Weirdo side of library-like gallic downbeat sleaze and mindbending cosmic psych thrust sprouted by Brussels’ Accou
Clearly contrasting, but feasibly from different scenes in the same imaginary movie, ‘French Fried’ is a strange one. The A-side plays it down and groggy with oily bass and dubbed out percussion sauntering under finely layered pads, gathering into dreamy wind tunnel slow/fast and ether ambient coda by the close. Its B-side operates in stark relief with acrid computerised electronics congealing in a squashed lift off sequence that boils over into destructive psych noise on a hobbled groove.
Face freezing emotional punishments by Texan electro-techno deity Gerard Hanson resurface on a reminder of his golden late ‘00s into ‘10s run
Please pardon the gush, but we’re in the presence of greatness here. ‘Lunar Ruins’ was first issued in 2011, but contains material known and utterly beloved from his live sets as early as 2006-2008, as heard in recordings for Faktion (Manchester) and Bleep43 (London) which have gone down in underground lore as legendary examples of his ineffably beautiful and powerful mastery of Detroit-inspired synth music.
At the right times, ‘Lunar Ruins’ literally brings us to tears and on our knees with its tendon-tuned electro-funk and beatific string harmonies, while ‘Into the Distance’ dials up the Martian melodies and cosmic conga turbulence in clear homage to Red Planet, Drexciya and Mad Mike, beside the sinuous, minimalist cool of ‘Mimosa Canopy’. We can’t stress how much this sound feels absent on the ‘floor nowadays.
The Heavenly Remixes series continues with Volume 7.
"Heavenly Remixes Volume 7 heads to Belfast, where David Holmes - a producer who first appeared on Heavenly in 1994 amping up the acid on Saint Etienne’s Like A Motorway - appears as solo artist and as one third of Unloved, who get a lift right to the heart of a Vauxhall sweatbox by Horse Meat Disco. It draws a line between Amsterdam and Frankfurt as Ludwig A.F. amps up the electronics on Pip Blom’s Keep It Together. It stops off in a south London studio where super producer Dan Carey plays the desk with Toy, then relocates L.A. psych rock band Fever The Ghost to an Ibizan shoreline as the sun sets on the horizon. It cements Sheffield’s reputation as the home of modern British techno with the return of true originators Forgemasters. And it pitches up in front of a renegade soundsystem late night at Glastonbury as Erol Alkan’s mighty rework of Con Man gets its third rewind of the night."
Tight electro split from Detroit-Inspired Texan, ERP (aka Convextion), and Rotterdam’s Duplex
Gerard Hanson’s ERP works signature bassline flair under shuddering metallic arps and chiselled machine percussion in ‘ZRX’, while the Frustrated Funk figurehead Klen aka Ovatow makes one of his relatively rare but ever precious outings on the pendulous, tenderly dubbed and expansive Ovatow Reclock of Duplex’ s ’Molecular’, the standout of this session.
The none-more-keenly awaited vinyl debut of Japan’s inimitable goat is a 10 year anniversary reissue of their acclaimed first album, featuring YPY aka Koshiro Hino (half of KAKUHAN) in nanometric syncopation with the exemplary no wave/experimental quartet - Huge RIYL Moin, Klaus Dinger, Wharton Tiers, Mark Fell.
Arguably the tightest band we’ve ever seen play live, Osaka’s goat are the definition of a cult property, beloved by the likes of Mark Fell and Rian Treanor, yet unfathomably little known beyond the heads. As their maiden international release, the decade anniversary vinyl edition of ‘New Games’ should go some way toward rectifying that matter with its utterly captivating display of needlepoint-precise drums and flinty guitar prioritising pure percussive sound and propulsion over melody. In a sense, they operate in a tradition that reaches back to experimental rock forms pursued by Klaus Dinger with Neu!, Wharton Tiers’ catalytic work in the NYC no wave underground, or indeed the uncompromising, pointillist percussive bias of Mark Fell, but all with an in-the-moment agility and airtight precision that’s pretty much breathtaking if you ask us.
With the scene now prepped in recent years by band-member Koshiro Hino’s stream of rhythmically compelling sides as YPY and Hinosch on his birdFriend & NAKID labels, the rest of the world is set to catch up with the might of goat’s ‘New Games’. Typically taking up to and over 10 minutes to cycle thru their permutations per track, Hino, Ando, Tatami and Nishikawa pucker up the sharpest rimshot and neck-top interplay in the LP’s title piece, rupturing the sheer latticed patterns with stop/start punctuation that lets you know they’re doing it live, and subtly but exactingly shifting patterns between the panic-attack of ’STD’, to more lissom evocations of Asian and African rhythmelody in ‘Solid Eye’ or the sinuous muscularity of ‘On Fire’, while unravelling a wickedly knotted miniature ‘Ghosts (Part 1)’ primed for DJ and radio use.
Playing right on the sweetspot where experimentalism yields to propulsive purpose, goat are uniquely worthy of their moniker in its acronymic sense, practically showing up everything either side of them as lazy and uninspired in relief of their meticulous drills.
Evoking the American primitive ambience of Bruce Langhorne's influential 'The Hired Hand', Jim O'Rourke's latest is a gorgeous, quietly resonant and slow-moving snapshot of the wide North American landscape, or “prairie gothic”. Rendered thru simmering jazz keys, microtonal drone, double bass, piano and skittering percussion, it’s just completely unmissable gear that comes highly recommended to anyone with a Jim obsession, or for those of you who love those Tindersticks scores for Claire Denis as much as we do.
Jim O'Rourke's flirtation with cinema has been one of the reliable constants in his lengthy, prolific career. His best-known trilogy of albums 'Bad Timing', 'Eureka' and 'Insignificance' were named after Nicolas Roeg films, and even 'The Visitor' was a reference to Roeg's Bowie vehicle 'The Man Who Fell to Earth'. He's made his own short films, got involved with Werner Herzog's 'Grizzly Man' and scored a handful of independent features, most notably Todd Louiso's odd, underrated 'Love Liza’, as well as contributing to Eiko Ishibashi acclaimed ‘Drive My Car' soundtrack.
Set in the prairies of Western Canada, 'Hands That Bind' is a surrealist fusion of science fiction and Western tropes from maverick director Kyle Armstrong. O'Rourke has worked with Armstrong before on 2018's 'Until First Light’, and is here given license to render Armstrong’s skewed vision of Alberta with plenty of room for creative movement. Its eerie, foreboding landscape is mirrored via intricately engineered environmental recordings and pitch-warped instrumentation. At times it shimmers with the darkness of François Tétaz's influential score for Aussie horror classic 'Wolf Creek', recalling the film's spacious landscape via electric pulses and fudged radio static, suddenly diverting to a more gothic re-imagining of pastoral folk, dissolving its homespun instrumentation into oily pools of electro-acoustic abstraction.
On opener 'Go Spend Some Time With Your Kids', O'Rourke reels us in with glacial bowed strings and luxurious double bass, almost imperceptibly fucking with the pitch to prepare us for the rest of the album's peculiar intonation. Everything gradually starts to quietly curdle through grotesque hisses and unusually tuned string knocks, piping pastoral Americana into rougher, off-world spaces. Subtle even at its most vivid, the suite of tracks bubbles beneath Armstrong's wide expanse, bringing in manipulated field recordings to enhance the feeling of connected disconnectedness. But O'Rourke’s score never feels detached; when the sound starts to drift into abstraction, he pulls it back with a vibraphone, or a stifled orchestral swoop.
'A Man's Mind Will Play Tricks On Him' paints the album's sonic palette into what might hew closest to O'Rourke's 'Bad Timing'-style material. Using alternative tunings on the instrumentation, it feels a bit like watching a performance through a cracked, frosted lens. It's familiar but also not, perfectly capturing the film's disquieting visuals. Elsewhere, on 'Here Is Where I Seem To Be...', he dilates billowing drones into poetic reflections to draw us into the uncanny landscape in much the same way we feel listening to Eliane Radigue.
O'Rourke has crafted an album that's both driven by the film’s visual language and able to stand tall on its own. It's a remarkable achievement, even for him.
The quietly devastating ’Picture of Bunny Rabbit’ forms a long fabled studio sequel of sorts to Arthur Russell’s divine debut and sole album, ‘World of Echo’, offering up nine previously unreleased recordings from the same, enchanted 1985/86 sessions.
Quite simply ‘World of Echo’ is among the most important, groundbreaking avant-pop records of the late c.20th, so the release of ‘Picture of Bunny Rabbit’ after 38 years in the archive is nothing short of momentous. Sourced from a fiercely guarded archive and one of two test-pressings - dated 9/15/85 by Arthur, as supplied by his mother and sister - this posthumous release nestles a radical iteration of Russell's classic ‘In The Light of the Miracle’ and a gobsmacking title song amid its treasures, which are bound to send the late, great auteur’s acolytes reeling upon contact. Honestly it’s once in a lifetime gear; be wowed now or later - up to you - but wowed you will be.
A pivotal node of NYC’s legendary ’70s downtown experimental scene, who uniquely joined the dots between country-folk, contemporary classical, disco, and the avant-garde, Arthur Russell was tragically diagnosed with HIV in 1985, the same year he released ‘World of Echo’. Beyond an inner circle and those in the know, its dreamlike, disembodied chamber-pop was sorely under appreciated at the time, yet has only grown in stature with the benefit of hindsight, becoming name-checked by almost any modern singer-songwriter worth your time. ‘Picture of Bunny Rabbit’, so named for a standout dedication to a pet of Arthur’s pal, now returns us to the waking dream of ‘World of Echo’ decades advanced and maybe a little wiser, more cynical, yet it still hits harder than we could ever have expected.
The nine parts are lovingly sequenced into an album that ideally showcases the humbling halcyon of Russell's genius. Vacillating achingly beautiful, nuanced ‘Fuzzblaster’ instrumentals for amplified cello and keys with songs, proper, such as the whispered folk-blues of ‘Not Checking Up’ and the nerve-knitting strokes of ‘Telling No One’, it all wraps us up in the most human, cathartic embrace. His phasing, skeletal gem ‘Very Reason’ and synaestehtic sensuality of ‘The Boy With a Smile’ are clearly cut of the same cloth as ‘WoE’, and have a similarly beatific effect, but if we’re playing faves the final couplet are just utterly beyond.
With the title song ‘Picture of Bunny Rabbit’ we’re privy to a stunning, tragically unexplored trajectory for his songcraft into glitching dissonance that betrays his roots in the avant-garde and, likewise, offering us hints as to where it could have gone, while the wobbling, plucky raptures of his new version to ‘In The Light of the Miracle’ characterises the open-ended spirit and mutability of his compositions, sounding distinctive as ever thanks to his eternally fragile yet striking falsetto. Alongside 2022’s ’Sketches for World of Echo: June 25 1984 Live at Ei’, this stunning new suite helps build a true picture of Russell’s gift, we're lucky to be able to bear witness.
Croatian Amor's A Part of You in Everything - a companion piece to 2022's Remember Rainbow Bridge.
“"My younger brother died at birth and I never had a chance to meet him. Growing up he was my ghost friend, someone told me he lived in the stars which I accepted. I had not paid attention to him for many years but when I was making "Remember Rainbow Bridge” and waiting for my son to come into the world he suddenly appeared again. I partly dedicated Remember Rainbow Bridge to him, but I knew that it wasn’t his record, so I thought I should make one just for him and here it is; “A Part of You in Everything”, 8 songs about being human on Earth. I think it’s music which is best listened to at night out under the stars. Thank you to all my friends who helped making it!” - Croatian Amor."
Divine, smouldering DIY pop by Éire’s Elaine Howley ov Crevice, Howlbux and The Altered Hours esteem, on the excellent Touch Sensitive label.
Pushing all the tender buttons for fans of Tirzah, Broadcast, Carla Dal Forno, or even Elaine’s hero and Irish legend Mary Black; the Cork-based musician beautifully measures ‘The Distance Between Heart And Mouth’ with nine low key songs wrought with richly enchanting melodic substance and an etheric, subtly dubwise spirit that, once heard, won’t be forgotten in a hurry.
Keener ears/eyes may have caught Elaine’s standout dedication ‘Song For Mary Black’ on the ace ‘Wacker That’ comp, way back in pre-Covid days (2019), but never mind if you slept on it, ‘cos its aetheric invocation is nestled here among many more bewts, spanning the gorgeous Keenan-esque dirge-pop of ’Silent Talk’, burbling edge-of-the-‘floor shuffle on ’Autumn Speaks’, and the smoke curl mystery of ‘Archaeological Longing’, plus the quietly frayed, looping genius of ‘To The Test’ or psychedelic dream sequence ‘Buried Way Out’.
No need to overegg it, this is just sheer, timeless class that we wager will be on a lot of end of year lists.
Jeff McIlwain celebrates two decades on Ghostly with his ninth Lusine full-length, a well-crafted album of electronic pop that features contributions from Asy Saavedra, Sarah Jaffe, Vilja Larjosto and Benoît Pioulard.
McIlwain's been at it so long that he's been able to witness a fresh generation of beatmakers run away with ideas he's refined for decades. Loraine James paid her respects to the Seattle-based producer on her latest LP 'Gentle Confrontation', and McIlwain responds with his most polished suite of light-headed IDM-flecked pop in years.
Texan singer-songwriter Sarah Jaffe sings sunny phrases over McIlwain's brushed aluminum beats on lead single 'Zero to Sixty', stuttering and breathlessly emoting in the spaces between the beats. 'Dreaming' is even more endearing, led by a sugar-sweet vocal from Chaos Chaos's Asy Saavedra, and Benoît Pioulard's voice is shredded into stutters on the title track, buzzing over a glossy downtempo pulse. One to investigate if you're into Caribou or Four Tet.
Vintage trance, minimal techno and dub techno played on a pipe organ?. Hard to believe, we know, but it goes surprisingly hard - basically hitting the intersection of Maurizio, Kara-Lis Coverdale, Lorenzo Senni and Enya. Should be massive, really.
Okay so we'll need a bit of background on this one. In 2020 Maxime Denuc released ‘Solarium’, a lengthy single-track organ piece that was assembled for a specific purpose: to fire up the emotional neurons still burbling after a long night of raving. It's basically afters music for anyone drawn towards the Kali Malone playlist as the sun pokes up over the concrete. Denuc's got a background in electronic-classical fusion - he was a member of Plapla Pinky with Raphaël Hénard, where he attempted to find a middle ground between baroque forms and experimental electronics. But on ‘Solarium’ he focused his attention on the historical relevance of rave culture and its relationship with church music; on ’Nachthorn’ he makes that connection explicit, and instead of yanking elongated organ drones to the afters, he brings trance to the house of God, plugging recognisable rave formulae into the church organ.
It's a concept that, without careful attention, could have easily buckled under the weight of its self-awareness. If Gen Z is obsessed with Kali Malone and "medieval vibes", and Lorenzo Senni's beatless (pointillistic?) trance archetype is so enduringly popular, then surely a grand fusion would be cynically successful? Denuc's skill and ominpresent sense of humour manages to stop our brains from lurching too far towards a mental eyeroll. He show his whole hand immediately - opening track 'Edo' is a blissed-out droner that hints at euphoric balearic pill chewing in the chord progression. It's when we hit 'Infinite End' that the concept begins to make more sense - simple but sickeningly effective stuff, basically the organ sound from Enya's 'Sail Away' and peak mid-'90s Paul Van Dyk-era trance all at once.
The album's title is a reference to the instrument that helped Denuc realise his vision. Nachthorn is the name of one of the 78 stops from the organ in Düsseldorf's St. Antonius Church. Denuc used a special electronic system developed by German company Sinua that allowed him to control the pipe organ's keyboards and timbre via computer, so he could use it just as he would a synth. It had been a long-time dream of Denuc's to "create an entirely acoustic dance music piece with the organ" and he completely succeeds. Some tracks are more impactful than others, but because Denuc's concept is so simple and his method so well researched, everything hangs together perfectly.
'Düsseldorf' is vintage Maurizio by way of Henry Purcell, while 'Agoraphobia' is breathy Ibiza hedonism that's so suggestive your brain almost inserts a driving kick drum. 'Overture' is more classically euphoric and slides closer to "Blue Notebooks"-era Max Richter than it does Armin van Buuren, but 'Function Music' might be the album's most effective proof of concept, sounding as close to Berghain's minimal thump as it's possible to get on an acoustic source. The low-end thump of the keys creates its own driving rhythm, and Denuc uses the computer controlled keys to create trilling oscillator-like risers instead of melodic or harmonic patterns. It plays like minimal techno's sonic inverse, guiding our senses towards the inherent connection between the sounds that enraptured our medieval forebears and the music that brings millions of clubbers each year to Berlin.
What could have been a dry exercise in timely hipster cynicism is actually a poignant collection of experiments that begs for deep, repeat listening. By using a pipe organ and being tuned into its quirks and difficulties, Denuc is able to play with texture and character as if he's tweaking vintage synths. Repetitive cycles become living, breathing phrases and drones that reverberate through the aisles of an actual church. It's hard not to be moved.
TTT’s scuzzy rave dream team Lukid & Tapes reprise Rezzett duties for the label’s wickedly ruffneck 100th release - unmissable crud for acolytes of Actress, Rat Heart, Lee Gamble, Demdike Stare, Jamal Moss
Label MVPs since 2013’s introductory Rezzett EP, the duo have become emblematic of rave music’s mutant noisy patch over the past decade with a string of 12”s that led to their acclaimed, eponymous album in 2018. ‘Meant Like This’ makes up five years of near radio-silence with a reliably sore and bittersweet new volley of works that deglaze classic rave tropes and marinade them in Rezzett’s special, astringent sauce. Skull-scraped reminiscences of rambunctious breakbeat hardcore, lushest mid ‘90s jungle, Detroit techno and Chicago house are rinsed for quintessence and rebuilt with a shoegaze-like romance, with red-lining distortion and noise as a metaphor for the infidelity of memory and motion sickness of time travel.
As expected, ‘Meant Like This’ is a heavily satisfying trip. If we’re playing favourites, the cold rush of its flashback montage ‘Vivz Portal’ is right up there, recalling Lee Gamble’s ‘Diversions 1994-1996’ marinaded in acetone, or even aspects of the Honour sides. But if you’re here for a knees up, we direct thee to outstanding bouts of breakbeat ‘ardcore rufige in the tape-of-a-tape-of-a-tape-textured ‘Leg It’, and the heart-in-mouth hardcore of ‘Borjormi Spring’, while lovers of the saltiest cosmic Midwest club music gets their lot in the sort of tones that loosen your teeth on ‘Spicy Pipes’, and a clattering beauty of Hieroglyphic Being proportions, ‘Ladbroke’.
Mary Jane Leach is a composer focussed on the physicality of sound, its acoustic properties and how they interact with space. She has played an instrumental role in NYC’s pioneering Downtown scene alongside Arthur Russell, Ellen Fullman, Peter Zummo, Philip Corner and Arnold Dreyblatt, as well as devoting years to the preservation and reappraisal of Julius Eastman’s work since his death in 1990, compiling the ‘Unjust Malaise’ 3CD set in 2005 and editing the 2015 book ‘Gay Guerrilla: Julius Eastman and His Music’. 'Woodwind Multiples' is her second album for Modern Love, following ‘(f)lute songs’ (2018).
Woodwind Multiples features four pieces for multiples of the same instrument: four bass flutes, nine oboes, nine clarinets, and seven bassoons. Each piece works closely with the unique sound of each instrument, combining pitches that create other, sometimes unexpected, tones, primarily combination and interference tones, as well as rhythmic patterns. What you hear is what happens naturally - there is no processing or manipulation.
8B4 (1985/2022), played by Manuel Zurria, is for four bass flutes. It is a revision of 8x4, which was written in 1985 for the DownTown Ensemble and was only performed once, due to its unusual instrumentation: alto flute, English horn (originally bass oboe), clarinet, and voice.
Xantippe’s Rebuke (1993) was written for Libby Van Cleve, for eight taped oboes and one live, solo oboe. The eight taped parts are equal and dependent, while the solo part is meant to be a solo with the tape as accompaniment. The piece works with the unique sound of the oboe, starting with unison pitches that create the richest sound, building the piece from there. Pitches and rhythmic patterns that occur naturally are notated and then played later, which in turn create other pitches and rhythmic patterns. So, in effect, the nature of the oboe and its natural sound determine the direction of the piece.
Charybdis (2020), played by Sam Dunscombe, is for solo clarinet and eight taped clarinets. It combines a somewhat obscured reference to Weep You No More, a John Dowland piece, which combines with the sound phenomena created from the melody and supporting chords of the Dowland.
Feu de Joie (1992) was written for bassoonist Shannon Peet and is an homage to the bassoon and its wonderful sound. It is for seven parts—six taped and one “live.” The taped bassoons combine to create a bed of sound that exploits the unique qualities of the bassoon, creating combination and interference tones, starting off with unison pitches, creating a rich sound that builds from there. Most of the subsequent pitches and phrases occur naturally, and are then notated later on in the piece, which in turn creates other notes and phrases.
Outright haunting DIY recordings by Ukraine’s Oleksandr Yurchenko, made on custom-built string instruments and voiced with a freedom that places him somewhere alongside Michael O’Shea, Zoviet France, Glenn Branca or that incred collab album with Svetlana Nianio excavated by Night School a couple of years ago.
The recordings, made between 1991—2001, open a fascinating and intensely personal portal to the inner life of Ukraine’s most mysterious artist. A private person who never gave interviews, partly due to suffering from ill health, it’s only in recent years and via reissues on Tom James Scott’s Skire and Ukraine’s Delta Shock labels that Yurchenko’s music has come to wider attention, and with it his history in the Ukrainian underground music movement known as “Novaya Scena”. Sadly Yurchenko is no longer around to receive his flowers - he died in April 2020 after years of declining health following a stroke - but like all great art and music his spirit lives on in these frankly stunning home recordings of him agitating the f*ck out of self-built, zither and cello-like instruments, fitted with electric pick-ups and amplified into the red with a mesmerising quality.
The real gem here is the A-side’s half hour-long ‘Count to 100. Symphony #1 (edit 2001)’, whose title and keening discord no doubt nod to Glenn Branca’s swelling guitar masses, but more singularly get right under the skin with sustained, coruscating harmonics, right on the cusp between harrowing and lush, with an in-the-moment thrust that surely recalls moments of Michael O’Shea’s eponymous wonder as much as otherworldliness of Zoviet France.
Likewise, we hear Zoviet France's feel for hypnotic lilt in the more gently rhythmelodic loops of ‘Intro’, featuring some mysterious combo of old Soviet keyboards and Casio SK-1 sampler. The bitterly melancholic ‘Merat Zara #3’ follows with a strong example of how Yurchenko absorbed and beautifully transmuted traditional Eurasian melody into his music, and again we’re left to Zoviet France references with the nine minutes of curdled tones on the elemental grip of ‘Playback #1’, which feels like being granted voyeur privileges over intensely private rituals that were possibly never meant for public consumption.
Total visionary stuff if you ask us.
50 year anniversary edition of Albert Ayler’s peak ’68 salvo clashing nursery rhymes and militant marches with free jazz fire music - essential listening for jazz, noise and psych nuts alike
After setting new high water makes for free jazz beside Don Cherry with ‘Ghosts’ (1965) and unleashing ’Spirits’ in 1964, Albert Ayler cut his most accessible, yet still freaking wild, album with 1968’s ‘Love Cry’. Perhaps best known for its transformative 10 minute finale, ‘Universal Indians’ the album is an end-to-end ravishing and playful masterwork which compromised to some extent on his fire music style with a more concerted bend toward prevailing psychedelic currents.
Propelled by Milton Graves percussive dervish and Alan Silva’s knotted basslines, Albert’s tenor and alto sax scorch are completed by a final recorded performance with his brother, Donald, who would depart the band for Cleveland in following months. The 9-piece record remains a towering example of the gush of energies that converged/diverged in wild style during the late ‘60s, prior to jazz’s fusion era, in step with the freedoms hard won by the civil rights movement and the emergence of new age consciousness that went hand in hand with psychedelia and associated drugs.
The fury of previous Ayler records is exchanged for wild optimism that draws from all corners, riddling popular nursery rhyme melodies and boisterous marches with Afro-Latin grooves and speaking-in-tongues vocals with an acidic flair and vibrancy that must have sounded wild upon original release, and arguably still stokes fires of the imagination with numbers such as the organ-spangled, Ra-esque ‘Zion Hill’ or gyring projections of ‘Love Flower’, not to mention that astonishing closer.
Helena Hauff trots out a fabric mix studded with crunchy electro bombs
After a decade dominating Euro ‘floors and beyond with her patented direct drive muscle, Hauff parades 19 tried and trusted bangers of a ruff cut and drily emotive electro-techno variety after heading more line-ups than we can count, both solo and in b2b with likes of Eris Drew, Marcel Dettmann and DJ Stingray, and hosting her own BBC Radio 1 show.
It kicks off with one of her own, ‘Turn Your Sights Inward’, and shells down lethal cuts including Clarence G’s pre-Drexicya zinger ‘Data Transfer’, a walloping Slam x Optic nerve juggernaut ‘Machine Conflict’, Radioactiveman’s murderous ‘Night Bus to Nowhere’ and Autechre’s remix of D-Breeze off MASK 500 (jeez, the nostalgia!), while highlighting a raft of newer names and obscurities.
All hitters no shitters.
'79/80' examines the earliest days of Plus Instruments, Dutch vanguard Truus de Groot's freewheeling experimental project. This anthology bundles a handful of tracks from her rare debut cassette with archival tracks from the same period. Properly spannered gear, it's an industrial-adjacent boil of broken synths, haunted vocals and sozzled tape noise that plays like a cross between The Shadow Ring, Throbbing Gristle, Wolf Eyes and Tolerance.
De Groot was still a member of cult Dutch experimental new wave band Nasmak in 1978 when she officially established herself as a solo artist, using the name Truss + Instruments for the project. She wouldn't stay solo for long, escaping the Netherlands for New York in the early '80s and bringing in assistance from artists like Lee Ranaldo and James Sclavunos, but this collection focuses on the project's genesis. The bulk of the record is snipped from De Groot's 1980-released debut, trimmed slightly and then fleshed out with unreleased tracks from the same time period. And it's remarkably coherent, sounding just as alien and unique now as it no doubt did back then. De Groot has a way of working that sounds haphazard but endlessly endearing, meshing her bizarre vocalizations with off-kilter beatbox blasts, oscillator squeaks and lashings of tape-damaged noise. It's tempting to call it industrial, but there's more going on here - De Groot doesn't sound as if she's in the thrall of any particular genre or other, but experimenting at her own pace, working out exactly what she can do with her modest setup.
Using a multi-track recorder with "whatever crappy gadgets she could find", De Groot trains her focus on snot and attitude, making songs that sound so battered they could fall apart at any moment. 'Lucky Day' introduced the original cassette and welcomes us to this set, bursting into the frame with hoarse screams and ghosted, saturated synth vamps that splinter into springy echoes. The roots of later noise upstarts like Wolf Eyes are right here, buried in De Groot's mucky tangle of distorted, nonchalant vocals, screaming feedback and irregular rhythms. On 'Herhalingen', she loops a single syllable until it's a pulse, spritzing it with tinny keyboard wails and breaking for a moment to remind us "the show must go on". And on 'True Love Stallion', one of the anthology's archival finds, she turns seemingly random synth bleeps into a detuned lullaby, using a disconcerting hum as accompaniment and stabbing at the keys erratically.
Another of the unheard rarities is 'Improv 1', a short blast of LFO noise that mutates into bleeps and damaged vocals, before 'Dance', 'So' and 'Music-Zak' bring us back to the original release. The latter is a serious highlight, a humid, hummable ditty that sounds like a cheap organ being played underwater. 'Improv 10' meanwhile glues a robotic voice to De Groot's pained screams and electrical fluctuations, and 'Mountain' sounds like a loping dancefloor melter, with a stumbling kick drum set against haunted echoes and distant recorder blasts. Utterly bonkers, this one'll have your head spinning - forget what you know, this is as punk as it gets.
Shukuma is a collaboration between AWEH label head Esa and South African Kwaito legend Kamazu from Soweto.
"This record, created between 2020 and 2022, is a testament to the power of musical synergy and South African cultural aweh-ness.
As part of Shukuma, the title track and the EP also lies the future Kwaito classic, Muntu. This dance floor banger not only showcases the creative prowess of Esa and Kamazu but also features a collaboration with Dirty Bungalow, adding a unique touch to the overall EP. Muntu has already been featured in the esteemed podcast series, The Invisible Hand.
To further enhance the experience, Esa has collaborated with talented artists Floating B_strd and Sanoy to create an exquisite art piece that perfectly captures the essence of Shukuma. The final artwork will be revealed on the official release day, adding an element of surprise and anticipation. This is a Kwaai Collab you don't want to miss."
Bread ’n butter L.I.E.S. box bangers by London’s Fabio Monesi, chasing his 2016 cut for their Russian Torrent Versions with eight cold Chicago knockers on main.
The mode is properly dry, propulsive machine rhythm x clambering keys in the classic old skool Chi or NYC style, as heard on WBMX back in the day. You know the score, and Monesi pays up on all counts from the tuff but dreamy ‘Jack The Crow’ to his virulent acid banger ‘Harmony’, the subtly raved up ‘Future Brain’, and bassline-driven jabjack of ‘Moonriver’, with an outstanding twist of electro-bass in ‘Kit The Dog’ and eccied eye-flutter of ‘Critical Rhythm’.
Remastered and newly mixed by band members Dan Lacksman and Michel Moers, Telex's Looking For Saint-Tropez.
"Looking For Saint Tropez was Telex’s debut album originally released in 1979. It contains covers of Plastic Bertrand’s pop-punk ‘Ça Plane Pour Moi’ and Bill Haley’s ‘Rock Around The Clock’, in which, so to speak, all of the rock is removed leaving nothing but the clock; a ticking, vocoderised, supremely deadpan robot parody of the original. Had Telex merely confined themselves to such covers they might have been regarded as a rather clever comedy band. But they also cut ‘Moskow Diskow’, a rollocking, swerving, steaming dancefloor classic, a track which lays down the railroad for as yet unimagined electronic musics such as House and Techno. Years ahead of its time, its reputation has only been enhanced over time, as other, more date stamped electropop has fallen by the wayside."
Legendary Afro-futurist jazz pioneer Idris Ackamoor regroups The Pyramids at drummer/producer Malcolm Catto’s studio for a typically deep and tuff new session that speaks to their 50 years of heavily rooted jams adjacent to Sun Ra and Pharoah Sanders.
"Recorded between San Francisco and London and brought together by the genius of Malcolm Catto at his analogue Quatermass Studio, the new recording represents another bold step in Ackamoor’s ever-evolving journey in jazz, adding full, intricate scores including string sections and choral elements to the Pyramids’ trademark spiritual Afro-jazz sound.
Driven by the core Pyramids members Ackamoor (sax, keytar, organ), Margaux Simmons (flute), Sandra Poindexter (violin) and Bobby Cobb (guitar), tracks range from hard-hitting commentaries about police brutality (‘Police Dem’) to celebrations of the ancestors and departed loved ones (‘Requiem For The Ancestors’, ‘Re-Memory’) and hazy cosmic journeys, including the album’s title track and the sparkling, experimental closer, ‘Nice It Up’.
‘Afro-Futuristic Dreams’ is mixed by Malcolm Catto and mastered by Peter Beckmann at Technology Works. The superb cover artwork illustration is by David Alabo."
Funkineven & Kyle Hall's transatlantic fist-bumps come repackaged as a doublepack.
As Funkinevil between 2012-2013, Julien & Hall jacked directly into a movement toward the rawest, direct machine music that joined the dots between enduring late ‘80s/early ‘90s Detroit, Chicago, NYC and London traditions. 10 years later their jams still fizz and crack with a livewire energy and remain among the rawest, rudest in either’s cabinet.
Replete with slick jazz-funk intros and outro, the real meat and gristle of the session is their dance trax, following their nose for wallbanging thrust and and nastiest acid in ‘Night’, recalling Jamal Moss’ I.B.M. ace ‘Kill Bill’, whereas ‘Dusk’ plays deep into their debonaire side, punctuating Dâm-Funk-like synth squelch and breezing pads with tart Linn claps, while ‘Ignorant’ lowers the suspension on a Motor City electro steez, and they really let the electro-soul flow for eight minutes with ‘In The Grid’.
Hallucinatory drum and drone trips by Lebanese notables, Raed Yassin, Charbel Haber, and Khaled Yassine, paying tribute to, and displacing, Omar Khorshid’s legendary Arabic surf rock hybrids - RIYL Christian Love Forum, Sun City Girls.
Necessarily returned to attention in ’23 by the awesome Discrepant after its OG 2014 release, ‘Malayeen’ is a strong homage to the enduring influence of guitarist Omar Khorshid, whose slant on Arabic Egyptian belly dance traditions, recorded in Lebanon during the ‘70s, would transcend the genre and spark imaginations far beyond the region for decades to come. The Malayeen trio take artistic license to renew the hypnotic vibrancy of Khorshid’s pioneering innovations on East/West fusion music with a conventional array of keys, guitars, and darbouka, augmented by more unusual addition of turntables, and electronics that stay true to the sound while firing it up for contemporary audiences.
The seven pieces oscillate relatively straight played tributes such as the lonesome guitar solo of ‘Omar’, which also recalls Sir Richard Bhp’s take on Khorshid’s legacy in ‘The Freak of Araby’, to more explicit abstraction of his sound with use of queasy electronic texturing in ‘Nadia’, and a killer, up-to-date slant on his percussive thrust in the near singeli-esque or junglist recklessness of the sped up drums in ‘Dina’. We hear those circles bleed most thrillingly on the 17 minute dervish ‘Samia’, which vividly calls to mind recent exploits in this arena by Thessaloniki’s Christian Love Forum, while ‘Najwa’ could almost be the real thing, with dramatic keys upping the ante for a ravishing onslaught of darbouka breaks and surf guitar fervour.
The Rat Road from London-based electronic music artist SBTRKT.
"'The Rat Road' sees SBTRKT redefine UK electronic music (again) bringing together his iconic, synaesthesiac production with an incredible lineup of collaborators including Toro Y Moi, Teezo Touchdown, D Double E, Anna Of The North, Kai Isaiah Jamal, Sampha, Little Dragon and others."
Originally issued December 2016, re-pressed 2023, classic Grouper, originally released for the winter solstice.
Despite the name, Headache possesses alchemical levels of healing powers as phased electric guitar and that distinctive voice get gradually submerged in a fog of reverb, with what sounds like a xylophone quietly peaking out in the mix.
The B-side, I'm Clean Now, cakes the tape-mangled fuzz on even more, all chorus shimmers and bass counterpoints, the voice layered but defined.
Remastered and newly mixed by band members Dan Lacksman and Michel Moers, Telex's Neurovision.
"Released in 1980, the album was the follow up to their debut Looking For Saint-Tropez, and includes the track ‘Euro-vision’ which was famously entered into the Eurovision Song Contest, representing Belgium. Moers says he regarded their entry as “very Situationist International, the worm in the apple” and they resolved either to come first or last. They didn’t achieve that goal, but became part of the Eurovision saga."
Remastered and newly mixed by band members Dan Lacksman and Michel Moers, Telex's Sex.
"For 1981’s Sex, the trio teamed up with Sparks, a match made in heaven given both band’s determination to make electronic pop music suffused with conceptual wit. They got along tremendously, Ron & Russell Mael staying on in Brussels far longer than they’d originally intended, and Sparks contributed to the entire album."
Foundational 1975 township jazz side by leading guitarist Allen Kwela, referencing Wes Montgomery and home-grown marabi, sowing the seeds for South Africa’s wellspring of local jazz styles.
“The cream of Johannesburg’s jazz musicians gathered at state-of-the-art Satbel studios to create Black Beauty for the “Soweto” label. Led by guitarist extraordinaire Allen Kwela and featuring the godfather of South African jazz Kippie Moeketsi, the album successfully straddles producer pressure to emulate the commercial success of Abdullah Ibrahim’s Mannenberg, against the musicians’ own impetus to play a jazz they wanted. While the title track “Black Beauty” nods at Ibrahim’s stylings, the magic happens in the three remaining tracks where Kwela and his top-notch band lay down new directions.
Producer Patric van Blerk, sounded disappointed when asked about the sessions, saying that Kwela was his usual strong-willed self, unwilling to be nudged towards the pop trends of the day. “He was a monster talent and deserved much more than he got at the time.””
Ringleader of Mexico City’s Sunday Sunday sessions, Soos weaves between early ‘90s downbeats, acidic sand trample and deep house for Japan’s Mule Musiq
‘Mundo Cute’ is a dead canny title for Soos’ brand of rose-tinted ‘90s nostalgia, and lends a contextual glow to their metaphoric six track transition from dusk to night. It purrs into action with the feline downbeat sway and soft erotica coos of ‘Chula (Dance Mix)’ and gently keeps bodies in motion with the steel drum lilt of its title track, takign it terrace side for the ambient ocean gaze of ‘Disc Jam (Dream Mix)’, before locking into a sublime echo of early Goan trance sand trample in ‘Cool Sbu’ and the modal deep house of ‘Plants Biz’, departing to the Sun Electric-like tone of ‘? (Reprise)’.
The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We by Mitski, released just 18 months after Laurel Hell.
"Sometimes, Mitski says, it feels like life would be easier without hope, or a soul, or love. But when she closes her eyes and thinks about what’s truly hers, what can’t be repossessed or demolished, she sees love. “The best thing I ever did in my life was to love people,” Mitski says. “I wish I could leave behind all the love I have, after I die, so that I can shine all this goodness, all this good love that I’ve created onto other people.” She hopes her newest album, The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We, will continue to shine that love long after she’s gone. Listening to it, that’s precisely how it feels: like a love that’s haunting the land
“This is my most American album,” Mitski says about her seventh record, and the music feels like a profound act of witnessing this country, in all of its private sorrows and painful contradictions. In this album, which is sonically Mitski’s most expansive, epic, and wise, the songs seem to be introducing wounds and then actively healing them. Here, love is time-traveling to bless our tender days, like the light from a distant star.
The album is full of the ache of the grown- up, seemingly mundane heartbreaks and joys that are often unsung but feel enormous. It’s a tiny epic. From the bottom of a glass, to a driveway slushy with memory and snow, to a freight train barreling through the Midwest, and all the way to the moon, it feels like everything, and everyone, is crying out, screaming in pain, arching towards love. Love is that inhospitable land, beckoning us and then rejecting us. To love this place — this earth, this America, this body — takes active work. It might be impossible. The best things are."
The early genius of dreampop pioneers A.R. Kane (aka half of M|A|R|R|S) is summed up in a collected trifecta of 1988-89 Rough Trade LPs and EP that helped pave the way for everyone from Dean Blunt, Seefeel and Slowdive to Coby Sey and LA Timpa.
‘A.R. Kive Box Set’ is abundant assurance of Alex Ayuli and Rudy Tambala’s legacy as A.R. Kane, who famously minted the “dreampop” genre with three releases at the tail end of the ‘80s, after cutting sampledelic dance classic ‘Pump Up The Volume’ as M|A|R|R|S with Colourbox in 1987. Hustling, in their entirety, the albums ’69’ (1988) and ‘“i”’ (1989), plus the EP ‘Up Home!’ (1988), the ‘A.R. Kive’ is a treasure trove for avant pop fiends who can join the dots, as they did, between post-punk funk, dub, jazz-funk, and shoegaze bands such as MBV or Jesus and Mary Chain, to the swelling promise of the late ‘80s dance phenomenon, and beyond. While a resolutely cult act with those in the know, it never fails to surprise us how much they’re overlooked in the pop history books, but this compilation should go some way to rectifying that matter, seeding their ohrwurms in new and old lugs alike.
Hugely notable as artists of Afro-British descent working in styles dominated by bands of often anglo-celtic background, Nigerian-British musician Alex Ayuli and his Malawian-English spar Rudy Tambala brought the psychedelic richness of dub and groove of jazz-funk to prevailing ‘80s rock paradigms with a singular, joyful flourish unprecedented at the time. Directly inspired by a mid-‘80s Cocteau Twins performance on Channel 4, they would initially blag a record deal after lying that they were in a duo inspired by The VU, Cocteaus, Miles Davis and Joni Mitchell, that led to cutting a demo with a drum machine, guitar and dual tape players, that consequentially resulted in Robin Guthrie producing their 1987 single ‘Lollita’, and them ultimately realising the golden trio of records documented here.
In chronological order; the ‘Up Home!’ EP establishes a ravishing blend of noise-pop, dub and politics, variously cocking a snook at M*ggie Thatcher with ‘Baby Milk Snatcher’, and endemic british racism in ‘W.O.G.S’, beside the shoegaze club ace ‘One Way Mirror’, before really defining, expanding their vision on a pair of legendary LPs. 1988’s ’Sixty Nine’ found them in flux between grooving urges and resounding dub noise, as characterised in the Antenna-gone-rogue jangle of ‘Crazy Blue’, the lip-smacking psychedelia of ‘Spermwhale Trip Over’, and etheric peal to ‘The Madonna With Child’, before 1989’s ‘“i”’ became beloved by Balearic, rock, and pop types alike for its ebullient anthem ‘A Love From Outer Space’, thru the trip hop prototype ‘In a Circle’ and balmy steppers dub jangle of ‘Catch My Drift’ via a handful of wicked, abstract palate cleansers and teasers.
Start your obsession right here.
30th Anniversary edition of The Breeders' Last Splash - remastered from the original analog tapes.
"A defining album of the 90s, Last Splash by The Breeders turns 30 in 2023. Recorded by the ‘classic’ Breeders line-up of Kim Deal, Kelley Deal, Josephine Wiggs and Jim Macpherson, and featuring the infectiously appealing ‘Cannonball’, Last Splash immediately became an alt-rock classic, achieving platinum status in the UK and US, and is ranked in Pitchfork’s Top 100 Records of the 1990s.
Entitled Last Splash (the 30th Anniversary Original Analog Edition), this special edition will span two 12” 45rpm vinyl discs, plus an exclusive, one-sided etched 12” disc containing two forgotten tracks from the original Last Splash sessions: ‘Go Man Go’, a track that Kim co-wrote with Black Francis, and ‘Divine Mascis’, a version of ‘Divine Hammer’ with lead vocals provided courtesy of Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis.
For this special edition, the original, iconic sleeve art by the late visionary designer Vaughan Oliver has been gloriously reimagined by his long-time design partner Chris Bigg."
Conspicuously sampled by Madlib on Quasimoto's iconic 'The Unseen', Alain Goraguer's score to René Laloux’s trippy 1973 animated feature 'La Planète Sauvage' has been reissued for its 50th anniversary in deluxe, expanded form, re-mixed from the original multi-track tapes and bundled with seven previously unreleased tracks and three alternate mixes.
'La Planète Sauvage' is a cult classic for good reason. The film won a Special Jury Prize at Cannes when it was released, and its bizarre artwork and forward-thinking philosophy has given it a firm hold on the collective imagination; even if you haven't seen it, you've likely seen something that's influenced by it. But it wouldn't be half the statement without Goraguer's feathery, exotica-tinged soundtrack. The French composer-arranger had worked extensively with Serge Gainsbourg and others, and was brought on to pen the score late in the production process, given only a few weeks to complete it. Somehow, that gave him the fuel to write a few core themes that have echoed across music ever since. First sampled in the '90s by KRS One and Big Pun, Goraguer's soundtrack hit a digger's bingo when Madlib chopped elements of it throughout his Quasimoto debut 'The Unseen', assuring the film's status as a late-night, stoner classic.
There aren't many surprises on this fresh re-issue, but it sounds fuller and cleaner than ever before. The new mix is sprightly and pops significantly more than the original, and the handful of outtakes and alternate mixes give those of us who already own a copy the nudge to buy it again. 'Le Destin de Terr' is a particular stand-out, reinterpreting the iconic central theme in a fumble of dusted drums and psychedelic instrumentation. You know what to do.
Swedish sound artist and composer Lo Kristenson, a graduate of the Master's Programme in composition at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm (where contemporaries Ellen Arkbro and Maria W Horn also studied), considers tension, impulse and longing on a magnificent debut album for XKatedral, an hour-long immersion in slowly unravelling arrangements for alto flute, baroque violin and baroque viola, highly recommended listening for disciples of Mary Jane Leach, Catherine Lamb, Lucy Railton, Morton Feldman, Pauline Oliveros.
The Swedish word förnimmelser translates to mean both sensations and perceptions. In the context of the album, it signifies the perception of other beings. Alongside Rakel Emhjellen Paulsen (alto flute), Julija Morgan (baroque violin) and Tove Bagge (baroque viola), Kristenson refines her sound over a series of "collective exercises, conversation and experiments," designed to help the ensemble unlearn their rehearsed musical gestures together. The process was explicitly developed by Kristenson to challenge the bodily and musical expectations associated with playing instruments in a traditional manner. To achieve this, it was essential for each musician to focus intensely on the listening process and maintain an awareness of their own body, harnessing naturally occurring friction and resistance to create dynamic waves of musical energy while playing.
The score was provided in fragments, giving the players the option to choose between notated phrases and more freeform directions. Tempo wasn't specified, but an approximate duration was offered for guidance, in the hope that whatever timing would emerge would come from intuition rather than design. Kristensen encouraged each player to think about their breathing patterns, and let that guide their performance. And that's starkly visible on the album's 20-minute opener 'I', where oddly pitched string phrases graze each other softly, strangled to silence periodically to emphasise negative space. Paulsen's ascendent flute tones melt into the strings, and the music appears to balance precariously between folk-y tenderness and sounds more regularly associated with experimental classical minimalism.
Kristensen intersperses these longer, core pieces with shorter, more abstracted compositions titled 'mellanrum', meaning the space in-between. These interludes add an important pause for breath, rupturing the silence with scant, virtuosic gestures. 'III' is almost funereal in tone, but the humanity of each vibrating string gives it a level of uniqueness that's hard to turn away from. Sustained tones waver and warble like strained voices, and tones seem to oscillate against each other, either forming subtle harmonies or languishing in phased dissonance.
Förnimmelser is confident, mettlesome music that asks the listener to reconsider the character of each instrument, but also that of the players and composer. Deep listening not only recommended, but fully rewards.
Karenn’s Voam reach out to Medellín, Colombia’s TraTraTrax + Insurgentes boss Verraco for a crooked line of techno-trance skudge
Responsible for spreading a dancefloor heatwave with his programming of Insurgentes and its TraTraTrax offshoot (Nick León, DJ BabaTr, Tomás Urquieta et al), Verraco simmers his sound to a UK/EU friendly form of tech electronica with subtle trance appeal, sort like Arca gone 4/4, and necessarily kinked with Latin suss.
Reinhold Friedl’s new music ensemble tackle the work of Domenico Scarlatti, reflecting the composer’s radical unconventionality among his c.17/18th peers.
“zeitkratzer director Reinhold Friedl and his ensemble present new compositions, grounded on Domenico Scarlatti’s piano sonata F-minor K.466. Commissioned by the dance company Rubato and dedicated to Mario Bertoncini (1932-2019).
Little is known about Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757). His music is, so to speak, left to its own devices: free, cheeky, playful, sonorous, surprising. Harmonically strolling again and again into unforeseen regions, the ear leads, not the theory; and also the fingers get their right: playful and haptic it goes. Scarlatti explained, "since nature has given me ten fingers and my instrument provides employment for all, I see no reason why I should not use all ten of them."
Freedom, friction and listening pleasure instead of convention: "He knew quite well that he had disregarded all the rules of composition in his piano pieces, but asked whether his deviation from the rules offended the ear? He believes there is almost no other rule than that of not offending the only sense whose object is music - the ear."
Reinhold Friedl applied this principle and composed the music for a choreography by dance company Rubato. Dance music drawn from Scarlatti, who was so inspired by dance music. The material of the piano sonata F-minor K.466 is twisted anew in all its richness, shifted back and forth, declined, frozen, noisified, sound structures extracted, floating. Those who know the sonata, will more than smell it’s shadows. Dedicated to Mario Bertoncini (Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza) who was particularly fond of K.466, on which all the music presented here is grounded.
"Wild flowers", Barbara Zubers had once called Scarlatti's music. Let them bloom. “
BAT ruggedly balances neck-snap ‘90s hip hop, dub and ambient psychedelia in a definitive slab capping a decade of uncompromising work in this zone - RIYL early Dabrye, Kaman Leung, Spectre, Lukid, Actress
Call it illbient, ambient dub or whatever you want, this is one of BAT’s best and most woozily engaging long-players. The Portland, OR producer has remained steadfast in his pursuit of the perfectly uneven beat for 10 years now, with significant cuts on Opal Tapes, No Corner, Accidental Meetings and 12th Isle that established his cult reputation.
These dozen new bits typically take their cues from the beat craft of Bomb Squad’s Hank Shocklee and Boogie Down Productions, and could feasibly have come from any period of his work, but there’s a special magic at work on this one that really captures his skewed essence and places it among his most vital - a perfect entry point for anyone sitting on the fence.
While we don’t expect Bomb Squad fiends to be jumping on it, listeners who can join more oblique dots will surely get what his amorphous arrangements are hinting at. His grooves unravel and coil inside themselves simultaneously, loops crumbling into the next bar with a calm yet tongue-tip play of anticipation and resolution that has us rapt for the duration, at least.
50th Anniversary edition of Conrad Schnitzler's Rot, his first solo LP from 1973.
Nothing short of a milestone in the history of electronic music, 'Rot' marked a radical point where man and musical machine became far better acquainted. Schnitzler was already integral to the genesis of both Tangerine Dream and Kluster, both bands born of the Zodiac Free Arts Lab in West Berlin during the pivotal year of 1968. By 1973, the convergence of subversive, counter-cultural philosophy and his studies under German Fluxus member and avant-garde artist Joseph Beuys converged in the stark, uncompromising logic of his solo debut.
It's a monolothic statement, shirking academic praxis and forging an instinctively steely sort of psychedelia embracing Beuys' "extended definition of art" to act as a bold conduit for the alien and, quite importantly, "new music", harnessing sounds made possible by analog synthesis. With this album he physically shaped a new soundworld, unafraid of using all of his machine's atonal and motorik capabilities to express something elemental and uniquely nuanced like little else before or since. Quite simply, it's heavier and more psychedelic than almost anything else from the same era, and yet somehow does it all with a wry sense of groove which was essentially a sort of proto-Techno, making it a crucial addition to any connoisseur's electronic music collection.
Let the guessing games begin with a 3rd and final instalment of Light Sounds Dark's 'Crossed Wires' series stuffed with pulsing minimal wave, industrial scuzz, ambient vapours and fizzing synth-pop melodies.
Once more unto the tubes for Light Sounds Dark, sluicing high grade, low fidelity zingers from fuck knows where into a compilation that typically plays out like a lovingly hand-crafted mixtape from your deepest digging pal. There’s a discernible focus on pulsating instrumentals here, with no vocals to give the game away and leave everyone humming their melodies to shop counter clerks in hope of IDs. There’s one that sounds uncannily like a Chris & Cosey tune, and some really spangled, campy disco prancers sequenced along with fluttering pastoral arp escapades and dérives into sputtering drum machines and bloozy rock ’n roll riffs, also nestling one lush organ vibe out, but always returning to the eternal machine throb.
Schnitzler’s pulsating 1980 industrial electro kosmiche bullets are reloaded for a new century
Featuring two zingers co-written with Wolfgang Seidel (Kluster, Popülare Mechanic, Eruption) ‘Auf dem schwarzen’ is a standout number in one of electronic music’s most singular and distinctive catalogues.
The tang of potent German wizz is strong on this one, fuelling four cuts of propulsive motorik rhythm, vocoder vox and aerodynamic arps between the optimistic uplift of its title tune and the cosmic turbulence of ‘Elektroklang’, with the additional presence of Seidel (Schnitzler’s bandmate in krautrock supergroup Eruption) helping to simmer the swagger and up the fizzing synth mania of ‘Fabric’, and the spiralling vortex of ‘Der Wagen roll’, which surely recalls bits from Chris Carter’s ‘Spaces Between’ album of the same year.
Prolific bass alchemist Sam Shackleton and Polish clarinetist/producer Wacław Zimpel team up with Hindustani classical vocalist Siddartha Belmannu on this breathtaking follow-up to 2020's 'Primal Forms'. High vibrational gear for advanced psychedelic explorers, this one's a fine addition to Shackleton's rapidly swelling canon - it's like ritual music assembled with the sensibility of Talk Talk, Zbigniew Preisner and Leaving Records' Arushi Jain.
Shackleton's had a pretty astonishing year already, if you've been paying attention. His last EP as The Purge of Tomorrow (Spring's 'The Other Side of Devastation') was a gorgeous, gamelan-led longform experiment, his full-length collab with DJ Scotch Egg 'Death By Tickling' was a chance for him to let loose with more dancefloor-focused material, and last month's collaboration with Heather Leigh as Flesh & The Dream is some of the most devastating gear we've heard from him in years. 'In The Cell of Dreams' again pairs him with hard-working Polish player Wacław Zimpel, whose pristine woodwind meshed with Shackleton's innovative bass explorations on 'Primal Forms' just a few years ago. Here they pick up where that album left off, adding transcendent voicework from Belmannu.
Shackleton starts us off on 'The Ocean Lies Between Us' with tender-but-stargazing metallophone hits, gently blending in pitch-fucked punctuations and watery echoes. Belmannu's raga pierces the psychedelic fog masterfully, warbling in the foreground before Zimpel's faint orchestral wisps add a melancholy narrative twist. Shackleton has approached Northern Indian classical forms before, but this is his most successful fusion. At this point in his evolution, the producer's expertise is implicit, he has little to prove and lets his sparse instrumentation take a relative back seat to his collaborator's chilling contributions. There's a constant rhythm, but it's gaseous and hazy, serving just to underpin Belmannu's powerful vocal performance and Zimpel's ghosted drones.
It would be hard to label the music as minimal, but there's not an element out of place. Like 'The Other Side of Devastation', 'In The Cell of Dreams' captures the blissful euphoria of Talk Talk's seminal 'Spirit of Eden', but diverts the energy in a different direction. The trio's use of raga forms, Eastern European and Baltic sacred music (think Arvo Part) and Indonesian traditional sounds isn't an arbitrary fusion, it connects emotions, histories and most importantly, people. It's deeply sensitive, transcendent material that we've had on repeat since it landed on our desks.
Sun Ra’s seminal cosmic jazz vessel and totem of Afrofuturism returns from orbit on a 50th anniversary edition as part of the Verve By Request Series.
Really the one Sun Ra record that should need little introduction, ‘Space is the Place’ is most commonly hailed a legendary touchstone of Afro-American expressionism that heralds their metaphoric situation as akin to aliens on another planet. It has since become his most widely known and beloved recording and a massive inspiration on successive generations of artists, dancers, and theorists over the decades who’ve delineated its themes and thrust into myriad progressive forms of music, art and literature, from the likes of Drexciya to 4Hero, Jamal Moss and Kodwo Eshun, who each take a distinct reading of its interwoven mythology and ravishing stylistic hybrids.
The spirit-rousing 21 minute title piece is fully in place, beside the big band swing and clatter of ‘Images’ and the cool metric slosh of ‘Discipline 33’, before letting rip with the wild cosmic atonalities of ‘Sea of Sounds’, the life-giving jazz-dancers jam ‘Rocket Number Nine’, which each help define its mischievous zig-zag between the consonant/dissonant, and unique place in between the popular imagination’s conceptions of jazz, rock, and the avant garde, for anyone not yet smitten with it.
Legendary Congolese guitarist Kahanga Dekula (aka Vumbi) makes an infectious noise on his debut solo recording, playing tangled soukous phrases alongside field recordings and tinny beatbox rattles instead of his usual full band. Revelatory material.
For the last four decades, Vumbi has been playing lead guitar in various bands throughout East Africa and Sweden, where he's based now. He learned how to play guitar by listening to Congolese icons like Dr Nico and Franco on the radio, eventually moving from the DRC's Kivu region to Tanzania, where he joined Orchestra Maquis and became a fixture of their shows. When he relocated to Stockholm, he joined forces with Ugandan Sammy Kasule to form the Makonde Band and Ahmadu Jarr's Highlife Orchestra, before forming his own outfit The Dekula Band in 2008. But until now he's never recorded a solo record. That took the intervention of Swedish producer Karl-Jonas Winqvist, who'd heard Vumbi perform many times, even releasing The Dekula Band's debut album in 2019.
'Congo Guitar' is a refreshingly open set of recordings, made quickly in two days and fleshed out with just a few extra instruments and backing vocals, and Winqvist's aging drum machine. Opener 'Afro Blues' is particularly inviting, setting Vumbi's impassioned playing against a humming environmental recording, with car horns standing in for percussion. 'Maamajacy' meanwhile is closer and more intimate, a playful whirl of inviting melodies set to a spartan rhythm from Winqvist's beatbox. Vumbi elaborates further on the generous 'Zanzibar, Kinshasa & Vällingby', overlaying his guitar parts into an orchestral thrum, and he goes a step further on 'Weekend', introducing hypnotic bass melodica sounds from Winqvist. Ending on the self-explanatory 'UN Forces (Get Out of the Democratic Republic of Congo)', he plays banjo, highlighting the link between the popular American instrument and its African roots.
Debut crackshot of jacking, rude house kinks and hyper-saturated soundsystem dubs on the 3rd volume of Porridge Bullet’s Sunda School series...
Dancing in the footsteps of Ajukaja and Tapes + Nikolaienko, LLL makes robust first moves that slot perfectly with the sort of psychoactive club suss we’ve all come to expect from Tallinn, Estonia’s Porridge Bullet. The sounds of Chicago via UK and Euro ‘floors come on strong in the swanging bass heft and weekend peacockery of ‘Friday Rituals’, while the squashed Kemetri-style beatdown budge of ’92’ offsets the mode, which gets back into the swang with ruddiest Jack Rabbit or Bam Bam acid in ‘Yyyeah Exactly’, and a lip-bitingly darkroom special ‘Valu-e’ to leave us gagging for more.
Pastoral-hued electronica for the club by Berlin-Singapore duo YS, on a buoyant flex somewhere alongside Pender Street Steppers, RAMZi, Will Long.
‘Brutal Flowers’ is the YS’s debut and the 4th release on Jank Inc. and Walden S.’s Berlin-based Pace Yourself label. It is a fine example of club energies moderated by ambient instincts in the ‘90s AI model set by likes of AFX and refracted into myriad subgenres over the past 30 years. In 2023 the YS slant on this sound faithfully incorporates aspects of footwork and garage mechanisms as much as its original junglist and downtempo breakbeat impulses and more floral ambient embellishments for a sound that represents the one looping into the other.
We hear parallels with Will Long x BVDub’s ambient jungle in ‘Untethered’, and likewise Long’s Celer in the melancholic panorama ‘Autumn’s OST I’, lodged beside the sort of dubbed downbeat ambient slosh practised by RAMZi in ‘Pilgrimage I’, with standout turns of hair-kissing ambient gouch-out on ‘Something That’s Beautiful’, and the scuffed, spongiform UKG baubles of ‘On a Train in 2035’.
Good Morning Tapes with a vinyl pressing of Gi Gi’s blissed Ambient-Jungle session ‘Sunchoke’, cycling thru feathered permutations of New Age and dubwise styles thru richly-textured delicacies and sunkissed Trip Hop signatures, tipped if yr into classic Sabres of Paradise, Art of Noise, Future Sound of London, Terre Thaemlitz, William Orbit, The Orb.
Easy on the ear and with overflowing levels of serotonin, Gi Gi is a snug fit for the label; sanguine but just the right side of soporific, with a vibe that dials up echoes of classic downtempo Balearic crossed with turn-of-the-century trip hop somewhere between Olive’s ‘You’re not Alone’, William Orbit’s once ubiquitous ‘Strange Cargo III’ album and early Terre Thaemlitz - with a sound sensitive soulfulness and warmth.
Jazz drums, guitar and midi-flute conjure bright blue skies and cirrus streaks in ‘Dawn Song’, while ‘two ones’ doubles the tempo on a swaying jungle flex that also perfuses the hazier hues of ‘Ambergris (Blue)’ and dances around the links between deep house, ambient and D&B like Terre Thaemlitz’s classic ‘Tranquilliser’ (1994) in the lilting congas of ‘Asp’, caressing strums of ‘Lisle’, and the piano-led ambient blues of ‘Sunchoke.’
The last gasp of summer, right here.
Japan's EM Records with one of its most essential and memorable bullets, compiling material recorded 1979-83 by Brenda Ray who cut her teeth playing as part of Liverpool’s DIY wavey-dub-punk outfit Naffi Sandwich, and whose early solo work is compiled on this by-now hugely influential set. Huge recommendation if you’re into any late 70’s/early 80’s dub-punk-bossa mutations, anything from Antena to Maximum Joy, Vazz, The Raincoats, The Slits.
'D'Ya Hear Me!' surveys Brenda’s raw avant and DIY sound, mostly recorded straight to tape with no rehearsals at Cheshire's Naffi studios between 1979-83, squeezing the most out of rudimentary gear. As she explains; "Bands in London, Bristol etc, were using the top studios/equipment, and doing things properly as rehearsed bands. Naffi never rehearsed - it would have taken away the magic! Naffi were completely do it yourself and low-fi, a secret society releasing secret hits!"
The arrangements, lyrics and production here are just completely singular and inspiring, influenced by her native North West locales of Liverpool and Manchester and their record-devouring fanatics - soaking up everything from Pharoah Sanders and Ornette Coleman to dub, dancehall, rockabilly and imported soul - and an assortment of musicians who were hungry to pull into unchartered waters. It’s just one of those rare records that’s as full of memorable songs as it is boggling production stylings - a real special one from an era full of them. Apparently, even Nico was fan... !
Kath Bloom's 2005 comeback album - her first official release since 1984 - is finally (whoops) back in print. RIYL Bill Callahan, Loren Connors or Gillian Welch.
Bloom hadn't intended to quit music, it's just the way things panned out. She had begun recording with Loren Mazzacane Connors in the mid-1970s, but after producing six well-regarded but underground albums she moved to Florida with her husband, not returning to the studio until early '90s. In 1995 she was contacted by Richard Linklater, who wanted to feature 'Come Here' in "Before Sunrise" and it was all the encouragement she needed to record in earnest again, putting together a slew of CDRs and tapes. 'Finally' emerged in 2005 and compiled selected cuts from Bloom's run of CDRs, showing her development as an artist and the lilting folk loveliness that had always characterized her music.
Her voice is still astonishing; if you've only heard Bloom's earliest work, hearing her a few decades later is a healing experience. It's that same voice, but with the wisdom of experience, struck through with life lessons and interlocking stories. Tracks like 'It's Just A Dream' and 'Can't Rise To Your Feet' immediately stand out, foregrounding Bloom's songwriting ability and her gentle guitar playing. But the weirder, more meandering moments like 'Sand In My Shoe' go even harder for us, reminding us of Joanna Newsom or Diane Cluck.
Dubstep choirboy James Blake gets back to his club-adjacent roots with a 6th studio LP balancing tremulous vox, burnished trap and UK rave inspirations, including co-production by Mount Kimbie and interpolations of The Ragga Twins, Snoop Dogg and The Neptunes
Proceeding a slew of recent work with pop and rap notables such as K*nye West, Rosalía, Bon Iver, Metro Boomin, Frank Ocean, and Travis Scott, ‘Playing Robots Into Heaven’ locates James Blake surrounded by partner Jameela Jamil, and longtime pals Mount Kimbie, for a grown-up take on the naïf melodies and heart-flutter UKG/dubstep beats of his early works with Hemlock and Hessle Audio.
Set in place by Matt Colton’s mix/master, Blake’s signature, forlorn falsetto lights up an 11-song suite of twinkling electronic motifs and padded rhythms ornamented with classical keys and samples plucked from classic rave and R&B. As one of the few dubstep-deriving artists to really transcend the sound and “break” the US, Blake has inevitably come in for flack from the diehards who think he diluted the sound. But likewise he’s arguably at least partially responsible for translating it to international pop as much as rave audiences, and ‘Playing Robots Into Heaven’ is patently his clearest attempt in years to consolidate the two.
Allowing for the romantic, schmaltzy waltz of ‘Asking to Break’, a co-production with Jameela Jamil, and return influence from his pop spars across the album, he’s not breaking any molds, but does leave his imprint on them, at best in the playful rudeness of his Ragga Twins-sampling ‘Big Hammer’ and the Burial-esque flip of The Neptunes’ production for Snoop’s ‘Beautiful’, in ‘I Want You to Know’, with sweet highlights in the aerial glyde of ‘Night Sky’ and the lissom swing to ‘Fall Back’ that make it the sort of record we’d bite our tongue at if fancied by a younger sibling or wean who didn’t know better.