic early ‘90s trance and cosmic Italian disco models along lines of inspiration from Middle Eastern and Subcontinental musics to open dancers’ third eyes and weave their chakras into sexier shapes.
In the foggiest recesses of our memory, this kind of lark used to be so much more commonplace in the backrooms of clubs during the ‘90s and even into the early ‘00s, but has become lost-in-translation with successive waves of ravers expecting full throttle from start to finish, or at least a sort of escalating narrative arc. Full Circle stand for a sort of romantic counter-cultural aspect of dance music that feels more necessary now than ever.
‘From Back There Again’ is just the medicine; a bounty of sun-dazed goodness, balancing spangled bodies and minds between the plush synth dub sway of ‘Closed Eyes Open’ to super slinky Goa beatdown on ‘Percussive Silence’, the trance on 33-not-45 bliss of ‘Infernal Heaven’, beside the pill-belly lift of ’Shapeless Square’, piquant drug chug tang of ‘Human Alien’ and the unmistakeable edit of ‘Future Memories’, transporting us straight back to Autechre’s 4am-6am Disengage sessions on Kiss FM.
God-tier 1994 deep house by Moritz von Oswald & Mark Ernestus, including its legendary Chicago mix by Chez Damier and Ron Trent, reissued for first time in too long!
Always a clarion call to the ‘floor, ‘I'm Your Brother’ epitomises von Oswald & Ernestus’ passion for US house in a fraternal call-and-response between Berlin and Chicago. As the name implies, Round One was the first in a series of five 12”s that offered a sultrier adjunct to their pounding Basic Channel tackle and laid some meat on the bones of their momentous, parallel, ‘M-Series’ of dub house templates. It served to firm up deep links with US house and techno first forged by Ernestus’ Hardwax record shop form 1989 in Berlin - the first to start importing the stuff into mainland Europe - and would become a club staple on both sides of the Atlantic.
The head-high stride of their OG ‘I’m Your Brother (Club Mix)’ still turns us to mush 30 years after release. Loosely based around Isley Jasper Isley’s 1985 soul ace ‘Caravan of Love’, it features Andy Caine’s timeless blue eyed soul vocal gilded to the plumpest bassline, gospel-house strings and organ in a sing-a-along garage house anthem for the ages. Chez Damier & Ron Trent, then fresh from classic turns on KMS, responded with the ‘Chicago’ Twisted Mix’, augmented with one of the ‘90s greatest intros, before dipping that bassline in special sauce and savouring the vocal with a craftier, deferred gratification.
A legendary high-water mark of ‘90s techno is back in circulation with BC’s pulsating classic, its thunderous Mills mix, and the body-melting ‘Recall’
Working under the Cyrus moniker, Mark Ernestus & Moritz Von Oswald birthed the resoundingly influential Basic Channel project with ‘Enforcement’ in 1993. Paralleling and interweaving their concurrent Maurizio releases, as Basic Channel they hailed the harder edge of Detroit techno and European acid with a peerless touch of Berlin minimalist experimentation, reducing those styles’ formulas to a propulsive, aerodynamic flux of fundamentals that left an indelible and enduring mark on the dancefloor’s collective imagination.
‘Enforcement’ also bears the series’ strongest ties with Detroit, explicitly due to its incendiary Mills Mix, and more implicitly as it was made with equipment sourced from a musical hardware shop in the Motor City. The same kit would be also be used on the M-Series recordings, but here it was harnessed at its most forceful and shark-eyed in the virulent acidic gnash and pounding 909 of ‘Enforcement’, only just-about tempered by the duo’s discrete digits on the mixing desk, tweaking envelopes 13 minutes of definitive sublime tension and hypnotic traction. Factor in the roiling, Schnitzler-esque acid pulse of its bare-bones ‘Recall’ and you have a stone cold essential - arguably one of the C.20th’s finest.
Maiden vinyl edition of Chris Carter & Cosey Fanni Tutti’s 4th world ambient trek pairing wistfully romantic cornet and vocals with lush, oil-colour pastoral electronics - RIYL Jon Hassell, Julee Cruise, Martin Denny, Coil!
‘Feral Vapours of the Silver Ether’ (2007) was the 2nd album by Chris & Cosey as Carter Tutti after 2004’s ‘Cabal’. The project was their concerted effort to explore more sensual, even psychedelic, forms after more than 25 years of defining synth-pop and techno-pop in their own image since departing from pioneering industrial band Throbbing Gristle. Anyone expecting Chris Carter’s puckered, ductile rhythms may be left wanting by this album, but anyone who loves his sleek, layered synth contours, or the intoxicating presence of Cosey’s voice and brass are strongly encouraged to revel in its sexy sensuousness, and especially so if they haven’t already.
For some historic context, ‘Feral Vapours of the Silver Ether’ was realised during a period when Chris & Cosey were getting the old band back together for Throbbing Gristle’s ‘Part Two - The Endless Knot’, which also appeared in 2007 with corresponding live shows. It was a period fraught with internecine squabble and stress (as outlined in Cosey’s ‘Art, Sex, Music’) due to working with Gen again, and it’s maybe possible to hear Carter Tutti here decompressing and meditatively focussing on themselves.
An ideal way into the album is its highlight ‘Acid Tongue’, with Cosey’s folksy lilt splitting difference between Angela Conway and Teresa Winter, and perfectly suspended in the ether of her husband, Chris’ slow, spangled synths. Or you might as well start at the front with ‘So Slow the Knife’, which lays out ideas nodding to Martin Denny’s exotica or Hassell’s 4th world motifs in Cosey’s cornet and Chris’s lolling pulses, while ‘Black Dust’ and the foreboding, NWW-esque ‘Feral Vapours’ closer will find favour with dark ambient souls.
Substantial stuff for deep listeners; Belgium’s Mich L of Paper Hats and AB Salon debuts a mesmerising, intently focussed conception of Eleh or Radigue-like microtonal drone minimalism on the label behind releases from Ann Eysermans, Gen P-O & Hafler Trio, Fredrik Croene
Made on an EMS Synthi A, and directly inspired by Pauline Oliveros’ concept of listening, outlined as “the involuntary nature of hearing and the voluntary, selective nature of listening”, the first solo record by Mich L introduces a keen set of ears that have previously worked with Tetuzi Akiyama & Giovanni Di Domenico, and for Stroom on Holsen & Cassier’s ambient improvs. The three works on ‘air near silence’ are enamoured by the beauty found in hidden frequencies and harmonics of modular synths and old tape recorders, and prize their unusual fidelities in patiently unfolding, increasingly durational parts that exert their effect with a stealthy traction that builds from near nothingness to a powerful yet somehow fragile presence.
Interestingly the project was also shaped by the artist’s experience of tinnitus and enduring nausea, and arguably has a strong efficacy in muting, or at least even complementing the unwanted sounds perceived by its sufferers. With the tact and vision of the greats of drone music, from Radigue and Niblock to Drumm and Eleh, he presents a careful constructed procession from the meditative (but not cheesy) layering of rich, rolling bass waves and sustained upper register trajectory on ’S.L.’, thru to the genuinely skin-quivering sensuality and unfathomable enigma of ‘A.M.’, and, ultimately, 20 minutes of poised stasis and pulsing partials in ‘M.R.’ bound to snag attention of those who know what we’re banging on about. Given time and space to absorb properly, this is a real one.
Restless avant improvisation by Brazilian flautist Marina Cyrino and electric guitarist Matthias Koole, extruding their gestures via no-input mixer combined with sound objets to realise an unearthly outer limits sound...
“Calisthenics is the first album by Institute for Certified Nomadic Illicit Sonic Practices (ICNISP), the Berlin-based duo of Brazilian musicians Marina Cyrino (flute) and Matthias Koole (el.guitar). With a mixture of electronic and acoustic sound sources, objects and preparations, inside amplification and no-input mixing, the duo leads guitar and flute towards a common hybrid terrain.
Partly inspired by drawings of the Handbook of Calisthenics and Gymnastics: A Complete Drill-book with Music to Accompany the Exercises by J. Watson, first published in 1864, ICNISP came up with a series of musical exercises to stay healthy and fit (irony alert!) during the several lockdowns over the past few years. In a playful way, the title Calisthenics also translates an agitation present in many of the duo's energetic playing modes.
On Side A, Calisthenics comprises 7 tracks - or exercises - of different lengths, with a focus on specific instrumental materials or preparations. Side B consists of one track in which a larger form unfurls, with elements of the exercises concatenated into a Full Arch.”
First released in 1992, Chris & Cosey's hyper melodic, electro-tinged 'Musik Fantastique!' is finally released on vinyl for the first time as part of the duo's remastered limited edition vinyl series.
When Throbbing Gristle disbanded in 1981, Chris and Cosey embarked on a career as a duo that'd see them through four decades (and counting) of constant experimentation, reinvention and innovation. By the time they released 'Musik Fantastique!' they were already deep into their journey, and had settled into a relaxed groove. With little to prove, they were able to concentrate on slick songwriting and twitchy beatbox and synth work that was pulling in as much inspiration from Detroit techno and electro as it was chilly European pop. Nowhere near as gloomy and sensual as 1987's well-known "Exotika" or its grinding, industrial followups, this album sounds bright in comparison, with fizzy electronics and fourth-world FM sounds replacing the usual thick Wax Trax-era thump and erotique tension.
'Sound of Sound' almost nudges into psychedelic trance territory (at least an early iteration of it) with lysergic, filtered arpeggios and wonked electro percussion, and 'Masqued' combines that level of drugginess with a tempered 4/4 grind and John Foxx synth wails. 'Afrakira' is particularly worth a closer look, giving Cosey a chance to experiment with her vocals over electronic marimba hits and uneasy TV movie textures - as if Jon Hassell was producing an Enya record, in the best possible way.
Exact reproduction of the debut (and only) punk single by Johnny and The Self Abusers originally released on Chiswick Records in 1977.
"In classic punk style, the band split-up two weeks after this hi-octane debut only to start a new band called Simple Minds.
Johnny and The Self Abusers 'Saints and Sinners' also features on Soul Jazz Records' Punk 45 'I'm A Mess'."
Divine dub house evergreens by Moritz von Oswald & Mark Ernestus’ deeply adored ‘90s project .
Round Two of Main Street’s short but golden run followed the more explicitly Chicago-indebted Round One with a finer balance of Berlin/Chicago energies in 1995.
Again, ‘80s session vocalist Andy Caine lends an immaculate blue eyed soul vocal to the A-side’s Club mix of ‘New day’, with opulent vestiges of Chicago garage house, proper, and gospel house chord progressions distilled with softer dubbing to the sort of utterly skin-prickling effect that’s long been lost in translation by successive waves of house interlopers.
The ‘New Day Dub’ takes more artistic license to stretch out on the mixing desk, swapping vox for lip-smacking chord play and a crispier, energy efficient groove that rolls for days.
Contemporary drone visionary Kali Malone gathers a new, electroacoustic ensemble for her monumental first entry to the GRM pantheon, factoring her pursuit of dynamic timbral horizons with a subtly re-calibrated sense of scale and heightened emotive levity that straddles early music, 20th century American minimalism, electronic drone and widescreen soundtrack formulations. It’s a major new work from an important contemporary artist, and the first collaboration between the GRM and new label-partner Shelter Press, following the untimely passing of Edition Mego’s Peter Rehberg last year.
Initially commissioned by the GRM for its fabled Acousmonium multichannel setup, ‘Living Torch' was composed in Paris between 2020 and 2021 and played on trombone, bass clarinet, sine wave generators, Éliane Radigue's own ARP 2500 modular synthesizer(!), and the Boîte à bourdons (bumblebee box), a custom-made motor-powered drone instrument inspired by the hurdy-gurdy and the Indian shruti box.
The stereo mix renders a discretely introspective experience that imparts its presence in key with the music’s sacred origins. In purposeful staging, the composition prizes immanence over transcendence, revealing through a liberated palette of timbres the hauntingly seductive appeal of early polyphony, as much as the great landscapes that informed American minimalism, and the dematerialised, animist qualities of musique concrète and acoustic phenomenology. Surely cognisant of the greats who preceded her at the GRM, Kali doesn't attempt to outdo them, but instead patiently opens worlds within worlds, pointing to new harmonic textures and isolating timbres with a level of insight comparable to the subtlety of Éliane Radigue or even the subharmonic traction of Sunn O))).
Malone's instrumental choices are precise and deliberate; using the ARP 2500 isn't just notable for connecting her to Radigue, but to the very beginnings of consumer synthesis - it was ARP's first modular unit, developed after engineer Alan R. Pearlman heard Wendy Carlos use the legendary big Moog on "Switched on Bach". Since then, the system has been harnessed by everyone from Vangelis and Jean-Michel Jarre to Faust and John Williams, who used it to create the iconic sound effects in Steven Spielberg's 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind’. In 2022, it's rumoured that there are only around 50 units left in the world.
On the face of it, the music's pace and its brassy, melancholy flavour is adjacent to Gavin Bryars' phenomenal "Sinking of the Titanic", but Malone's transcendental stillness is more in line with the work of Catherine Christer Hennix or Phill Niblock. Her interest in intonation and experience as an organ tuner has allowed Malone to see tone as a colourful spectrum, working in shades and hues instead of resting on the established laurels of equal temperament. This lends her sounds the depth and resonance of the human voice, and feeds into a curiosity with early music - it feels like a step into the future that's built on firm historical foundations.
When brass and woodwind breath a muted fanfare on the beginning of the second side, feeding into soft-focus overdrive and nail-scraped hurdy-gurdy that wavers thru microtonal spectrums, it feels like we’re overhearing a conversation between Hildegard von Bingen and La Monte Young, opening up a portal to the rich inner workings of Malone's own deeply curious music.
Artist and occasional cellist for FKA Twigs, Stars of the Lid, Helm and Sega Bodega; Lucinda Chua chases her breakthru solo EPs with a masterful debut LP of solo piano torch songs gilded with chamber string arrangements and Susanna-like vox.
“Lucinda Chua is a singer, songwriter, composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist based in South London. Primarily using her voice, a cello, and an array of effects units, Chua writes ambient pop songs that are intimate, atmospheric, and totally enchanting.
Born in London and raised in Milton Keynes, Chua has English, Malaysian and ancestral Chinese roots. Having learned music by ear from the age of three using the Suzuki method (whereby young children are taught music in the same way they would a native language), Chua regards music as a natural form of non-verbal self-expression.
YIAN (燕), means swallow in Chinese, and is part of “Siew Yian,” the name given to Chua by her parents to preserve her connection with her Chinese heritage. Just as the migratory songbird lives between places, so did Chua, the artist living in the in-between of the English, Malaysian and Chinese cultures that make up her heritage. In the absence of Mandarin as a mother tongue, music became a way to express the parts of herself that couldn’t be described in words; YIAN emerged as a way to heal.
A deeply introspective and fully realized vessel of creative expression (Chua self-produced and engineered eight of the ten tracks), YIAN emerges as less an album than a worldview, a commitment to learning and uncovering one’s own selfhood honed over Chua’s lifelong reconciliation with her own personal history and identity.
Through this process she found new language through which to express her experiences, language which lay in the practices she developed and the creative community with whom she built solidarity along the process: co-authoring visual identities with main collaborators Tash Tung, Jade Ang Jackman and Nhu Xuan Hua and set designers Lydia Chan, Jonquil Lawrence and Erin Tse. Chua also constructed the album’s physical language through dance with movement directors Chantel Foo and Duane Nasis, this expression shown most vividly through the short film made for 'Echo’.”
Two titans of post-industrial experimental music meet in a psychosonic flux drawn from recordings made but left unfinished due to Gen’s passing - an extraordinary 90 minutes of music for the headstrong, also featuring input by Eric Random and Z’EV
The first new album by The Hafler Trio since 2016, ’Dream Less Suite’ features its longstanding pilot Andrew McKenzie unearthing, resurrecting and completing a number of works made over the years with fellow outer-limits explorer Genesis P-Orridge (COUM Transmissions, Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV). Bringing nearly a century of combined, lived experience and knowledge gleaned from the fringes of art music and collaborations with everyone from William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin, to Autechre and Jóhann Jóhannsson to their music, the result is a compelling wormhole of multi-layered, multifaceted contemporary psychedelia that speaks to the unfathomable limits of their restless minds and contains the potential to unravel yours.
While input from Gen is apparent and key to ‘Dream Less Suite’, it’s very much a h3o album. As the title implies, the lysergic shapeshifting quality of the material and its zonked yet alert nature evokes the feeling of end-of-trip hours, when the gear has begun to fade but its effects linger. For many, that’s possibly an unpleasureable time, however those listeners who relish that between-world experience or have a mettle for getting twisted will be in their element here, lost to the endlessly slippery permutations of atonal asymmetry and unpredictable quiet/loud dynamics that give the album its captivating spirit and shape.
Pushing the limits of sanity and what can be contained on one side of vinyl, it arrives with the slow mulch of NWW-esque psych guitar flames, transitioning to spectral spatialisation of Gen’s vox in Alaura (yes)’, and shattered textures of ‘Veiled Threat (extract)’, and follows threads of primordial psych like Sperm splitting with Smegma on the 2nd side, before resolving to 22 minutes of scratchy ambient techno pulse like Zoviet France after hours in front of a Dream Machine in ‘E-am-E’, and committing an utterly powerful 23 mins of drone traction like an electronic echo of Harley Gaber’s sustained pitches in ’NOW<------->NOW’.
A master at work. Highly recommended.
Juicy mutant digi-dub by Parisian duo of François Marché and Stéphane Bodin, veterans of the city’s electro-punk-club scene now turning a hand to downbeat styles
Skanking in the proximity to Om Unit’s ‘Acid Dub Studies’ the groggiest Tapes cuts or Black Zone Myth Chant’s screwed psychoactive slugs, Froid Dub play it down and wobbly with the seven parts of ‘Deep Blue Bass’. One for loosey-goosey bodies up for a slow bop, or the horizontally-inclined, it works to a dubwise bias of ample bass and swinging machine percussion swirled with natty instrumental organ, melodica and acidic bleeps in time-honoured style and pattern.
‘The Conference’ sounds like a 10-tonne Aba-Shanti rhythm slowed to a dread heave, and ‘Item by Item’ leavens the pressure on a lighter footing, while ‘Wet Dub’ sounds like Tapes dubbing HTRK. The slackened disco-dub chug of ‘Not Loved’ is a strong number for the cosmic drug dancers, where ‘Original Stalker’ follows like Tolouse Low Trax-meets-African Head Charge.
Beijing duo Zaliva-D drag traditional Chinese rhythms into an industrialised crawl elevated by freakish vocals. Brilliant and perplexing material that’s hard to fathom in a single sitting, a bit like listening to gabber at 5% speed; hypnotic, still jarring, completely unhinged.
'Misbegotten Ballads' is one of those albums that made us wonder what the fuck we were listening to on first play. It’s traditional Chinese, defiantly experimental and bizarrely electronic - with ancient percussion rubbing against screwed synths to form a driving pulse alongside saw tones that rattle like snakes.
Mostly deployed at a sultry 60bpm crawl, it’s all almost uncomfortably slow and defiantly awkward, like some possessed fantasy version of propulsive dance music played at a pace designed for zoned-out contemplation. Where so much “exotic” music experienced at this tempo feels measured and tasteful, Zaliva-D revel in aesthetic carnage - their choice of instrumentation, pitch and arrangement all seem designed to stick a middle finger up to the polite mode of expression that seems to be the sound-du-jour as the world disintegrates around us.
On 'Hun Shou Qiang Qiang' saturated woodblock rhythms and vocal wails knock us into the next dimension, linking to traditional music without mimicking anything specific. The cartoonish processing makes the vocals sound like some alternate version of baile funk, combined with fuzzy lead synth melodies that are impossible to take seriously, in the best way.
One of the weirder things we've come across this year, and easily one of the Shanghai label’s most rewarding oddities.
Manna for BM fiends, D&D players and RPG questers; the next NTS compilation surveys the fetid bedroom-scape of dungeon synth music with a dozen gems plucked from obscure early ‘90s records.
‘Ascend’ holds a torch to black metal’s most atmospheric urges with exquisite, cherry-picked cuts compiled by Sam Strang with Bruno Halper (Emotional Rescue, NTS) and Will Dickson. Leading on from their expert surveys of private press folk, amapiano, and singeli, they turn sharply, bitterly inward with an icy grip of hard-to-find aces that can be hailed as the roots of what is now known as dungeon synth music.
The sound is surely familiar to dimples of black metal’s 2nd wave, and the sort of scene-setting, Midi-eval intros favoured by likes of Mortiis or dodgy cunt Burzum - particularly their inspiration from Tangerine Dream’s Conrad Schnitzler and Klaus Schulze that also leaches into ‘90s RPG computer games such as Diablo or indeed Skyrim in the modern day. Sniff your pits; you’ll know if that’s you: and if so, this set is another good excuse not to leave the house for as long as possible.
The fantasy begins with a stately invitation to join the kingdom of darkness extended by Evol (the Norwegian one), and proceeds from the enchanted pads of Corvus Neblus to the pulsating form of Asmorod, thru toens evoking flashbacks to kids TV gameshow ‘Nightmare’ in ‘Vindalv’s ’Swærfl Stimma’, taking in immersive durational wonders by Apeiron, Lunar Womb and Neptune Towers, beside the lustrous strings of Secret Stairways, and the wheeze of Kadotus609 primed to soundtrack alchemical experiments with Gatorade and Oreos or turn your next garage raid for rizlas and bacon into a gauntlet of suburban zombie NPCs and local hell-hounds.
Studio One Space-Age Dub Special draws on rare and classic dubs taken from the mighty vaults of Studio One Records.
"Most of these tracks are taken from Studio One’s superb long out-of-print series of dub albums released between 1974 and 1980 such as Zodiac Sounds, Ital Sounds and System, Roots Dub, Dub Store Special, Juks Incorporation and others. Many of these classic dub albums were originally released only in Jamaica in short-run pressings with special silk-screen printed sleeves all with striking minimal designs.
These tracks, credited to the Dub Specialist, use the original music tracks to seminal Studio One rhythms, which are broken down, reconstructed, and manipulated using the studio mixing desk as an instrument. With these albums producer Clement Dodd and engineer Sylvan Morris helped create some of the finest dubs ever known to man or woman!
The cover shows Clement ‘Sir Coxsone’ Dodd in orbit, an image inspired by DJ Lone Ranger‘s 1982 ‘Badda Dan Dem’ album for Studio One, the cover of which portrays Sir Coxsone at the controls of a spaceship with the DJ in space.
The tracks on Studio One Space-Age Dub Special are mainly instrumental cuts with occasional snippets of original vocals brought into the mix. Lone Ranger’s complete vocals feature on ‘A Lie Gal A Tell’, a 6min+ superb dubbed out piece of musical madness. Also included is a selection of rare dub versions that only ever appeared on rare singles."
Pivotal mcr outlier Sockethead follows strong collabs with Michael J Blood and Rat Heart on arguably his deadliest, most locked-in album of scuzzed-not-fuzzed Detroit-influenced modalities, produced in Athens and sounding something like Urban Tribe and Actress soundtracking a cruise thru the city at night.
Feeling the moxie of a man used to grey Manc skies and smitten by Athens’ neon lights and sights, Sockethead delivers some of his finest material thus far on ‘Yas’, deploying an abundance of weirdo textures, space, and spirits on a typically crooked take on deep-rooted and wavey technoid inspirations with a DIY approach.
Notably shorn of the yowling, MES-y vocals found on his standout debut ‘Harj-o-Marj’, for YOUTH, Yas is nevertheless full of expressive leads and itchy rhythms that carry his signature style. We can hear him conveying the dry heat of Athens thru the circuits of pensive opener ‘The Prowler’ which crosses an 80s, Carpenter-esque slasher movie vibe with levitational Drexciyan synths, and on the pulsating, vibrating mass of ‘Temporary Atmosphere’.
The rest of the album patently indulges a passion for Motor City vapours between the pitch-bent melodies and whirring broken beats of ‘Other Side of Chaos (Guilt Mix)’, to an Actress style stepper ‘Cats On The Island’, and most explicitly on the kaotic, swarming harmonies of ‘Untitled ATM’ and the thrumming Juan Atkins adoration ‘The Ecstatic’.
It’s all supremely atmospheric, smoked-out and engrossing stuff, hugely recommended to anyone signed up for anything on the MJB x Ratty axis, or the deepest late night jams.
The ideal starting point for anyone who's looking to get into Felt, 'Bubblegum Perfume' assembles Brummie outsider Lawrence's 1980s dizzying Creation run into a tight set of virtuosic experimental pop that's still just as confounding as it was back then.
Although Lawrence had always known he was going to be a star, it's taken a while for the rest of the world to get up to speed with his ambitions. The uncompromising Birmingham-born visionary founded Felt in 1979 and put together 10 albums and 10 singles over 10 years, disbanding the outfit in 1989. And while they never achieved the commercial success that Lawrence and many of his followers knew they deserved, they inspired a wave of countless bands from The Wedding Present and Belle & Sebastian to The Pastels and The Charlatans. 'Bubblegum Perfume' ties a silk bow around their pristine run of Creation releases, assembling their finest moments into a relatively bite-sized set of jangling art pop that's still never been bettered. If you've never come across Felt or Lawrence before, there's really no better place to start.
Lawrence's bizarrely dreamy introspection is immediately evident on the brief, brilliant opening track 'I Will Die With My Head In Flames', that twins Martin Duffy's sparkling organ lines with spindly surf rock guitars and Lawrence's own despondent poetics. Almost over before it's started, it neatly characterises Felt's radio pop prowess, doing more in just over a minute than most bands manage in a career. From here we're treated to cultish classics like 'Space Blues', an electrified dirge that combines wonky p-funk synths and hammond organ vamps with cinematic orchestral flourishes, and the David Sylvian-like 'Be Still' that couches Lawrence's voice in swirling, crepuscular atmospherics.
From track to track it's hard to predict where Felt might go next. The coherent theme is Lawrence himeself, and while his time with Felt was pocked by regular disagreements with cycling band members and liaisons with starry engineers like Robin Guthrie and John Leckie, his guiding hand kept Felt from making mistakes the C86 generation repeated over and over. It's music that sings loudly of an '80s reality that trampled on Lawrence's West Midlands home, retaining hope and humble, self-deprecating humor in the face of factory closures and dwindling prospects for 80's youth. The compilation ends with 'Ballad of the Band', a much-copied early single (Felt's first for Creation) that addressed Lawrence's struggles with guitarist Maurice Deebank while he was still in the band, although he had left by the time it was released.
This mythology and unusual level of self awareness makes Felt a rare and fascinating prospect decades later, their influence can be heard throughout the art pop landscape, from Broadcast to Hood and beyond.
The Necks regroup on a staggering first new LP in three years, switching between skittering jazz to widescreen rollers with a breathtaking momentum - somewhere between classic Verve label, MvO Trio, This Heat and Oren Ambarchi's ensemble jams.
The Necks’ Chris Abrahams (piano, Hammond organ), Tony Buck (drums, percussion, electric guitar) and Lloyd Swanton (bass guitar, double bass) re-ignite a mesmerising minimalism on ‘Travel’. Now in their 34th year of playing together, the Aussie unit’s fine-honed intuitions are fully apparent across four durational parts totalling 77 minutes sprawling across seemingly endless soundscapes that collapse into myriad genres.
Perfectly framed and suspended with beautifully buoyant mixing and engineering by long time collaborator Tim Whitten, ‘Travel’ is a swaggering statement by the modern masters of long-form jams. The elements are knit with a particularly smoked-out verve and swingeing flex in each part, stretching from what sounds like MvO Trio haunted by Jackie Mittoo on the extraordinary ‘Signal’, to an uncanny, streamlined echo of Ndikho Xaba and the Natives’ South African free jazz on ‘Forming’, before resembling Can emulating Brazilian jazz on ‘Imprinting’, and arriving at the heart-in-mouth tempest of snare rolls, escalating organ vamps and roving low end that brings the LP to a thunderous climax like some extended Alice Coltrane breakdown that leaves u tossed in mid air.
Sounding as lean and potent as they did on 1989’s debut LP ‘Sex’, they’re frankly showing off here, with ‘Travel’ registering as good a place as any to kick off your infatuation with one of the world’s greatest experimental units.
Funk Masters' Love Money with Bo Kool's (Money) No Love on the flip.
"Few records crossed over into different musical worlds as successfully as the Funk Masters’ sublime UK disco / jazz funk monster classic cut, ‘Love Money’. Originally released in 1981, the track came out on the flipside over a rap cut to the song by Bo Kool, one of the earliest examples of UK rap, but it was the instrumental ‘Love Money’, with its dubbed out sound effects, that was more often played, filling dancefloors everywhere.
This nod to reggae and dub was not by chance. The track was produced by long-time UK resident Jamaican reggae DJ and producer Tony Williams. This was his first attempt at a club track but, by using reggae musicians, he created new style blending funk, disco and reggae, years ahead of its time.
So if ever you want to hear a record that encapsulates the world of disco, funk, proto-house, hip-hop, no wave dance and reggae in one go then this is it."
Roger Doyle's mythical 1981 debut, a Nurse With Wound-approved tape collage classic, and a handful of the Irish vanguard's best Fairlight-powered electro-pop. Essential, obviously.
Doyle composed "Rapid Eye Movements" when he was just 19. Inspired by the GRM set and recorded between Ireland and the Netherlands, Doyle wanted to create an audio representation of the REM sleep cycle using field recordings and improvisations. He read that during REM sleep the eyes move around beneath the eyelids, and captured this sense of place between dreaming and waking by using disorienting electronic effects and repetitions intended to give the listener a sense of aural deja vu. Released in 1981 on the NWW-affiliated United Dairies label, it's technically a Doyle solo album but the Operating Theatre moniker, a name Doyle used to his ensemble electro pop project, was used all the same. The record is still a dizzying piece of work, true vortex-level tape music material that takes the basic blueprint from artists like Luc Ferrari and Bernard Parmegiani and infuses it with Irish humor and surrealism.
Even just this album would make the reissue worthwhile, but we get a bundle of Doyle's quirky electro-pop productions too. In the 1980s he teamed up with actress Olwen Fouéré, who added a little bit of theater to the mix, and Spanish singer Elena López who handled vocals. Doyle managed to get his hands on a Fairlight sampler, an expensive and rare bit of kit for the time - it was famously used on Kate Bush's "Hounds of Love" if you need a reference. So the brittle, characteristic sound gives his productions an era-specific bite that's hard to recreate. All of the tracks appeared on EPs and singles at the time, including one on the U2-affiliated Mother Records, but the group weren't well promoted and splintered. These tracks are a testament to the era and to Doyle's drive as a boundary-pushing producer - who else can pivot from grungy electro-acoustic tape collage into pitch-perfect electro pop so seamlessly? Crazy, good.
The name of Mulatu Astatke has become ubiquitous to anyone with a healthy interest in Ethiopian jazz.
The Story Of Ethio Jazz 1965-75' charts Mulatu's journey from New York in '65, where he recorded his first two LP's 'Afro-Latin Soul Volumes 1 & 2', onto the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa in '72 for the recording of 'Mulatu of Ethiopia', to more recent collaborations with London-based psyche Jazz outfit The Heliocentrics. Outside of the aforementioned classic recordings, this is one of the most comprehensive collections of Mulatu's career you'll find, including his signature 'Yekermo Sew', the fruity elephant-sampling Latin-jazz of 'I Faram Gami I Faram' feat Ethiopian Quartet, the devastatingly funky 'Yegelle Tezeta', and fellow Éthiopiques star Tlahoun Gessesse's cool swinging croon on 'Lantchi Biye'.
Besides his work with the Heliocentrics and occasional touring , Mulatu still seeks to further Ethiopian music, working with MIT on modernising traditional Ethipiopian instruments and helping new producers like Quantic's Will Holland to re-record his classic material. A highly recommended album for anyone with an itch for killer African music from the archives.
Moods, Modes, a triple 7" box set from Duster.
"Explore the Duster universe on the far superior 45RPM format. This deluxe triple 7” box contains Duster’s first single—1997’s Transmission Flux (including “Stars Will Fall” & “Orbitron”), 1998’s Apex, Trance-Like (featuring “Four Hours”), plus Stratosphere’s painfully absent “Echo, Bravo” and the lost 2002 outtake “What You’re Doing To Me.”
For anyone who knows these records already - you won't need much of a sermon from us about their stature and greatness. If you don't know them - fuck you're in for a treat.
Rhythm & Sound was the project that Mark Ernestus and Moritz von Oswald turned to after their seminal series of recordings as Basic Channel came to an end. From 1997 until 2002 the label released seven 12" EP's which pretty much defined the direction so much electronic music would turn to in its wake - and it still continues to exert a colossal influence, for better or worse. It's perhaps hard to remember over a decade later just how little these productions sounded like anything that preceded them - taking the essence of dub and breaking it down until all that was left was a vapour trail of melody and a colossal bass echo. We could spend an hour listing all the music that basically came along and copied this template in the intervening years but, the thing is, none of what followed comes anywhere near these productions in terms of substance, none of it has aged in the same way.
French-touch club legend I:Cube returns, starry-eyed and spangled with kosmische lust on their self-titled first album in over a decade - RIYL Cluster & Eno, Neu!, Stereolab, Laraaji, Jean-Michel Jarre, Air, Silver Apples of the Moon.
I:Cube is the most revered alias of Nicolas Chaix (aka half of Château Flight with Gilb’R), the Parisian mainstay whose early 12”s and albums were crucial to the development of what became known as the French-touch sound of house music alongside the likes of Daft Punk and Pépé Bradock in the ‘90s and beyond. While he’s never let up with the high quality house deliveries since the ‘90s, recent years have seen Chaix turn his music outwards, upwards, a la 2022’s ‘Chimère FM’ project, which leads the way to ‘Eye Cube’; a delicious confection of classically skooled synth music iridescent with analogue machine melody and gently urged by raw, burbling drum machines. It’s the sound of an artist growing older gracefully, timelessly, and following their nose for more dreamlike and sensuous headspaces, without losing sight of what brought them here in the first place.
Improvised “hands on” and in-the-moment, and presented with minimal post-production, ‘Eye Cube’ is ultimately a testament to what naturally flows forth when he turns on the machines nowadays. Drawing on nearly 30 years of practice, the results convect a searching spirit between celestial harmonics recalling Laraaji in ‘Prismatic’, thru to Silver Apples of the Moon-esque exploits on ‘Vantableu’, and Air-via-JMJ-indebted beauty on ‘Gypsotheque 2’ or ‘Kaszio Plus 1’. He makes room for cosmic turbulence in ‘La Grotte aux fées’ and echoes of his club roots with the Rabih Beaini-like astro-techno vectors of ‘0-0-01-48’, and kisses off with a classic gallic flourish ripe for some unmade film’s romance scenes or a DIC animation in the 0PN-via-Eno shimmer to close, ‘Infinite ∞ Melodies’.
'Gold Mine Trash' hoovers up tracks from Felt's earliest Cherry Red run between 1981 and 1985, and includes their beloved 'Primitive Painters' collaboration with Cocteau Twins' Elizabeth Fraser.
Felt's pre-Creation material was marked by Lawrence's relentless creative dynamic, a process that saw him battle his bandmates and steamroll various producers until he'd worked out how to realise his vision. 'Gold Mine Trash' was produced by John Rivers, John Leckie and Robin Guthrie, and while it doesn't have quite the same level of coherence as the later 'Bubblegum Perfume', it still helps map out Lawrence's misunderstood genius in multiple dimensions.
A handful of these tracks were recorded as demos for Warner sub-label Blanco Y Negro, but were turned down. 'Dismantled King Is Off The Throne' is the best of these, and alongside 'Sunlight Bathed The Golden Glow' shows the kind of jangling, off-center poppiness and abstract lyricism that'd be thrust into the charts a few years later by Pulp. Robin Guthrie's productions are expectedly interesting too, despite being at odds with Felt's aesthetic. 'The Day the Rain Came Down' is almost drowned completely by Guthrie's signature reverb, but 'Primitive Painters' - which features Liz Fraser on backing vocals - more than makes up for it.
David Holmes (Ocean’s Eleven, Out of Sight, Killing Eve, The Fall, ‘71) new soundtrack to Sky limited series ‘This England’ via Stranger Than Paradise Records.
"The show is co-written and directed by Michael Winterbottom (A Mighty Heart, The Road to Guantanamo) and stars Kenneth Branagh as Boris Johnson and Ophelia Lovibond as Carrie Symonds. The 6-part drama is based on Boris Johnson’s tumultuous first months as Prime Minister and traces the impact on the country of the first wave of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The plan for the music for THIS ENGLAND came in 3 parts.
1. We wanted to create a theme that was high in tempo. A theme that moved as fast as the virus was spreading. We wanted to always feel that we were chasing the vaccine but were ultimately never catching up as the virus took hold through huge events like Cheltenham & Champions League matches that should never have gone ahead. All the rhythms within the score were created using heart beats, ventilators, defibrillators, ECG machines etc. Even though these weren’t obviously noticeable I felt that it worked great as a linear thread and gave the piece real human movement, emotion and tension that told the story in an original way.
2. The second theme centred around the virus itself as it creeped, crawled and spread through cities, countries and ultimately the world, the horrific nature of it and how the world practically changed overnight. I wanted to create a sense of danger that was uncomfortable. It also had to work with the recklessness, nativity and ultimately mismanagement that was witnessed day in day out in Downing Street.
3. Emotionally, we had to be really careful. The last thing we wanted was to be overblown with the emotion. It was very important to deal with the raw human emotion in a very delicate way that had a profound feeling as people of all ages were dying unnecessarily by the 100s every day. The care homes were very tricky because of the hopelessness and obvious outcome of the situation. There was no room for sentimentality. We also wanted to create a darker sense of melancholy as Boris Johnson was not taking the virus at all seriously as he drove off to Chequers week after week.
David Holmes in his own words:-
“I’ve been profoundly affected by the sheer lawlessness and the dishonesty of the Tory government. When are the people who vote them in ever gonna learn? “Boris Johnson is starting to make Margaret Thatcher look like she wasn’t doing a bad job. And she was the devil.” "
The third Rhythm & Sound, 1998, full dub pressure. All 25 minutes of it.
Rhythm & Sound was the project that Mark Ernestus and Moritz von Oswald turned to after their seminal series of recordings as Basic Channel came to an end. From 1997 until 2002 the label released seven 12" EP's which pretty much defined the direction so much electronic music would turn to in its wake - and it still continues to exert a colossal influence, for better or worse. It's perhaps hard to remember over a decade later just how little these productions sounded like anything that preceded them - taking the essence of dub and breaking it down until all that was left was a vapour trail of melody and a colossal bass echo.
'Roll Off' is another colossal steppers reduction, the kicks more prominent this time, deployed over two tracks and 25 minutes - just pure headfloss. Buy them all.
Sleep & OM’s Al Cisneros serves manna for stoners with two rootsy, mystic dubs in the mode of his recent split with The Bug
The double A-sided ‘Suicide of Judas / Akeldama’ marks a decade of Cisneros indulging his passion for roots reggae dub after carving his name in the stoner rock hall of fame with Sleep, then Om, between the ‘90s and ’00s. His dub works naturally transpose the slow and heavy intensities of his rock records into loosely related frameworks with more attention given to the low and high end registers rather than rock’s usual midrange.
On ’Suicide of Judas’ he summons really roots reggae’s biblical references with a moody procession of slack-stringed bassline riff and wickedly lagging rock drums perfused with rolling nyabinghi percussion and hazy horns, whereas ‘Akeldama’ really opens out the dub FX envelopes on the same riddim with headier, air-stepping effect for those who haven’t smoked too much and can still lift up a leg.
A stone cold classic of the early ‘80s interzone between what we now call post-industrial and proto-techno styles. It’s perhaps most notably hailed as one of the first ever recordings to combine Roland’s 303 and 808 boxes in its album highlight, Dancing Ghosts, and still sounds entirely, remarkably future-proofed a whole generation down the line.
Recorded in 1982, completed in ’83, Elemental 7 marked a decisive move away from the sensual synth-pop of Chris & Cosey - itself a break with the bitterest ends of their previous group, Throbbing Gristle - to a blend of abstract, synthesised atmospheres and needlepoint rhythm programming joined by processed vocals, Cornet and a mass of self-built electronic instruments.
Nowadays, with reams of recordings from the early ‘80s now back in circulation, it’s perhaps easier than ever to hear the contrast between CTI’s sound and what they did before it, and how incomparable it was to practically everything else, especially in terms of CTI’s approach to clarity and emulated space, and particularly so as they worked outside of the usual big studio system, instead helming to DIY principles which have served them richly to date with little or no expense to fidelity.
As the soundtrack to a video work, Elemental 7 also found Chris & Cosey reprising their multimedia praxis with John Lacey, who previously worked with Cosey in COUM Transmissions, before that unit bifurcated and morphed into Throbbing Gristle. The album's sounds and arrangements, oscillating between breathtakingly immersive ambient architecture and inimitably tight electro-techno templates, are sensitive to synaesthetics and course with an amorphous nature and sensuality which simply didn’t exist before they brought the sound to life in this manner.
Elemental 7 has cast a long shadow of influence over almost all electronic music since it was made, so it almost goes without saying that it’s essential, historic listening.
Never-before-issued mix of a boogie-down reggae disco pearl lifted off Tyrone Evans’ 1983 Wackies album.
Originally cut by The Paragons and versioned by Tyrone Evans in his super low tone with lifted choral call-and-response, ‘Rise Up’ is a prime piece of reggae disco with the weirdest strut.
It gets even better and madder on the ‘Rise Up Version’, previously unreleased until now and swiping most of the vox to leave its wobbly organ vamps and bubbling bassline oozing late night suss for the coolest dancers.
First reissue of Muslimgauze’s 1999 LP of signature rhythm ’n noise for US experimental dub label BSI Records.
Heavier on the drums than the noise, and typically treated to Bryn Jones’ secretive dub, it’s a mixed bag sweeping between impressionistic scenes of duelling drummers on the street in ‘Antalya’, to glitch dubs that feel like a pre-echo of Seekers International on the hiccuping ace ‘Valencia In Flames’, with hand drums spun into heat hazy gauze on ‘Al Souk Dub’ and the labyrinthine recursions of ‘Catacomb Dub’.
It gets hottest and heaviest in the scorched electro-dub pressure of ‘Dust of Saqqara’ and takes a sharp turn left to the extra terrestrial mythology of Mali via Craig Leon with two standout parts of piquant psych-dub in ‘Dogon Tabla’ and the blown-out devise ‘Nommos’ Afterburn’.
Pill-belly techno flights by Berlin’s JakoJako on her debut mission with Mute after initial outings with Leisure System, on Tresor 30, and a collaborative LP with Rødhåd
The ‘Verve EP’ gives a strong flavour of JakoJako’s taste for modular and analog synthesis across four club tools that oscillate straight-laced and offbeat arrangements. ‘Impetus’ is built to hold a sublime tension at peak times with its galloping kicks and ascendent choral pads precipitating a soaring trance arp around the half way mark, and ‘Auris’ yokes back to a fine line of deep, stepping techno.
It gets more interesting for us with the crafty subaquatic slosh and radiant highs of ‘Opak’ recalling Barker’s Leisure Systems work or a slower Vel, and ‘Nexus’ also gets it right with a Mike Parker-esque pneumatic pump cycling into trance zones.
Staggering new 12-part opus by Chicago’s jazz standard-bearer Angel Bat Dawid, advancing the vision of 2019’s ‘The Oracle’ with a compelling critique of racial politics in contemporary USA
‘Requiem for Jazz’ is a sprawling treatise on the African American story by one of jazz music’s leading protagonists and significant creative voices. Inspired in part by the dialogue of Edward O. Bland’s 1959 film ‘The Cry of Jazz’, Angel’s 2nd solo album delineates the documentary’s themes in a world, some 60 years later, where jazz music still serves a potent purpose as an expression of Afro-American identity, and specifically “draws formal comparisons between the structure of jazz music and the African American experience - as one of freedom and restraint, of joy and suffering - that manifests in the triumph of spirit over the crushing prejudice of daily life.” In the process, ‘Requiem For Jazz’ bridges the sprawling space-operatic nature of Sun Ra albums, and the cosmic ambition of Alice Coltrane, and the epic theatric staging of contemporary R&B and rap albums by likes of Beyonce or Kendrick lamar, to realise a peerless hour of music that ties together and transcends the past generations of Black music made post-the Civil Rights movement.
Side-eying a multibillion £$£$ industry built on repackaging the sounds of Black people’s sufferation into manageable commerce, Angel takes 1959 film ‘The Cry of Jazz’, and its images of Sun Ra in the ‘hood, as a diving point for her huge ensemble, Tha ArkeStarzz, to explore a wonderfully free mix of acoustic and electronic jazz licked with contemporary inflections of the drill sound that originated in her native Chicago, and most impressively, a sense of operatic staging or dramaturgy that strikes heavily on first listen, but will take many repeat listens to fully grasp. As that implies, it’s not an “easy” listen on any level, but it is a richly satisfying and spirit-raised one for anyone willing to step back and try to take it all in; from the alien vocoders of the intro, thru the haunting recital of ‘Kyrie Eleison’, a stately ‘Confutatis-repression’, and the inclusion of Arkestra bandleader Marshall Allen, or the spine-shattering finale of keening choral ‘Long Tone for Rayna Golding (A Binti Zawadi our Future).’
Overproof levels of ’80s keyboard funk for your dancing feet from the Cameroonian producer to Sunny Adé, Guy Lobe, and Steve Monite - one of the most notable Nigerians of the era working with electronics, comparable to William Onyeabor or Jake Sollo.
“Teles' first break came as a keyboard player in Tony Allen's new solo band, right after he had split with Fela Kuti the Africa 70 at the start of the 1980s. He travelled up to Kaduna in the north of Nigeria only to find that the sponsor had pulled out of funding Allen's band and was stranded in the city. Whilst in Kaduna he met Nigerian artist Steve Black who invited him to join his band. Steve remembers his first encounters with Nkono: "Someone told me there was a Cameroonian boy here that plays keyboards. He came to the studio and he was good, but he only played Cameroon music, mostly Makossa, but I knew he had potential. I said to him - "We have to change our musical style, let's play some funk". We listened to Cameo, The Crusaders, that kind of stuff. He spent hours on end listening to Cameo!"
"After that, Nkono came back to Lagos and every musician wanted to record and was looking for session musicians. When Nkono was in the studio with you he would contribute to the recording. He would arrange, he did a lot of the studio, so everybody liked Nkono. Most other musicians would come to the studio, just do what you ask and that's all, but Nkono wasn’t like that. He would take over, produce and arrange. Once Nkono discovered he could produce, he set up his own production company; everyone began taking their demos to Nkono and he would produce them."
Once you recognize the Nkono Teles Sound you start to hear it everywhere in Nigerian pop music from around 1982 onwards. Steve continues: "Nkono was a very cool guy, very humble, shy, not into drinking or drugs, never smoked. He was a perfect gentleman. He loved his music and loved good musicians. You couldn’t be Nkono’s friend as a musician if you weren't a good musician."
With only three solo albums to his name in this period (Fiesta Dancin, Party Beats & Afro Music Party) Soundway have curated the best tracks into one retrospective mini-compilation alongside an instrumental cut that he wrote, recorded and produced for the singer Jane Coleman on her only album from 1987. Sadly, Nkono Teles died in 2011 after having left Nigeria in the '90s and this material has been licensed from his family in Cameroon. The Nigerian recording industry started to change around this time and piracy made huge inroads into record sales. Nkono moved westwards back home again as Lagos became a harder place to exist and work as a foreigner. With a few productions made in Cameroon, France and the UK during the '90s and early '00s he never quite reached the same level of innovation as he did when he first arrived as a young man in Nigeria in the early '80s.”
Material Object investigates uncanny valley space serrated between violin improvisation and electronics on their first album in 6 years, for Editions Mego.
“Dismantling the acoustic to feed the electronic, Editions Mego presents Telepath, the new album by Material Object. Born out of a single improvised recording session with a lone Violinist, Telepath is a startling album of future electronic music, resulting in an LP of unique and timeless tracks that reimagine a classic sound for an endless future.
Boldly departing from his previous canon of largely 'Ambient' work, Material Object's Telepath renders itself out as something much stranger, something more spacious, more subtle and gradual. Moments of bouncing minimalism meet moirés of delayed pure tones phasing in and out of resolution, giving way to a series of strobing foreground gestures arranged and offset in disorienting landscapes which scatter themselves asymmetrically amongst crystal pools of reverb.
Revelling in the creative dismemberment of the original source material, Material Object slowly and patiently induces the violin to undergo every category of torsion, pressure and rupture. Its vivid acoustic qualities pass over and across the event horizon of the digital domain. Shattering then crystallising into points and coordinates, intersections, disjunctions, planes and reverberant figures. An uncanny geometry perceived only between the ears, at once dissolving and reconstructing itself.
Equally abstract, haunting and daring, Material Object’s Telepath is a singular work that abandons all notions of genre. Erupting with a tension of opposites that unfolds as a truly unique story, told in four dimensions and draped in deafening colour.”
The first ESP Summer album, Mars Is A Ten, originally released in 1995.
"Recorded in 1994 in Livonia, Michigan by 4AD labelmates Ian Masters (Pale Saints) and Warren Defever (His Name Is Alive). The album combines Masters' sweet, choirboy vocals with his and Defever's way around minimal guitar pop with appropriately spiky, strange touches at points. At its simplest and most unaffected, ESP Summer sounds wonderfully, beautifully fragile"
Ian Masters - guitar vocals piano drums samples
Warren Defever - guitar piano
Erika - violin
Autumn - cello
Matt Smith - string arrangements
‘Northern Luv Songs 4 Wen Ur Life’s A Mess’ truly scrubs out the bowels of Tom Boogizm's emotional plumbing, chopping and screwing dream pop, narcotic improv and freeform DIY echoes into a fuzzy and utterly bewitching opus that’s essential listening if yr into anything from Durutti Column to Vincent Gallo, Andrew Chalk to Arthur Russell.
Last year's ‘A Blues’, our album of the year, switched from Rat Heart’s usual scuzzed club mode into a slow-motion reflection pool of love and loss. Using a rudimentary setup of a Tascam recorder, sampler, guitar, mic and a few pedals, Boogizm reinforced an elemental energy that's been present in so much of our favourite music for decades, linking Vini Reilly's inconsolable echoes with Autechre's early future-shocked melancholia and even Rainy Miller's more recent waterlogged canticles.
This second album released as Rat Heart Ensemble brings out his faded colours and pained expressions in a symphony of dejection, desolation and loose-lipped emotional transference. Each track plays like a psychic survey; keeping an insistent distance from any marketable scene or another to sway to his own un-strangled artistic pulse. If you're looking for an accurate read of the British cultural climate right now, there are few documents we reckon are gonna be as imperishable as this.
Shrouded in an atmospheric clag, Boogizm intuitively spins out the blues on a noumenal loom that weaves in aspects of DIY bedroom styles akin to Dean Blunt and echoes the way it poured out of The Durutti Column’s plangent prayers, resonating thru Roy Montgomery’s spectral jangles and end of world romance. The loss, shame, confusion and isolation of the last few years is all skinned up into tightly packed dog-end of blunted noise, queasy romance and couch-locked paranoia.
Like Burial or James Kirby, Boogizm treats his art as a vessel through which to channel a musical language not for clout but for connection. A voracious record collector, he’s developed a nuanced language as a DJ that effortlessly translates to his productions; he hears music for what it is, not a set of signals to net showy European festival circuit A/V premieres, but a string of universal knots that take patience and understanding to carefully unravel. We can't tell you exactly what the context of "Northern Luv Songs..." might be, but the emotions are laid out bare from the outset.
‘Liars ‘Eyes is plastic euphoria that tapers Actress' Black Country hiss into bubble-wrapped cabaret vaporwave. ‘I Bet You Wished, Lad’ is even more faded, with pained wails emerging from a coarse bed of Grouper-esque saturated amplifier hum, while 'Already Been In Green' smudges pointillist daubs from Robin Guthrie and Graham Sutton into impressionist panels of bright, ambivalent abstraction. The awkward, synthetic strings on 'This, Then We’re Thru!’ are as much ‘World of Echo’ as they are ‘Key Nell’, with Boogizm's voice sounding frank and devastating, while the long-form inverted soft-power ambience of 'I'll Be All Day' fades blissfully into the heartbreaking folk of 'Note From A Tea Leaf'.
Rat Heart’s post-Brexit, post-lockdown landscape is a hash of nostalgia and longing that laments the lost, refusing to celebrate the ignorance of modernism or its edgier, more pessimistic sibling. It's just pure expression, and we can't help but lose ourselves completely in it.
Cult Swedish ambient noise avatar Civilistjävel! pushes off the first release on Felt, the promising new label run by Perko, with one of their most opiated and sublimely chilling episodes.
Depending who you asks, Civilistjävel! is either “a figment of the pre-internet era tapping into a similar consciousness as Biosphere, Chain Reaction or early Fax +49-69/450464” or an apocryphal exercise in ambient hauntology, but either way their music feeds into a palpable need for enigma in modern music. ‘Järnnätter’ is their 7th release since appearing outta nowhere in 2018 via Low Company, and adds fine new layers of natural world inspiration and jazzy intrigue to their personalised dream sequence that effortlessly allows you to suspend disbelief for the duration and buy into their ruse-not-ruse.
For ‘Järnnätter’, Civilistjävel! take their cues from the Swedish expression “Iron Night”, traditionally used to describe long winter nights when the frost withers plants and crops. Under this poetically evocative phrase the music manifests an uncannily absorbing ecology of glacial, cracked rhythms and plangent nocturnal pads that, if you squint your ears a bit, comes to limn spirited soundscapes where the sun hardly rises and you can practically feel the frost crystallising on yr whiskers and eyelids. We’ve little doubt that it’s some of the project’s finest work, tapping into an atavistic ambient sensibility comparable with contemporary visionaries ranging from Wanda Group to Werkbund, Mika Vainio and even CC Hennix on their trip from the zonked sublime of ‘A1’ to the nithered nub of ‘B2’ and ultimately the bad belly jazz groan of ‘B4’.
Proper intrigue and stuff.
Ambient pioneer K Leimer follows soundtracks for How To With John Wilson and a Netflix documentary with filigree interplay of live improv and generative inputs .
Since a revival in interest around his formative ambient recordings of the late ‘70s with Savant, as found on RVNG Intl’s ‘A Period of Review’ and V-O-D’s acclaimed boxset retrospective, K Leimer’s music has continued to flourish in the cracks between ambient, contemporary classical home-listening, and soundtrack forms. ‘LUYU’ or ‘Listen Until You Understand’ sees him ever-refining a systems-based approach of prepared piano, guitars and synthesisers with computer software to see where his imagination might take him.
If we weren’t already informed by the promo, we would have suggested that this music sounds ripe for Netflix, hitting a mark somewhere between custom library music and an AI-emulation generated from prescriptive keywords. The results feel as though they occupy an uncanny valley between human emotion and function, at times crossing across like Oren Ambarchi or The Necks on the post-rock jazz machines of ‘Insistence (The Missing Singer)’, or readied for a lingering shot on ‘Strewn’, while ‘Speech Pattern’ evokes images of machines achieving sentience and ‘Numbering of Laws’ is an off-the-shelf romance cue.
35th anniversary reissue of Rudimentary Peni’s 2nd album of punk snot and spunk, conceptually indebted to H.P. Lovecraft
Rather than repeating the revved-up gothic deathrock styles of their legendary debut ‘Death Church’ (1983), Rudimentary Peni took another five years before they came out with 1988’s ‘Cacophony’, whose 34 tracks paid homage to the life and foundational horror aesthetics of Lovecraft - no doubt a huge influence also on the artwork of RP’s Nick Blinko.
The results are still as short, sharp and fierce as their predecessor album, but also weirder and more narrative-based, with Blinko switching between possessed snarl and spoken word as the music fulminates gothic horrors of pranging, gurning, distorted guitars and pummelling drums next to stranger detours into dirgey gothic prayer on ‘Beyond the Tanarian Hills’ and the manic gibber of ‘American Anglophile in the World Turned Upside-Down’.