Gerald Donald (Heinrich Mueller, Arpanet, Dopplereffekt, Drexciya) initiates new alias Xor Gate with the 30 minute wormhole of Conic Sections.
Originally commissioned by ArtCenter South Florida in Miami, this release renders one of the longest works in Gerald Donald’s expansive microcosmos, giving enough time to explore his fascination with maths and geometry to the nth degree, but with that grasp of sweetly human pathos that sets his advanced sonic research leagues apart from the field. It’s highly recommended to immerse in this one as a solo mission, with lights dimmed and eyes shut, and its highly visual sonic stimulus work its magic on the back of your eyelids.
What were the clouds like when Huerco S was young? The Kansas-raised, New York-based producer’s absorbing ambient album For Those of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have) goes some way to answering The Orb’s fluffy little proposition…
Brian Leeds a.k.a. Huerco S’s 2nd album, following Colonial Patterns (2013) finds him working between the cracks and fissures of what we’ve previously heard from him, drawing out nine pieces of mineral ambient textures and non-percussive rhythms marking his best work since the 20 minute Untitled track off his debut for Opal Tapes in 2012.
Defined throughout by a low lit, low-lying sense of intimacy, rather than oceanic or celestial tropes, Leeds’ appreciation of lower case nuance is in warm, crackling effect with a hazy hummus like grain and bonfire glow that recalls Wanda Group’s earlier outing as The Hers, or the sweeter touches of Bellows.
Like a well timed gary, once it really begins to sink in, the warbly electronic pitches and subtly chaotic ferric details really get to work in hypnotising and making you forget where you started, suspending disbelief for a 50 minute window of time just long enough to let your mind wander over the horizon.
Time will tell, but this is surely a future ambient classic.
Strong survey of the current Italian crop, including highlights in Alessandro Adriani’s Drexciyan trip, the tentative ambient ephemera of Chevel, and the mercurial beauty of Catarina Barbieri
“Flowers from the Ashes is the latest multi-artist project to bear the acclaimed Stroposcopic Artefacts imprimatur. There is a sensibility of decadence and corroded grandeur etched within its four album sides, reminding us that historically "decadent" times have nonetheless resulted in some of the boldest acts of individual and collective creativity. Like the 'floral' theme that has remained a consistent feature of S.A.'s graphic presentation, the music here equally presents fragility and intensity in a way that really drives home this visual metaphor for good, while still holding out the promise that similar creations will be seeded in the near future, Though many of the artists involved have set of residence outside of their native Italy, all contribute here to make a captivating portrait of a shared spirit and cultural memory.
The album opens with “Errori,” deceptively fragile sonic ornaments crafted and suspended in space by Blackest Ever Black artist Silvia Kastel. This is followed closely by the mellifluous, warming glow of percussionist Andrea Belfi’s “Spitting & Skytouching,” and then by the resolute electric bass patterns and luminous fog of “Lux et Sonus,” from Eeri label head Marco Shuttle. Hospital Productions alumnus Ninos du Brasil open the B-side with a similarly dense, amorphous construction built from tribalistic chants and rhythmic patterns, to be followed by Mannequin label boss Alessandro Adriani’s “You Will Not Be There For The End,” showcasing his distinctive take on the ‘paranoiac breakdance’ aesthetic of classic EBM. S.A. veteran Chevel rounds out the first record in the program by interlacing several percolating synth lines together into a richly conversational piece.
The journey continues with “Starving The Mind,” an undulating mini-epic from S.A. founder Lucy that is animated by his signature balance of seductiveness and concentration. The bright, biting acid synth tones of “PRV-HH3-X”, by Lory D, then takes a sharp right turn into an invisible metropolis ruled by reflective high fashion and hidden intrigue. The imposing architecture of “Virgo Rebellion,” designed by modular synth futurist Caterina Barbieri, acts as an excellent companion piece, and sets up the closing “4G” from Spazio Disponibile co-founder Neel - a crepuscular serenade that accurately sums up much of the foregoing activity.”
Flavoursome collection of ersatz exotica from late ‘80s Germany, picked out and dusted down by Jan Schulte, and backed up with two Wolf Müller remix updates for Kenneth Bager’s Music For Dreams label, outta Copenhagen, Denmark
“Copenhagen’s Music For Dreams comes with yet another strong release - a double album of personal favourites compiled by Jan Schulte. According to all maps and witness accounts, Germany does not officially have any tropical forests. This is of no concern to Schulte however, who has unearthed many stunning examples of tropical drum music recorded there. Perhaps the number of botanical gardens and palm houses in Germany confused musicians into mistaking the climate, or maybe it was just a happy blend of escapism and multi-cultural integration within musical scenes that spawned such a curious output of undefinable tribal folk jazz.
Most of the tracks picked by Schulte were released on small labels in the late 80s. The musicians involved were mainly traditionally schooled, born and raised in Germany. At that time to be interested in foreign folk music might have seemed a gimmick to some, what with the emerging world music boom already snowballing into the mainstream. But these songs, while they may be based on musical traditions from foreign lands, deal much more with introspection than exploitation. Schulte himself points to his "general fascination for music that describes places where the artists have never been. Songs about the jungle or the rainforest made by people that know the rainforest only from television and books. Somehow I think you can hear their mythical imagination and fantasy in those tracks, he explains. We certainly hear it in the extensive use of wildlife samples on both "Tagtraum Eines Elefanten" by Argile and on "Wuhan Wuchang" by Total Art Of Percussion. Or on the repetitive and trace-inducing drum circle re-enactments of Ralf Nowys "Akili Mali" and Bob Moses's "Boat Song Part II”.”
Wolfgang Voigt commits one of GAS's most darkly sublime albums with 'Rausch', which arrives nearly one year on from Narkopop to remind us his position as the prince of ambient techno.
Meant to be listened to from end to end without interruption, but also included as seven discrete parts for those who need them, Rausch unfurls in diaphanous form along a depressed heartbeat march of padded kicks swept with distant horns and string swells in the faithful, time-honoured style of Wolfgang Voigt's finest recordings.
The difference lies in the feeling conjured by these swollen crests of abstracted instrumental textures and timbre. Rather than dreaminess or tranquilised melancholy, this one feels portent, impendingly stygian, as though summing up humankind’s incessant trudge toward a bleak unknown horizon, resulting in the emergence of sounds more akin to Sunn 0))), with his entrenched kicks struggling to break the gloom, and poetically losing out in the end.
For many people 'Work And Non Work' was the first introduction to one of Warp’s most singular and interesting signings ever - Broadcast.
Released in 1997, it compiled a bunch of early singles and EP's the band released on Wurlitzer Jukebox and Stereolab's Duophonic label, making for a spectacularly unusual hybrid of evocative songs capturing the psychedelic spirit of "The United States of America”, augmented by a love of radiophonic sound effects and electronic production.
Although those early releases fell broadly alongside Broadcast's Birmingham contemporaries Pram, Novak and Plone, the group fast outshone all of their contemporaries and went on to produce some of the most brilliant and individual sounding records made by anyone in the UK over the last 30 years, reaching a creative peak with the magnificent ‘Tender Buttons - surely one of the finest albums ever released by Warp.
Oake really find their gothic muse in debut album, 'Auferstehung' for Downwards.
Firmly building on the foundations of two shadowy 12"s released in 2013, the duo distill and transcend their influences across eleven stations of unrepentant gothic histrionics and industrial techno prostration. The production is now right up there with the detailed, excoriating levels of The Haxan Cloak, and also matching the rhythmic heft of label-mate Samuel Kerridge (with whom they recently formed the UF collusion), but with a kohl-eyed romanticism all of their own creation.
From the swooning black metal/shoegaze signatures and blast beats of entrance, 'Vorwort: Umiha Sien' we're manipulated with the near-religiose levels of mysticism, vacillating between shorter, doomy 'Kapital' invocations and the blasted sound of bellicose/ecstatic congregation in 'Erstes Buch: Desterieh l'Remm' to the eulogistic sludge metal drones of 'Fuenftes buch: Dreloi Wechd' and the stygian trudge of 'Sechstes Buch: Rehmin Sicht', departing with the widescreen epic, 'Siebstes Buch: Drestan Sened'. RIYL Scott Walker & Sunn 0))), Sam Kerridge, Swans.
Great ambient dub techno abstraction from uon, the newest moniker of Ryan Fall aka Caveman LSD and DJ Paradise, following superb pair of releases in the same vein for Barcelona’s Anòmia with this, his debut vinyl release - massively tipped if yr into Rhythm & Sound.
Stalking terrain familiar to Wanda Group, Pole, Xth Réflexion, DeepChord, the zlo EP captures a wickedly paradoxical sense of movement within static sound in four parts: meshing cooling pads with mercurial kinetics in the title cut, and pushing off into opiated, subaquatic zones with kosm, and hypnotically stumbling up/down an endless Escher staircase with the gravity defying dynamics of suB1, and diffusing your bone into deep space on kissing.
Prime material, all 35 minutes of it. Don’t sleep on this beauty!
Necessary reissue of Yasuaki Shimizu’s highly regarded ambient-jazz-pop oddity Kakashi from NYC’s Palto Flats and Geneva’s WRWTFWWR, who were jointly behind that prized reissue of Midori Takada’s Through The Looking Glass. Off the wall and enchanting in equal measure, Kakashi is a riddling and enchanted recording from the fertile hotbed of early ‘80s Japan, compatible with the fecund, widely scoped genius of Arthur Russell and Roland P Young from that same era. In other words, a real gem.
“A wonderful, rare record wrapped in a mysterious yet playful ambiance. Or maybe it’s just the impression that the Japanese language often gives me. ‘Suiren’ is an odd jazz-fusion-wave tune that sounds like its boiling, waiting to burst but somehow manages to stay in control. Like the nervous tick of a leg fidgeting under the table of a restaurant on a first date.
Yasuaki Shimizu is a Japanese composer, producer and saxophone player. He worked with Ryuchi Sakimoto on certain arrangements, with the South Korean artist Nam June Paik on art+sound installation pieces and even DJ Towa Tei (of Deee-Lite fame). “Suiren” was released in 1981 and is the opening title on the sought-after “Kakashi” album and is my personal favorite on this overall brilliant record. It weaves behind new wave, jazz, fusion, ambient and experimental music.
Repetitive and hypnotizing, punctuated by exclamation marks on most first mesures, the muted triangle percussion hits me straight in the heart. About 90 seconds into the song, the saxophone makes its appearance and the song goes from “this is cute” to “oh, this is some serious shit!”. Shimizu’s saxophone frees the song from the rest of the elements which are more calculated and repetitive.
A joyful, mysterious slow-moving train ride led by the artist’s mellow voice that rocks us with this calming but funky lullaby. Every phrase is punctuated by the xylophone there to energize the piece, albeit very subtely.”
Prolific experimenter Graham Dunning brings his improvised mechanical “techno” schtick to Adaadat with the Way Too Much Time EP.
"'Way too Much Time' is a 12" album from Lancashire born London-based sound artist and experimenter Graham Dunning. The tracks contained on this record are live recordings all generated via his Mechanical Techno Machine. A highly modified and elaborate turntable setup, that he has been refining now for a number of years. A video demonstrating his Mechanical Techno setup on You Tube went viral, attracting over 2 million views.
His music has been released on numerous record labels including; Seagrave Records, Entr'acte, Arell, Black Plume Editions, Bum Tapes, Raw Tonk, Earshots, Sound Holes, Raw Tonk in addition to his own imprint Fractal Meat Cuts. Dunning is also a prolific improviser collaborating with the likes of Colin Webster, Sam Underwood, (The three of them comprising DunningWebsterUnderwood), Tom Wallace, Bobby Barry and Stuart Chalmers. Dunning also performs as a member of the drone-improv collective AAS. He has also played drums in Manchester-based noise duo Blood Moon and experimental pop/kraut group Now. "Building up his teetering mechanical techno machines; or Sarah Kenchington trying not to fall off her chair while playing a hat-mounted horn, auto-violin, pedal-powered hurdy-gurdy and washing-machine-drum sequencer."
Sam Underwood (The Wire)
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith applies her delicate modular synth touch to Abstractions, a score for the Harry Smith animations of the same title, as the first volume in a new Electronic Series for Make Noise Records.
As with Kaitlyn’s collaboration with Suzanne Ciani, and handful of LPs on Western Vinyl, the mood is psychedelically pastoral, reflecting the artist’s roots in the wilds of Orcas Island, North West America, and her passion for the natural world as much as the collaged geometries, tons and textures of Smith’s short films.
Using the Make Noise System, a bespoke synth previously used by Keith Fullerton Whitman, Alessandro Cortini and Robert A.A. Lowe, as well as her favoured and rare Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 synth, Kaitlyn unfurls two extended pieces of sweetly tempered and subtly gilded transitions describing transcribing and complementing the visual aspect.
Over its 23 minutes breadth, the piece opens out from rudimentary lines into gradually more complex and layered structures with a rhythmic playfulness that reflects early electronic music which would have been created around the same time as the films. Cartoonish boings and blatz pepper the piece at angles, sprouting and wilting with the ephemerality of old celluloid, calving off into a placid bleep coda by the end of side one, and developing into more chaotic animalistic and alien voices in the second part, resembling an original BoC soundtrack or the band themselves at times, and the Radiophonic cuteness we’d also associate with Ghost Box.
Japanese ambient dispatched from Osaka via Toronto. RIYL Visible Cloaks, Kagami, Haruomi H!
“Following on from his exceptional recent releases for RVNG International & Bokeh Versions, Osaka based producer 7FO helps launch Métron Records with his first full length LP release.
The mysterious figure recorded the tracks at home, processing guitar sounds, using a sampler, synthesizer and junk equipment. Following in the footsteps of the ambient giants of his native lands, 7FO’s music continues this illustrious heritage whilst offering something fresh, modern and beautifully rendered. He describes his own sound as ‘gorgeous sustained tones and dreamlike oscillations that drift through the inorganic/electronic world reverberating through our subconscious creating sonic fables in our minds’.”
La Contra Ola is the fascinating 1st ever survey of Spanish electronic music during the post-punk and synth wave phenomenon which swept subterranean US and European scenes circa 1980-1986.
By their own admission, Spain was late to electronic music, mostly due the restrictive dictatorship of General Franco. But when Franco fxcked off in 1975, it was open season for sounds made with boxes and plugged-in guitars. You’ll find many of the best examples from that period in this set, ranging from the funked EBM swerve of La Fura dels Baus and Diseño Corbusier thru to the orientalist pop jitters of Lavabos Iturriaga and warped disco brilliance of Oviforia Sci, along with loads of other names you’ve never heard before.
Nowadays, although not necessarily synonymous with electronic music, the likes of Madrid, Barcelona and bits of the Basque country have a reputable electronic music scene, mostly a result of artists in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s artists figuring it all out on their own terms and from a distance to the usual electronic power hubs, variously updating old styles, importing from parallel scenes, and essentially imagining their own. In the past decade’s groundswell of reissued classic and obscure material, the likes of Diseño Corbusier’s El Alma De La Estrella and various oddities from Esplendor Geométrico, Luis Delgado and the Grabaciones Accidentales archive have been reissued and reappraised by the likes of Dead Cert Home Ents and EM Records, but now it’s the turn of the others to share the spotlight.
They’re generally all dancefloor-themed, or at least rhythm-driven and pop-wise, as opposed to avant or explicitly experimental. Aside from the better known Diseño Corbusier ace Golpe De Amistad, you’ll also come across their much rarer Meta Metallic  ace nestled next to the hoppin’ punk hustle of Zombies’ La Rebelión de los Objetos, and tentative 4th world/post-punk mapping recalling 23 Skidoo in Derribos Arias’ A Flúor. The aforementioned bendy disco bewt, Mao’s Children by Oviformia Sci is a really big highlight for the DJs, as are the fresh cuts of Moscú está helado and the wiry funk of TodoTodo’s electro bubbler Autogas and the Liquid G-alike EBM force of Himno from El Humano Marrano, while natty surprises keep on coming in the form of Derribos Arias’ Suicide-like dream-bop ditty Aprenda Alemán en 7 dias, and in the melodic fructose of Línea Vienesa’s Cangrejos en la cocina.
So yeh, as you can see and hear, there was a lot of quality gear coming from Spain during that fecund, pre- home computer period, which makes this set rather tasty as both a historical education and a class set of tunes.
Architect of the present future, Chris Carter goes retro hauntological on CCCL Volume One, his first solo album in 17 years.
Since his previous album, released in the last century, he’s been busy taking his influential duo with partner Cosey Fanni Tutti to a natural close, and likewise seeing thru their trio with Nik Colk Void, while at the same time diversifying his bonds with remixes of the contemporary field, from Factory Floor to Nisennenmondai and Perc. Here, however, the enormously pivotal artist paints a sonic self portrait indulging an unswerving thing for the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop and the malleability of modular synths, all with a mixture of wide-eyed, youthful innocence and high end studio nous executed to nostalgic degrees.
In the classic framework of hauntology, Carter’s nostalgia is for a lost, assuaged or thwarted synthetic future he experienced explicitly and cosmotically growing up during the ‘space age’, when synthesisers were vehicles for interstellar and interdimensional travel and acted as the connective ligament of counter-cultural likeminds across the world, so its easy to understand why he can’t shake that feeling here.
Like a grown up kid with all the kit he could ever dream of, Carter brings his ideas to life in uniquely tactile style, working like a sculptor with broad palette of amorphous materials that continue to react and mutate after he’s fixed them in place, at his legendary studio in Norfolk. Each of the 25 tracks feels to offer a window onto worlds of encrypted kinetic energy, fulminating figments of the imagination which come to life in shapeshifting, plasmic forms made all the more “real” and hyperstitious thanks to his application of AI like vocaloids which populate the album, cropping up as alien sirens, glossolalic darkroom murmurs, and fully-fledged “singers” in their own strange right.
The result is a uniquely absorbing album tied together by Carter’s smart internal logic, a mazy manifestation of bio-electronic feedback systems that gives voice to the machine as much as the man operating it in a way that will really speak to followers of classic electronic music.
RVNG Intl parse Pauline Anna Strom’s incredible new age recordings on this collection of boundary-smudging synth journeys, containing material originally released between 1982 and 1988. They've spent almost a decade trying to bring this collection to life, kudos to them once again for compiling and conceiving it with so much care and attention to detail.
Drawn from seven obscure tape and vinyl releases made between 1982 and 1988, Trans-Millenia Music lives up to its mantle with a sense of ancient knowledge transposed into the contemporary future of the 1980s, realising a latent, transcendent sound that was perhaps just waiting for technology to catch up so it could speak freely.
Through the circuitry of pioneering synth tools, the blind composer and keyboardist from San Francisco feels out a spectrum of unfathomably celestial and synaesthetically-heightened sound colour along myriad, psychedelic vectors, haptically connecting diffuse spatial coordinates with a gossamer web of FX and morphing filter envelopes.
It’s music for oceanic introspection, beckoning listeners to fall deep inside themselves and diffract profound visions through their own lens, where you can interpret her descriptions of sonic flight in Crusing Altitude 36,000 Feet and In Flight Suspension, or decode the entheogenic synth voices of Mushroom Trip according to your own understanding of the cosmos and its play of energies, and draw your own meanings.
Gorgeous music, highly recommended if you're into Suzanne Ciani, Laurie Speigel or indeed Midori Takada.
Autechre's classic debut album from 1993, reissued for the first time in 15 years...
Go on, blink; for the first time in fifteen years Autechre’s peerless debut album, Incunabula is reissued as a facsimile copy of the original, 1993 release, replete with silver-printed gatefold jacket.
We’re not going to bang on about this too much, but you should know by now that Incunabula is one of the cornerstones of modern electronic music, one of the pinnacles of the British rave epoch and among the most life-affirming records ever, bar none.
Aye, it’s 100% essential.
On Bloodline, Steven Julien a.k.a. Funkineven explore a charmingly personalized sonic ontology under his own name for the 2nd time following 2016’s self-titled album, coming into his own with a wickedly expressive meld of jazz-fusion and machine music.
Bloodline is concerned with paying dues to Steven’s ancestral roots, but it’s also an acknowledgment of influence of new age synth styles, Japanese electronics and the history of East London raving, adding up to a sound that’s brilliantly timeless and distinctly his own.
It’s a sort of hauntological soundtrack, if you will, traversing in a range of jump-cuts and fades from the filmic synth atmosphere of Hunt to a killer 303 + Linn drum combo in Roll Of The Dice, and ruggedly debonaire electro-bass on Bloodline, before swerving hard into mutant jazz-funk with Apache. The vibe then takes a super sweet turn with the percolated electro-funk of Queen of Ungilsan, and wraps up with the classicist ‘80s boogie-meets-new age strokes of Temple Rd.
The 20th volume of Numero's Eccentric Soul series has all the boxes checked: Gun-toting, skip-tracing record producers, child stars, rip-offs, the “World’s Greatest Bail Bondsman,” swindles, soaring falsettos, and a dwindling rust-belt cityscape offering mere glimpses of hope before the record industry escaped for the coasts.
"Helmed by the O’Jays Bobby Massey, Saru was a creative vortex that pulled Cuyahoga County’s greatest talent in, making a strong case for Cleveland to contend with Detroit, Philly, and Memphis as America’s soul music’s capital. Includes obscure and unknown sides from the Out of Sights, the Elements, Pandella Kelly, David Peoples, Sir Stanley, the Ponderosa Twins + 1, Ba-Roz, Bobby Dukes, and of course, the O’Jays."
The prodigal return of Venezuelan artist Carlos Giffoni to the avant-electronic music scene he was instrumental in shaping with the seminal, hybridising No Fun Fest and No Fun Productions label, which was home to debut releases by Oneohtrix Point Never, and classics from Haswell and Prurient during the late ‘00s to early part of this decade. If yr into 0PN or Keith Fullerton Whitman, this album f u c k i n g r u l e s
Carlos’ first new release in 6 years, Vain was drawn from hundreds of hours of improvisations made at his Malibu studio, offering a tumultuous narrative in affective abstract swells and pulsating rhythms that trigger curious sensations and emotions ever familiar to his variegated, extreme, yet essentially organic output.
Despite not releasing anything for the past 6 years, Carlos still sounds like he lives and breathes electronic music. Where those ‘noise’ artists who originally played at No Fun Fest and released on his label have arguably carved out major career paths from myriad mutated genres, Carlos’ music still feels captivatingly ancient yet advanced and uncannily hypnotic.
In a cascade of minimalist arps and cloud dynamic harmonies, the album’s story starts in the vortex of Vain’s Face and sweeps thru the granular flux of The Desert to a staggering piece of noise techno dissonance in Erase The World, which calves away into the curled plunge of Hands and the anxious needling of We Pay The Price. At the mid-way point it turns lusher with the pulsing and coruscating kosmische tang of Stop Breathing, leading to the metric complexities woven into Faith and Pain and the heightened high-register sensitivities of I Can Change, whose shatterproof hyaline steeples ultimately deliquesce into the shimmering beauty of Sun Rain.
With hazy resolution and ambiguity of effect, the record works its magick in memorable style. Like the best abstract sonics of Peter Rehberg or Keith Fullerton Whitman, an intuitively applied formula of geometry, rhythm, tone and timbre add up to inexorable effect, rendering the closest possible connection between the machines and the artist’s pathos.
For syntesthetes and attuned listeners, the effect is likely to conceive new colours on the mind’s eye, and move them to finer states of emotive response. In others words: it’s a seriously good listen.
Magisterial, glacial, attention-demanding and powerful exposition of Buchla 200 synth tones mapped to acoustic woodwind and brass by a promising young composer; Stockholm’s Kali Malone. A strong tip to fans of work by Caterina Barbieri, Emptyset, Sarah Davachi.
Arriving in the resonating wake of her self-released solo début Velocity of Sleep , and flanked by the recently issued Organ Dirges 2016-2017 tape for Ascetic House, the Cast Of Mind LP gently but grandly expands the constellation of Kali Malone's solo releases, next to her Upper Glossa collaborations with Caterina Barbieri, a tape with Ellen Akrbro, and acclaimed live performances.
Joined by Yoann Durant (Alto Sax), Isak Hedtjärn (Bass Clarinet), Gabriella Varga Kalsson (Bassoon), and Mats Äleklint (Trombone), Kali’s Buchla 200 Synthesiser forms the basis for a quartet of diaphanous and slowly unfolding electro-acoustic landscapes that externalise a highly personalised form of emotive topography.
In the titular opener, wood and brass trace the swooning ellipses of Kali’s Buchla contours in stately procession suggesting a sort of resigned march to battle, before the Buchla appears to dominate in the warped streaks of Bondage To Formula, but listen closer and it’s harder to tell whether it’s electronic or organic sources so fully lending flesh to her rich sound field.
The answer to that question is much clearer in Arched To Hysteria, whose keening, hunched electronic forces hold powerful potential to conversely induce paranoia and heavily hypnagogic effects, whilst Empty The Belief yields a lustrous, Raga-like drone capturing a marriage of Buchla and bassoon at their most transcendent and steeply attractive.
This one should be filed for reference and safekeeping beside recent transmissions from Sarah Davachi, Anna Von Hausswolff, and Catarina Barbieri = properly good.
oOoOO ventures back from the mists of Witch House on this trip hop revival programme with Islamiq Grrrls, tapping right into the zeitgeists blue vein of ‘90s nostalgia with a mix of authentic coffee table ennui and up-to-the-moment emo rap tropes.
"The LP is a collaboration between oOoOO & Islamiq Grrrls. The album's title - "Faminine Mystique" - is an allusion to the Betty Friedan book 'Feminine Mystique' that inspired the 2nd wave feminist movement in the US. Freidan said that while society was providing (middle class) women with historically unparalleled material abundance, it failed to allow space for personal growth. A rigid apparatus was keeping women in a narrowly defined social role that all but excluded self-exploration.
Pronounced 'Famine in Mystique,' the LP's name reflects our feeling that, in a similar way, an increasingly powerful set of contemporary social forces are aligning to, on the one hand, provide people with more music & art than we've ever had access to before, yet rigidly limiting the types of music offered to people to sounds that favor a rigid economics first model of clicks & easy consumption over exploration & experimentation.
Faminine Mystique's 13 songs are framed by fragments of lost, forgotten, or discredited 20th century artists & genres: the well crafted guitar solos of 80s metal; jazz guitarist Barney Kessel; the Ashley's Roachclip drum break; Milli Vanilli; a Kool DJ Red Alert radio show barely audible on some bedside clock radio in some blue collar town on the outskirts of Manhattan; A freeform saxophone solo vocals of a France Gall or Astrud Gilberto. All blended into the compressed sounds of modern pop & RnB.over a 2 minute, feminist juke-punk anthem. The elusively simple but dreamy vocals of a France Gall or Astrud Gilberto. All blended into the compressed sounds of modern pop & RnB."
Guitarless Guitar Music. This is the self-imposed one-line description chosen by Auckland, New Zealand’s Wax Chattels.
"The keyboard, bass and drums trio don’t have a guitar player, but their overwhelming sound and energy create an atmosphere akin to a traditional power trio though their music is anything but traditional. They create darkly hypnotic and frenetic music that’s rhythmically complex and sinister; there’s heavily treated keyboards, unrestrained basslines and punishingly simple drums. And, it’s loud.
Peter (keyboards/vocals), Amanda (bass/vocals) and Tom (drums) met while studying Jazz Performance at the University of Auckland. After living abroad, completing Law School and/or performing in a myriad of other music-related projects, they started Wax Chattels, working up their material for a year prior to recording. “We tracked the songs as a live band to capture the energy of the live show, restricting ourselves to instruments which we play live and keeping all production to a minimum to focus on the band’s sound itself.”
Live, they are not to be missed. While they do come across as a “rock” band, it’s coming from so many places so quickly that you’re kind of left wondering where you’re going. The opening of the one-chord tour de force “Concrete” begins in a downright frightening and jarring place and ends up in a Krautrock-via-Suicide crescendo. It was after a particularly insane live performance that they were signed by both Captured Tracks and Flying Nun Records on the spot.
Wax Chattels recall the other side of Kiwi underground rock history that’s a bit less sunny and a bit less jangly. The small, yet constantly groundbreaking nation has put forth a new act and album that demands your attention."
180g release “Souvenir”, an album by a promising music maker from Japan's underground scene.
"Videotapemusic is a young music and video producer from Tokyo who uses old Japanese and Asian VHS tapes collected in dusty recycle shops and closed rental video stores as raw material for his sampling work and video production, creating a singular and highly unique musical world that has created waves on the Japanese scene since 2009. Starting out strong with three self-released albums, followed by two albums on Japanese label Kakubarhythm and a collaboration 12” on EM Records, “Souvenir” is now the first Videotapemusic album released outside of Japan.
The eight tracks in “Souvenir” also feature the cream of the crop from the current Japanese scene: Beipana on steel guitar, MC.sirafu on steel pan, saxophonists Satomi Endo, Satoru Takeshima and Kaoru Masuda, trumpetists Taichiro Kawasaki and Makoto Takahashi, DJ Eskimo, guitarist Yuichi Ushioda, percussionist and hand sonic player Hajime Matsushita, keyboardist Yu Arauchi, Videotapemusic on pianica and vocalists Sansuke Yamada, Toshihiko Ikeda and Ryu Tsuruoka. Dive into a world of musical delight and discover today’s best music from Japan!”
"Whether congregating in dimly lit halls or in forests, and whether mediated by e-mailed audiofiles or infiltrating darker realms of
consciousness, mysterious forces are being channelled by a shifting collective intent on psychic communion by any means necessary.
Bonnacons of Doom’s identities may be shrouded and hidden in the live arena, yet the force of their vibrations - as captured on the
unearthly vibrations and unholy revelations of their self-titled Rocket Recordings debut - is gloriously manifest.
“From the beginning, we’ve been really interested in the transformative possibilities of music” explains Rob, one such Bonnacon. “How it has the power to make us and the audience at that particular moment into something else. In particular, we’ve tried to work with repetition, volume and texture rather than traditional song structures. Anything that produces a stasis that people can get lost in rather than following something in a linear or obvious way” Whilst the line-up of Bonnacons of Doom has been known to morph with each undertaking, the prime movers in the principally Liverpoolbased collective endeavour have included members of Mugstar, Jarvis Cocker’s band and Youthmovies, donning robes and masks to sculpt altered states and subsume themselves to the ritual. Recording mostly in single-takes and in the band’s trademark improvisational method at Suburban Home studios by its owner and Hookworms frontman MJ, this recorded incarnation of Bonnacons’ arcane conjury operates stubbornly free of genre, sashaying alongside psych-rock, repetitive drone and electronic experimentation whilst consumed by a devotional intensity that’s multiplied by the transcendental echoing of vocalist Kate. “I guess our environment is another key influence” reckons Rob.
“We’re almost all from Lancashire and Yorkshire, and the landscape and mythology of the north is part of who we are. It’s darkness and beauty, the weirdness of its folk traditions, the independence of mind of its culture and the melancholy of its post-industrial grain. I think ultimately what we’re trying to achieve is a kind of Trans-Pennine hypnotic music.”
8Ball’s rolling amen smasher Total Kontrolz goes thru the motions the front, but the one you need to check is Mr. G’s G10 Dub on the B-side
...where he yanks down the tempo to a rolling 125bpm for a rudely sub-fuelled breakbeat house killer, saving a synthy sting in the tail that keeps it burning up to the core.
Sublime, spiralling Harp and FX works from Mary Lattimore, collecting her first solo LP proper with Ghostly International, following a string of tapes, collaborations, and collections of older material issued since 2012. Ranging from the Enya-esque to West Coast new age flights of fancy and cinematic gestures flooded in unfalteringly positive light, ‘Hundreds of Day’ is one that some listeners will fall head over heels for
“"It was the most beautiful summer of my life." Memories — places, vacancies, allusions — are fundamental characters in Mary Lattimore's evocative craft. Inside her music, wordless narratives, indefinite travelogues, and braided events skew into something enchantingly new. The Los Angeles-based harpist recorded her breakout 2016 album, At The Dam, during stops along a road trip across America, letting the serene landscapes of Joshua Tree and Marfa, Texas color her compositions. In 2017, she presented Collected Pieces, a tape compiling sounds from her past life in Philadelphia: odes to the east coast, burning motels, and beach town convenience stores. In 2018, from a restorative station — a redwood barn, nestled in the hills above San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge — emanates Hundreds of Days, her second full-length LP with Ghostly International. The record sojourns between silences and speech, between microcosmic daily scenes and macrocosmic universal understandings, between being alien in promising new places and feeling torn from old native havens. It's an expansive new chapter in Lattimore's story, and an expression of mystified gratitude. A study in how ordinary components helix together to create an extraordinary world.
Lattimore's voice sweeps beneath the plucks and washes of opener “It Feels Like Floating,” enraptured by the winding current, and reappearing in the second minute of the immense "Never Saw Him Again." The track elevates towards a shimmering apex of static and percussion before organ drone yields to signature halcyon flutters. As with much of Lattimore's work, the track titles are telling; "Baltic Birch" is a somber windswept march that sways gracefully out of step, a remembrance of a recent trip to Latvia where she was struck by the abandoned resort towns along the Baltic Sea. “Hello From The Edge of The Earth” is an earnest reflection of Lattimore’s love of the natural world, recognizing the thresholds of varying terrains.
The album's fifth track borrows its name from Lattimore’s favorite line in Denis Johnson’s short story “Emergency” from Jesus’ Son. A character, lost in a blizzard, reassesses a disjointed universe, a clash between curtains of snow and angels descending out of a brilliant blue summer: it isn’t an apocalypse, it is a drive-in movie, with stars hovering above the lot, off the screen, in the throes of the Midwestern storm. This mix-up is disorienting and existentially tragic; Lattimore's darkly strummed piece is a melancholic parallel, mimicking Johnson’s elegant suture attaching two remarkably discontinuous spaces.
Micro-revelations, not quite as bright as torn skies but nonetheless enlightening, were everyday occurrences during Lattimore's residency. Living small days with small tasks — feeling little dramas within the arcadian universe of a national park — rendered her the sense that disjointed spaces can be interconnected no matter the enormity that divides them. It's in this elastic scale of perception that something as simultaneously simple and intricate as Hundreds of Days can flourish.”
DJ Nozaki a.k.a. ZZZ pumps the box for L.I.E.S.
Extruding the churning 303’s and 808’s of Psychic Agony Ov Session (Original Mix) across the A-side, and slanging it Santos style with the rushing waves of percussion in Psychic Agony Ov Session (Grave Master Yardie Mix), along with the Legowelt-like square based roiler, Pelectrique.
S. Craig Zahler (‘Bone Tomahawk’) returns with his sophomore feature, ‘Brawl In Cell Block 99’.
"An exhilarating exercise in analogue violence, ‘Brawl In Cell Block 99’ follows the brutal exploits of a former boxer who finds himself incarcerated after a drug deal goes wrong. Trapped in a maximum security facility, he must fight to stay alive and to protect those he loves. Composed by directors S. Craig Zahler and Jeff Herriott, the score is performed by soul musicians / bands. “Conceptually, I approached each tune much as I would a novel or script by beginning with a basic character - the protagonist. From this seed, I grew the music, working with co-composer Jeff Herriott, with whom I grew up and made heavy metal albums (as Realmbuilder), synth music (as Binary Reptile), and the score to my first film, ‘Bone Tomahawk’.
For these songs, I focused on character first and story second, adding essential, world-building details everywhere. Jeff and I composed, orchestrated, and arranged the core elements of these seven tunes in an intense six-day period, which took place between my marathon editing sessions of the film itself. Some of these tunes were conceived to complement scenes in the movie, and others were written to serve as a direct counterpoint, but all were to be heartfelt journeys from the perspective of the songs’ protagonists.” - S. Craig Zahler."
A Colourful Storm’s Mark ravages the ‘floor for Unterton with three bleeding-edge industro D&B cuts likely to trip up the techno kids looking for another dose of 4/4.
Like his ruffneck volley Integrier Dich Du Yuppie issued at the start of ’18, The Least Likely Event Will Occur In The Long Run calibrates a mix of strongback D&B and dark, ritualistic electronic atmospheres with runs into more mutant forms.
Know No Out Only In kicks it off with a dense, pensive intro precipitating a recoiling hardstep coda right out of the Doc Scott playbook, whereas the amorphous, beatless sound design of Veiling Hazards feels lifted straight out of a sci-fi soundtrack, but with a very canny surprise in the closing strokes, while the crooked half step dip of See In Symbols feels like a sparring partner for Raime goods.
High quality reissue of the monumental work August 1974 by Japanese experimental music ensemble Taj Mahal Travellers.
"In April 1972 a group of Japanese musicians set off from Rotterdam in a Volkswagen van. As they crossed Europe and then made their way through Asia they made music in a wide range of locations. They also paid close attention to the changing scene and to differing ways of life. Midway through May they reached their destination, the iconic Taj Mahal on the bank of the Yamuna river in Agra, India.
The Taj Mahal Travellers had fulfilled physically the promise of the name they adopted when they formed in 1969. But their music had always been a journey, a sonic adventure designed to lead any listener’s imagination into unfamiliar territory. The double album August 1974 was their second official release. The first July 15, 1972 is a live concert recording, but on 19th August 1974 the Taj Mahal Travellers entered the Tokyo studios of Nippon Columbia and produced what is arguably their definitive statement.
The electronic dimension of their collective improvising was coordinated, as usual, by Kinji Hayashi. Guest percussionist Hirokazu Sato joined long-term group members Ryo Koike, Seiji Nagai, Yukio Tsuchiya, Michihiro Kimura, Tokio Hasegawa and Takehisa Kosugi. The enigmatic Takehisa Kosugi, whose soaring electric violin was such a vital element in their music, had been a pioneer of free improvisation and intermedia performance art with Group Ongaku at the start of the 60s. Later in that decade, before launching the Taj Mahal Travellers, he had become known internationally through his association with the Fluxus art movement. During the mid-70s the Travellers disbanded and while his colleagues more or less stopped performing as musicians Kosugi continued to reach new audiences across the course of several decades as a composer, regular performer and musical director for the acclaimed Merce Cunningham Dance Company. August 1974 captures vividly the characteristic sound of the Taj Mahal Travellers, haunting tones from an unusual combination of instruments, filtered through multiple layers of reverb and delay.
Their music has strong stylistic affinities with the trippy ambience of cosmic and psychedelic rock, but the Taj Mahal Travellers were tuning in to other vibrations, drawing inspiration from the energies and rhythms of the world around them rather than projecting some alternative reality. Films of rolling ocean waves often provided a highly appropriate backdrop for their lengthy improvised concerts. This is truly electric music for the mind and body."
A wonderfully mystic midsummer episode of free improv jazz recorded and reworked in Tokyo, 1976, now rendered and wrapped up for reissue by Belgium’s Aguirre. Original copies trade 2nd hand for the price of a small hatchback with a few miles left on the clock. This one will travel, we promise (no dodgy car dealer chat!)
“Thelonious Monk, Mal Waldron, Don Cherry, Roswell Rudd, Derek Bailey, Musica Elettronica Viva – saxophonist Steve Lacy played with them all. Renowned for remarkable solo concerts that confirmed his mastery of the soprano horn and that carried its instrumental language into previously unexplored regions, Lacy also loved to collaborate with musicians who could inspire him to stretch the boundaries of his own artistry.
During the summer of 1975 Lacy toured Japan, and on June 24th he entered a Nippon Columbia studio in Tokyo with Yuji Takahashi and Takehisa Kosugi, two adventurous kindred spirits, guaranteed to fire Lacy’s creative imagination. The fascinating outcome of that dynamic session is Distant Voices, an album without parallel in Lacy’s extensive discography.
Composer Iannis Xenakis was so impressed when he heard Yuji Takahashi playing piano in 1961 that he later wrote music especially for him. The Japanese virtuoso rose to that formidable challenge and many others as he rapidly established himself as one of the foremost interpreters of contemporary composed music. His repertoire extends back to Bach and Purcell yet for Takahashi music has remained an open quest and a process of discovery.
Takehisa Kosugi on the other hand has been a legendary figure in the international avant garde since the mid-1960s when his work was endorsed by the Fluxus movement. In Japan he was by then already well established as leading practitioner of experimental music and intermedia performance art. At the time Distant Voices was recorded Kosugi had also developed a following for his electric violin playing with the Taj Mahal Travellers, a group whose sound had strong stylistic affinities with psychedelic rock and space music. Subsequently other audiences worldwide came to know Kosugi through his long association as a composer, performer and musical director with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.
On 24th June 1975 Takahashi sat at a grand piano, with celeste and vibraphone alongside him and small bells attached to his hands. Kosugi was equipped with violin, flute, mouth organ, an electronic modulator, porcelain bowls and at times he used his voice. Lacy played soprano saxophone, of course. Now and then he pressed the mouth of the instrument against the skin of a kettle drum. He occasionally fiddled with a transistor radio, and also found uses for a stepladder, a toothbrush and a spinning wheel. This was in no sense a routine musical session. Distant Voices preserves a unique occasion when three singular musicians joined together to embrace the unknown.”
Quietly revered Japanese artist Miki Yui makes a shimmering lower case outing with ‘Mills’ for Sam Weaver’s excellent, roving Cusp Editions. Verging on the sound sensitivities familiar to David Toop’s music, and blessed with the kind of filigree attention to detail which haunts Bellows or Elodie’s miasmic small sounds, Mills is a totally absorbing and ultimately psychedelic experience - but read that as slow, waking dream psychedelia, rather than mind-melt headf*ck. Listen with your windows open for lushest effect!
“Boundless solar oscillations in exquisite cycle; this new record from Miki Yui is as playful as it is mesmerizing.
Cuspeditions warmly welcomes Japanese artist Miki Yui to the label, with a work delicately crafted from field recordings, synthesizer, solar oscillator and sampler. Yui is known for the unique nature of her music (apparent also in past collaborations with Rolf Julius, Rie Nakajima and Klaus Dinger), and whilst Mills retains the subtlety and sensuousness of her earlier works, these new coherent and lucid compositions are charged with a narrative tension we’ve not heard before.
Dial Sun opens the album as an early morning call. Sounds flicker and flop, not a care in the world, amidst scraping and intimate electronics, escalating toward a frenzied outro. The subdued unwind of Granite follows on in a laminose exploration of metallic samples upon fragmented melody, fleeting and windswept as a lost memory. The hollow-sounding language of sputtering synthesizer and warped samples creates a rhythmic strangeness in the album’s shortest piece, Salute.
Otherworldly overtones with a cooler feel characterize Mica where long elegant feedback slides between dissonant swells, thick and granular as though emerging from electronic canyons. Solareo is the album’s major work at 13 minutes long, and invites the listener to meander through dense almost reggae like chord-beds, slow pulses and a raucous of bizarre synthetic glitches. The cyclic reprise of Dial Moon returns to the playfulness of the opening track with dancing rhythms and turbulent hooks. Tones like whispers fade into quietude, toward a silence warm and balsam.
Miki Yui’s harnessing of solar energy, both materially and symbolically, feels like a joyous salute to the sun in all its manifestations."
Rare and brilliant music as used in the late 1960s Amazing animated series we are not allowed to mention for legal reasons.
"Way back in 1967, an animated superhero cartoon was released into the world. It was created by Grantray-Lawrence Animation and was based on a web-spinning, crime fighting blue and red dressed character that had originated in1962, in Marvel Comics by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. This amazing series (that we’re not allowed to mention the name of for legal reasons) ran on ABC TV in the USA, then Canada, then a few years later started to spread its web further, running here in the UK throughout summer holidays, after school and possibly early mornings at weekends in the late 1970s. The series then got released on VHS video (and probably Betamax too) in the mid 1980s and still continues to spin its animated magic around the world through further broadcasts, YouTube and DVDs.
The series was notoriously low budget, with animated errors everywhere and numerous scenes, sequences and backgrounds being re-used all the time, often across the same episode. Even a certain spider logo on a costume would appear with six legs, then eight legs later on, then back to six again in the same show. Series One opened with a newly written spider theme, a classic, hooky song all about doing whatever spiders can, and had, as Big George (RIP) once pointed out to me, a set of session singers falling slightly out of time with the backing track after the first verse. Series One also featured background music by jobbing composers Bob Harris and Ray Ellis but these cues and master tapes are now believed to be lost.
After Series One the company Grantray-Lawrence went bankrupt, so the amazing spider series (that we’re not allowed to mention for legal reasons) was taken on by producer Steve Krantz. He brought in new talent, including animation director Ralph Bakshi who later went on to turn a Robert Crumb strip cartoon into the feature Fritz The Cat. Krantz also slashed the already cripplingly small spider budget, and brought in the idea of using economic library music. Here, thanks possibly to an independent sync agent (it has been suggested that a company called Music Sound Track Services may have been the one) production turned to the KPM catalogue. This was one of the few really established library catalogues around at the time with a modern edge; it was full of fabulous, modern dramatic music tracks – often all on the same LP. But more importantly all the tracks were far longer than the one minute musical cuts that many of the fledgling USA library companies were issuing at the time. Not only would this KPM music be efficient, affordable and very easy to use, it would also mean syndication worldwide would not be held up by any future musical issues. Krantz produced two amazing spider series (that we’re not allowed to mention for legal reasons), and both were smothered with KPM music. In fact barely a spider second goes by without music playing in either the background or foreground.
For many years I – and many nostalgic others - have been thinking about putting this vinyl album together. For many enthusiasts this really is formative music – a junior foray into hip swinging crime jazz and esoteric musical grooviness. I’ve also read on line accounts by DJs from WFMU on the trail of original spider master tapes, and there’s even a whole forum dedicated to “Spidey-Jazz”. Then recently I was looking at an old spider tracklist and realized that several of my favourite KPM cues were there including Syd Dale’s “Hell Raisers” and “Walk And Talk”, both from one of the most elusive and desirable KPM albums of all time (yes, you just try and find yourself a copy of KPM 1002 right now), so I decided to push on and get the album made.
So, what features on this Spider-Jazz Lp? Well it’s music from the amazing TV series we are not allowed to mention for legal reasons, BUT, not music from Series One. No, but it is all from Series Two and Series Three. From looking at archival cue sheets, over 50 tracks from various early KPM 1000 series albums were used across episodes. I’ve distilled this down into one exciting and enthralling LP, and if this works a further Spider Jazz album may well swing in to production. If you’re interested (and I’m sure you may well be) cues here came from KPM1001, KPM1002, KPM1015, KPM1017, KPM1018 and KPM1043 and were composed by master library composers of the era – Dale, Hawkshaw, Hawksworth, Mansfield etc.
And if you are listening over there in the USA, you may well recognize many of the cues here not just from the amazing TV series (that we’re not allowed to mention for legal reasons) but also from classic 1960s and 1970s NFL highlight shows that we are allowed to mention."
Two years since his Mango Bay introduction (nearly 1 million views on YouTube and counting), Bojan Cizmic reprises a happy garage house sound for Hot Haus Recs
Running the debonaire nostalgic vibes of XTC IV next to Kornel Kovacs’ extra-swung and layered remix, and two well skooled stripes of deep NYC garage in Soft Touch and XTC II.
All you E’d up ‘90a mistake babies, eat your Kappa-plated hearts out right here, right now.
Vinyl debut by NYC punks, Decisions; three short and sludgy buggers, plus one longer one to wade in and get your boots mucky
“Now behold: ten minutes of new Decisions, a seven-inch titled The Weight of the World Leaves a Broken Back set for a split release via Wharf Cat Records and Death By Sheep Records. Recorded at JMZ House in October of 2017 by Dave Rata, it’s a raw punk record that plays out almost like one complete sentence—a skeptical and nuanced thought about breaking down the walls and norms of a boring fucking world, and the gatekeepers and institutions reinforcing a busted status quo. It’s like a collective decision to push back and say No, with screeching feedback, ominous primal drums, sirening basslines. “Trapped” is at once an epiphany and a rejection while “Disform” uses rhythmic double-tracked vocals to sear into those who spew bullshit theories and meaningless words, all leading to some of the record’s most central questions: “I try my best to live comfortably in this body that I hate… Are we living outside this binary or creating another one?”
It’s a song that asks whether seemingly radical communities only end up creating their own hierarchies and power systems, a topic further pried open as “Gatekeeper” rails against the holders of power in hardcore, a world they seem content to tear apart and build anew on their own terms. “Rusted Shut” is the only song over two minutes, a slow and creeping build that eventually breaks and an example of this band’s cool use of pace and testing of patience. Is it a takedown of old guard systems and impossibly locked doors or just a meditation on some ancient building? Figure it out for yourself or don’t. The answers are never easy. Decisions suggests you can opt for a process instead. With unrelenting rage and disjointed grooves, The Weight of the World Leaves a Broken Back is the sound of a new New York punk underground, of chaos bending towards something more interesting. –Liz Pelly
We love The Breeders. In fact at times it's bordered on obsession.
Their first record "Pod" must surely rank as one of the finest debut albums of all time, their "Safari" EP is in our opinion prime desert island disc material, and while "Last Splash" left us a little cold, their last album "Title TK" was exceptional and kinda overlooked.
After a six year break, Kim & Kelley Deal finally get around to putting together a new batch of songs, something possibly spurred on by the sudden jolt of activity initiated by the recent Pixies comeback. It was the documentary film associated with that reunion, loudQUIETloud, that gave the first evidence of new Breeders material surfacing (you get snatches of Kim laying down vocals for "Walk It Off" on her four-track), so we've been waiting in anticipation for the last year or so.
While the essential sound of the band hasn't deviated too far from the blueprint drawn up on Pod, there are times when it sounds like Kim and Kelley are recording on their own in some run down room together. Early single, 'We're Gonna Rise' is a textbook Deal sisters song, waltzing slowly through silky harmonies and rudimentary guitar arpeggios before 'German Studies' puts the grungy muscle back into their sound. More rough and ready fun is to be had with the primitive, distorted beats of 'Bang On', which presents a rawer, more garagey sound, and indeed, for all the sweet, dilapidated country of something like 'Here No More', or the melodious Latin American stylings of 'Regalame Esta Noche' it's always good to hear these two making a racket, especially on 'It's The Love', an exercise in pure '90s American alt. rock classicism, with a central fuzz-tone riff that could have been a Dinosaur Jr offcut from 'Where You Been' but for the fact that the guitar solo is packed with voluntarily rubbish technique and comically way off bum notes.
Nevertheless it rocks hard - let's not forget Kelley once took to the stage as part of Last Hard Men, alongside hair metal poster boy Sebastian Bach of Skid Row infamy. Now that's some pedigree, right? There's some classic Kim bass riffling on here too, as on 'Walk It Off', which on paper could be played by absolutely anyone, but the pacing and swagger is instantly recognisable as Kim's handiwork. Maybe its the fact that they don't appear to give a sh*t, maybe its just down to the songwriting, either way - the Breeders are still one of the finest bands you'll ever have the pleasure of spending 40 minutes of your life listening to...
Shelter Press continue to pull us deeper into their uniquely curated soundworld on this exceptional new album from prolific composer and synth builder Justin C. Meyers, an artist who has had a cult following in the US underground noise and electronic scene for many years. This new album is a staggering collection of complex but gradually immersive modular compositions; a jittery, fragile thing that attempts to catalogue the precarious life of an artist with all the despondancy and joy that can entail. Impossible to classify this one, but if you’ve enjoyed work by Rashad Becker, Lucy Railton or Mark Fell in recent years, we’d wager that this one will rule your world...
"Meyers is a unique, underappreciated talent in contemporary electronic music. His greatest strengths are twofold: his compositions have a meticulous structural logic, revealing a hermetic and austere formalism; concurrently, his compositions have a deep, introspective narrativity grounded in his lived experience, evoked with a mature clarity. Together, they make Meyers one of the most interesting electronic musicians working with cutting-edge sonics today, unlocking their latent powers of metaphor and figuration.
Meyers’ formal language employs the barest of ingredients: scintillating digital synthesis, evacuated field recordings, impossibly crisp transients and an elegiac harmonic sensibility. He sets up scenarios that anticipate some musical event or flourish, only to renege on them with stark about-faces or resolutions into dissonance. These rhetorical figures reproduce the difficulty of maintaining artistic integrity and motivation while working a day job and dealing with chronic illness.
Tracks like “Self Portrait” evoke the trauma of reconfiguring and rewriting one’s own identity to (unsuccessfully) appease indifferent funding sources like grants and fellowships, which Meyers wryly calls “Granular Opportunities.” Stability is not conceded until the stunning eponymous final sequence, that ambiguously signals either the willed discontinuation or reaffirmation of Meyers’ musical career.
The impression is not entirely bleak. Meyers’ sound design is buoyant and luxurious with its clean edges and lush tonalities, such as in “Draw Distance” or the “Expectations” diptych. This is Meyers’ most playful record, albeit always gesturing towards its melancholic narrative. This guarded, dark humour is alluded to in his sleeve art and track titles.
In an environment where most record releases don’t break even and the artist usually shoulders the financial burden, Struggle Artist explores what the psychological burdens are. It laments the incompatibility of neoliberalism and non-commercial artistic practice, increasingly accessible only to the inherited rich. For the rest of us, second jobs are the only option, which in theory liberates us from the pressure to commoditise our art, but in reality leaves us exhausted and broken. Struggle Artist is a refreshingly honest and transfixing metanarrative on how we interiorise the conditions of making art."
Well-oiled electro sleaze from Poison Arro, the new duo of producer Konrad Black and vocalist Natalia Escobar for dBridge’s Pleasure District.
One for all-night bar hunters and dawn-dodgers, If You Don’t Love Me unfolds in four lustrous strokes between the mariachi horns and slo-mo fluoro electro of If You Don’t Love Me (I’ll Cut Your Face), featuring Natalia’s coldest gynoid delivery, to shadow-strafing styles in the carmine creep of Casa Show.
Turn her over for Konrad Black’s first remix of the title cut, raising the tempo to palpitating heartbeat and smearing the bass in wobblier shapes, before pulling back to 105bpm on the super crisp and stripped down Razor Dub mix.
Smiling C trail their Shams Dinn diamond with this bounty of Washington Go-Go picks from the short-lived Aset label’s Whax, Treo, and Latonya, all recorded and originally released c. 1986-88. Like the Shams LP, A Totally New Sound brims with pure soulful optimism and home-baked charm, but rather than early Arabic rap and ‘80s boogie, this one surveys a blindspot in most collections with some of the rarest and most special Go-Go Records in existence.
All eight song were written by the Aset label’s in-house players, revolving song-writers Mbu Mbulu and O Jabbo, and includes their semi-released instrumental Skip, along with three beauties by the 11 year old singer Latonya which are almost worth entry alone, plus one wild one by the Whax duo, and three from Treo, the trio of Cathy Young, Delores Lidell and Linda Lawson.
Seriously, the Latonya tracks are what pop dreams are made of - precocious yet innocent, flush with colourful melodies and driven by that bustling Go-Go hustle, the super infectious Dance Time is a ready-made anthem, while Eyes Of A Child and We Will Teach The Adults weirdly also recall early ‘80s Belgian cold wave crossed with Langley Schools Music Project, or something.
The Aset Players’ Skip reveals the boogie mechanics under their pop hood, while Whax tend to the freakier side with a spot of Rick James-ian flair, and Treo’s close harmonies come out perfectly pop-wise in Demands Demands Demands, but Second Is Too Close and the forlorn romance of When Your Love Is Gone feels too weird to be pop proper, and that’s where the magick lies in this LP, between Aset’s mainstream ambition and a realness of expression that can’t be missed.
Antony Naples & Jenny Slattery’s Incienso follow DJ Python’s Dulce Compañia - one of the albums of 2017 - with the debut LP of hypnotic ambient reggaeton pressures by Bailey Hoffman a.k.a. Beta Librae - co-founder of NYC’s Technofeminism events with Umfang.
Moving farther along the same line that gave us DJ Python’s unmissable album, Beta Librae smudges her vibes to a more mutable flux of feelings in Sanguine Bond, traversing beatless froth and pendulous dembow shuffle in the first side, thru to the intimate deep house humidity of Cosmic Machines, and deeper into underwater sonics on Urras, cosign up for air with the trickling Afro-Cuban lilt of Canis Major, and melting out into new age dimensions with Pink Arcade and closing on a surprisingly ace jungle/dembow mutation New Feelings.
Very safe to say: if you loved the DJ Python album as much as us, you’ll be allllllll over this one, too!
Paul de Jong – innovative composer and cofounder of beloved collage-pop eccentrics, the Books - returns with new album, You Fucken Sucker, an uncompromising statement; an uncanny (and sometimes uncomfortable) reflection of our collective mental excess.
"Presented in the exact sequence in which it was conceived, You Fucken Sucker charts a route of personal tragedy and emotional fatigue, and the loss and eventual retrieval of the illusion of control. Over the course of its 14 tracks – which range in length from 15 seconds to nearly 10 minutes – we hear complex tapestries of acoustic and electronic instrumentation submitting to waves of unhinged screaming; found-sound assemblage seamlessly incorporating subtle R&B rhythms; Freudian funk; lo-fi prog-metal; and vast synth patch orchestration adding unexpected textures and tension to the whole spectacular mess.
Like much of Paul de Jong's work, You Fucken Sucker is a genre unto itself, overflowing with innovative exploration of sounds and senses. Unlike his previous work, it is an unvarnished exposition of his anger, frustration, misery and confusion. Perhaps most vitally, it is an opportunity for the rest of us to experience the kind of communal emotional purge more typical of pre-Internet basement punk rock shows, to bask in the rarified air of being unafraid of being afraid.”
The Breeders' biggest selling and probably most-loved album, larely due to the massive success of Canonball.
It's a more easy-going, sometimes humorous and without question hooky set, and although for us it never quite hit the same visceral spot as Pod or Safari, you just cant argue with an album that's at once so singular and life affirming...
Typically lush ambient, neo-classical, chamber pop and film-score music from Berlin's Sonic Pieces label, this time from Spain's Rauelsson, highy recoomended if you're into Max Richter, Badalamenti, Harold Budd etc.
The album was recorded by the sea and it really comes across in the music's self-consciously grand scale, oscillating between the calm and the tempestuous.
Piano is Rauelsson's main weapon of expression, and like so many artists in this sphere, he looks to Harold Budd and Philip Glass for inspiration, his playing ranging from the digressive and heavy-reverbed to the driving and cyclical. It's hard not to feel like you've heard it all before - 'Fluvial' barely even bothers to disguise the fact that it has the same instrumental palette, harmonic progression and mood as half of Max Richter's Blue Notebooks.
But when he loosens up, there are some highly enjoyable moments: the string-laden 'Hourglass I' is a particular highlight, channeling the high sentimentality of Badalamenti's love themes with aplomb.
The Breeders finally return with a comeback record worthy of the marvellous Pod, a record that’s stripped down to bare guitars, drums and bass, allowing the magnificent song-writing to rise to the fore.
The mesmerising single track ‘off you’ still shines as the most moving moment across these 12 tracks, but from start to finish ‘Title TK’ is a highly enjoyable listen.
Four decades after its release (1975), Inventions for Electric Guitar, the solo debut by Ash Ra Temple guitarist Manuel Göttsching, is now a classic, an undisputed worldwide reference.
"This album was made using only an electric guitar and a simple 4-track tape recorder. So was the challenge, and so was its impact. Göttsching recorded it in July-August 1974 in Berlin, after a sudden technical revelation. The original LP sleeve had the following printed on its back: Manuel Göttsching (guitars only). Manuel played his guitar and used a 4 track TEAC A3340, Revox A77 for echoes, WahWah pedal, volume pedal, Sola Sound Fuzz, Schaller Rotosound and Hawaiian steel bar.
The reaction was unanimous: this was a significant innovation, in terms of both technique and creativity. However, there are little-known facts to this case. In early 1974, Göttsching's label received a tape sent by M.A.L. - same design, same configuration, almost the same tracks. This is known by only a handful of experimental musicians from the Charleroi area. M.A.L. aka Daniel Malempré is the actual inventor of this technique, which Göttsching reproduced a few months later. Given the above, I suggest that we listen to both albums. As doubts are removed, the truth sets in, forty years later. Here's hoping that this will ease the deep disgust that made M.A.L. leave his guitar untouched for so long.
Athenian electro-punk Morah does his grim wriggle for London’s brokntoys with swerving style and panache.
As with Morah’s turns for Helena Hauff’s Return To Disorder, the Berceuse Heroique empire, and local Athens label Vanila over the last 3 years, this one finds him smearing the funk with drugily narcotic effect.
Uptown he swings between fanged electro dankness and end-of-rope vocals in Coma Verenices, to the nervy balance of jagged and romantic electro pressure in Lucifer’s Fight(Final Discussion), and the lithe EBM of Aphrodite Wants Me To See Her Light Tonight.
Downtown he really gets it right with the salinated hydrolicks of Cassiopeia’s Daughter’s Nebular Gate, before eazing off into the slouchy electro rogue Rings Of Saturn, and the beatless string suspense of Venus Delta.