The outstanding maiden release on Pete Swanson’s Freedom To Spend label is a reissue of Michele Mercure’s sublime obscurity Eye Chant (1986), which was originally issued under her then married name, Michele Musser, and has since become a proper collectors item regarded for its patently otherworldly blend of minimal wave, new age ambient and creamy, krauty electro boogie.
In the early ‘80s, with a background working as a cell animator, and hailing from a mid-sized industrial town, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA, Michele was embedded in the the town’s visual arts community but suffered for lack of decent music - a familiar whinge from anyone who grew up outside of the big cities - so she made her own wickedly inventive and expressive sound using synths, effects, tape loops, vocals.
Her visual and musical worlds first gelled in a 1983 soundtrack for Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot, followed by three self-released cassettes which built on that aesthetic, creating a richly synaesthetic style of highly visual yet mostly minimalist music.
Released a few years later, Eye Chant was the pinnacle of her output, and is now revealed to the world at large, thirty years later. From the rim we’re sent skyward into the waltzing orbit of Tour De France (Day 2) and kissed with the budget Jean Michel-Jarre vibes of In The Air, handing over to the wistfully primitivist incantation, The Intruder and hitting lightspeed with her soaring soundtrack for a performance art piece, 100% Bridal Illusion, where she calves from ecstatic highs into a scene of tumbling 606 drum machine, seagulls and nods to squabbly free jazz.
The others also live up to her name, almost imperceptibly shifting from glowing microtones to alien noise and slippery, lounging electro fusion with Dream Clock, and then like some salty-curdled ambient stroke in Proteus and the Marlin that uncannily reminds us of mid ‘90s Rephlex charms - think super melodic AFX or Cylob - before melting all over the ‘floor with a wigged-out waltz called Too Much primed for the back room at One Eyed Jack’s.
It’s easy to hear, this is strongly tipped to fans of Julia Holter, Suzanne Ciani, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, AFX, Irdial Discs.
Lakker’s restless explorer, Ian McDonnell a.k.a. Eomac, presents a mesmerising study of Islamic and Arabic drum breaks and string arrangements augmented with spacious electronic treatments in his 4th solo album, Bedouin Trax for Bedouin Records.
Taking samples from a bouquet of Moroccan street sounds, Sufi ritual music and Baghdadi dabke, Eomac diffuses and enmeshes their integral, individual atmospheres and sacred geometries in an often haunting, curiously distanced consolidation of acoustic and electronic, east and west sensibilities that’s respectful to the material yet faithful to his electro-techno roots.
From a relative outsider’s perspective, he’s really nailed a vibe for us; offering ten tracks whittled down from 30, with particular highlights in the percussive suss of pieces such as the tumultuous, angular Entrance and the dabke-derived patterns of Same Heart, Same Breath, Same Life, Same Death and the Shackleton-esque Ritual whilst his tone-based works make the source material sound uncannily close to Akira Rabelais’ convolutions of medieval choral music, especially in Prayer Pt.1 and it all comes together perfectly in the ecstatic, guttural Incantation.
Plush, deeper jungle from Alex Eveson’s Dead Man’s Chest project
Brukking out for fans of Sully or Lee Gamble’s ‘ardcore revisionism in three tracks veering from patchworked cut-up styles such as High Noon In Cotham to the dextrously woven dipper Darkness At Dawn, and on a rub-a-dub tip with Hangman Posse.
Gqom Oh! showcase another new Durban artist to the northern hemisphere with Emo Kid’s Gqomtera EP, featuring strong highlights in the mean af charge of Futuristic Gqom, on the cold, electroid Zulu knocks of Digital Response.
“Durban's 23 year-old producer Emo Kid presents Gqomtera on Gqom Oh!. The record actually explores sgubhu, a strain of South African dance music that shares many stylistic parallels with gqom, though it is always written with a 4x4 beat. Like DJ Lag before him, an artist widely considered the king of gqom, Emo Kid is also considered a pioneer in Durban. At eight tracks long, Gqomtera provides a comprehensive overview of the sgubhu sound, with the aim of taking the listener on their own "Durban Journey". "I wanted to show the uniqueness of my own style which I would describe as more musical," Emo Kid explains, "you can feel the music when you listen but it still hits hard with that gqom flavor."
That gqom flavor, powered by hard, fast, uncompromising drums, provides a solid core from which everything else functions. Bright, shimmering trance synths are featured on "Futuristic Gqom". There's also space for harder, deeper cuts, the charging pace and power of "Insimbi Yase Dubane", and the anthemic "Asbambeki" featuring local crew TLC Fam. Capturing the raw, street sounds of his city, Emo Kid is the latest Durban artist to take the music global and with Gqomtera, he puts sgubhu firmly on the map. Includes a download card with four bonus tracks: "Enkwarini" featuring vocalist Fawell, "Ground Shaker", "Digital Response", and "Isukile" featuring Mapopo.”
Burial’s sophomore LP, originally issued in 2007 only a year after his pivotal debut, is another masterpiece of urban UK composition and innovative imagineering whose sense of melancholic space, pop-wise dexterity and dancefloor yearn has rarely been explored or surpassed since its release.
Where its predecessor was starkly paranoid, mostly instrumental, Untrue was gilded with gorgeous, cut-up R&B and UKG vox, and interspersed with segments of nocturnal reverie that played out like the OST for a yung UK romance that replaced posh, gurning actors with real life road characters and focussed on the spaces between - between the club and home; between night and day; masculine and feminine; waking life and dream life; Maccy D’s and alley doorways; being high AF and coming down.
It was and still is Burial’s love note to UKG and R&G, and by turns gave context and validated those genres for a lot of listeners who arguably wouldn’t have touched that sound, or at least dismissed it as pop pap or with some snide, racist undertone before Burial’s revivalist instincts hybridised it with trip hop and snarling D&B memes.
More positively, however, depending on which way you look at it, this album also opened the endorphin floodgates for a whole raft of f****e garage producers to get in touch with their feminine side, especially in contrast to prevailing, laddish dubstep rave trends, and, since that sound has faded away, it’s not hard to hear this album’s influence in the vocal processing of Mssingno, in the uneven, off-kilter swing and parry of Zomby, the patch-worked constructions of Jamie xx or Evian Christ, or in Deadboy and Murlo’s more boundary-pushing creations.
As with any album that gets a lot of attention beyond its putative scene, Untrue was an unintended red rag to the cynics and rockists - and even garage purists - but for almost anyone who recognises and appreciates that more modest, aching sort of electronic, UK street rave soul, it remains a really transcendent album that still grips like few others.
Music From Memory return with this eye-opening collection of recordings spanning 1980-1984 from Belgian/Congolese duo Denis Mpunga and Paul K, combining elements of traditional African music with experimental electronics. Having released only a handful of tracks scattered across a few LP and cassette compilations that were put out in the mid eighties by obscure european labels, this release also includes a few previously unreleased tracks that were found on the original master tapes.
"Relocating with his family from the Congo to Belgium in 1973 at the young age of 13, Denis Mpunga grew up in the industrial city of Liege and quickly became deeply embedded in it's musical scene, forming the group Gomma Percussions in 1979; a percussive group driven by West African influences that would also experiment with found objects and improvised musical instruments.
The group released only one 7' but toured and performed frequently up until as late as 2000. A side project Eko-Kuango formed by the Gomma Percussion members also saw the release in 1985 of the now much sought after 12'' ''Fura'' which also includes Denis Mpunga on vocals.
As well as a later career as a comedian and actor with roles in television and cinema, Dennis has continued to produce and compose music, perhaps most notably writing the soundtrack for ''La Promesse'' (1996) a highly regarded film by the Dardenne brothers; currently probably Belgiums most celebrated contemporary filmmakers.
Patrick Stas who would release with Denis under the Paul K. moniker was a well-known local musician in Liege and considered something of a luminary figure in the electronic and experimental music scene in Belgium. Patrick would set up the independent cassette and vinyl label ''Home Produkt'' releasing amongst others, the work of Tara Cross, who has herself been the subject of a killer V-O-D compilation in recent years.
The two of them would join forces in 1980 to work together on a soundtrack for a children's animation company called ''CAMERA etc'', recording the ''Intermezzo'' tracks which are included here. Keen to experiment further as a duo, Denis proposed the idea of combining some more traditional songs or percussive African elements with Patrick's experiments with drum computers and synthesisers.
Working around more conventional instruments such as guitar and bass, Denis would also bring Balafons, Senzas and a Zither to their recordings whilst Patrick would work with an array of synthesizers and drum machines such as a 202, TB 303 & TR 808 and Korg's MS20 & Monopoly amongst many others.
At a time when world-music was becoming hugely popular across Europe (and especially so in Belgium and France), the pair were keen to try and explore African music in a new contemporary way. Much like the intentionally provocative archival image, which Denis selected for the sleeve of Criola, the recordings set out to play with and challenge preconceptions and expectations of African music and African culture. Together, Denis Mpunga and Paul K's, if somewhat brief, musical adventure would create a fascinating new musical language, African music born out of an industrial European landscape; music which the compilation ''Criola'' reveals as both wholly unique and visionary."
Comparisons between musicians and painters don’t usually work. But biographical parallels are not unusual. And just as some paintings place their creators in a particular period in their creative lives, there are also musicians who can look back on distinct creative phases. F.S.Blumm is one such musician.
"At the end of the 90s there were alot of murmurs about the living room scene in Berlin; magical concerts on improvised stages in temporary event spaces. Back then it was about music without fat beats and bass. It was a counter-reaction against rockstars with all their posing and egos. You made music with acoustic instruments and kitchen appliances. Concerts were listened to attentively and with deep concentration. One of the protagonists of this scene was F.S.Blumm. Among other things, his love for untempered, often self-made instruments predestined him for this.
At the turn of the century virtually any kind of music which used acoustic instruments was branded „Free Folk“ or „Alternative Folk“. But other than a few ironic comments in interviews Blumm didnt try to monopolize on this supposed movement, rather he kept a poised distance from it. It was during this time that his album „Mondkuchen“ (trans. Moon Cake) was released on Morr Music. The bristly detailedness of the living room scene met serious and powerful reductionism.
F.S.Blumm has many faces. Working your way through his vast discography would be a research project all in its own right. He has collaborated with the likes of David Grubbs, Andi Otto, Harald Sack Ziegler or Nils Frahm. He realised his love for Dub Reggae with the Quasi Dub Development. In the band KINN he played dynamic Postrock. Blumm has a faible for odd beats and could write an a-z on minimal musics pattern matching. Quite where his personal musical signature lies remains something of a mystery. Nevertheless only a few bars are enough to recognize it. This may by down to his preference for open harmonies or his poingnent arrangements.
Now F.S.Blumm is entering a new phase of his creativity which one could call his nonchalant phase. Although the first few bars of his new album do sound like an echo of the deep seriousness in his studio albums with Nils Frahm. Besides a few guitar chords and the suggestion of a xylophone in the background there is nothing but the wide spaces between them. Fine almost random sounding noises are remotely reminiscent of the era of his experimental instrumental concerts with classical guitar. Then the voice comes into play and everything changes. Laid back F.S.Blumm sings with a combination of urgency and relaxation. His voice sounds like he’s standing right beside the listener, singing straight into your ear. At the same time its unobtrusive. The piece sounds touching and intimate. This is the way how „Handle Bar“ the opening track on his new album „Welcome“ is delivered.
If an artist as experienced and multifaceted as this calls his new album „Welcome“ that really says something. Many years ago the composer and instrumental musician F.S.Blumm was already active as a songwriter. He wrote songs for three duos in which he played with various singers: Bobby And Blumm with Bobby Baby, Old Splendifolia with Jana Plewa and finally Jonsson Gille & Blumm. Now for the first time since he started making music, he is singing his own songs himself. Which is like a journey back to his roots – back to his childhood bedroom with a songbook and his first guitar. With „Sounds of Silence“ and „Sister Ray“ day in day out.
With every song on „Welcome“ new doors of association are opened. The second track „New Day“ uses reverb laden drums and hymical harmonies to great effect. But F.S.Blumm always manages to make the grandiose still sound grounded. Rather than spreading himself too thin, he prefers to explore the depths.
There we find the relaxed and erotically crackling „Going Away“, the optimistic „Initial Spark“ and the casual „Overweight“. Blumm is ever traversing the field between greatness and modesty, sophisticated melodies and recordings which are like the extremely condensed sound of a cassette recorder. This aesthetic permeates the entire album.
With „Welcome“ F.S.Blumm has perfected the imperfect. Where other producers filter out the noise, pops and crackles, Blumm does the exact opposite. He reverses the roles of desired and undesirable sound. What remains are songs like sculptures left in the wake of acoustic tracks.
Brian Shimkovitz returns to SA with pure house heat from Professor Rhythm. Check for infectiously slower parallels to the NYC garage/house and New Beat phenomenon of the late ‘80s in the strident, acidic ‘Leave Me Alone’, the piano house lixx of ‘Kancane Kancane’ and the tuffer push of ‘Zama Zama’
“Professor Rhythm is the production moniker of South African music man Thami Mdluli. Throughout the 1980’s, Mdluli was member of chart-topping groups Taboo and CJB, playing bubblegum pop to stadiums. Mdluli became an in-demand producer for influential artists (like Sox and Sensations, among many others) and in-house producer for important record companies like Eric Frisch and Tusk. During the early '80s, Mdluli projects usually featured an instrumental dance track. These hot instrumentals became rather popular. Fans demanded to hear more of these backing tracks without vocals, he says, so Mdluli began to make solo instrumental albums in 1985 as Professor Rhythm. He got the name before the recordings began, from fans, and positive momentum from audiences and other musicians drove him to invest himself in a full-on solo project. It was the era just before the end of apartheid and house music hadn’t taken over yet. There wasn’t instrumental electronic music yet in South Africa. As the '80s came to a close, that was about to change.
Professor Rhythm productions mirror the evolution of dance music in South Africa. They grew out of the bubblegum mold—which itself stems from band’s channeling influences like Kool & the Gang and the Commodores—into something based on music for the club. His early instrumental recordings First Time Around and Professor 3 mostly distilled R&B, mbaqanga and bubblegum grooves into vocal-less pieces for the dance floor. Musically, these were a success and commercially the albums all went gold. There were countless bubblegum albums flooding the marketplace, with nearly disposable vocalists backed by mostly similar-sounding rhythm tracks. Most of the lyrical content was light and apolitical. But the keyboards used formed the musical basis for what would come next.”
Into The Light slot another cryptic piece of their cosmic puzzle with a lush haul of previously unreleased ambient and synth works by Akis Daoutis, who previously appeared on the label’s breakthrough compilation A Journey Into Greek Electronic Music, Classics & Rarities (1978-1991), and whose 1990 debut LP provided direct inspiration behind the label’s enigmatic moniker.
On Space, Time, And Beyond (Selected Works 1986-2016) Daoutis offers a serene mooch around his sprawling gardens of electronic delight, pulling together tracks written at home in Athens and abroad in USA where he was studying during the mid ‘80s - spanning material from as far back as 1986 in the cascading beauty of Christmas, which could almost be cut from a cords and woolly jumper John Hughes flick, thru to the breezy rhythmelodic patterning of Into The Light off his aforementioned debut LP, and right up to the introspective electro-acoustic probe of My Haunting Sins, written as recently as 2016.
It’s clearly music that comes from a sunny place, blessed with a sense of optimism between the radiant synth shimmer and swallow diving clarinet of Biofields and the fluttering up-lift music parts of New Age Rising - taken from a sought-after 40 minute composition - and with a phosphorescing duskiness that keeps the sand warm between your toes in Beach Ambience, diffracting that energy into myriad variations such as the jazz-funk butterfly, Violet and the slow boogie shuffles of Ecological Awareness and Erotica.
Romantic souls and those in need of a holiday to somewhere unaffordably lush should book their seat of this one as soon as possible.
Paul Purgas and James Ginzburg’s Emptyset incorporate vocals into the broader structures of Skin, methodically teasing out the conceptual threads of Borders, their debut for Thrill Jockey issued earlier in 2017.
Where the taut, agitated bursts of Borders were clipped tight in structure and duration, these four new pieces adapt the same electro-acoustic techniques and custom built instrumentations to more immersive ends, allowing us to clearer hear the clash and buzz of far-flung reference points - ritual music and non-Western composition - resolving into new forms before your ears.
The two Skin parts are pent and urgent, flowing in angular geometries of spiky prangs and buzzing resonance that sound something like a West African balafon attached to a 12-string guitar played by John Fahey, and then remixed for Korean court functions, whereas Eye I catches them playing to a massed, Tony Conrad-esque monochord joined by alien overtone singers, which turns into a call for their shuttle to return them back to the mothership in the 2nd part.
Julianna Barwick teams up with Texan post rock group This Will Destroy You for an airy instrumental remix of The Puritan, some three years adrift from their Another Language  LP.
Most remarkably, Julianna’s signature vocals are barely present on her remix, only detectable as a very distant peal flit ng around the edges of a vast sound sphere, almost as if she’s using her own chest as a resonant cavity for the plangent keys and their soft, underlying pulse. It’s deliciously simple yet stately and faithful to the original, but captures something intangible that will keep us returning to it.
A new album from Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius
It comes as quite some relief to hear that after all these years away from the studio Cluster still sound like Cluster. Divided into seventeen miniatures, this latest collection explores synthesis and electronically treated sound from much the same perspective as the band's classic material. Of course, the overall sound has a rather different finish to it - much of the equipment sounds different and the production is crisp and modern - but in the soundscaping of 'Putoil' and 'Ymstrob', the low-end surges of 'Xanesra' or the stuttering glitch-dub of 'Na Ernel' you can still hear that Roedelius/Moebius magic at work. Inevitably, Qua could never sound as innovative as some of its estimable predecessors, but it's certainly worthy of the Cluster name, and that's surely a high enough accolade in itself.
Ben Frost presents the soundtrack to his directorial debut, an operatic interpretation of Iain Banks novel The Wasp Factory, issued on his Bedroom Community label.
Two years on from his all-conquering ninth album, Aurora, Ben Frost returns to Bedroom Community with The Wasp Factory, the soundtrack to his own operatic adaptation of the cult debut novel by late Scottish writer Iain Banks. First debuting at Austria’s Bregenz Festival in August 2013 and running for a short period throughout select European venues, The Wasp Factory continued Frost’s flirtation with the world of theatre and performance art but represented his debut outing as a director.
In original form, Banks’ novel centres on the anti-hero and psychopathic teenager Frank living on a remote island in rural Scotland. Transferring this to the theatre, Frost chose to portray Frank’s narration through a series of female singers, backed with a live string ensemble. Presented outside of the stage for the first time, this album offers a different side to Frost, away from the harsh soundscapes of Aurora, and gravitating towards a warmer take on the modern classical sound. Shorn of the visual stimuli and context that comes with seeing The Wasp Factory performed live, this fifteen-track album will probably satisfy only the most fanatical of Frost followers. Of which there are plenty.
Reissue. Originally released on cassette in 1980.
"Presented by two separate stacks of Cluster recordings - one comprised of their studio work, the other of live performances - an innocent listener might conclude they are the efforts of two completely different artists. This would understandably have been the case in 1980, when the structured, tuneful miniatures of 1979's Großes Wasser and 1981's Curiosum were unlikely bookends to the sprawling electroacoustic abstractions of Live in Vienna.
But as fans of the idiosyncratic duo already knew, Cluster's trajectory was always a restless one - more about disruption than gentle evolution."
Swaaangin’ electro-boogaloo from 1986, produced by Lo Joe and Electro Wayne (whaddaname!) for Circuit Shock Productions.
Features the Kraftwerkian gasps, old skool hip hop/soul vocals and twanging bass juice of She’s Just That Type Of Girl in original and instrumental mixes, backed with the in-the-pocket funk of Under Pressure on the other one, with a lead hook that uncannily recalls *that* Edwyn Colllins song from a decade later. Go figure.
Pauline Oliveros surrounded by Belgian ensemble Musiques Nouvelles, performing 2 long pieces for orchestra.
"Sound Geometries for Chamber Orchestra, Expanded Instrument System and 5.1 Surround Sound System by Pauline Oliveros was premiered in Brussels. The 3 sections metaphors of the piece are intended to guide the players in their feelings and approaches to conducted, guided and improvisational music making to create differing atmospheres for each of the three sections. Players sounds are picked up during the performance by microphones, processed in one of ten geometrical patterns by the Oliveros designed Expanded Instrument System (EIS). to transform and move the player's sounds in space in the 5.1 surround sound system.
Meditation for Orchestra asks the performers to listen then sound. Listen means to include all that is sounding and to find a space for each sound that is made. Pauline Oliveros and Ione are guests of Ensemble Musiques Nouvelle in this studio performance of Meditation.”
Japanese composer/demi-god Ryuichi Sakamoto presents an exquisitely oneiric and elusively spiritual new album inspired as much by the sound sculptures of Harry Bertoia as the magic of Andrei Tarkovsky’s seminal septet of celluloid classics.
It’s been some years since Sakamoto has placed his name at the top of a solo album proper - as opposed to his swathes of collaborations and film scores - and we can promise that the results herein are definitely worth the wait.
Imagined and realised after a period of fright with his health, Async captures Mr. Sakamoto at his most wistful and wonderful, meditating on the existentialist, ontological themes and atmospheres of Tarkovsky’s work from both a gauzily impressionistic aspect, and a quite literal one, employing readings of Tarkovsky’s poetry (poem transcribed in the liner notes) in a variety of languages from a coterie of contemporaries including long time collaborators David Sylvian, Bernardo Bertolucci (for whom he composed the OST for The Last Emperor) and Carsten Nicolai (Alva Noto), among others.
Embracing both the fluidity and flux of Tarkovsky’s water analogies as well as the harmonic chaos of Harry Bertoia’s lush metal rod clangour, Sakamoto melds feather touch acoustic keys with field recordings, shimmering electronic patinas and signature synthesiser flourishes in a suite that beautifully lives up to and even transcends its influences, revealing some of the most achingly emotive yet often abrasive and abstract work in a catalogue now spanning over 40 years of exemplary work.
Beyond maybe Scott Walker, we can hardly think of another artist who has continued to expand their oeuvre over such a long period of time, and with an appeal quite like this, albeit respectively unique to their work. But Sakamoto really is in a league of his own here, utterly absorbing us with the dappled keys, organ haze and stereo starting doom synths of Andata, thru the stark Sonambient emulations of Disintegration to the romance of ZURE and the almost Toshiya Tsunoda-esque sensitivity of his field recordings woven into Walker or Honj, with humbling moments to be discovered in the switch from disorienting cinematic dialogue in Fullmoon to the legit Ligeti style violence of Async, and again in the curdled chromatics of FF and the Gas-eous swells swirling about Garden.
Addendum to Latvian artpop group, NSRD’s Workshop For The Restoration Of Unfelt Feelings compilation, STROOM 〰 give up 4.5 ‘floor ready examples of hot-wired, off-kilter takes on acid house and synthwave compatible with freaky late ‘80s new beat and early ‘90s euro-techno-pop mutations.
Yet another peach plucked by STROOM 〰, NSRD covers a blind-spot in the general knowledge of Baltic electronic music during the ’89-’92 house phenomena. A-side gives up the suave but daft swerve of Neskaties , a rickety sort of acid house that sounds perhaps closer to original Chi templates and the warped EBM/industrial of Smersh, for example, than much other stuff from that period. Ziemeļbriežu pajūgā pa Rīgas jūras līci  follows on a wistful sort of Larry Heard tip, following more jagged lines of inquiry with a fizzy fuss and finale recalling Novo Line’s Atari ST mutations.
B-side, Spilvens  commits a more brooding, romantic blend of folksong and endearingly cranky, lo-fi darkwave pop with cold baroque flutes and nuff ferric wow-and-flutter, and Augu nakti. Kādā rītā. Šovakar hears them stretch out on a jacking sort of primitive, woozily melodic techno-pop.
After being enchanted by Sugai Ken’s UkabazUmorezU LP for RVNG Intl, we play catch up with the Japanese artist’s On The Quakefish album from last year, issued by the excellent Lullabies For Insomniacs label who were also behind that mental Lazslo Hortobaygi reissue.
Here, we’re privy to another array of deliquescent electronics and mercurial hooks, framing Ken’s vision of the Japanese nightscape with absorbingly evocative, impressionistic effect. Based in Kanagawa, Japan, on the edge of the Tokyo megatropolis, Ken draws from his surroundings to paint immersive scenes in succinct, pointillist dashes and vaporous strokes that dissolve into acres of enigmatic, negative space.
Quite boldly, Ken is unafraid to embrace sounds perhaps unfamiliar to the classic Japanese records we’ve heard, or the swell of ambient/new age reissues from that region. He freely vacillates these stranger, abstract sounds with more conventional gestures in a way that adroitly brings his subject - the Japanese night - to life in a way that doesn’t simply soothe the listener, but keeps their ears intrigued, moving around the sound sphere attempting to locate their possible sources.
This effect relates to the Zen tradition of Satori, “imagining circumstances and atmospheres that are so silent, one can hear the sounds of the wind and water streaming”. For us this effect also recalls the studied audness of Rashad Becker’s Traditional Music For Notional Species, as much as Luc Ferrari’s poetic concrète scapes, or a very canny first person computer game or avant-garde film soundtrack; exactly the kind of stuff to bed down with during long, dark winter nights over here.
Young Marco’s Safe Trip does the business again with CZ-5000 Sounds & Sequences, a heart warming flush of archive material by identical Japanese twins, Satoshi & Makoto, recorded at home on the titular Casio synth c. early ‘90s. Follows very much in suit with the nostalgic appeal of Darling’s JPS and the volumes of Italian Dream House before that, another perfect addition to the label.
As the story goes, Satoshi & Makoto were big fans of anime and cartoon soundtrack as kids, and used to mess around on their ma’s Yamaha Electone keyboard. Fast fwd a few years, and a promise to work hard at school if their parents bought them a synth came to fruition, with the two sharing the same model of Casio CZ-5000 ever since.
Their nascent recordings with the CZ-5000 lay untouched for decades until the twins uploaded them as synth demos to YouTube, where Young Marco saw them and was so enamoured with the sound that he released this LP.
We could sit here all day referencing obvious analogs for this record, but its better heard as a genuine document of private, fraternal connections and non-verbal dialogue, almost like listening to a family photo album or the fantasy soundtrack to a computer game or anime that was never made.
Up until the incredible "A Period of Review" reissue via RVNG Intl.last year we hadn't even heard of Kerry Leimer, yet that compilation and it’s astonishing followup, this years "Artificial Dance” set under Leimer’s ‘Savant’ alias, introduced us to one of the most fascinating and prolific producers of the era, operating at the cusp of ambient, 4th World and industrial musics.
From his base in Seattle, Leimer accumulated a unique catalogue of recordings created on a Micromoog, drum machines, guitars and FX units, and heavily informed by imported Krautrock/kosmische titles sourced outta NME and Melody Maker, and equally the more Anglophilic ambient loop compositions of Robert Fripp and Brian Eno.
This beautiful new double LP via Vinyl On Demand focuses on Leimer's earliest work and has once again left us dumbstruck, offering a genuinely remarkable addition to the canon of early '80s electronic/new age/4th world experimentalism, sitting very comfortably alongside some of the richest, most engrossing ambient music of the era.
Leimer's first two tape recordings are included and were released on Robert Carlberg's Anode Productions in 1978 and '79 (Translucent / Memory and Natural History / The Mind and Its Likeness). The set also includes material from the 1983 cassette Installation View. As Leimer himself offers: "It's best to consider these recordings as a homage to much admired and deeply loved music of the time; to consider these recordings as the artifacts of lessons being learned during simultaneous attempts at conceiving, writing, voicing, engineering, recording, and mixing something that might at least seem to be music. It's also best to consider that the one card that repeatedly found its way out of the Oblique Strategies deck and into my hands prevented me from erasing almost all of it: Honor thy mistake as a hidden intention.”
It all makes for one of the most engrossing ambient-era collections we’ve come across - give the clips below a listen and you’ll hopefully know exactly what we mean. Huge recommendation.
Following suit from last Christmas' 'Truant', Hyperdub present three new pieces from the shadowy producer.
It's a fine salve for seasonal woes, ripping loose with running man-style rave breaks and darkcore motifs across the dystopian sonic fiction of A-side, 'Rival Dealer', whilst the flipside reveals a whole new dimension to his sound with the soaring harmonies, twinkling chime-trees and '80s power drums of 'Hiders' and the tortuous, cinematically edited narration of 'Come Down To Us'.
The heads will have a feast picking this one apart - what's up with all the references to sexuality or his newfound penchant for FM synth sounds? - and we can practically hear the synch departments licking their lips in anticipation already… but ultimately the sincerity and delivery still brings a salty bead to the duct. You know what to do.
Call Super cocks a 2nd album of increasingly squirrelly electronics for Houndstooth, secreting the glittering nuts and bolts of his sound in a more fluid and dynamic brand of ambient techno mechanics.
Arriving three years on from his Suzi Ecto album, and a string of well-received DJ sets, solo 12”s and a collaboration with Beatrice Dillon over the interim, Arpo gathers Call Super’s recent studio thoughts in one place, coursing from mercurial IDM to jazzy flights of fancy and oneiric electro with a meticulous production style that’s become his trademark.
The ghosts of the 4th World, Red Planet martians, Irdiallian enigmas and golden era Warp haunt Arpo’s diffuse dimensions from the first chimes and clarinet plumes of Arpo thru the smoky electro-jazz of Out To Rust, following a silvery thread of logic that weaves between early hours dancefloor mindsets and late hours home listening from the glitchy hunch of OK Werkmeister to the sloshing brownian glitter of Music Stand, embracing Ethiopiques jazz in Arpo Sunk, and gently insistent future electro-funk with No Wonder We Go Under, and the hyaline electro-soul rubs of I Look Like I Look In A Tinfoil Hat.
Burial cements his busiest year on record with Pre Dawn/Indoors, forming a rare moonlight session away from Hyperdub for Boddika’s Nonplus.
This is Burial as warehouse shadow dancer, properly committed to the heavy hours of the rave. Pre Dawn rolls out at 140bpm with something like Tango & Ratty’s “lost” garage project, as heard under a corrugated roof beaten by acid rain. The first breakdown could have feasibly appeared on some Untrue cut, while the final passage of soul-smacking pads and distant gabber kicks delivers the classic Bevan shiver.
Indoors is perhaps meant to be what’s behind those booming kicks, on the other side of the door. Initially, furtively elegiac, it comes off as the more hardcore of the two thanks to a nagging vocal and marching, technoid rhythm, so vividly evocative of a steaming, classic rave in full rush that it’s no wonder Burial doesn’t bother with promo videos.
The Basic Channel don meets the folk musicians of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan for a beguiling exchange and fusion of traditions crossing paths between haunting acapella vocals, virtuosic instrumentation and sublime, dub-wise 4th world panoramas.
Locating MVO diversifying his bonds along outernational vectors, just like his BC bandmate Mark Ernestus with Ndagga Rhythm Force or Obadiah, the results form a series of studio portraits and wistful, impressionistic abstractions. They transport us to a place well off the usual map, to rugged lands once crossed by The Silk Road, where preserved, ancient traditions still reveal ghostly traces of the voices and sonic cultures which passed thru them.
The original arrangements of Ordo Sakhna range from complex, airborne string flights to nerve-jangling mouth harp pieces and a few stunning acapella pieces, which to our untrained ears resemble both Middle eastern, Indian classical and Chinese traditions, whilst the Drums track would appear to catch MVO in lissom fusion with live percussionists.
The multiple MVO dubs are a huge attraction, too. None more than the jaw-dropping Facets, where drums are swept in mountainous dynamic across the stereo field, joined by Hassell-esque dream tones and twanging mouth harp in one of the master’s most abstract, mercurial works in memory, whilst Bishkek, May 2016 catches them in live form at the Kyrgyzstan edition of Unsound festival, and the rolling Draught, and its version frame the spirits of Ordo Sakhna in his signature dub techno style, with results comparable to Shackleton when he removes the straight kicks.
Shoc Corridor was the London post-punk quartet of Paul O’Carroll (Voice, Synth), Andy Garnham (Synth, Drum), Chris Davis (Guitar, Bass, E-Bow) and Nogi Prass (Synth) named after the Sam Fuller film from 1963. Chris met Nogi shortly after moving to London in 1979 – they started playing music together, fell madly in love, and decided to form a band. They recruited Andy, who had previously played in a band with Stephen Luscombe of Blancmange, and lyricist and vocalist Paul. Their influences were wide reaching: Kraftwerk, Neu, Cabaret Voltaire, Brian Eno, PIL, and Joy Division.
"The group recorded a 4-song demo during 1981 in a tiny flat Chris shared with Nogi in Notting Hill. As their collection of instruments grew they set up studio a few blocks away in Andy’s flat at 20 All Saints Road. There they re-recorded “Sargasso Sea” along with “On Reflexion” on a TEAC reel-to-reel 4-track machine. In the summer of ’82, the band was booked into Decibel Studios in Stoke Newington for two and a half days with Mark Easton of Shout Records, where they reworked the two songs. The group usually worked through studio experimentation rather than constructing their songs in a conventional way. Their equipment list included a Korg MS-20, Wasp, Pro-One, Roland TR-808, WEM Copicat, guitars, bass, e-bow and an assortment of effects pedals. “On Reflexion” began as a Blancmange backing track, since Stephen Luscombe would sometimes use Andy’s 4-track, Korg MS-20 and drum machine. Chris has memories of Paul disappearing from time to time to the neighboring graveyard for inspiration, where they had to procure him from to lay down vocals. Their debut 3-song 12” single, “A Blind Sign”, was released in October 1982 on Shout Records. For this re-issue we’ve included the original skeletal “Sargasso Sea” 4-track demo from 1981. Evocative and dreamy, the music escorts you on a tour of icy landscapes, with Paul’s rich vocals guiding the way.
All songs have been remastered for vinyl by George Horn at Fantasy Studios. Each EP comes in an exact replica of the original jacket, designed by Chris Davis with artwork by Paul and Jerry Neal. Each copy includes an 8x11” 2-sided insert with liner notes, lyrics and photos designed by Eloise Leigh."
Hemlock follow a strong 2017 run, getting the best out of Ploy in Unruly with three cuts of agitated digital funk and more abstract structures than his preceding 12”s for Hessle Audio and Timedance.
Unruly sparks off with something like Ueno Masaaki’s Raster-Noton missile redressed with a UK swing, while Garys comes up with escalating synthlines on a swaggering, offset techno mission with belly-twisting impact, and Lost Hours finds him at the other side of that wave with sweeter, duvet-diving ambient dynamics that emulate the effect of going MIA in your own bedroom.
Umor Rex saddle up a session of dusty modular kosmische from Phantom Horse, paying homage to the original templates of Cluster/Harmonia and the rhythmelodic patterning of Moondog in five horizon-scanning variations. Best checked for the alien tone of Always Too Late (Reprise) or the wickedly curdled, keening synth discord of Skeptical Island, and its giddy resolution.
“Packed in their distinct homelike, warm sound, Phantom Horse effortlessly follow their path to find a melancholic playfulness in the heart of ancient machines. Conjuring the picture of transmogrified humanoid characters, modular and analogue synthesizers, antique drum machines, e-pianos, guitar, tape effects and various percussion devices create a comforting condition that involves the listener in some analogue computer game for a lost jazz world. Their approach on widespread compositions shows an elaborated vigor, an earnest love for slowly evolving melodies. Phantom Horse yet never fail to step on bridges that link the different subspecies of non-academic minimal music – from kraut to Mr. Eno and retour on detour. With “Different Forces”, Ulf Schütte and Niklas Dommaschk, whose names might be familiar to those in the know, provide their fast motion picture soundtrack for the genesis of a desert or whatever – if you listen carefully, different worlds will come into being.”
Big-eared, subversive collagists Vicki Bennett (People Like Us) and Mark Gergis (Porest) ov Sublime Frequencies and Sham Palace share the latest, brilliant split slab on Discrepant; presenting two extended pieces originally aired as part of WMFU’s OPTIMIZED!, a week-long selection of shows programmed by Bennett DURING JUNE, 2016.
Both artists turn in sterling material, but Mark Gergis’ turn as Porest is a seriously big attraction. Recorded “on-location” between 1988 and Jan-Feb 2016, and incorporating contributions by Paul Staufenbiel and Michael Darr, Porest “unveils recordings from the covert sector of his archives”, culling material intercepted via “prepared radio” fine-tuned to received what he terms “parallel broadcasting”. We’d take that with a pinch of whatever you use to digest “fake news”, as Gergis and co turn in a frankly hilarious prod at Anglo-American cultural imperialism consisting of pointed cut-ups that show up Cassetteboy as infantile dunces by comparison. The radio jingle recruiting Brooklyn hipsters for ISIS is particularly tangy!
For her part, Vicki Bennett aka People Like Us plays to her much-loved, archaic english eccentric side with All On A Beautiful Day, trawling/trolling dippy soundtrack music, classic pop and sonic cultural ephemera in her gently disorienting, merry-go-round way.
Editions Mego present Ivan Pavlov’s highly personalised songbook, CoHgs (pronounced songs, like his name in cyrillic is said; Son) raiding more than 20 years of work prism-pushing work with everyone from Coil to Ann Demeulemeester and Little Annie. As a showcase of his collaborative work, it’s maybe a bit weird that there’s nowt from one of our personal faves, CoH Plays Cosey, but we’re sure there’s some reason for that. And ironically enough the best track, Fffetish - from his Love Uncut for Coil’s Eskaton label - is actually a collaboration with his own alter-ego, Frankie Gothard, on vocals.
“The ongoing relationship between Editions Mego and COH continues with this special collection of works made by COH over a number of years released on a variety of labels. What brings these works together is the incorporation of vocalists and lyrics. Neatly compiled here, a diverse pool of vocalists elevate the otherwise instrumental works of COH ( Ivan Pavlov) into worlds of narrative, the human and the haunted.
Little Annie brings her sly subversive cabaret style to one of the works whilst delivering an intense lkist of daily activities on another whereas Peter ,Sleazy' Christopherson conjures a world beyond our own with his cracked spectral delivery interpreting Pavlov's disembodied electronics. I wrap my last kiss in a bandage… I send you this message.
Frankie Gothard provides classic distorted industrial swagger to the proto-disco FFFETISH where LOVE'S SEPTIC DOMAIN (feat. John Balance & Louise Weasel) screams from the abyss of dirty hospitals; As starlit and damaged as any of the classic Balance deliveries. A previously unreleased work featuring the renowned fashion designer Ann Demeulemeester skips along a metronomic beat whilst the voice lays out dry settings and instruction. Elsewhere Noriko Taguchi embeds a fragile sensibility to a music box melody whilst Anna Yamada's collaboration results in an exquisite blend of disorientating pop.
The versatility of Pavlov's practice is on display as proto disco, industrial simulation and pop all come together with the vocalists presenting a wide range of human function, from the absurd to the mundane to world's unknown.”
The mighty Black Zone Myth Chant returns with a new LP of Chopped and Screwed electronics via deep space New Age for Low Jack and Jean Carval’s Gravats label...
Max P, aka Black Zone Myth Chant, presents the project’s most adventurous and urgent despatch yet, dosing with the unfathomably layered and immersive Feng Shen. What was initially intended as a one-away project has now morphed into something powerfully undefinable and strangely affective over the course of two albums, Straight Cassette and Mane Thecel Phares, an EP and a mixtape, realising something of a butterfly effect feedback between the gestures of his strangely formed objects and their dilated reception by listeners around the world.
Over the course of eight tracks he renders a phenomenal space where he can best describe the paradoxical, impossible physics of a psychedelic soul, by toying with the listener’s gauge of anticipation, perspective and temporality with a poetic clash of ideas lent from chopped & screwed hip hop and liminal club musics.
It’s music which exists in two states at once, driving yet floating, as with the pull and push of pitched down voices and rolling rhythms in Their Love For You, or with impenetrable density of clarity in the layered dimensions of Kubara, following a line that binds kosmische and dancehall in Under Protest/Telos, to the polymetric harmonic swirl of War Paint (DAPL Resistance), and connects the heat-seeking techno impulses of Ideas In Action, to the centre-less ambient panorama of Feng Jing.
Facsimile reissue reproduction of the Norwegian-born, Australian-based composer’s 3rd LP
A collection of jazz soundtracks taken from 1960s Australian documentary and public information films. Originally released in 1967, some six years prior to Libaek’s widely regarded Inner Space soundtrack, which was most recently used in Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.
Equiknoxx’s debut album proper, following the hugely acclaimed 'Bird Sound Power' (Number 2 in both RA and FACT albums of the year 2016), featuring 13 brand new nuggets recorded over the last 12 months and featuring darker, more psychedelic, starkly dubbed perspectives on up-to-the-second dancehall. Well worth checking out if you’re into anything from Lenky to Haruomi Hosono, RZA to Errorsmith...!
Colón Man is the exceptional debut album proper by visionary Jamaican dancehall artists Gavin Blair (Gavsborg) and Jordan Chung (Time Cow) plus their extended crew, aka Equiknoxx - once again for Demdike Stare’s DDS label. Where their widely acclaimed Bird Sound Power primer compilation, issued on DDS in 2016, brought the rest of the world up to speed with the music produced between late ‘00s and 2015, their first album now brings a 2020 sound into sharp, technoid focus thru a baker’s dozen steely, heat-seeking riddims galvanised with clinical electronics and a Midas Touch approach to sampling.
The record’s title, Cólon Man refers to a Jamaican tale (and song) about a mysterious character, whom, like Marcus Garvey, was one of over 100,000 Jamaicans who returned from working in Cólon on completion of the Panama Canal - regarded among the greatest feats of engineering known to humankind, physically connecting the greatest bodies of water on the planet. In context of the album, Gavsborg and Timecow take the story as a metaphorical foundational for a roots and future sound, acknowledging the vital groundwork of previous generations of producers, whilst soundly contextualising their mutant new advancements of Jamaican Dancehall.
Recorded between December 2016 and June 2017, Colón Man forms a stark, stripped down and conceptually blinding record. In tone and texture, the duo favour far colder, more abstract sounds, crucially lit up with sparingly used samples that lend the record its dissonant, harmonic colour and bittersweet hooks, stylishly feeding forward their playfully weird sense of humour into a rugged, nutty and even noisily imagineered set.
Bookended by the gauzy, Detroit-compatible synth looks and acid hall grind of Kareece Put Some Some Thread In A Zip Lock, and the mesh of Motor City sleekness with Far Eastern strings on Waterfalls In Ocho Rios, they distill and diversify their bonds in myriad ways across the album. There’s a killer dancehall/trap hybrid in the percolate chorales and man trills of Plantain Porridge, along with the secretive dub-into-dancehall transfusion of Addis Pablo’s melodica in the belly rolling Melodica Badness, while Ceremonial Eating Dog and the hyaline designs of We Miss You Little Joe - a tribute to their pal Alty Nunes - are arguably the most fwd Jamaican riddims you’ll hear in 2017, and Enter A Raffle… Win A Falafel uncannily recalls the clockwork mechanics of Haruomi Hosono’s Alternative 3, from his S-F-X  LP.
No matter what electronic box or boxes you subscribe to, Colón Man is a hugely inventive, compelling album for the ages, a remarkable iteration of Black Secret Technology for 2017 and far beyond.
Next in the 1st ever American reissues of early Battiato LPs, Pollution  renders the Italian answer to Brian Eno taking prescient inspiration from climate change for a 2nd solo LP of kosmiche flights helmed by folk-rock instrumentation and gilded with VCS3 synthesiser. An unparalleled pop star and famed experimentalist in his homeland, Battiato is beloved by everyone from Nico Vascellari (Ninos Du Brasil) to Lorenzo Senni and prog fans worldwide. These reissues should spread that love farther.
Pollution is more baroque, steepled than its breezier predecessor, Fetus. It finds Battiato getting better to grasps with his favoured synthesiser, meshed with his plaintive, unsentimental vocals in a brace of intricately woven arrangements ranging from portentous to ecstatic examples of his famous and widely admired sound, even including some delicious downstrokes of esoteric psych-soul vibes along with the usual folk inflections.
“Pollution from 1972 is the captivating follow-up to Fetus. Like its predecessor, the album features Baroque textures, motorik rhythms, weird tape effects and Battiato's perfectly oblique vocals. Upon hearing Pollution, Frank Zappa joyfully proclaimed it "genius."
While Battiato's core group of collaborators remains largely the same as on his debut, this phenomenal band (joined by an eighteen-year-old Roberto Cacciapaglia on keys) appears even more in the foreground on Pollution. Out of the Ash Ra Tempel-like riffs and urgent guitar strumming emerge hypnotic grooves and cinematic flourishes, suggesting a futuristic meeting point between Stereolab and Ennio Morricone.
Dedicated to the Centro Internazionale Studi Magnetici, Pollution touches on themes of environmental catastrophe. Futurist allusions seep in through eccentric lyrics (at times sung backwards) about hydraulics, magnetic fields, etc., yet listeners don't need to speak the artist's language to grasp his melancholy vision. With Pollution, Battiato solidifies not only his cult figure status, but also many of his forward-thinking ideas on rock 'n' roll.”
This first ever American LP issue of Fetus , the seminal debut album by Franco Battiato - a venerable grand maestro of Italian prog - kicks off a comprehensive reissue series looking at his formative 1971-1978 period. An unparalleled pop star and famed experimentalist in his homeland, Battiato is beloved by everyone from Nico Vascellari (Ninos Du Brasil) to Lorenzo Senni and prog fans worldwide. These reissues should spread that love farther.
One of the first ever electronic records released in Italy, Fetus is widely considered one of his finest moments, capturing a playful frisson of folk, analog electronics and kosmiche leanings with a blend of pop appeal and conceptual, experimental urges that would unfold in myriad variations across his lengthy catalogue ever since.
Superior Viaduct rightly paint him as Italy’s answer to Brian Eno for his role in bringing Italian pop music up to par with explorative, psychedelic American and British analogs during that era. We’re be inclined to add Tom Zé for his warmer, colourful, auteur-like sound, too.
With Fetus, Battiato riffs on themes of genetic engineering in eight succinct (especially for prog!) songs inspired by Aldous Huxley, following a fine, dreamy line between traditional rock instrumentation and the kosmiche freedom afforded by his VCS3 synthesiser, stretching his imagination from delirious sound collage to rousing folk-rock and operatic chorales with an enchanting sense of naif wonder balanced by a cool curiousity and virtuosic songwriting vision.
Lush, reticulated reggaeton, deep house and breakbeat fusions from man o’ many monikers, Brian Piñeyro (Deejay Xanax, DJ Wey, Luis) as DJ Python, following the sterling example of his ¡Estéreo Bomba! Vol. 1 for Antony Naples’ Proibito with an immersive expansion of that sound in Dulce Compañia.
Taking reggaeton along new, instrumental routes intersecting NYC’s rave history, DJ Python has pretty much cooked up his own style of deep reggaeton, a title which should probably be taken with a pinch of salt, but serves well to identify his angle amidst an upswell of LatinX producers who are spinning dembow beats and tropes into all kinds of new spaces - from DJ/Rupture and co, to Florentino and Kelman Duran, for example.
Almost as close to the sound of Ben Cenac’s Dream II Science, new age experiments from Laraaji, or even Andy Stott as any of the above, Dulce Compaña finds Python alloying reggaeton’s nagging, signature bump with chiming electronic meditations in Las Palmas, and with squashed jungle breaks in the style of his Deejay Xanax alias on Cuál, both setting the innovative, deviant agenda for the rest of the set, recoiling from eyes-shut ambient rave infusions on Todo Era Azul (Version Afuera) and its cosmic Siempre Dub, to something like B12 on holiday in Caracas with q.e.p.d, but also making room for more rugged swerve in Acostados and the acidic tang of Yo Ran(Do).
But if any one track is going to melt your pants off, it’s the plasmic, aerial ambient shuffle of Esteban, which provides the sweetest window on Piñeyro’s unique Python sound, and everyone will know what to do next.
Russia’s Paval Milyakov, aka Buttechno, tends to his screwier, inquisitive side for TTT with a gauzy batch of ambient, folk and house experiments, swerving between the lines of his records for Japan’s City-2 St. Giga, Collapsing Market and his Gosha Rubchinskiy AW16 soundtrack, to the dankest parts of his bedroom-baked club sound.
This is music for hanging out on cold, concrete corners in your most flammable trackies, taking in pastoral electro-folk meditation Gosha Medvedeva, his Pole-esque Slow Dub, and the skinny, bone-pinching swing of K4 on the one hand, before decorating those skeletal structures with more fleshly samples of Russia pop in the low key seduction of Poleva, and something like a roadside house rave played on empty vodka bottles, oil drums and cardboard boxes in the Brinkmann-like Metallo, and a nervily grubbing, spooked-out house ace named Super Siziy King.
MFM whip out this natty cod-reggae synth-funk blast from Cali ’83. Imagine K. Leimer and co getting loose yet droll, and you’ve got the measure of Skin ’n’ Bones, while Millions Of Sensations is a superb piece of sino-facing post punk funk recalling Sakamoto & Sylvian, but with an off kilter urgency of its own, with drums like some early, staccato grime prototype.
“Pioneers in the Post Punk Industrial and New Wave scene in 1980’s San Francisco, Gary Miles (Voice Farm) and Blaise Smith (Minimal Man), met at San Francisco’s notorious 181 Club in December of 1982. This straight/same sex/swing-both-ways late night dive bar was tucked away in one of the city's most risky, drug riddled neighbourhoods. Stationed near the SF Museum of modern Art it attracted a wild audience of local patrons, aspiring young artists and music heads. In the thick of all this the duo felt impartial to a lot what was going on musically and set out to produce electronic music that could break through the "somewhat exhausted post disco sound that was then competing in the local San Francisco clubs". Enlisting soul vocalist Celeste Miller, the duo were also inspired by Lee 'Scratch' Perry / Upsetters dub tracks being produced in Jamaica and created a unique breed of avant guard hybrid New Wave/Electronic Funk.
With it's influences seemingly as much rooted in the past and the present as it was focused on the future; Dub Oven formed a distinct, mystical approach to music intended for the dance floor. All three tracks on this 12" embody a signature groove and an inventive synthesized abstraction to express a languishing urban unsettledness and spiritual awareness. Recorded at L7 Studios in San Francisco with the assistance of the the studio’s in house producer Marco Perry (who currently now works with Bjork) the record was unfortunately overlooked by A&R at several major and even local labels and was finally self-released in very limited quantities. Utilising analog electronics and instrumentation, the record draws on elements of dub, new wave, soul and funk to create a sound that is uncategorizable and one that was perhaps simply too forward thinking for it’s time.”
A new label from the Sofrito family; classy new wave rumba hybrid from mid ‘80s Paris, compatible with early ‘80s Detroit styles. A very promising start for the Ambiance label
“4 tracks spanning rumba, disco, new wave and reggae experiments from Congolese singer Albert Siassia and his group Tokobina, including two previously unreleased tracks taken from original demo tapes.
Originally from Pointe Noire in Congo, Albert Siassia came to Paris in the early 80s as part of the Ballet Nationale du Congo and joined forces with a young French reggae group called Dread Lion – a band he re-christened “Tokobina” (Lingala for “let’s dance”). Keen to broaden their audience the group played a mixture of reggae, rumba, disco and new wave styles, often using drum machines and synths.
They released one 12” EP, further altering the spelling of the name – “Tokobina” was phonetically anglicised to “Talk-Hoby-Night” in an unsuccessful effort to increase international sales. The record failed to make much of an impact and soon after Albert Siassia moved back to Pointe Noire to become an evangelical preacher. He passed away in 1999.
Dancefloor sureshots Mama Africa and Pointe Noire are taken from the group’s only 12” release. In the world and Sangui are taken from demo cassettes from the archive of drummer Franck Benhamou. Sangui was originally scheduled for release on a 7” but the release was withdrawn due to a pressing fault.”
Italy’s answer to Brian Eno is subject of Superior Viaduct’s current key reissue scheme, making Franco Battiato’s classic early works c. 1971-1978 available in USA and elsewhere for the first time beyond his home country.
Sulle Corde Di Aries  is Battiato’s 3rd solo album, refining his masterful mix of folk-rock and pop with kosmiche synths to a lushly transcendent sound which, if you ask us, is more fascinating and worldly than the baroque prog conventions explored on his previous two albums. We can hear pre-echoes of brave new 4th worlds in its sweeping harmonic structures and supple, driving rhythms, all calling for strong parallels with everyone from Terry Riley to Can,
“1973's Sulle Corde Di Aries is the third chapter in Battiato’s foray into esoteric pop. While the artist would venture further out into avant-garde terrain on subsequent releases, his early records enjoy a lyrical and playful spirit – eschewing traditional, song-based composition in favor of kosmische voyages.
On Sulle Corde Di Aries, Battiato guides the labyrinthine structural changes and majestic tones to evolve gradually over four electroacoustic suites. "Sequenze e Frequenze," the album's centerpiece, blooms in a polyphony of organic pulses reminiscent of the vibrant keyboard minimalism of Terry Riley's A Rainbow In Curved Air and the rhythmic interconnectedness of Can's Ege Bamyasi.
While Fetus and Pollution are often considered his masterpieces, Sulle Corde Di Aries remains a hidden gem in Battiato's catalogue. With more of a cohesive album-feel than the previous records, Sulle Corde Di Aries slows the pace to take in the sweeping scope of otherworldly sounds and soulful harmonies.”
While Fetus and Pollution are often considered his masterpieces, Sulle Corde Di Aries remains a hidden gem in Battiato's catalogue. With more of a cohesive album-feel than the previous records, Sulle Corde Di Aries slows the pace to take in the sweeping scope of otherworldly sounds and soulful harmonies.”
Superior Viaduct supply an all-too-rare glimpse of Suicide in rehearsal room mode, making their First Rehearsal Tapes side available as a single slab away from Blast First’s expanded 1999 reissue of The Second Album. Henry Rollins sums this one up best below, but suffice it to say this is neccessary listening for anyone snagged on rock and electronic music of the late 20th century.
“"On Suicide's First Rehearsal Tapes, recorded in 1975, Alan Vega and Martin Rev create minimalist aural structures, traces of which would surface on their eponymous debut album, released on the Red Star label in late 1977.
"These songs are not a sketchpad of semi-formed ideas. The First Rehearsal Tapes comprise an audio diary of two men out in the ether, measuring themselves as evolving individual artists and as a unit who would rely on inseparability to realize their unique and often confrontational mass in the decades to come. What the tapes also reveal is that Vega and Rev were compositionally ambitious, capable of melody and form, while resisting definition as they headed further into uncharted territory.
"The First Rehearsal Tapes afford the listener a glimpse into the creative process of two groundbreaking, true art warriors with their swords and shields leaning against the practice room wall. To understand the absolute brilliance of Suicide's first album as well as their sonic adventures that followed, you have to start here with their earliest recordings."
This customarily smooth set from 1981 is perhaps most famous for featuring three unforgettable tracks made with Marcos Valle. Rio's pop-soul wunderkind was exploring soul textures at the same time as Leon was absorbing the rich flavour of Brazilian harmonics. Together, they crafted rhythmically sophisticated and melodically adventurous soul.
"The centrepiece of the album is the lush, creeping title track - a hypnotically arranged stepper's groove and an enduring classic. A perfect slice of orchestral soul, it features Leon's patented unusual chord progressions, Valle on Rhodes and restrained string arrangements from Gene Page.
The nimble funk groove of "Baby Don't Stop Me" is another collaborative delight and one of Leon's rare uptempo tunes. "Got To Be Loved" is a timeless ballad, a sublime quiet storm version of Valle's loping jazz-funk favourite "Bicho No Cio".
As with all Leon records, the lyrical themes are deeply eternal throughout, whilst the music is elegant, soulful and sensual. Beyond the Valle co-writes, the soaring instrumental "Don't Stay Away" is a real highlight, possessing an intricate melody and another heavenly string arrangement from the incredible Page. On the pleading sultry soul of "Sure Do Want You Now," Ware's uniquely expressive vocals are especially impassioned and polished.
This officially licensed reissue enables a wider audience to now discover its undoubted genius. The sumptuous artwork of the original jacket and inner sleeve have been faithfully restored; the latter featuring Leon's memorable lyrics. Simon Francis' sensitive mastering elevates the sound throughout and, as ever, it has been pressed at a reassuringly weighty 180g.
"When we started to write, we found how easy it was, and at the same time how new it was, combining the feeling I had and the feeling he had", Valle explained to Wax Poetics on the subject of his fruitful partnership with Leon. The magic conjured up by fusing R&B with Brazilian rhythms and touches of jazz, funk, and pop resulted in a modern-soul/boogie essential."
Benjamin John Power explores the inner beast in us all through the typically brash sound design of this Blanck Mass album.
Forever to be known as half of a duo who just don’t f*cking like buttons, Benjamin John Power’s solo body of work as Blanck Mass has continued to gain tractions since his first album back in 2011.
‘World Eater’ continues the Blanck Mass dalliance with Brooklyn outpost Sacred Bones and offers up a screwballed exposition investigating the primal urges of humanity with everything naturally dialled up well past 11. Given the conceptual thrust, it’s no surprise there is a sonic brutality to much of ‘World Eater,’ apparent in the sucker punch that hits you from the first two tracks.
An intricate mesh of clockwork toy melodies and vocal harmonies on John Doe's Carnival of Error proves a falsely sweet opener as it gets consumed by the swirling, violent maelstrom of operatic techno gabber that follows on Rhesus Negative.
Respite comes in the form of Please, which sees Power veering off into sample-heavy MPC beat down reminiscent of early Gold Panda, but he’s soon back into head crunching territory with the 23rd Century glam rock flaunt of The Rat. This very British style of modern sound design applied to electronic music continues as uber-processed vocals crash over vertebrae snapping beats on Silent Treatment, whilst Minnesota / Eas Fors / Naked discards with rhythm to engage in a rainstorm of kinetic energy and searing synth work.
Babes, here it is: the first batch of Johnny Jewel’s soundtrack work for the new series of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks; comprising 14 original themes, cues and songs under his own name and with his bands, Chromatics and Desire.
If you’ve been keeping up with he series, the above is surely all you need to know, but for everyone else, Windswept is the stuff dreams be made of, draped in lustrous synths evoking all the immaculate ambiguity and American Dream-like nature of the new episodes’ interweaving stories, from he romance of Heaven and The Crimson Kiss or the shimmering Americana of Slow Dreams, to the feverish horror cue of Insomnia’s tense strings and the air-conditioned jazz cool of Motel, with a massive highlight in the all-too-short synth strokes of Between Worlds and Stardust’s sexed up mystery.
At bleedin’ last, Cosey Fanni Tutti’s legendary solo album, Time To Tell  sees a proper, if edited, official vinyl reissue - MAGAZINE INCLUDED! - on her and Chris Carter’s Conspiracy International label. In fact, with Cosey’s utterly mind-blowing autobiography, Art Sex Music now in circulation, putting history to rights and stoking febrile interest around her inspirational, nonpareil oeuvre, the timing could hardly be any better to reissue her most sought-after and inarguably definitive solo release.
First issued on tape in 1983, some years after the initial demise of Throbbing Gristle and the start of of Chris & Cosey, and just prior to the emergence of their multimedia CTI alias, Time To Tell documents Hull’s greatest daughter, Christine Carol Newby aka Cosey Fanni Tutti, ‘fessing all about her long-running art praxis involving a deep penetration of the British sex industry - from nude modelling to striptease and transgressive performance art - all set to her signature, exploratory electronic sculptures and drily angelic delivery.
For this hugely important reissue of Cosey’s only solo record (yep, only!), she worked with husband and creative partner Chris Carter to edit the original two track release, trimming down some of the longer parts to optimise audio fidelity, and also incorporating The Secret Touch which was included on the Time To Tell (Special Edition) CD release in 1993/2000.
Thus the release spies three distinct strands or aspects of Cosey’s sound. The first, longest and most comprehensive is the LP’s title track, which, as far as we can tell, appears in a slightly abridged version, but still ties up all her key sonic themes, from pulsing, sensuous synths, sky-licking guitars and brittle drum machines to her achingly seductive Yorkshire accent, drily recounting her experiences and inside/out perspective in the sex industry. Tell us this isn’t one of the most alluring 20 minutes of the ‘80s ever recorded, and we’ll tell you to do one.
Ritual Awakening comes on the B-side. Here the drum machine drops away and Cosey’s hushed vocals take a new, diaphanous form, refracted in a diamond-cut prism of electronics with near-cinematic strings, feeling out unreachable edges of the lushest void. Then we’re stranded in The Secret Touch, where her sallow synth strokes hint at an aquarian sort of new age, melding with reverberating, Denny-esque guitar against an unfathomable backdrop of possible field recordings and almost raga-like drones on her signature Cornet.
We could hammer on about this one all day, but suffice it to say: this is a totally essential purchase!
Improv hypnotist Aaron Dilloway induces a mind-bending session for Copenhagen’s Cejero label with a steeply mesmerising suite of mechanical loops unspooling from an elusive axis. Where 'The Gag File', issued earlier this year on NYC’s Dais, incorporated sickly pop elements, there’s less of that frivolity here as he grinds down to a seasick and interminably funky sort of rhythmic noise.
In case you’re new to Dilloway’s oeuvre, he’s essentially one of the North American noise scene’s most distinguished operators. His track record of over 100 releases for almost as many labels connects everyone from his old band, Wolf Eyes, to Kevin Drumm and Robert Turman, defiantly going with and against the grain of American counterculture with a stomach for the most nauseating yet compelling sounds.
Switches is a strong demonstration of Dilloway at his most uncompromising and discomfiting. Like a swim thru the bubbling belly acid of American culture, he pursues the original extremities of NON and Turman along his own parallel narrative, using subtly morphing repetition and abrasive attrition as tactics to seduce and beguile even the most hard-headed listeners.
The A-side yields a full spectrum of his style ranging from palpitating, palsied loops and tonal abrasion in Switch 2, to something like an American take on The Caretaker’s current descent into oblivion with the wilting, elusive phrases buried in Switch 17, while Switch 15 resembles some kind of burnt-out doom dub.
Meanwhile the B-side catches Dilloway at his most obtuse/playful with the snagged loops of Switch 11/12, which, once you get over the urge to nudge the needle out of its rut, seeps in with a viscerally psychedelic effect for its cranky, lurching duration, before Switch 1 locks off something like DJ Screw or Indignant Senility, with half a bar of f*ck-knows-what loping into a brambly haze around its progressively melting axis...
Paean to Wilson is arguably Vini Reilly and the Durutti Columns most important and consistent piece of work since the demise of the original and seminal Factory Records in the early 1990’s.
"It was commissioned MIF (Manchester International Festival of Music), July 2009. Vini had already composed pieces for Tony to listen to whilst he was ill in hospital and it was from here that the project developed. The opening night of the three sell-out festival shows formed part of the BBC2 ‘Culture Show’ coverage on the event.
Dave Simpson – MIF Review – The Guardian 20/7/09 4 out of 5 ‘ Near the beginning of the final night of the Durutti Column's 70-minute international festival tribute to Tony Wilson, A Paean to Wilson, guitarist Vini Reilly announced that he wouldn't be singing: "So you won't have to put up with my awful voice and schoolboy lyrics." If Wilson was with us, he would have chuckled. The Granada presenter-turned-Factory Records boss spent years urging his first signing to stop singing, and concentrate on the virtuosity that led Red Hot Chili Pepper John Frusciante to call Reilly "the greatest guitarist in the world". Two years after his death, Wilson got his way, one of many lovely touches in a very personal, emotional and often warmly funny musical tribute. Wilson signed Joy Division and Happy Mondays, yet never gave up on this cult band he adored, working with them even after his legendary label went bankrupt."
Rome’s La Beauté Du Négatif crack out a trashy trio of battered ravers from Penelope’s Fiance, SSIEGE, and DJ Guy, following up the latter’s 1993/1994 Unreleased Tracks session.
Specially mastered via WetSoq technology for assured shabbiness, each track feels like it was scraped from the dopamine-depleted skull of a mid ’90s hive mind, twysting from the cranky industrial ‘ardcore of If You Want More, You’ll Get Less by Penelope’s Fiance, and the charred chill-out room vibes of SSIEGE’s Arborea on the front, to an immense jungle lash by DJ Guy, who hasn’t really impressed us thus far, but surely does the business with his hotstepping edits and ghost-in-the-filter flex of CDIIF Quad Side B Trk 7.
Presenting two compelling works composed by Danish sound artists Jacob Kirkegaard & Niels Lyhne Løkkegaard and performed by the Aarhus Jazz Orchestra, Descending is a powerful exposition of extended acoustic technique used to bend the ear in fascinating ways.
Revolving two pieces for room resonance, triangles, shakers and horns, the recorded results of Descending transcend the sum of their parts in gripping style. In Movement 1 they conduct a breathless transition from the polymetric interplay of triangles, sounding like a distant alarm bell, calving off into thinnest, cirrus timbres and reemerging as a mesmerising display of sustained, quivering, bittersweet horn dissonance culminating a stunning, keening finale. Movement 2 opens with those horns at a lower, sustained pitch, rolling across the stereo field with an uncanny precision that you would normally expect from electronic music, glacially growing in density to sound like an incoming Stuka formation, precipitating a nerve-biting swell of discord before returning, almost palindromic, to the polymetric rustle of shakers.
Of course, the magick of the piece is much harder to describe, though. It lies somewhere in the relationship between the knowledge of the composers, the players’ incredible skill, and their recording space, whose unique characteristics are crucial to its success in keeping us enthralled from start to finish. It lies in the way they slide the sound around the sphere of perception, purposefully generating and controlling the resonant feedback until it becomes a part of the work itself, generating a lingering harmonic aura to the sounds which gels them in smoothly contoured transitions between each tightly disciplined cluster of pitches with a near-enough metaphysical structure.
Stunning work. A rare treat for the lugs, especially if you’re into Eliane Radigue, Eleh, Harley Gaber, Harry Bertoia.
Taken from the same sessions as the recent Vida Eterna for Hospital Productions
Ninos Du Brasil present the churning, clambering, bestial momentum of Animals Soar O Alarme backed with a swinging, subaquatic techno rework by Patrick Russell for The Bunker New York.