Expertly-curated survey of Mali’s incredibly rich musical traditions. Includes gems from the region’s best known artist, Salif Keita along with plenty more nuggets such as The Rail Band’s AfroFunk zinger, Mouodilo; the mesmerising reverbs and distant drums of Worodara or the enchanting, reggae-tinged lilt of Bimoko Magnin by Super Djata Band; calypso from Le Ambassadors du Motel de Bamako.
“‘The Original Sound of Mali’ compiled by David ‘Mr Bongo’ Buttle, Vik Sohonie (Ostinato Records) and Florent Mazzoleni. As featured as 'Compilation of the Week' on Lauren Laverne's BBC 6Music show.
Malian music is arguably deeper, more sophisticated and lyrical than any other form of African music. Those of us deeply entranced by Malian culture, and, in particular, the immense hypnotic beauty of Malian music, have put together a selection of songs from across the country.”
On Arca’s amazing 3rd, eponymous album - his debut for XL - the Venezuelan/American artist reveals his vocals, guts and more (check the press shots; which, to be fair, aren’t a patch on E+E’s old Myspace pic) in a riveting suite of tortuous torch songs riddled with violent electronic tones and heart-wrenching levels of emotive pathos.
If Xen  was a chrysalis for Arca to nervously find his place in the world, and Mutant  revealed him shedding that exosleketon and becoming flesh, then Arca documents the preeminent artist coming to terms with his soul in typically unflinching fashion thru 13 songs about, well, we’re not 100% sure; but they’re detectably as heavy as your life and every bit as unnerving, compelling as the sore, longing face looking out from Jesse Kanda’s artwork.
After first coaxing his voice out on the Entrañas mixtape in summer ’16, it is now a fully fledged and confidently integral part of his music on Arca, and to the extent it’s now almost hard to imagine his sound without it. Ranging from quivering, castrati-style to richer, processed lows, it turns out to be the perfect foil for his plasmic electronic scales, serving to match and emphasise the operatic/cabaret dramaturgy of his arrangements with an effect at times as surreal as Julee Cruise’s performances in Twin Peaks, or one of Coil’s studio sprites come to life, or even like some Kaspar Hauser-esque R&B diva who just emerged from another dimension.
Lead singles Piel and Anoche set the scene for 43 minutes of the most arresting music you’ll hear in 2017, sweeping us thru the windswept crest of Saunter and the oily sensuality of Reverie to the pinched, curdled chamber music of Castration at the album’s agitated instrumental core, whose chaos subsides to make the appearance of his soaring vox in Sin Rumbo (a highlight of the aforementioned Entraps mixtape) that much more poignant.
Farther in, you can trust Arca’s visceral sound design skills are in cutting effect with Whip, used to beautiful effect framing rave horns and expansive swooshes around the naked, shivering but soaring vox of Desafío, while Fugaces sounds like Julee Cruise reworked by Elysia Crampton, and Child dances on your nerve endings like Drukqs-era AFX rescoring Vangelis for prepared piano.
Unique rhythm trips from pivotal Berlin player, Burnt Friedmann, following the vectors of his Masque / Penuche 12” for Risqué onto the Paris-based Latency label with six cuts hovering between the dance and bedroom ‘floors.
These tracks feel more smudged and ruffer ‘round the edges than the majority of his output to date for Nonplace, seeking out textured electronic noise and delivering some of the sharpest, technoid drum patterns in his entire catalogue.
We’re not too sure what the dates in the titles refer to - one might assume they’re newly finished sketches started in that year, but we’re really not sure. They start out fuzzy and jazz-wise with he gauzy dollop of 2011 Monkhide, and tentatively find firmer shape with the asymmetric dub fractions and keening neo-classical motifs of 2010 The Pestle, before spinning off the razor-clipped 2-step mechanics of 1999 Nerfs D’Acier, which ends up at something like a 2.1 step.
The biggest highlight, however, is 1996 Intrication, a spellbinding display of whirring trills diffused with mercurial FX and worth the admission alone for the DJs, while the more chiming, tender ambient and drone structures of 1994 Sorcier and 1993 Day In Rho certainly justify our theory about the dates.
No doubt the best we’ve heard from this artist in some time. Tip!
Richard D James' classic album from 1992, re-pressed countless times but still sounding as vital and impoirtant as it did way back when. Still probably the most uplifting and nostalgic thing in the AFX catalogue...
Sound Signature have rescued this classic Theo album from the neo-soul clutches of Ubiquity and given it a fresh 2017 edition packing some glossy new artwork.
The Sound Signature archive is so vast and consistently brilliant you are always discovering lost B-side gems that will blow your mind, but we all know about ‘Parallel Dimensions’, right? Arguably one of the defining albums of Detroit beatdown, this pivotal LP first dropped at the turn of the century and turned many a head to Theo’s innate class as a producer. Reissued and repressed in several different formats and configurations since then, Sound Signature have seemingly won back the license for ‘Parallel Dimensions’ from West Coast soul seekers Ubiquity for a 2017 edition featuring all-new art courtesy of the label’s in-house artworker Thomas Xu.
Presenting the nine tracks that made up the expanded and classic 2000 CD edition, what is immediately apparent when diving into this session is how far ahead of the game Theo was and still is. The way he flips and snips samples and lays down crunchy drum patterns that stick to their own rhythm is really quite untouchable.
Who are we kidding, you all know how crucial this is.
Killer, rare as anything Afrobeat funk and soul composed and recorded by erstwhile Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo de Cotonou bandleader Ahehehinnou Vincent in Nigeria, 1978; now dug and dusted by Samy Ben Redjeb’s Analog Africa for its first ever reissue. Believe it’s cheap at twice the price considering that mint originals cost the same as a reliable secondhand hatchback!
Beyond important historical logic outlined in the liner notes and probably known to collectors, the reason why this is such a sought-after platter will become crystal upon hearing the samples; it’s a deadly groovy, romantic and spirited example of ‘70s West African music at its finest, combining the vodou percussive traditions of Benin with blazing, woozy horns and soul-drenched vocals in irresistible style throughout the anthem Best Woman, and again in the sultrier hustle of Maimouna Cherie.
It’s worth leaving the story of Best Woman’s conception and esteemed status among diggers for your purchase and perusal of the liner notes, but trust your instincts on the samples and you will be rewarded.
Play it again and again.
Norse ambient deity Geir Jenssen lays a two-track marker for his upcoming Biosphere LP ‘The Petrified Forest.’
Clearly reinvigorated by ‘Departed Glories,’ last year’s album-shaped Smalltown Supersound sojourn, Geir Jennsen gears up for a new Biosphere album, ‘The Petrified Forest,’ with this two-track preview. Cinephiles out there might recognise the forthcoming album’s title referencing both a mid-‘30s film noir and a later episode of The Twilight Zone.
The lead track here smartly intersperses dialogue sampled from both these film sources, deftly looping words from Leslie Howard and Joan Lorring together with a typically evocative arctic vista of rhythmic hypnosis and melancholic synthesis.
Lorring’s turn in The Twilight Zone also features on the alluring ambient flurries of Turned To Stone.
In which the former Pan Sonic figure models the 1st part of Karl Marx’s Capital in starkest techno dub terms recalling his cultishly appreciated Liima and Piiri output. A logical companion to Communist Dub, but more urgent, dense and needling than its predecessor. Gets right between the teeth, up your nose. Check the queasy keen of Dark Money Ride and the crushing Fear Of Heaping Capital for the strongest examples and Pan Sonic-esque styles...
“I-LP-O in Dub is the solo project of Pan sonic member Ilpo Väisänen. Capital Dub Chapter 1 follows the 2015 debut Communist Dub - a year marked by further descent into economic crisis and instability. The usual business cycles of production / distribution / consumption running alongside macro cycles of boom and bust have been replaced by ossification, austerity, the machine seizing up. Ilpo's circular riddims complement the ebb and flow of the circulation of money + commodities and are mirrored by his field recordings of Barcelona rain - the final phase of the cyclical movement of water. But of course the smooth running of Paradise Capital is unsustainable.
Destroyed techno and open spaces contend with sinister swarming atmospheres. A cash machine flickers. Zeros and ones displace another factory. Dub as decay - the ghostly remains of tracks eroded by time and technology. The invisible hand of the market spasms with tremors. Ferocious textural feedback as music for stock exchange crashes. The soundtrack to heaps of money hoarded by the hidden class. Capital is value in motion, but there is nowhere to go. After the collapse, picturesque ruins. Capital Dub Chapter 1 simply asks the question: what next?”
Samuel Rohrer, the multi-faceted, forward-thinking percussionist and producer behind the arjunamusic label, the AMBIQ trio and a wealth of other musical projects, has set out on his own with a new full-length solo album Range of Regularity with a deceptive title if ever there was one: the sonic experience of this record is, in fact, a highly irregular one (and a highly welcome one at that).
"Constructed almost entirely upon electronically-treated recordings of acoustic in- strumentation, with a bare minimum of synthesizer voicing, RoR vibrates with a compelling organicism - as if old-growth Black Forest trees had conspired together to make an album of ultra-modern improvisational music. Indeed, the record feels limned with contributions from some ‘other’ intelligence, despite being a clear extension of the fluid, percussion-driven musical technique that Rohrer has exhibited in previous years.
Opening with the track “Microcosmism,” the sound-forest feeling immediately takes effect, and the listener can either enjoying navigating a path through this verdant total environ- ment or just being lost in it. Sonic organisms fly in and out of your headspace here at different speeds and bring with them all kinds of different dispositions, though Rohrer’s reliable propulsive rhythms are always there to help direct traffic. “Le- nina” does not abandon this unique aesthetic, but reprises the story with a different vocabulary (in this case, deep synth-bass signals, piano runs and all sorts of hyper-real ventilations). “Nimbus,” not at all an ambient cloudscape like the title might suggest, temporarily dials back the feeling of modular assem- blage that powers the previous two pieces, and allows Rohrer’s drumkit to come to the fore, working away at a determined snare-driven beat that brings a variety of treated sound ephe- mera out their hiding places.
After the gentle - but never too precious - interlude of “Sun- clue,” “War On Consciousness” emerges as the album’s infec- tious tour de force. As the title implies, the feeling here is of using sound to fend off some sort of invasive energy, and the epic battle that ensues features a full concert’s worth of tim- bral variations and audio events. Incisive rhythmic patterns slice away like finely honed blades at an insistent mechanical chattering, while cautiously walking acoustic bass adds an ex- tra layer of defense. “Uncertain Grace” closes the set out with an extra layer of defense. “Uncertain Grace” closes the set out with a busy multi-layered arpeggiation punctuated with bass drum hits, from which a melodic narrative gradually emerges like a distinctly human face rising from a field of visual noise. As the drums again join in, the final exclamation point is added to a very personal artistic statement."
After more than 10 years releasing music under the pseudonym of “El_Txef_A” the enigmatic Basque musician is ready to open a new era with his first solo record as Aitor Etxebarria.
"Markak (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture) is Aitor’s first original work for Cinema. After the premiere of the documentary on the San Sebastian international film Festival (https://www.sansebastianfestival.com/2016/sections_and_films/etb_screenings/8/in), a limited amount of vinyls will be released this April coinciding with the 80th anniversary of the bombing of Gernika (one of the main themes of the documentary).
Composed and recorded on the Basque Country, Aitor stopped for a few months his full schedule of tours to focus just on the film score.
If it’s “marks” what we’re talking about, in the case of Gernika the bombing suffered on 26th April 1937 is a deep and lasting mark of profound symbolic value. For the creation a number of internal symbolic norms are essential, necessary to lend meaning to our enviroment. The creator creates on the basis of the stories he has received, the images, the feelings. Gernika’s past is a field for creation amongst Gernika’s young people. The documentary explores what these young creators “have locked away inside them”, their emotions. The bombing is a wall in the life of people, an interruption. It is a violence that breaks away from peaceful routine, a denial of the freedom to choose that a people and its inhabitants should have. Contrasting with this is democracy, the political system that guarantees the freedom of people."
Plaintive folk-pop-R&B from New York. Features single ‘Hold Me Close’ and ‘Leave The Light On’.
Overcoats is the New York-based female duo of Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell. Their debut album YOUNG captures a sound rich in minimalism and melody: songs of connection and tension, on the depths of love and challenges of family.
Overcoats’ music draws strength from vulnerability, finding light through darkness, and the catharsis of simple, honest songwriting. YOUNG is about a transformation: the passage into womanhood, sung through the shared experience of two best friends.
YOUNG was written by Overcoats and co-produced by Nicolas Vernhes (Daughter, The War On Drugs, Dirty Projectors, Cass McCombs) and experimental R&B artist Autre Ne Veut, with additional production from Myles Avery and mixing by Ben Baptie (Lapsley, Lianne La Havas, Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson).
Josh Eustis and Turk Dietrich reconvene for a second album-length exercise in dynamic repetition as Second Woman.
Expanding on the immersive dub techno/electronica cross pollinations of their self-titled debut, Second Woman draw the listener even deeper into the realm of twisted digital production on ‘S/W’. If Jlin’s killer Second Woman refix on their recent Spools EP hipped you to their shared interest in footwork, then this second LP explores it more explicitly through their own creative lens. Throughout the album, Dietrich and Eustis excel in their ability to conjure sharply-defined rhythmic patterns that levitate craftily like a mythical Wing-Chun master.
This knottiness is apparent from the off, teasing out intricate synthesis in stereo formation to a billowing backdrop of spacious dub techno textures on opener / like a loose-fingered Vegas card dealer. // offers a more unpredictable approach, skittering chords dragged by the tails through a forlorn digital miasma. Both /// and //// offer a glimpse at footwork through Second Woman’s eyes, the latter a real highlight of the LP thanks to those abstracted, metallic percussive licks.
////\ sees them forgo the riddims in favour of a brief exercise in brain-matter scooping ambience, before swerving into another LP standout in the shape of ////\\, a clicky electro-dub reduction that will hook Autechre advocates and fans of the Cabaret label alike.
RIYL Mark Fell, Snd, Gabor Lazar, Jlin, NHK'Koyxen.
Starkly sonorous and unnervingly emotive new LP from the Opal Tapes kingpin, his first album proper in four years. Make sure to check the beautifully bleak panorama of Pyxis!...
“The second album from Basic House takes a sober turn towards the thematic intersection of occult knowledge and globalised black operations, brokering a piercing anxiety throughout from the tension between the scale of the politics being invoked and the familiarity of the covert identity tactics to music cultures, subcultures, and the like.
The opening track to I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have To Be Destroyed By Me turns from a naive fatalism to an addled stream of consciousness that flirts, just about, with psychosis, establishing the record's push-and-pull between the local and the global, the personal and public. Swarming, hinged string sections light the way ahead, barely hinting at the edges of a space with a rhythm, as if attempting to induce claustrophobia with the engulfing rush of total darkness.
In moments of continually tapering collages, Basic House appeals to paranoia. Never sustained to the point of exhaustion, it frames the placid momentum of its quieter passages when seemingly domestic recordings collapse into cracked dub motifs. However, more critically, it signals the play between the hyper-vigilant mindset that seeks to protect itself and its order, and the intuitive processes by which we code the means for this into our social signalling and general communication. Are we not always constructing a code for black operations, and so then surely this is what occult knowledge is? If so, how have we come to pour vast amounts of money into State sanctioned modes of this? There's paranoia in every direction.”
Bedroom Community founder Valgeir Sigurðsson explores the temporal and textural gulf between classical orchestration and electronic production within the three movements of Dissonance, his 4th solo album (first since Architecture of Loss ), and the most aching addition to his illustrious catalogue of solo work and collaborations with everyone from Björk to Tim Hecker and Robert Wyatt.
The latest extension of his world-renowned practice, exposing and rejoining the fissures of Western classical traditions with contemporary sound manipulation, the finely layered symphonic swell and ebb of Dissonance is the artist’s attempt to reflect and consolidate both a period of personal strife and the underlying tensions of the wider world in a way that perhaps shows he’s not alone in feeling that way.
Using a laborious technique of recording each section of the 16-piece orchestra individually, before gilding them in post-production to really bring out their respective nuance and character, Sigurðsson effectively isolates and emphasises the chaotic qualities of massed, off-key strings in order to give himself up to their tumult and better control their, and his, emotions.
The result is a vast, side-long title piece of heaving, weeping, wilting viola da gamba played by Liam Byrne, and so anxious and quietly fraught that they keep slipping off the stave yet fight against the pressure in a perpetual struggle to remain positive and on-course against the odds. It’s not an easy piece but it is rewarding in its execution and resolution.
On the other side, the whole 16-parts of the orchestra come into play on the five parts of No Nights Dark Enough with a very cinematic quality emerging thru Flow to the electronic aurora of Infamy Sings and the pinched peak of Learn to Condemn Light, whilst the three parts of Eighteen Hundred And Seventy-Five appear to nod to Mozart as much as Star Wars.
To be fair, the B-side doesnt quite match up to that stunning A, but it's still an arresting album that comes highly reocmmended.
The Brown brothers emerge from the depths of California with a new collection of oozing drone centred on ‘heavy visions of negative west coast mythology.’
Darkness is never far away from a Robedoor session, and their first album in four years finds Alex and Britt Brown dealing with ‘multiple seismic life events.’ Naturally this results in quite a powerful listen, Robedoor’s sludge even denser and mired in more pain and crepuscular mysticism.
The brothers craftily let the gloom seep in slowly over the course of opener Low Life, a distant scream edging ever closer over the enveloping crush of riffs. This gloom soon defines ‘New Age Sewage’ however, the Browns conjuring some demonic form of cannibalistic sludgery on The Tunnel whilst the pummelling Mage Image sounds like fellow West Coast mystic Pod Blotz getting chopped and screwed.
Pianist and composer Ilya Beshevli returns to Village Green with three-track EP
"‘Primary Source’ sees Ilya Beshevli continue along the musical path forged by previous albums ‘Wanderer’ and ‘Night Forest’, both also released on Village Green. Following ‘Night Forest’, ‘Wanderer’ was an emotive, piano-led insight into bustling, ever-changing inner city life - specifically Moscow, where the musician now resides. The album was also in part influenced by the contrasting escapism that momentary departure from the noise and distractions of a city can bring. Ilya's beautiful compositions have been compared to that of Yann Tiersen and Ludovico Einaudi, but with his own distinctly Siberian take on the modern classical genre.
On ‘Primary Source’, Beshevli's melodic and emotive style is intensified by the Babelsberg Orchestra, conducted and orchestrated by fellow composer and label-mate Matt Dunkley. Opening track ‘Morning Sun’ is structured around repeating broken chords and a cascading piano melody, calling to mind the new dawn that the track’s title alludes to. ‘Tangled Thoughts’, meanwhile, offers a more pensive mood with swells of rising strings and an increasingly insistent piano motif. The EP closes with ‘Primary Source’ – a more subdued affair, exhibiting the development of the kind of tantalising melody Beshevli has become so proficient at creating.”
Remarkable recordings of the breath/wind-controlled EVI analog synth (as used by Marshall Allan), rendering a massive range of coruscating pastoral synth visions that intersect everyone from Hieroglyphic Being to BoC, or Kara-Lis Coverdale to Colin Steson, who cosigns below…
“’I could go on and on about the insane virtuosity, about the rare analog wind synth that almost no one in the world plays anymore, about the most unique intervallic melodies and harmonies, but it's all secondary to the simple beauty that Justin Walter is able to conjure up with his solo music.' Colin Stetson
Michigan trumpeter Justin Walter's solo work centers on evocative, intuitive explorations of the EVI (Electronic Valve Instrument), a rare wind-controlled analog synthesizer from the 1970's.
Its unique, smeared tonality allows for an expressive range of glassy, jazz-like textures, which Walter loops and layers with hushed electronics and twilit trumpet, painting opaque landscapes of resonant beauty.
Walter's 2013 debut, Lullabies & Nightmares, included a handful of collaborations with percussionist Quin Kirchner but Unseen Forces finds him fully solo, refining the project to its essence: shape-shifting watercolors of pastel haze, lit by the soft synthetic glow of electric breath. It's a sound both modern and timeless, fusing emotion and technology, gauze and melody, force and fragility.
From Justin Walter: Unseen Forces is a collection of recordings that document the use of improvisation as a means to create sounds that can either function on their own or serve as the foundation of, or source material for, additional improvisation. There was a definite process used to create this music but at no point was any music ever written or composed.
When putting this music together I was often aware of feelings related to density, spacing,
silence, and the sense of time pulling back on itself, like trying to stretch a scene and pull on it in ways that distort it ever so slightly. This is a record of melodies, alone and in complex relation. This music is a reflection of both feeling, and thought, as much construction as composition. The recordings of the EVI, as well as the sequencing done using samples of those recordings, are mostly the result of exploring melody through intuition. Harmonically simple, but with a complex pallet of texture.”
Tobias Freund mounts his 3rd solo album for Ostgut Ton
Toying with his techno moorings in 12 tracks of experimental, avant sound design and ‘floor-flirting structures hearkening back to his earliest work with Hypnobeat and subsequent wok with Max Loderbauer in NSI.
Zingers from the New York Disco: Danceteria 1981-1985 phase: blindsiding with John King’s masterful, Italo-esque winner Munich  - any clues on this one, anybody?! - then whipping out the mega-chuff of Klaus Schulze’s soaring Macksy , and cycling on thru the funked-up synth-pop swerve of Save Our Love  by Escape From New York, and checking out on the sultry downstroke of Hold On To Your Dreams  from the top shelf of Wobble, Edge (yep, that one), Liebzeit.
A wickedly skizzy session recoiling from cosmic electronics to crunching noise and Autechrian techno, from UIQ’s Latvian ambassador, Martins Rokis aka N1L on excursion for Where To Now?
As opposed to the short sharp ‘floor shocks of his Ikea Zen EP, N1L’s 3rd EP catches him dilating his structures for a more immersive effect; firstly executing a gripping transition from avian harmonics and sloshing tribal drums to tremendous squashed noise in Chasing The Sun, before Mud Diver recalls Æ’s Fol3 ace in its roiling viscosity and then Jaget Och Maskerna brings back that lush 3D thizz just like one of Lee Gamble’s ambient moments from Koch, leaving the convulsive, arid knot of Clockroach to emulate the effect of being slung in a metal barrel and rolled around an underwater rave.
Sun Ra's second album, Super-Sonic Jazz was recorded in 1956 at RCA Studios, Chicago, and was the first album to be released on Saturn records, the label run by Sun Ra and Alton Abraham, one of only three albums by Sun Ra to have been available in the 1950s.
"Saturn released their first singles, including doo-wopgroup The Cosmic Rays and the Arkestra's Saturn, at the beginning of 1956, and had recorded the whole of this label first LP by the end of that year. Saturn often pressed in editions of as few as 20, made for specific concerts - the records would be manufactured using local black businesses, and often put together in Abraham's own home.
As John F. Szwed described: "El Saturn Records purchased no advertising, gave out no promotional copies for review, and no distribution channels except mail order, hand delivery to the record shops, and, in the southern tradition, sales from the bandstand after performances. An order to the El Saturn address might or might not get a response, and when a record came it might be a different one than ordered , or arrive months later."
Fortunately these wonderful albums can now be purchased from your favourite record store, courtesy of PoppyDisc/RevOla."
Gigi Masin, Jonny Nash and Marco Sterk reconvene their soothing Gaussian Curve trio with a faithfully mellow and utopian suite of ambient lounge jazz themes for Music From Memory. Bath time music
“The Distance is a different musical beats to its predecessor, but shares the same timeless, emotion-rich feel that made Clouds such a hit. While the fundamental ingredients remain the same - Masin’s masterly piano and synthesiser work, Nash’s blissful, meandering guitar lines, and Stewrk’s synths, drum machines and production - The Distance is an album brimming with fresh ideas, and more complex musical arrangements. It’s the sound of three confident collaborators crafting magical musical moments in their own unique way.
This expansive new approach can be heard on “T.O.R”, where Nash’s haunting trumpet and hazy guitars wrap themselves around the kind of hypnotic piano and synth patterns that were once the preserve of American minimalist composers, in the gently breezy positivity of “Ginger Lemon”, and in the loved-up chord progressions and bubbly electronic beats of “Last Breath”. Close your eyes, and you’ll also hear it amongst the sunrise shuffle of “The Distance”, Masin’s hushed vocals on “Smile For Me”, and within the kosmiche influenced sensuality of “Birthday Song”.”
Slow banging house from your boy Anthony Naples, cannily punning on the usually parenthesised Us Mix (US Mix, geddit?) with four dabs of North American ruggedness for thee and we.
Sky Flowers goes first on a muggy sort of NYC electro-boogie chug feathered with flyaway arpeggios; Seello keeps that hustle burning with natty congas and Anthony Shakir-style gospel/disco chord chops, saving a lip-smacking surprise til the later stages.
At Ease looks father out/inwards with mystic jazz key phrasing locked to a slow simmering Chicago bassline; Us Mix seals the vibe for vintage freshnuss on a hypnotic disco-house tip, like some Herbert or Soundhack gem sent back to source.
Call Super and Shanti Celeste bring the jelly and Gary’s to the 2nd part of Dekmantel’s 10th anniversary celebrations...
...with the former feeling out the merry carillon melody and wobbly bass funk of Flunk Spoke, and the latter bringing the feeling from your toes up to the head with the Claude Young-ish Detroit house flush of Hinoki.
'Jazz By Sun Ra was the debut album length recording by Sun Ra. The LP originally appeared on the short-lived and pioneering label Transition Records, which was headed by the young Tom Wilson, and released a number of unique jazz albums in this period by the likes of Cecil Taylor and Donald Byrd.
"Transition releases tended to include elaborate if home made looking packaging more perhaps in tune with today's buyers and artists than those of the 1950s, When originally released, Jazz By Sun Ra came with an extensive booklet featuring words and photos of Sun Ra and his Arkestra. from which we excerpt Sun Ra's own comments on the album contents.
Wilson was to continue in an extensive and successful career as a major label A&R man/producer, with a range from Bob Dylan's ''Like A Rolling Stone'' to the first 2 Velvet Underground albums and way beyond...he was to remain close friends with Sun Ra, re-entering the story on a number of occasions in years to come. The LP features original compositions by Sun Ra along with one by Arkestral bassist Richard Evans.
The single non-Arkestral composition is Possession, by Harry Revel, which had been written for Les Baxter's slightly bizarre Exotica album oddity Perfume Set to Music, which shows just how wide ranging Sun's listening and how open his mind was to the unusual even in the 1950s!!"
The post-genre sounds Blue Tapes and X-Ray Records has mined and curated over the past couple of years might not immediately code as metal, but as early as our home-dubbed tape days we were exploring death metal’s potential as vocal-only music with blue ten: EyeSea.
"Jute Gyte is unambiguously metal music and I genuinely believe that Adam Kalmbach, the sole musician and producer behind the project, is the most important musician in metal since Death’s Chuck Schuldiner, himself the most important metal musician since Tony Iommi, the man whose fingers created metal. As a teenager into the Mortal Kombat soundtrack and Nine Inch Nails, Adam learnt metal guitar.
Later, he studied composition at university and had his brain nuked by early and baroque music, serialism and Sibelius, and the universes of potentials opening like wormholes in his head created Jute Gyte. Jute Gyte applies microtonality and modernist compositional approaches to black metal. This isn’t in itself what makes Jute Gyte’s music great, though it does explode an increasingly conservative musical tradition out into something new, that no one has heard before. New sounds and new feelings.
Jute Gyte’s orchestra of microtonal guitars sounds as though it is vomiting blackholes. But maybe what initially scans as occult horror in Jute Gyte’s music is just seasickness caused by the unfamiliarity of this new terrain.
“I understand how stuff I've done sounds ugly to people,” Adam concedes, “but it doesn't sound ugly to me. Or, it doesn't sound exclusively ugly. It's just a different kind of language. If you haven't internalised that language, then you're going to hear a lot of things that sound like 'wrong' notes. I hear little musical jokes, I hear happy parts and sad parts, and I hear a lot of parts that don't seem to have any emotive content at all. It's not just uniformly ugly, just as Schoenberg's work is not intended to be uniformly ugly.” For x-ray five, Adam has crafted two side-long pieces.
The first of these, The Sparrow, is a kind of modernist black metal symphony that might share some signifiers with the despair-loaded blizzard hymns familiar to fans of Norwegian BM. But those beautiful flocks of guitars - sometimes they sound like they’re hovering, or scrolling back and forth, rather than ‘riffing’. A dazzling murmuration. And it wasn’t some grimoire that provided the lyrical inspiration for the piece, but Stoner author John Edward Williams’ 1965 poetry collection, The Necessary Lie.
The second piece, Monadanom, is from a suite of ambient microtonal guitar pieces that Adam has been incubating for us since early 2014. It is oceanic, not in the usual new age-y sense most often applied to ambient music, but in that it is raging with life and detail; unfathomable."
With his third album “vin ploile” the bucharest, romania based producer, musician and dj petre inspirescu captured a whole new audience in 2015 and reached out with minimal leftfield ambient sounds to music loving folks, that are not part of the world-wide dance music universe.
"Well known as one of the key figures of the romanian electronic dance music scene since his first ep “tips” on luciano’s label cadenza, inspirescu stepped away from club sounds that made him famous due to releases on labels like vinyl club, lick my deck or amphia.
also his two solo albums “intr-o seara organica...” and “grădina onirică“, both released on [a:rpia:r], the record label he initiated with his buddies rhadoo and raresh in 2007, do not have much in common with the sound of “vin ploile” - a mesmerizing deeply musical album that he only tuned in with some elements of piano, string and wind instruments as well as analogue electronics.
at the end of 2015 his nine slow swinging arrangements where celebrated in many polls and now, just a bit more than one year after the release of “vin ploile” petre inspirescu delivers “vîntul prin salcii” – another longplayer enlarged with seven, up to epic twelve minutes long arrangements, that continue where “vin ploile” ceased.
they all listen to the name “miroslav” and only differ numerically in their title. you can call them ambient. you can call them minimal music in the sense of classic compositions by steve reich or terry riley. they groove – sometimes more, sometimes less. and they spread the sounds of flutes or saxophones, delicate piano figures, organic jazz drumming, arpeggiated analogue synth-lines, mesmerizing strings, choral singing, alienated looped vocals and spaced out new aged spheres.
what unites them all is the way, the melodies dance upon and in each single tune. their beautiful textures ensnare and they are continuously engaged with experimentation. a mystical album full of evolutionary music to which each listener is able to paint his very own emotional picture. moody, dark and at the same time light-flooded shape-shifting compositions - made for those who love to surrender themselves to a gentle dance between experimentation and attractiveness.
the cover artwork for petre inspirescu’s album was made again by the illustrator and photographer julian vassallo, who’s artistic works fascinate with a touching spirit of distance, that captures the truth in each single motif. just like petre inspirescu’s music, only that his art grooves with notes that tell somehow: there is no truth. there is only perception."
Denmark’s øjeRum makes a sublime vinyl debut with the anaesthetising ambient tones of When Birds Fly, The Eyes of Heaven Can Rest for London’s Aurora B, who, if you remember, also issued The Haxan Cloak’s Observatory vinyl debut back in 2010.
Veritably curling off the platter like opium smoke, the two sides of When Birds Fly… place the listener in a gorgeous state of suspended animation akin to the blissful serenity encouraged by Kevin Drumm’s Imperial Distortion, but perhaps massaged with Elodie’s special oils, which should maybe come as little surprise as Elodie’s Andrew Chalk is responsible for post-production on Part I.
That first side is a real beauty, unfurling some 17 minutes of thee most languid, golden synth and choral harmonics and shivering partials with a patience and steadiness of hand that’s just an absolute pleasure to undergo. Likewise, Part II is a pure dream sequence, but this time riding dense, phosphorescing waves of organ drone with a deeply blue, melancholic quality that places it in a very special category on our shelves.
Don’t sleep on this one!
Chicago’s Very Own Glenn Underground says it’s Party Time on this reissue of his 1995 session and who are we to argue?
The bubbling congas, hazy rhodes and shimmering guitar of the original heat up first, next to the super infectious swing of a Detroit Mix burnished by Chez Damier and Ron Trent, and backed with the wiggly-ass take on Sylvester’s disco evergreen You Make Me Feel, trimmed to a jazz hustle, and the debonaire pivot of a Bonus cut.
Haunting New York industrial / ambient / noise. RIYL Croatian Amor, Pharmakon, Drew McDowell, Cold Cave, Atelecine
Wharf Cat Records present a very welcome introduction to Brooklyn noise agitant Rene Nuñez with an eerily effective side of amorphous modular scree in Misogyny Stone, which firmly yanks him into the half-light of recognition beyond a plethora of notorious live performances and a handful of tapes for Ascetic House and Roxann Spikula/Jason Crumer’s No Rent Records since 2013.
One of the most compelling experimental/noise sides we’ve heard outta New York City in some time, the by-turns convulsive, slugging and strangely emotive appeal of Misogyny Stone was borne in the crucible of live practice where Nuñez developed a keen improvisational affinity with his modular set-up thru infamous, feral performances often involving broken glass, blood and tears.
With Misogyny Stone however, he perhaps defies and f**ks with expectations that come attached to that sort of show, offering a bittersweet but surprisingly palatable and refined brand of crankiness that comes from a particular place and mindset; brought up by his mother in Miami’s macho Hispanic community, and then via scuzzy punk scenes and the hard edge of NYC electronics.
His resultant sound is instinctively raw and accomplished, sensitive to light and dark and the spaces between those perspectives or schisms, one operating on sort of highly attuned sixth sense between the roiling metallurgical workshop klang of Drone Gold to the divine, reverberant dimensions of Bought To Protect My Daughter and the head-curdling dissonance of New Piece (For Christian Marande).
But the biggest highlight is the record’s title track; a genuinely haunting coil of dank and glassy ambient industrial driven by beautifully wide and booming kicks and gilded with a distant female vocal which comes in cold, transfixing focus in the closing quarters.
Theo Parrish on the heaviest, rudest flex, getting on a purely rugged sound with the exclamatory styles of My Soul for his Sound Signature stronghold.
On the 3rd and best yet in Theo’s Gentrified Love series, he’s joined by an Amp Fiddler swerving between burning gospel and whirligig psych-jazz-techno vamps over the bumpy knuckled drums of Trust - one of those rare heaters that Theo turns out every couple of years - whereas My Soul follows a more direct line of spiritual inquiry with bluesy keys and jazz vox locked to his patented velvet bass drums and moisturised claps in the flipside’s My Soul burn.
Theo Parrish for president.
Hospital Productions coincide their 20th anniversary with that of Mhlehst’s masterfully cryptic collage, The Difficulty In Crossing A Field; an album hailed by Dominick Fernow as hugely important to the development of his label’s aesthetic. It can be said that where NWW’s sinister whimsy stops short, Mhlehst screws that thread tighter into areas of un/conscious desire with a genuinely unbuckled and abstract approach to surrealist sonics that leaves much to the imagination.
Originally issued by the UK’s All Brentnall aka Mhlehst on his Bandaged Hand Produce label 1998, The Difficulty In Crossing A Field patently scissors with Hospital Productions own unheimlich impetus in terms of its dank surreality and tortuous nature, dealing with its themes in a manner of saying it without saying it, by using a combination of eerily suggestive track titles and oblique tonal abstraction to imply or prompt questions that aren’t easily answered.
If we’re to mark any line in the dirt between the aesthetics of Mhlehst and HP, it’s that Mhlehst seems to be in possession of that putatively British, or even english sense of reserve, and affords a slightly more ginger, cautious approach to his arrangements, which are porous to traces of eldritch folk melody and detached street noise - check the distant dub bassline that infiltrates the end of What Comes Round Goes Round, or the almost ambient tonal sensitivity of Can Such Things Be? for example - but it’s still very easy to hear how it all intersects with Hospital’s own elusive and mysterious leanings, in conjunction with its more obvious power noise and raging industrial influences.
It’s all dead, dead uncanny stuff and should be considered equally important both as a key to HP’s make-up as much as an introduction to a lesser known, yet crucial, aspect of the UK noise scene - whose peculiarity feels more relevant to the modern world than NWW’s archaic arcane.
Art Yard illuminate a rare and brilliant side lead by Pat Patrick - Sun Ra's baritone saxophonist of 30 years. Recorded and released in 1977 on Ra's Saturn Records, and unissued since original release, 'Sound Advice' acts as both a dizzying showcase of the baritone saxophone's richly hued range, and also as Patrick's defining opus from an illustrious catalogue.
As a full-time member of the Sun Ra Arkestra, Pat Patrick contributed baritone sax as well as flute and cello on some of the greatest, spirited recordings of the 20th century, playing alongside Duke Ellington, Eric Dolphy, Thelonious Monk, and John Coltrane, and most famously appearing on the latter's 'Africa/Brass' (1961), beside key Sun Ra recordings such as 'Angels and Demons at Play' (1967) and 'The Nubians of Plutonia' (1967).
Now i'm really a novice when it comes to jazz, but would like to think I know the good stuff when I hear it, and i'm utterly spellbound by this record. The recording itself (and by turns the restoration) is remarkable in its clarity and dynamic swirl, but of course it's the players that create the magic, with Patrick joined by his retinue, including Charles Davis and René McLean, urged by the dextrous rhythm section to visionary expressions of "Arkestrally minded Ellingtonia" - achieving a massed fluidity and spaciousness that leaves us swimming in psychoactive colour and streaming ribbons of rhythmelody. Highly recommended!
A holy triumvirate of modern soundtrack composers weigh in on the OST for Before The Flood, Fisher Stevens and Martin Scorsese’s climate change documentary released in late 2016.
The music is just as grave, worldly and hauntingly evocative as the film’s subject, and while it may have had little effect on the voting at last year’s US general election (it was released the day before in hope of advising folk against Trump and his policies), it stands on its own in a way that will surely only attract more people to watch and absorb the film’s message.
"Typical Girl?” The Slits gleefully proclaimed as they attacked sexual stereotypes way back in 1979. There are no typical girls. Just remarkable women making remarkable music, as this compilation highlights..."
"Following on from last year’s Typical Girls (Volume One) – Emotional Response are proud to announce a brilliant additional installment. 16 more of the greatest current female fronted independent punk and pop bands, from around the world, celebrated on a limited LP and compact disc."
Combining all the traits of an international superhero or intrepid comic book adventurer, the true identity, whereabouts and history of the spectacular Italian composer known as Gerardo Iacoucci has been a mystery to record collectors for many years.
"As a result of the best efforts of secretive archivists and DJs as well as and the overprotective force field that surrounds the clandestine world of Italian library music, the commanding experimental psychedelic pop music made singlehandedly by this early pioneer of the anti-genre time after time rises to the top of collectors’ want lists, commands huge ransom notes, ignites dancefloors and decimates genre tags before returning to its mythical status as one of the kings of the underworld without removing his mask.
Despite the fact that original Italian copies of records by Gerardo Iacoucci are amongst the rarest, enigmatic fixtures of European psychedelia, his music simply refuses to be ghettoised and as the name of this album suggests the history of this artist reads like the memoirs of a genuine musical adventurer as well as a well-travelled prophet of experimental music and unsung pillar of Italian jazz and sound design.
Recorded in early 1970, Iacoucci’s wide-eyed L’Avventura suite spanned 6 sides of loud, heavyweight monophonic vinyl for Romano Di Bari’s Deneb label and created an epically detailed blueprint for independent mood music companies whilst sharing release schedules with likeminded workaholics Alessandro Alessandroni and A. R. Luciani. However, Gerardo’s adventure didn’t begin here…"
Proper, chunky house buggers from MAP (Mak & Postman) and DJ Haus on the 25th number from Glasgow’s DABJ gang.
Upstairs, they step and grind on a steadily building and modulated swing of X-Mod with a killer mix of vintage UR and up-to-date PG Tunes styles.
Downstairs they harness the jacking juggernaut of Bang It and the tweaky Video Clash twang of Drive MF for the wall-bangers.
Luke Abbott takes one step back and two forward as Earlham Mystics with the Truth EP for Gold Panda’s Notown Recordings.
Scrolling back before he veered into symphonic realms with the Wysing Forest  album, the Truth EP hits the ‘floor directly and from more inquisitive angles across four tracks loaded for mind and body.
Truth gives the EP a slow chugging and airy R&Bass pop impetus from the front, sloping up to a noisily bittersweet crescendo before following his impulses into the palpitating patterns and head-waltzing arpeggios of Fuck Hype, whose straight-forward simplicity is coolly belied by some of his craftiest groove calculations.
B-side, he tees up the wooden knocks and strobing chords of Stolen Hearts only shades away from his label boss’s pastoral techno pitch, and then lets it all flow out with the milky kosmische spumes of Hera.
Comprised of Eril Fjord and Laurine Frost, the Hungarian duo combine the formar’s indie aestheric and the electronic music prowess the latter has proved on work for the Nervmusic imprint.
"Despite their huge influence from the 70-80s experimental music, Supernaturals is not so much retrospective as ominously dystopian. It captures and distils their well-known improvisational mutability into a testament to their promising potential, which will stand the test of time. This is Kebko Music’s first instalment on vinyl. Following our tradition of carefully-wrought artwork, the LP comes in a gatefold sleeve designed by Damien Tran."
Detroit’s master of the house rifles his archives to showcase remastered highlights from a perfectly formed catalogue of 12”s released by Cross Section Records, Harmonie Park, Downbeat and M3 over the last coupla decades.
Taking its name from a note left in his record bag by a TSA agent at the airport, who also turned out to be a big fan of his, Too Many Classics covers the breadth of variegated stripes which make up the semiotics of Detroit House, riding out between the sexy wooze of The Jazz Republic [Cross Section Records, 1997], the filter disco bang of Dance [Harmonie Park, 1996] and the killer, hunched hustle of and budge of The Rowdy Swing [M3, 1997] on the first disc, and then getting down to Groove Box [Cross Section Records, 1997], the Sun ra-esque jazz house depths of Mathematics From The Jazz Republic [Downbeat, 2010] and his sought-after Flashback 78 on the 2nd platter.
Are everyone will have their favourites that aren’t on here, but as far an introduction to Huckaby’s jazzier side goes, this is gateway drug material.
Fat as fuck mutant disco knocks from Martin ‘Glowing Palms’ Lester, doing origami with the timeline of late 20th C. dance music on two full-bodied bangers for Blip Discs.
As is his wont, the A-side’s Kiki plays wicked games with proto-house, hardcore, bleep techno and disco tropes, coming off like clash between Rob Gordon, Dean Meredith and Greg Wilson and a big tub of whey protein in the process.
The B-side also rides on a big batty groove, this time harnessing a big wobbly, sub-driven kick under arcing bleep arpeggios and flash stabs that cut right thru the mix like some prime Luke Vibert disco thing.
After a prolific career releasing on Audio Assault, Token, PercTrax, Stroboscopic Artefacts and the HueHelix imprint, Go Hiyama is back.
"‘I Am Goodbye’ graces us with wondrous sound-design and drum patterns that are just as menacing as they are intricate. Based on the concept of denial this full-length takes a steep dive into what here at Parachute we cherish the most - individuality. Steering away from what are his canonic approaches to producing he chooses to leave behind sequencers and synths to further explore the nature of instruments such as piano and vibraphone as well as an array of field recordings."
Vincent Koreman aka Drvg Cvltvre puts the kicks down like he means it on two meaty badboys for Power Vacuum
Bunkerpunch is primed to knock thru reinforced concrete with weaponised bass drums and chords that just escaped a secret research facility somewhere between Frankfurt and Antwerp, whilst Air Raid deploys the titular sonic weaponry on a numbskull proto gabber ramrod fired up with gurning piano chords.
Back on road for a 2017 repress, Jamal Moss’s killer I.B.M. edits of ‘80s wave gems from Blancmange, Crash Course In Science and DAF, as played at Chicago’s Medusa’s club nights.
A-side he juices Blancmange’s BlindVision for an extended pleasure mix that’s perhaps shy on the bass but totally hypnotic at the same time. Don’t expect no hi-fi shit here, babe.
B-side, Crash Course In Science’s metallic EBM anthem Flying Turns is fed thru the flanger and back for a seriously frizzed up and potently noisy tang, then DAF’s strapping classic First Steps 2 Heaven is rinsed to the bone as only he can.
Charming first instalment in a series of compilations exploring the ambient sound and vision of Melbourne, Australia’s Lullabies For Insomniacs radio show-turned-label: containing sweet treats in Georgia’s lilting polyrhythmic daydream, Mist ∞ Skat, and the avant-classical elegance of The Magic Carpathians’ Thalassa.
The first part of Leyland Kirby, aka The Caretaker's, 'Sadly, The Future Is No Longer What It Was' series, originally released back in 2009 and now finally reissued. It's a prescient hauntological elegy somewhere between Vangelis’ Bladerunner OST, Lynch & Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks score, Erik Satie’s solo Piano works, William Basinski’s gradual tape decompositions and James Ferraro’s washed out visions, like a slowly abstracted Berlin/Manchester night-scape. Tbh it seems to have even more emotional resonance and evokes an even more forlorn beauty today than it did a decade ago... if you've never heard it, you're in for a treat...
The series returns to vinyl nearly a decade since James Kirby marked his break with the pivotal V/Vm project and started to wander off into the mists of his mottled memories. It’s may be fair to say that Kirby has picked up a whole raft of new disciples since 2009 who weren’t aware of his earlier work, so this pivotal set re-arrives nicely in the wake of The Caretaker’s latest Everywhere At The End Of Time instalment, as a promised future seems to slip farther out of reach and become replaced with a sort of confused, melancholy resilience.
Back in 2009, Kirby explained: "Here we stand, twenty years on from the first CD, and our optimism has been gradually eroded away collectively. 'Tomorrows World' never came. We are lost and isolated, many of us living our lives through social networks as we try to make sense of it all, becoming voyeurs not active participants. Documenting everything. No Mystery. Everything laid bare for all to see”.
A decade later, it could hardly have been more prescient.
It’s with this pessimistic sense of being that Kirby constructed these incredible pieces, creating a sequence of music designed to overwhelm and absorb, affecting our sense of time and place by tracing and retracing musical steps into a blur, re-using the same motifs with incremental differences, trapped in our own feedback loops of lost emotion.
The album starts with a gently soaring piano rendition accompanied by location recordings from Kirby’s Berlin apartment as it stood all those years ago, captured forever for posterity across 15 minutes of the most beautiful music he has ever recorded. It documents an aching sense of loss through both its contemplative duration and quite literally through it’s title - When We Parted, My Heart Wanted To Die (Friedrichshain Memory). The Sound Of Music Vanishing follows and drifts into a beautifully disfigured fug of memory full of mis-shapen strings, distant echoes, lost aspirations.
It’s a case in point for Derrida and Fisher’s use of the term ‘hauntological’, filtering osmotic memories of shared culture as well as personal experience of pop and rave music’s unfulfilled political promise. Remember, this album was recorded in 2007 - 2009, which, with hindsight, arguably saw the major calcification of independent music (cheers, Bankers, RSD, Facebook). You imagine Kirby perched, owl-like, watching and listening for the best part of a decade now, absorbing the world’s ills and transmuting them into the ether. The feeling is also reflected in the original artwork by Ivan Seal, whose original composition is painted over and again for each instalment, shifting patterns with traces of what came before them and affecting the layers that succeed them.
On this long double album, James Leyland Kirby once again acts as a spiritual bridge, holding fast against the perceived current of time and culture in order to afford a slow, lingering gaze on its ambiguous, ever-shifting ripples and eddies. Like staring at a body of gently moving water, the effect is strangely soothing and meditative, encouraging immersed reflection and dilated focus...
Stinging instrumental grime one-two from Lemzly Dale and Kahn & Neek; firing the tightly coiled strings and claps of No Long Talk on top, and the supremely skunked out pressure of Kahn & Neek’s remix on the flip, packing some of the Bristolian duo’s slipperiest chops and full sunken subs.