The Kingston/Manchester axis comes correct with a killah family affair from Equiknoxx and Swing Ting.
On the nice ’n nasty Rum & Buckfast Riddim, Rtkal, Shanique and Fox trade bashment commanding bars in a mix of classic but up-to-the-second party vibes.
NYC’s Kiki Kudo inhabits breezy, simulated dancefloor/headspace in the ‘Splashing EP’ for Anthony Naples and Jenny Slattery’s Incienso label
Like Dj Python, Beta Librae and People Plus before her, newcomer Kiki Kudo’s expressively off-centre, uniquely piquant productions charmingly follow their own path thru parallel club dimensions.
Also echoing the flighty new age jazz sentiments of Hieroglyphic Being and Black Zone Myth Chant as much as her label mates, Kiki is in command of a seductively free style, first drawing us in with the playfully chaotic, melodic tumult of ‘The Secret Bedside Track’, then rolling off into unmetered electro-jazz with ‘U Are Awake’, and flying high with the colourful avian synth chatter of ‘Gadget & Go’.
But if you need a kick drum anchor to get your bearings, make sure to check off the fluid pulse of ‘Interactive Gee’ for something like Young Marco meets Patricia, and get a grip on the strobing, rolling ace ‘City Neo Neon’ to light up your ‘floor/bedroom/car.
One of the year’s most crucial wave reissues, Stano’s debut LP ‘Content to write in I dine Weathercraft’ is a seminal and sought-after Irish post-punk album starring two rare appearances by the near-mythical Michael O’Shea. Nothing less than an essential recommendation to anyone familiar with the Michael O’Shea LP, Finders Keeper’s ‘Strange Passion’ compilation, or early Dome experiments!
We can barely contain our buzz over this reissue. From its wild DIY drum machine programming to the appearance of O’Shea’s cymbeline-like home-built instrument and the cut ’n splice, layered song arrangements, ‘Content to write in I dine Weathercraft’ is one of those blue moon reissues that, in hindsight, seem to blow away so much other, better known material from the era whence it came.
As spotted with ‘Town’, a highlight of Finders Keepers’ great Cache Cache compilation, ‘Strange Passion’, Stano’s mix of hands-on drum machine rhythms and bittersweet songcraft remain among the strongest examples from Dublin’s punk/post-punk scene of the early ‘80s. And judging from the 2nd hand asking prices of ‘Content to write in I dine Weathercraft’ in 2018, quite a few other listeners are patently aware of his prowess, too.
A former member of The Threat (also found on ‘Strange Passion’), John Denver Stanley or Stano recorded his first album in Dublin’s Alto studio, in the basement of late C.18th Irish Nationalist leader Robert Emmet’s house, where he made sublime use of the studio’s natural reverbs, inviting around pals and peers to work in a musique concrete-like method of playing, processing and editing to achieve the wickedly unpredictable, flowing chicanery of his first album.
The two appearances of Michael O’Shea and his Mo Chara (a self-built, 17-string, zither or cymbeline-like instrument with pick-ups) are noteworthy not just for their haunting beauty, but also their rarity, amounting to the near-mythical busker’s only known recordings outside an eponymous classic for Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis’ Dome Records. Whether meshed with Stano’s drum machine and echoplex FX in ‘Seance of a Kondalike’ or layered with his Sitar and Stano’s tabla-esque tweaks in ‘A Dead Rose’, the effect leaves us a shivering mess, to be honest and still scratching our heads why there’s no recent, significant reissue of O’Shea’s own work.
The rest of the LP is no less brilliant in it’s own way, roundly speaking to the diversity Stano, a self-described “non-musician”, and his intuitive way with sound. From the almost lusting funk of ‘White Field (In Isis)’, to the wild-pitching drum machine of ‘Blue Glide’, thru the icy elegance of the grand piano in ‘Out of the Dark, Into the Dawn’, to the sheer concrete sound design of ‘Melting Grey’ and again with that deadly machine swagger on ‘Emma Wild’ and ‘Room’, we’re left in no doubt this LP is a true, overlooked classic of its time.
This stunning first outing on Yves Tumor’s Grooming label was released this summer in a run of just 100 copies and is already selling for sillies second hand. For us it's easily one of the most overlooked and vital releases of the year - this new edition comes with new artwork in a run of 200 copies, an essential cop for those of you yet to experience its wildly original mix of choral aggression and cavernous percussion sounding quite unlike anything else we heard in 2018.
Sepulchral, majestic, Kill is John Bence’s sophomore release following a début for Nico Jaar’s Other People in 2015. Since then Bence has also appeared as part of Ashley Paul’s new ensemble on her striking LP, Lost In Shadows for Slip, as well as playing in support of Grouper earlier this year.
Where Bence’s first record, Disquiet was a sort of palimpsest of re-scored composition, Kill finds him unfurl a shocking three part movement for vocals, cello and bellicose drums that should leave no one uncertain of his talents. And in that sense it’s really not hard to hear why his music has been snapped up for release by Yves Tumor’s label, as the pair patently share a feel for music both fuelled by and navigating overwhelming emotion.
In the first part, he shapeshifts from something like prime, latter day Coil in a section of reverberant cello and ghostly keening, to erupt in Prurient like howls and psychotomimetic scat like a possessed, Welsh mining choir.
By contrast, the 2nd part is pure entropy, vocals layered and decaying into extremes of the soundfield, leading to a passage recalling Aíne O’Dwyer’s haunted situations, before a real denouement comes with the sublime closing coda of vaulted vocals into noirish strings and recursive industrial percussion.
Keep a very close eye on this one...
Who better to inter Fabric’s long-running series than the demon DJ Kode 9 and his accomplice, Burial? Yeh, nobody’s shouting Craig Richards, so this will have to do.
So it’s basically NOT a new Burial album, or even a Kode 9 & Burial album, but it is one of the strongest mixes in Fabric’s near 20 year history, cataloguing and webbing 37 tracks from the ‘ardcore ‘nuum, following its breakbeat and techno roots thru to its branches into US footwork, the distant echoes of South African Gqom, the avant R&B of Klein and Dean Blunt, and latinate and sino futurisms, with precisely no dubstep in-between.
The result is a mix as fragmented yet fluid as the London roadmap or those aerial shots used on the ‘Burial’ album cover, forming a mosaic of interrelated ‘ardcore styles grouted with the trademark fuzz and patter of drizzle heard on Kode 9 & Burial’s two preceding mixes for Mary-Anne Hobbs. In the first third, they probe a line from Klein and Cooly G thru outright Gqom killers by Julz Da Deejay, Roman Rodney and TLC Fam, and introduce Hyperdub newcomer Nazar along the way.
In the 2nd third, the breakbeat hardcore badness of Jungle Buddha’s ‘Drug Me’  and Intense’s classic ‘The Quickening’ bookend a rush of raving footwork aces such as DJ Spinn’s ‘Make Me Hot’ and DJ Tre’s lethal ‘House Hybrid’, before the final third slips from trancing ‘90s techno and acid thru to freakier footwork, an overlooked Sino-Detroit breakbeat ace by Claude Young, and the breeziness chops of Proc Fiskal.
Ultimately it’s a lesson in keeping your ears wide open to all styles in the present, while also keeping an eye in back of your head for vintage freshness, and pulling up records from well trodden areas - keeping the polystylistic and hyperstylized spirit of hardcore burning into 2018.
There are too many hype labels around; Wah Wah Wino is one of the good ones.
Their small but perfectly formed catalogue has managed to carve out a very particular niche for the label despite their ideas often sprawling into so many different directions; repeating that trick Arthur Russell employed so brilliantly of always trying something new, always sounding like Arthur.
If you were into Davy Kehoe’s blinding 'Short Passing Game’ EP released on the label last year (in our top 20 releases of the year) or into Morgan Buckley’s by-now-legendary 'Shout Out To All The Weirdos In Rathmines’ 12” (in our top 5 records of 2014, £££ on discogs), you’ll have a good idea of what we’re talking about; working their way through five proper peaches that will satiate your Arthur Russell itch and then some.
By the sounds of it Buckley and Kehoe have their paws all over much of the EP (including Brendan Jenkinson’s super recognisable bass guitar sections on a couple of them), delivering 5 indispensable/shot-from-the-hip heaters based around all sorts of spiky, motorik punk and pop variants to great, highly absorbing effect.
There’s just no arguing with this one, or this label generally - they’re the real deal, buy anything on Wah Wah Wino on sight, f8ck the flippers.
By a stroke of pure luck, Carola Baer’s intoxicatingly dreamy avant-pop side ‘The Story of Valerie’ is made available for the first time via Concentric Circles, a new label minted by Jed Bindeman - the co-owner of Freedom To Spend with Pete Swanson
Apparently discovered in the goodwill bins of a Portland, OR thrift shop during the short window before said bins are sent to the dump, Carola Baer’s sole album - originally a demo tape for prospective collaboration - came this • close to escaping everyone’s attention, but now takes pride of place as the first Concentric Circles release.
Written circa 1990 on a Yamaha DX7, a Casio CZ-101, and a basic drum machinee while UK-based Carola was passing thru San Francisco on her way to Australia, ‘The Story of Valerie’ is a transfixingly intimate and melancholic affair whose heightened emotive atmosphere was the result of meeting new spirits and foreign partnerships that turned into relationships.
Its 11 songs are hauntingly frank and confessional, delivered in a style unmistakably indebted to early 4AD, but not beholden to it, as Carola is just as likely to err into edge of new age ambient-pop themes perhaps equally comparable with a lo-fi Enya, whilst also interspersed with much more wayward expressions of stressed distortion and even some wild rhythmic experimentation.
Of course, the discovery of ‘The Story of Valerie’ probably isn’t going to change the world, but it is most humbling to know that this kind of brilliance continues to resurface from blind spots everywhere. In the most classic sense of great art, it sometimes takes time to find your audience. In this case 28 years.
2nd helping of deep, in-the-pocket house funk from Vancouverite ESB for Greece’s Echovolt
Taking cues from classic late ‘80s/early ‘90s NYC and Canadian garage and deep, new age house, ESB commands your swing in four delectable parts, nimbly nudging waists and shoulder between the needlepoint shuffle of ‘Natural World’ and the loved-up lave of ‘Carmina’, before tweak out the hair-kissing funk of ‘6400 Block’ and the tribal new age burn of ‘Going Away’ with totally classic-sounding panache.
Southend-on-Sea’s elusive Liberez return to Luke Younger’s Alter a much altered beast, now including virtuoso guitarist Iñigo Ugarteburu among three new members, and pursuing a far more layered and complex sort of post-rock dramaturgy more porous to worldly influence...
“Southend-on-Sea experimental outfit Liberez deliver the end result of a year and a half long recording process, an amorphous new line up and advanced studies in sound collage. On ‘Way Through Vulnerability’ new members Reay, Saunders and Ugarteburu channel the projects previous outings on Alter and Night School by conveying the same firm grounding in rhythm, though this time via Flamenco time signatures and eerie, repetitive clapping. At times sounding indebted to the ‘tribal ambient’ of decades gone by, at times sounding fresh in their approach (‘Here is the Proof’ is of note) the trio manage to export motifs from Italian avant-garde circles, UK industrial and dare we say post-rock all at the same time.
The sound design on ‘Derelict Intentions’ makes heavy use of background ambience and bleak, world-weary minimalism to lull us into a false sense of calm before harsh and unexpected blurts of noise break the equilibrium. In doing so they swiftly side-step any preconceptions of ‘easy listening’ and opt instead to drag us deeper down into their own dark waters. At times we almost seem to delve into lost theatre soundtrack territory; fragmented neo-classical elements dance with punchy drum machines (‘Cara En La Foto Pt II’) and things draw to a close with the end credit worthy swansong of the album’s title track. The group repeatedly utilise Basque country language, Hungarian dialect and ancient Russian to lend their compositions a cross-cultural underpinning and eschew any clear geographic origin, a decision which all but adds to the perplexities of their unique brand of electro-acoustic purgatory.”
Dating back to 1957, The Story Of Moondog followed up the previous year's More Moondog LP, setting its course for adventurous new sounds and homemade percussion meditations.
The music is never a slave to any one fixed agenda and much of the material here sounds as if its gathered from some undiscovered culture - it's all-but impossible to compare this with anything else from the era, but when the longer-form pieces arrive they augment the more primal, outsider aesthetics with visceral, jazzy arrangements.
'Up Broadway' is an urgent and thorny construction combining the rhythmic complexity found elsewhere with aggressive horns, while 'In A Doorway' lets a little of the outside world into its recording, embracing the street sounds that so influenced Moondog's early works and intermingling them with instrumentation. It's a curious combination of musical improvisation and concrete sound which, once again, you simply would not associate with this era.
Originally released in 1953, this collection of very early Moondog pieces features the same tribal rhythmic impulse as his famed Prestige recordings,
There's an impressive line in chamber music running through these compositions: the B-side is dedicated to two suites for strings, which could easily pass for more traditional works were it not for the heavy bongo presence (something Haydn, Mozart et al were always sorely missing).
Essentially though you can hear a sense of discipline, and a thorough working knowledge of conventional classical composition in Moondog's work, even if he ultimately chooses to subvert it. All this is further destabilised by slightly weirder excursions like 'Tree Frog - Be A Hobo', which fit into some odd percussion-centric take on what might loosely be termed as a 'song'. More idiosyncratic, entirely uncategorizable work from one of 20th century music's true mavericks.
Originally released in 1956, More Moondog was the second album by Louis Thomas Hardin, followed the next year by a further LP, The Story Of Moondog. The tone of this fragmented, wildly eclectic body of work tends to rest its focus on percussion, exploring the Eastern-influenced, gamelan-styled sounds developed by homemade instruments like Moondog's famed "trimba" and "oo".
The majority of the compositions here are brief, often very intricate miniatures, which within the space of a mere minute or two instantly place you in Moondog's singular sound world, structured with difficult time signatures and populated by sounds that are quite unlike anything you'd hear anywhere else. It's hard to imagine how alien this music must have been back in the 1950s. When the longer-form pieces arrive they embellish upon this primal, outsider aesthetic with visceral, jazzy arrangements. 'Up Broadway' is an urgent and thorny construction combining the rhythmic complexity found elsewhere with aggressive horns, while 'In A Doorway' lets a little of the outside world into its recording, embracing the street sounds that so influenced Moondog's early works and intermingling them with instrumentation.
It's a curious combination of musical improvisation and concrete sound that you simply would not associate with this era. The album is completed with a selection of strange avant-garde pieces drawing on speech recordings and more lyrical, solo recordings played on keyboard instruments, including the almost ragtime 'Fiesta Piano Solo' which demonstrates the lack of agenda in this composer's canon. Moondog's outsiderness ensures an approach to modern composition that doesn't ever establish any single, fixed identity, which is of course what makes this man such an alluring figure in 20th century music.
Collaborative compilation album of absolute essentialness. Featuring: Morgan Buckley, Olmo Devin, Dark Delight, Davy Kehoe + more. Sound of the Rathmines industrial estate ... weirdo wagon dance music. Huge Tip!
Pivoting around Morgan Buckley and OD, whose acclaimed Shout Out To The Weirdos Of Rathmines 12” (No ‘Label’, 2014) can been heard as a clarion call for this compilation’s roster - Dark Delight, Who’s The Technician, Little Movies, Lee Eel, Plop - the crew assemble from all corners of Ireland to leave you with a fuzzy taste of the isle’s contemporary dancefloor undercurrents.
Their shared style is anachronistic, playfully freestyle and equally at home in packed basements or smoked-out afters, bookended by a wickedly mucky rut of rolling post-punk dub, 7,000 Years by Gombeen & Doygen which sounds like Dennis Bovell dubbing Die Dominas, and a slompy gang-bang in Teen - Romp - Hoe - Down, you can expect anything to happen in between, so long as it’s rude, smudged and off-centre.
That means Afrorhythmic sensibilities in OD’s Super Secret Office Party, and barnyard boogie woogie in Paco’s Ode, whilst Who’s The Technician whips out a mint quickstepper called Tractor Troubles (Part I), and Little Movies sets square between the eyes with Gregory(an) Wah, with the motorik, boot-cut set dance of Morgan & Davy’s Craudrock for the craic, plus a natty electro-pop wriggler called Sligo B from Plop.
Given that this is a Moondog record, there's always an outside chance that he is in fact being accompanied by actual honking geese, but alas no, this rare 1955 set of recordings features the composer in collaboration with a brass section, although one of its defining aspects is the extensive influence of Native American musics on its rhythmic makeup.
From the irrepressibly unconventional jibber-jabber of 'Rabbit Hop' to the tribal weirdness of 'Single Foot', this could only have come from the pen of Moondog. 'Dog Trot' is a more conventional swingtime piece, offering an oasis of accepted logic in an otherwise wildly outside-the-box set of recordings. As ever, utterly magical material...
A momentous celebration of one of the last century’s most important composers, offering insight, recognition, and critical investigation, long overdue and lovingly produced. Including an extensive, lavish 120 page book, with numerous unseen images and 10 historic, sought-after and impossible to find albums pressed on 180 gram vinyl - unquestionably one of the most beautiful and important archival releases of the year.
The perfect jump-off for anyone intrigued or beguiled by Lucier’s oeuvre and looking for a way in, ‘Illuminated by the Moon’ was recorded in October 2016 at the Alvin Lucier 85th Birthday Festival at the Zurich University of the Arts and spans pioneering classics such as ‘I Am Sitting In A Room’  thru to his recent piece for Stephen O’Malley and Oren Ambarchi, ‘Hanover’. Along with a fistful of rare works, it adds up to an unprecedented, overdue survey of Lucier’s cross-disciplinary efforts in locating the metaphysics of sound in minimalism, and is arguably the most crucial boxset of 2018 alongside Roland Kayn’s immense ’Simultan’ session.
In deliberate depth and detail, ‘Illuminated by the Moon’ highlights Lucier’s intersections with pivotal contemporaries including Joan La Barbera and Charles Curtis, right up to his work with disciples such as Sunn 0)))’s Stephen O’Malley and virtuoso minimalist Oren Ambarchi, each proving, where needed, evidence of a deeply focussed yet open-minded approach to the phenomenology of acoustic sound.
From ostensibly simple units of sound Lucier extrapolates incredible, otherworldly dimensions, using various extended techniques and recording methods to probe ideas of auditory and musical reception and perception. In historical context, he wasn’t the only artist doing so back then, as the likes of Steve Reich with ‘Come Out’, or his group mates Gordon Mumma, Robert Ashley and David Behrman in Sonic Arts Union also explored hybrids of text/speech/composition, but Lucier’s work stands out for its enduring patience and subtle playfulness in its transformative transitions of texture and tone, highlighted here in his liminal, tip-of-tongue take on ‘Nothing Is Real (Strawberry Fields Forever)’ , and the absorbing roil of his percussive piece, ‘Music For Solo Performer’ .
As with the most recent work on show, including ‘Hanover’ and a number of modern compositions from 2002-2016 with Joan La Barbera and young American cellist Charles Curtis, Lucier’s work has only grown more intently focussed and transcendent over the years and has quietly shifted the understanding of what music can be; laying a mark on history and the expectations of nearly everything to come, while radically expanding the field.
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.
David Behrman’s pioneering electronic experiments explored on this astonishing collection of recordings marrying microprocessors with violin, sax and electrified Mbira between 1986-1989, all previously unpublished on any format. While Behrman’s name is synonymous with 20th century avant garde sonics - often checked in the same breath as John Cage, or alongside peers Gordon Mumma, Robert Ashley, Alvin Lucier - it may be difficult for curious neeks to grasp his wide-reaching, exploratory practice, which is where you can consider this LP a seductive and ear-dilating portal to his freely improvised, beautifully mercurial world.
Music With Memory was realised at the behest of John Driscoll and Mathias Osterwold, who conceived the phrase to describe the mixture of then newly available, portable “microprocessors”, or computers equipped with memory, with “real” musicians, namely Takehisa Kosugi (Violin) and Werner Durand (Soprano Saxophone) respectively, at their concerts held at Eiszeit-Kino in Kreuzberg, Berlin, 1986. Along with a later recording of Behrman and Fast Forward making electrified zithers sound like dizzy harpsichords, the collection renders some of the most immediately gratifying yet playfully challenging work that we’ve encountered in Berhman’s catalogue.
The A-side’s 23” piece Interspecies Talk was commissioned by John Cage and Merce Cunningham as music for the 1984 Cunningham Company dance, Pictures. It features Kosugi in flighty duet with Behrman’s electronics, which consisted of pitch sensors, or “ears” as he calls them, triggered by the violin phrases to create indeterminate “situations”, rather than “set pieces”. Whilst on one level comparable with New Age and 4th world precedents, Behrman and Kosugi’s work extends beyond those conventions to plot out gloriously absorbing new realms of gambolling chromatics and slooping phrases informed by, yet unbound from, tradition.
On the B-side, Behrman’s Circling Six finds Werner Durand’s Soprano Sax in the same role as Kosugi’s strings, used to trigger the computer in a duet of piquant yet smoothly contoured cadence and harmonised loops that sound like chorales of Welsh aliens in jazzy conversation. By comparison, the final 5 minute piece All Thumbs makes for a sweetly anomalous contrast, and maybe even the highlight for some listeners, us included. Here, Behrman and Fast Forward, transform traditional African thumb pianos - known as kalimbas or zanzas - in delicious, rhythmic flurries and twanging recursive clusters, simultabneously acting as a brilliant piece for dance, if the mood takes you, or perhaps even imagining Bach jamming with ancient Egyptians using their alien overlords’ leccy supply.
If you’re into any modern electro-acoustic works by Jim O’Rourke, Oren Ambarchi or Keith Fullerton Whitman, you owe it yourself to dive headlong into this one.
Black Truffle present breathtaking, mind-bending works from Alvin Lucier; premiering a pair of pieces written for and performed by Oren Ambarchi and Stephen O’Malley (Sunn 0))), Æthenor), and released thru the former’s indomitable Black Truffle label. Lovers of life-affirming avant-garde music of all stripes need to stop what they’re doing and check this one, pronto!
Both works offer an extension of Lucier’s “elegant explorations of the behaviour of sound in physical space” which have been ongoing since the ’60s, and includes his best known work, I Am Sitting In A Room , a piece that has practically become required listening for anyone with an interest in 20th century avant-garde music thought and practice.
Specifically, Lucier’s work places great focus on the infidelities of instrumental phenomena and closely tuned pitches, often using pure, electronically generated oscillations in combination with single instruments in order to both highlight and blur their tonal and timbral distinctions. This LP documents two works in this vein, firstly on Criss Cross, his debut work for electric guitars, written especially for Ambarchi and O’Malley playing one semitone each in duo, and secondly on Hanover, a much grander tribute to Lucier’s father, Alvin A Lucier, who is pictured on the sleeve in 1918 with the Dartmouth Jazz band.
The A-side’s Criss Cross is truly one of the heaviest things we’ve heard in years. With Ambarchi on the left channel and O’Malley to the right, the duo improvise on a single semitone, generating thick, viscous waves of wobbling oscillations that merge in transfixing formation at the middle . So far, so simple, but the effect - which alters brilliantly on headphones or with proper amplification - is just staggering, baffling the senses with a richly saturated, undulating sonic pressure to visceral, psychotomimetic ends.
The first time we heard this piece on headphones it just floored us, but then we tried on speakers and tried to conduct a conversation at the same time. The effect was something like an anechoic chamber - the conversation couldn’t happen because our voices sounded louder in our head than in the room. WTF?! Just to push it one step farther, I also tried listening on headphones while on a plane, and can only imagine what the EasyJet staff thought of my eyes rolling in back of my skull. Quite honestly, I haven’t heard anything quite like it since Zbigniew Karkowsi & Topher Davidson’s Processor, and that’s a proper percy.
The B-side’s Hanover is just as precise, but the intensity and tonal variation is multiplied by he number of players, including O’Malley and Ambarchi on electric guitars joined by alto and tenor sax, violin, piano and bowed vibraphone. Here the tones are far more pinched and slippery, streaking the stereo field in iridescent timbral dynamics and almost lilting cadence, and with a far more delicate, intricate appeal when compared to the other piece.
It almost goes without saying that a new Alvin Lucier work is worth your time, but in case you’re under any doubts - this LP is just astonishing, ingenious, preternaturally brilliant stuff.
Well, this is just lovely; Hiroshi Yoshimura’s soothing electro-acoustic ambient suite, Music For Nine Postcards  is made available outside the Japanese market for the 1st time, unfurling the Tokyo-based artist’s delicate, minimalist masterwork inspired by Satie, Schaefer and Eno to whole new generations in need of blissed sonic respite. Unless you’re a bit wadded or simply helpless to the charms of early ‘80s Japambient records and bought a dead expensive original, it’s maybe likely that you’ll only get to hear this one via YouTube otherwise, so the opportunity to hear this beauty in full fidelity, at a reasonable price, is not to be missed!
"Despite his status as a key figure in the history of Japanese ambient music, Hiroshi Yoshimura remains tragically under-known outside of his home country. Empire of Signs–a new imprint co-helmed by Maxwell August Croy and Spencer Doran–is proud to reissue Yoshimura’s debut Music for Nine Post Cards for the first time outside Japan in collaboration with Hiroshi’s widow Yoko Yoshimura, with more reissues ofHiroshi’s works to follow in the future.
Working initially as a conceptual artist, the musical side of Yoshimura’s artistic practice came to prominence in the post-Fluxus scene of late 1970s Tokyo alongside Akio Suzuki and Takehisa Kosugi, taking many commissioned fashion runway scores, soundtracking perfume, soundscapes for pre-fab houses, train station sound design – all existing not as side work but as logical extensions of his philosophy of sound.
His work strived for serenity as an ideal, and this approach can be felt strongly on Music for Nine Post Cards. Home recorded on a minimal setup of keyboard and Fender Rhodes, Music for Nine Post Cards was Yoshimura’s first concrete collection of music, initially a demo recording given to the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art to be played within the building’s architecture.
This was not background music in the prior Japanese “BGM” sense of the word, but “environmental music”, the literal translation of the Japanese term kankyō ongaku given to Brian Eno’s “ambient” music when it arrived in late 70’s Japan. Yoshimura, along with his musical co-traveler Satoshi Ashikawa, searched for a new dialog between sound and space: music not as an external absolute, but as something that interlocks with a physical environment and shifts the listener’s experience within it.
Erik Satie’s furniture music, R. Murray Schafer’s concept of the soundscape and Eno’s ambience all greatly informed their work, but the specific form of tranquil stasis presented on releases like Nine Post Cards is still difficult to place within a specific tradition, remaining elusive and idiosyncratic despite the economy of its construction. This record offers the perfect introduction to Hiroshi’s unique and beautiful worldview: it’s one that can be listened to – and lived in – endlessly."
Finally, Roland Kayn’s breathtaking cybernetic salvo, ’Simultan’; one of the most important works by one of the 20th century's greatest (if unsung) composers; all newly remastered from original tapes and reissued for the first time since the original 1977 release by classical music label, Colosseum. Huge Recommendation for followers of work by Jaap Vink, Leo Küpper, Jim O’Rourke, Keith Fullerton-Whitman, Autechre, The Hafler Trio...
Italy’s Die Schachtel, following the lead of Frozen Reeds’ and their 16CD edition of ‘A Little Milky Way of Sound’ in 2017, have the honour of reintroducing ’Simultan’ into the wild. Presented to the highest possible standards on the format it was intended for, the unfeasibly complex dynamics and revelatory perceptive spaces opened up inside ’Simultan’ are bound to generate jaw-dropping reactions with Kayn's growing ranks of followers and even the most hard-to-please fans of outer-limit composition.
Collapsing ideas from electro-acoustic, concrète, electronic, and computer music disciplines into what he termed “cybernetic music”, Kayn methodically and effectively worked off-the-radar towards a form of Artificial Intelligence in music from 1962 until his death in 2011. Building on his earlier studies with seminal figures such as Boris Blacher and Oskar Sala (whose FX appeared on classic Hitchcock’s), as well as time spent playing organ and piano with Ennio Morricone and Egisto Macchi’s exploratory Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza, Kayn devoted his life’s work toward realising what would become recognised among the most incredible, genuinely prism-pushing arrangements of sound ever recorded.
’Simultan’ is the first in a series of seminal Roland Kayn boxsets released between 1977 and his blinding masterpiece ’Tektra’ in 1984. While he had previously contributed ‘Cybernetics III’ to a Deutsche Grammofon split with Luigi Nono, ’Simultan’ was where Kayn’s ideas really came to fruition, and with results that practically document the birth of a new music, or a computer manifesting its first signs of sentience in sound.
Weighing in at six pieces clocking in at over two hours, it’s arguably a difficult, spasmodic birth when compared with the smoother contours and expansive arrangements of his subsequent releases, but that amorphous atonality and noisy unpredictability accounts for much of the attraction to ’Simultan’, which sounds like very little before it, or even since.
If you’re the insatiably curious, technically pedantic type, then many of your queries about Kayn’s music will be answered in the lucubrate liner notes included on the insert, which provide all the technical context one would need to know. But it’s better to just dive head-first into ’Simultan’ and let your head be consumed, dissolved into those micro-organismic diffusions and unfathomable chaos.
Mercifully this 2nd wind will prevail on further reissues of Kayn’s aforementioned run of boxsets up to and including ‘Tektra’. We advise making some space on your shelves and your calendar to spend some time with this incredible music.
Hyper-stepping outta nowhere, Steffi Grafs Innere Ruhe fire off three flash-forward and clinically Teutonic takes on Footwork++ on mysterious white label
Coolly resetting the game 10 years into the future, the playfully titled but seriously considered Steffi Grafs Innere Ruhe toss their hat in the ring with three cuts splicing footwork torsion with the kind of rhythmic nous displayed by Xth Réflexion on the /\\Aught label or in Joe Coghill’s ‘Transit Valley’ 12”.
The A-side’s ‘Gute Freizeit’ sets the bar breathlessly high with racing hi-hats and writhing acid bass synched in a rapid-fire yet somehow sublime effect. Dancers will have to think on their feet in real time here, reprogramming on the hoof.
Flipside, ‘Prima Freizeit’ keeps the tempo breakneck, with skittish toms percolated around the soundsphere with needling synth attacks, while the so-fast-it’s-slow ‘Freizeit Spezial’ keeps it anaerobic, mystic, like an Autechrian organism transmogrifying before your ears.
Carsten Nicolai concludes Alva Noto’s UNI-prefixed release cycle with UNIEQAV, the 3rd and most dancefloor-focussed instalment of the series. The follow-up to Unitxt  and Univrs  pairs pendulous minimal techno and electro rhythms with wide, sheer electronic drones in a way that strongly recalls recent Monolake output as well as Ilpo Väisänen in full swang. Comparisons aside, though, it’s unmistakably Alva Noto.
Pursuing the project’s roots in the dancefloor of Tokyo’s UNIT club to a satisfyingly logical endpoint, Nicolai rolls out 12 typically mercurial yet gripping sound designs defined by their fluid dynamics and seemingly fathomless dimensions intended to render the club or your head underwater, thanks to a still remarkable grasp of purified tonal minimalism/maximalism and studied sensitivity to proprioception.
The results are filigree yet robust, firmed up for deployment on the sickest sound system you can lay your hands on, but also highly pleasurable in a headphone or sofa-inclined context, keeping us rapt and twitching from the dubwise plong and looming pads of Uni Sub and the Robert Henke-esque pressure systems of Uni Mia.
The nervous skeleton of Uni Version flows into singular Alva Noto sounds in the jabbing pointillism of Uni Clip and the staggering scale of Uni Normal, with major highlights in the widescreen drama of Uni Blue, and footwork-like rapid movement join Uni Edit, while Anne-James Chaton’s vocal lend a sharp contrast in Uni Dna.
The gobsmacking ‘Selected Early Keyboard Works’ forms the first full length vinyl release by Catherine Christer Hennix, a peerless Swedish polymath whose uniquely diverse yet holistic contributions to early American minimalism and experimental music are cultishly appreciated by those in the know, yet remain sorely overlooked in the broader history of 20th century music.
As anyone who has heard Catherine’s classic ‘The Electric Harpsichord’, her hypnotic ‘Dharma warriors’ with Henry Flynt, or the stunning Chora(s)san Time-Court Mirage and The Deontic Miracle CDs will surely attest, her compositions exist on a whole other plane of musical perception. They naturally embrace a complexity of expression that places science and maths at the service of art, resulting some of the most beguiling, enigmatic and unprecedented combinations of styles - Indian raga, jazz, drone, early electronics - that we’ve ever heard, at the least.
In keeping with that enigma, the label’s notes for ‘Selected Early Keyboard Works’, ambiguously imply they were recorded in 1976 circa The Deontic Miracle’s 1976 performance at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm, which was issued on CD in 2016 as ‘Central Palace Music (From 100 Model Subjects For Hegikan Roku)’. If we use our ears, and take an educated guess, though, we’d date these previously unheard pieces to the same period, which makes them even more remarkable in context of that fertile period of musical thought.
We’ll forever fail to fully place a finger on the magick of Catherine’s music, but there’s a play of paradoxes at work in her music - mischievous yet meditative; light yet somehow driving, and even psychoactively aggressive - which makes it stand way out from her field. It’s definitely not just another new age whimsy or academic exercise. It’s much better described as intuitively daring and hallucinatory, setting out noumenal space for logic-defying feats of imagination and musical virtuosity.
In the two parts of ‘Mode Nouvelle des modalitiés’ for well-tuned Fender Rhodes and sine wave drone, listeners will discover a masterfully alien mix of early electronic music’s mercurial freedom and razor sharp jazz chops, inseparably blending her formative, teenaged experience of listening to jazz luminaries such as Coltrane and Cecil Taylor play in Sweden, with later studies at EMS and playing alongside La Monte Young and Henry Flynt in NYC. In revealing contrast, ‘Equal Temperament Fender Mix’ follows on the same Rhodes but in twelve-tone equal temperament, also using a tape delay system akin to Terry Riley’s, yet with a more reflective, blue and psychedelic appeal that’s far more interesting to us than Riley’s hirsute ecstasies. And ‘The Well Tuned Marimba’ for well-tuned Yamaha, shoeing, sine wave and live electronics completes the set in suitably, subtly breathtaking style with 18 minute of trickling, iridescent rhythmelody and curdling timbre limning a lush lysergic episode.
While we can point to her influences - from Cecil Taylor to Pandit Pran Nath and the EMS facility - what Catherine does with them is little short of alchemy, and provides some of the most curious music you’ll ever hear. We can barely wait to see what this long overdue series brings to the table...
London’s Low Company prize this exquisite side of home-brewed electronic meditations from the ‘90s Scandinavian underground for a new vinyl edition
Arriving with minimal background info, the music speaks directly to lonely, heavy-lidded experiences, articulating late night feels in a series of mumbling, nicotine-stained electronic meditations.
It feels kinda like a bluer adjunct to the sort of obscurity you might expect on Spencer Clark’s Pacific City Sound Visions, or the wooziness of RAMZi’s meandering new age, but with Pacific breezes swapped out for a Baltic chill and a serotonin-depleted lack of lustre that’s begging us to reach for the 5-HTP right now.
Moody spods and bedsit dreamers, you know the vibe.
Surely one of the most ear-catching and unique reissues of the year, Christoph De Babalon’s 'If You’re Into It, I’m Out Of It' is a late ‘90s neo-noir ambient and D&B masterpiece - imagine if The Caretaker made fierce, unrelenting Jungle and you almost get an idea of what’s inside - reissued to mark the occasion of its 21st anniversary to plaudits from a new generation of listeners.
Christoph De Babalon was a key member of Germany’s mutant splinter cells who fused UK rave music with more experimental, Teutonic techno, Ambient and hardedge politics to brutal effect during the mid-late ‘90s. 21 years later, this music has patently withstood the test of time, distinguished by a haunting atmospheric pallor and ruffneck way with Jungle that still makes us feel just as clammy and psychotic as when we first heard it (most likely on a trip to Berlin or via Christoph Fringeli’s invaluable C8 database).
For us, If You’re Into It, I’m Out Of It really distills a feeling of that era, as the utopian outlook of rave’s early years had evidently given way to something much darker, more maudlin, perhaps symptomatic of ennui with dance music’s hyper-commercial land grab, or even a pre-echo of pre millennial tension. Either way it provided the perfect soundtrack to ravers who were spending more time developing virtual lives online, or (speaking from experience) who weren’t yet old enough to go raving, but were shelled with media images and 2nd impressions of the culture, which had by then morphed into the prevailing trends of garage, trance, and prog house, and was but a ghost of its original, loony self.
If You’re Into It, I’m Out Of It therefore feels torn between extreme states. On the one hand it goes harder than the rest in killer rave moves such as the hardcore rattler Dead (Too), the epic amen + drone blow-out My Confession, or the cutthroat beast Water. But on the other, he goes darker, more haunting than the rest of his field with remarkable cuts such as the 15 minutes of billowing dark ambience that open the LP in Opium, or with the sublime, Gas-like suspension system of Brilliance, and the funereal, bombed-out bliss of High Life (Theme).
De Babalon effectively plotted out terrain that bridged DJ Scud’s rugged jungle breakcore with soundscaping more commonly associated with Thomas Köner or Deathprod, and in the process set the ground for myriad contemporary producers and sounds ranging from Raime and Blackest Ever Black to Demdike Stare, Pessimisst and beyond. If You’re Into It, I’m Out of It was, and still is, a deadly statement of intent, whose rhetoric and aesthetic still strongly resonate with subcultural concerns in 2018.
C L A S S I C
Chromatic conjurer Tim Hecker meets traditional Japanese Gagaku musicians from the Tokyo Gakuso ensemble on ‘Konoyo’, a dreamlike dramaturgy of noise, dissonance and aching melody recorded during several trips to Japan
The Canadian’s 9th solo release ‘Konoyo’, like its predecessor, ‘Love Streams’  also finds Hecker drawn to acoustic instruments and collaboration with a larger ensemble or collective, this time working with the Tokyo Gakuso ensemble after commanding an Icelandic choir on his previous album. However, the results here have a different purpose, swapping out ecstatic density for an intently refined and spacious approach, allowing his processed sources to ring out beautifully un/true in a sort of parallel dimensional harmonic spectrum.
In ‘Konoyo’ Tim Hecker effectively establishes a whole new set and lighting design to stage his patented play of paradoxes - lone/collective; organic/synthesised; consonant/dissonant - with the synaesthetically heightened skill of director, set designer and conductor rolled into one. The results are thus among his most subtly yet richly theatrical or cinematic, riddled with romantic, if abstract, narrative and a yearning pathos, and effectively collapsing myriad traditions - electronic, acoustic, Western, Eastern, classical and new age - into a spellbindingly sonorous, mercurial triumph.
Dopplereffekt explore themes of mortality/immortality on ‘Athanatos’, their follow-up to last year’s excellent ‘Cellular Automata’ album, also released by Berlin’s Leisure System.
Furthering their previous LP’s conceptual fascination with genetics, ‘Athanatos’ explores the conditions and chromosomal factors defining mortality in the funky, allegorical fashion that we all adore about Rudolf Klozeiger and To-Nhan’s music.
With input from Carsten Nicolai (who also did the artwork) and his raster-noton co-foudner Olaf bender, Dopplereffekt reflect their research in five parts ranging from the towering title track (meaning ‘Immortality’ in Greek) to a stunning piece of synth-pop ‘Hayflick Limit’ with cold vox (can'’t tell if it’s To-Nanh or one of their previous collaborators), plus the direct dancefloor hydrolicks of ‘Eukaryotic Chromosomes’, and the nexx level sci-fi electro of ‘Mitosis’.
Genius at work.
Some time around 20 years ago, Dub Surgeon made an absorbing album of beautiful dub infused with ambience, found sounds and horizontal rhythms. 'The Lost Future' was recorded at the former Amsterdam Film Academy, engineered and mastered by Ricardo Villalobos who put it through several vintage mixers and recorded it to 2 inch tape. Then, tragedy struck: a storm surged and ignited a fire that ravaged the studio. The master copy was thought to have been lost forever.
Dub Surgeon stopped making music and disappeared into the shadows after just two EPs on Future Dub in 2002/3. But one day, 15 years later, and totally out of the blue, he received a demo of The Lost Future. "Pay attention to this," it said.
Attached was a demo version of the long lost album which now, finally, has found a home on Dubai's Ark to Ashes imprint, so named in homage to the story of Lee "Scratch" Perry burning down his Black Ark studio to rid it of demons.
Newly mastered by Rashad Becker, the album adopts its full form as a killer dub excursion which, with hindsight, can be marked up next to other electronic dub classics of its era, arguably right up there with the first two Pole albums, but also wickedly prescient of wilder, out-of-the-lines styles to come from Jay Glass Dubs to Seekersinternational, and even flashes of Hyperdub and Burial’s more abstract, introspective moments.
Reissue of Drexciya’s seminal debut 2LP - a genuine milestone for Detroit techno and electronic music in the broadest sense. 100% essential!
First released by Drexciya’s James Stinson and Gerald Donald in 1999 after establishing a cult reputation via EPs and 12”s for UR, Rephlex and Warp, ’Neptune’s Lair’ was issued by Berlin’s Tresor to the acclaim of those in the know. Since James Stinson died in 2002, in subsequent years the album has become widely regarded as their definitive opus - a hugely sophisticated, imaginative piece of Afrofuturist sonic fiction embedded with deeply rooted politics.
As the album approaches its 20th anniversary of release, it still holds the power to utterly transport us to other dimensions, both physically and philosophically. Using the ocean and water as metaphor for deep space, and by extension a site of the unknown, where far-fetched (but not entirely unreasonable) ideas about slave babies thrown overboard on slave-trade routes evolved into futuristic, practically alien beings, Drexciya, much like Sun Ra and his Saturnian roots, formed a whole world unto themselves thru their music and track titles and Abdul Haqq’s artwork, creating a sort of holistic gesamtkunstwerk as rich in subtext and noumenal flights of fancy as the most cult comic books or underground animation and cinema.
In context of the very late ‘90s, when ‘Neptune’s Lair’ was issued, these ideas - whilst perhaps oblique on some levels - were necessary and important, as the electro/techno/house paradigm had been largely whitewashed by labels, promoters and DJs who either didn’t understand, or didn’t want to understand, the roots of the worldwide dance phenomenon that cropped up a decade prior - one mostly generated by PoC based in urban US cities. As prevailing techno-electronic trends in 2018 prize forms of classic EBM and trance, it’s perhaps as important as ever ever to acknowledge Drexciya’s origins and intent, to historically hold their work up to the rest of the field as waves of new, plugged in dancers become enthralled by their Hi-Tech Sci-Fi.
Collaborative 2CD album of a Japan noise legend Masami Akita alias Merzbow and a Czech seven-member ensemble Opening Performance Orchestra based in Prague.
"The first CD contains four compositions by Merzbow. 'Futaomote' means 'double face' and it was originally titled 'Janus'. 'Yasugibushi' is a Japanese old folk song which was sampled. The second CD contains two live tracks from Opening Performance Orchestra which were played live in Tokyo and Prague in 2017 and studio edited at the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018. --- no melody no rhythm no harmony - this is fraction music."
Over 3.5 hours of sublime, milky ambience to bathe in, coaxed from classical records, found sounds, tape and hardware by Will Long a.k.a. Celer
“Part 1 of a series of pieces under the umbrella title "Oasis", created for an exhibit to re-create an unnatural atmosphere of an isolated area in a desert. Mixed and performed in real time February - June, 2017.
Found sounds, field recordings, Casio VZ-1, Yamaha DX7, EH Memory Man, Roland RE-501, Electronica LZ-01, reel flanger, turntable, classical records, H3000D/SX, Sony Tapecorder by Will Long.”
‘Ambient 4: On Land’ is Brian Eno’s eighth solo studio album and the final instalment of his foundational ambient series that started with ‘Music For Airports’
Recorded between 1978 and 1982, ‘On Land’ sees Brian Eno take a decidedly darker turn, using samples and tape loops from the cutting room floor of previous sides to create a soundsphere of seamlessly shadowy ambient drift.
Perhaps most intriguingly here, Eno found the synthesiser to be of “limited usefulness”, and turned his attentions to physical objets, such as pieces of chain and sticks and stones, to shape what is effectively a form of ambient concrète music, rather than the gentle synthy lushness it’s more commonly associated with.
Featuring guest contributions from Jon Hassell (trumpet) and Bill Laswell (bass guitar), and engineered by ‘Danny’ Lanois, ‘Ambient 4: On Land’ is a total classic of eldritch-tinted, British ambient pastoralism, with all the dark underbelly that notion entails.
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.
Cue gushing waves of nostalgia: Sandra Kerr & John Faulkner’s soundtrack forkids TV animation ‘Bagpuss’ is finally available on vinyl. It’s definitely one for the over ‘40s, and younger folkies who’re old at heart.
"Bagpuss, dear Bagpuss , Old fat furry cat-puss , Wake up and look at this thing that I bring, Wake up, be bright , Be golden and light , Bagpuss, Oh hear what I sing. 12th of February, 1974, and for an audience of small children at 1:45pm, a life irrevocably coloured by the wayward wonderings of one saggy cloth cat...
Some 44 years later and Earth Recordings opens the door to Bagpuss & Co. once again, revealing for the first time the original music in all its newly-mastered splendour. The 32 tracks that make up the main body of the compositions are – like all good folk music – a patchwork of traditional pieces, half-remembered tunes and pure improvisation. It's testament to Sandra Kerr and John Faulkner's musicianship that the recordings work so well, not only within the context of the television episodes, but as an album in its own right.
Of the recording, Oliver Postgate (in his exquisite autobiography 'Seeing Things') says: "Between them Sandra and John could play every sort of instrument from a mountain dulcimer to an Irish fiddle. They knew and could sing every tune in the world and didn't bother with written music, except as a last resort. They were exactly suited to Gabriel the Toad and Madeleine the Rag Doll and in those roles were happy to play whatever music and sing whatever songs would be needed." Those songs manifested themselves as reworkings of familiar tunes ('I Saw A Ship'; 'Row Your Boat'; 'Bucket's Burning'), takes on traditional ballads ('Brian O'Lynn'; 'The Frog Princess'; 'Weaving Song'; 'The Old Woman Tossed Up in a Basket') and delicious flights of fancy ('The Bony King of Nowhere'; 'Turtle Calypso'; 'Uncle Feedle').
The counterpart to Madeleine and Gabriel's more polished ditties are the interludes from the mice; a raggle-taggle chorus that accompanies the creatures' efforts of help (with the mice once famously going on strike when they were not permitted sang as they worked). Again, Postgate muses: "Once I had worked out a few episodes I would make a very rough list of the bits where I though music would be appropriate. I would send it to [Sandra and John] to think about. Then we would borrow a fairly silent room in a remote house and, taking the various articles that we intended to celebrate with us, would spend a happy day with a tape recorder, thinking up and recording whatever songs and tunes came to mind."
The outtakes provide an intimate – and often very humourous – insight into the trio's work ethic, if it can be called such a thing. (By all accounts they sound as though they're having a very jolly time indeed.) Highlights include alternative opening words and end music, as well as Postgate sound-checking in character as Bagpuss. This never-before heard audio provides a real treat for fans (and indeed those new to the Smallfilms stable) – affirmation again to the enduring quality of these special recordings, and the beloved programme that inspired them. "An accidental classic of the folk-roots underground that we never dared hope we’d hear with such clarity."Stewart Lee.. And so their work was done."
Life-giving music from L.A.’s Dublab and friends, revolving sun-kissed vibes from Gifted & Blessed, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Matthewdavid, Suzanne Kraft and more.
Cooked up in cooperation with Sunpress vinyl, ‘Peace Radio Dublab’ is for the good times, pairing a group of like-minded, sweetly optimistic sounds from best coast producers.
Leaving Records’ Matthewdavid smudges your 3rd eye with the intense boogie shimmer of ‘Be Honest’, and Daedulus doe iridescent footwork on ‘ReadToFall’. Bender chases up his ace Second Circle outing with the yacht ready trills and pleading panpipes of ‘(Songbird) Ajinomoto’, and Secret Circuit rolls slow and dusky on ‘Space In The Suitcase’ (for a big of xanax and edibles, maybe?).
The ever charming GB is at his colourful best adapting ‘Toccata (Movement VI From Ravel’s le Tombeau De Couperin)’, and Actualy Magic covers Moondog, Wendy Carlos-style in ‘Do Your Thing Switched-on’, and Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith covers Sade’s ‘By Your Side’, modular synth style, beside the serene strings of Mary Lattimore’s ‘Wind Carries Seed’, and a wistful vignette from Suzanne Kraft.
Low Jack and Clara! seal a killer first year for the mutant dancehall series 'Les Disques De La Bretagnes' with this necessary doublepack including their long sold out instalments for the series, plus an instant download dropped to your account including two bonus, previously unreleased tracks, one from each of them. There's also a special edition limited to 100 copies that comes with a newly reocrded 'Les Disques De La Bretagnes' mixtape, the A-side mixed by Low Jack, and the flipside by Clara!
Launched earlier in the year as a sublabel of Editions Gravats, Les Disques De Las Bretagnes has become a go-to home for ruffneck, forward new spins on the Black Atlantic links between dancehall, reggaeton and electronic music. Now, following Iueke’s sold out ‘Champion’ 12” - as played by Aphex Twin - the label extend a very handy catch up of Low Jack and Clara! y Maoupa’s 12”s packaged as a 2LP with new sleeve art, plus an exclusive new mixtape for quick clickers.
Of Honduran heritage and based in France, Low Jack brings a unique sidespin on dancehall templates with his ‘Riddims du lieu-dit’ LP. Originally one side of a split tape with Equiknoxx for Bokeh Versions, its edits of Industrial obscurities and classic dancehall made for a rude, refreshing take on ‘80s and ‘90s digi-dub and dancehall that sold out within a week. Likewise, Clara! y Maoupa treated reggaeton with a mix of reverence and daring, twisting classic ‘90s ragga with bumping dembow while also introducing the Spanish artist as a deadly vocalist. Her Ruge is without question one of the deadliest tracks of the year - so good!!!!
The bonus mixtape is proof, if it were needed, of Low Jack and Clara!’s serious DJ and selection skills. with the label boss delivering a mad trippy squash for the haunted dancehall, while Clara! cooks up one of her signature reggaeton mixes, ram-jam with fresh and classic gear.
Breathtaking bad dream of a second album by Teresa Winter for The Death of Rave; a uniquely allegorical study in female sexuality and occult, transgressive fascinations that comes highly recommended if youre into Cosey Fanni Tutti, Coil, Jani Christou or Jean Rollin.
Unfolding around recollections of a bad dream about being murdered by her boyfriend and hidden under a hotel bed, Teresa’s new side expands upon the morbid, psycho-sexual and occult fascinations of her cultishly acclaimed ‘Untitled Death’ LP in a singular and unpredictable style of composition where avant-classical, acid-house and ambient dream-pop collapse in a confounding and traumatic account of her hauntological reality.
Recorded in Northern England amid the socio-political tumult of 2018, ‘What The Night Is For’ is concerned with notions of liberation and repression, both sexual, psychic and political, which feel ever more impending in the nocturnal, criminal state of mind conjured by capitalism’s end times. Teresa’s music reflects this sensation of heightened alertness and near-psychedelic intensity with an abstract dramatic narrative implicitly referencing on the one hand, the convention-challenging feminism of Jean Rollin’s cinema fantastique and its soundtracks, and the charged atmospheres of Coil, as well as the sexually liberated writings of Amanda Carter and the Marquis De Sade.
In its unfairly weighted formation, the LP vertiginously drops into freefall with 7 minute of ‘marishly captivating dissonance in ‘Canticles of Ecstasy’, landing in 9 minutes of disquietingly lush ambient electronics and Teresa intoning “bestial, brutal” on ‘Heathen’s Gate’, which marking her descent into night, proper.
The other side is an entirely different affair. From the wigged-out pipes and cinematic intrigue of ‘Vulgaire’, Teresa plays out stark contrasts between the stellar acid-pop detournement of ‘For Murder’, the palpably eerie electro-acoustic aura of ‘Apostrophising the C*nt’, and a gut-wrenching one-two of Proustian fantasy in ‘Mother of Death’, and the piloerect tristesse of ‘From so High that I Might Die’.
Like Cosey Fanni Tutti’s seminal early artwork, created in the ‘70s against a backdrop of Yorkshire-based serial killers and the adult industry, Teresa’s music can be taken as a form of psychic self-surgery, as a way of parsing her own ideas from the inherent violence of heteronormativity and the lingering, insipid pall of Roman Catholicism and all its connotations of sexual repression. And like Cosey, Teresa obliquely acknowledges the female perspective defined in the Tarot card, “Eight of Swords” - she’s damned if she does, but also damned if she doesn’t.
So f*ck it, here it is. Deal with it.
Buchla synth supremo Todd Barton’s hyperstitious soundtrack to Always Coming Home, an ‘80s American sci-fi novel by author Ursula K. Le Guin, is yet another ingenious recording dug out for reappraisal by Pete Swanson and Jed Middleman’s Freedom to Spend label - a division of RVNG Intl. Expect alien folk songs in made-up language, set to richly evocative backdrops of location recordings subtly gilded with self built instruments and synth contours. Properly immersive, otherworldly - think Breadwoman meets Lonnie Holley recording for Fonal.
“Music and Poetry of the Kesh is the documentation of an invented Pacific Coast peoples from a far distant time, and the soundtrack of famed science fiction author, Ursula K. Le Guin’s Always Coming Home. In the novel, the story of Stone Telling, a young woman of the Kesh, is woven within a larger anthropological folklore and fantasy.
The ways of the Kesh were originally presented in 1985 as a five hundred plus page book accompanied with illustrations of instruments and tools, maps, a glossary of terms, recipes, poems, an alphabet (Le Guin’s conlang, so she could write non-English lyrics), and with early editions, a cassette of “field recordings” and indigenous song. Le Guin wanted to hear the people she’d imagined; she embarked on an elaborate process with her friend Todd Barton to invoke their spirit and tradition.
For Music and Poetry of the Kesh, the words and lyrics are attributed to Le Guin as composed by Barton, an Oregon-based musician, composer and Buchla synthesist (the two worked together previously on public radio projects). But the cassette notes credit the sounds and voices to the world of the Kesh, making origins ambiguous. For instance, “The River Song” description reads, “The prominent rhythm instrument is the doubure binga, a set of nine brass bowls struck with cloth-covered wooden mallets, here played by Ready.”
According to writer and long-time friend of LeGuin, Moe Bowstern (who pens the liners for the Freedom To Spend edition of Kesh), Barton built and then taught himself to play several instruments of Le Guin’s design, among them “the seven-foot horn known to the Kesh as the Houmbúta and the Wéosai Medoud Teyahi bone flute.” Barton’s crafting of original instruments lends an other-worldly texture to the recordings of the Kesh, not unlike fellow builders Bobby Brown and Lonnie Holley. Bowstern notes, “Other musician / makers have crafted their own Kesh instruments after encountering the earlier cassette recordings that accompanied some editions of the book.”
Both Barton and Le Guin are sensitive to the sovereignty of indigenous Californians and were careful not to trample the traditions of the Tolowa people who lived in the valley long before the Kesh. “You research deeply, and then you bring your own voice to the table,” said Barton. Within the Kesh culture, the numbers four and five shape the lives, society and rituals. Barton composed loosely around these numbers, patiently listening to the land of Napa Valley for signs and audio signals from the natural elements. Todd incorporated ambient sounds of the creek by Le Guin’s house and a campfire they built together.
The songs of Kesh are joyful, soothing and meditative, while the instrumental works drift far past the imaginary lands. “Heron Dance” is an uplifting first track, featuring a Wéosai Medoud Teyahi (made from a deer or lamb thigh bone with a cattail reed) and the great Houmbúta (used for theatre and ceremony). “A Music of the Eighth House” sends gossamer waves of the faintest sounds to “float on the wind.” Like the languages invented in the vocal work of Anna Homler, Meredith Monk, and Elizabeth Fraser, the Kesh songs and poems play with the shape of voice.”
Slow-to-mid tempo balearic froth, edited by Jan Schulte in his Wolf Müller guise for Young Marco’s label
“Over the course of his seven-year recording career, Jan Schulte has delivered countless revolutionary remixes under the now familiar Wolf Müller alias. Now, Safe Trip has gathered together some of his most celebrated and hard-to-find reworks on Sorry For The Delay: Wolf Müller’s Most Whimsical Remixes.
The collection includes a string of lauded revisions of the likes of Tolouse Low Trax, Africaine 808, BAR and Jose Padilla, all in a trademark percussion-rich, polyrhythmic style that joins the dots between the tropical rhythms of South America, the tribal musical traditions of Africa, the experimental electronics associated with Schulte’s home city of Düsseldorf and the sun-kissed Balearica of Ibiza.
Since making his debut at the dawn of the decade, Schulte has carved out a niche as one of European electronic music’s most distinctive artists. Under this best-known alias, Wolf Müller, the German producer has delivered a string of sought-after singles, two critically acclaimed collaborative albums (the most recent of which, produced alongside percussionist Niklas Wandt, was released earlier this year), and a swathe or radical remixes.
It’s the latter that’s showcased on Sorry For The Delay, whose apologetic title tips a wink to Safe Trip’s debut release, a compilation of Young Marco remixes called Sorry For The Late Reply. The majority of the eight included reworks are revolutionary in nature, with Schulte gaining inspiration from, or making use of, just a handful of elements from the provided source material. For example, the oldest remix in the collection, a 2011 rub of Mungolian Jet Set’s quirky disco cut “Prog Rocks and Moon Jocks”, made with Christian Pannenborg as Montezumas Rache, features numerous vocal and instrumental elements omitted from the Norwegian duo’s final version.
The collection naturally comes packed with deliciously percussive moments, including an undeniably heavyweight translation of Tolouse Low Trax’s “Jaidem Fall” – the first ever Wolf Muller remix from 2014 – a chiming, melodious and sun-kissed revision fo BAR’s 2016 cut “BAR Theme”, an inspired tweak of Africaine 808’s “Rhythm Is All You Can Dance” and a riotous take on “Ba Hu Du”, a never-before-released track from Schulte’s other headline-grabbing, club-rocking pseudonym, Bufiman.
Schulte’s ability to create mesmerizing, slow burn soundscapes can be heard across the compilation, too, from the druggy and psychedelic pulse of his krautrock-influenced version of Telespazio’s “Barrier” and the humid tropicality of the Deep Dub of Sound Species “Balafon Jam”, to the dreamy new age synthesizer lines, twanging Jews Harp and seductive beats of Jose Padilla collaboration “Oceans on the Moon”.”
About time! Drexciya’s seminal Afrofuturist album finally sees reissue with Clone Classic Cuts, regaling the recordings of four young sons of an electrician from Flint, Michigan, USA, who pay dues to the endless inspiration of Kraftwerk
When it was originally released in 1995 with the prefacing info about four brothers, ‘Elektroworld’ became a crucial part of the Drexciyan mythology. Prefaced by a promo sheet with the suggestive info outlined above, the album was quite easily detectable as a Drexciyan production, but it wasn’t until 2008 when Warpmart spilt the beans, that ‘Elektroworld’ was officially identified as a James Stinson production. For many disciples of the the late great genius, the album includes some of Stinson’s definitive cuts in the spine-freezing ‘Japanese Electronics’ and the elegant funk of ‘Mystery World’ and ‘Midnight Drive’. But that’s not discount the rest of the set - there’s pure Drexciyan gold in the vocodered ace ‘Future Tone’ and the heart-fluttering chord changes of ’Silicon World’.
RVNG Intl mint their promising reissue label, ReRVNG with the superb first anthology of Michele Mercure’s home-brewed synth-pop and electronic experiments circa late ‘80s/early ‘90s.
It’s actually a co-release with Freedom To Spend, the Pete Swanson and Jed Bindeman-helmed reissue label that Michele kicked off with her acclaimed ’86 debut ‘Eye Chant’ in 2017. Following the mood of that long overlooked side, ‘Beside Herself’ collects 19 further songs and instrumental pieces from hard-to-find tapes, documenting a creative development from her earliest, skeletal guitar, rhythm box and tape loop sketches through the era of her mutant, theatrical synth moves on ‘Eye Chant’ and beyond.
“Michele is a natural collaborator and has made music for all sorts of contexts, film, theater, dance, etc. You get that impression though this set, you hear different sonic collaborators, but you might also be able to pick up on one track being more kinetic, another more cinematic, another taking wild turns that may be due to edits or changes in a performance or just because she made some interesting choice here or there. Spend a little time with “An Accident Waiting To Happen” or “No More Law In Gotham City” and you’ll be taken on a bit of a ride through different movements, sounds, concepts, concerns, all in about four minutes. Some of this music is functional, some of it is dysfunctional, it’s all good.
For those familiar with Eye Chant, you’ll hear some familiar elements in Beside Herself. You’ll find the cool synthesizers and beautiful samples, storytelling through pop gestures, an apparent dedication to technological and aesthetic experimentation.”
You Know What It’s Like is the quietly breathtaking debut album from Carla Dal Forno ov Tarcar and F Ingers - an incredible debut which tip toes the finest line between contentment and aching vulnerability in head-turning fashion.
Her voice is exquisitely fragile but poised and confident with it; representing an unshowy resolve which, despite its gothic chic, actually feels fresh and necessary - operating counter to contemporary glitz and glamour with clear allusions to her heroes, such as Nico or Anna Domino.
Prefaced by two single tracks, the departing dream of Fast Moving Cars and the ghostly nerve pincher What You Gonna Do Now? the album also features six new songs clocking in at just under half an hour, following a bedsit slug trail from the mildew sprawl and nitrate bubble of opener Italian Cinema to the ‘floor-stalking sleep house thud of DB Rip and a deep drifting instrumental, Dry In The Rain, strewn with melodica-like pipes and cobwebbed in acoustic guitar strum like some dusty eldritch dub of A C Marias.
In the album’s twilight hours, Carla really comes into her own on the title song, flitting between Crepulscule-esque songcraft and slow-rocking traces of UK dub, her vocals urgent but nevertheless nonchalant, before Dragon Breath recedes back into the mists of chamber music and she proceeds to pour a potent, near paralysing nightcap and shuffle away from the screen down a long corridor, fading to black in The Same Reply.
We’re utterly smitten, this could turn into a proper addiction.
Following the widely acclaimed reissue of Christoph De Babalon’s goth-jungle classic ‘If You’re Into It, I’m Out of It’, A Colourful Storm shed more light on the period running up to and including those unparalleled recording sessions with this new LP of killer, ruffneck pearls.
‘Exquisite Angst’ documents 9 pieces of dark ambient and rasping jungle breaks cloaked in the bleakest, bleached-out atmospheres. Then and now, the German artist’s sound stands out for its combination of isolationist scowl and ragged swagger, and ‘Exquisite Angst’ is full of it.
The label have done a great job in selecting and sequencing the cuts to offer a full spectrum survey of De Babalon’s formative style, arrriving with the opiated bedsit ambience of ‘Gaseous Invertebrate’, and lashing out with the brittle-boned breaks of ‘Kirchengänger’ and ‘Realistic Riot Ritual Routine’, before strafing between trip hop and breakcore in ‘Are You Talking To Me?’, while the B-side focusses in on his cinematic appeal with the decayed, windswept strings of ‘Alpenglühen’, and the pensive epic ‘Meditate’ recalls styles to come from Karl-Marx-Stadt.
The nerve-riding quality and gothic intent of De Babalon's music clearly endures and resonates with listeners 20 years later, if you were floored by ‘If You’re Into It, I’m Out of It’ - this one's a must.
NYC’s Palto Flats catch Foodman at his coolest and grooving, tempering his wilder tics to slinkier effect in 5 weightless ambient-jazz-house charms.
One of the most striking sonic characters to emerge in recent years, Shokuhin Matsuri a.k.a. Foodman follows up a brace of ace releases with these beautifully spacious works, ranging from a mesmerising 6 minute stepper called ‘Miziburo’ that sounds like a frothier Shinichi Atobe, to delectable ambient-jazz fusions int escaping dub chords and fragmented jazz chops of ‘Nanika’, thru the deliquescent diffusion of floating keys, ultra-minimal percussion and playful harmonies in ‘Tokai Desu’.
If you’ve ever been intrigued by this artist and not checked him yet, this is the perfect place to build an appetite for Foodman.
It's that time of year again isn't it, and although we don't seem to get snow anymore in England (damn you global warming!) we are still just about capable of celebrating the birth of the guy who invented Coca Cola...
Stevens takes some of the classic traditional sounds of the season and places them next to compositions of his own to create something genuinely heart-warming and enjoyable without ever becoming cheesy or overwrought. Starting in 2001 and going to 2006 these songs have been pieced together with love by Stevens and his friends year after year, and that's what makes them so effective - his version of 'We Three Kings' might be heartbreaking, but his own composition 'That was the Worst Christmas Ever' is one of the most crushing pieces Stevens has ever put his name to, perfectly summing up the hopes and dreams of the season....
Maayan Nidam curves back to Perlon with her first album for the mnml stronghold, arriving two years after the Deep Under Sobriety’ EP and 6 since since her ‘New Moon’ album with Cadenza
‘Sea of Thee’ unfolds as a coherent collection tied together by a deep, blue sense of longing for late and later nights and smoky dawns, using her (very droll, Lolina-esque) vox as buoyancy aids in an immersive trenche of stripped-down, murkily fluid grooves and mood pieces.
Stockholm LTD captain Pår Grindvik works out pendulous, brooding techno styles bordering on IDM/electronica
‘Trails’ is the bluer of the two, scorching around and off a beat cloaked in sweeping, melancholic pads and keening dissonance to a kind of post-rock-y climax.
‘The Right To Be Forgotten’ is shadowier, but more aggressive, laving the drums to a seething syncopation driven by low low bass and almost neuro-style D&B synths.
Staggering volley of hyper junglist killers from Sophia Loizou on a new EP of pressurized subs, hoover and percolated vocals taking us somewhere between Lee Gamble’s classic Diversions, Metalheadz Blue Note Sessions and some forward Arca x EVOL collusion. TIPPED!!!
Sophia’s first release since the much acclaimed Singulacra [Kathexis, 2016], Irregular Territories provides a definitive example of Loizou’s sound as it firmly asserts her music in a rarified hauntological rave headspace that meticulously explores an exploded deconstructionist style that she’s developed since her 2014 debut Chrysalis.
With one foot in late ‘90s halcyon daze, and another toeing the future, Sophia combines a lust for the ruffneck with a sharp mind for complex structural integrity and inventive aesthetic. Synching fragmented beats with human gasps, choral synths and richly ephemeral textures, she bridges temporalities and dimensions in a way that recalls an auditory DeepDream composite formed from millions of eyes-shut moments at Metalheadz sessions.
Album opener Loop of Perception quite literally takes off like a jet engine in the rave, while Memories of Angels conjures and sustains a lump-in-throat suspense through unresolved pads and hide ’n seek breakbeat edits, before it all comes together, gelled by wide, pressurized subs in Shadow Box.
The brief vignette of hoover and percolated vocal motifs in Frozen Dust opens up the B-side like some Arca and EVOL collusion, and The Interior Life of Another feels like a jungle inception of 4Hero’s Parallel Universe, leaving the poignant Morphogenesis to sum up the metaphysical flux of her sound in febrile detail.
One of Coil’s most prized and distinctive albums, ‘Black Light District’ arises again on 2LP reissue with Dais Records, with all remastering and reproduction under the auspices of the group’s Drew McDowell. A phantasmagoric soundscape for those who shine darkly…
“During the transitional period in which Coil’s primary leadership, Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson and John Balance, reorganized their creative direction by taking on new membership in the group through their inclusion of Drew McDowall, Coil took a drastic turn towards the metaphysical unknown. Employing the subtle handiwork of Coil’s “real life” members, as well as the cleverly guised aliases and spiritual collaborators, the band chose to filter their identity through a the nome de guerre, Black Light District, setting the precedent of Coil’s future exploration of otherworldy influence.
Recorded during the Winter of 1995/96, Black Light District reflects more on their formal avant-garde pursuits and academic interests rather than their industrial pedigree resume. Starting off with an obvious nod to John Cage with their introductory “Unprepared Piano”, the tone is prepared in exactly the same way… unpredictable. Conceptually abstract, Black Light District shows Coil’s old guard disregarding the pop rhythms found on previous albums, such as Love Secret Domain, and fully embracing their experimental electronic trajectory. Subtle patterns of looping melancholy and malaise are placed delicately underneath ghostly electronic timbre. Approaching their creative method as something from the beyond, another realm in which sounds blur and performers seemingly appear from the ether.”
Submers is the second album from the Vancouver-based Scott Morgan, aka loscil.
All of the tracks are named after submarines, the final cut being a requiem for the crew of the ill fated Russian nuclear vessel Kursk. Recorded at home on computer with samples and keyboards used as sound sources, Submers is rife with source-less echoes, steely surfaces and ominous melodic and rhythmic undertows.
The sifted melodies are layered over muffled, clicking and pulsing rhythm tracks with an appropriately aquatic feel to the entire album. After the release of loscil’s debut, Triple Point, Morgan toured Europe in early 2002 and released an EP on UK’s Involve label. Submers is an album that easily merges ambient , contemporary classical music and minimal techno in defiance of the current mania for micro-genres.