Electronic music's most mysterious act briefly come in from the cold with their first new release since 2007.
Leisure System have the honour of presenting the latest lab results from Heinrich Mueller and Michaela To-Nhan Bertel aka Dopplereffekt: three tracks of selective electro engineering executed to exacting degrees. Their first new work since the incredible 'Calabi Yau Space' for Rephlex is typically iced-out and dazzling, scoping steppers' electro model, 'Tetrahymena' with its free-floating sci-fi pads and body-prod rhythms alongside the elegant arpeggiated helixes of 'Gene Splicing' and the wormholing pulses of 'Zygote'. It's as good as you'll get from the electro realm this year...
It's difficult to overstate the unique brilliance of Arthur Russell's posthumous release, 'Another Thought'.
Like many others, I wouldn't be ashamed to admit shedding a tear or two to the sheer life-affirming qualities of this record over the years. It's not sad, it's just heart-breakingly beautiful, stripped to the bare essentials of Arthur's voice and cello dappled with effects and backed with his own drum machine, plus congas, sax and keys from longtime collaborators such as Peter Zummo, Elodie Lauten, and Mustafa Ahmed, among others. In the most transcendent sense, it's music that occupies its very own genre, a magical soundworld all of its own, ready for you to visit when times are good, and perhaps even more so when they're bad and you really need a fillip.
Although it's already available on CD, first on a 1994 pressing for Point Music, and later in 2006 for his longtime ally Philip Glass's Orange Mountain Music, the magic is arguably enhanced by Arc Light Editions' genius gesture to press it on wax for the first time. It's like finding a new, secret entrance to your favourite place in the world. Even passing Russell fans will likely know a few of its charms such as 'This Is How We walk On The Moon', 'Another Thought' itself, or the alternate version of 'Keeping Up' from 'The World Of...', and we truly envy any of you who're about to encounter it for the first time...
Tim Hecker had proven himself to be one of the great survivors of 90s electronic music. While he might have only surfaced at the tail-end of the ailing IDM scene, Hecker’s distinctly original brand of rich, textured ambient music set him apart from his peers.
Many have tried to emulate his sound, but few have come close, and while he peaked with the punishingly noisy and effortlessly beautiful ‘Mirages’ a few years back, his subsequent flirtations with a quieter, more meditative sound have been similarly arresting.
Unusually, ‘Ravedeath, 1972’ sees Hecker moving away from his comfort zone and collaborating with one of the very people who attempted a second-wave of the Hecker grit, grind and harmony – Ben Frost. This is a move which saw Hecker up sticks and fly over to Iceland, where he proceeded to record the album over a handful of days using a pipe organ. Frost clearly adds some of his production expertise (he moonlights as an engineer) and with this there can be no doubt that ‘Ravedeath,1972’ is the most hi-fi album in Tim Hecker’s discography to date.
The sound that Hecker has made his own is now reproduced in High Definition, billowing with basses dribbling and treble firing with slick precision. The powerful pipe organ sound underpins everything; coughing, wheezing and stuttering beneath Hecker’s expertly crafted granular sounds like the ghost of the Catholic church itself.
At times it might simply appear in amongst a cloud of white noise, and at others there is only the familiar shadowy blast, shrouded in the trappings of morals and dogma. Pitting his knowledge and skill against that of Ben Frost has yielded an album’s worth of crushing, near-spiritual sound, making for a compelling, immersive listen. Highly Recommended.
Editions Mego present an immersive live recording of Donato Dozzy and Neel's Voices From The Lake, captured in Rome's breathtaking MAXXI museum.
As chance would have it, this reviewer was lucky enough to walk in halfway thru the performance (word, LSWHR!), already dazed by the contours of Zaha Hadid's incredible architecture, to be pleasantly consumed by VFTL's free-floating topography of ambient techno. It was a perfect sound for such a grand container, both reflecting each others' seemingly impossible structures - precariously balanced staircases giving way to huge, sweeping passages and mezzanines in stark monotones - in a contrast and comparison of their respective, curvilinear grids and flowing geometries.
Now, several months later, the sense of scale and motion to this 50 minute piece has lost none of its ability to inspire transcendent states, swirling siren-like synth voices with complex rhythmic patterns that ostensibly stay ever the same, but, upon closer inspection, are found to be always morphing and in flux between dimensions - at once hazy yet lysergically lucid and melancholic as their proverbial lake itself. Book your slot in a floatation tank pronto, and then grab a copy of this.
Amazing record! Avant-pop enigma Leslie Winer slinks the plasmic, recursive matrices of Jay Glass Dubs in a brilliant but unexpected marriage of husky trip hop and psyched-out dub styles on Your Mom’s Favourite Eazy-E Song for Bristol’s excellent Bokeh Versions.
Finding common, scorched ground between Jay’s gutted structures and Leslie’s abyssal, esoteric insight, YMFEES serves to perfectly highlight the similarities and mutabilities common to both artist’s oeuvres, which have previously shared label space on The Tapeworm, and both share a keen lust for the dankest ends of the dub pool.
With Winer’s lyrics reprinted in swirling ellipses and contoured kerning on the inner sleeve, and presumably (and smartly) designed to mirror the elusive structure of Jay Glass Dub’s arrangements, the listener is offered some kind of star chart thru their no-man’s-land mental dub scapes of ricocheting riddims and droll reportage from the brink of consciousness.
In a dancefloor situation, we’d imagine these tracks to trigger some healthy bewilderment, as bodies get snagged on Jay’s cranky churn and heads spun by Leslie’s stream-of-non sequiturs in Woodshedded, or likewise bullied by the blown-out bass and genuinely spooked, over-the-shoulder vocal of About The Author. However, it’s most likely to be consumed in solitude, which is probably the most appropriate for really getting into the album’s strangest nooks, such as the deliciously OOBE-like detachment of No Famous Actors featuring Winer as HAL-like ghost in the machine, or the masterfully heavy-lidded drowse of Cogged featuring a barely-there Winer suspended above Dubs’ murkiest, hypnotic strokes.
What a beauty?! Don’t sleep!
Listening to this latest album from Liz Harris’ Grouper project it’s easy to forget how much of a hard sell her music was back when 'Way Their Crept’ landed with us back in 2005.
Her eerie, layered mix of bare vocals, guitar and tape delay didn't quite fit in with what anyone else was really doing on the scene back then - and it completely knocked us out even if no one was buying it. By the time her breakthrough ‘Dragging a Dead Deer…’ arrived on Type three years later she was more or less playing to a baying mob hungry for any little morsel she cared to throw their way, her (by now) more fleshed out shoegaze variants marking her out as a natural outsider who had managed to tap into some kind of collective melancholy, her songs both hugely affecting and yet somehow emotionally opaque. Last year’s 'The Man Who Died In His Boat’ collected previously unreleased material from the ‘Dead Deer’ era and, despite it essentially being an assembly of offcuts, still managed to sound as coherent and bewitching as any of her ardent followers might have imagined. ‘Ruins’ is Harris' first new album proper in several years and - to no one’s surprise - is just utterly sublime.
The opening and closing tracks excepted, Harris’ instrument of choice here is the upright Piano, delivering a sequence of songs that feel utterly bereft and lonely, intended by Harris as “...a document. A nod to that daily walk. Failed structures. Living in the remains of love.” There are also found sounds (you can here a microwave switching itself back on after a powercut in the background), and the room recordings lend an effervescent quality to the recordings that somehow magnify the sense of timelessness. ‘Ruins' is book-ended by two instrumental pieces, the pulsating field recorded opener ‘Made of Metal’ and the 11 minute closer ‘Made of Air’, an instrumental, ambient piece recorded at her mother's house way back in 2004. Together, these tracks make for another sublime 40 minutes spent in Liz Harris’ company, a precious distraction from the clutter and noise of the outside world.
Cellular Automata is the first new Dopplereffekt album in a decade! Rudolf Klorzeiger and To-Nhan kept us waiting but the anticipation pays off with some of their most striking electro architecture to date, tangibly making good on the promise of their Tetrahymena  and Delta Wave  deliveries over the interim, which, like this one were also released by Berlin’s Leisure System.
The symbiotic duo’s last album, Calabi Yau Space  remains one of the most memorable, puristic electronic records of its decade and Cellular Automata is up there with the most distinctive of its ilk in the current sphere. To outline their intentions; “Cellular Automata approaches mathematical growth and decay as an iterative process, with each data input considered individually relative to the overall model”, which broadly translates as a lofty metaphor for refinement thru increasingly searching practice; both technical research and the fine-tuned discipline of their physical, melodic inputs.
Difficult to say really how that works out from initial listens, but in aesthetic terms at least their sound is shockingly sharp and dense yet incredibly spacious, executing that unique balance of sheer technological advance and heightened emotive response in way that’s long been key to the success of their sound, encouraging listeners to revel and marvel at both the pure sonification of their sounds and equally their near-baroque classical elegance.
If you need any prompts, check out the vast harmonic structures of Cellular Automata and the tempestuous kosmische momentum of Exponential Decay at the album’s bookends, or deeper in for the uncanny stere-imaging of Gestalt Intelligence and the nerve-biting noise of Pascal’s Reunion, or the abyssal morphosis of Mandelbrot Set for the strongest sensations, but, as you’ll understand it’s definitely best consumed as whole for the most lucid yet disorienting experience.
Oh my god this is good!!! Philip Jeck makes an always welcome reappearance with the sensational sampledelics of 'Cardinal' for Touch marking his first major solo release since 'An Ark For The Listener' (2010).
He's been just out of earshot for long enough for this set of ears to feel like they've just been reacquainted with an old friend, and you've both been thru some heavy times over the interim.
Thus ensues 63 minutes of heart-wrenching emotional catharsis, regaling riveting stories from live shows in Krems, New Jersey, Athens, St. Pancras Church and Barrow-in-Furness, alongside windswept, wistful collages realised at his home in Liverpool.
They may be abstract, atonal and impenetrably woven but, the venerable composer certainly knows how to hold a story, sucking us in head-first with the breathtaking symphonic synth noise of 'Fleeting' and depositing us at 'Saint Pancras (The One That Holds Everything)' by way of 'Reverse Jersey''s cascading chromatic pitches and the nine minutes of heavy-lidded atmospheres that swell, recede and engulf the senses with 'Called In'.
It's a heavenly reminder of something - quite honestly f**k knows what - that lies beyond, or within, yet takes someone like Jeck to firmly remind us of that fact, or at least bring it almost within reach.
In other words - a truly amazing album.
While the filtered, tape-fuelled obfuscation of Grouper's signature sound remains, Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill is far more resonant up front about the songs at the heart of her work.
Opening track 'Disengaged' offers a segue from the cloudy, amorphous Grouper output of old and this current strain of more easily deciphered writing: it's a mass of mesmerising magnetic hiss and soft noise, with a voice cloaked in lo-fi haze somewhere at the back. Soon after, Harris' guitar and voice emerge, reverberant and phantom-like, and yet comprehensible.
If previously you've struggled to make out Grouper lyrics, and wondered what's going on beneath that veneer of musty, degraded audio, 'Heavy Water/I'd Rather Be Sleeping' offers you a way in. Those dense recording techniques have become a unique production signature and it's virtually impossible to separate Liz Harris' creative identity from that uniquely ghostly sound of hers, but now it feels like a conduit to her songs rather than a barrier. There are echoes of her earliest work on the album too, as on the wordless, partially acappella atmospherics of 'Wind & Snow', but the overall impression left by this album is one of inspired creative renewal, and the unveiling of a songwriting talent that's previously been content to dwell in shadows and deflect attention with smoke and mirrors.
A real milestone release for Harris, and a definite high point for the rejuvenated Type label, we've been unable to stop listening to this incredible album for weeks - it's an absolute must.
A companion to his acclaimed Ravedeath 1972 set, Dropped Pianos collects sketches for that album recorded by Tim Hecker last year.
While on paper it might sound like something for completists only, trust us when we tell you that this LP is a beguiling listen in its own right: shorn of the disruptive electronic processing which defined Ravedeath, what you get instead is a series of exquisitely reverbed and layered piano instrumentals which showcase Hecker's gift for minimalist composition and mournful melody.
Richly evocative of rainy, post-war cityscapes, of mortality and of thwarted romance, it's another masterful offering from an artist at the top of his game.
Following a series of impossible-to-obtain releases for her own Yellowelectric imprint and a CD compilation of her gorgeous 'A I A' set, Liz Harris seems to have settled with Kranky who are re-releasing her classic Type album 'Dragging a Dead Deer..' and this new album of previously unreleased material drawn from the same period: 'The Man Who Died In His Boat'.
It's not so hard to believe but we'll say this straight away - the material on this new set is just jaw-dropping, a worthy companion piece to 'Dragging a Dead Deer' - once again finding Harris delivering material edging ever so slightly towards more traditional 'songs' but executed with so much introspection and mystery that she really sounds unlike anyone, or anything, you'll have ever heard before. The record has an interesting backstory, as Harris explains - "When I was a teenager the wreckage of a sailboat washed up on the shore of Agate Beach.
The remains of the vessel weren't removed for several days. I walked down with my father to peer inside the boat cabin. Maps, coffee cups and clothing were strewn around inside. "I remember looking only briefly, wilted by the feeling that I was violating some remnant of this man's presence by witnessing the evidence of its failure. Later I read a story about him in the paper. It was impossible to know what had happened. The boat had never crashed or capsized. He had simply slipped off somehow, and the boat, like a riderless horse, eventually came back home." The narrative somehow enhances the songs - an achingly beautiful combination of forlorn, reverb-drenched lullabies draped in a veil of isolation reminding us of a more damaged Mark Kozelek, and indeed the classic 4AD sound with which Grouper has been compared so many times in the past.
By the time you reach the closing track 'Living Room', however, you come to the realisation that despite her best efforts to obscure her songs, Harris might just be one of the most gifted songwriters of her generation. An incredible album - possibly her finest yet.
The cult Australian trio align with Stephen O’Malley’s label for a fine new album.
After delivering a trilogy of albums for their own Fish Of Milk label, Chris Abrahams, Lloyd Swanton and Tony Buck resurface with a new long player as The Necks on Ideologic Organ. Few other bands can grapple three decades of genre-defying musical innovation and still sound fresh, but The Necks do it with supreme class on Unfold, a four-track album pressed up on double vinyl and gifted the mastering touch of Rashad Becker at D&M.
The label state these four tracks are not numbered deliberately, leaving the listener to navigate Unfold from whatever angle they choose. All four approaches are, as you would expect, a delight; be it the arresting musical symbiosis of Rise to the brushed percussive drama and crystalline piano motifs of Blue Mountain via the clockwork free-jazz skitters of Timepiece and Overheard, perhaps The Necks’ most accomplished slice of melancholia.
Always working purely on their own instincts and co-ordinates, Gnod’s pathway into unchartered territory continues to move firmly on with nary a care for the sanity of anyone in their surroundings. Chapel Perilous is a still more indomitable chapter in a transcendental travelogue from an iconoclastic institution that only gathers momentum with the passing of time. Wherever Gnod go in 2018 and beyond, expect reality to be reinvented anew, whatever the consequences....
"Chapel Perilous exists whereby the supernatural converges with the everyday - whatever one’s definition of reality, this psychological realm serves to prove it endlessly subjective and changeable. Robert Anton Wilson may have laid claim to the modern use of this phrase - as in his 1977 tome ‘Cosmic Trigger’ - yet there can be few musical outfits in the here and now more worthy of carrying on its tradition than Gnod. In more than a decade on the planet this singular Salford-birthed entity have married intrepid musical exploration with psychic fearlessness - not to mention a tendency to leave any tag or bracket one attempts to place on them utterly redundant.
In a sense, the latest adventure bearing this title evolved both from the lengthy European tour that the band embarked upon in the wake of their stripped-down and paint-stripping 2017 opus Just Say No The Psycho Right-Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine. Yet recording in Supernova studio in Eindhoven under the auspices of Bob De Wit, the band found themselves free not only to lay down two tumultuous tracks that they had been honing and hammering into shape on the road - the pulverising fifteen-minute opener ‘Donovan’s Daughters’ and the bracingly brutal ‘Uncle Frank Says Turn It Down’ - but to sculpt more abstract material, utilising dubbed-out repetition, furious riff-driven rancour, bleak soundscapes and off-the-map experimentation to create an intimidating and invigorating tableau of dystopian dread and unflinching intensity.
The first Grouper album in 4 years finds Liz Harris stripped of FX, pairing her vocals with skeletal piano gestures in beautifully pregnant space. For anyone familiar with the miasmic fuzz of Grouper’s previous releases, the relative clarity is quietly shocking in effect, revealing her songs and sound at their most vulnerable, and, in the process, locating a newfound strength in fragility.
Grid Of Points was recorded in Wyoming shortly after Liz finished recording Grouper’s Ruins out in Aljezur, Portugal, and on the most immediate level it seems to describe the difference in recording locations between windswept Atlantic coastline and sparse, landlocked insularity. The seven songs were written over a week and a half, with the process curtailed by a bout of what she describes as “high fever”. What remains forms some of Grouper’s most legible lyrics and intimate instrumentation, with each piece framed by stark, unprocessed space working in the same role usually occupied by her billowing sheets of harmonic distortion.
Untreated and unfiltered, Grouper's voice rings plaintively clear, sometimes layered in ephemeral harmonies or curling off with jazz-soul wise inflections shadowed by modest piano phrasing in a crepuscular style that links back to all her previous work. Yet, in places the clarity is such that it almost feels like we the listeners have just been hearing her songs with clogged ears for the past decade and longer.
Ultimately, these results perhaps most acutely resonate with the etymology of Liz’s moniker - ‘Grouper’ as in member of a Fourth Way commune, The Group, which was inspired by the philosophy of George Gurdjieff, whose mystic meditations surely linger in the magick of Grid Of Points.
A study in friction and sublimity, transitioning from gritty airborne textures to droning, somnolent songcraft...
“Two Words is the debut release from the duo of Canadian sound artist crys cole and Australian songwriter Francis Plagne. Building on a series of experimental live performances in which the pair toyed with possible common languages for their seemingly unrelated approaches to music, the LP's two sides present a single piece that brings together abstract texture and slow-motion song in a sonic space where genre cedes to the logic of dreams. The piece begins with a long, nearly static sequence built primarily from rubbed surfaces, using movement in the stereo field and changing mic placements to create a unified but unstable sonic environment that mimics wind, water, and breath, opening an impossible space between nature and artifice. This artificial outdoors ultimately makes room for Plagne's electric organ, which sounds a series of melancholic chords to accompany a wandering Wyatt-esque keyboard line as cole's intimate contact mic textures sizzle and pop in the foreground. From here the piece makes a surprise detour into song, as the majority of the second side finds Plagne intoning a series of obtuse two-word phrases (from a text by Berlin-based poet Marty Hiatt) to an austere organ accompaniment.
Working closely with engineer and producer Joe Talia, cole and Plagne extend the studio-as-an-instrument tradition of Teo Macero and This Heat, introducing subtle yet unexpected production shifts that lead the listener from the initial austerity of the organ and voice to an oneiric space of asynchronized vocal doubles, creaking textures, and distant whistling, ultimately arriving at something like an imagined meeting of Organum and Arthur Russell. Packaged in a suitably mysterious sleeve featuring a lush work by Australian painter Anne Wallace on the front and text by Hiatt on the back, Two Words is both comforting and strange, a disorienting blend of seemingly discrepant elements.”
Iona Fortune’s Tao Of I came out a few weeks ago and was available in such limited supply that we had the vinyl edition up for sale for about an hour before it sold out. Now that it’s been re-pressed it’d be totally remiss of us not to bring it to the attention of anyone who missed out; it really is one of the year’s most striking debut albums.
Inspired by Eastern Philosophy and slated to be the first in an 8 album series exploring all the symbols of the I Ching, Fortune's music is described by the label as loosely fitting in with Fourth World concepts imagined by Jon Hassell, and indeed she meshes traditional guzheng and gamelan with lustrous tones from a Synthi AKS that provides an incredible sub-bass throb that runs through the record.
However, Fortune’s is an exercise in deep contemplation that isn’t afraid of baring it’s teeth. As opposed to so many Ambient albums riding revivalist waves right now, she seems aware of a basic truth that sound rarely works in one dimension. She aligns tradition and technology in a way that seems expansive and new, almost revolutionary; instead of creating soothing background sounds she makes use of grit and abrasion.
This makes Tao Of I a singular record, measured with a poise and patience that’s utterly arresting in its stoic elegance and sound sensitivity, drawing on a history of arcane, intramural Scots energies and channelling a mystic, ambiguous instrumental voice. It's completely enchanted, enchanting music.
Steve Hauschildt follows his eponymous 2013 compendium for Editions Mego with this romantic lush-out for Kranky.
Hauschildt's first proper solo release since the group disbanded in 2012, 'Where is Fled' charts an alchemical, emotional spectrum of synthetic and natural timbre/spirit within 14 tracks of symphonic swell and resolution infused with processed crowd noise, piano and animal noises. Wandering its sleek gradients in headphones whilst looking at the album sleeve's CGI artwork feels like taking a mooch in No Man's Sky accompanied by the perpetually shifty looking Enya, pointing out new plants on far-flung planets while she coyly glances away, only to morph into Vangelis before scuttling away after a giant pink squirrel and leaving us with that most intangible sensation - am I dreaming or is this a Steve Hauschildt album?
Tint is an intently focussed showcase of the sound sensitivities which have made Joe Talia a cult figure in contemporary electro-acoustic and avant garde circles. If you’ve ever been caught by the work of Oren Ambarchi, Jim O’Rourke, Andrew Chalk, John Duncan or Jean-Claude Éloy, you need to clasp ears on this album!
“Tint is the first new solo recording from Joe Talia in over a decade. Australian-born but now based in Tokyo, Talia is known to many listeners as a drummer (frequently collaborating both live and in the studio with artists such as Oren Ambarchi and Jim O’Rourke) and as a recording and mixing engineer responsible for dozens of releases across the fields of contemporary experimental music, wayward pop, and jazz. Alongside James Rushford, he is also responsible for one of the most legendary releases in the Kye records catalogue, the creaking electronic morass of Manhunter (2013). Lovingly crafted over many months in his tiny Tokyo studio, Tint is an album-length electroacoustic suite that brings together Talia’s expertise as percussionist, studio engineer, and performer on analogue electronic instruments (primarily modular synth and Revox tape machine).
Ranging from minimalist austerity to kosmische lushness, Tint refreshingly refuses the dark and moody sonic palette of much contemporary electroacoustic music in favour of an airy, at times almost weightless sound-world of gliding tones, skittering percussion, and burbling field recordings. Drawing inspiration from Jean-Claude Eloy’s epic concrète love letter to Tokyo, Gaku-No-Michi, Talia makes extensive use of his own recordings of his new home, but removes any sense of audio verite, abstracting them into transparent glosses of outdoor ambience or unidentifiable chimes and creaks. Flowing seamlessly between distinct episodes, Tint is compositionally controlled while retaining a sense of played spontaneity, eventually building to a maelstrom of analogue synth zaps and tape manipulated percussion that reflects Talia’s deep engagement with the relentless yet constantly shifting dynamics of free jazz.”
Following dissolution of the Yussef Kamaal project, Kamaal Williams a.k.a Henry Wu spreads his jazz charms solo on a debonaire début The Return, delivered via his newly minted Black Focus label. The spectres of ‘70s jazz fusion are felt strongly on this one, but updated with a rugged South London vibe that will bring feet to the ‘floor and see some heads get hot under the collar. RIYL Dego, Floating Points, Gilles Peterson
“The Return is a natural evolution from the Yussef Kamaal project, mining the influence of visionary jazz but blended with all kinds of texture, sounds and signals from the over-saturated London streets.
Notable tracks for old and new listeners are ‘Salaam', 'Situations', 'Medina', 'LDN Shuffle' which features Mansur Brown (of Mansur's Message) and for those die hard Yussef Kamaal fans - they should hear the interpolated roots of 'Strings of Light' in the title track 'The Return’. And that signature Wu Funk can be heard on 'Broken Theme', and 'High Roller'.
The Return is the debut album released on Wu's new label Black Focus Records.”
Kaitlyn's solo debut Euclid (primarily written on a Buchla Music Easel synthesizer) was inspired by her love of mbira music, early electronic music pioneers like Laurie Spiegel, Oskar Sala, and Terry Riley, and euclidian geometry. Each of the first six songs on Euclid were initially structured using euclidian geometry, an idea which Smith explored while attending a class at the San Francisco Conservatory.
"As Smith explains, "We each chose a 3D shape and assigned our own guidelines to the different components that make up the shape. For example each point of the shape represents a different time signature, each line between the points represents a pitch, each shape within the closed lines represents a scale, etc. And then you play the shape." Despite their heady geometric origins, the songs have a playfulness and warmth that makes them inviting and memorable.
In addition to the buoyant grooves of Smith's synthesizers, some of the songs feature wordless vocals, which energize the otherworldly songs, while grounding them with Smith's earthly presence. She slows things down for the second half of the record, which features a collection of twelve short pieces, Labyrinths I-XII. Originally composed as new soundtracks to old silent films she found online, Smith says the tranquil Labyrinth pieces are "intended to feel like one is walking through a holographic labyrinth and encountering different experiences such as hang gliding, viewing microbes under a microscope, ice fishing in Alaska, and watching glaciers collapse."
Despite their brevity, most of these songs feel like mini odysseys, effortlessly casting a cinematic hue on the the listener's world. Throughout Euclid Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith consistently delivers sonic puzzles draped in a warm Pacific mist. At times these songs feel so alive — like the musical analog to roots growing deeper and stronger, leaves on branches bending towards the light, or the sun peeking over the horizon, briefly igniting the air with a primordial swirl of warm and cool colors."
Utterly charming Calypso Limonense from Costa Rica by the king of his style, Walter Gavitt Ferguson. Totally remarkable songs salvaged from home-recorded tapes made during the ‘70s and rediscovered in an attic, all awash with background sounds from roosters to road traffic. Folkways fans, this one’s for you!
“99-year-old Walter Gavitt Ferguson from Costa Rica is a humble soul and a living legend, a Calypsonian of mythical proportions. Rooted like an old tree on the caribbean shore, he has never left his home town to look for fame, instead fame did come to look for him. Throughout eight decades, rumours of his musical gifts have attracted people from near and far, contesting Calypsonians, fans, tourists, musicologists, musicians, pilgrims and the President of the Republic. They once even moved a recording studio to his house as he refused to go to the city.
But many years before that, Ferguson used to sell his legendary self recorded cassettes to travellers and music lovers from all around the globe. He never kept a copy for himself and with age started to forget many old compositions. A recently started, international "Tape Hunt" was able to locate 9 such tapes in Canada and rescued 50 of his forgotten songs. Vol.1 of this tropical treasure is now available, resurrected directly from original cassettes of the Calypso King.”
Naturally, Tresor 303 is a killer album of 8 driving acid studies by Italian maestro Donato Dozzy
On ‘Filo Loves The Acid’ Dozzy presents his first solo album since ‘The Loud Silence’ [Further Records, 2015]. But, where that album and his collaborations with Anna Caragnano, Bee Mask and Neel have tended to his experimental side, this is the first time that Dozzy has focussed on dance music for a long player, finally exploring the functions of his numerable 12”s in a broader, durational format, and with predictably immersive results..
It’s all supremely strong and slick gear, opening out with the panoramic pads and plangent tweaks of ‘Filo’ - named after his best bud, whom the album is dedicated to - before getting crafty with the slipping kicks of his ‘Vetta’ pounder and the overpronating drive of ‘Duetto’, to go hard for a late ‘90s skullhead style on ‘Nine ‘o Three’.
With ‘Back’ he brings a flavour of early ‘90s psycho-tribalist stompers, while ‘Vetta Reprise’ ramps the energy level to breakneck, and ‘TB Square’ settles its arse down to a more hypnotic swing jack, before ‘Rep’ rips out with a proper, brain-drilling riff and martial tattoo of the type you’d expect to hear in Tresor, cloaked in smoke and blinded by the strobes.
Dom unleashes two deep, ravenous ’94 jungle dubplates by Dillinja from his special archive (presumably a steel and concrete reinforced bunker somewhere in the home counties)
So, yeh, You is pretty much almost an alternative version of Deep Deadly Subs (Remix), and we can’t really believe it’s been sitting unnoticed or unused for this long - spliffs will drop from slack jaws ‘pon hearing it! - while we’d speculate that the tuffened hardstep of King Of The Beats hearkens from a later date, possibly ’97.
James Ferraro offers an insightful critique of modern day America viewed thru the grim prism of one of its largest stable homeless populations in the notorious, eponymous district of L.A.
Arriving two years since 'NYC, Hell' and, six months since the very sad loss of his early patron and ally, Hippos In Tanks' Barron Machat, the album straddles a typically ambiguous line between cliches of burnt-out urban ennui and excess, and a sense of psychedelic, soulful sincerity with much the same sort of class and verve of his sometime collaborator, Dean Blunt.
The unshakeable influence of late '80s/early '90s commercial music, pop and R&B and cinema lingers from his earlier phases but, those elements feel more sculpted, uncannily spaced-out and with eerie room to breathe in-the-mix.
First and foremost, though, these are proper songs and it plays thru like a proper album, rather than a concept suite or stream-of-consciousness spool. Ferraro sings, raps and talks about his everyday observations, with lyrics about psycho cops, mediated violence and racism often stemming from his poetry and attempting to sum up "the state of the world around me, living on what feels like the brink of societal collapse while also seeing high excess everywhere… all the sounds of the streets crept in."
From our relatively detached position in the UK, 'Skid Row' offers a unique, anachronistic and possibly, darkly romanticised insight to a world far removed, usually only glimpsed in newsreels and internet video clips and effectively unrepresented in 99% of the American music that we stock.
Repeat listens will unpackage its themes further, but for now you can colour us beguiled.
Steve Hauschildt’s grasp of synthesis reaches alchemical, intuitive levels of lushness in ‘Dissolvi’, keening towards a broadly appealing ambient-techno-pop sound without losing the enigmatic, abstract, deep space quality of previous efforts. It’s his finest achievement since striking solo from the influential Emeralds and, quite honestly, isn't a million miles away from late 90's IDM keeprs like Arovane's Atol Scrap. And on we go in circular motion...
“In search of the sublime, contemporary electronic musician Steve Hauschildt has designed grids and panoramas of sound across multiple releases through the rise and dissolution of his former band, Emeralds, an American touchstone of 2000s home-recorded psychedelic noise music. Consistent with his solo work is Hauschildt’s ability to coil his craft in precise, varied, and distinctly physical forms. Gently spinning arpeggios converse with post-industrial decay. Sonic fibers sway like pendulums from static melancholy to motorik bliss. Dissolvi, the artist’s first full-length with Ghostly International, engages sublimation from an ontological perspective: by dissociating the self. Hauschildt steps out from the singular path, for the first time in a traditional studio, to compose and arrange contributions from friends. As a result, his most collaborative work to date extends a vast, vibrating framework in which to consider the state of being.
The album's title — a reference to cupio dissolvi, the Latin phrase meaning "I wish to be dissolved" — needn't be taken one-dimensionally or as purely solipsistic. It does, however, serve an apt reference. Physiological phenomena are of interest to Hauschildt. These back-of-mind ruminations find their way out. Songs are cerebral in orientation, but beyond explanation, the music is truly visceral. Involuntary eye movement inspires the serene, sanguine-nearing-suspicious "Saccade." Hauschildt feathers soft percussion beneath the echoed refrains of Los Angeles musician Julianna Barwick, together shaping a svelte suggestion of the anxieties brought about by modern-day surveillance; if everyone is being watched constantly, there is no individual, no self, only a broadly monitored and clumsily cataloged populous. The work of Chicago poet Carl Sandburg comes to mind: “I am the people—the mob—the crowd—the mass.” The individual dissolves into the taxonomic crowd.
Minimalist techno impulses provide a stylistic through-line for Dissolvi. Understated synth phrases and drum grooves take hold in selective moments, like synchronistic structures onto which nebulous mists, like the rapturous voice of Gabrielle Herbst aka GABI on "Syncope," cling to and cloud, producing a dazzling rift in consciousness. The 7-minute centerpiece "Alienself" reiterates this creative logic, burbling like an amorphous body of water on a low-gravity planet, on the verge of dissolving, but never fully dematerializing. The album was constructed in Chicago (where Hauschildt now resides) and partially in New York. "Much of it was recorded in a windowless studio which removed elemental or seasonal references to time in the music," says Hauschildt. "The focus this time was on mixing the album and incorporating a broader set of instrumentation. I describe my compositional approach as being quasi-generative." Embracing new methods and philosophical curiosities, and in turn, expanding the range of his repertoire, Hauschildt proposes a fascinating and profoundly rich experience in listening, being, and deliquescing.”
Organ whirling Turkish psych soul heavily influenced by classics from Baris Manco, Selda and Erkin Koray, but produced in in 2018 with a contemporary concision. B-side is peach! The 6th instalment of Bongo Joe’s 7” series...
“Altın Gün offer an exciting mix of Turkish folk, psychedelia, funk and rock.After performing in Istanbul with Jacco Gardner, bassist Jasper Verhulst became fascinated by the Turkish sound of the 70s. At that time, artists like Selda, Barış Manço and Erkin Koray combined traditional music with western rock influences. Along with bandmates Ben Rider (guitar) and Nic Mauskovic (drums), Verhulst searched for Turkish musicians to revive this sound. They found Merve Dasdemir (vocals) and Erdinc Yildiz Ecevit (vocals, saz, keys) through Facebook. Jungle by Night’s energetic percussionist Gino Groeneveld joined the groupand the band was complete.Altın Gün play songs from the aforementioned artists from the 70's and their lesser-known contemporaries and also make their own arrangements of Turkish traditionals. This way different worlds meet and form a refreshing danceable sound.”
Despite praise and acclaim throughout his career, Roy Montgomery hates his singing. From his point of view, it’s done out of necessity, when he doesn’t have anyone else around to substitute.
"Roughly one quarter of Montgomery’s epic multi-album 2016 release R M H Q had his singing, and those are his least favorite tracks. Grapefruit has done the best they can to argue that his basso undertones are the center of his appeal throughout his entire body of work, from the first The Pin Group single on Flying Nun in 1981, through his work in Dadamah, Dissolve and on to his legendary ’90s solo releases. However, is it a surprise he jumped at the idea of composing an album for other vocalists? This began as a series of alternate takes of the material on Tropic Of Anodyne, the tracks with vocals off his last release.
That concept morphed into assembling vocalists to sing on new songs, and he conceived instrumental material that would fit each singer. Half of the songs came together, resulting in Suffuse. The album charts a slow progression from those who share similarities with Montgomery’s rumbling vocal technique to those who come at singing differently, with minute contrasts throughout. Haley Fohr (Circuit des Yeux) and Jessica Larrabee (She Keeps Bees) bring the first two tracks, with Katie Von Schleicher following with a raw expression of emotional loss, and the sisters Clementine and Valentine Nixon (Purple Pilgrims) expressing emptiness by stripping away words, weaving their voices together through Montgomery’s elastic webbing.
Julianna Barwick adds drive and nuance to the foamy sonic waves of “Sigma Octantis,” as “Landfall” crashes in slow motion chaos over Liz Harris’s (Grouper) multitracked layers. These compositions generously embrace their guest leaders, and for the first time in his career, Roy Montgomery has made a cogent artistic argument as to why he shouldn’t be singing these songs himself."
After 10 years of releases, Synkro mints his eponymous label with ‘Luminous’, featuring two signature slices of Autonomic/Ambient D&B, backed with a killer Paradox remix
Produced at his studio in the Peak district, ‘Luminous’ is a fine example of Joe McBride a.k.a. Synkro’s heart-on-sleeve style, marrying ethereal synth voices with drizzly drums and sloshing Reese bass in the title cut, whilst ‘Weakness finds him vulnerably melodic i9n a way recalling BoC interludes or Bibio dream sequences.
Remixing ‘Luminous’ on the B-side, Paradox is on top form with freely fluid and sinuous drum programming underlining Synkro’s emotive synth arrangements with suspenseful, breathtaking impact.
On her widely acclaimed debut album proper, Philadelphia’s Moor Mother protests and sounds out against the current state of race relations in USA, using a dense weave of field recordings, machinery, analog noise makers and, most prominently, her wildly processed vocals to punch her message in no uncertain terms.
Variously self-diagnosed as “Low fi/dark rap/chill step/ blk girl blues/witch rap/coffee shop riot gurl songs/southern girl dittys/black ghost songs”, her heaviness is only rivalled by the likes of Death Grips for its thorny Black Punk sensibilities, which she refers to in a wider sense as Black Quantum Futurism, which arguably better covers her rich bed of influences reaped from the musics of Sun Ra to Alice Coltrane, and the literature of Amiri Baraka and Sonia Sanchez, for example.
Fetish Bones cropped up on many EOY lists in 2016 and it’s not hard to hear why. Pitting unflinching, documentarian lyrics about low income life in North Philly and the battle of Black bodies against the police state, with chokingly layered location recordings, palmed noise and turgid, rollicking rhythms, the results are a furnace blast of energy which, once witnessed, indelibly imprints the mind with her sound and politics much in the same way that, say, Matana Roberts’ Coin Coin chapters take us deep into those places, but far more violently and relevant to right now.
The godfather of Afrobeat and the Finnish funk freak go to town, well Cafe Oto to be exact, on this live recording, featuring Allen using a prototype, drum-triggered Moog to devilish effect
“SEPT 2016. The Moog Sound Lab’s first trip out for a live session at Café Oto’s project & café rooms. Jimi Tenor, finnish futurist, shako & Warp Records confederate, jazzed, funked, far-ra’d out. Tony Allen – original drummer to Fela Kuti – Godfather of the Afro-Beat.
These two titans of the beat strange -fed & watered through the mighty Moog Sound Lab via a prototype future sound systems drum trigger unit built & operated by UK moog minder engineer Mr Finlay Shakespeare. New sound universes emerge, collide.
Explosions & implosions make sonic debris. Cosmic dancers prepare to be run ragged by a feral ‘tronic funk that brings to mind early ‘D.A.F” [Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft].”
Finally available again - Second of two crucial Shackleton singles on Honest Jon's, weighted with dynamic remixes by T++ and Mordant Music.
In contrast to the coffin intensity of 'Deadman', 'Fireworks' is widescreen and viewed from above (perhaps best imagined from the perspective of the unfortunate soul in Gaspar Noé's 'Enter The Void'?), suspended in up-drafting columns of ghoulish synth voices, silvery hi-hats and convulsing kicks evaporated from viscous subs way below.
With 'Undeadman' his zombied cadaver arises again, divined like a worm from the ground by plunging subs to join the skull disco on consecrated ground. T++ is similarly averse to gravity, his agile rebuild feeling like it's being dragged upwards by the chest, limbs carving 'ardcore torque in mid-air, buffeted by sub-harmonic turbulence. There's a reference to his classic Dynamo 12" in the title 'Außen Vor', but we haven't the foggiest what it means. Kindred darkside shamen, Mordant Music plays the 'Undeadman' like a dread-dub marionette, trapped in halfstep inertia at the centre of a dizzying atmospheric pressure system. Essential!
In the 15+ years that have elapsed since 'Loop Finding Jazz Records' first shuffled out of his ambrosially dusty speakers, Jan Jelinek's most famous album has acquired an almost mythical status. Originally released via Pole's defunct Scape imprint, it now finds new life via Jelinek's own Faitiche label, for a new generation to marvel at one of the finest examples of loop-based electronic music typical of the early noughties.
Taking what reads like a pretty austere set of ingredients, Jelinek's technique revolves around a trio of elements which consist of second long cuts of 1960's-70's jazz recordings, the loop-finding modulation wheel (do your homework!) and the Moiré effect; albeit rendered in the acoustic as opposed to the image and spectral domains.
If all this sounds a bit academic, be assured that on record it is anything but; as crumbling edifices of mealy rhythms slowly pulse into life and swirl around your head like snow storms clashing with a dust devil. Taking sediments of fathom deep static then skimming the best stuff from the top, Jelinek opens through the dampened echoes of 'Moiré (piano & organ)' wherein a slow-motion thrum of spiraling clicks, rustles and analogue tones conspire to give the impression of recondite perspectives that extend well beyond the constituent elements.
Elsewhere, 'Rocky in the Video Age' instills a gratuitously optimistic blush to the aquatic micro-sound ebb, 'Moiré (Strings)' is a perfect companion to Basinski's disintegrating tape archive, whilst 'Them, Their' represents an aural crease so sleight you can only catch its distinctive gleam from the corner of your eye.
Khotin smushes your temples with soothing ambience in ‘New Tab’, newly availed on vinyl via Pacific Rhythm Music following self-released tape.
Drinking deeply from the cup of Vancouver’s new age spirit, Khotin presents a lovely suite of feathered ambient chords fringed by field recordings and laced with various voices - Japanese, Russian, English - in a milky sequence of sounds, mostly beatless but with a handful of dips into effervescent breakbeats and glassy balearic downstrokes.
Tirzah pursues the slowest-burning soul feels on Devotion, the London-based singer-songwriter’s humbly singular début album, produced by Mica Levi and providing us with total life affirming summer listening - most probably the record we've listened to most this year so far, and one that lingers on and on...
Since her first solo 12”s and thru frequent collaborations with Mica Levi - including the Taz And May Vids  for DDS - Tirzah has quietly blossomed into one of the UK’s most precious and peculiar artists working at the fringes of experimental pop, post-grime and R&B, and Devotion is set to bring her love to a wider audience.
Plaintive and low key, Devotion presents Tirzah’s vocal in the most evocative light, framed by backdrops of bleary-eyed and bent vibes and the kind of half-finished, permanently work-in-progress production style that's become a calling card of her music and her tight knit crew including Coby Sey, Mica Levi and Brother May.
Album of the year? Aye, quite possibly.
In the wake of ‘White1’, Sunn 0)))’s equally whelming ‘White2’ receives full remastering by Matt “The Alchemist” Colton for its 15th anniversary edition, re-awakening its ungodly spirits to utterly jaw-dropping effect
Building on the energies unleashed with White1, Sunn 0))) go deeper into the abyss of subharmonic distortion on White2 flanked by torch-carrier Attila Csihar ov Mayhem along with Dawn Smithson (from Rex Ritter’s former band, Jessamine), and fellow explorers Nate Carson and Joe Preston. Like White1, this set was originally intended to be acoustic, but fate worked its ways, leading the clan to a trance-inducing electronic conclusions.
Ask almost anyone who’s spent time with this one, they’ll might well tell you that Decay2 (nihilis’ Maw) is one of the most powerful Sunn 0))) tracks in their immense catalogue. Featuring seminal and hugely influential BM vocalist Attila Csihar reciting in Sanskrit from the ancient Indian Veda, and tied to their tarriest bass, together with Decay (The Symptoms of Kali Yuga), it towers over almost everything else imaginable, and still hasn’t been surpassed to this day.
Factor in the sky collapsing rifle of Hell-0))) - Ween, and the plasmic dubbing of Bassaliens, and you have one of this century’s first great Metal albums - a record by which to mark everything that came before it, and since. Now sounding closer to their original intentions than ever before, if you don’t know it, there’s never been a better time to go head-first into Sunn 0)))’s black hole.
The seminal eccentric maximalist composer uses a Moog to conjure something like a swarm of mechanical bees making a hive in your nasal cavity for the 50 minute entirety of Ttuunneesszz Duh Rruunneesszz.
The first of two sides by the venerable Charlemagne Palestine recorded using Surrey Uni’s extensive Moog Sound Lab System 55 set-up runs to over 50 minutes of swarming oscillators that ultimately sound like a grist of bees nesting in your noggin
“Charlemagne Palestine first started using electronic instruments in his music in the late 1960’s when he bought two prototype ‘Buchla’ tone generators. “Electronic instruments were very rare & exotic in the 1960’s.There were Moog’s around New York state.
But they were only in universities who preciously guarded them from us young composers. so after all this time visiting The Moog Sound Lab is like a dream come true for me…..to have so many oscillators all singing together is a truly beautiful experience. I am so glad i am still around and able to be making musics i first dreamt of 50 years ago”.
These two releases come from our second ever UK lab session & is the first Charlemagne Palestine Moog Sound Lab. All electronic long form drone works from an archive of six recordings.”
It’s nowt less than avant garde honey for the mind.
Charlemagne Palestine first started using electronic instruments in his music in the late 1960’s when he bought two prototype ‘Buchla’ tone generators. “Electronic instruments were very rare & exotic in the 1960’s.There were Moog’s around New York state.
"But they were only in universities who preciously guarded them from us young composers. so after all this time visiting The Moog Sound Lab is like a dream come true for me…..to have so many oscillators all singing together is a truly beautiful experience. I am so glad i am still around and able to be making musics i first dreamt of 50 years ago”.
This release come from Moog's second ever uk lab session & is the first Charlemagne Palestine Moog Sound Lab. All electronic long form drone works from an archive of six recordings."
Sunn 0)))’s entrancing, crushing doom metal totem ’White1’, entirely remastered by Matt “The Alchemist” Colton for its 15th anniversary edition, including the beastly rarity ‘Cut Wood(ed)’ from their rare-as-heck ‘White’ box
Notably featuring guest appearances from Julian Cope and Joe Preston, White1 is an exceptional highlight of Sunn 0)))’s near-sacred catalogue of doom metal drone recordings. Originally intended as an acoustic album, the recording session took a different route towards psychedelic electronic experimentation, with the results originally issued in 2003 on CD and as a now sought-after 3-sided LP packaged in a pillowcase and including a sleeping pill.
In the same year of its release, this reviewer popped their Sunn 0))) cherry at Autechre’s ATP, which was nothing short of a life-changing revelation, seeing Julian Cope prostrate, front of stage, surrounded by candles and dry ice, flanked by axe-wielding druids clawing the most monstrous riffs this teenaged bean had ever heard.
On disc, you might not get the full visual glory of O’Malley, Anderson, Ritter, and Cope on stage, but provided you crank it loud enough at home, you can now come closer than ever to the void of White1, from Cope’s foul mouthed induction in the 26 minutes of My Wall, to the brainfeezing blend of traditional Norse vocals and the super rare appearance of Joe Preston’s achingly tight drumming on The Gates of Ballard - one of scant few Sunn 0))) cuts to feature percussion, and which still makes us want to knock down skyscrapers - and right thru the subharmonic ritual of A Shaving of the Horn That Speared You.
Always pushing it one step farther, this release also now includes the abyssal dimensions of Cut Wood(ed), their 2003 collaboration with Ulver which didn’t make the original LP, later found on the White box in 2006, and now retrospectively added to this definitive edition of a staggering masterpiece.
Kathryn Joseph releases her new album ‘From When I Wake The Want Is’, via Rock Action Records.
"The follow up to 2015’s acclaimed debut Bones ‘You Have Thrown Me And Blood I’ve Spilled’, which was named the Scottish Album of the Year, this album is a captivating set that documents both life’s traumas and their resolutions. Produced by Marcus Mackay, who also worked on her debut album, ‘From When I Wake The Want Is’ mixes new songs with material gathered over the past ten years to create an intimate and often devastating portrait of Joseph’s world."
Matthew Herbert flexes his broken beat and discoid house chops on Accidental Jr with this reissue of a 1995 classic...
Taking a minute out from his soundtrack work, Herbert heads straight for the ‘floor with classic breaks percolated on a funk tip in ‘Rude’, along with the classic-sampling deep house blush of ‘Oo Licky’, and the warm, dusky house breeze of ‘See You On Monday’.
They don't makkkkkeum like this anymore!
Reissue of a forgotten japanese electronic, jazz and new age classic from 1986...
"When the 66-year old artist started to be a professional musician in the 1970’s, he quickly gained success as a versed studio instrumentalist and started to be part of the great modern jazz isao suzuki sextett, where he played with legends like pianist tsuyoshi yamamoto or fusion guitar one-off-a-kind kazumi watanabe. He also was around in the studio when legendary japanese jazz records like “straight ahead” of takao uematsu, “moritato for osada” of jazz singer minami yasuda or “moon stone” of synthesizer, piano and organ wizard mikio masuda been recorded.
In the 1980’s hamase began to slowly drift away from jazz and drowned himself and his musical vision into new-age, ambient and experimental electronic spheres, in which he incorporated his funky meditative way of playing the bass above airy sounds and arrangements. his first solo album “intaglio” was not only a milestone of japanese new-age ambient, it was also fresh sonic journey in jazz that does not sound like jazz at all. now studio mule is happy to announce the re-recording of his gem from 1986, that opens new doors of perception while being not quite at all.
First issued by the japanese label shi zen, the record had a decent success in japan and by some overseas fans of music from the far east. with seven haunting, stylistically hard to pigeonhole compositions hamase drifts around new-age worlds with howling wind sounds, gently bass picking and discreet drums, that sometimes remind the listener on the power of japanese taiko percussions. also, propulsive fourth-world-grooves call the tune and all composition avoid a foreseeable structure. at large his albums seem to be improvised and yet all is deeply composed.
music that works like shuffling through an imaginary sound library full of spiritual deepness, that even spreads in its shaky moments some profound relaxing moods. a true discovery of old music that operates deeply contemporary due to his exploratory spirit and gently played tones. the release marks another highlight in studio mule’s fresh mission to excavate neglected japanese music, that somehow has more to offer in present age, than at the time of his original birth."
Previously only released on cassette in 1985 on Carl Weingarten's own Multiphase Records, ”Living In The Distant Present” is now available on Vinyl for the first time. The album is a rare treat for fans of guitar ambient, tape loops and experimental new age music. File next to: Daniel Lanois, Popol Vuh, Fripp & Eno...
"Carl Weingarten is one of the unsung heroes of American minimalism. Even though he's been active for close to four decades, his work is just now starting to receive the praise it deserves. On ”Living Ín The Distant Present” showly shifting synth patterns is joined with his signature guitar playing – a tranquil, stretched out sound that blur the lines between played and processed, occasionally sonically closer to violins or flutes than guitars. Incredibly sparse and evocative, there's a tasteful zen-quality to these 12 tracks. Weingarten's compositions appear both timeless and tranquil.
”Living In The Distant Present” bridges the gap between the most cosmic krautrock of the 1970s, the experimental American new age music from the 1980s and modern day minimalism such as Windy & Carl and Christopher Willits. In his concern for sonic texture Weingarten's music resembles Brian Eno's ambient records, especially his collaborative efforts with Robert Fripp, where guitars are gradually looped and processed into shimmering clouds of sound."
Cape Town's Kevin Murning steps up for Quit Safari's 10th release with his debut EP 'Mode's Arp'.
"3 tracks stretched across a hybrid landscape, Mode's Arp is grandiose, lush and evolving. Dense harmony and brimming percussion shine on Mode's Arp and Crimson Sphere while Sirenliight's polyrhythmic refrain makes for a complex yet beautiful slow-burner.
Kevin then doctors Mode's Arp with his '190 In The Polo Edit' and provides a snapping acid version of the original.
Zanasi Wifi caps off the release with a syncopated remix of Crimson Sphere. Revolving elements of the original bounce around an uptempo staggered beat that sees it equally ready for club and home bumps.
Support From:The Maghreban, Turbojazz, Severino, Laurent Garnier, Mystic Bill, Edmondson, Shaun J. Wright, Danny Tenaglia and more.”
Released in the immediate aftermath of the runaway success of The Breeders’ platinum-selling second album ‘Last Splash’ and the Pixies calling it a day the first time round, The Amps are an important part of the Kim Deal canon.
"First intended as a solo project, The Amps instead grew into a fully-fledged band with Jim MacPherson from The Breeders joining on drums and Dayton, OH musicians Luis Lerma and Nate Farley on bass and guitar respectively. Releasing just one album, ‘Pacer’, in 1995 and after a whirlwind of touring with the likes of Foo Fighters, Guided By Voices and Sonic Youth, Kim returned them to the shelf, leaving behind one of her most intriguing chapters.
A glorious record whose charm has only grown since release, ‘Pacer’ captures Kim energised by a new band and no pressure, recording with purpose in seven studios with a different engineer each time. The resultant record is both raw and undeniable, with Kim’s songwriting arguably at its most cryptic and personal. Don’t be fooled by its casual lo-fi veneer too, underneath lies one serious record that never dips or lacks purpose."
Two years since 'Splazsh' topped a stack of annual polls, Actress presents his 3rd, and most coherent album, 'R.I.P' - his 2nd for Honest Jon's.
Despite being a vital cog in the machinery of underground UK dance and electronics since at least 2004 (when he released his 'No Tricks' debut), it's fair to say that it's only in the last few years he's made the shift from cult concern to acknowledged auteur of some repute. His work with Damon Albarn's DRC Music, beside a legendary DJ set at Sonar and killer remixes of Shangaan Electro, Panda Bear and Radiohead all certify the fact; so expectations are no doubt set high for 'R.I.P'.
Produced exclusively on hardware and inspired by Milton's classic poem 'Paradise Lost', he's arranged his most labyrinthine, esoteric release to date; a timeless set of 15 tracks traversing crystallized radiophonics and subterranean Techno with a psychedelic sideswipe that leaves us dazed and beguiled. By assimilating machine-like characteristics - his notions of "seeping yourself liquid into the machinery" and "I'm just an instrument, I'm completely dead when I write" - he's become an interpreter, a symbiotic conduit of semi-lucid visions into the interzone whose revelations contain the potential to manipulate your consciousness in magical ways compared to the prosaic intentions of so much bland and overwrought electronic music out there.
The newfound clarity and fluid narration of 'R.I.P.' makes this the most intriguing chapter in the Actress saga so far - an unmissable experience.
For reasons that will become lysergically clear once you’ve heard the samples, Midori Takada's sublime debut album Through The Looking Glass  is widely regarded the holy grail of ‘80s Japanese ambient & minimalist music. Perhaps it’s no wonder that 2nd hand copies are known to trade for over £600, and, therefore this deluxe reissue is welcomed by a whole new generation of listeners tracing this enchanted sound back to source.
Rooted in Midori Takada's fascination with Asian and African percussion traditions, Through The Looking Glass documents the Japanese musician navigating syncretic channels of practice between floating fantasy kingdoms and parallel ambient dimensions whilst guided by a deeply ethereal, oneiric spirit that’s utterly key to the album’s appeal. While it broadly falls under the ambient banner, the results are far too grand and ambitious to be considered sonic wallpaper - they’re more like widescreen tableaus that open out exponentially the deeper in you dive.
The image of a Lady Godiva-like character riding a hare-sheep-horse chimera on the cover symbolises the surreal confluence of ideas and gestures within; a Japanese musician translating Victorian psychedelic fantasies into a language of rippling rhythmelodies and softly pealing harmonics that nod to Pygmy music as much as gamelan traditions, the soundtracks of Cocteau films and precise marimba patter.
The rest, we’ll leave for your dilated discovery. Take it on trust that this is especially spellbinding and sui generis stuff without complete comparison. A dream.
Eleh shares this masterfully entrancing split with Caterina Barbieri, following in the shimmering wake of her extraordinary new album, ‘Born Again In The Voltage’.
Both artists entice a remarkably naturalistic yet patently synthetic sound on their respective sides, with striking harmonic similarities and timbral differences emerging thru their patiently minimalist, austere practice.
Caterina Barbieri’s ‘Bestie Infinite’ is initially Vainio-esque in its doomy asceticism, but her synthlines tend to keenly overgrow, overlap and curdle where Vainio’s were clipped, sustaining a stately stasis that gradually induces a levitating and expansive effect, if you close your eyes and let her music execute its magick.
Eleh’s side, ‘Wear Patterns’ works in subtle contrast with a poetic exploration of low-lying timbral topography. Again, it’s stately slow, but with a much more genteel appeal than Barbieri’s stealthy majesty, as Eleh keeps everything lurking between the sub and middle registers before only tremulously ascending into glowing upper frequencies in later stages.
Young Marco tweaks out two South African house gems for his Safe Trip label
Uptown, he pays attention to the rolling, percolating breaks and piano house keys of Madlak’s ‘Dance Forever’, and downtown he reworks the funky mid-tempo budge of Hot Slot Machine’s ‘Rhythm’ .
Official reissue of the original soundtrack of Jean-Pierre Melville's 1970 film noir classic Le Cercle Rouge composed by French soundtrack master Eric Demarsan, drawing from the orchestral spirit of the Modern Jazz Quartet, abstraction and minimalism to create a hypnotizing audio landscape. The album boasts the participation of celebrated jazz players Guy Pedersen (bass), Daniel Humair (drums), Georges Arvanitas (piano), and Bernard Lubat (vibraphone).
"Starting as a collaborator of François de Roubaix and Michel Magne in the 60s, Eric Demarsan went on to become a mainstay of French cinema soundtracks, composing for directors such as Jean-Pierre Mocky, Costa-Gavras, and Patrice Leconte among others. He also recorded the cult album Pop Symphony (for Pierre Cardin in 1970) under the Jason Havelock pseudonym.
This is the original soundtrack to Jean-Pierre Melville's classic crime thriller Le Cercle Rouge, as scored by Eric Demarsan. Apparently, Melville requested that the music should give the feeling of being trapped by fate. Not the easiest notion to represent in music, I'm sure you'll agree, but the claustrophobic, complex jazz crescendos of 'Vogel S'Enfuit', and 'Sur Les Toits's pregnant tension certainly enforce an atmosphere of menace and impending peril. There are a few easier going jazz ensemble numbers littered throughout the disc ('Avenue Paul Doumer', 'Barrage Policier') but Demarsan's at his best when he's creating tension on pieces like 'Cercle Desincarne' or 'Le Parc'. This is one of those soundtracks that's eminently listenable as an album in its own right, divorced from its intended context, so comes highly recommended."