‘Sadomodernism’ takes a few tracks to get going, but when it reaches critical mass you’ll know all about Osheyack, the newest lamb on Bedouin Records. Expect Cut Hands-style drum works veering into full pelt hardcore techno gabber
“At the crux of American-born, Shanghai-based producer Eli Osheyack's debut album, Sadomodernism, is a question of agency. Borrowed from film theory, the album title was originally coined by writer Moira Weigel to describe a waning European art house tradition that vehemently rejects 'naïve pleasure'—the tranquilizing comfort of conventional cinematic narrative, like mainstream Hollywood—and opts for violence and pain, with the aim of shaking audiences out of cinematic manipulation and into their own position vis-à-vis the malaise of contemporary life.
Echoing the work of sadomodernist auteurs, Osheyacks's Sadomodernism is a deeply political project with critical ambitions. The smashing and blending of genres, from techno, industrial, noise and gabber to ballroom and metal, even opera, and spontaneous percussion arrangements, sometimes mixed with distorted spoken word, do not mean to please, but provoke through disorder and chaos. Laden with Brechtian alienation affects, Sadomodernism interrogates the notion of autonomy in contemporary music, club culture, and social-political life.”
Iona Fortune’s Tao Of I came out a few weeks ago and was available in such limited supply that we had the vinyl edition up for sale for about an hour before it sold out. Now that it’s been re-pressed it’d be totally remiss of us not to bring it to the attention of anyone who missed out; it really is one of the year’s most striking debut albums.
Inspired by Eastern Philosophy and slated to be the first in an 8 album series exploring all the symbols of the I Ching, Fortune's music is described by the label as loosely fitting in with Fourth World concepts imagined by Jon Hassell, and indeed she meshes traditional guzheng and gamelan with lustrous tones from a Synthi AKS that provides an incredible sub-bass throb that runs through the record.
However, Fortune’s is an exercise in deep contemplation that isn’t afraid of baring it’s teeth. As opposed to so many Ambient albums riding revivalist waves right now, she seems aware of a basic truth that sound rarely works in one dimension. She aligns tradition and technology in a way that seems expansive and new, almost revolutionary; instead of creating soothing background sounds she makes use of grit and abrasion.
This makes Tao Of I a singular record, measured with a poise and patience that’s utterly arresting in its stoic elegance and sound sensitivity, drawing on a history of arcane, intramural Scots energies and channelling a mystic, ambiguous instrumental voice. It's completely enchanted, enchanting music.
Takashi Kokubo’s sublime 1987 ambient soundtrack for a luxury air-con range sees its first official (remastered) vinyl pressing, replete with a previously unreleased B-side of stargazing, shoreside bliss.
Recorded in 1987 as one of many promo works by Kokubo, whose subsequent commercial work has ended up everywhere from Japan’s earthquake warning systems to their contactless payment jingles, ‘Get At The Wave’ is here retitled, expanded and complemented with a bonus side of shimmering percussion and crashing waves in the transportive ‘Ocean Breeze’.
When combined with the recently salvaged B-side, the two pieces add up to a picture postcard perfect simulacra of Pacific exotica, exactly the kind of thing that James Ferraro and Spencer Clarke have playfully rerouted into the vaporwave sphere over the past decade, and which has become reclaimed as a necessary balm for overworked minds across the world - not just clammy Japanese businessmen in need of refreshing aircon and ambient music.
Original copies of the promo-only soundtrack trade for a pretty penny 2nd hand nowadays, and perhaps understandably so, as this is one of the best, transcendent examples of Japanese ambient electronics in circulation right now.
‘Mandy’ is the exceptional final soundtrack realised by dearly departed composer Jóhann Jóhannsson for the film directed by Panos Cosmatos. A supporting cast of Stephen O’Malley, Kreng and Yair Elazar Glotman, plus production from Randall Dunn ensure a majestic final missive and one of the most rich and varied releases in Jóhannsson's canon, taking in elements of metal, drone and doom ambient, even retro-futuristic synth work...
With a crack squad including O’Malley on guitar and additional production from gifted sound designers Randall Dunn, Pepijn Caudron (Kreng) and Berlin’s Yair Elazar Glotman (Ketev), the results lurk like blinking red eyes in a dense nocturnal forest, swarming in formation from widescreen romance to petrifying, plangent cues and pockets of heart-sinking gloom, saving the gnashing guitars for when their bite is felt strongest, but equally knowing how to send shivers shooting down the spine in moments of sublime, contrasting relief on the ‘Memories’ theme.
Jóhannsson's deft approach to sonic extremities is the real eye opener here; far removed from the emotionally driven demands of his more mainstream work for hollywood, here we're taken through grinding, industrial metal scrapes one minute and insanely rich ambient textures the next - with no concession to soaring emotional cues. Not that Jóhannsson ever really succumbed to much of that; but nonetheless - it’s a total pleasure to hear him reach into those darker recesses on Mandy - a soundtrack that’s likely to be remembered as one of his best.
R.I.P to a true master.
Amazing proto-Drexciyan synths and alien electronics from Portugal, 1983, a first time reissue on Holuzam - a brand new label from the people behind Príncipe. Don't miss this!!!
Holuzam is a new label from Prícncipe Discos co-founders José Moura and Márcio Matos. Their first release is an expanded edition of Telectu’s freakishly immersive 1983 LP, ’Belzebu’; a 40min suite of sweltering, proto-Drexciyan synths, lilting Afro influences and subaquatic rhythms unavailable on any format since the original release, which now trades for triple figures in the 2nd hand market
Viewed from any angle, ‘Belzebu’ is an iridescent oddity in its field, and was certainly among the first of its ilk within the Portuguese music scene. It was the product of experiments by multi-instrumentalist and music writer Jorge Lima Barreto (JLB), and the co-founder of pop-rock band GNR, Vitor Rua (VR), whose shared interests dovetailed into a mutual fascination with unorthodox, improvised and electronic sounds, leading to these remarkable, home recorded conclusions in 1983.
During late 1982 and into 1983, JLB and VR channelled those notions, together with ideas picked up from the NYC minimalist and no wave scene during travels in North and South America, into a strangely prescient and non pareil sound. Homing in on a high pitched, chaotic granular squabble they termed ‘Belzebu Zero’ - which forms the original demo for the album and is included here as a bonus CD - the duo layered that sound with precise guitar strokes, drum machine, synths and FX to hypnotically immersive and dramatically alien effect.
On the A-side ‘Rotas Opera Temet’ they plunge into a 20 minute vortex of electric blue synth noise and scaly flutters recalling a prototypical Drexicyan soundtrack to a film about Atlantis. With the B-side, they take that idea fathoms further into the abyss, wrapping coruscating chords and ticking machine pulses to the high end squabble with a supremely heady sensation, especially when the rhythm opens out into a demented shift in the track’s 2nd half.
There’s a genuine genius at work in this record which is bound to enthrall and absorb listeners from myriad perspectives. Everyone from Jamal Moss fiends to Drexciyan divers and Craig Leon fans need to spend some time with this beautiful oddity....
Following hard on the heels of BBE delving into the archives of Detroit’s Strata Records and delivering their widely acclaimed and hugely in-demand exploration of J-Jazz, comes another crate digger’s delight- Ralph Thomas’ ‘Eastern Standard Time’, which dropped the USA back in in 1980, on the obscure Zebra Jazz imprint.
"This is the is the kind of “spiritual’ jazz gem that appears on You Tube and upon checking it out on Discogs reveals a price well in excess of £150.00. To have it widely available in its original vinyl format, as well as digitally and on CD, is a real treat. So, who is Ralph Thomas?
The self-produced ‘Eastern Standard Time’ features Thomas on baritone, alto and tenor saxophones as well as flute and percussion. He describes himself as a practicing ethnomusicologist whose musical vision evolved during the Sixties and it’s Thomas’ multifaceted, global approach that gives the music on Eastern Standard Time’ an engaging and distinct flavour.
"My music has always been open to different cultures and sounds Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, Mexican, Peruvian, American, Hebrew, Turkish, African, Indian and Japanese,” declares the Chicago born musician. While attending the Chicago conservatory of music in 1969 he became a member of the Chicago A.A.C.M, studying with master musicians Phil Cohran and Richard Muhal Abrams. He also recorded with well-known blues legends, Howlin' Wolf and Mighty Joe Young for the Cadet imprint of Chess records.
In 1974, he moved to Los Angeles and was employed as a session player with both 20th Century Fox and Motown – where he recorded with Marvin Gaye, Jermaine Jackson, Smokey Robinson and Rick James. In the early Eighties he was working for Quincy Jones Productions appearing on the soundtrack of Roots and The Color Purple but a passion for reggae music led him to Jamaica where he recorded with producer Jack Ruby and artists like Augustus Pablo and Gregory Isaacs.
In ’86 he moved to NYC where he collaborated with Boogaloo legend Johnny Colon and played with like-minded musical explorers Sun Ra, Don Cherry and Olatunji. However, by 1993 his restless spirit carried him to Paris where studied Ethnomusicology and performed with trumpeter Mra Oma and film-maker Ranaivo-Rajaona Hery. There were also gigs with percussionist Trilok Gurtu as well as drummer Sunny Murray and saxophone legend Archie Shepp. Upon moving to the South of France Thomas ran an art gallery and initiated his MusArt project – which has since toured in the US, Canada and Japan
After a productive stint in Chiang Mai, Thailand – where he immersed himself in Issan culture – Ralph Thomas recently relocated back to the US to live and work. Though creating a huge amount of music over the years ‘Eastern Standard Time’ remains Ralph Thomas' only album."
Marcel Dettmann experiments with a spectrum of styles from broken, abstract to crunching techno functions for Ostgut-Ton
Three of them are really worth closer attention, namely the roiling, Autechrian fizz of ‘Test-File’ showing the kids how to do it weird but driving, also the T++ or Dynamo-esque lurch of ’Torch’, and a Drexciya-infected slice of EBM-techno hydrolixx called ‘Metalloid’.
The final performance of Throbbing Gristle before their initial breakup, at the Kezar Pavillion, San Francisco on 29 May 1981.
‘Mission of Dead Souls’ documents the notorious final performance of Throbbing Gristle in their original incarnation (1975-1981). Recorded at Kezar Pavillion, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco on 29th May, 1981 and unavailable on vinyl since the early ‘90s, it’s now back on wax with a new inner sleeve including photos and a passage of text by Jon Savage
Recorded by Monte Cazzaza, long a satellite member of the band, ‘Mission of Souls’ captures the band in a period of broken relationships and internecine collapse, which definitely only adds to its historical weight as a document of the late 20th C’s most important band in its death throes.
Counting Genesis P-Orridge, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Chris Carter and Peter "Sleazy” Christopherson on stage, the infamous four generate a dense black energy in ten parts, culminating in killer and now classic takes on ‘Spirits Flying’, a possessed version of ‘Persuasion U.S.A.’, and a trampling curtain call with ‘Discipline (Reprise)’.
Cass. lands on Greece’s Into The Light Records with the lush ‘Postclub Prism’, a set of phosphorescing ambient nocturnes and synth vignettes blessed with a melancholy sense of futurism.
For his first release of 2018, following a string of deliveries for Throne of Blood, International Feel and Emotional Response in recent years, ‘Postclub Prism’ follows a clear line of melodic, instrumental narrative that will firmly endear it to more romantically-inclined ears.
From the tremulous new age vox and pads of ‘1000 Superdolphins’ at its introduction, thru the sloshing, widescreen electro-dub roil of ‘Leaving’, to richly poignant pieces such as the quivering, coruscating synth miniature, ‘Albertine’, and the gorgeous, early 0PN vibes of ‘Painful Love in 96 kHz’, and the sublime nesting film dialogue samples and feather touch synth strokes in ‘Redwood’, Cass. cups your spirits with trustworthy hands for the fragile hours of the night-turned-morning.
Mysterious happenings on Andrew Lyster’s Youth label from a "well known producer" involved with the label wishing to stay incognito; that probably means it's Kassem Mosse, who knows?? - in any event - this one's a killer.
Deploying a trio of slow dancehall-indebted digital dubs, EP opener Diamonds functions as a kind of late night slinker, all angular and spaced-out, as if Equiknoxx found themselves transported back to classic-era Source records via Move D / Reagenz.
Noh Mas is on a more demented Workshop tip, complete with maniacal laughing fills and righteous strings somewhere between Kassem Mosse and Madteo, while 7" closer I, I drips into being with pure slow house filth.
The utterly unique 1971 debut album by Meredith Monk reissued on vinyl after years out of print, a frankly mind-boggling set of compositions for voice; years in the making and still a total f*cking inspiration - you can hear its influence on anyone from Bjork to Joanna Newsom to Maja Ratkje half a century later. We really cant think of anything from that era that sounds anything like it; wildly experimental but also highly visual in nature, a kind of proto-multimedia project that still sounds completely alien and groundbreaking.
"Composer, singer, director/choreographer, creator of new opera, musical theater works, films and installations, Meredith Monk is one of the most unique and influential artists of our time. Awarded a National Medal of Arts by President Obama in 2015, Monk has blazed her own influential trail through music and movement over the past 50 years. Pitchfork noted in a recent review of her latest ECM release, ‘On Behalf of Nature’: “Meredith Monk’s influence as a singer and composer extends through Björk, Joanna Newsom and beyond.”
‘Key’ contains Monk’s earliest compositions for voice, composed and performed from 1967-1970. In her words: “In ‘Key’ I wanted to create a constantly shifting ambience. Each song dealt with a different vocal character, landscape, technical concern or emotional quality. I was trying for a visceral, kinetic song form that had the abstract qualities of a painting or a dance. I knew that I didn’t want to set music to a text; for me, the voice itself was a language which seemed to speak more eloquently than words. I chose certain phonemes for their particular sound qualities. In a sense, each song became a world in itself with its own timbre, texture and impulse.”
A study in friction and sublimity, transitioning from gritty airborne textures to droning, somnolent songcraft...
“Two Words is the debut release from the duo of Canadian sound artist crys cole and Australian songwriter Francis Plagne. Building on a series of experimental live performances in which the pair toyed with possible common languages for their seemingly unrelated approaches to music, the LP's two sides present a single piece that brings together abstract texture and slow-motion song in a sonic space where genre cedes to the logic of dreams. The piece begins with a long, nearly static sequence built primarily from rubbed surfaces, using movement in the stereo field and changing mic placements to create a unified but unstable sonic environment that mimics wind, water, and breath, opening an impossible space between nature and artifice. This artificial outdoors ultimately makes room for Plagne's electric organ, which sounds a series of melancholic chords to accompany a wandering Wyatt-esque keyboard line as cole's intimate contact mic textures sizzle and pop in the foreground. From here the piece makes a surprise detour into song, as the majority of the second side finds Plagne intoning a series of obtuse two-word phrases (from a text by Berlin-based poet Marty Hiatt) to an austere organ accompaniment.
Working closely with engineer and producer Joe Talia, cole and Plagne extend the studio-as-an-instrument tradition of Teo Macero and This Heat, introducing subtle yet unexpected production shifts that lead the listener from the initial austerity of the organ and voice to an oneiric space of asynchronized vocal doubles, creaking textures, and distant whistling, ultimately arriving at something like an imagined meeting of Organum and Arthur Russell. Packaged in a suitably mysterious sleeve featuring a lush work by Australian painter Anne Wallace on the front and text by Hiatt on the back, Two Words is both comforting and strange, a disorienting blend of seemingly discrepant elements.”
KILLER reissue of Wackies gold, now including a previously unreleased 13 minute B-side peach ‘What A Feeling Dub’ & ‘What A Dub’
Last spotted tucked away at the end of Jon K’s Fact Mix 364, ‘Betrayed Dub’ is an aching lovers rock lament whose original pressing perhaps understandably trades for a pretty penny on the 2nd hand market.
This new edition makes Annette Brissette’s tunes available for first time in 35 years, with the grounation drums and stark lyrics of the original now sitting next to the crucial dub on the front, while the B-side follows in that melancholy vein with the deliciously woozy organ and languid Afro guitar influences of ‘What A Feeling’ from her ‘Love Power’ album included as ‘What A Feeling Dub’, and also firmed up in ‘What A Dub.’ Aye, it’s a cover of *that* song from ‘Flashdance’.
TTT cop a pair of sylvan downbeat beauties from Conrad Standish and Sam Karmel’s CS + Kreme
One of the most distinctive acts to emerge from the southern hemisphere in recent memory, CS + Kreme’s first self-tiled 12” marked them as ones to keep an ear on, and each subsequent rendering has only made us love their immaculate blend of ambient-pop and shoegaze even more.
Safe to say we’re feeling this one too. Where previous outings have been partly defined by Standish’s plaintive vocals, they contrarily don’t appear until the closing strokes on this one, as they roll out 9 minutes of horizontally-inclined vibes in ‘Eyes On Ceiling’ with its sonorous 808s and shallow plasmic dubbing recalling a long soak in the bath that’s starting to lose its heat, before ‘Husk’ emerges into balmier air streaked with filigree electronics, shimmering pads and a pleading sax that paves the way to a very Mark Hollis-esque denouement.
Isabella Koen debuts on Peder Mannerfelt Produktion with a personalised batch of power ambient aces, following the lead of Sissel Wincent with five curious explorations of high-velocity techno and queered electronic atmospheres, big recommendation if yr into Sissel, Via App, Peder Mannerfelt....
Slipping frictionally into Peder Mannerfelt’s label, Isabella plays out a killer jagged sound strung out between ostensibly opposing yet complementary poles of banging dance music and introspective tonal arrangements.
On the A-side, she spells out this paradox between the cascading chromatic arps and zinging vamps of ‘Dicey Takes Its Form’, and the starkly contrasting slug of sub-loaded, clambering 134bpm techno in ‘Penchant Disenchantment’.
For the B-side she flips the mode, kicking off with the bone-rattling 150bpm techno highlight of ‘Vain’ before slipping down the rabbit hole with the narcotic drip-off, ‘I Could Get You’, and clocking off with the groggy maze of cold, dubbed-out techno abstraction in ‘Residual’.
Bossman Aphex Twin coughs up a full gob of brainsmarts after teasing with some ace promo over the past few weeks
Fronted by the preceding ’T69 collapse’ sidewinder, the rest of the EP is actually stronger than that cut hinted at. ‘1st 44’ is the kind of darkside, slow/fast electro-dub workout we’ve craved to hear him make for time, while ‘MT1 t29r2’ also explores a sort of mutant electro-dub momentum, but spliced with a breakbeat hardcore fluidity riddled with proper gremlin synth voices.
Like we said, it only gets better, though, especially in the way he juggles complexity with a sort of rarified dance-pop elegance in the frenetic poise of ‘abundance10edit[2 R8’s, FZ20m & a 909]’, and the fine tuned tangggggggg and mouth-watering pads of his jelly-limbed drill ’n bass exercise, ‘pthex’.
In Sudan, the political and cultural are inseparable. In 1989, a coup brought a hardline religious government to power. Music was violently condemned. Many musicians and artists were persecuted, tortured, forced to flee into exile — and even murdered, ending one of the most beloved music eras in all of Africa and largely denying Sudan's gifted instrumentalists, singers, and poets, from strutting their creative heritage on the global stage.
"What came before in a special era that protected and promoted the arts was one of the richest music scenes anywhere in the world. Although Sudanese styles are endlessly diverse, this compilation celebrates the golden sound of the capital, Khartoum. Each chapter of the cosmopolitan city's tumultuous musical story is covered through 16 tracks: from the hypnotic violin and accordion-driven orchestral music of the 1970s that captured the ears and hearts of Africa and the Arabic-speaking world, to the synthesizer and drum machine music of the 1980s, and the music produced in exile in the 1990s. The deep kicks of tum tum and Nubian rhythms keep the sound infectious.
Sudan of old had music everywhere: roving sound systems and ubiquitous bands and orchestras kept Khartoum's sharply dressed youth on their feet. Live music was integral to cultural life, producing a catalog of concert recordings. In small arenas and large outdoor venues, musical royalty of the day built Khartoum's reputation as ground zero for innovation and technique that inspired a continent.
Musicians in Ethiopia and Somalia frequently point to Sudan's biggest golden era stars as idols. Mention Mohammed Wardi — a legendary Sudanese singer and activist akin to Fela Kuti in stature and impact in his music and politics — and they often look to the heavens. A popular story is of one man from Mali who walked for three months across the Sahel to Sudan because the father of the woman he wanted to marry would only allow it if he got him a signed cassette from Wardi himself. Saied Khalifa is said to be the one of the few singers to make Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie smile.
Such is the stature of Sudanese singers and the reputation of Sudanese music, particularly in the "Sudanic Belt," a cultural zone that stretches from Djibouti all the way west to Mauritania, covering much of the Sahara and the Sahel, lands where Sudanese artists are household names and Sudanese poems are regularly used as lyrics until today to produce the latest hits. Sudanese cassettes often sold more in Cameroon and Nigeria than at home.
But years of anti-music sentiment have made recordings in Sudan difficult to source. Ostinato's team traveled to Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti, and Egypt in search of the timeless cultural artifacts that hold the story of one of Africa's most mesmerizing cultures. That these cassette tape and vinyl recordings were mainly found in Sudan's neighbors is a testament to Sudanese music's widespread appeal."
This triple LP reissue of the band’s first two albums - the first installment in a three-part series dedicated to Dur-Dur Band - represents the first fruit of Analog Africa’s long labours to bring this extraordinary music to the wider world...
"Some thirty years after they first made such a splash in the Mogadishu scene, they have been freed from the wobble and tape-hiss of second and third generation cassette dubs, to reveal a glorious mix of polychromatic organs, nightclub-ready rhythms and hauntingly soulful vocals. In addition to two previously unreleased tracks, the music is accompanied by extensive liner notes, featuring interviews with original band members, documenting a forgotten chapter of Somalia’s cultural history.
Before the upheaval in the 1990s that turned Somalia into a war-zone, Mogadishu, the white pearl of the Indian Ocean, had been one of the jewels of eastern Africa, a modern paradise of culture and commerce. In the music of the Dur-Dur band - now widely navailable outside of Somalia - we can still catch a fleeting glimpse of that golden age. When Analog Africa founder Samy Ben Redjeb arrived in Mogadishu in November of 2016, he was informed by his host that he would have to be accompanied at all times by an armed escort while in the country.
The next morning, a neighbour and former security guard put on a military uniform, borrowed an AK-47 from somewhere and escorted him to Via Roma, an historical street in the heart of Hamar-Weyne, the city’s oldest district. Although previous Analog Africa releases have demonstrated a willingness to go more than the extra air-mile to track down the stories behind the music, the trip to Mogadishu was a musical journey of a different kind. It was the culmination of an odyssey that had started many years earlier. In 2007 John Beadle, a Milwaukee-based musicologist and owner of the much loved Likembe blog, uploaded a cassette he had been handed twenty years earlier by a Somalian student.
The post was titled ‘Mystery Somali Funk’ and it was, in Samy’s own words, “some of the deepest funk ever recorded.” The cassette seemed to credit these dense, sonorous tunes to the legendary Iftin Band. But initial contact with Iftin’s lead singer suggested that the ‘mystery funk’ may have actually been the work of their chief rival, Dur-Dur, a young band from the 80s. Back then, Mogadishu had been a very different place. On the bustling Via Roma, people from all corners of society would gather at the Bar Novecento and Cafe Cappucino, watch movies at the famous Supercinema, and eat at the numerous pasta hang-outs or the traditional restaurants that served Bariis Maraq, a somali Beef Stew mixed with delicious spiced rice. The same street was also home to Iftinphone and Shankarphone, two of the city’s best known music shop. Located opposite each other, they were the centre of Somalia’s burgeoning cassette distribution network. Both shops, run by members of the legendary Iftin Band, would become first-hand witnesses to the meteoric rise of Dur- Dur, a rise that climaxed in April of 1987 with the release of Volume 2, their second album."
A 2018 funk odyssey by keyboard maestro, vocalist, composer and astral traveller Brandon Coleman.
"A regular fixture in the Kamasi Washington band, Brandon Coleman is introduced onstage at gigs as ‘Professor Boogie’ by his longtime friend and collaborator. ‘Resistance’ represents a new chapter in the funk dynasty that spans Parliament, Funkadelic and Zapp through to Dr. Dre and Dâm-Funk as Coleman salutes his musical heroes - Herbie Hancock, Peter Frampton, Roger Troutman - and honours their ethos of freedom and experimentation in his search for funk’s future. For fans of Kamasi Washington, Dâm-Funk, BadBadNotGood, Yussef Kamaal..."
Rarely has an album owed so much to production... Low return with their most daring, experimental release in years, co-produced by James Blake's man at the controls B.J. Burton, at times verging on a layered, pulsing electronic sound you'd associate with the likes of Andy Stott. Doused in distortion, throbbing electronics, submerged vocals, side-chain effects - this could easily have been a nauseating exercise in modernisation; but instead the strength of the songwriting shines through for one of Low's best = a standout full-length for 2018.
"In 2018, Low will turn twenty-five. Since 1993, Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker—the married couple whose heaven-and-earth harmonies have always held the band’s center—have pioneered a subgenre, shrugged off its strictures, recorded a Christmas classic, become a magnetic onstage force, and emerged as one of music’s most steadfast and vital vehicles for pulling light from our darkest emotional recesses. But Low will not commemorate its first quarter-century with mawkish nostalgia or safe runs through songbook favorites. Instead, in faithfully defiant fashion, Low will release its most brazen, abrasive (and, paradoxically, most empowering) album ever: Double Negative, an unflinching eleven-song quest through snarling static and shattering beats that somehow culminates in the brightest pop song of Low’s career.
To make Double Negative, Low reenlisted B.J. Burton, the quietly energetic and adventurous producer who has made records with James Blake, Sylvan Esso, and The Tallest Man on Earth in recent years while working as one of the go-to figures at Bon Iver’s home studio, April Base. Burton recorded Low’s last album, 2015’s Ones and Sixes, at April Base, adding might to many of its beats and squelch and frisson beneath many of its melodies.
This time, though, Sparhawk, Parker, and bassist Steve Garrington knew they wanted to go further with Burton and his palette of sounds, to see what someone who is, as Sparhawk puts it, “a hip-hop guy” could truly do to their music. Rather than obsessively write and rehearse at home in Duluth, Minnesota, they would often head southeast to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, arriving with sketches and ideas that they would work on for days with Burton. Band and producer became collaborative cowriters, building the pieces up and breaking them down and building them again until their purpose and force felt clear. As the world outside seemed to slide deeper into instability, Low repeated this process for the better part of two years, pondering the results during tours and breaks at home. They considered not only how the fragments fit together but also how, in the United States of 2018, they functioned as statements and salves.
Double Negative is, indeed, a record perfectly and painfully suited for our time. Loud and contentious and commanding, Low fightsfor the world by fighting against it. It begins in pure bedlam, with a beat built from a loop of ruptured noise waging war against the paired voices of Sparhawk and Parker the moment they begin to sing during the massive “Quorum.” For forty minutes, they indulge the battle, trying to be heard amid the noisy grain, sometimes winning and sometimes being tossed toward oblivion. In spite of the mounting noise, Sparhawk and Parker still sing. Or maybe they sing because of the noise. For Low, has there ever really been a difference?"
For its fourth full-length, A-Sun Amissa plunges deeper than before. Guitars come to the fore. Heavy, distorted chords are present from the off, complemented by desolate ambient passages of sound.
"The claustrophobic atmospheres remain but combine with a new density and sonic experimentation to present a huge leap forward in structure and composition. Ceremony in the Stillness hints at themes from the previous three outings while very much pushing the project into new territories. The intricate nuances and lulling melodies from Desperate in Her Heavy Sleep (2012) reappear while the billowing guitars of You Stood Up For Victory, We Stood up For Less (2013) are referenced throughout. In comparison to 2017’s The Gatherer it’s clear there is a firmer direction in the song-writing as the album weaves through elements of doom, dark ambient and post-rock, placing its very own unique mark firmly into the ears of the listener.
A-Sun Amissa is the project of Richard Knox (founder of Gizeh Records and member of The Rustle of the Stars, Shield Patterns and Glissando) and while Knox takes the central role on Ceremony in the Stillness , again we see several collaborators contributing to the record. As album opener The Black Path unfurls, the cello of Jo Quail creeps through the thick wall of guitar to offer a moment of calm before the song comes to life with the introduction of drums (from Archelon’s TJ Fairfax) for the first time on a A-Sun Amissa record. Alongside a dense and hypnotically repetitive riff, it’s A-Sun Amissa’s heaviest moment to date as the song collapses under its own weight to leave a crumbling and uneasy passage of cello and guitar drone. Intertwining guitars take centre stage on the melancholic With Wearied Eyes as the atmosphere harks back to the debut album, before the hefty guitar riffs return on To the Ashes. The Skulk eminisces on The Gatherer as David McLean’s saxophone unravels around the ondes Martenot of Christine Ott amongst a shifting tide of oscillators and drones. The record then takes a turn as No Perception of Light ’s soporific opening gives way to a mesmerising beat and bassline, developing into a wall of crunching guitars and electronics. The closer, Remembrancer , features chiming guitars, conversing over bowed strings, the melancholy returning again as an enveloping, haunting orchestral outro brings the record to a conclusion.
Whether Ceremony in the Stillness represents a permanent shift in direction for A-Sun Amissa remains to be seen. What’s clear is that Knox is comfortable being on the outside looking in, and on expanding A-Sun Amissa’s palette of sounds even further it only adds to the intrigue of what comes next."
From the start of Shabazz Palaces - the groundbreaking project launched in 2009 by former-Digable Planets leader Ishmael Butler - confidentiality seemed essential: Butler wanted Shabazz Palaces to stand on its own strength, not his outsized reputation, so he adopted a nom de plume for himself.
"As the project’s network expanded, though, he needed new monikers for his partnerships. Knife Knights is the name he gave to his work with Seattle engineer, producer, songwriter and film composer Erik Blood, a vital force in the Shabazz Palaces universe.
Now, after more than a decade of collaboration and the development of a rich friendship, Butler and Blood have made a proper full-length record together as Knife Knights: ‘1 Time Mirage’, an eleven-track odyssey that finds the pair and a cast of their friends weaving together a singular world of soul and shoegaze, hip hop and lush noise, bass and bedlam. ‘1 Time Mirage’ represents a playground for Butler and Blood, a free space for unfettered exploration and a radically adventurous start to something much more than a mere production duo or side project.
Recorded in three fertile sessions interrupted by Shabazz Palaces tours and Blood’s recording projects, ‘1 Time Mirage’ is a profound fulfilment of the partnership, realized at the crossroads of Butler’s and Blood’s mutual enthusiasms. Their shared interests have been split into pieces and fused together with enviable imagination. In the decade since Butler launched Shabazz Palaces and first christened his partnership with Blood as Knife Knights, much of the external mystery has, of course, fallen away. The early sense of secrecy has given way to a spirit of friendship and creative candor, to the doors of experimentation being thrown open by old pals thrilled by the prospect of testing new ideas.
Still, these eleven songs retain a core of intrigue and, indeed, mystery; each listen reveals yet another connection between infinite and interlocking pieces. To wit, Robert Beatty’s brilliant cover for ‘1 Time Mirage’ depicts a futuristic vehicle, being coolly steered with one hand into some great, mildly ominous unknown. That’s how these songs feel, too - confident conquests of the dark that unlock sounds and spaces you have yet to imagine."
Feeding strings through an array of modular synthesisers, Ben Chatwin remoulds his recent ‘Staccato Signals’ album into new microscopic electronic textures. ‘Drone Signals’, a companion piece to the original album.
"With all of the ‘Staccato’ material on hand, the task became dismantling the tracks - stripping them apart to see what was left, letting certain sounds or instruments become the focus and then rebuilding the arrangements around them. This allowed elements to breathe yet also to become more static. The less chaotic and more ambient nature of these pieces suggested a related album of versions, a conceptual sibling.
‘Drone Signals’ might best be understood as the aftermath of ‘Staccato Signals’, retaining much that made the latter such a rewarding album - its mournful beauty, the tense,ambiguous relationship between electronic and acoustic elements and a delicate if not volatile balance between elegance and intensity. ‘Drone Signals’ will no doubt appeal to fans of the experimental world-building of recording artists and soundtrack composers such as Ben Frost, Hildur Guðnadóttir, Max Richter, Johann Johannsson and Ryuichi Sakamoto."
Recorded as a piece of art for Italian National Radio RAI in Rome March 1981. On the recommendation of Robert Wyatt, RAI originally commissioned Cosey Fanni Tutti to create a sound work based on the theme of ‘A Journey Through The Body’. It became a Throbbing Gristle project which was later broadcast by RAI.
‘Journey Through A Body’  was the final Throbbing Gristle recording made at RAI Studios, Rome during their pivotal first phase of action, prior to reforming (and eventually disbanding again) in 2004. It’s long been a bugger or simply expensive to get hold of, and now reissued in the wake of a 40th anniversary edition of ‘The Second Annual Report’ and new editions of ’20 Jazz Funk Greats’ and ‘The Taste of TG: A Beginner’s Guide to Throbbing Gristle’.
Originally a Cosey Fanni Tutti commission from RAI Rome at the recommendation of Robert Wyatt, ‘Journey Through A Body’ became a full-blown TG project with all four members recording for five days at the legendary Roman studio in March 1981. Improvised recording sessions focussed around sections of the body were mixed down to tape immediately afterwards, with no re-recording allowed. In effect, the results land somewhere between “live” and ”studio” sessions, coughing up an uncannily acoustic-sounding portrait of the group at the end of their hugely influential early run.
The group’s response to the theme ‘A Journey Through The Body’ is typically variegated, forming a fascinating push and pull between industrial noise, Denny-esque exotica and a marvel of prepared piano abstraction in a way that doesn’t easily fit with any other period of their recordings. Making fine use of the esteemed facilities at RAI, Italy’s National Broadcaster, TG come off like a gnarled echo of Gruppo Di Improvvisazzione Di Nuova Consonanza or a prototype of Wolf Eyes’ trip metal in the 15 minute dosage of ‘Medicine’, before Cosey pulls out her wonky cornet on the gristlized electro slop of ‘Catholic Sex’, starring a blunted poem recited by Genesis P-Orridge.
Their core inspiration from Martin Denny meanwhile comes through patently in the unsettling exotica simulacra of ‘Exotic Functions’, before the prepared piano prangs into play along with rancid guitars and concrète cut-ups in ‘Violencia (The Bullet)’, and a wickedly refined sting in the tail with the warped, chamber-like piano abstraction of ‘Oltre Morte, Birth and Death’.
Swingeing, pounding dark techno treks from Swiss producer Isolated Lines and Colombia’s Gotshell
In duo they dish up the intricately woven but brutal Afro-latinate charge of ‘Particules’ and the darkside clonq of ‘Dual’, before Isolated Lines takes the reins for the whirligig trance techno of ‘Trivium’ and the wicked tribalist aerobics of ‘Tetrad’.
A new collection from Soul Jazz / Studio One focussing on the intense period in the second half of the 1960s when Studio One’s vast and unbeatable output of ska, soul, rock steady and reggae made it literally one of the hottest musical empires in the world.
"During this highly successful period, Clement ‘Sir Coxsone’ Dodd released hundreds and hundreds of superlative singles seemingly on an almost daily basis, in the process making huge stars out of Jamaican singers such as Alton Ellis, Delroy Wilson, The Wailers, Slim Smith, Jackie Opel and many more. Powered by the finest in-house musicians working in Jamaica, whether it was The Skatalites, Jackie Mittoo’s Soul Brothers, The Sounds Dimension or The Soul Vendors, Studio One functioned as hit factory on the scale of Motown in the USA, shaping and defining reggae music for decades to come. Singlehandedly Studio One’s founder Clement Dodd was able to create the most successful vertically-integrated record company that Jamaica had ever known with pressing plant, printers, studio, shops and sound systems all running at once, with over 50 employees and hundreds of artists working with Studio One during this time. "
Strong debut album by one of China’s most distinctive new industrial/dance music producers, Tzusing, for L.I.E.S.; portraying the Shanghai-based artist’s full breadth of kinky darkroom rhythms and sleazy cinematic arrangements.
Under the title 東方不敗, meaning Invincible East, the record wraps an armoury of powerful percussion and native instrumentation around a narrative locus based on a swordsman character in a Jin Yong novel “who must make the ultimate sacrifice to attain knowledge and transform”. Coupled with the artist’s own observations on living in, and travelling around, Asia, it’s an urgent and gripping listen with a versatility and varied topography lending itself to DJ use and soundtracking industrial subterfuge alike.
日出東方 唯我不敗 starts out like ’05 sino grime or dubstep from a parallel dimension; Digital Properties trades in secretive choral code at a killer New Beta momentum which decelerates into the the wind-tunnel chug and pealing cyber-tribal chant of Esther.
His signature triplets last heard on A Name Out Of Place wickedly come into play against sheer electric blue synth tone in King Of Hosts; we’re put thru an intense, Americanised club drill in Post-Soviet Models; and Torque Pulsations both literally and physically lives up to its name with a belly and spine-twysting EBM tattoo.
Apple's first music "endorsement" (later IBM consultant) and early Roland affiliate, Doris Norton is one of the most important pioneers of synth / early computer music.
"While the beat-oriented style of Norton’s music aligns her with such global fellow-travelers as Yellow Magic Orchestra and Kraftwerk, her championing of the personal computer as a tool for self-sufficient musical creativity also connects her to more artsy musicians such as Pietro Grossi, Laurie Spiegel, and the League of Automatic Music Composers. Norton’s predilection for the bright, glossy timbres of early digital instruments also recalls Hubert Bognermayr and Harald Zuschrader’s bizarre 1982 one-off Erdenklang.
A year after her classic "Personal Computer", Norton released 'Artificial Intelligence' in 1985, setting a step up in her deep electronic music research and innovation. The whole album was composed and programmed only with the alfanumerical keyboard of the computer. The total of the notes and coded events takes to the number 124.648: of these 123.827 were coded with 'step time' procedure and the rest with real time procedure. Having done reduced the keyboard Doris Norton used only an hexaphonic JX.8P with memory processed by her and interfaced to the computer.
No drums were used, neither electronic nor less acoustic. All the rhythms were obtained by A.D.A. conversions and processing of wave ranges and with the use of expanders with a very special handling of envelopes, frequency, resonance, noise. Doris fed the computer the parameters of vowels and consonants of her own voice, like A, O, U, E, D, N, through an A.D.A conversion card; by processing these values and assembling them in phoneme in hundreds of different combination, various compressed resolutions she was able to make the computer sing a complete song in a totally human way (with the voice of Doris).
Many other yxith sounds resulting from A.D.A. conversions are present in this new album 'Artificial Intelligence', amongst these: pipe organ, plate, electric discharge, iron beat, birds, dog, harp, woods ...... all sampled and handled by the computer. 'Artificial Intelligence' is a perfect example of how human intelligence can bend the coded 'artificial intelligence' to hits own will. ....."
(Source: ComputerMusik -1985)
Lullabies for Insomniacs keep their remit steeply psychedelic with a 2nd invocation of Raga drone by Unearth Noise complemented by his Dreamspeak collaboration with vocalist Mariam Zohra D, a.k.a. Myrh
On the first disc Roger Berkowitz a.k.a. Unearth Noise goes dolo down a wormhole of plasmic drones and glossolalia vox echoing the worldly psychedelia of Lullabies For Insomniacs’ prior reissue of László Hortobágyi’s ‘Transreplica Meccano’, leading to exceptional highlights in the free-floating chorale of ‘Inhabitants’ and the slow dervish called ‘Red Light’.
Joined by vocalist Myrh on the 2nd disc as Dreamspeak, Berkowitz and his muse plot out a more organic yet subtly otherworldly sound that curiously sounds like Akira Rabelais doing lysergic blues in ‘Colour Be Bright’ and ‘Open Door’, or like some freaky Can krautrock jams on ‘I’ll Be Soon’ and ‘God and Devil’.
Unique psychedelic killers from Niagara, mounting a sterling debut album with Lisbon’s Príncipe five years after their first 12”, ‘Ouro Oeste’ . Trust that they have lost none of the weirdness that’s endeared them to freaks around the world ever since they emerged. If anything they’re stranger, more spaced-out and porous to wild influence...
Outlining Niagara’s definitive description of contemporary exotica, ‘Apologia’ limns a frayed, buzzing sort of “Fourth World PLUS” sound, where the “PLUS” refers to their embrace of noise as an agent of chaos. But it’s not necessarily malefic chaos, and should be taken as a smart acknowledgement of the overlooked yet crucial role that roughness of grain and construction play in contrast with so many clinically smooth and even anodyne efforts from the same, imagined arena of worldly music for a new age.
In allowing for the entropy of time and the inevitable infidelity of attrition to enter their soundsphere, Niagara’s organic machine music keenly reflects a natural world order without the need for algorithmic process. Their world is a fertile interplay of acoustic and electronic sources rendering hazy, fata morgana-like glimpses of musical possibility, practically triangulating the visions of likeminds such as Jamal Moss/Hieroglyphic Being and Dolo Percussion with the explorative precedents of Portugul’s Telectu to realise a fine expression of anachronistic modernism.
Most of the tracks loosely work around 3 minute timeframes, lending a zig-zagging mosaic quality to the tracklist in between its longer parts. Richly colourful spiritual jazz arps and raw machine grooves spring from opener ‘França’, triggering a cascade of ideas that bends between acidic kosmiche in ‘6:30’ to the heatsick boogie gliss of ’40’ and the stark emptiness of ‘Senhora Do Cabo’, to give up the gorgeous, extended flute and acid meditation ’Siena’, and mess with Vangelis-style synth majesty on ‘Via Garibaldi’, before spending their coolest energies in the drowsy Afro-latin swagger of ‘Cabo Verde.’
It’s hard to ignore the fact that Alberto, António and Sara a.k.a. Niagara have distilled their sound to imperfection on ‘Apologia’, resulting one of 2018’s most crucial and vital electronic albums.
The first compilation to be released on the PAN label, Mono No Aware collates unreleased ambient tracks from both new and existing PAN artists including Yves Tumor, M.E.S.H., Pan Daijing, Sky H1, AYYA, Jeff Witscher, Helm, TCF, HVAD, Kareem Lotfy, ADR, Mya Gomez, James K, Oli XL, Flora Yin-Wong, Malibu, and label head Bill Kouligas, moving through more traditional notions of what's considered ’Ambient’, to wider variations that fall under the term.
It’s an incredibly coherent suite of tracks that quite honestly sounds like the work of a singular, multi-facted artist rather than a disparate collection of pieces, something that’s perhaps testament to Bill Kouligas’ exceptional curation skills. While the album revolves around central themes of “an empathy towards things” or “a sensitivity to ephemera”, in practice it serves to beautifully illustrate the label’s depths in unity and common purpose with tracks by key roster - M E S H, Bill Kouligas, Sky H1, Helm, Yves Tumor, Jeff Witscher (Rene Hell) - as well as a smart influx of extended family and new producers - TCF, AYYA, Flora Yin-Wong, HVAD & Pan Daijing, Kareem Lofty, Malibu, Oli XL - who refresh and perfectly expand the label’s already unfathomable breadth of styles, personnel and their perspectives.
It’s also by some distance the label’s most sublime release, shifting thru 16 subtly personalised and compatible pieces, with results that speak to a world of increasingly chaotic flux and instability by simultaneously mirroring its confusion while also providing an inclusive safe space away from it; offering mutual gridwork for a spectrum of expressive nuance that takes in the billowing lushness of Egyptian artist Kareem Lofty’s Fr3sh at one end, and the colder digital soul of Danish/Chinese duo HVAD & Pan Daijing at the other.
In the space between, Mono No Aware transcends vast, ostensibly detached time and space between Polish producer AYYA’s exquisite Second Mistake and Yves Tumor’s elusive/illusive Limerence to highlight their differences and similarities, vacillating the windswept dynamics of Helm’s Eliminator with ADR’s ambient-pop hymn Open Invitation and jumping from the needling peak of Mya Gomez’s justforu to Bill’s own ambiguous blend of agitated noise and aching melancholy in the rare outing, VXOMEG and in a tormented but optimistic way mutual to the M E S H and Sky H1 cuts and especially TCF’s C6 81 56.
On one level Mono No Aware helps to rescue ambient music from the clutches of neo-classical bores, and on another helps to firmly place it within context of the modern world. It’s a brilliantly curated, hugely satisfying collection of tracks from a label that never seems to rest on its laurels.
Yves Tumor’s debut for the PAN label offers a perfect distillation of everything the label stands for, filling another as-yet-unnamed niche between the eyes of hypermodern styles. It’s an album that takes you from the most beautifully produced earworm one moment, to the depths of sonic experimentation the next - making for easily one of the most impressive and memorable albums of the year.
The Tennessee-raised, Turin-based artist has sown seeds across the contemporary field in visual as well as musical fields over recent years with releases for NON, Janus and Halcyon Veil issued under an expanding roll call of names, as well as visceral live work for LA's Hood By Air earlier this year. However, it’s under the Yves Tumor moniker that he commits his most personal and noteworthy work to date; the result of three years of creative discovery, drawing from a deeply emotional, vulnerable place to grapple with themes of social anxiety, paranoia and missing loved ones to present one of this year’s most staggering albums.
Serpent Music covers the full bandwidth of Tumor’s far-flung aesthetics, navigating from lushly organic yet elusively distanced instrumental textures in the opening strokes of Devout and the homesick soul ache of The Feeling When You Walk Away, before more oblique, abrasive drums and layered electronics begin to infiltrate the airborne keys of Dajjal, and with Role In Creation he incorporates the east African motifs heard in his Bekelé Berhanu output, but with a much gentler, more optimistic effect.
But just as you begin to get a grip on his slippery scales, Serpent I rushes into a ferocious tribal battery, resolved with the stentorian pastor and doom echo chamber feels of Serpent II, and he really starts to let his mind drift with the conflated pastoral and darkroom noise vibes of Seed, and the eastern-facing Alice Coltrane nod, Spirit In Prison, skizzily returning to smokey vapour trails in Cherish and Face of a Demon, to wash us up on the lonely, distant shores of Perdition.
Alongside the likes of Dean Blunt or Klein, Yves Tumor is patently rewiring the conventions of soul music and psychedelia according to his own, twisted schematic and modernist insight, making this album feel vital at a point where conservative sensibilities seem to have permeated the spirit of so many “independently" minded creators.
Hinosch is a probing, minimalist collaboration between Koshiro Hino ov the amazing Goat group and YPY project, with Düsseldorf’s Stefan Schneider. Mazy rhythms and electronic chicanery in very curious and nimble effect...
“They first met and began their collaborative work of musical interaction and exploring contrasting possibilities in 2017. After a number of concerts in the EU and in Japan, they released their self-titled debut EP (TAL 005EP, 2017). Fully instrumental, their first full-length album Hands offers a more steeply focused approach than its largely improvised predecessor. Encouraged by the momentum generated during a number of on-the-spot recordings in Osaka, where Schneider had held a residency in April 2017, the overall sound of the album has been honed down through meticulous studio engineering.
One of the outstanding qualities of Hands certainly is an unprejudiced approach of sound and song structures. The instrumentation is confidently reduced to a small range of analog and digital machines. Snatches of tape-loops deliver lower-pitched vocal and drum machine samples. This characteristic technical set up soon proved ideal in order to define a tactile vocabulary of fully unsynchronized rhythm patterns. The word tactile perfectly conjures that quality which is the very essence of Hands. It is the result of the manner in which interdependent threads of rhythm units are deliberately disconnected to form a cohesive, soulful and flexible whole.
Most tracks on Hands are devoid of a central motif and examine an unpredictable dialogue. A fantasy of constant change and a search for musical suggestions is the most vital ingredient in this abstract environment. The album title Hands refers to physical aspects of electronic music production. Every live concert of Hinosch usually starts out with a hand shake between Hino and Schneider. The general process of collective music making, programming, button pushing, playing, recording, decision making, all-demand utmost concentration.
The image on the front of the album sleeve -- designed by Takashi Makabe -- reflects the general approach of Hands: layers of tucked fabrics confronting one another to articulate a form for themselves to no other end than their own orchestration. Koshiro Hino's solo activities as YPY and his involvement with the band Goat have already garnered him a favorable international reception. Stefan Schneider has over the years produced and collaborated with, amongst others, Joachim Roedelius, Arto Lindsay, Klaus Dinger, Dieter Moebius, Alexander Balanescu, John McEntire, Katharina Grosse, Bill Wells, and St.Etienne.
‘Nihon No Wave’ surveys a secretive niche of ’70s/‘80s Japanese DIY music inspired by experimental electronic and post punk styles from Europe and North America. All material originally appeared on flexidisc, vinyl and tapes, and is newly remastered and made available for the first time beyond the Japanese domestic market.
Pulling from scenes centred around Osaka and Tokyo between the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, ‘Nihon No Wave’ documents 10 bands and acts charmingly mutating wave sounds in translation. Using new, entry-level synths, drum machines and guitars, and usually singing in Japanese, this “Nippon-wave” of synth-pop, spiky punk and proto-ambient techno experiments was limited to domestic distribution until portals such as YouTube began to leach their sounds to hungry ears across the planet.
The 19 results range from Richochet’s gothic synthpop romance thru to sparkling YMO-like techno-pop by Shinobu, rendering rare insight to a hermetic scene swelling with gifted, exploratory songwriters, evidenced in the likes of C. Memi + Neo Matisse’s Stereolab-esque clash of prim pop and wild electronics in ‘Dream’s Dream’, on the clattering 23 Skidoo styles of ‘Midnight Boy’ from Harumi Shimada, and the mellow balms of Neo Museum’s airborne beauty ‘Area’ and the rugged swagger of ‘Ethno-Music’, or Anima’s cyber-punk echoes of John Foxx’s Ballardian sci-fi fixations in ‘Grey City’ and ‘Not Only One’.
To all Japanophiles and post-punk hunters - Sleep and weep on this one!
Penelope Trappes follows her head-turning debut solo LP with two beautifully gloomy songs, backed with an Abul Mogard remix on CD
Paving the way for ‘Penelope Two’, the follow-up to her acclaimed eponymous debut with Optimo, ‘Carry Me’ is a sashay thru bleak and funereal downbeats, leavened only by the glowing filament of Penelope’s lilt, whereas on ‘I Can Hear Your…’ she speaks to the void in stark yet intimate terms, with whispered lyrics peeling off into sonorous negative relief.
Serbian synthesist and all round enigma Abul Mogard turns ‘Carry Me’ into a 13 minute drone panorama, incrementally ratcheting the tension of the original with an opiated gothic lushness akin to Alessandro Cortini’s finest.
A live document of a performance by TG to a small and invited audience on 16 February 1980. Neither an insight into TG’s recording process nor private live show, Heathen Earth is it’s own entity and exists as a document and testament to a group of people at the height of their creative powers, recorded just over a year before they disbanded and terminated the mission.
Live performance brought out Throbbing Gristle's talents for improvisation and provocation, and it's no coincidence that most of their classic albums contain sizeable extracts and edits of their shows; the live arena - be it grotty club, gallery space, concert hall or even the band's own rehearsal space - is where the action and the innovation really happened.
The bulk of Heathen Earth documents one particular performance which took place in 1980 on "Saturday the 16th February between 8:10pm and 9.00pm"; the tracklist is filled out with two recordings from two separate performances in '78. It's a hugely enjoyable listen, arguably capturing better than any of the "studio" albums the tension between free-wheeling abstraction and structural discipline which defines the group. It's also probably the most obviously electronic TG album of its time, Gen's guitar and Cosey's cornet duelling with Carter and Sleazy's clipped, clammy minimal synth constructions: 'The Old Man Smiled', 'Something Came Over Me', 'Don't Do As Your Told, Do As You Think' and 'The World Is A War Film' are all breathtakingly, pulsatingly ahead of their time.
'Still Walking', first heard on 20 Jazz Funk Greats, sounds even more surreal and seductive in its live incarnation, Cosey's dour East Yorkshire vowels echoed to infinity, before P.Orridge presents a vision of paranoia and self-loathing purified in 'Sub Human' and 'Adrenalin' brings things to an oddly ecstatic, hi-NRG close, Carter fully indulging his arpeggiated Euro-disco inclinations.
Shane Cooper is a bassist, composer and producer from Cape Town, South Africa. He is part of the new wave of young voices in the South African jazz scene.
"A prolific sideman and award-winning acoustic jazz artist, he also involved in South Africa’s leftfield electronic dance scene under the alias Card On Spokes. Features Shabaka Hutchings ( A.R.E Project., Sons of Kemet and Shabaka and the Ancestors) amongst other fine players. TIP!"
Motorik psych, kosmische, and acid trips on the Texan label that brungt you Stranger Things soundtrackers, S U R V I V E
“Austin based psych collective Sungod returns to Holodeck with the transcendent new full length Wave Refraction, out August 24, 2018. Reflecting a wide range of influences, this eclectic array of songs coalesce in harmony as Sungod continues to construct innovative ways to compose their unique brand of instrumental music. Wave Refraction raises the bar as Sungod once again demonstrates their outstanding musicianship and cosmic vision.
Formed in 2009, Sungod is the brainchild of multi-instrumentalists Michael C. Sharp and Braden Balentine, whose friendship formed around a mutual love for such musical pioneers as Sun Ra, Tangerine Dream, John Fahey and others. Guitar, bass, drums and synthesizers established the band’s foundational elements, but as their songwriting burgeoned, they began integrating flute, acoustic guitar, drum machine, piano and even field recordings to round out their multifaceted sound. This large assemblage of instrumentation allowed for deeper arrangements and a wider scope of motif variation. Over time, Sharp and Balentine recruited musicians from Austin’s broad pool of talent to contribute to the many layers of Sungod’s dense and ever expanding landscape. Sungod’s method of experimentation is reminiscent of the early stages of Kraftwerk and Pink Floyd, reinterpreting the established to create something wholly original.
Wave Refraction covers a wide spectrum of sonic territory, shifting moods and genres with each track. Opening song “Little Gold Mouth” is loud and heavy, highlighting thrashing guitars and drums while nodding to the bands’ penchant for gritty, overdriven effects. The beautifully ambient “Dream Sequence” takes a softer approach with ghostly fluttering melodies that hover over soft, reverb drenched soundscapes. These extremes work in tandem to carry the listener through an emotional and deep-rooted narrative that organically unfolds across the album’s six tracks. Psychedelic slow burner “Hypnotism” is an instant classic, preserving Sungod’s Krautrock inspired energy with an infectious, synth based groove. The album closes with the beat driven dance track “Von Innen” adding yet another level of complexity to this diverse selection of songs.
Wave Refraction encapsulates the band’s impressive performances and ambitious compositions. Sungod’s unrelenting progression has reached peak maturation, making Wave Refraction a profoundly complex and satisfying listen.”
Stone cold classic and unreleased Juan Atkins trax surface for the first time on a sturdy 45rpm vinyl via Life’s Good Records, a new reissue label established by Diagonal’s Jaime Williams.
Life’s Good give a wide and lush pressing of ‘Dimensions’, a bleep techno nugget from the seminal ’92 compilation ‘Panic In Detroit’, which arguably suffered from being one of 4 tracks on a side on vinyl, while the B-side is a previously unreleased, darker and stripped-down version of Atkins’ Infinti classic ‘Flash Flood’, which was originally dispatched in 1993.
A labour of love as much as fulfilling a need to give these cuts the attention they deserve, the results are primed for use by a whole new wave of DJs and dancers - as well as vintage models - with the padded 909 and percolated chimes of ’Dimensions’ sounding wider, more bright-eyed and frothier than ever, while the previously unreleased version of ‘Flash Flood’ omits its seminal lead line for a more haunted feel, giving the rugged bass more room to breathe.
We’re sure you’ll agree, it’s a damn worthwhile reminder, where needed, of Juan Atkins’ timeless genius.
Black metal, the often derided genre which came to prominence in Northern Europe thanks to cold weather and an abundance of face paint, has reached a strange popularity of late.
Thanks to bands such as Sunn O))) and their label Southern Lord, countless hipsters have delved into a genre previously earmarked as the sole refuge of the Warhammer player and discovered the illicit pleasures of Burzum, Emperor, Darkthrone and much more. Wolves in the Throne Room are a part of the new wave of black metal; not necessarily connected to the upsurge in US black metal (Nachtmystium, Leviathan, Xasthur etc) the band, who hail from the musical breeding ground of Olympia Washington, are a different kind of black metal outfit altogether.
I was a huge fan of the band's last album 'Diadem of 12 Stars' (which just made it to double vinyl) but 'Two Hunters', their first official full-length for Southern Lord, tops that album in every way conceivable. Made up of a mere four tracks this is the perfect progressive black metal record, one which starts texturally sounding like Tim Hecker jamming with Bohren und der Club of Gore, bleeds into the Burzum-meets-Maiden twelve-minute centrepiece 'Vastness of Sorrow' before launching us headfirst into the record's most surprising moment.
Featuring the wavering female vocals of Jessica Kinney (a collaborator with Eyvind Kang and ASVA) 'Cleansing' is a track which while defying comparison to any particular black metal that might have come before is just as dark and just as harrowing as anything you could bring to mind. Sounding somewhere between the Cocteau Twins and a funeral march, in context with the blackened guitar blast of the rest of the record, emerges as innovative and gloriously well realised, a track which easily brings focus to the album's keenly written narrative.
As if this wasn't enough, the album's closing track (which clocks in at almost twenty minutes in length!) is a masterclass and statement of intent from the band, summing up everything that they do quite perfectly. With blazing harmonies, blood-curdling vocals and the kind of writing that made the new wave of British heavy metal so appealing way back when, this is the kind of track that could convert the non-metal fan to the cause, the kind of track that should make people sit up and take notice of the genre's brightest hope right now. An incredible album from start to finish and probably the finest metal record of 2007 so far - just buy it.
Crafty, warped electro experiments outta Rennes, France
Le Matin messes with the format in five parts, shifting from squirrelly bleeps and speaker-worrying subs in ‘Night Distillery’, to kerb-crawling electro-pop/witch house sleaze in ‘I Miss You Every Moment In My Life Not (Katzenstreu)’, and the acidic slurry of ‘Social Adaptation’, to the splayed, crunchy funk of ‘Renal Liquid Dog’ and the keening ambient figure of ‘metastasis’.
Sarah Davachi serves her 2nd album of 2018 with ‘Gave In Rest’, offering a studio developed follow-up to her mesmerising album ‘Let Night Come On Bells End The Day’, which has quietly dominated our listening lives for months already...
As her beatific blends of early church, medieval and Renaissance musics have patiently and patently revealed over the past five years, Sarah’s works for piano, organ, synth, and woodwind demonstrate a unique gift for extracting and reworking the most affective spirits of church music to a secular appeal, effectively voicing a sort of metaphysical minimalism that could be explained as a result of deeply focused technique, but is perhaps better regarded as a timeless form of sonic alchemy.
Where her previous records were documents of a shorter time spent with her instruments, Sarah dedicated herself on ‘Gave In Rest’, spending a summer giving deeper consideration to how Renaissance musicians experimented with new instruments, forms and texture, and “how the quietude… and the openness of physical space, the stillness of altars“ in churches would have affected how they wrote. Subsequently recording with Howard Bilerman at Montreal’s hotel2tango (home of myriad, seminal Constellation recordings), Sarah brought those instrumental ideas to life with the modern addition of tape delays and chorusing effects to infuse and render shimmering new layers of timbral depth to her plaintive melodic gestures, and with a subtle yet unmistakably visceral impact.
In album opener ‘Auster’ she uses tape to slow down a recorder and open up its vibrating innards, revealing a tremulous, transfixing soul in the most humble of instruments, while the LP’s closer ‘Waking’ finds her locating elusive echoes of Baroque harmonies in that most soulful machine, beautifully realigning its putative purpose. In between, her tracks’ moods and titles chart a slow passing of day and night, from he ghostly elegance of ‘Third Hour’ to her sylvan ‘Evensong’, thru to the stately yet lip-wobbling beauty of ‘Matins’ at the album’s core, and perhaps best of all in the achingly evocative coruscation of ‘Gloaming’, a song we already know we’ll be returning to for many, many years to come.
The loaded, polysemous word ‘soul’ springs to mind, on the one hand connoting lofty notions of transcendence, contemplation and reverence, while on the other also helping to define a gentle, slow-burning modesty and broad appeal to practically anybody with ears and a functioning sense of empathy. But most of all, ‘Gave In Rest’ will strike a chord with anyone who listens properly and attentively. To use another loaded phrase, the devil is beautifully apparent in its gilded detail.
One of L.I.E.S.’ most minimalist industrialists presents his most impressive, and we daresay emotive work yet with Eris, triangulating a sound somewhere at the dank, raw root of Tolouse Low Trax, Dopplereffekt and Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement.
The production is big boned and raw, but not lo-fi or distorted, stealthily moving from spheric dark ambient harmonics in Sanctuary to the slow, grimacing electro lurch of How To Build Cathedrals and something like Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement dubbing Laid Back on the broody romance of The Room Tonight, and an immense piece of shifty, Muslimgauze-like electro-dub in Bilocation Drift.
His Concrete Message cannily messes with the linear narrative in a style reminding of Demdike Stare’s GRM dubs, and Invasion Threat gives the record’s most thistly passage, before melting out into the subbass cess pilot of I’ll Take That One and again with the cone-worrying bass warped under the slow, cold electro pointillism of Eleventh Night.
Gazelle Twin were originally invited as part of the Supersonic Festival 2015 curation of the Moog Sound Lab satellite sessions at Birmingham City University.
"The twin returned to the lab during it’s residency later that year at London’s Ace Hotel in Shoreditch. for a consecutive six day session in August, invited artists mooged, wined, dined, slept and dreamt in room 236. on tap 24/7 - the entire Moog Sound Lab, along with a Brion Gysin ‘Dream Machine” & a small library of associated books & user manuals. Here Gazelle Twin re-made/re-modeled, recorded & filmed new versions of two of their favorite tracks on the wall-to-wall moogs."
Conspicuous by his absence over the last few years, Dorian Concept breaks his silence with a colourfully plumed and intricately woven batch of prog-jazz-fusion cuts showing off his virtuoso instrumentalist skills on both acoustic and electronic gear...
“Following the release of “Joined Ends” in 2014 - a deeply intimate and textured project he describes as his “chamber music” record - Dorian Concept performed everywhere from Glastonbury to Sonar to MoMA PS1’s Warm Up and then deliberately took himself off the radar. The time since has been spent meticulously un-learning his prodigious production process and developing a brand new sound that even the most clued-up won’t be expecting - showcased on ‘Promises’, in the most prominent use of his voice to date. The recording and processing of his vocals represent not only a more human expression of his highly technical sound, but also an inclination toward recursion - the challenge, ephemerality, and demand for attention of “unequal repetition” which shapes the build and deconstruction of energy throughout the record.
Taking inspiration from multi-generational eclecticism (‘60s jazz, ‘70s fusion, ‘80s neo prog-rock, ‘90s electronica), Dorian Concept sought to replicate “modern” music elements with old-fashioned methods, live-playing and hand-recording deceptively digital sounds in service of a tongue-in-cheek “parody of nostalgia”. Having produced the record largely in the years 2016 and 2017 - widely characterized as periods of a cultural reckoning throughout the democratic world - he ambitiously took timely themes of cumulative error, shortening attention spans and subjective experience and transposed them into his making. As is to be expected from him by now, for all the considered, high-concept musing, the result is refreshingly unpretentious: dizzying swells, cacophonous breakdowns and formidable rhythms are both expert and childlike, hyperactive and hyper-focused.”
Mick Harris launches a snarling breakbeat techno assault on L.I.E.S. as Fret with the Silent Neighbour EP in the wake of his destructive Over Depth album on Karl Records, and some 23 years since the OG Fret 12” on Downwards’ Resonance sublabel.
Where that original Fret 12” differed from Harris usual output in terms of its space and relative minimalism, the current Fret sound incorporates more typical Mick Harris tropes, working a dense and noisy roil in Silent Neighbour, and a crushing industrial dub lurch on List Is Full, while Same Pegs unleashes a furnace blast of hellish noise techno figures, and Closed Syndicate does its thing with ravishing force.
In 2016, after reissuing two Bruce Haack albums, Haackula and Electric Lucifer Book II, Telephone Explosion began speaking with Ted Pandel (Bruce’s lifelong friend and business partner) about working on the 1970 masterpiece The Electric Lucifer. It turned out there was another matter that he wanted to discuss: finding a final resting place for the Bruce Haack archive.
"We were shown test-pressings of The Electric Lucifer board mixes from his Columbia studio sessions, countless pieces of written music, a large number of personal photos, an invitation from Raymond Scott inviting Bruce to play his newly created Electronium instrument (now owned by Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh), poems, press clippings, and, most importantly, a heavyduty shelf containing 213 reel-to-reel tapes.
All of the chosen material on The Preservation Tapes is unreleased, has only been heard by a handful of people and showcases a relatively unknown period in Bruce’s musical career where Bruce was recording for Sparrow Records (who billed themselves as "America's best Christian music record label”). Bruce’s signature Farad vocoder continues to feature prominently, but the lyrical content is decidedly more religious. The Bruce Haack archive is now resting in the Provincial Archives of Alberta, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada."
From South London via Osaka, Horsepower Productions reel out worm charming subs and mystic steppers vibes for Ishio Dai’s Effective 96 label
Classically schooled vibes on both sides, inducing an hypnotic steppers flex with the room-quaking subs and rolling Smith ’N Mighty style jungle dub motion of ‘Reefer Max’ on top, then pulling vintage ’93 feels into 2018 on the electro-acidic rolige of ‘Phantasy Rush’ on the flip.
Absolutely spirit-crushing, mournful avant-metal from Wolves In The Throne Room, back on Southern Lord.
The band have always been superior operators in the post-black metal universe, creating moody sound-worlds that are rich in detail without shirking from the intensity that's the rightful bedrock of metal; navigating the earth-bound and the ethereal with real class. Crucially, though, they also have a shamelessly proggy sense of grandeur; witness the funereal theatrical chord progressions (not to mention the titles) of 'Thuja Magus Imperium' and 'Prayer Of Transformation'. 'Permanent Changes In Consciousness' is perhaps the most conventional thing here, a hail of punishing blast-beats, orc-ish screams and lumpen riffage, but it's still delivered with a heightened sense of composition and sound design.
There are some wicked ambient interludes: 'Subterranean Initiation', with its blend of ritualistic chanting, field recordings and bowels-of-the-earth drone, recalls master practitioners like Lustmord and Inade, while 'Woodland Cathedral' is driven hellward by an almost techno pulsation. Otherworldly vocalist Jessika Kenney, whose album of early music derivations was recently issued on Stephen O'Malley's Editions Mego sub-label Ideologic Organ, reprises her collaboration with the band which began on Two Hunters, lending her dulcet tones to 'Astral Blood'. Modern metal albums are rarely as visceral, complex and engaging as Celestial Lineage.