After delivering one of this decade’s early classic LPs, Naarm’s brilliantly incomparable CS + Kreme morph into modal jazz electronic mutations on a deadly cool but restless new album exploring the fissures of Detroit beatdown, early ‘00s electronica, contemporary midnight jazz and ambient rituals, featuring contributions from Bridget St John and James Rushford.
Adored around these parts since their 2016 debut 12” with Total Stasis, Conrad Standish & Sam Karmel’s duo really dominated our listening lives during the pandemic with ’Snoopy’, a heady elision of downbeat styles that crossed borders between lysergic Coil rites and illbient trip hop with a snug intimacy and emotive grip that rewarded deeper with every listen. One of their last live shows before the pandemic was held at The White Hotel in Salford, where the formative, physical experience of performing their music on a finely tuned sound system stuck with the duo as they caught one of the last flights back to Australia, where they endured one of the harshest lockdown protocols in the world; not allowed to travel more than 5 miles from home, and only for limited amounts of time.
During lockdown the residual glow of the preceding months buoyed their spirits and prompted a new slant on CS + Kreme music, urging them to get deeper into it, with melody taking more of a backseat to texture and groove as the recordings manifested a more built-in, metaphoric and circular, organic quality that feels very much in-the-present, but also gently dissociative, evoking the interstitial states of mind of natural highs and nostalgic reminiscence
‘Orange’ arrives as the ideal sibling to ’Snoopy’, blessed with a touch-sensitive emotional intelligence and sensuality that oozes therapeutic vibes. The swirling energies of their first LP here feel settled into a quietly profound psychedelic experience, with longer track lengths allowing their feelings to grow and slosh over the senses with a groggier suspension of disbelief from the snaking rustle of ‘Baseline’ thru the extraordinary 20 minute depths of oily ambient invocation to ‘Storms Rips Banana Tree’ featuring James Rushford on portative organ, Wurlitzer and harpsichord.
The spirit of Arthur Russell's "World of Echo" looms over 'Shred', as moody, viscous strings roll over reduced, machine-gun drum machine patterns and deranged lite-jazz electric piano. Any links the mind makes are inevitably blotted into surreal shapes almost immediately; just as you think you have an idea of where the track's coming from, bizarre vocals and unsettling flute blasts wrench you into a different locale. Even on the relatively austere 'Voice of the Spider', what starts as a baroque minimal techno slowly mutates into glassy FM modernism, with vocal chants and delirious, curvaceous instrumentation that plays like Kemetrix and Detroit Escalator Company on a dank one.
If there's one element that lashes each disparate composition together, it's CS + Kreme's use of voices. On each track there's inevitably a wordless breathiness that roots us in the duo's sonic philosophy; their instrumentals might flutter between vastly different forms of expression, but their transient principles are moored by the most human expression of all. The whisper turns into a murmur (sung by legend Bridget St John) on 'Would You Like a Vampire', and lyrics form a near-song, sounding like Hood's rainy electro-indie variations supplanted into CS + Kreme's psychedelic headspace. It's as close as the duo get to pop, and they follow it by embarking on the album's most uncompromising moment, a 20-minute finale that lurches from transcendent ritual drone into jerky electronics, freeform doom jazz and growling basement noise. If you've made it this far then you've been initiated into Standish and Karmel's musical coterie, and this final mutated gesture feels like a gift from the duo to their most dedicated listeners.
A new vinyl edition of this exquisite LP of home-brewed electronic meditations that speak directly to lonely, heavy-lidded, nicotine-stained experiences.
It feels like a bluer adjunct to the sort of woo you might expect on Spencer Clark’s Pacific City Sound Visions, or the gloopy drift of RAMZi’s meandering new age, but with Pacific breezes swapped out for a Baltic chill and a serotonin-depleted lack of lustre that’s begging us to reach for the 5-HTP right now.
Moody spods and bedsit dreamers, you know the vibe.
Theatrical and eccentric stuff from the Belgian duo of arch outsider Dennis Tyfus and percussionist Jeroen Stevens. One for fans of Ghédalia Tazartès and we don't say that lightly...
If you've spent any amount of time poking around the Belgian experimental world, you should have come across Dennis Tyfus. Based in Antwerp, the influential illustrator heads up Ultra Eczema, the legendary label that released classic plates from artists like Hair Police, Chris Corsano and Bill Orcutt, among many, many others. Each disc adorned with some of the best album art we've encountered, betraying Tyfus's wicked sense of humor and aesthetic mores. As Jeugdbrand, Tyfus approaches his music with the same mentality and resolve, chopping up phrases and vocalizations to express pure emotion rather than anything resembling coherent thought. He's met musically by Stevens' uncanny accompaniments made from drums, concert bells, organs and other soundmaking devices, dramatic passages of sound that capture a level of intensity that's surprisingly minimal.
'We mogen het toch vragen?' is unashamedly ragged, twisting Jandek's freeform expression with Ghédalia Tazartès' wild vocalizing. Tyfus is on peak form here, gasping and wailing as if he's completely isolated from view, while Stevens haphazardly stamps organ flutters over slow-moving sustained drones. It'd be easy to suggest a connection to South Asian musics but that's too obvious somehow - if Tyfus and Stevens are making a conscious reference, it's to parody its application in contemporary experimental music. 'Do you want to move in with all of us' is more ghostly and batshit, with deranged whistles, banged up piano and peculiar glockenspiel twinkles forming illusory walls around Tyfus's haunted house shtick. It all builds up to 'We hadden het haar al eens gezegd?' that sounds something a like a childrens' song played by an art brut school band fronted by the Judderman from the banned Metz advert. Think that was an obscure reference? Try listening to this.
"I Got'Cha b/w No Other Life Without You" from Greenflow on Numero Group.
"Languid yacht-soul from the mind of L.A.-native A.J. Greene and his Greenflow collective. Originally issued as a QCA-custom job in 1977, the group's lone album appeared after years of performing their brand of Sausalito-friendly, seafood AOR up and down the west coast. The LP's standout track is "I Got'Cha," with Greene's sister Eleanor providing innocent "doo-doo-doo-doo-doos" around funky keys, muted trombone, and come-hither whispers."
Not Waving & Romance turn heads into candyfloss with this sublime full-length opus, a keenly awaited follow-up to that Romance tape of mottled modern classical loops that sold out in an hour at the end of last year. If you’re looking for a smudge of blissed ambient in the vein of The Caretaker’s ‘Persistent Repetition Of Phrases', classic Stars Of The Lid, or even Arve Henriksen’s sublime ‘Chiaroscuro’, this is it.
Identified as a consummate collaborator in recent years on records with Jim O’Rourke, Mark Lanegan and Jay Glass Dubs; Alessio Natalizia aka Not Waving is now found at his most amorphous alongside Romance - an enigmatic figure who appeared from outta nowhere with that stunning ‘You Must Remember This’ tape in late 2020, and now lends their midas touch to the nine immaculate pieces on ‘Eyes Of Fate.’ It’s ambient music of a genuinely rarified, elevated calibre, or what the duo tongue-in-cheek term “mythological, Old Testament ambient”, a phrase which signifies a pointedly classicist approach comparable with seminal records by The Caretaker/Leyland Kirby, Brian Eno and SOTL, but with results that also coolly resonate with the modernist realm of castles in the sky ambient inhabited by the likes of Malibu, Kareem Lotfy or AYYA.
The duo’s first recordings explore the fertile territory between secular and religious music that has long fascinated them, and perhaps most poignantly in an age when allegories of the divine and existential bliss and terror are felt most acutely. Using a palette of choral voices looped and diffused into the ether, they recall The Caretaker’s dank parlour ambience in ’Tropic of Desire’, but equally make room for more grandiose statements in ‘While My Heart Is Still Beating’ and ‘Visions of Light’ reminding of GAS at his stateliest, while vignettes such as ‘Sleepers, Awake!’ are redolent of the intervals to Carl Craig and Derrick May’s ‘Relics.
Plugged-in jazz-funk fusion steez from Cherry and co in ’77, back on a timely reissue in step with the chronology of Cherry’s prolific archival programme in recent years.
“After bursting on the scene with Ornette Coleman, trumpeter Don Cherry went on to make some of the most interesting and collectible albums in modern jazz, particularly during the ‘70s, when he incorporated world music motifs into a singular style of jazz fusion.
Produced by Narada Michael Walden, 1977’s Hear & Now was the only solo album Cherry recorded for Atlantic, and while it’s probably the most rock-heavy of any of the albums in his catalog, it still displays his signature eclecticism, incorporating Indian drones on “Mahakali” and African drums on the dazzling, album-ending suite “Journey of Milarepa/Shanti/The Ending Movement - Liberation (from Welkin of Infinity).” It also boasts a fantastic supporting cast with Michael Brecker, Collin Walcott, Marcus Miller, Tony Williams, Steve Jordan, and guitarist Stan Samole, who particularly shines.”
Ruffneck junglist x footwork blow-out backed with a spine-coiling rework by Dwarde & Tim Reaper
Working shades away from the vintage jungl/D&B styles stewarded by Droogs and the likes, Pugilist and Tamen run ’95 styles into the red on ‘Lithium’, and give it a memory update with nagging footwork patterns, dub techno chords and moody electronica pads on ’Synaesthesia’, beside the rolling jungle tekno pressure of ‘Myth’. Darlo radge Dwarde links regular sparring partner Tim Reaper (fresh from listing on Forbes’ 30 under 30) on a choppier cut of ‘Lithium’ that benefits from both sets hands on the scalpel with devilish swerve.
M83's ninth studio album, Fantasy.
"Over the span of two decades, M83 has firmly established himself as an artist whose work transcends mere escapism in favor of full-on worldbuilding. Whether it be via his celebrated studio albums, film soundtracks, or compositions for stage productions, Gonzalez has proven that nothing surpasses his ability to perfectly encapsulate a specific time, emotion, or sense of place. This has led him to become a GRAMMY-nominated musical juggernaut who has headlined Los Angeles's famed Hollywood Bowl, wowed audiences across the globe, and sold over a million units of his 2011 album, Hurry Up, We're Dreaming.
For Gonzalez, Fantasy's direction and aesthetic were immediately clear. "I wanted this record to be very impactful live," he says. "The idea was to come back with something closer to the energy of Before The Dawn Heals Us. The combination of guitars and synths is always in my music, but it’s maybe more present on this new record than on the previous ones."
Gonzalez also sought to continue a trend that has become more prominent in his recent albums. "I wanted to be more present lyrically and vocally" he states. "I thought if I could achieve that, this album will be more personal than those that came before." To capture the exuberance of his dazzling live performances, Gonzalez altered his typical recording process. “I would usually write the demos and then go to my producer to start working on an album," he details. "But this time was a little different. I just wanted to feel the energy of other musicians. The feeling of musicians playing together is something that was missing a bit.""
Thomas Köner's eighth dark ambient tome was originally released in 2002, and is now pressed on vinyl for the first time, including a 12 minute bonus track.
Sporting a title that means "coldest" in Japanese, 'Daikan' is almost an hour long and plumbs the depths of what might be best understood as dark ambient and into electro-acoustic atmospheres that are filled with dread. Like his legendary trilogy of albums - "Nunatak", "Tiemo", "Permafrost" - 'Daikan' sounds as if it's been made with gongs recorded at the bottom of the ocean, with resonant tones that feel ancient. There's a Lovecraftian intensity to this one in particular that would send shivers down the spine if it wasn't so well engineered - if anything, the bass tones lift 'Daikan' into another territory entirely, a precursor for later material from artists like Lawrence English and Ben Frost.
Bonus track 'Banlieue Du Vide' comes from a video installation Köner presented in 2013 at Paris's Musée national d'art moderne. And while it's not as weighty or grim as 'Daikan' (it's got more in common with 2009's "La Barça"), the track's fusion of iced winds and pitch-black tones evokes a similar ancient, impressive tundra.
Alum of Belgium’s legendary Insane Music series and Hawai’s ’SNX’ boxset, Patrick Stas takes his Stroom bow with a posthumous archival survey of melancholic delicacies made under multiple pseudonyms.
The haunting work of Patrick Stas (1995-2020) is emblematic of the early ‘80s Belgian tape scene’s creative fecundity and dare-to-differ DIY discipline. As a musician and co-founder of tape label Home Produkt, he was a key part of a home-brewed movement whose rhizomic organisation forged links between outlier artists across the region and would naturally lay the roots for independent, experimental musicks to follow. Although originally intended for release in 2018, ‘If Paul K .'s Life Was a Movie, This Would Be the Soundtrack of His Death’ sadly sees the light of day as a posthumous dedication to his personalised oeuvre as Stas passed away in late 2020, leaving these 10 songs as spellbinding testament to a creative life well lived.
Pulled from exceedingly rare cassettes and unreleased demos, the cherry-picked goods spell out Stas’ web of styles spanning gloaming post-punk goth with early band General Thî et les fourmis to his wavey organ dub as Albert Et Guido and solo kinks under the Paul K alias. Each imparts a fine flavour of various aspects to Stas’ musical personalities, but linked by a puckered taste for neo-gothic lowlands vibes that resonate his peers such as Bene Gesserit, Tara Cross or Enno Velthuys and share a certain twist of foggy nostalgia for Belgian ballrooms that dials up comparison to noted mayo admirer Leyland Kirby in his Intrigue & Stuff phase, even with protoplasmic traces of new beat in its slow pacing typical of Belgian dance music.
Ice cold, overproof DX7 freak funk from Dutchman Arp Frique and Family, back to do club damage on his Colourful World Records division of Rush Hour
Like Starship Commander Woowoo’s brother from a different mother, or the keenest Dutchman at a fantasy audition for Funkadelic in Amsterdam, Niels Nieuborg aka Arp Frique packs ample bounce to the ounce in his magpie twists on Afro-funk from all corners.
Rife with traces of Caribbean, Cape Verdean, South African and other integers of the Afro-funk spectra, ‘Analog People Digital World’ is a blazing new addition to his beguiling body of work since 2017: springing from the ‘70s private press machine funk styles of ‘Spiritual Masseuse’ and ‘Digital World’ to the pluckiest plugged-in soukous on ‘Omampam’; stopping via Caribbean West London on the stepping ace ‘Jah Kingdom’; nodding to ‘80s Durban bubblegum with ‘Go Now Wetiko’; winking at George Clinton and Bootsie Collins via earliest Drexciya in ‘Duncan Truffle’.
The first three albums in the 'Everywhere At The End Of Time' series in one set - two and a half hours long, each album reveals new points of progression, loss and disintegration, falling further and further towards the abyss of complete memory loss and nothingness...
Embarking on the Caretaker’s final journey with the familiar vernacular of abraded shellac 78s and their ghostly waltzes to emulate the entropic effect of a mind becoming detached from everyone else’s sense of reality and coming to terms with their own, altered, and ever more elusive sense of ontology. The series aims to enlighten our understanding of dementia by breaking it down into a series of stages that provide a haunting guide to its progression, deterioration and disintegration and the way that people experience it according to a range of impending factors.
In other words, Everywhere At The End of Time probes some of the most important questions about modern music’s place in a world that’s increasingly haunted or even choked by the tightening noose of feedback loops of influence; perceptibly questioning the value of old memories as opposed to the creation of new ones, and, likewise the fidelity of those musical memories which remain, and whether we can properly recollect them from the mire of our faulty memory banks without the luxury of choice.
Pavel Milyakov does fruity house swing under his Buttechno aegis for Anthony Naples & Jenny Slattery’s Incienso
Part II to Buttechno’s ‘Minimal Cuts’ session of 2019 puts some wiggle in the groove on four tracks that call to mind Soichi Terada’s slick ‘90s Japanese house. Aye, the ‘90s kink is in full effect between the winking bleep melody and electro-house gait of ‘green’ to the Chi-style wiggle of ‘new pink’, with a spurt of darkroom canter in ‘disko june’ and like Gemini gargling protein on the (amino) acid tweak of ‘funk 33’.
'Faith In Strangers’ was recorded between January 2013 and June 2014, and was edited and sequenced in July 2014. Making use of on an array of instruments, field recordings, found sounds and vocal treatments, it’s a largely analogue variant of hi-tech production styles arcing from the dissonant to the sublime.
The first two tracks recorded during these early sessions bookend the release, the opener ‘Time Away’ featuring Euphonium played by Kim Holly Thorpe and last track ‘Missing’ a contribution by Stott’s occasional vocal collaborator Alison Skidmore who also appeared on 2012’s ‘Luxury Problems’. Between these two points ‘Faith In Strangers’ heads off from the sparse and infected ‘Violence’ to the broken, downcast pop of ‘On Oath’ and the motorik, driving melancholy of ‘Science & Industry’ - three vocal tracks built around that angular production style that's both pioneering spirit and buried in sentiment.
Things take a sharp turn with ‘No Surrender’- a sparkling analogue jam making way for tough, smudged rhythms, while ‘How It Was’ refracts sweaty warehouse signatures and ‘Damage’ finds the sweet spot between RZA’s classic ‘Ghost Dog’ and Terror Danjah at his most brutal. The title track is also perhaps the album's most beautiful, revolcing around a chiming melody bound to the rest of the album via the almost inaudible hum of Stott’s mixing desk. It provides a haze of warmth and nostalgia that ties the nine loose joints that turn this album into the most memorable and oddly cohesive of Stott’s career so far, built and rendered in the spirit of those rare albums that straddle innovation and tradition through darkness and light.
Billed as "the definitive Unknown Mortal Orchestra record", 'V' combines AOR and Hawaiian Hapa-haole music, strangling the songs with up-to-the-minute indie rock production techniques.
Inspired by Hieronymus Bosch, disco, Captain Cook, drone metal and pop, Ruban Nielson has plenty to say on his fifth UMO record. So much in fact that it's a double album that takes Nielson's unmistakable production style to its logical conclusion. If the band's combo of vintage mic/FM transmitter vocals and redlined instrumentation has helped define an era of indie rock, 'V' pushes everything the Kiwi band stands for to its limit, sculpting their songs into crumbly remnants of a soon-to-be distant aesthetic. For the moment, it's still novel and serves the band well, elevating their quirky songs in the same way a film camera might boost the emotional resonance of a set of holiday pics.
Opening track 'The Garden' is based on Bosch's 'Garden of Earthly Delights' but isn't nearly as horrific as that might sound. Nielson's vocals are squashed into a helium shriek, accompanied by Marr-like riffs and drums that'd be lo-fi except for the fact that it's obvious they've been thru numerous processes to sound so rickety. But the sound Nielson is able to approach is quite marvelous, mimicking vintage US AOR while simultaneously critiquing its excesses by leaning on distortion, saturation and compression. 'Meshuggah' is another highlight, sounding like Michael Jackson (or Michael McDonald?) dubbed to a rotting cassette tape. It's a lengthy album, but packed to the gills with purposefully grotty, perfectly manicured pleasures.
Restless rhythm excursions on the cusp of hard drum, cosmic electronics and breakbeat science from Italy’s Nicolò
Raised on the Adriatic coast to a diet of Milford Graves albums and moon rocks, Nicolò has explored a unique conception of electro-acoustic dance music since 2019 that makes a key virtue of compellingly textured percussion and curious space between the beats. His 4th EP ‘Adapting To A Different System Not Using Technology’ is a strong testament to his tekkerz, stretching out on 8 minutes of hiccuping, dusted groove like Shackleton doing Jersey club in ‘All Night Heat’, thru the percolated bass and itchy syncopations of ‘Flateggs’, and onto the EP’s most striking number with the breathless pulse and ascendant choral pads of ‘Toca’, leaving dancers gyring in free, beat-less space on its closing title tune.
Pretoria, SA amapiano dynamo DJ Black Low weighs in a vocal-heavy and triple deep suite of log drums and sultry vibes on his 3rd and definitive album for Awesome Tapes From Africa
Flagged as one of amapiano’s most distinctive producers since 2021’s ‘Uwami’ album, DJ Black Low’s sound is subtly distinguished by a multi-instrumentalist palette puckered into memorable melodies. On his 3rd and most substantial album yet, he plays to amapiano’s deepest house inspirations with a dozen aces, almost all vocalled by a panoply of local artists who share the mic over plush variations elevated by his harmonious arrangements of keys, synth pads and string samples alloyed to that deadly, signature amapiano bop.
Where we had been initially attracted to the mix of dark but playful instrumental hooks and grooves of ‘Downfall Revisit’ and Alone in a Dark’ off his first LP, here we’re seduced by an abundance of vocals and the woozy, dusky, jazz suss of ‘Impumelelo’. Meaning “success” in Zulu, the title signifies a cool confidence in Black Low’s style this time, resulting an effortlessly breezy sequence of aces between the full bodied vox of Black R, K. Dalo & Lah Presh on the ambient-ampiano house of ‘Thando’ thru the concentrated funk of ‘Akulalwa’, to the brooding tension of ‘Bo Mbali Leboh Palesa’ or ‘Mekete’, and weightless-to-rugged ace ‘Lepiano’, with pitch-bent melodies recalling DJ Mujava's ‘Township Funk’ on ‘Lovey’, and plucked syn-strings even echoing earliest Irdial in ‘Drive Through’.
Swedish drone alchemist Mats Erlandsson is sitting in a fictional room on ‘Gyttjans Topografi’, imagining a virtual chamber orchestra using zithers, tapes, double bass, harmonium, organ, and various synthesisers to draft a treatise on alternative tuning and non-normative harmonic structures. Transcendent material - new via XKatedral and recommended if yr into Ellen Arkbro, Duane Pitre, Sarah Davachi.
“The music on this recording is performed by a kind of fictitious chamber ensemble situated in an imaginary room outlined by textures that alternate between gestural foreground and passive landscape. The three pieces contained within this release are tied together by sharing similar harmonic material and instrumentation and could ideally be perceived as parts of one long performance stretching through the two sides of the record. The textural room in which this musical performance operates is unreliable, unstable, constantly shifting in size and activity from sparse and open to dense and claustrophobic. Inside this non-euclidean performance space a chamber ensemble made up of zithers expanded through analog tape transposition, harmonium and organ, double bass, digital FM, feedback-convolution and Serge modular synthesizer perform a music made from justly tuned intervals arranged in a way that blurs the distinction between traditional minor and major tonal harmony in favour of harmonic progression within an essentially modal framework.
‘Oxidationstabell för Hytta A’ unfolds the harmonic material slowly in three sections where individual lines move independently initiated by the attack of the zither while the textural properties of the room shifts and shimmers. ‘Törnar’ forms a dense harmonic counterpoint where lines built from the same intervallic relationships gradually shift the balance from one spectral focal point to the next while the textural-spatial elements move under pressure and permeate the harmonic layers. The double bass heard on this piece was performed by Yair Elazar Glotman.
The whole of Side B is made up of one piece - ‘Sänka’, using a series of chords made from harmonic inversions of a single set of intervals as an anchor, or synchronisation point, for voices gliding towards, or away, from their designated goal as parts of the harmonic structure of the piece. In addition to the harmonic and textural layers previously present, a third percussive voice is present here whose rhythmic material is intimately tied to the intervallic relationships present throughout the record.
The material used to make these pieces included non-harmonic sounds and contaminated field-recordings that have gone through a sort of feedback process between digital and analog, or acoustic, processing where the recordings were edited, processed and re-amplified and recorded again in acoustic spaces to shape their character and imprint acoustic identities on the recordings. The tonal instruments were treated in a process analogous to this - harmonic material built from recordings and digitally generated synthesis recorded, transcribed, rearranged and overdubbed again with additional electronic or acoustic instruments to form a composite electroacoustic instrumental sound.
Mats Erlandsson is a composer and musician, part of the vibrantly reemerging field of drone music in Stockholm, Sweden, associated with practices characterised by the extensive use of sustained sound. Erlandsson presents his work both as a solo artist and in collaborations, most notably together with Yair Elazar Glotman and Maria W Horn.”
DJ Girl with prime Planet Mu gear, a death-defying mashup of footwork, IDM, Miami bass and electro that couldn't have come from anywhere other than the Midwest.
If you've kept a beady eye on the US dance scene in recent years then you're likely to have spotted DJ Girl. The co-founder of Eat Dis Records, she grew up in Detroit and began building up a reputation for chaotically brilliant productions before relocating to Austin, Texas during the pandemic. "Hellworld" lays out an uneasy blueprint for her sound, swerving brutally from brittle footwork ('Get Down') to foul-mouthed electro ('Opp Pack Hittin') and gurgling, k-hole inducing acid ('Technician') within a few short minutes.
As the press release notes it's not unlike a lot of Planet Mu releases from the early 2000s and feels right at home with its greasy production tweaks and cut-n-paste samples you could shake a stick at. But DJ Girl doesn't make music that's drowning in nostalgia, her bizarre - but dancefloor-charmed - musical viewpoint is hybridized and feels curiously fresh. There's a refreshing dissociated havoc to 'Gallery' that sounds as if DJ Assault, Soul Oddity, Ariel Zetina and fellow fresh-faced Mu signing Nondi_ are playing simultaneously. And Irish Twitter comic Lighght steps up for a tight five on 'When U Touch Me', helping DJ Girl to bend skeletal electrical vamps into a hyperpop electro template that sounds as current as 220v to the brain.
Vladislav Delay’s tempestuous footwork tekkerz in full effect on his 2nd set of ‘Dancefloor Classics’, rinsing classic ‘00s R&B, ‘60s soul and chuff-knows what else into wild tips for fans of Rian Treanor, RP Boo, Jlin
With typically febrile alacrity Sasu Ripatti sustains his fecund streak of recent years in all four bullets here. ‘Got Your Money’ shreds up a ‘00s club staple into stuttering footwork ballistics rife with wayward drum patterns that recoil out-of-the-lines, and ‘Didn’t You Know’ appears to flip a ‘60s soul vocal and tear it to tatters in his strong-back centrifuge, like Panda Bear rushing his tits off with DJ Rashad.
‘Two-Door’ snaps back to more conventional footwork with typewriter rhythms and icy electronics in a DJ Paypal style of rhythmic psychedelia, and ‘Memory Lane’ upends in grey RAM matter into a sloshing barrage of machine rhythm attack and yelp like RP Boo in Larry Heard’s washing machine on full cycle.
Rose-tinted retro pop elegance by Malmö trio Death & Vanilla, one of Fire Records’ modern day MVPs and a must check for anyone into Nouvelle Vague, Stereolab, Au Revoir Simone, Laura Groves.
Equipped with an enviable arsenal of analogue gear, and more importantly the nous to put it to great use, Death and Vanilla trail their darker 2019 album ‘Are You A Dreamer?’ with a more subtly optimistic outlook on 5th studio album ‘Flicker’. Song to song they oscillate pastoral and space age whims with a real feel for ohrwurming hooks and sultry grooves that reference a wealth of ‘60s/‘70s library music, gallic Ye-ye pop, psychedelia and kosmiche in their cool stride and verve. At tej risk of stereotyping, they’ve definitely got that Swedish thing for immaculate pop on lock.
Opener ‘Out for Magic’ evokes vintage-clad pretty people bopping with a Gauloises in hand, and ‘baby Snakes’ strolls off on a moonlit adventure. The chiming guitar lead and swaying vocal to ‘Find Another Illusion’ secretes the balmiest feels, and ‘Perpetuum Mobile’ takes a clean leaf from Stereolab’s kosmiche-pop, next to the motorik drive of ‘Looking Glass’. At its most romantic point, ‘Mercury’s Rise’ shimmers with a star-kissed lysergic quality, contrasting sweetly with the dusky ‘Fearless’ and the fading horizon of ‘Transparent Things’.
Cincinnati’s experimental ambient incubator Soda Gong chase aces by Mister Water Wet, Exael and Flaty with James Emrick’s sublime debut album gush of bittersweet, generative expressionism.
“"Actoma" is the new full length record by New York–based musician James Emrick. Emrick may be best known for his work with Kinet Media, handling sound design and scoring for a number of their projects. He utilizes an array of granular and feedback processes within Max/MSP environments to arrive at an idiosyncratic form of computer music that feels willfully opposed to operating within the sediments of the genre.
Techniques such as real-time granulation of samples, Shepard tones, grain diffusion, and complex windowing allow Emrick to dramatize his source material in fascinating ways, and each moment of "Actoma" teems with widescreen textural allure. Perhaps Emrick’s greatest accomplishment is creating a music that remains rigorously committed to severe levels of abstraction while avoiding sterility and coldness entirely. It is a strange and otherworldly landscape indeed, but there is a consciousness there to perceive and record it.”
Coolly intricate jazz-fusion pop, Brainfeeder-style, from LA singer-songwriter/producer Artadi (Pollyn, Knower), effortlessly contouring stacked chord changes with properly enchanting vox
Known to us for her ohrwurm vocal beautifully deployed by Moodymann on his overlooked remix of Pollyn, Genevieve Artadi is a keen part of the LA scene, regularly collaborating with likes of Louis Cole (Knower) and appearing on LPs by Thundercat, Jacob Collier, Sam Wilkes, and players across the spectrum of Brazilian, Afro-Latin, and future jazz musics. ‘Forever Forever’ is her 2nd album for Flying Lotus’ label after 2020’s ‘Dizzy Strange Summer’ and switches up the styles of that album in a more ebullient, effusive bevy encompassing ‘60s psyche soul, Stereolab-like lounging bops, electro-jazz aces and superb broken beat bits recalling 4 Hero. It’s a lot, but never overbearing, and we could happily listen to her deft, honeyed tones all day.
“Genevieve hails from the scarily talented crew that includes Louis Cole, Pedro Martins, Sam Gendel, Sam Wilkes, Jacob Mann and Chiquita Magic, bearing a similar foundation of classical and jazz traditions offset with a healthy punk attitude and passion for musical hybridity and fusion. She admits that being surrounded by these talented individuals is motivation to create in and of itself.
Drawing on the spiritual teachings of Thích Nhất Hạnh – the Vietnamese Thiền Buddhist monk known as the “father of mindfulness”; Ram Dass (guru of modern yoga); Eckhart Tolle and Jiddu Krishnamurti, Genevieve reflects on her relationships, growing up and her adventures in life on this new album. “‘Forever Forever’ is an album about the love I have for the people in my life, attempting to express with a lot of care different sides of it: reassurance, acceptance of change, ruptures, joy.”
Genevieve also emphasizes the importance of anime in her life: “It has inspired me to adopt a bold, full-hearted attitude to my music but also my life more generally,” she acknowledges, referencing a few favourites: Naruto (“It’s changed my life”), Attack on Titan, Rurouni Kenshin, Hikaru No Go, and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures.
Half of the songs for “Forever Forever” were originally written for big band, with Genevieve having struck up a relationship with the Grammy-nominated Norrbotten Big Band from Sweden with whom she has been a composer in residence and performed live many times. Consequently, she says that she listened to Duke Ellington and Gil Evans with Miles Davis in pursuit of a creative spark. “The rest I think is just everything from my past that is in my subconscious,” she says. “Random flashes of inspiration from Chopin, Bach (I was learning some 2-part inventions during the lockdown), Debussy, Nancy Wilson, Björk, Ryan Power, Nobukazu Takemura, The Beatles, Dionne Warwick…”
Sasu Ripatti's second 'Hide Behind the Silence' EP is the most subtle and experimental material we've heard from the Vladislav Delay project in years.
The first installment marked a return to the hazy minimalism of Ripatti's legendary 'Anima' and its predecessors, and the second shows an even greater desire for the Finnish producer to lurch into blurred industrial creaking and upended rhythmic complexity. 'Reflections On The Failure' sounds as if it's about to explode into a flurry of beats at any moment, but retains its composure, rattling and popping like a steam train tugging a cargo of live electrical wiring. The core of the track is a lolloping kick drum, but Ripatti surrounds his rhythms with layers of feedback and grit, pushing them into the background with so much force it disappears almost entirely.
'No More Times' is better, growing slowly from an alarm-like pulse into stormy electrical noise and overlaying polyrhythms that grow into a beat that's fast, but so minimized that it sounds like a washing machine wobbling itself across a nearby room. And that's a good thing.
Low End Activist’s Bruk host Lårry’s dank D&B shadowboxing on a strong plate for fans of Mark, Christoph De Babalon, Felix K, Basic Rhythm
In suit with his unpredictably mutable, subterranean manoeuvres for Super Hexagon, Awkwardly Social and BleeD in recent years, Lårry leans into minimalist forms of D&B replete with the sort of spacious, ghostly sound design that defined his previous excursions between techno, electronica and beatdown.
He holds to a razor-stepping line of halfstep minimalism sealed in resonant spheric tones on ‘In water’, and descends to dank level of D&B rolige on ‘Angela’s Knife’, next to a standout piece of tech-step pugilism on ‘Uniform Uninform’, and cleanly vanquishes the drums for the weightless first half of ‘Yargachin’, then launches into Nico-style step in its latter part.
Japanese no wave legends NON BAND with two unreleased tracks that were recorded before they released their acclaimed debut album.
NON BAND were formed in the early 1980s, from the ashes of the Japanese punk rock movement known as Tokyo Rockers. Bassist and vocalist NON had been in a number of bands before going solo and then reconsidering her choice; NON BAND was the eventual concession, a three piece that placed NON with Kinosuke Yamagishi on violin and clarinet and Mitsuru Tamagaki on drums. These two tracks were recorded with engineer Yasushi Konichi in 1981 at the Mod Studio only shortly before their self-titled debut album, and it gives an insight into their process.
'Vibration Army' is angular but not completely slick - it's still on the cusp of no wave, with NON's punk roots shining through the janky drums and rudimentary bass. NON's quirky vocal performance and Yamagishi's violin is what sets this one apart, giving the track a level of originality that's no doubt given NON BAND their enduring acclaim. 'Silence-High-Speed' is a more trackable move away from punk, and sounds like a Japanese answer to Wire with car engine guitars and drums that sounds as if they're about to burst into funk.
Right on the sweetspot between lovers, rub-a-dub, and early digi pressure, Robert Ffrench’s 1985 dancehall holy grail becomes the 2nd drop on Death is not the End’s reggae reissue label, 333 following a new edition of Devon Russell’s ‘Darker Than Blue’.
“Pioneering artist and producer (and cousin of the late, great Pat Kelly) Robert Ffrench was born in central Kingston in 1962, recording his first records in 1979 at the age of 17. Coming out off the back of a slew of roots & early dancehall-style 45s cut with a wide range of producers thoughout the early '80s, the Wondering LP's release followed closely after two acclaimed LP sets ('Showcase' produced with Lord Koos & 'The Favourite' for Ossie Thomas' Black Solidarity label - plus a split showcase LP with Anthony "Gunshot" Johnson for Jah Thomas' Midnight Rock label).
Ffrench would write and produce the Wondering LP himself in it's entirity, laying down the tracks at Herman Chin-Loy's Aquarius & Michael Carroll's Creative Sounds studios with the help of engineer Christopher Daley. Representing the sound of an artist first confidently striking out on their own, the album elegantly mixes a classic rub-a-dub & lovers rock-inspired sound with nascent digi-esque flourishes. It boasts an enviable list of contributors too, incl. Sly & Robbie, Dwight Pinkney, Robbie Lyn, Nelson Miller (Burning Spear) and Ronald "Nambo" Robinson among others, with Beres Hammond also providing backing vocals in places.
Following the release of Wondering, Ffrench would continue to write and produce, soon after releasing two further self-produced LPs for Edgar White's Parish label - and founded his own 'France' label in the late 80s, through which his productions would start to hit big, most notably alongside Courtney Melody on 'Modern Girl', and with US rapper Heavy D on the track 'More Love'. Robert's productions released through later label 'Ffrench' would go on to boast the cream of the crop of dancehall artists throughout the 90s and early 2000s, and he is often credited with discovering Buju Banton (producing his first single "Ruler" on the Stamina riddim). Ffrench is still actively producing music of his own to this day.”
Singapore’s answer to Grimes, yeule makes dream-powered pop influenced byFinalFnatasy and a peripatetic upbringing - it’s mostly saccharine sweet but with a shoegae moodiness implied by ample reverb prone to unleash venom at opportune moments.
“yeule is the manifested reflection of Nat Ćmiel. An ongoing project since 2012, yeule’s music is as ethereal as it dynamic, reflective of her nomadic upbringing. Though she grew up and attended school in Singapore for most of her life, her family traveled often, developing emotional connections with places far from home that left her searching, unmoored, putting forth a creation that is in constant metamorphosis.
Obsessed with tinkering and discovery, she began by building her own synths. There is a complex, intuitive, and deeply personal nature to yeule's music making. With a launchpad, keyboard, and microphone, she morphs her original cinematic classical compositions into harsh and glittery electronica. Her first full length, Serotonin II, is the fully realized result of this process, resonating with her “mutable self-expression.” She describes this as “the stifling psychological haze turned into perfume.” Death, rebirth, and most mysteriously, the places in between the two hard realities are explored in depth.
Visually, yeule’s world is dreamy and breaches into the unreal, with the name yeule initially being inspired by Final Fantasy XIII-2, where a character dies in a thousand timelines because of a break in the fabric of time itself. She is born again eternally, and always meets the same
fate. In this way the artist relates when she feels herself destroying the older parts of herself, reinventing, born again from memories both real and fabricated. In her own words, “When I came up with the yeule project, she acted as a vessel for me to archive important points in my life. Each song released in its respective era reflects that part of myself, that’s most probably gone by the time you read this.” yeule is forever trying to chip away at her own identity so that she might absorb something different, foreign, the unknown force to which she is drawn.”
The first love letter to the masters of Japanese ambient and environmental music from Argentina’s The Kyoto Connection resurfaces in the glistening wake of their 2022 debut with the ever-reliable Isle Of Jura
The discrete subtleties of Japan’s ‘80s ambient pioneers richly informs the tingling sound of Jesica Rubino, Rodrigo Trado and Facundo Arena’s first tribute to that influential epoch’s sound as The Kyoto Connection. Emerging into a field previously fertilised by Visible Cloaks studious efforts, and also tended to by likes of Nozomu Matsumoto, the trio’s take errs to its most sublime side with a wealth of soft focus, vaporous tones and ASMR-quality sound sensitivity shaped into a slow burning and quietly emotive journey that evokes comparison with staples by Midori Takada’s templates and fringes on cinematic qualities of Ryuichi Sakamoto.
“The album was composed, produced and recorded by Argentinian producer Facundo Arena over the course of one month in early 2018. A self trained musician and digital synths enthusiast, for this project Facundo wanted to move out of his comfort zone and compose the album purely using plugins and sequencing software on his iPad, running the songs directly onto tape, in this case his trusted 1978 Akai GXC-70D tape recorder.
Why an iPad? Facundo explains “In the 1980’s Japanese ambient producers experimented with hardware sequencers and computer sequencers on the Atari ST. Today thanks to IOS apps like Samplr, Korg Gadget and Fugue Machine it’s possible to experiment like the old days with new ways of composing and recording. Each track was recorded live into the Akai, so there were many takes to get the right result with each take recorded on the same cassette (recorded and erased over and over again) which helped to achieve an ‘old tape saturation’ effect”. The image for the album is taken from an old original 1960’s Japanese postcard featuring the famous Arashishama Bridge.”
Basque Country label Hegoa Diskak hail the internationally-unsung composer Lizarralde with a swan dive into his ‘80s/‘90s annals, full of seductively etheric, electro-acoustic space that evokes the traditions, distinctive language and balmy climes of the autonomous Iberian region, and chimes with classic work by Suso Saiz, Jon Hassel, Eno or Harold Budd.
“Timeless minimalistic approach to composition braced by repetition and playfulness. Alberto’s music reflects calm, focus and intimacy. Ethereal and atmospheric, his pieces operate within the digital as well as the analogue realm in equal measures. Sampling, Midi sequencing and field recordings are the instrumentation used in these 15 songs recorded on a four track reel to reel tape. Highest possible recommendation for fans of Suso Saiz, Jon Hassel, Eno or Harold Budd”
“Haizetxe” which stands for wind house, is the first ever record consisting of unreleased material recorded between mid 80’s and 90’s by musician Alberto Lizarralde in Zaldibia, Basque Country. One of the founders of the first school of Improvisational jazz and contemporary music (Jazzle) established in San Sebastián in the early 1990s, Alberto is a well-known figure among Basque musicians but not so much amongst the general public. In his professional curriculum we find the direction of the Plaza Festival, the Zirrara record company, his work as a producer, editor (editions 3e argitalpenak), the direction of the audiovisual installation JA Artzeren Unibertsoa, the arrangements and composition for the Iparraguirre 7 project, etc...And even so, he has managed to stay away from the spotlight. In all this time he was composing and recording music, but the right circumstances never arose for its release.Thus, it has remained stored in a drawer all these years. Finally the music of Alberto Lizarralde sees the light on Hegoa label in a limited run of 300 LPs.”
Whew, this is golden! Enno Velthuys’ impossible-to-find Stroom-endorsed 1985 tape of heartbreaking proto-BoC/Satie-esque synth reveries reissued for the first time, destined for shelves of romantics everywhere.
In the glistening wake of reissues for his sought-after debut ‘Ontmoeting’ (1982) and its follow-up ‘A Glimpse of Light’ (1984), Velthuys' spellbinding sashay between cinematic strokes, proto-BoC ambient wow and flutter, and minimalist synth night-lights on ‘Landscapes in Thin Air’ is pure manna for synth nerds and anyone with an interest in ‘80s ambient obscurities. While more recent synth diggers may recognise his name from Stroom’s 2019 split 7” with Hessel Veldman - who released a 2nd edition of this album on his label EXART in 1985 - Velthuys’ is best regarded as a cult figure of the early ‘80s tape network thanks to his trio of solo albums and cuts scattered across compilations by likes of Insane Music at the time.
The equipment list for ‘Landscapes In Thin Air’ is surely enough to make moist any synth nerd (Keyboards [Pearl Polyphonic], Synthesizer [Roland June 6, Roland SH-09 Monophonic], Guitar, Bass, Percussion, Drum Programming [Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer], Effects [Roland RE-501 Chorus Echo]), and then there’s what he did with it, yielding arguably some of the most beautiful examples we’ve ever heard between the likes of his heart-swallowing scape ‘Ebb and Flood’, to the gauzy 9 minute bliss-out ‘Morning Glory’ and Ernest Hood-alike moments of wonder in ‘Back To Catherine’ or ‘Just Like Lucky Luke’.
Seriously if you are prone to melting into a bag of shivering nerves by classic ambient synth tones, do yourself a favour and prep some landing space before this one knocks you over. Massive recommendation to Ghost Box fiends, BoC nuts, Dominique Lawalrée fans.
Medellín, Colombia’s Tra Tra Trax reload Nick León’s ‘Xstasis’ anthem and Pearson Sound remix with a metallic sidewinder by Nicola Cruz and badsista’s grungy latin techno rework of Luca Durán
In case you forgot what summer felt like in the northern hemisphere after a long winter, Nick León & DJ Babatr’s original ‘Xstasis’ delivers your RDA of vitamin C beside the tight trills of its Pearson Sound remix. New to our ears however is the coiled tresillo techno dynamism and wavey cumbia folk licks of Nicola Cruz’s killer ‘Se pone caliente’, and the rolling slosh of Luca Durán & Parco Palaz’ ‘Metal Parce’, lathered with log drums and pendulous bass by Badsista.
Not so much an actual 'Greatest Hits' but rather a collection of previously unreleased recordings by Andrew Pekler, Jan Jelinek and Hanno Leichtmann, made between 2005 and 2018 and now released via Jelinek's Faitiche imprint.
Groupshow's first LP arrived on ~scape in 2009, but the band had already been around for a few years. They initially convened in 2005 with a live approximation of Jelinek's "Kosmischer Pitch" full-length, but communicated so well that the project developed into a long-term collaboration. In 2008, they created a soundtrack to Andy Warhol's eight hour film "Empire", and it cemented their technique. To Leichtmann, Pekler and Jelinek, Groupshow isn't about composition, it's about improvisation, and their momentum isn't informed by a quiet-loud dynamic. They prefer to think about their music in more installation-like terms, there's no beginning and no end, and there's certainly no fireworks.
"Greatest Hits" assembles some of the trio's loose ends, collecting up ephemeral recordings since the beginning of their partnership. If you've heard music from either member before you'll already have some idea of where this might be going: Leichtmann's ice-cold dub rhythms often float to the surface around bubbly off-shore textures from Pekler and discombobulating treatments from Jelinek, but that's not the complete picture. Groupshow are motivated by their rotating roles; neither artist remains in a fixed position, so it's not always obvious what each member is contributing, or which element is emerging from whom. This dynamism keeps the music fresh, and while it's nothing particularly out of the ordinary for Faitiche - think a psychedelic take on Delia Derbyshire's cracked early noodlings - it's never less than thrilling.
Unwound’s 1995 self-titled album.
"Meeting at the halfway point between Bleach and Damaged, Unwound arrived years after the original trio of Vern Rumsey, Justin Trosper, and Brandt Sandeno made their Avast Studios debut.
Compiling their EPs for Kill Rock Stars and Gravity Records with five more session outtakes, Unwound was released on Rumsey’s Punk In My Vitamins as the band began flirting with the mainstream. Witness a band’s prehistory as it plays out in a feral maelstrom of screaming, distortion, feedback, and abrasive promise."
House dancer, DJ and producer Joey Anderson gives himself and us something to get up/down with on his 4th album of deeply-earthed but cosmically inclined club music .
‘Exotic Sequence’ is Anderson’s first album with Dutch shop-turned-label Deeptrax and leads deeper into the dance after turns with Dekmantel and Acid Test’s Avenue 66 sub-print in the past decade. The US artist first earned his stripes as a dancer in New Jersey clubs, and he makes music to move himself as much as anyone else. The eight tracky aces on his new album relate directly, as ever, to his dancefloor-honed intuitions in a way that evidently escapes too many other producers and DJs who don’t dance, and we can usually tell. It’s worth watching a video of Anderson’s loosey-goosey, OG house dancer style for context, where needed, to see how his body relates to the music.
The sequencer-teased melodies and offset bass of ‘Monotheism’ suggest a sloshing shuffle, and ‘Opix2’ keeps it below the belt like Theo Parrish on a dub house tip, beside the pirouetting arps and hypnotic, tracky development of ’Stop’. Best of all, the title tune really locks bodies into it syncopated swill of piquant arps and pendulous bass heft, and the subtle percussive accenting and floating mixing of ‘After The Rain’ effortless leaves bodies aerial and feeling themselves.
A New Directive From The Bureau Of Compulsory Entertainment from contemporary Irish guitarist Jonny Dillon.
"Jonny Dillon’s debut acoustic LP ‘Songs For A One-String Guitar’ took the listening public by surprise and the critics by storm when it dropped out of the blue on All-City in 2019. It represented a departure for an artist who was renowned for having the Midas touch when it came to coaxing dance floor fire from all manner of hardware. But fortune favours the brave and temporarily setting the machinery aside and following an acoustic path to the waterfall has already reaped rich rewards for Jonny Dillon.
Just like the debut offering, this a path inherently worth following too, every step of the way. This time Jonny’s singular playing style finds true expression in a sound world expertly shaped by a master of the production craft, John ’Spud’ Murphy in Hellfire Studio. Masters at work, times two. Like all dream productions, it quickly assumes three dimensional proportions and becomes a place to go in and of itself, worth returning and retreating to, time and again.
On A New Directive From The Bureau of Compulsory Entertaintment, his mode of expression is as clear and impactful as the immediate impression the sound makes on us. His is a strong game. He rises to the occasion and fulfils a great need on our part in so doing. We have to give thanks where it’s due. Balms for the soul are hardly two-a-penny in these challenging times but this is a timely one and of a lasting kind too. In stripping everything back and breaking his sound down into the bare component parts of reverberating steel strings on resonant wood, he has tapped into a kind of universal music of the spheres. It’s in tune with the times and more. Big picture sound with heart and soul to match. The iridescent sound he conjures from that same deep is a joyous thing to behold imbued as it is with a kind of light that never goes out. A dozen jewels adorn this timeless creation, each one a glimpse of eternity."
Deadly desert blues fire from Niger’s Tuareg guitar hero, joined by ace drum machine workouts on first of two volumes blending studio jams with gonzo field recordings.
Memorably first introduced to the world at large via Sahel Sounds’ revelatory ‘Music from Saharan Cellphones’ compilation in 2010, Mdou Moctar has had a stellar rise to international acclaim via his string of albums for Sahel Sounds that led to live LP ‘Blue Stage Sessions’ for Jack White’s Third man Records and a fruitful current relationship with legendary US indie-rock titans Matador. The ‘Niger EP Vol. 1’ session relates to a string of mixtapes made by Mdou in 2020 and collecting candid recordings from 2017-2020 documenting the band at weddings, picnics, rehearsals, and impromptu house concerts that evidence the ceaseless stream of fire from his fingertips in multiple situations.
Also working as a sort of post-fact primer for his first Matador LP ‘Afrique Victime’ (2021), the six tracks are most notable for the opening pair of jams with drum machines, laying down Hendrixian flames on the downslow swag of ‘Imouhar’ and picking the knees up at a right trot with ‘Chismiten’, next to cyclical blues rock of ’Sibidoul’, the earthier grind of ‘Afelen’, and the sun-baked scene of communal singing and lilting riffs in ‘Layla’ or early echoes of his album on ‘Afrique Victime (Live)’ - a must for his legion followers.
2nd in a pair of gonzo perspectives on Mdou Moctar’s incendiary Tuareg blues, collecting field recordings made in the run-up to his prominent Matador album.
Memorably first introduced to the world at large via Sahel Sounds’ revelatory ‘Music from Saharan Cellphones’ compilation in 2010, Mdou Moctar has had a stellar rise to international acclaim via his string of albums for Sahel Sounds that led to live LP ‘Blue Stage Sessions’ for Jack White’s Third man Records and a fruitful current relationship with legendary US indie-rock titans Matador. The ‘Niger EP Vol. 2’ session relates to a string of mixtapes made by Mdou in 2020 and collecting candid recordings from 2017-2020 documenting the band at weddings, picnics, rehearsals, and impromptu house concerts that evidence the ceaseless stream of fire from his fingertips in multiple situations.
Lighting off with the strolling blues groove and choral harmony of ‘Ibis Amghar’, this one’s notable for the trance-inducing desert psych-blues juggernaut ‘Ibitilan’, beside the Hendrixian flames of ‘Nakanegh Dich’, the swaying folk blues of ‘Asdikte Akal’, and the reverberating rollick of ‘Azawad’, whose tentative start soon enough knits into a swingeing sort of fusion-rock charge.
Who knew that Greek popular music had a real kink for Hawaiian steel guitar music since the 1920’s? Or that A. Kostis, the Rebetika legend behind Kaike Ena Sholio (A School Is Burned) and many more, was also the greatest exponent of that sound as leader of Kostas Bezos And The White Birds? Not us, that’s for sure, and this LP time capsule from Portland’s amazing Mississippi Records and Olvido Records is blowing our minds right now.
If we consider the connection between the guitar’s ancient arabic roots, and the way it mutated into lap steel and ukulele styles out in the middle of the Pacific during the 1800s before becoming absorbed into Greek middle class and popular music of the 1920’s, then Kostas Bezos And The White Birds pushes the concept of Greek folk music as a bridge between East and West to totally new, extreme degrees for any listener who has a taste for this sound unmatched by their knowledge of it provenance.
Effectively a playfully syncretic phenomena which even had its own genre name, Havagies, the sound recalls everything from Disney showtunes in the amazing opener The White Birds In The Mountains , to eerie early blues spirituals in Oh, Athens , but actually largely steers wide of the sorrowful Rebetika sound, aside from in the exquisitely moody instrumental pall of At Laïni’s Tavern , but it’s easy enough to hear the connective ligature of A. Kostis/Kostas Bezos’s wonderfully melodic turn-of-phrase tying it all together.
Next on Lord of the Isles’ Dusk Delay label is a rustic-textured deep house and ambient suite by Andrey Kurokhtin aka Shine Grooves for fans of Pendle Coven and Buttechno.
‘Pictures Of A Mood’ dances in a half light between interrelated, atmospheric styles of dance and home-listening music. Shine Grooves makes dreamy music that resonates the pastoral feel to Lord of the Isles’ own music and the moods we’d associate with Scottish p[roductions by Pub, North Sea Dialect or the Benbecula label, and the way they bend traces of deep house, AI ambient and wide electronics to taste.
The crackling deep house bop ‘Picture of Mood’ ushers a vibe that he teases between LOTI square bass in ‘Dance Ambient’, to the back-of-the-eyelids light dance and skewed drums of ‘Sverdlovskaya Sonata’, folding nightlight melodies into insectoid IDM on ‘Earth Reverse’ and Christ-like downbeats in ‘Na Pike Romantiki’, an reminding to Bola or Pendle Coven’s nithered Pennine electronica on ’Stendhal Syndrome’.
Actress' 3rd album, 'R.I.P', his 2nd for Honest Jon's, is now a decade old.
Despite being a vital cog in the machinery of underground UK dance and electronics since at least 2004 (when he released his 'No Tricks' debut), it's fair to say that by the time 'R.I.P.' was released Darren J. Cunningham made the shift from cult concern to acknowledged auteur of some repute. His work with Damon Albarn's DRC Music, beside a legendary DJ set at Sonar and remixes of Shangaan Electro, Panda Bear and Radiohead all elevated the fact; so expectations were high for 'R.I.P'.
Produced exclusively on hardware and inspired by Milton's classic poem 'Paradise Lost', Actress arranged his most labyrinthine, esoteric release to date; a set of 15 tracks traversing crystallized radiophonics and subterranean Techno with a psychedelic sideswipe that left us dazed and beguiled. By assimilating machine-like characteristics - his notions of "seeping yourself liquid into the machinery" Cunningham effectively became an interpreter, a symbiotic conduit with the potential to manipulate your consciousness. The newfound clarity and fluid narration made 'R.I.P.' the most intriguing chapter in the Actress saga so far - an unmissable experience.
Woodcut digidub x offgrid dancehall from Glasgow’s Grim Lusk, coming with the type of textured lean found in his Dip Friso ace earlier in ’22
Murray Collier aka Grim Lusk rustles six frazzled, dubwise bullets for the early hours or the slumped afters. The locked-in hypnosis of ‘Nuovo’ harnesses steam-powered drum machines and animist shapes in Afro-Latin syncopation, beside the lysergic Sleng Teng styles of ‘Partans’, and and the bubbling pots ’n pans dub of ‘Not Enough’ comparable with Disrupt or Tapes.
On the flip, he hits it slow and low like a Lord Tusk grinder in ‘Diving Pool’ and picks up your bandy knees with the killer dubwise trample of ‘Wazoo’, recalling Jay Glass Dubs’ skeletal echo chamber oddities.
Gorgeous salvo from a blind-spot of 1970s DIY folk as featured on the exquisite ‘Ghost Riders’ comp and now pressed on 7” backed with unreleased versions, via the ever-excellent Efficient Space.
“Tresa Leigh is the reflection of St. Simons Island, Georgia teenager Teresa Laxamana (né Leggett). Wooed by a classifieds listing to audition for Philly funk and soul imprint Lyndell Records, the aspiring 15 year old dragged her father, guitar, fender amplifier and microphone to perform her convincingly mature folk tales of first time heartbreak. Winning the support of label owner Walter L Rayfield, the fresh recruit cut two originals in a makeshift motel studio on the neighbouring Jekyll Island, backed by a band of unhurried session players. The 1970 recording yielded her debut 45, pairing 'I Remember's endearing juvenile jangle with the heartsick Ghost Riders cornerstone 'Until Then'.
After a car accident prevented Mr. Rayfield from fulfilling his release plans, an unswayed Tresa responded to Great World Of Sound’s newspaper advert, baiting the prospect of gold records, major label connections and sales of a million copies. With family and friends crowdfunding the $1,200 that the company required to produce a follow-up 7”, she jetted to Nashville, recording a slicker, emotionally elevated update on 'Until Then', and the symphonic slow dancer 'I Miss You'. In another unfortunate career misfire, the dubious label failed to deliver on any of their promises, with the artist volunteering the only surviving copy for restoration.
Collating all four recordings, this brief anthology immortalises the innocent small town dreams of a genuine original, inadvertently echoing the likes of Nora Guthrie, Bonnie Dobson and Patti Whipp.”
David Sylvian's remarkable "Blemish" was released at the tail end of 2003 under a hail of critical acclaim that's been resonating ever since. Featuring guitar and compositional contributions from the legendary Derek Bailey on three of the tracks, plus a closing piece arranged and augmented electronically by Christian Fennesz, "Blemish" is a stark, haunting, genre-defying album that revolves nervously around Sylvian's instantly recognisable voice.
Blemish is beautiful and jarring at one and the same time, imbuing a kind of haunting isolation that you can't quite pin down - moving, beautiful and jarring at the same time.
Probably the best-known free jazz album outside of John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme", Pharoah Sanders' 1969 spiritual masterpiece was a milestone in his career, defining his artistry outside of Coltrane's shadow. Completely remastered, it's never sounded better.
Initially best known for supporting Coltrane on 1965's Albert Ayler-influenced Ascension set and Meditations, the spiritual successor to A Love Supreme, Sanders defined the uniqueness of his voice on 'Karma'. His personal approach to the horn had already inspired Coltrane in his later years, but 1965's 'Pharoah's First' was a mixed bag, weighed down by an awkward supporting cast. 'Tauhid' was better, but 'Karma' is where Sanders found a way to coherently balance his charged political outlook and his elevated musical ideology. There are only two tracks, the winding 33-minute epic 'The Creator Has A Master Plan', and 'Colors', a short five-minute coda, but it's all Sanders needs to lug us into a musical universe that's defined by his unorthodox approach to the genre. Integrating African percussion and Leon Thomas's distinctive vocals, supposedly learned from Central African foragers, Sanders relied not so much on blue notes but a spectrum of color outside of equal temperament's restrictive palette.
Yet unlike much of the output that emerged from the vanguard elite (Ayler, Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra), 'Karma' is surprisingly digestible for the uninitiated, and almost poppy at times. Sanders' extended technique lies at the heart of the recording, and his mastery of breath and overblowing is still impressive even after hearing it mimicked endlessly, his ability to fuse complex microtonality with tear-inducingly soulful composition is most startling. 'Karma' remains one of the most popular jazz albums of its kind because it not only stands as a remarkable blueprint, but it helps color a cultural era marked by the civil rights movement. As Black Americans demanded freedom, Black creatives broadcast that call across the world with music that broke the shackles of Western institutions, gazing towards Africa, the Caribbean, Asia, and beyond. Labelling 'Karma' spiritual hardly does it justice: it's spirit itself.
'Dream Loss' is the murkier, more grimy counterpart to 'Alien Observer's submerged pop and travels further into Liz's astral tape haze and noisy, vocal ambience.
While the album might begin unassumingly enough with the downplayed 'Dragging the Streets', 'I Saw A Ray' greets us with a volcanic slither of noise and calloused harmony. This buried melancholy transports us through the album, and while the noise subsides to make way for Liz's layered vocal loops and withdrawn songs, the character and texture is still one of distortion and fragmentation.
As Liz Harris explained in the run-up to this double release, the albums are two very separate works, yet feed off eachother when heard together. To hear one without the other is to only hear a single facet of a whole piece - 'Dream Loss' adds the darkness, and in sinking deep into it we get a whole new understanding for 'Alien Observer'. It's a harrowing trip, but one laced with beauty.
Singular blues journeyman Lonnie Holley returns, flanked by acolytes Moor Mother, Michael Stipe, Bon Iver, Sharon Van Etten, Rokia Koné, and Jeff Parker for a significant new album.
Marking just over a decade since his late-blooming music career kicked off with the incredible introduction ‘Just Before Music’ (2012), Holley gathers his strengths alongside a stellar cast of pop, folk and jazz musicians who’ve understandably become smitten by his style of blues emoting over the past 10 years.
Born into an Alabama whiskey house in 1950, Holley had a tough upbringing that has been covered extensively in interviews and elsewhere, famously leading him to become a genuine “outsider” artist by his late 20’s, with a practice spanning sculpture, drawing, painting, photography, and, most pertinently here, musical performance. Drawing on a wellspring of lived experience and hard-honed intuition, his mostly improvised music expresses a timeless pain and depth of emotion that practically snags any new set of ears on first listen, recalling everyone from Linda Sharrock to Scott Walker in a humbling and inimitable style that’s ultimately peerless in the contemporary field.
A vestige of old worlds, Lonnie’s deep fried croon feels like the final croak of a blues music that began began more than a century and a half ago. Thanks to Holley’s improvisational nous, ’Oh Me Oh My’ exemplifies how his naturally avant blues mutably bridges the old world of blues, gospel spirituals, country-folk and the modern worlds of pop, rock and its experimental offshoots. As such he’s sort of a psychopomp for the ages, letting us know things don’t change as quickly as we like to think, and that there’s still magick to be found int he old ways.
Always most powerful solo, as with the spittle-inflected holler of ‘Testing’, thru the sparking psych-rock-blues of ‘Mount Meigs’, and the remarkable closer of Burroughsian growl and pulsing flutes in ‘Future Child’, the album’s collaborations faithfully play to Holley’s style with rewarding results. Michael Stipe provides a Jason Pierce-like gospel counterpoint in the ether of its title tune, and Moor Mother is at her best on ‘Earth Will Be There’, while mutual spirit and contemporary Chicago jazz don Jeff Parker beautifully chimes in with guitar and atmospheric texture in ‘I Can’t Hush.
Takeshi Terauchi was one of Japan's first guitar heroes and "Eleki Bushi" is an ideal primer, collecting the best moments from his most enduring period, when he crossed US and UK garage rock with traditional Japanese folk.
Rock 'n roll was unfathomably popular in Japan in the aftermath of World War II, to the point where it inspired a generation of teenagers to develop a sound that became known as "eleki". Using electric guitars to emulate surf rock and working without vocals, bands like The Vultures caused a rush of excitement around this new sound, and young guitarist Terauchi would become one of the country's first axe wielding superstars. In 1962 he founded Takeshi Terauchi & Blue Jeans and achieved massive popularity, but between 1966 and 1974 he concentrated his efforts on a fusion of surf rock and Japanese folk that still sounds completely novel.
Terauchi's mother had been a music teacher and shamisen player, and while Terauchi started playing the guitar when he was just five years old, he took on some of his mother's techniques. Opening track 'Rashoumon' begins with evocative flutes and crashing drums, and when Terauchi's guitar finally enters the picture it takes on the role of the shamisen before speeding into a Doors-inspired organ duet and Shadows-esque instrumental buzz. 'Tsugaru Jongara Bushi' is harder to place but no less bizarre; here Terauchi plays his guitar against a wiry monosynth lead, pushing the tempo in-and-out of traditional and contemporary templates.
The jagged fusion might be confusing to some ears but like the library records emerging from Italy, France and the UK in the same era, it's remarkably funky. It wouldn't be completely unexpected if you heard any of these riffs or broken rhythms on some Madlib tape or other - diggers take note.
DJ Stingray lends a nasty remix to a debut EP of fierce electro bone rattlers by UK’s Ufaze
‘Hole’ firms up Ufaze’s steez after early compilation incursions on Dionysian Mysteries and Mosaique since 2019. Patently skooled in the sound of harder-edge Detroit and Euro electro form the likes of Stingray or Ultradyne, the original cuts fire proper pugilist electro tekkerz on ‘Hide’, it’s acidic sparring partner ‘J03’, and the quicker pace and numbed-out atmospheres of ‘Dereliction Zone’, while Stingray tags in for a tangier mix of ‘Hide’ treated with his signature Motor City magick for more venomous bite and urgency.
Crazy compilation hustling obscure Hi NRG Manc gems from the Savoy cabal and Rowetta beside ANOHNI songs, an industrial cracker by Diamanda Galás and tortured torchsongs, this is one of the oddest compilations of recent times - compiled from the vaults of Blacklips Performance Cult, a collective of underground performers, artists and drag queens formed in 1992 by ANOHNI.
Notable for including the first official digital release of Meng & Ecker’s spunky Hi-NRG jam ’Shoot Your Load’ and the sleazier screw of ‘Golden Shower’, the full 25-track set of ‘Blacklips Bar: Androgyns and Deviants - Industrial Romance for Bruised and Battered Angels, 1992–1995’ throws back to the backrooms and darkrooms of the early ‘90s in a way previously uncovered by the reissue-nostalgia complex. Across its 90 minute girth the set gets you up for a wiggle, then spanks your arse down to much smokier, sultrier treats in an unpredictable style that speaks to lesser known currents of early ‘90s queer bars and underground establishments.
Our eyes lit up like a flicked-on neon sign at the sight of Meng & Ecker’s dirty one-two all up in it. Hailing from the archives of Manchester’s legendary, transgressive publishers Savoy - who would issue a stack of cover versions by disgraced rock ’n roll star P.J. Proby, as well as Fenella Fielding covers of New Order and Kylie Minogue - the two Meng & Ecker cuts wink at an era when Savoy supplied printed filth to many of Manchester’s ne’er-do-wells and was regularly raided by pious dibble. They’ve been defunct for a decade now, but we’ve been playing the super campy Hi-NRG of ‘Shoot Your Load’, starring a belting Rowetta vocal, regularly at The White Hotel since its inception, and it’s great to finally be able to point other mucky runts to this digital edition, as well as the lesser known piss play anthem ‘Golden Shower’.
Aside from the heaving might and howl of Diamanda Galás’ ‘Double-Barrel Prayer’, and some garage-punky muck in Minty’s foul mouther tirade ‘Useless Man’, or the psych rock of ‘Stairs’ by Christian Death, the rest is mostly given to much more atmospheric songcraft between Joey Arias’ piano draped rendition of ‘Good Morning Heartache’, a Coil-esque beauty ‘My Final Sunshine’ by Kabuki Sunshine, and of course, the clutch of ANOHNI songs hailing to their years in performance art collective Blacklips with Johanna Constantine, and including the gorgeous synth torchsong ‘Rapture’, and the naked room recording of ‘Love Letters’ performed as Fiona Blue.