Sydney-based jazz trio triosk and jan jelinek from Berlin have opened up a common equation. The title reflects their production method : jelinek mails selected samples and textures to australia, Triosk use these as a basis for composition and recording, the enhanced material then returns to Berlin for Jelinek to finalise.
But the mileage covered does not become audible - "four different instruments multiplied by four different approaches make one sense". Triosk and Jelinek play together with eerie assurance and emphatic sensibility. Archetypal, dissolving jazz elements correspond to repetitive patterns not known to the genre, electronics and acoustics circle each other but remain conjoined. A perfect evolution from the micro-contained glitch-house that Jelinek has adapted so brilliantly - forever searching for a myriad colour of jazz traditions and influences that have finally expressed themselves with a less contained form on this wondrous album.
Perhaps geographical circumstances have something to do with the fact that Jelinek and Triosk approach a similar musical task from completely different directions - but the result is a deep, timeless and brilliantly executed slice of machine soul music for the mellowest of blue nights - and another maverick album from a man who can seemingly do no wrong.
Debut volley of noisily complex and twisting IDM electronica from Aho Ssan, a new artist on James Ginzburg of Emptyset’s Subtext label. RIYl Shapednoise, Heith, Pyur.
"Inspired in part by French sociologist Jean Baudrillard’s influential text “Simulacres et Simulation,” the record plays with synthesis and simulation, picking apart notions of modulatable, subjective veneers of reality. Informed by his experiences growing up while black in the French suburbs, Niamké, turns a critical gaze towards facades of inclusivity and equality, and how they diverge from lived experiences of discrimination and racism in France.
Sonically, “Simulacrum” departs from ventures through Sun Ra and Afrofuturist music, as Aho Ssan dreams up new journeys and visions. Wanting to collaborate with a jazz musician but unable to find one, he turned to building patches in Max/MSP to create simulations of them. The Mensah Imaginary Band features on tracks “Blind Power” and “We Don’t Have to Worry Anymore.” Taking shape across Max objects and patch cables, the ensemble takes its name from Niamké’s trumpet player grandfather Mensah Antony, who led a Ghanaian band in Ivory Coast in the 1950s and acted as a conductor at the country’s famed Abissa Festival.
Aho Ssan debuted “Simulacrum” at Berlin Atonal 2019. After studying graphic design and cinema, he started composing electronic music and creating his own digital instruments. Shortly thereafter Niamké went on to win the Foundation France television prize for his soundtrack to the 2015 film “D’Ingha Mago,” and has since worked on several projects affiliated with IRCAM.”
Moor Mother ‘fesses her deadliest fusion of jazz, rap, footwork and “anti-trip hop” on her most satisfying album to date, flanked by comrades including Black Quantum Futurism, Brother May, Pink Siifu, among many others.
Building on a resounding reputation established via her jazz-punk ensemble Irreversible Entanglements and guest spots with Justin K Broadrick & Kevin Martin (The Bug), not to mention scintillating solo sides, Moor Mother now mounts something of a defining opus (for now) with ‘Black Encyclopedia Of The Air.’ Issued by gargantuan US label Epitaph, the record necessarily places Camae Ayewa aka Moor Mother’s patented style of “blk girl blues, project housing bop, and black ghost songs” in a global spotlight, where she holds the world’s gaze over co-production by Olaf Melander, with whom she collaborated on 2020’s ‘Anthology 01.’ Although it mostly swerves the punkish burr of her previous sides, the album finds a concentrated coherence in its soulful intensity, all exquisitely calibrated for the late night experience and rewarding repeat, close listening.
Perhaps best considered in a vein with the avant, blue atmosphere of classics by Tricky or Keith Hudson, but ultimately, wholly unique in its cosmic longview; the album unfurls a rich tapestry of textured, spacious production, where Moor Mother’s protagonist is joined by a variegated roll call who echo her worries. The cuts are as deadly as they are deep, tightly binding her multi-disciplinary styles in neck snap trip hop on ‘Mangrove’ with Euclid and Abntonia Gabrila, and linking Curl’s Brother May for sharp barbs on the outstanding, footwork-feathered highlight ‘Race Function’. At it’s core, the cracked drums and alien reverie of ‘Obsidian’ hits hard and weird, while ‘Made A Circle’ drips with blooz like some hybrid of King Britt and Burial vibes, lit by harmonious vocals from Nappy Nina, Maassai, Antonia Gabriela and Orion Sun, and sublime velvet chords, while ‘Tarot’ is the album’s late, mystic masterstroke of melt-on-mind spectral jazz spirits.
"Dubplate Specials" from King Tubby's Hometown Hi-Fi out on Jamaican Recordings.
"King Tubby's Hometown Hi-Fi was one the great Sound Systems in Jamaica. It also proved a fantastic outlet for the Dub Plate Specials cut at Tubby's studio, providing exclusive cuts to be played out and to intice the dance's audience. The tracks at the time were mainly cut over producer Bunny 'Striker' Lee rhythms, that Bunny stored at Tubby's studio which was in fact his home, 18 Drumilly Avenue,Kingston, Jamaica.
The versions were given exclusive plays at Tubby's sound before some finding their way on to vinyl, as the b-side version cut to it's a-side vocal, proving so popular that the records were often brought for its version side over its vocal counterpart. Jamaican Recordings have compiled a selection of cuts that were all tried and tested on Tubby's Home Town Hi Fi Sound System and worked a great set of Bunny Lee's rhythms in fine style."
Basic Channel present a full 14 minute version of 'Q-Loop' backed with first ever vinyl cuts of 'Q 1.2' and 'Mutism' - previously found on the 'BCD' (1995) and Scion's 'Arrange And Process Basic Channel Tracks' releases.
Need we say more?
ISIS second full-length album 'Oceanic'.
"Breaking away from the industrialised sludge metal of their debut 'Celestial' and their early EPs, the Bostoners began expanding their sound with greater use of melody, spilling out into various genres including drone and post-rock. Like the majority of ISIS releases, this one's a concept album, dealing in tainted love and ultimate tragedy."
Perky but gauzy ‘80s new wave nostalgia by Chris Stewart’s Black Marble. Glistening with vantage-styled hooks and pulsing synths.
“On Fast Idol, LA-based Black Marble reaches back through time to connect with the forgotten bedroom kids of the analogue era, the halcyon days of icy hooks and warbly synths always on the edge of going out of tune. Harmonies are piped in across the expanse of space, and lyrics capture conversations that seem to come from another room, repeat an accusation overheard, or speak as if in sleep of interpersonal struggles distilled down to one subconscious phrase. At the same time, percussive elements feel forward and cut through the mix with toms counting off the measures like a lost tribe broadcasting through the bass and tops of a basement club soundsystem.
Fast Idol is Stewart's fourth full-length album and his second for Sacred Bones. His previous album Bigger than Life was written in the face of cultural shifts in the US, in experiencing these he realised he was not keyed into certain negative sentiments that were bubbling below the surface, which were breaking out into the open. “I chose to try and take the approach of a soothsayer writing from a macro level, trying to find strands of connection between us because it didn’t feel appropriate to create something self referential and gloomy at the time,” he says.
Now, Fast Idol sees him return to a sentiment and process that defined the earlier days of Black Marble, in a return to his intuitive song writing process where songs land as impressionistic snippets of daily conflicts, and people struggle with the challenge of trying to move through the world. “People don’t expect me to be responsible for altering their outlook or mood, they come to hear something that meets them where they are. I trusted on this record that if I stayed in that space and created things from that more mysterious place, it would connect with others.”
Call Super pipes up on his and Parris’ label with two bumpty, sidewinding house rollers in his patented, warm and woozy style
Stemming from a previous project entitled ‘Tell Me I Didn’t Choose This’, the tracks came about as a reflection on “a period in their life of upheaval, trauma and self-discovery”, and find relief in a blend of influences from jazzy Chicago and UK house, Detroit techno, and rooted West African rhythms.
‘Tree Song’ evolves over 10 minutes of wooden drums and bumbling square bass synched into a infectious lather of overlapping patterns hypnotically smeared with dub FX and floating pads. ‘bodiesinheaven II’ follows with a nimbly weft mix of West African and Detroit inspirations, knitting intricate drums to kaotic harmonies in a trusted manner bound to get eyes dreamily rolling in backa heads.
Clinic's ninth studio album, "Fantasy Island".
"Referencing H.G. Wells’ Things to Come, Marshall McLuhan’s The Medium is the Massage and Sombrero Fallout by Richard Brautigan, the themes Clinic explore on Fantasy Island are time, music and entertainment. In a (coco) nutshell, Clinic have gone funky disco, broadening their sonic palette with the addition of several new gadgets including an electronic acid bass machine, a 1970s cocktail rhythm unit, a Casio digital horn and space drum."
'Single' isn't just a reissue of Pub's similarly-titled 2002 set, it properly rounds up the Glaswegian dub techno reductionist's first three 12"s and adds a couple of vinyl exclusives. Long-form blunted dancefloor haziness never sounded so lovely: imagine Various Artists/T++, The Black Dog, BoC and Manuel Göttsching locked in a room wth some synths, drum machines and echo boxes.
Hot on the heels of last year's much needed 'Do You Ever Regret Pantomime?' reissue comes this equally levitational set of Caledonian miasma, remastered at Berlin's Dubplates & Mastering. It's the best way to widen yer appreciation of the Ampoule boss's early work, especially if you've only come across his debut album and the 'Summer' EP. 'Single' is basically a photo album of Pub's earliest experiments, and kicks off fittingly with 'Lunch', from his 1999-released 12" "Lick/Lunch". When that record originally dropped, Pub was only 18 years old and was penning his extended dub-phoric jams on a single synthesizer/workstation.
The rudimentary DIY methodology adds to the raw emotionality of the material. It sounds as if Pub is very slowly conducting the loose, trance-influenced arpeggios and dusty rhythms and shifting them carefully in-and-out of frame on the fly almost like Manuel Göttsching on the Biblical "E2-E4". There's a physicality to the music that sounds alien in an era where DAWs are practically unavoidable, and it's sobering to recall. 'Springing Daisy's' is a truncated version of the "Springing Daisy's Mix" of 'Film' (from 2002's "Derail" 12"), turning up on "Single" again to close the collection, shortened from almost 15 minutes to 10 and aptly renamed 'Short Film'.
Both versions center around Pub's innate ability to take basic ingredients - in this case a single melodic loop and a distorted T++ style rhythm - and sublime them into gaseous traces of their constituent parts. 'Springing Daisy's' is the "pop" version - short, sharp, beat heavy - and 'Short Film' (a vinyl exclusive) is the abstracted, Basic Channel-influenced inversion, detuning the melody and torching the rhythm into an acidic fizz. 'Derail' is included too, and has never sounded better, showcasing Pub at his most dissociated and melancholy with a distant BoC hum couched in a thick fog of reverberating resonance.
2003's 'Surgery' rounds up the early run, and displays Pub's artistic progression, moving a few steps out of the murk and allowing the drums to push into near-dancefloor territory on the title track. And the new edition is finished off with the trancey 'Kamikazi', a track from the original "> Single" that's never made it to vinyl before.
Gazelle Twin's soundtrack to Welcome To The Blumhouse: Nocturne.
"Nocturne is written and directed by Zu Quirke in her breakout feature debut. Inside the halls of an elite arts academy, a timid music student begins to outshine her more accomplished and outgoing twin sister when she discovers a mysterious notebook belonging to a recently deceased classmate.
“The director wanted there to be a strong appearance of feminine rage featuring heavily in the score, building around the classical pieces,” says Gazelle Twin. “She wanted to use some of my existing tracks, ‘unflesh’ and ‘belly of the beast’, in a couple of scenes, so I took leave from the vocal style of ‘unflesh’, which has a lot of strong chest singing inspired by Bulgarian Folksong. “It became a motif that the music editor, Shie Rozow, weaved throughout the film for those especially fierce moments. Then there’s the ‘dread drones’ that haunt the whole score, getting more and more intense.”."
Absorbing, metaphysical, ambient-techno insights from the mysterious, Tea-loving Sa Pa on Mana; the hard-to-categorise label run by Blowing Up The Workshop’s Matthew Kent and Andrea Zarza of the British Library Sound Archive.
Flowing on from Mana’s Luc Ferrari and O Yama O audities, the label’s first release of 2019 keeps their aesthetics wide open and in flux between illusive sound design and subaquatic rhythm structures in a vein shared by classic Porter Ricks and Vladislav Delay.
Like Sa Pa’s previous albums for Giegling’s Forum and his work in the Rausch trio with Marcel Dettmann and Felix K, the sound of ‘In A Landscape’ continues to roll with a systolic vitality, seemingly getting under the skin of ambient and techno zones proper in order to dwell in the liminal, hypnagogic space where it’s hard to tell whether it’s night or day, or we’re experiencing waking life or deep dream time.
With remarkable sound sensitivity, the artist manipulates field recordings (including some salvaged from a field recorder thought lost during the raids on Bassiani last year) to generate thick, hazy layers of half-heard ambience and thrumming bass pulses that slosh with a fine appreciation of brownian motion and impressionistic electronic enigma.
If you love electronic music for its ability to emulate altered mental or physical states, then the way Sa Pa vacillates tone, texture, and mercurial emotions between the atomic crumble of ‘Ripsketch’, and the wide-open tract of dub techno that encompasses side D, will surely light up the imagination like a night sky seen from another planet.
Almost a decade since his classic album ‘Noi No’, NYC’s Madteo runs amok on Honest Jon’s with nine tracks of groove graffiti, scrawling on disco, hip hop, house and garage styles with inimitably thrifty, freehand tekkers
With the dance gee’d up by Madteo’s ’Str8 Crooked’ batch - his first 12” in years - 'teo continues to express a mix of deadly cool and charmingly frazzled dance trax in his patented rug-slipping/rug-cutting fashion on 5th studio album, ‘Head Gone Wrong by Noise.’ Club music by nature, but with an abundance of detail and chicanery that will come to light with headphones and home listening, it’s another masterclass in how to do it your own way with nary a fuck given for norms, but still loadsa love for the original forms.
Whether turning deep disco boogie into a psychoactive lather, as on ‘Since Man Crawled Out of The Slime’, or voicing the buzz in his head on ’Not This, Not That’, he simply can’t help but do it with properly slanted style. Upending the contents of local record shop bargain bins into a bucket-headed smoke out, the results spell out a sort of slippery, noirish soundtrack to nocturnal jags between greasy dive bars and backstreet pick-ups, getting progressively lost to its own lowlit world in the most absorbing way.
His avant B-boy/soundboy chops are at full flex on the slompy bomb ‘Big Stack Attack’, and framed at his longest and loosest in the album’s core trio of mazy jazz-house joints between ‘Deserts of Social Isolation’, the rangy swang of ‘Freeze The Cheese’ and the deep fried drums of ‘They Rolled Over For Him And He Rolled Over Them’, with a real future classic in the air-step strut of ‘People Impersonating Persons.’ Fans of everyone from Shake to Actress, Demdike Stare and Theo Parrish who don’t know this G owe themselves a check. Everyone else; you know the score!
Treat thy ear to the lushly abundant possibilities of just intonation tunings with Duane Pitre’s 2nd volume of ‘The Harmonic Series’, starring spellbinding turns by Kali Malone, Caterina Barbieri, Catherine Lamb, Tashi Wada, Byron Westbrook, and himself
Returning to one of the most fascinating, ancient aspects of musical composition, Duane Pitre curates an unmissable follow-up to the 2009 compilation ‘The Harmonic Series’, inviting a new wave of microtonal explorers to fill the boots of Ellen Fullman & Theresa Wong, Pauline Oliveros, Charles Curtis and others who starred on the first set. For the uninitiated, and open-eared, listeners; just intonation is a method of creating tuning systems that existed millennia before Western music contracted to the 12 notes of equal temperament.
It is a system that has lain at the roots of myriad Indian, Persian, and East Asian musical traditions for over 2500 years, and offers the user practically limitless possibilities to work in the spaces between the notes that Western music has become often painfully locked into since the c.17th, and would only begin to emerge from with thanks to the likes of Harry Partch, Terry Riley and La Monte Young who made concerted efforts to reintroduce its sense of wonder to experimental music during the mid c.20th.
As a non musician, this set of ears might never fully grasp the maths at its root, but over the years we’ve come to realise many of the most affective pieces of music we’ve encountered are written in and explore just intonation. The six artists on ‘The Harmonic Series Volume 2’ are patently aware of the system’s potential to express and induce the uncanniest sensations and do so with life-affirming beauty in their diverse results here, ranging from the incredible subtlety of a rare synthesiser work by violinist Catherine Lamb, to the head-melting tang of Bryon Westbrook and the air-rippling bliss of Kali Malone.
Once experienced, it’s hard to shake the feeling of one’s head being naturally reprogrammed by the ostensibly unusual harmonic relationships of these tunings, and by extension it’s maybe easier to understand why the church wouldn’t allow it in their music, and why even contemporary religious fundamentalists from regions it originated in are also scared of its potential to make one aware of some presence or feeling beyond explanation. All credit to Duane Pitre, the artists involved, and the ever reliable Important Records for a timely, humbling reminder of music’s mystifying power at its sublime and transcendent best.
This lot have released 5 x 12”s anonymously over the last 3 years via Hardwax and there’s no info about them anywhere, pretty sneaky.
They now land on Mana, a label so esoteric it has a flowchart on its website showing you how to get from Luc Ferrari to Nico Jaar in one short leap.
There are 4 long tracks, one per side, each clocking in at 15 mins and each taking time to expand into being. There is persistent water drumming, the a side is all exotic melodica, nature sounds and bells with Flanger-esque bass humps plus some water drumming, side 2 has a very burial mix sounding bassline sat low in the mix to give the water drumming more presence, side C is more reflective and serene tropical vibes, with side D giving it some classic dub pressure and location recordings which we think we once heard Bill Kouligas play on the radio a few years back and which is dope as fuck.
So yeah, it sounds a bit like a k-hole version of Burnt Friedman & Atom Heart’s early Flanger gear crossed with Burial Mix and that incredible water drumming vid dust to digital posted a while back on there tweeter.
Our album of the year 2019 is Kali Malone’s 'The Sacrificial Code’ - a major work featuring almost two hours of concentrated, creeping organ pieces. 'The Sacrificial Code' provided us with precious mental refuge just as the world started to spin out of control around us. It's an album that somehow slowed everything down, allowing us to take notice of every slight movement, as if every minute shift in sound became magnified through stillness. It's a stunning realisation of ideas borne out of academic and conceptual rigour, with a perception-altering quality that encouraged exploration without a preordained endpoint - the antithesis to the language of colourless musical platitudes we've become so accustomed to.
‘The Sacrificial Code’ takes a more surgical approach to the methods first explored on last year’s ‘Organ Dirges 2016 - 2017’. Over the course of three parts performed on three different organs, Malone’s minimalist process captures a jarring precision of closeness, both on the level of the materiality of the sounds and on the level of composition.The recordings here involved careful close miking of the pipe organ in such a way as to eliminate environmental identifiers as far as possible - essentially removing the large hall reverb so inextricably linked to the instrument. The pieces were then further compositionally stripped of gestural adornments and spontaneous expressive impulse - an approach that flows against the grain of the prevailing musical hegemony, where sound is so often manipulated, and composition often steeped in self indulgence. It echoes Steve Reich’s sentiment “..by voluntarily giving up the freedom to do whatever momentarily comes to mind, we are, as a result, free of all that momentarily comes to mind.”
With its slow, purified and seemingly austere qualities ‘The Sacrificial Code’ guides us through an almost trance-inducing process where we become vulnerable receptors for every slight movement, where every miniature shift in sound becomes magnified through stillness. As such, it’s a uniquely satisfying exercise in transcendence through self restraint - a stunning realisation of ideas borne out of academic and conceptual rigour which gradually reveals startling personal dimensions. It has a perception-altering quality that encourages self exploration free of signposts and without a preordained endpoint - the antithesis to the language of colourless musical platitudes we've become so accustomed to.
Francesco Cavaliere & Tomoko Sauvage explore the semiotics of the colour green in a probing, quietly absorbing suite of records from their ongoing and highly promising collaboration.
Both responsible for some of the most beguiling releases in recent memory, Tomoko Sauvage brings her porcelain bowls, water sounds and array of hydrophones to Francesco Cavaliere’s dreamlike staging in ‘Viridescens’ for an utterly spellbinding suite that transcends the sum of its parts.
Both artists draw each other out of themselves and on to a shared plane of surreality, with Cavaliere opting to omit his usual vocals but still infuse his playfully oneiric spirit, while Sauvage’s elemental sounds feel unusually magnified and part of a far plusher ecology of environmental recording. The duo point to influences ranging from Henning Christiansen’s Green Music on a conceptual level, and a lineage of environmental music from Walter Tilgner to Knud Viktor and the likes of Kankyo-Ongaku and Hiroshi Yoshimura, and we can also hear analogs everywhere from Dolphins Into The Future’s field recording sojourns to Ora Clementi’s ambient inceptions or the liminal zones of Elodie.
Anyone previously snagged by either of their solo works will surely recognise the emergence of structures new to either of their oeuvres developing from the stroked bells of ‘a man with a green hat’ to the spikier, overgrown variegation of ‘Rainforest Synthesis’, with ‘≒ AO (blue light is green)’ finding tantalising new interstices of quietude that make the the album’s 9 minute standout ‘Twin Emerald Dolphins’ appear intoxicatingly lush in relief.
Nairobi ambient wizard KMRU combs his archives to assemble this v enjoyable collection of odds 'n sods. The drones are pushed to one side for a hot minute as he explores Emeralds-esque cosmic psychedelia, clankin house, contemplative piano-bient and ping-ponging early electronic moods.
Following a banner 2020 with acclaimed albums on Editions Mego, Dagoretti and Rope Records, Joseph Kamaru - now based in Berlin - has selected some of his favorite Bandcamp-released tracks for "Logue". All of this music was produced at a time when Kamaru was evolving quickly as a young artist, learning his craft and placing himself within his shifting surroundings. Written between 2017 and 2019, the tracks show an inquisitive mind grabbing different ideas and sounds, personalizing them with field recordings and adding glacial synthesized elements that would characterize later recordings like "Peel" and "Jar".
For anyone who's only heard his more sensual and abstract long-form work, "Logue" might be surprising. The music here is more compact and more Kompakt, leaning towards the Cologne label's ongoing "Pop Ambient" compilations. It's good-natured, upbeat music that shifts between lowercase IDM-flecked house ('Jinja Encounters', '11'), Japanese-style architectural ambient ('Bai Fields', 'Logue', 'Points') and fractal cosmic deep space exploration ('Argon', 'A Meditation of Listening'). Recommended.
Tirzah's second album is a fuzz'd-aut, narcotic dreamscape, all screwed trip-pop soulfulness and buzzing, chaotic layers of harmonic noize and hazy ambience. An even slower burn than her cult debut, "Colourgrade" is subtly surprising and calmly mindblowing - co-produced again with Mica Levi and Coby Sey plus an additional stealth production job from Kwake Bass & Dean Blunt. Yeah, Next level.
There's something about the way "Colourgrade" was recorded that makes each song sound like a memory, or a blast of familiar warmth from another room. But Tirzah hasn't doused her "Devotion" follow-up in cheap nostalgia or genre signalling. She uses memory as a creative tool, to sketch the outlines of songs and emotions in charcoal before she inks her evolving narrative. This time the songs are broadly structured around motherhood, being written after the birth of her first child and right before the arrival of her second. In her own words, they detail the process of "recovery, gratitude and new beginnings."
Since "Devotion" was released in 2018, we've witnessed a resurgence of interest in lo-glo trip-hop flutter, and since lockdown the home listening mood has been amplified. But Tirzah smartly swerves this obvious route, retaining the soulful downtempo loveliness of her debut but pepping it up with dissociated abstraction, pensive glaciality and smoove, slippery romanticism. In contemplating motherhood and the bond between parent and child, she creates musical swaddling that feels soothing but doesn't resort to cheap thrills.
The title track cracks open the record with timestretched words and rubbery synths melted over brassy bass sounds in arhythmic cacophony. Whistles take over completely and the expected beat never arrives; it's like a soulful acapella injected into a mercifully short psychedelic voyage. Advance single 'Tectonic' offers us the decelerated groove we may have been expecting, with icey cold vocals over downsampled funk that's half '96 Tricky and half '21 Taz & Meeks.
At its best, "Colourgrade" is unsettlingly simple. On its surface the Dean Blunt co-produced 'Recipe' is a stark vocal over a squashed half-speed beat, but repeat listens tear the seal off the tub, letting the prismatic warmth of complex emotionality haze into the atmosphere - it's just so good. The album's longest piece, 'Crepuscular Rays' is also its most uncompromisingly strange, with Tirzah's disembodied, mutated voice dripping like strawberry syrup over creamy phased waves of strummed electric guitar.
One of the most satisfying and consistently surprising records we've heard in 2021 so far, "Colourgrade" feels as sentient and unpredictable as the new lives that inspired it. It's gonna keep on growing.
The Dutch musician, Oceanic, debuts on Rush Hour.
"The outstanding ‘Total Comfort’ EP, displays his skills as an increasingly confident producer - taking cues both from classic Detroit and UK techno whilst looking at the future with four slices of delicately woven post-modern breakbeat techno."
Horacio Vaggione (born 21 January 1943) is an Argentinian composer of electro-acoustic and instrumental music whose music is regularly played worldwide in major centers and festivals of contemporary music.
"La Maquina de Cantar" (1978) is his first solo recorded work; originally released on the Italian Cramps Records label as the 18th volume of the Nova Musicha series dedicated to contemporary avant-garde composers, "La Maquina de Cantar" is now made available again on Dialogo in a faithful reproduction of the original gatefold cover artwork, including also an inner sleeve with the English translation of the liner notes".
Steve Lacy (July 23, 1934 – June 4, 2004) was an American jazz saxophonist and composer recognized as one of the important players of soprano saxophone.
"Lacy worked extensively in experimental jazz and to a lesser extent in free improvisation, but his music was typically melodic and tightly-structured. Lacy also became a highly distinctive composer, with compositions often built out of little more than a single questioning phrase, repeated several times. In 1977 he released a one-off record titled "Straws" for the Italian Cramps Records label, as the 6th volume of the DIVerso series (which included, among others, Demetrio Stratos' solo albums) dedicated to contemporary avant-garde composers.
"Straws" is now made available again on Dialogo in a faithful reproduction of the original gatefold cover artwork and inner sleeve."
Planet Trip goes full circle for PT007 handing the keys back to Sydney based Caravan aka Paul Jextra for a heavyweight double sider 7″ inch.
"Both sides, Rhum Dérangé & Serchin take on interplanetary cosmic & reggae moods with a signature Caravan magic touch. Taking inspiration from past eras and sounds, while marrying dubbed out lines with boogie infused bass, Caravan builds a refreshing approach to modern outernational sounds."
Ghostly debut from Portland, Oregon-based musician Graham Jonson.
"A student of the Stones Throw catalog (his favorite is Madlib’s Quasimoto), Jonson remains rhythm-driven at heart, trusting his instincts in this new palette of organic instrumentation and verse-chorus structure. Tracks glide and bump with tasteful care to tempo as his scene-building and storytelling knack comes into focus. Jonson’s past material often suited passive listenership, the kind of bedroom-produced beat music that offers secondary utility and function as a companion to primary activities. The Long and Short of It showcases an evolutionary step into a style that uses chops cultivated in that niche that demand a more active listenership. That attention is rewarded with earworms, dazzling production flare, and earnest, genre-spanning songwriting."
Maxwell Sterling and DJ Plead lend crafty hands to Phillip Jondo’s classy debut melange of soundtrack, dembow, jungle and techno influences, dispensed by Dekmantel
With the intention to blur boundaries between headphone and home listening situations, Cologne’s Jondo ventures an immersive style of sound design benefiting from his heightened rhythmic instincts. In duo with Sterling, who leads on from his albums with Ecstatic and AD 93 in recent years, their ‘Dunkelziffer I’ sets the scene with RPG-like intrigue and sense of world building, flush with classical turns of phrase and rent with crisp electronics, where its part ‘II’ follows with scything dembow rhythms, cute bassline house motifs and streaking trance lines recoiling like Paul Marmota meets TCF.
On ‘Whowhuwho’ he tags in hard drum wunderkind DJ Plead for a round of killer jungle drums that barely touch the floor, kept up with Plead’s signature trills and deftest subbass hits and its airy, owl-like lead - you know all Plead productions are essential already. Russia’s Moa Pillar chases up a string of zingers for for Moscow’s ПИР (Peer) with a tuffer remix full of choppy percussive parries and a tightened up lead line.
Jealous God call for EBM reinforcements with three new tracks from Pye Corner Audio, and a collab between Marcel Dettmann & Silent Servant.
Pye Corner Audio does it slow, grubby and inquisitive on Delay Gratification, teasing in a sort of industrial zombie cumbia, while Meet Me In The Void follows a muggier hunch into Carpenter-esque synth alleys, and The Future is a bleak as f^ck black knot of acid rolling with stygian function.
Dettmann subtly indulges his longheld passion and fascination for EBM in collaboration with Juan Mendez aka Silent Servant on The Bond, where they marry a strapping lead arp with floating, over-the-shoulder voices and booming kicks, all pinned into place by a reverberating snare that’s sure to ricochet around Berghain’s main hall like stay shrapnel.
Æthenor's Daniel O'Sullivan impresses again with a second set of off-kilter library music. There's no breakbeats here - O'Sullivan tracks across vast musical territory skirting Indian raga, dense electronic ambient, early synth music, psychedelic folk, choral music and plenty more.
Following last year's silky smooth "Electric Māyā", O'Sullivan's latest library excursion is a deep dive into his meditative realm. It's hard to imagine a lot of this music being used for TV, but that's what makes it better than you'd hope.
O'Sullivan is at his best when he sounds most angelic, like on opening track 'Perpetual Ascension', the choral 'Palo Sagrado' and the striking, church-bell led 'Head in the Bellfry'. Paper Dollhouse's Astrud Steeholder assists on the latter, and on the poppy 'Orgone Attenuation' that sounds almost like The Knife.
Music For Memory stun again with a first-ever reissue/compilation of The System’s sublime new wave pop; immaculately conceived in Birmingham, UK, 1983, but clearly overlooked ever since.
The System EP is set to seduce all comers to its incredible, prototypical pop charms and exquisite production, which yet again makes us question how much uncovered gold is still out there, or at least awaiting a 2nd wind in MFM’s Amsterdam bank.
Featuring three cuts from The System’s sole album, plus a previously unreleased gem, this is a first class example of early ‘80s pop at its most refined, emotive and technically progressive, largely thanks to the skilful studio chops of producer Bob Lamb, who’s hailed in the promo text as a “somewhat cult figure in Birmingham’s music history” who, perhaps unsurprisingly - when considering the strengths of these tunes - also worked on the earliest releases from Duran Duran and also produced UB40’s debut album.
Bearing all that in mind, it’s a wonder that The System are so unknown, but it also explains why original copies of their only LP now trade for a lot of money 2nd hand, especially once you’ve tasted the divine pleasures of Almost Grown or danced to the remarkable proto-Detroit-meets-Junior Boys dream pop of Vampirella.
Big room tekkers from siblings Ed (Tessela) and Tom (Truss) Russell aka Overmono for the neverending Fabric mix series
The 22 track mix slickly spans their big room remit and tastes rooted in the last 25 years of UK raving, racking up a mix of classic garage, techno, and electronica to D&B with milimeter tight transitions and a few surprises strewn across the path. It’s very much built with pedantically neat southern bro’s cutting loose in mind, and primed to soundtrack weekend trade deals.
Expect some beaky Reese-driven garage-techno from them, plus Artwork, dubstep electronica from Milanese and Vex’d, ‘90s anthems by Antonio and Holy Ghost, with contemporary nods to Actress, Anz and Sockethead, plus a run of D&B.
The 2nd part of Leyland Kirby’s uniquely prescient dark ambient masterstroke, Sadly, The Future Is No Longer What It Was  finds us returning to Kirby’s draughty corridors midnight keyboard meditations >> a sublime, haunting experience.
Almost a decade on from its original release we can read Kirby's morose diagnosis of capitalist malaise, deferred futurism and thwarted social utopianism as a genuinely uncanny foresight of what has played out in contemporary society, in an age when social feeds have become an all-encompassing filter for daily life and effectively assuaged the rich analog ambiguity of collectivism in favour of cold, hard, binary politics and reflexive, unthinking emotional responses.
Especially in the wake of Mark Fisher’s passing, Kirby’s sentiments - embedded in titles such as When Did Our Dreams And Futures Drift So Far Apart, and figuratively perfused thru its stark negative space - use shared echoes of the hive mind thru classic film scores from Vangelis and Lynch/ Badalmenti - both quite literally omnipresent - as cues for sorrowful elegies and meditations which aesthetically resonate as much with Deathprod’s liminal scapes, as a sort of mildewed flocking to Satie’s tasteful ambient wallpaper.
It’s not all doom and gloom; there’s an underlying sense of resilience, of resistance, ribboning expressions which flow with pathos and an open-ended emotional curiosity which belies the narcissistic reaffirmations of social media’s echo chambers and dialectic cul-de-sacs, quietly striving to wrench something beautiful and affective from the clutches of a hollow mainstream.
Punishingly heavy, groove-fwd drumtrax that lift the spirit of UK funky, gqom and dembow, shaping familiar sounds into a hybrid Latin club shuffle that defies categorization. Basically, it f*cking bangs.
Mexico City's Omar Suárez has long been N.A.A.F.I's secret weapon, and his debut full-length only proves this further. On "Drum Temple" he wears his influences on his sleeve, sculpting them expertly into a vibrant, cohesive sound that spotlights the sparkling ore mined from a seam where house and hardcore co-exist peacefully.
Uk funky never really went anywhere, but here those beloved percussive patterns sound energized, injected with new flavor. Opener 'Jungla' proves this immediately, with hand drum grooves circling a pounding 4/4 and gqom's unmissable sequence of rushes and slams. 'Drum Dance' is even better, sliding closer to Scratcha's next level hybridized UK gqom but still retaining a slippery, singular sense of style.
As if a full set of drum workouts wasn't enough, "Drum Temple" comes packaged with three exclusive remixes from N.A.A.F.I's Lao, Nick León and WRACK. Lao turns in a rework of the title track, deconstructing it without losing the groove and signaling a haunted, decaying dystopia; León meanwhile turns down the tempo on 'Traib', accentuating the swing and highlighting the original's asymmetry.
Top Tape celebrates its 35th anniversary with the album "Madame Arthur" by PLASTIC COCON (1982-1983).
"These special cassette tape recordings have been lost for decades and are now being released for the first time on vinyl (magenta transparent) and remasterd by Rude66. In the early 80s in Amsterdam there were circles from friends and musicians, in different configurations, which made music together at home for pleasure. Plastic Cocon was such a circle.
Plastic Cocon was based on experimental musical encounters by Robby Horsfall († 2013) and Menko Konings (founder S.M. Nurse). Some of these encounters were also attended by Anneke Stempher (S.M. Nurse)."
In 1996 Thomas Köner and Andy Mellwig’s resoundingly influential debut Porter Ricks album arguably altered the shape of techno as we know it. Now on its 25th anniversary, Mille Plateaux serve a timely reminder of its oceanic might, nearly a decade since it was last reissued by Type
Arriving in the wake of early deep techno explorations by Basic Channel on that duo’s Chain Reaction label, ‘Biokinetics’ made techno’s grid even more fluid and elusive, and in the process brought techno as a concept closer to the unquantifiable clinamen of communal drumming as much as abstract early electronics. The all important, driving slosh of their sound would ripple thru myriad strains of experimental techno ever since, and can be heard echoed in the seasick structures and submerged ambient plangency of everyone from later Richie Hawtin and Rrose to Cam Deas or Helm.
Sluicing material from three 12”s issued between 1995-1996, the album was practically unprecedented in its scope. This can be attributed to the visionary sound design skills of its navigators, combining Thomas Köner’s arctic isolationist sensibilities with Andy Mellwig’s fine-tuned tech-nous, as applied to earlier Async Sense 12” with Gerhard Behles (co-founder of Monolake and Ableton Live) and in his 1995-1998 day job as mastering engineer at Berlin’s D&M. This confluence of hardware knowledge and wetware intuition lead them to a remarkable synthesis of styles defined as ‘Biokinetics’.
Bookended by a pair of pulsating, 12 minute ambient masterpieces in ‘Port Gentil’ and ‘Nautical Zone’, the set also touches on something like a form of gamelan noise with ‘Biokinetics 1’, and the purest systolic whale heart throbs in ‘Biokinetics 2’, while containing some of the heaviest dub techno for clubs in the hypnotic writhe of ‘Port Of Call’ and the salinated steppers special ‘Port of Nuba.’
In the age of rote business techno played by freshly inked, black clad bores, it’s records like ‘Biokinetics’ that remind us of what techno was and can be - music to make you shut your eyes and move.
Sean Bowie follows last year's acclaimed 'Heaven To A Tortured Mind' with a much-needed set of spangled glam rawk NRG and keenly evolved indie chillwave pop that harks back to his cultish Teams material.
When opener 'Jackie' dropped earlier this year it offered up all we needed to know about this sequined collection of searing songcraft. It might be Bowie's most radio-friendly moment to date, and starts "The Asymptotical World" as it means to go on. 'Crushed Velvet' is more sing-along glam goodness, with beats that sound one part Bay City Rollers and one part Washed Out. 'Tuck' centers a vocal performance from Agnes Gryczkowska, aka NAKED, who adds a witchy sparkle to Bowie's wobbly overdriven backdrop. It's a move that reminds of his productions from a decade ago, when he was toying with chillwave as Teams.
Closing track 'Katrina' might be the EP's most engaging though, catching Bowie in a more reflective state with muted vocals, psychedelic spoken word elements and grizzly percussion.
A special edition of Tony Allen and Hugh Masakela's 'Rejoice' with previously unheard parts and bonus mixes.
"Rejoice is the classic collaboration between Tony Allen, the legendary drummer and co-founder of Afrobeat, and Hugh Masekela, the master trumpet player of South African jazz. The record, released to great acclaim in March 2020, became the first posthumous release from Masekela, and the last release from Allen, who sadly passed away a month later.
For this Special Edition, World Circuit have gone back to the original 2010 mixes and added previously unheard parts from the 2019 sessions to create 8 reimagined bonus mixes. The CD and LP releases also feature a booklet with sleeve notes and photos.
Rejoice can be seen as the long overdue confluence of two mighty African musical rivers – a union of two free-flowing souls for whom borders, whether physical or stylistic, are things to pass through or ignore completely. According to Allen, the album deals in “a kind of South African-Nigerian swing-jazz stew”, with its roots firmly in Afrobeat. Allen and Masekela are accompanied on the record by a new generation of well-respected jazz musicians including Tom Herbert (Acoustic Ladyland / The Invisible), Joe Armon-Jones (Ezra Collective), Mutale Chashi (Kokoroko) and Steve Williamson."
Shockout debut from Dembow dream team DJ Python, Kelman Duran & Florentino aka Sangre Nueva, with a killer EP released between DJ Python’s Worldwide Unlimited and Florentino’s Club Romantico imprints, funneling hybrids of reggaeton into deep house x R&G with cinematic influences = unmissable heat for dancers/DJs on the 90-100bpm flex, built for the party.
Assembling an ad hoc trio under the Sangre Nueva banner (translating to “New Blood”), the project is a concerted effort in developing the bloodline of reggaeton, and its dembow beat, which has become a prevailing unit of global rhythmic currency across the board from street raves to pop charts in the past decade. On this fundamental cornerstone of Latin music derived from tresillo - or triplet - drum patterns, the trio present remarkably direct yet dreamy arrangements of their shared style, with Carribean musician Kelman Duran bringing a widescreen sensibility to the ohrwurming top lines of Florentino, and the sensuality of DJ Python, in a lushly compelling tessellation and consolidation of their respective flexes.
Part of an evolving, hybridising tradition rooted in Panamanian dancefloors over a 100 years ago, and since found across the Latin diaspora, Sangre Nueva’s music recalibrates the hip-gripping swerve of dembow with headier content for a totally striking new addition to the style, one porous to US house and UK grime, as much as more impressionistic aspects of ambient and soundtrack paradigms. The results patently echo the producers’ respective background, but also place them in a league of their own, naturally elevating and expanding the dembow sound via crafty electronic processing without patronising the ‘floor, firmly taking artistic license to build on their passions for the mutable genre.
The dusky air of ‘Hurt’ is resoundingly hashed with a mix of soundsystem cries and whispered voices that really set the scene, carrying an effortless traction that’s tightly harnessed into the perreo-styled sexiness of ’Sola’ with its sleek Reese bass and R&G vocal motifs, before ‘Goteo’ dials in heavy inspiration from Miami bass electro in its trunk rattling subs, and ‘Sincero’ is the perfectly romantic kiss off that lives up to its title with gorgeous, twinkling melody and sultier pacing lent an edge of brooding UK pressure akin to Burial.
From Florentino’s actions with Bad Gyal & La Zowi & Kaydy Cain to Kelman’s recent Kanye West studio forays, and thru DJ Python’s cult deep dembow productions, their individual cultivation of the dembow sound is surely already noted. But, together their party powers are amplified, more holistic, and bound to ring home with dancers, DJs, and headphone strollers across the world.
Stormy electronic drama lashed with noise and theatric metal dynamics, from Greek producer Constantine Skourlis
“Constantine Skourlis is no stranger to long works that inspire violence and darkness in the mind. As reflections of the sociopolitical climate, the ongoing human rights struggles we witness, and the suffering so many endure, Skourlis follows the theme of his highly acclaimed debut album Hades with distinct, thematic strength; a dualistic nature of beauty and of violence. Seeking balance and peace with abhorrent horror and inescapable strife, his sound is reflective of his mission statement.
Gorgeous, unique vocal and electronic music with the decisive addition of the legendary Halldorophone clash with the decimating percussion by Serapheim G. of legendary Greek heavy rock band Planet Of Zeus evoking moments of both lucidity and discomfort. Be that of hopeful outcomes or unfettered doom, the motion is there. Loops cascade in on themselves, implode, get lost in frequencies, and reemerge. Every work that Skourlis makes is oceanic in scale. Deep, cold sensations from sub-bass butt up against sunbaked heat from high-pitched string ensembles.
Although adjacent to neoclassical composition, Skourlis finds the permutations between past musicalities and creates a new, distinct invention. It's a sound that could as well come from deep in your skull as much as it could come from the very back of a cave so deep you cannot see the end of it. It's the sound of a bullet leaving a chamber and the sound of it entering bone. Constantine is, without a doubt, one of the composers of the 21st century that will be reflected back upon, no matter what world is left for the future.”
Legendary master of horror John Carpenter revisits his best-known score on 'Halloween Kills', his first trip back to the franchise since 1982's "Halloween III: Season of the Witch".
Joined by his son Cody Carpenter and godson Daniel Davies (son of Dave Davies of the Kinks), Carpenter finally gets a chance to update his sparse 'Halloween' soundtrack. If you've caught any of Carpenter's recent Sacred Bones releases or seen his run of live shows, you'll know what to expect; Davies and Cody have fleshed out his sound without damaging the simplistic brilliance, and that treatment works just as well here.
The DNA of "Halloween" is still present in every cue - from the minimalist five note melody of the main theme to phasing drum machine doom of 'The Myer's House' - and there's not much added except for the occasional jagged guitar fuzz. But there's not much needed; Carpenter didn't need to go overboard here and the cues have been fleshed out without losing their ominous presence. Let's hope "Halloween Kills" director David Gordon Green takes a similar route with the film itself.
A somnambulant modern masterwork, Kali Malone’s 2017 debut full length album is made available again on vinyl some four years since its limited private press of just 100 copies co-released by XKatedral and Bleak Environment.
Composed, recorded and produced in Stockholm 2015-2016, ‘Velocity of Sleep’ sees Kali Malone’s work rendered in a septet of strings, gongs, lute, electronics and tape in the vast R1 Reaktorhallen (Sweden’s first nuclear reactor), the electroacoustic studio EMS, and at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. Her presence is crucial, and liminal, making precise use of tuned sine waves and Studer B67 tape manipulation, while instrumental performance is handled by Peter Söderberg performing on the long-necked Theorbo (a large baroque lute, pictured on the sleeve), Samuel Löfdahl and Oskar Mattsson on Gongs, Vilhelm Bromander on Double Bass, Marta Forsberg on Viola and Adam Grauman on Viola de Gamba - all uniting to produce what feels like a geological time lapse and distillation of European and Indian classical drone musicks.
As far as opening solo statements go, ‘Velocity of Sleep’ is among the most memorable to have emerged this past decade from slow music and experimental classical paradigms. Its languorous yet rigorous consolidation of ideas from across the aeons crosses paths with others before her - the musics of Pauline Oliveros, Phill Niblock, Harley Gaber, Oren Ambarchi all spring to mind - but more importantly helped reset the limits of contemporary music in Malone’s own image. The 3-part, 43 minute work is an ideal example of how staid notions of early and classical music have been jettisoned to instead focus on fundamentals of tone, timbre, tuning, space and temporality with a radical and transfixing effect coolly detached from any directly traditional/sacred meanings.
Peter Söderberg’s justly tuned Theorbo plucks a slowly evolving additive pattern expanded by frippertronic tape delays on the 20 minute title piece, setting a stark tone for a quietly breathtaking resonance of gongs and floating sine waves in ‘1113’ that rest right on the biting point of sublime dissonance, while ‘In Light of Marwa’ pitches into a sort of raga-folk-drone tuned with the fine, durational intensity recalling Harley Gaber’s ‘The Winds Rise In The North’ and earthy cadence of Pauline Oliveros’ vision, yet somehow concentrated, refreshed in a way that’s best felt, and quite impossible to describe.
Beijing duo Gong Gong Gong's genre-melted debut album gets remixed by their fave China-connected producers, including SVBKVLT's Zaliva-D, Yu Su, Howie Lee, Scattered Purgatory, P.E., Angel Wei and more. All over the place, in the best possible way.
On the original album, Gong Gong Gong power through musical genres like Mr. Ben outfits. This remix collection is no different, with each contributor attempting a completely different style. There's Zaliva-D's torched, dystopian club, Howie Lee's electronix-infected Sonic Youth-style noise rock, Yu Su's dubbed-out city pop, Scattered Purgatory's reverberating doom and P.E.'s quirky electro pop and that's only scratching the surface. Beijing is on a tear right now, and some of the world's most exciting sounds are emerging from that fertile meeting-point between global cultures. "Phantom Rhythm 幽靈節奏 Remixed" is an ideal tasting plate.
Pale Saints' Ian Masters and His Name Is Alive's Warren Defever join forces to deconstruct The 13th Floor Elevators' psych classic 'Kingdom of Heaven' and project themselves into a wild, creative musical netherworld split across four tracks. Seriously damaged.
"Kingdom of Heaven" was originally released as a limited lathe cut in Japan, but has thankfully now been opened up to the rest of us. The concept is simple, Master and Defever use the 1966-released 'Kingdom of Heaven' as the springboard for a project that, basically, disintegrates the psychedelic classic into sprawling, hydra-like entities.
Opening track 'Tengoku no ōkoku' is the most expected take and burns with the pulsing dream-pop energy you'd expect from two former 4AD heads, but from there things get a little more murky. 'Kumamushi' veers away completely from the original, layering guitar licks and loops over elegiac vocals before melting into analogue drones and ghostly vocal traces. If the original track was an expression of the band's interest in LSD, this track makes that link painfully obvious.
'Taishōgoto o ōkoku' strips things back to the raw materials, with just guitar and vocals, but it's 15-minute closer 'Uchu' that's the real draw. Glued together with flute sounds, canned vocals and early electronic burbles, before evolving into pastoral synth ambience, it almost sounds like Flying Saucer Attack jamming with Sunburned Hand of the Man. Torched.
Recoiling, snarling percussive aggression and swarming industrial noise by human battery, Sorcery, including a Kangding Ray remix
Where 2019’s debut ‘Manufactured Conflicts’ established Sorcery as a devilish producer in possession of fierce drum palette, aligned to industrial zones by its Samuel Kerridge remix, his follow-up EP ‘Mirrors Of Perception’ builds on those foundations with its billowing widescreen sound design and broader canvas for anxious, pummelling drums.
The first four tracks showcase the Montreal-via-Berlin drummer Merlin Ettore, aka Sorcery purely solo, birthing a gnashing maul of sinew, bones and hair in ‘On The Bias’, and slugging restless industrial syncopations in ’Synovial Membrane’, with the beatless palate cleaner ‘Rainfall Runoff Modelling’ viewing acid rain scorched terrain, and ‘Mirrors of Peception’ plunging back into roiling drum drama.
In the EP’s final throes, Montreal’s Elsiane lends screwed and combed out vocals recalling Aïsha Devi works to cinematic drone scenes, and Kangding Ray reworks ‘Mirrors Of Perception’ with a more regular, club-readied ballast of garage techno mechanics.
Sufjan Stevens and Angelo De Augustine release a collaborative album, A Beginner’s Mind.
"A Beginner’s Mind began when the two musicians and Asthmatic Kitty labelmates decamped to a friend’s cabin in upstate New York for a monthlong songwriting sabbatical. Watching a movie to unwind after each day’s work, they soon found their songs reflecting the films and began investigating this connection in earnest.
The resulting album is 14 songs (loosely) based on (mostly) popular films—highbrow, lowbrow and everything in between. They wrote in tandem—one person writing a verse, the other a chorus, churning out chord progressions and lyrics willy-nilly, often finishing each other’s sentences in the process. Rigorous editing and rewriting ensued. The results are less a “cinematic exegesis” and more a “rambling philosophical inquiry” that allows the songs to free-associate at will. Plot-points, scene summaries, and leading characters are often displaced by esoteric interpolations that ask the bigger question: what does it mean to be human in a broken world?
Stevens and De Augustine wrote everything with a deliberate sense of shoshin—the Zen Buddhist concept for which the record is named and an idea that empowered the pair to look for and write about unlikely inspiration without preconceived notions of what a film had to say (The I-Ching and Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies also served as incentives along the way). The movies became rhetorical prompts, with the songwriters letting their distinct reactions and creative instincts govern their process. The underlying objective was empathy and openness, absent of judgment: to observe with the eyes of a child."
Foodman spells out his adroit take on Chicago footwork mixed with Japanese environmental music in a curiously bass-less wonder for Hyperdub after establishing a nonpareil reputation over the past decade
Despite the lack of bass, ‘Yasuragi Land’ sweetly resonates with Hyperdub’s rhythm-driven fixations in each part, dispensing 17 bite-sized morsels that add up to a very satisfied belly. As one might be able to tell from the cover, if not his name, Foodman likes his grub and his music is deftly flavoured like a multi-course taster menu, keeping everything lightly fried and rhythmelodically harmonised for a sort of spirited musical nourishment.
While the rhythmic focus of his music can be attributed to the inspiration of late ‘00s, early ‘10s juke and footwork from Chicago, the atmospheres of his music specifically, metaphorically references eating at “Michinoeki”, the Japanese motorway service stations, and the ambience of local “Sento”, or Japanese bathhouses, places he goes to “enjoy the atmosphere” and which imbue the album a sense of peace and certainty in unsteady times.
Under lockdown like everyone else, Foodman also revived the spirit of his teenage days as a busker in ‘Yasuragi Land’ by effectively multi-tracking his guitar and drums to resemble the ping pong playfulness of band action. The results are charmingly breezy and light-footed, like a sort of midi jazz-fusion that echoes original footwork, but doesn’t demand your energy, rather it appears to dance off the walls and lend itself to be devoured in one sitting; it’s gently engaging, not engorging, stuff.
South Korean-born, LA-based producer, rapper and singer Park Hye Jin impressed with her "How Can I" EP and Clams Casino, Blood Orange and Nosaj Thing collaborations. "Before I Die" is a mixtape-like effort that combines disparate flavors of hip-hop and dance with sunny K-pop vocals and riffs.
'Before I Die' attempts a lot, but struggles to escape its cascade of influences. Park Hye Jin sounds most comfortable when she works in a house mode. Opening track 'Let's Sing Let's Dance' is the album's most successful track, her voice is assured whether singing or offering deadpan phrases and the production is propulsive and effective. But when she veers into overworked rap subgenres ('Before I Die', 'Where Did I Go') it gets a bit murkier.
It's not all bad news: 'Good Morning Good Night' is a blissful downtempo cut, and 'Can I Get Your Number' interpolates LA's short-lived jerkin' sound in a respectful way. But "Before I Die" is just too disjointed to fully lean into.
Legendary Moss Side/Hulme roots reggae band X-O-Dus are finally given a first vinyl edition of ‘English Black Boys’, their long thwarted debut album for Factory, including the titular, Dennis Bovell-produced 1980 single.
This first vinyl edition of the full ‘English Black Boys’ arrives 40 years after the band were forced to change their name due to similarities with a London band, and Factory effectively sidelined them in the wake of all the attention around Joy Division. The album did eventually come out on CD in 2012, but only now finds its intended vinyl existence, pairing the Dennis Bovell-produced single with contemporaneous songs plus tracks written during the ‘90s and into the ‘00s.
You can imagine that if ‘English Black Boys’ had come out in 1980, it would have become a real touchstone of the Manchester canon by now. As noted by Steve Barker “They were a community-rooted band taking a strong political stance in their lyrics, as opposed to any faux Rasta leanings, and their first single on Factory was well supported by Tony Wilson and Alan Erasmus.”
In an alternate timeline, they would be hailed up there on a wider level with UK reggae greats such as Matumbi and Steel Pulse, but as it is, the album remains a ghostly, richly soulful oddity from the most vital corner and era of Manchester; a place and time where working class African diaspora and Irish communities gelled, and the likes of the Nile and Reno club, Barry Adamson and A Guy Called Gerald would later come to represent to the world at large. X-O-Dus come from the foundation of all that good stuff.
Finally available again, Mika Vainio's Oleva was released in 2008 and ranks alongside his most contemplative work. It alternates between shades of the OG Panasonic blueprint and the explorative ambience perfected on 'Kantamoinen'. It also includes a rare Vainio cover version; an interpretation of Roger Waters’ 'Set the controls for the heart of the sun’.
Under the Ø moniker Vainio proffered some of the most singular and shining electronic music of the last three decades, starting in 1993 with a template-setting series of 12"s for his native Sahko imprint, and ending with 2013’s Konstellaatio. Situated somewhere outside Vainio’s best known ice cold minimalist vs hardware gnarrrr modes, ‘Oleva’ finds Vainio at his deepest, opening with the subs & shimmer of 'Unien Holvit’ and ending with the vapourised lament 'Muistetun Palaava Taajuus’. In between, there are more familiar bleep reductions (if u squint 'U-Bahn’ could almost sit perfectly on top of an Eski blueprint), ‘Mojave’ is pure windswept introspection, and the remarkable ‘Tasanko’ sounds like whatever you'd call the Finnish equivalent of porch-side blues, all slide guitar and a deep sense of unease.
Since his untimely passing, Vainio's extensive catalogue has been weighing heavily on the minds of an electronic music community that was in one way or another completely indebted to his singular sound. Re-evaluating ‘Oleva' with that in mind imbues it with a kind of poignancy that’s hard to describe - this is, after all, minimal music. And yet, it feels deeply moving. Somewhere behind the isolated vista on the cover was a man of few words who quietly set about imposing his own precise aesthetic onto the world. In his own time, and without compromise.
Originally released in 2007, 'Cendre' was the second collaboration between Austrian sound artist Christian Fennesz and Japanese legend Ryuichi Sakamoto. Fourteen years later, it still sounds icy, delicate and striking in its cool, calm elegance.
The album was recorded between 2004 and 2006; Fennesz on guitar and laptop in Vienna, Sakamoto on piano and laptop in New York City. The duo sent recordings back and forth, with one artist drafting a starting point and the other working over the top, developing themes as songs emerged from the aether. When the album became a reality, the duo met in person to work on the final mix. This process is more common now (especially after 2020), but at the time felt faintly novel - their relative detachment imbues the record with a sculpted feeling that focuses the delicacy of Sakamoto's playing into Fennesz's restraint.
While Fennesz usually tends to focus on the interplay between dynamics (loud and quiet, clean and distorted), there's a subtlety to 'Cendre' that feels respectful to Sakamoto's light touch; the washing ambience of 'Haru' and 'Amorph' and the gaseous noise of 'Trace' and 'Kuni' afford Sakamoto's playing pride of place. The result is a collection of ambient lullabies that have been heavily imitated over the last 14 years, but rarely matched.
Scrappy dance trax by the mystifying DJ Marcelle, including guest Michael Vincent Waller, a NYC modern classical pianist. Mad and brilliant.
“DJ Marcelle/Another Nice Mess is that rare combination of things: fearless, innovative, playful, independent, unpredictable and with a great sense of humour. The singular producer and dj from Amsterdam lives in that rare league of artists who are out there, doing their own thing, continually pushing the boundaries of electronic music and having a great time in doing so as well.
Her third album in just over two years is as versatile as ever. Steelpan (!) dancehall goes hand in hand with off the wall techno and weird avant garde. The album contains a surprising collaboration with Michael Vincent Waller, a modern classical composer/pianist from New York: 'The Orphan Serenade' is Marcelle's most personal, sensitive track to date.
As always, her track titles are a joy in themselves ('The Vegans Are Backstage', 'Hum Hum Hum', Technicians Leaving The Club'). The album is covid-19 proof: Marcelle wears a face mask on the sleeve. Join Marcelle in her unique musical universe. And try to explain her the food, please.”