Anthony Child (Surgeon) and Daniel Bean (Spiritland) generate gusty electronic folk drones resonating somewhere between La Monte Young and Coil...
“The title of the debut lp from The Transcendence Orchestra outlines the modus operandi of this pairing of Anthony Child and Daniel Bean. Recorded in a remote English rural setting over a period of 24 hours this is an apt location for a recording that eschews time and space in favour of methodological displacement and deep psychological navigation.
Modern Methods For Ancient Rituals is an experiment in acoustic and synthetic symbiosis which is deeply influenced by the atmosphere and acoustics of the rural location of Cats Abbey resulting in a set of recordings which can aid to the transformation of consciousness. Deploying a range of ancient and modern instruments and effects including Buchla Music Easel, harmonium, shruti box, bass guitar, hurdy gurdy, Electro Harmonix 45000, Strymon Blue Sky and Roland RE 101 Space Echo among others, Child and Bean conjure an audio experience which encapsulates elements of drone, trance, pulse, rhythm and melody subtly shifting all into a psychologically penetrating experience beyond the aesthetic and into the comforting unknown.
Written and recorded at Cats Abbey in November 2016 by Anthony Child and Daniel Bean.
Anthony and Daniel played the Buchla Music Easel, harmonium, shruti box, bass guitar, hurdy gurdy, symphonie, glockenspiel, hand bell, Electro Harmonix 45000, Strymon Blue Sky, Strymon DIG, and Roland RE 101 Space Echo.”
Never before pressed on vinyl, IBM 1401, A User's Manual, is one of Jóhann Jóhannsson’s most loved works. Released in 2006, the decade since its release has seen Jóhann establish himself as one of the most important composers in the World today, most notably scoring movies such as Arrival, Sicario and The Theory of Everything.
:Inspired by the work his father did in the sixties when chief maintenance engineer of one of Iceland’s first computers, Jóhann originally wrote IBM 1401, A User's Manual to accompany a dance piece by long-standing collaborator and friend, Erna Ómarsdóttir. For this album release, he rewrote it for a sixty-piece string orchestra, with a new final movement (built around a poem by Dorothy Parker) and incorporating both electronics, and reel-to-reel recordings made by his father and friends in 1971 of an enormous IBM 1401 mainframe computer singing the hymn Ísland Ögrum Skoriðby Sigvaldi Kaldalóns as it was being decommissioned.
The first ever pressing of IBM 1401, A User's Manual comes in a deluxe gatefold sleeve, having been reworked by Chris Bigg (v23) from his original design. Pressed on clear vinyl, two album tracks recorded in 2010 with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra at the Rudolfinum, Dvorák Hall in Prague have also been added and are exclusive to this release:
One of techno’s most prominent prism pushers follows work on Fever Ray’s 'Plunge' album to open 2018 with the masterful machine control of 'The 3D Printed Songbook', dispatched thru his Stockholm-based personal imprint.
In his highly personalised style of Scandinavian techno dub pressure, Mannerfelt pursues a signature blend of raved-up smarts with cutting-edge sound design into ever more curious, densely packed but spacious gestures on The 3D Printed Songbook by getting ever closer to grips with his elemental electronic material.
Where so much techno can feel like the work of a bored neek pushing blocks on a screen or effectively doing a colouring-in book, Mannerfelt is a sculptor who has picked techno and pure, abstract electronics as his medium, manifesting a sound which works just as well for those who appreciate the tactile sensuality of manipulated noise, as those who love dancing to irregular, warped rhythms and sensational tones.
Here, Mannerfelt blurs those distinctions and contradictions beautifully well, getting into gear with a pendulous but stuttering, sleek and jagged deep house/dancehall curl to open, before circling thru recoiling slow techno, heavy-lidded yet visceral ambient tones, to stripes of viking acid jack and the kind of depth charge dub techno that keeps Mika Vainio’s memory in earshot while unafraid to steer into new terrain.
Trevor Jackson reveals hitherto unheard ambient aspects of his hip hop/breakbeat alias The Underdog with Y.O.U, his “lost” album as FROM, produced over 1994-1997 and initially intended for release between his production for UK hip hop crew The Brotherhood’s Elementalz  LP, and the debut Playgroup album in 2001.
New to the BEB fold, тпсб premieres a rugged deviation of his techno sound on Sekundenschlaf, leaving 4/4 in the rear-view to focus on earthier, grubbing percussion warped into jungle and footwork styles, clad in fetid atmospheres. RIYL Rezzett, Ossia, Buttechno
“Sleep-deprived, breakbeat-driven vignettes of unclear authorship, from somewhere west of Lake Lagoda, near the Russia-Finland border.
Sekundenschlaf has significant points of correspondence with contemporary European electronic music, as well as the golden age of (early) jungle and ambient techno. But its response to tradition, and to the zeitgeist, is idiosyncratic to say the least – with an atmosphere and psychogeography rooted in the tranquility and majesty of Western Russian nature, and the anxiety and distress of the country’s post-Soviet working class.
Pastoral calm meets dissonance and unease. The music has a loose, improvised feel, but its arrangements are intricate, its melodies iridescent: cascading arpeggios that stir a sense of optimism and renewal, sighing string-pads that evoke the deepest melancholy. Rhythms simultaneously hyped-up and burned-out, collapsing in on themselves as they race to destinations unknown. All bound together with field recordings of eavesdropped conversations, blurred into abstraction, a droning subliminal menace.”
BleeD’s yung American signings Archivist & Fugal coolly furnish the label with its strongest release yet in Undertow, rotating three tracks of menacing, entrancing deep techno backed by a steely Acronym remix.
Hailing from Seattle via Berlin, the pair have previously dispensed 12”s on secondnature and Seattle’s Medical Records en route to the Undertow 12”, which stretches out from sleek, gothic trance techno recalling an icier take on Prurient’s Through The Window on Being And Nothingness, to the drier big room boom and aqueous chords of Far Horizon, which also appears in a tunnelling Acronym remix, before passing out into the Milton Bradley-esque acidic modulations and steepled reverbs of Undertow.
Oooshh! this strange, funky devil is a rare-as-owt gospel soul oddity from Detroit circa f**k knows (maybe late ’70s?), now newly dug out and dusted down as Jazzman’s 26th Holy Grail release. If those quizzical faces or masked dude on the cover haven’t piqued your interest, the music surely will
“Known in the record-collecting world as an incredibly rare album with just a handful of known copies, Jazzman Records present for the first time the full-length album reissue of the Two Sisters From Bagdad album as performed by LaVice & Co.. Originally intended to be sold alongside performances of LaVice Hendrick’s ambitious but ill-fated musical theater production, the album’s scarcity was swiftly ensured as Two Sisters From Bagdad ran for just two weeks at Detroit’s Bethel A.M.E. church amid poor attendances due to scant promotion. With only a handful of copies sold in that brief window, many of the remaining copies were subsequently destroyed in a basement flood, meaning that until now few people have ever heard the album in its entirety.
A varied set of jazz and gospel infused funky soul, Two Sisters From Bagdad was composed and orchestrated by two precocious young talents, E.J. Garrison and Rhodia McAdoo. It’s an album full of surprises, and is notorious for the heavy funk workout Though’s Were The Days. Not only have Jazzman Records unearthed and faithfully reissued this true obscurity as the 26th part of their ongoing “Holy Grail” series, but through interviews with Garrison and McAdoo themselves, they have uncovered the beguiling back story to the music, the play and the life and times of its original creator, the late LaVice Hendricks. As always the detail is revealed for the first time in Jazzman Records’ extensive new sleeve notes.”
Ekman comes back to bang on The Trilogy Tapes with a 3rd plate of raw, bloody-nosed electro knockers in Onomatomania after the Entropy (2014) and Aphasia (2015) sessions.
The dutch producer pull few punches between the harsh hydraulic electro-techno of Onomatomania 1, the biting point primitivism of Onomatomania 2, and the grimacing, brutish force of Onomatomania 3, saving the snap jawed acid of Onomatomania 4 to eat whatever’s left on yer bones.
MAGMA, one of the most influential of all French bands, compiled on this epic box set.
"The first ten years of MAGMA were celebrated on three memorable evenings in June 1980 at the Olympia theatre in Paris. This retrospective, reuniting most of the musicians who had performed in the group, was issued as two albums; the Retrospektïẁ I & II double-LP and Retrospektïẁ III LP. Issued first, Retrospektïẁ III comprises three titles. "Retrovision" is a long piece in the style of the album Attahk, in which the vocalists Stella Vander, Guy Khalifa, and Maria Popkiewicz turn in a blazing performance over a driving rhythm section. There is a supercharged version of "Hhai," in which the trio of Lockwood, Paganotti, and Widemann works miracles. And finally, "La Dawotsin," where, in a more muted register, the voice of Christian Vander triumphs through its mastery and profound sensibility.
Recorded, like Retrospektïẁ III, during the soirees at Olympia in June 1980, Retrospektïẁ I & II is an absolutely fundamental album in which "Theusz Hamtaahk" -- the first movement of the trilogy of the same name -- is presented for the first time. The second and third movements, "Wurdah Itah" and "Mekanik Destruktiw Komandoh," were of course already well known. Although played in concert since 1974, Christian Vander had waited for years before recording it for posterity as he wanted every note to be as beautiful, magical, essential and definitive as possible. It is with the same respect for his music that he releases here the most successful version of "Mekanik Destruktiw Komandoh," considered outstanding on account of two incredible improvisation from Bernard Paganotti and Didier Lockwood. Klaus Blasquiz, who did not perform on Retrospektïẁ III, is the lead vocalist on this version - and justifiably so, since he was indeed the MAGMA singer who first sang these two masterworks.
There's no doubt about it, MAGMA has left a legacy of music that defies any of the standard and convenient classifications of rock, operating instead in a realm of their own creation. Southern Lord looks forward to being part of their ever-evolving story…"
Zov Zov is the alias for Oliver Ho’s most phantasmagoric, esoteric, invocational sounds and vibes. Since his Ruin Lust 10” for Shifted’s Mira label in 2013, the Zov Zov alias has run concurrent to Ho’s usual techno output and other action as Broken English Club, while this LP also introduces his Desert Burials alter ego on a bonus 7”.
In Fata Morgana he pushes off into the depths of his imagination with a free-roaming style that vacillates gamelan clangour on Casting with more bass-driven, sloshy swag ’n drone in From The Ashes, plus Cut Hands-esque percussive terror on Burning, and a wicked slice of Muslimguaze-style drums and ‘tronics nodding to middle eastern traditions in The Sands.
On the 7” he introduces Desert Burials with the serpentine post-punk dub Cages, and a starker percussive ritual called Clonk reminding of Bourbonese Qualk. We’re not too sure why he’s separated the projects like this, they sound so similar, but whatever, fans of Demdike Stare, Shackleton, Cut Hands will get a good kick outta this package.
A marriage made in dub house heaven, the Accumulate EP is 1st in a series of collaborations between Fluxion and Rod Modell aka Deepchord, to be released via the former’s Vibrant Music label.
Converging from subtle differing yet wholly compatible angles, Deepchord & Fluxion’s Transformations duo explore an elegantly widescreen sound that sounds familiar, yet remarkably altered and uncharted in either artist catalogue.
Layered from fathomless bass pads and swooning string figures, Accumulate runs to just shy of 25 minutes across the two sides, with the 13 minute Pt.1 subliminally flowing and expanding across into Pt.2 in such a lush, hypnotic manner that you’ll almost be irked at having to get up and flip the disc, but then you’ll just flop back and restart the zoot and ride out into its diaphanous, dusky sunset.
An absolute winner from the SKRS INTL camp for Ancient Monarchy, the Paradise Magic Traxx Mobile Sound & Lighting EP arrives in the wake of their RunComeTest EP with a wicked, red-eyed smudge of digi-dub dancehall on a Lovers Rock and R&B slant.
Coagulating some 30 years of sound system styles from the Island in a seamless flow of sawn-off samples and plasmic FX on sloshing subs, the enigmatic Filipino/Canadian project gives up some of the most stickily seductive gear in their decade long catalogue.
Perhaps tricky for the DJs, but great for home listening and parties, the EP is sequenced in untrammelled transitions between its eight parts, but you probably wouldn’t even realise without looking at the track list online. Of course, DJs can use their ears and eyes to pick parts out, but it’s best consumed as a whole, preferably with a 21 minute long zoot and good company.
Not a band who ever do things by halves, this opus from Stars Of The Lid is a mammoth three disc set and is sublime for the entire duration.
You see, although some might level that Adam Wiltzie and Brian McBride have really stuck to the same style since their inception, they have been moving steadily forward with each release and have gone from whispering post-shoegaze guitar drones to something altogether more grandiose.
It would be crass to describe the music as cinematic, but the first thing that strikes me about "And their Refinement of the Decline' is its similarity to the work of Zbigniew Preisner and specifically his work with film director Krzysztof Kieslowski. Stars of the Lid share Preisner's (and Kieslowski's) sense of restraint, minimalism and stark beauty without resorting to sentimentalism. What we have here is beautiful music in its rawest form - horns, strings and that haunting reverb-drenched guitar all perfectly placed and allowed time to breathe. Nothing here is rushed, you hear passages rise and fall gloriously, sounds make an entrance and slowly disappear and nothing ever dares to outstay its welcome.
Arvo Part, Gavin Bryars or Brian Eno would all be more than appropriate comparisons for this stunning collection of work, but Stars of the Lid are almost at the point where they defy comparison altogether. Of course they have introduced further, more overtly 'classical' elements into their mix but the music they are making is quite uniquely their own - they are one of those rare bands that has absolutely defined a sound. What we are hearing is frankly two musicians who are at the top of their game, sharing their carefully measured view of the world with us and allowing us a peek into musical perfection - and you really can't ask for anything more than that.
Marking 20 years of Prurient and Hospital Productions’ concurrent paths, the epic 3 hr 20 minutes of Rainbow Mirror inarguably ranks among Prurient’s most compelling statements. While still the blood child of Dominick Fernow, the album’s massive scope demanded more hands on board, with Jim Mroz (Lussuria) and Matt Folden (Dual Action) lending their expertise before post-production by Shifted and mastering by Paul Corley cemented this towering work of Doom Electronics for the ages.
Offered up as ‘a portrait in perpetual tension’, and housed in cover art created as the first collage in the pre-recording era of Prurient, Rainbow Mirror draws on the project’s roots in order to locate itself in the modern day. What it finds in the process is that little has changed since Prurient and Hospital Productions’ conception in ’97 - the world is still a torrid, evil mess beyond control, and one that needs notions like Prurient to try and define its heaving mass more than ever.
Like Frozen Niagara Falls before it, echoes of the old world riddle the long, stark corridors of Rainbow Mirror, too. But here those echoes are more fragmented, distant and entropically obfuscated, emulating the effect of trying to find your own image in a hall of mirrors, or locating yourself drowning amid the clamour of more than 3 billion other people online, all saying the same, mundane shit at the same time.
With a length and intensity proportionately reflective of the world’s increasing socio-political tension and rate of homogeneity, Rainbow Mirror holds firm as a space to immolate the senses in preparation for the ever nearing eschaton.
Leading on from a highly memorable debut collaboration, Crys Cole and Oren Ambarchi invite us farther into their shared world with Hotel Record, a poetic four-part suite of touchingly intimate and romantic themes framed in a surreally unique, aleatoric sound world, just as you’d be warranted to expect from this pair of esteemed sonic alchemists.
Recorded between Ko Pha Ngan, Thailand; Oakland, USA; Melbourne, Australia, and at EMS, Stockholm, Sweden, the sense of heavy-lidded intimacy is similar to Sonja Henies Vei 31, but found in a multiplicity of recording spaces and situations, each with their own subtle identity and appeal, and all generated from a broader palette of instrumentation and electronic production techniques.
The chorus of cicadas, scooter engines and croaking frogs in Pad Phet Gob is clearly located to nighttime in Thailand, but the rest are anyone’s guess. It’s better to just let yourself melt into their exquisite designs, such as the silky web of vocoder whispers and languorous subbass contained in Burrata, or likewise become absorbed in the gentle harmonic cadence of breathing organs tones and mottled, glossolalic murmurs in Call Myself, which ambiguously could be a sort of ASMR exercise, an encrypted document of phone sex or pillow talk, or something entirely else, all depending your disposition.
It all adds up to a patently more accessible, dreamy follow-up to their first LP together, and quite easily one of the most quietly seductive records you’ll hear from the abstract, ambient, electro-acoustic sphere this year - strongly tipped to fans of Félicia Atkinson’s Hand In Hand, Kassel Jaeger & Jim O’Rourke’s Wakes On Cerulean, or the new Teresa Winter side.
One of Berceuse Heroique’s most reliable troopers plays into a deeper vein of bass-driven techno-house for the stalwart underground label after deposits made with Hemlock, Peder Mannerfelt Productions, Clone Basement and Livity Sound in just the last 12 months alone.
In Hodge’s now signature style of gritty groove control, he tees off with the furtive bleep techno rolige of Beneath Two Moons, reinforced 1990-style bleeps with muscular bass until a steaming siren/train sound shifts it up a gear to hypnotic drones and flying hi-hats ready for the Dj to mix out.
On the other hand, There Is A Storm Coming In lives up to its title with a tense, brooding display of industrial EBM influences, and Don’t Hold Your Breath tucks the vibe somewhere to the left of Levon Vincent and the right of Call Super with raw but classy strings and heaving subbass, before the beatless All Is Not Lost fades to close.
Slimzee’s OG grime label boomerangs back with badness from pivotal new wave player Boylan.
They’re both fucking lethal, riding big and bashy with search ’n destroy mentasms, hulking great subs and unflinchingly upfront sound design of Overlook, then trimming back to a molasses half step with the radioactive mid-range waves and Hermann-Esgque strings terror on They Mostly Come At Night.
Gully gang. It’s yours.
Invada present the soundtrack to Stranger Things 2, produced by S U R V I V E’s Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein.
Expect plenty shlocky ‘80s FM synth cues and themes bound to yank your nostalgia nozzle.
None-more-vital East African label Nyege Nyege Tapes present Otim Alpha’s melodic electro Acholi bangers on vinyl for the 1st time, following that blazing, acclaimed Sounds of Sisso compilation!
Alpha’s debut international release Gulu City Anthems features 11 songs written and recorded between 2004 and 2015 in Northern Uganda and ranges from hi-velocity bangers to more romantic mid-tempo swagger, all serving a totally infectious showcase of his plugged-in take on traditional Larakaraka wedding music that’s bound to get a lot of listeners itching for a +1 invite to one of his ceremonial sessions (crashing is always an option, too!).
Working with producer Leo Palayeng, Otim essentially computerises Acholi wedding music, weaving its traditional, see-sawing folk fiddles and call-and-response vocals with stripped, pounding drum machine polyrhythms in a sort of hypnotic, minimalist delirium. For the most part, it’s properly uptempo, with some searing highlights in the likes of his wickedly off-kilter jig Kodi Pa Barikiya (Kwan), the jabbing clash of almost cajun-style rapidfire riffs and turbo-charged toms in Toni G, or the Detroit/Chicago ghetto-compatible bang of Too Wiye Ming-Alphazo. But there’s also one super-charming piece called Agiki Ne Tye which works at a relatively leisurely 120bpm with strolling bass and bright, joyful chord cadence, presumably intended to allow the party a sweet breather.
Following Alpha’s recent, stellar introductory live show at Unsound ’17, this collection is set to impress his sound to eager ears beyond Uganda and the East African scene, and is surely destined to be lodged in record collections somewhere between your Shangaan, Konono No.1 and Caribbean soca faves - in other words; your party-starting section...
South London soundman Parris stacks up four signature cuts of low key, crackly, sub-heavy vibes on his subtly probing debut with The Trilogy Tapes after really coming into his own over the past few years via 12”s for Ancient Monarchy, Idle Hands, and Hemlock, plus the ace TX280916 / TX111116 mix for Keysound.
The 2 Vultures EP catches Parris at his idiosyncratic best, hustling an early hours-of-the-dance feel that works beautifully well at setting mutable, plasmic pressure for heavier things to come, or just as well for eazing off in the comfort of your own space.
EP opener Lionel’s Dub is one the most orthodox, classically-rooted dubs we’ve heard from the guy, something like a dusty echo of Adrian Sherwood at his most red-eyed, whereas Hot-Blooded gets down to some Farben-esque micro-house with added steppers bass pressure. 2 Vultures then follows a masseur path into melting, brittle dub architecture, leavened by genteel jazz touches, and Hanging With The Birds can’t fail to leave you beaming its feathered confection of bird calls, bobbling bass and Mario power ups.
Snotty punk slingshots from Sheffield’s Nachthexen - who emerge from the same quarters as Blood Sport with a compatible style of stomping drums pebble-dashed with looping guitars and synths
Offset by authentically late ‘70s-sounding punk vocals. Sounds like your mate’s mates’ band when you were 15, which perhaps explains the Seaford Mods support slots. Not a sausage between them, either.
IDIB serve a belated, expanded 10th anniversary reissue of Chromatics’ Nite, including the title cut and instrumental backed with three new cinematic themes and cues.
Yet another pearl in Johnny Jewel’s velvet lined cabinet, Nite is a buttoned-up, shine-eyed disco ace pairing Lena Okazaki’s droll vocal over stealthy disco bass, eventually turning into a proper piece of post-punk disco delirium, ditto the instrumental but sans vocal, while Glass Slipper catches a slick fusion of Arabian Prince-style vocoder and Moroder-like bass arp.
The new cuts are ace, too. Birds Of Prey is a darkly evoctive instrumental vignette, whereas the heavy-lidded vox and spindly synths ’n strings of Sleepwalker wouldn’t sound out of place in a classic ‘80s horror, and the melancholy dream-pop of City Beds comes off like the accompaniment to some tear jerking break-up scene or loveless bed-hopping montage - take your pick.
Lakker’s Eomac gives it some swagger on the 1st 10” from Bedouin Records’ Bastikaya Tapes.
With One Spirit he trades in a sort of itchy, abraded 2-step techno alloyed with whirligig folk melody.
On Observe The Vessel Beneath You he reshapes that template to a scratchier swang embedded in etheric atmospheres, perhaps imagining Burial lost a souk after-hours.
Tia Maria Produções member DJ Lycox goes solo in a big way with debut album Sonhos & Pesadelos for the resoundingly influential Príncipe label.
With the delicious swerve and layered lushness of Sonhos & Pesadelos, the debut album by Príncipe’s Parisian ambassador DJ Lycox, sets a new high water mark for the label and its collective sound.
Indulging a bank of fleshly synths more than many of his label mates and peers, but at no sacrifice to his rhythmic push and pull, the sound is practically compatible with deep house and UKF as much as the frenetic styles of Nidia Minaj or the tuffness of DJ Marfox, for example.
Across all 12 tracks he modulates the vibe with expert groove control, oscillating between hypnotic future folk lixx and infectiously knotted drums in Weekend to a debonaire spin on deep house swagger with Domingo Abeçoado or Solteiro, skipping from the blazing tropical heat of Virgin Island and Paragons Moh Baba to something you could almost imagine Marcus Nasty playing on Nichako, Sky or the steely reinforcement of La Java.
But if you’re looking for out ’n out raving madness, you’d best check the blinding shockout Quarteto Fantástico and the searing hard-style leads of Ferrero for the most upfront bangers.
22 years since Pygmalion and the band’s dissolution, Slowdive swoon back into earshot with Slowdive. With hearts bleeding all over their sleeves, Slowdive captures the sound of the band at their sunny best, with a renewed optimism and timeless dreaminess to fall right into.
““It felt like we were in a movie that had a totally implausible ending...”
Slowdive’s second act as a live blockbuster has already been rapturously received around the world. Highlights thus far include a festival-conquering, sea-of-devotees Primavera Sound performance, of which Pitchfork noted: “The beauty of their crystalline sound is almost hard to believe, every note in its perfect place.” “It was just nice to realise that there was a decent amount of interest in it,” says principal songwriter Neil Halstead. The UK shoegaze pioneers have now channelled such seemingly impossible belief into a fourth studio opus which belies his characteristic modesty. Self-titled with quiet confidence, Slowdive’s stargazing alchemy is set to further entrance the faithful while beguiling a legion of fresh ears.
Deftly swerving what co-vocalist/guitarist Rachel Goswell terms “a trip down memory lane”, these eight new tracks are simultaneously expansive and the sonic pathfinders’ most direct material to date. Birthed at the band’s talismanic Oxfordshire haunt The Courtyard – “It felt like home,” enthuses guitarist Christian Savill – their diamantine melodies were mixed to a suitably hypnotic sheen at Los Angeles’ famed Sunset Sound facility by Chris Coady (perhaps best known for his work with Beach House, one of countless contemporary acts to have followed in Slowdive’s wake). “It’s poppier than I thought it was going to be,” notes Halstead, who was the primary architect of 1995‘s previous full-length transmission Pygmalion. This time out the group dynamic was all-important. “When you’re in a band and you do three records, there’s a continuous flow and a development. For us, that flow re-started with us playing live again and that has continued into the record.”
Drummer and loop conductor Simon Scott enhanced the likes of ‘Slomo’ and ‘Falling Ashes’ with abstract textures conjured via his laptop’s signal processing software. A fecund period of experimentation with “40-minute iPhone jams” allowed the unit to then amplify the core of their chemistry. “Neil is such a gifted songwriter, so the songs won. He has these sparks of melodies, like ‘Sugar For The Pill’ and ‘Star Roving’, which are really special. But the new record still has a toe in that Pygmalion sound. In the future, things could get very interesting indeed.” This open-channel approach to creativity is reflected by Slowdive’s impressively wide field of influence, from indie-rock avatars to ambient voyagers – see the tribute album of cover versions released by Berlin electronic label Morr Music. As befits such evocative visionaries, you can also hear Slowdive through the silver screen: New Queer Cinema trailblazer Gregg Araki has featured them on the soundtracks to no less than four of his films.
“When I moved to America in 2008 I was working in an organic grocery store,” recalls Christian. “Kids started coming in and asking if it was true I had played in Slowdive. That’s when I started thinking, ‘OK, this is weird!’” Neil Halstead: “We were always ambitious. Not in terms of trying to sell records, but in terms of making interesting records. Maybe, if you try and make interesting records, they’re still interesting in a few years time. I don’t know where we’d have gone if we had carried straight on. Now we’ve picked up a different momentum. It’s intriguing to see where it goes next.” The world has finally caught up with Slowdive. This movie could run and run…”
An early entry for artwork of the year, Superstar & Star’s Mastermind EP catches the DIY boogie outsider, Neville jamming with his wife, Ann Lawrence on a 3rd release for Estonia’s Porridge Bullet, following the Tapes vs Superstar 7”, Spirit World in 2017.
The Mastermind EP features five cuts from the dead limited tape edition of Superstar & Star, plus three previously unreleased winners, all in the badass lo-fi style that made his Keep On Rocking 12” such a revelation.
A-side, he sounds like Muslimgauze gone boogie on the distorted blow-out Rolling So, beside what sounds like a Pantsula bomb a la Sandy B on Anywhere In The U.S Is a Party, and a killer Memphis strut on Kicking It At Home.
B-side, he juices the funk in No More Sorrow, along with the optimistic devotional I Aint Missing You, and a stroke of piano house pomp in I Am Dreaming featuring backing vox by Ann Lawrence.
Harbinger Sound immerse in the hypnotic avant-noise of Belgium’s Kanker Kommando with Low Tech 1982-88, collecting cuts from their 5 self-released tapes, plus previously unreleased material.
Originally a punk band, then a noise band, and soon enough incorporating avant-classical inspirations, the low tech-fetishists Jaak Perquy and Henk Willaerts trod their own path thru the no-man’s-land of noise in a way that evidently resonated with Harbinger Sound’s own sonic politics and conception of sound art. They prefer to structure themselves as an “albino amoeba”, a sort of single-celled organism, who relished the conceptual challenge of working with firmly established limitations - instruments, musical skills, recording-equipment - as a key conceit of the music.
Drawn from Loud Stereo .Eadphones  you’ll intercept the monotonous pulse of .Ead and something like alien morse code in Implosieve Kracht from their Naakt & Kwetsbaar  release. But the rest is all previous unheard, taking in the discomfortingly unheimlich, amniotic sensation of Slaapswandel; a Conet Project-like transmission of nursery rhyme melody and noise in Signal; and more blunted mechanical rhythms recalling NON/Robert Turman in Kwetsbaar, the locked-in mono rhythm Naakt, and what sounds like an EVP recording in the airborne oddity Count.
Factory Benelux highlight Vini Reilly’s acclaimed fusions of guitars and electronics circa 1987’s The Guitar and Other Machines Deluxe with remastered expansion of the original LP including his Live At The Bottom Line New York and a bonus disc of Related Works including the rare, Italy-only Greetings 3 EP.
The Guitar and Other Machines Deluxe was produced by Stephen Street, who’s maybe best known as a longtime producer/co-writer for Morrissey, and also features Reilly’s longtime associates Bruce Mitchell and viola player John Metcalfe.
It was written in response to a christmas present of “a load of electronic instruments” from Tony Wilson to Vini Reilly, who remarked at the time “I never dreamt of getting into this electronic thing, and I struggled and fought and stayed up til half seven in the morning and really worked on it. I know that Tony’s got this vision and I persevered. And I found a way of using a sequencer that isn’t like New Order – it’s my way, and it’s my music."
The results make one of Reilly’s most precious recordings, with highlights cascading from the front with Arpeggiator, thru the meditative hash haze of Jongleur Grey, to elegant wonder such as English Landscape Tradition and particularly the three bonus tracks from original CD release, notably the pulsating 28 Oldham Street (location of the now-boarded-up Dry Bar) and the delicate mingle of acoustic and electronic tones in Catos con Guantes.
As if proving his workings out for the album, you can also hear many of the album tracks played on Live in New York 10/1986 plus later recordings made at WOMAD 1988, while the Related Works disc holds some real gems in the spine-freezing styles of Vini’s Greetings 3 EP, especially his guitar and viola duet with John Metcalfe, All That Love And Maths Can Do.
F*cking f*ck yes aye! Berceuse Heroique on a slow-mo/trance/new beat tip with Heap’s thumping addition to the dead handy Brasserie Heroique Edits series.
It’s going to do our heads in for weeks, months (or until someone tells us) but we can’t ID any of the OGs, which is always a good thing, but anyway you get a hulking great slug of early ‘90s acid trance screwed to a determined chug with External Error, then a badboy bit of breakbeat techno shunted to sleazy early new beat tempo in Possessed By The Drums, with the B-side’s Tripper cannily cut at 45rpm for a proper modagon lurch at 33rpm, or a wind tunnel trample on the correct speed.
One of dubstep’s prime outliers comes into trippy focus with the psychedelic deviation of Dying On Acid featuring Rider Shafique for Mala’s Deep Medi Musik.
As the label has been steadily broadening its horizons over the last half decade and more, Gantz pushes the prism in his own way, mixing mutant structures and palettes with vocals in unexpected, inventive styles.
The dream-sequence strings and ghostly vocal of Elif Dikeç tumble thru a evaporating maze of digital delays and seasick rhythms on Fugazi, before Dedw8 jumps on a gnarled sort of hip hop/dubstep abstraction in Shivy recalling early ‘00s Anti-Pop Consortium, while Rider Shafique mans the industrial grind of Sharkeyes with an expressively rooted stream-of-consciousness.
Yet, the highlight is entirely instrumental, as Gantz cements and dissolves his outsider purview with a concatenated derangement of Autechrian rhythm and electronica melodies in a volatile, unpredictable style.
On its 10th anniversary, Italians Do It Better dial up Glass Candy’s I Always Say Yes for an expanded reissue, now packing no less than three new songs along with the original, dry-iced disco of the title cut and their cover of dark Day’s The Chameleon.
The extended original and chunkier Drumm Edit are chased by the crepuscular horror movie drill feels of Where Time Is Still on the front, backed with the Jean-Michel Jarre vibes of City Lights, their exquisite cover of Chameleon, and an unmissable cinematic synth panorama called Sanctuary.
Sunn 0))) rise again with the arch doom metal of Kannon, their crushing follow-up to respective 2014 collaborations with Scott Walker and Ulver, and the first Sunn 0))) LP proper since Monoliths & Dimensions in 2009. Aye, crack out the ales, it’s worthy of a celebration.
By their own admissions, “It’s possibly the most figurative album Sunn 0))) has created” but, conversely, it’s also their “most outright “metal” in years”. Amassing a classic band line-up of core duo Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson, shoulder-to-shoulder with long term allies and collaborators Attila Csihar, Oren Ambarchi, Rex Ritter, Steve Moore and more, it’s a glowering, physical testament to a band-as-organism achieving the peak of their powers.
Literally, Kannon is a polysemous representation of an aspect of Buddha as “goddess of mercy” or “Perceiving the Sounds (or Cries) of the World”, which ties farther back into the group’s readings of Asian belief systems, and is depicted in captivating artwork from Swiss designer/artist Angela LaFont Bollinger.
To experience Kannon is an overwhelming sensation, divided in three parts over 36-minutes, and one which we recommend wholeheartedly to anyone who has ever felt a shiver from the void, or is willing to submit themselves to one of 21st century music’s most elemental, powerful groups.
WRWTFWW Records birth a vinyl edition of the soundtrack to cult ‘80s lo-fi horror, “Psychos In Love” - including the exceedingly cruddy theme tune, snatches of dialogue and charming synthy daftness. RIYL early James Ferraro or current Spencer Clarke records
“The long-anticipated, 30-years-in-the-making Psychos In Love original soundtrack: Filled with sleazy funk, macabre synths, homemade electronic kitsch, anti-grape propaganda, and rewind-worthy dialogue excerpts, Psychos In Love is the ultimate lo-fi horror-rom-com soundtrack adventure.
Housed in DIY no-budget sleeve; Loaded with extras, including words from film director Gorman Bechard, lyrics of the theme song, a promotional postcard with a picture of the cast, a poster of a woman attacked in a bathroom, and the infamous as-seen-in-the-movie "I LOVE MY VCR" bumper sticker.”
Alina Astrova (Inga Copeland, Hype Williams) customarily dispenses Lolina’s yearly report with Lolita, a self-released white label of warped bleep-techno-pop and clipped dembow bump.
Arriving a year on from her Lolin & Scratchin’ mix CD with DVA for BUS Editions, Lolita ‘fesses a perfectly uneasy trio of aces taking in the title track’s curdled dancehall tones and slippery lyrics on the A-side, while the flip sets her lilting, off-kilter vocals to dissonant dembow knocks on Keep It Movin’, whereas Plot Twist is the EP’s lone, wriggly neon instrumental, like some half-cooked prototype that crept out of Errorsmith’s studio when he wasn’t looking.
A haunting suite of solemn, sober wonders for strings, vocals and synth from Japanese improvisor Chie Mukai and NYC’s Justin Simon (Invisible Conga People), the follow-up to the reissue of Phew’s Light Sleep on Simon’s Mesh-Key label.
Finally emerging some 15 years after it was written between NYC and Tokyo, the four tracks glide from Oskar Sala-esque synth melded with acoustic guitar and Mukai’s floating vocals in Sugita Hi No, thru to an exceptional centrepiece in the gentle, listing keen of percussion, vocal and synth wheeze in Hi Tsuki, along with the more rustic strings of Nami No hate, and the Loren Connors or Jandek-like tape vignette Untitled.
Berceuse Heroique rifle Black Merlin’s Archives for some proper techno ammunition on his follow-up to the superb Proto World 12”.
There’s spacehead fuel inside, taking flight with tense arpeggios in Agro, then locking into gear with the powerful techno traction of Shock and the set-jaw cosmic drive of 12515 to complete the 1st plate.
On the 2nd disc, he eazes off the gas to go into cruise control on an ‘80s FM synth mission called The Alpaca Pet Boys, recalling a mix of La Rolls’ Sure Is meets the intro of Jamal Moss’ FGTH edit, then comes into sight of lush parallel rave dimensions with the purring mid-tempo élan and cosmic yawn pads of Laz.
Tel Aviv’s finest team up with Gina X and C.A.R. on two killer, original disco/wave productions, along with two edits of Solid Space and X Ray Pop, making up a sterling debut dispatch thru Dark Entries.
On 5 Min, Dori Sadovnik and Niv Arzi kit their regular spar Chloé Raumet a.k.a. C.A.R. with a ruggedly burning electro groove and spiralling FX - proper fashion party business - before the original icy synth-pop mistress Gina X pays tribute to Nyx, goddess of the night, with typically dry gynoid vocal over the stark, New Beat-compatible brilliance of Nyx Tape.
The flipside tends to Red Axes’ reputation as primo disco editors, proved in the reverberating rework of Solid Space’s Destination Moon (the original’s just been reissued on Dark Entries, too!) next to a neat trim of X Ray Pop’s wavy charmer La Machine Á Rêver.
Dark Entries cock a snook behind the curtain of Robert Rental and Glenn Wallis, jamming in a Battersea, London studio c. 1978-79. Sounds like a stoned TG joined by a salty Schnitzler, especially on the B-side’s wonky wormholer.
“Robert Rental was the stage name of Robert Donnachie (1952–2000), a British pioneer of post-punk, DIY, and industrial music. Originally from Port Glasgow, Scotland, he moved to the south of England with Thomas Leer in the late 1970s where he met Glenn Michael Wallis. Glenn was recording music with the group Heute and leaving to start his solo projects NKVD and Konstruktivists. Both were heavily involved with Throbbing Gristle and the Industrial Records crew.
In the Summer of 1979, Robert invited Glenn to his studio in Battersea to jam. Robert on guitar and Glenn on an EDP Wasp synthesizer. For each session that summer they would play for about 40 minutes, maybe longer, stoned. Robert suggested they record it, many times erasing and over recording one session for the next. The music had no titles, as they were never intended to be released. On these recordings, Robert enjoyed playing like Robert Fripp of King Crimson, while Glenn channeled Wolfgang Flur of Kraftwerk. Influenced by Krautrock bands like Can, NEU!, Cluster/Harmonia, as well as Terry Riley and Brian Eno the duo forged a unqiue brand of Industrial music. Tape loops and synthesizer sounds played backward conjure dark ambient moods.”
C.L.A.W.S.’ 2nd volume of Squirrels On Film
...heads to the darkroom with four sleazy electro cuts running from Material Squirrel’s trippy workout Material World to the New Beat-style charge of Headless by Lokier, and then over to more haughty acid house in Billy Bates’ hunky jacker Got It, and a moody psych burner from Solar.
This amazing triple album features a six suite work featuring Requiem For Dying Mothers, Austin Texas Mental Hospital, Broken Harbors, Mullholland, Piano Aquieu, Ballad Of Distances and A Lovesong (For Cubs)+.
Their usual minimal sound palette is expanded this time with the inclusion of strings, horns and piano in addition to guitars and field recordings. A personal innerspace that's relaxed, poised and breathtakingly beautiful.
New edition pressed on white vinyl, housed in metallic blue foil-block print jacket. Includes download code
Beautifully melancholic synth-pop from Deb Demure’s Drab Majesty project, measuring out the exquisitely goth-tinted synth cadence and disco thrum of Oak Wood and the spindly tendrils of his Durutti Column-esque instrumental Egress.
Enigmatic proto-house quantity, E Myers presents a refreshed, augmented edition of their self-released Love/Hate  12” for Dark Entries. The original, sought-after white label is now bolstered with a bonus version of Hate packed with muscular toms, all clad in new artwork and centre labels.
Love stretches out like some hazy Ron Hardy-meets-James Mason phantasia of tumbling Chicago/NYC toms, thrumming b-line and shooting star synths; Hate beats out a wood-cut tattoo of tuff drums rubbed with balloon-squeak synths to sound like Gesloten Cirkel meets Helena Hauff.
Refreshingly sparse, nimbly dubbed techno-electronica and field recordings from Tuomo Väänänen, boss of Finland’s Ljudverket label. RIYL Andreas Tilliander, Vladislav Delay...
“Typically outstanding, cultured, listenable techno by the co-founder of this excellent Finnish label, adroitly traversing dub and ambient. Nothing lunky or domineering, dystopian or Gothic, this debut LP generates senses of immediate, natural being out of field recordings (Waiting Halls, Winners, Temple) and the foibles and hiccups of the music-making process itself (New to the System, Sloth, A Small Flood).”
Banlieu bossman Benoit B offers a string of pearly, Far Eastern-facing vignettes on Berceuse Heroique in Japonaiserie, so titled in tribute to the term Vincent Van Gogh used to express the influence of Japanese art.
With a similar lightness of touch and colour applied in delicate strokes, Benoit B’s music lives up to the title in eight parts of almost weightless tonal structure and skittish rhythm, embellishing and adding to a long-standing sino-euro route of influence which is arguably at the crest of a wave right now with the swell of reissued electronic delicacies from ‘80s Japan.
RIYL Visible Cloaks, KWC, Japan Blues
Noah Lennox heats up his Beach Boys schtick with gritty swing beats and some more surprising, noisily technoid detours in A Day With The Homies, holding his 1st new material since 2015 and heralding Panda Bear’s 2018 Europe + America tour dates.
A Day With The Homies starts out with a ruddy pop alacrity in Flight, fading into dusk with an extended passage of field recordings, then undermines expectations with the distorted guitar contrails and swaggering glam big beat of Part of the Math.
On Shepard Tone, he first comes off like one of Martin Hannett’s noisy studio experiments, but the song gradually blooms into a sort of experimental breakbeat hymn, with the title presumably referring to its illusive, floating vocal pitches. Nod To The Folks follows thru with a chunky cosmic pop chug and mad air raid sirens to the hot-stepping mix of skittish swing beat, harmonised pop vox and D&B style stabs on Sunset, which seems to finish off with a synth line imitating the “snooooop” off Snoop & Pharell’s Drop It Like It’s Hot. Go figure.
Mannequin take a peek at the 1988-1992 archive of Italo legend Fred Ventura, come out with 8 aces crossing lines between Italian dream house, new beat and acid-electro.
To be honest, we always thought Ventura was solely a vocalist and signer/songwriter, but, as this set proves, he clearly also knew his way around classic boxes.
Reaped from original tapes, the set presents 8 smart examples of Ventura the producer, roving from the acid-lined psychedelic swagger of Future Unknown to supple, rolling house in The Naked City and more brooding strokes on Technologies, With more funked up EBM-esque gear in Body Politic, and natty New Beat vibes in Slow Reaction.
Reissue of the pounding, scuzzy debut solo LP of psychedelic krautrock and industrial rhythms by Henrik Rylander, aka the driving force behind Union Carbide Productions, The Skull Defekts and Saturn and The Sun with various Scandinavian accomplices.
First released in 1998, Från En Obestämd Plats I Rummet is effectively a missing link between the original long-haired German sound of the ‘70s and the current wave of psych bands attempting to emulate their forbears, including everyone from Goat to Gnod and Cavern Of Anti-Matter.
However, Rylander’s take on the pivotal, influential styles of Neu! et al is more stripped down, singularly focused, with a firm grip on biting point distortion that come out in various ways in the nervy spark of Organ1, blooming scorching hot and slow from …Och Plötsligt, or lysergic ally melting into the skinny drum machine patter of 2-7-4-8-8-2 with hazy psychedelic potency.
Reissue of Moodymann’s The Telephone EP , featuring Forevernevermore (Remix) - an electroid reshuffle of his classic 1998 cut - backed with the devilish broken beat swerve of Telephone Blue, both exclusive to this 12”.
The Forevernevermore (Remix) is prefaced by an sawn-off anecdote that could go somewhere juicy, just before it’s cut off into a subtly filtered and tweaked version flush with the original strings, but nudged with a tighter electro swing. On the other side, Telephone Blue serves some of KDJ’s deadliest chops, initially sounding like Soundhack on the sampler, then hustling some of his deepest, swingeing drums, seemingly done live and loosey goosey in-the-mix.
Another unmissable invitation to the STROOM 〰 dimension, Kyoto’s Sonoko meets Jan Van den Broeke [STRLP-003] for a suite of deliquescent, trippy dream-pop - her first new recordings since the Colin Newman and Aksak Maboul-produced La Débutante  LP and La Poupee Qui Fait Non  7”.
Slotting perfectly into one of our favourite labels right now, Les Anges, Les Bonheurs demonstrates the thizzy quintessence of Sonoko’s serene vocals and vibes in four cuts that could be called trip hop, adult contemporary or most acutely, dream pop. In that sense it’s a direct, if long overdue, continuation of the styles forged on Sonoko’s rarified debut LP, and somewhat makes up for the fact that she had to leave Europe for Kyoto after that LP didn’t quite attract the attention it warranted at the time.
Thanks to Jan Van Den Broeke, who was was a big fan of Sonoko’s album, and contacted her about collaboration via Myspace in 2009, her music now has a second wind, with results every bit as enchanting as you’d expect from a woman who included a cover of david Lynch’s In Heaven, from the Eraserhead soundtrack, on her 1st record!
The result of decades of reflection on everything from French movies and literature (Sonoko studied French lit at University in Paris in the ‘80s) to the classical European romanticism of Satie and Debussy, and Russian theater, it all adds up to a sound sweetly indebted as much to Serge and Jane as the diehard romantic notion of following your dreams, no matter how long it takes you to achieve them.
Hearts and heads will melt.