Sorely gripping turn from Luke Younger’s Helm for TTT, written in response to the blockbuster tragicomedy, Brexit, and bolstered by the searching percussion of Tomaga and Raime’s Valentina Magaletti.
Following the ambient-rhythmic-noise course of his Olympic Mess LP and his heat-warped Rawabet instalments, World In Action finds Helm farther downstream at a turbulent confluence of both those sides’ aesthetics, sifting out a panicked and anxious sound where it feels as though he’s practically treading water to keep his head above the chaos.
Incorporating the vital, free-roaming percussive suss of Valentina, who props up what is perhaps one of the rhythmic achilles heel of Helm’s music, World In Action makes a nod to the ‘80s/‘90s current affairs TV programme of the same title in its sleeve artwork and centre labels depicting their ident, Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, perhaps amounting a sort of hauntological elegy for the British popular intellect and sense of proportionality.
An impressionistic distillation of the times, on World In Action Younger layers and interrogates a number of studio and field recordings made in East London, South-East Kent and at Snaresbrook Crown Court to form his own personal echo chamber of claggy clangour and worried sax scrabble, oscillating between impenetrable skronk and wistful spiritual jazz motifs in the opening Blue Scene, to dwell on a push-and-pull of vintage 8-bit sonics and deconstructed techno with Candy, whereas World In Action itself is a determined trudge through barbed and murderously noxious levels of polluted atmospheres, then effectively ripping the rug from under your feet and pirouetting in freefall with After Dark.
Geir Jenssen yields a most Biosphere of Biosphere recordings with this new album recorded on a Norwegian island within the arctic circle
Leading on from recent years’ ‘Departed Glories’ and ‘Petrified Forest’, the 66 minute long and 17-track wide suite of ‘The Senja Recordings’ arguably amounts to the most significant Biosphere outing of this decade. Taking its title from Norway’s 2nd largest island, where it was conceived, the album features outdoor sounds and improvisations made during Jenssen’s stays between 2015-2018 and finds the artist more porous than ever to distorted, granular textures along with his trademark palette of elemental electronics. It’s essentially the artist getting closer than ever to his surroundings and cutting down the space between there and your ears.
From the sounds of it, one can only imagine Jenssen had a quietly blissful time making this record. There’s the expected darkness for sure, but it always resolves with strong pangs of isolationist melody, cropping up Conet Project-like in ’Strandby’; glowing like a dawn aurora behind a granite cliff in ‘Berg’; or harmonising with the birds and air in ‘Fjølhøgget’ and the Aeolian harp-like tones of his ‘Bergsbotn’ trio, so named after the small village facing out to harsh North Atlantic. factor in the natural yet unearthly sounds picked up by his hydrophone in ’Skålbrekka’, and the gloaming solitude of his sublime closer ‘Hå’, and you have a top class Biosphere album, if you like this sort of thing.
'Versions' leaves out the vocal accompaniment and exposes the production as it drifts off into instrumental effervescence...
This second breathtaking CD leaves out the vocal accompaniment and exposes the terryfingly deep Basic Channel production as it drifts off into instrumental effervescance. The hallmarks are all there; Mark Ernestus and Moritz Von Oswald have already set the world ablaze once, twice, three, four times with their work as Basic Channel and the splintering into microscopic, heavyweight offshoots by way of the M series, Main Street, Chain Reaction, Rhythm and Sound and, of course, Burial Mix. It's hard to over-emphasise just how important their music has been to us over the last two decades and, for that matter, just how substantial their impact has had on everything that has taken place in electronic music since.
Following convention, each of these labels has offered a catalogue up on record (in this case 10" releases) before compiling the music. This is, in fact, the second Burial Mix compilation, the first "showcase" concentrating on the label's collaborations with Paul St Hilaire, aka Tikiman, for its opening set of releases. This second installment divides itself into Vocal and Instrumental "Versions" (the Vocal tracks are collected seperately on a second release), displaying the last seven releases in their entirety, plus "Mash Down Babylon" (a new take on "March Down Babylon"), and features a by-now totally classic collection of tracks that in their time have all been singles of the week for us here.
Just thinking of the majestic exuberance of "King in My Empire", or the breathtaking space of "Making Histroy" makes it hard to fathom how this material hasn't really aged a day in all these years...
Melody As Truth’s Jonny Nash and Suzanne Kraft make time feel precious, sublime yet impending with the slow urgency of their 2nd outing as MATstudio.
Aside from the pair’s more polished productions, both solo and in collaboration, their MATstudio output reveals more steeply psychedelic and abstract space between the notes of Nash & Kraft’s respective, mutually admiring styles. Across the two pieces it feels as though we’re hovering somewhere in the studio during the session, or even pulled into the slipstream of their FX contrails and gently toyed with, like a cat with a piece of fluff in weightless space.
“MATstudio was born out of the working processes of our Amsterdam studio. Many hours are spent here experimenting with new methods, tools and ideas. This process allows us to continue developing our interests in merging multiple production techniques to create a personal language.
MATstudio works are collages of improvisations, experiments and accidents. Many of the fragments are the results of filtering our ideas through new production techniques and tools. Some feature friends and collaborators. MATstudio works are an ode to the infinite possibilities that result in keeping a curious mind and a desire to learn.”
One to watch, Amsterdam’s upsammy jumps back on Die Orakel with four writhing examples of her mutant electro style
The whirring mechanics and dreamy pads of ’A Walk In Twilight’ easily ranks among the most original new electro workouts we’ve heard from the recent wave; ‘Bronze Goddess’ feels outs a quasi-speed, subaquatic electro zones; ‘’Shaky Limbs’ slides into space between early Laurel Halo and Batu; and ‘Branches On Ice’ pushes the meter up to get freaky with acidic Dolphin squeals and splashy electro-techno hydraulics in a distinctive style upsammy can safely call her own.
Clay Rendering return with up a majestically gothic trip to the west with 2nd LP ‘California Black Vows’ channelling ‘90s grunge, shoegaze and stoner rock in their unique style...
"California Black Vows' chronicles the groups’ move away from the comfort zone straight into the dark heart of the west. Since their last album, the band relocated from the suburbs of the Midwest to the sinister shine of Los Angeles. The cover’s icicle is the last remnant of their time in familiar surroundings. More change was to follow. A duo for most of its existence, Clay Rendering’s core of Mike and Tara Connelly chose to invite two allies into their closed circle. The enlisted are Sera Timms of Black Mare on bass and Joe Potts of Sollilja on drums.
“California Black Vows” is the follow up to 2015’s “Snowthorn,” also on Hospital Productions. The warning bell sounded with their inclusion on Vatican Shadow’s Berghain mix, released this past March. A couple of EPs surfaced since the the last full length, but the band has spent most of that time molding the new 4 piece incarnation from the ground up and discovering the sounds and directions that new blood brings, while also acclimating to their new surreal setting. The result is a dimly lit journey into the wild nightside, where nothing is for sure. Where everything is tantalizing. Where Peg Entwistle appears thru a distant haze. Where the small hours creep by, never to return. Masks are off. A hypnotic trek into the center of Clay Rendering’s unique brand of gloom rock commences.
The album reveals itself slowly for the first minutes of “Blood Into Wine”, until the refrain opens wide and dives headlong into the deep. It’s a statement of intent. Whatever happens after this, we are in it together. From there, things rev up with uncertainty and a nervous edge. “Another Roll of the Iron Dice”...whose number is up? Tara takes on more vocals than previous records, haunting the nocturnal ocean with “Once in the Well,” “Black Vows” and “Take Hold.” Strangers come and go and dance and die in “We Wait.” Questions remain unanswered in “Don’t Understand You.”
With Dylan Neal (Thief) on production duties, Clay Rendering have delivered their fullest and most fleshed out album to date. The immediacy of the recording gives the feel that these songs are taking shape as you hear them. Guitars melt over the keyboards and synths throughout the proceedings. The record is filled with a noir life force that transitions back and forth from desperate wails to moonlit hymns. The vocals are clearer and more direct than ever, letting you know exactly where Clay Rendering stand. The bass provides the heartbeat of the mission. The drums ensure everything lands in its place. Insomnia, frantic flailing, body language, staring into the forced and artificial landscape, finding solace among the chaotic foliage...all these things play a role. The comfort has been shed. Foreboding stars in the western lands bring out the strangest parts in us all. “California Black Vows” is the howling cry to let those parts show their teeth and the soothing voice to let you know it will all be over in the morning.”
Air Max ’97 diversifies his bonds in collaboration with LOFT and TSVI on two tracks in the follow-up to his ‘Nacre’ album
Gwan dolo, the Aussie producer dives headlong into the sticky wormhole of ‘Turgor’ with its wild jazzy drum shrapnel and hyper-cubist bass shifts, while ‘Falling Not Walking’ reprises that jazziness within a sorta warped dubstep framework.
However, the best dancefloor tackle is in the collaborations. On ‘Paroxysm’ he teams with TSVI for a taut, swaggering spin on neuro D&B tropes, then on a reticulated, hyper jungle flex in tandem with LOFT on the fractious zinger ‘Xhrinicibles’ in a way recalling the needle-point programming of Rockwell’s ‘Reverse Engineering’.
Dark garage and dubstep skippers from Etch and north London MC, Nico Lindsay, also introducing Tranq Sinatra
Up top ’Don’t Wanna Know’ goes on dark and shadowy like an El-B rhythm with an early grime-style sing-song vocal, whereas ‘Predator vs Prey (Toxin)’ leans back on a gully sort of halfstep dubstep/grime lurch with Nico Lindsay’s delivery recalling Trim. On ‘Photosynthesis’ Zak Brashill aka Etch tags in Joe Naitsri aka Tranq Sinatra on a tight, triplet-metered garage/grime swing.
Knox-Om-Pax lets the light into his cavernous spaces with a light-footed album influenced by Berlin techno and L.A. sunshine and featuring cameos by Silvia Kastel and Nightwave
“On ‘Ways Of Seeing’ Konx-om-Pax has switched up the mood and hit gold. He has made an album that is filled with joy and sunshine, saturated with the classic feel of Berlin Techno. Tom Scholefield has moved on from the dark ambient and brittle rave of the first two Konx-om-Pax albums, which were a reflection of his hometown Glasgow's electronic music scenes. After a recent move to Berlin, the textures of Glasgow's musical strains have fused into an accessible and friendly mix of poppy melodic electronica built from a stricter 'less is more' sound pallete, closer in spirit to the music of his adopted city. It is also a record which was made in opposition to recent music he has been hearing, in particular the troubled, dark and noisy experimental music coming out of Berlin. Tom wanted to focus on more joyful qualities, making this a record imbued with warmth and happiness, a panacea to the darkness and disorientation all around in 2019.
Having a social scene full of producers has also influenced the album. The opening track 'LA Melody' came from staying with Ross Birchard (Hudson Mohawke) at his house in LA, hanging out in the glorious sunshine with him and Lunice working on tracks. "Initially Ross asked me to write some melodies to use in a project he was producing, but I ended up liking it so much I decided to keep the riff. I generally write music alone, but being around other producers gave me a certain excited energy that reminded me of after-parties back in Glasgow where Ross and myself spent our youth together. Spending time in Clark's studio also helped me improve my workflow and sequencing the album by seeing the way he does things". On 'Säule Acid' he collaborates with Silvia Kastel and in 'I’m For Real' the vocals of Glaswegian DJ/producer Nightwave filter around the track.
Stripped away to just the good bits, 'Ways Of Seeing' is a pleasure to listen to.”
Frank Timm’s 2016 collection of cut-up disco killers is now available to download officially
With his early 2019 debut album ‘Love Remedy’ still burning brightly, ‘Sound Sampler Vol.2’ is another fine reminder of Frank Timm’s dancefloor genius, jacking your body between the grungy acid disco of ‘Track 440’ in his Soundstudio guise, the staggered and filtered disco loops of ‘What You Feel’ under his Soundhack alias, and the percolated Chi-house doozy of ‘Relief (demo)’ under his Soundstore moniker.
Widely praised saxophonist/producer Ben Vince channels classic No wave, post-punk and jazz in the follow-up to his acclaimed ‘Assimilation’ album and hook-up with Joy O. Features guest input from Jacob Samuel, Kenta Sekine, Rupert Clevaux, Bianca Scout ++
“Following on from last year’s rapturously received Assimilation, London-based saxophonist, improviser and producer Ben Vince returns with Don't Give Your Life. Over the last few years, Vince’s solo saxophone and electronics performances, along with his work in the clattering post-punk troupe, Housewives, have helped him quickly establish a considerable reputation among those in the know.
Where his first releases under his name honed in on his meditatively layered and looped saxophone lines – placing him in a lineage beginning with the Time Lag Accumulator works of Terry Riley and stretching into the icy expanses of John Surman’s 1980s recordings and the hypnotic riffing of Gilbert Artman’s Urban Sax – Assimilation saw Vince branching out to work with high-profile collaborators such as Micachu and demonstrating his deep love of the outer reaches of club music (also evident on last year’s collaborative 12” with UK bass music bigwig Joy Orbison).
Don't Give Your Life is the strongest work yet from an artist whose work demonstrates a risk-taking, omnivorous appetite for the new while also digging deeper and deeper into a unique sonic sensibility.”
Errorsmith, Kyoka, Renick Bell, Nene H, Dylan Henner and more remix Eomac to bits
With the frantic original ‘Transmutation, Redemption, Forgiveness’, Errorsmith extracts and tightens up the groove with teetering, stilettoed kicks while emphasising the vowels of the vocal in wildly daft style. It’s one of the big highlights along with Renick Bell’s hyper-angular algorithmic decimation of ‘Lower Your Gaze’, Okkre’s gnashing hardcore techno ‘rush RISE’ remix, and Eomac’s own, pendulous VIP of ‘Being, Not Object’.
Youngsta’s dubstep stronghold displays heavy wares from across the scene, ranging from Drill-influenced styles to cold halfstep
If we’re playing favourites, Nomine is right up there with the tightly sprung ‘Judas’, and Taso smacks it with the icy drill hybrid of ‘Air’d Out’, and Youngsta brings a deadly swagger to ‘The Last Judgement.’
A Lovely Music touchstone, ‘Trust In Rock’ is what happened when the ‘70s West Coast experimental avant-garde made rock music. Now issued for the first time, this is a proper piece of history that would come to inform Lovely Music’s earliest releases...
“Trust in Rock documents the last evening of an epic concert series held at Berkeley’s University Art Museum in November 1976, featuring an all-star ensemble of the Bay Area’s most unclassifiable musicians performing works by “Blue” Gene Tyranny and Peter Gordon. Tyranny’s cycle “No Job, No Warm, No Nothing” contains songs “concerned with influence, trust, self-reliance, and having to re-do what is true for you;” three songs by Gordon, with lyrics by Kathy Acker, are complimented by two earlier instrumental works. Their combined band crossed styles and institutions and time, and was assembled from the effervescence of the Bay Area scene in the 1970s. It included Gordon on saxes and the RMI Synthesizer; Tyranny on the piano; local video-performance artist Patrice Manget on vocals; Carl Young on saxes; composer-performer-guitarist Paul Dresher, who played in Tyranny’s band Edge of the Road along with percussionist Gene Reffkin; Steve Bartek of the Mystic Knights of Oingo Boingo on bass; and Mills College student Janet Cuniberti on the funky Clavinet and RMI Synth. Though some of the works on Trust in Rock also appear on Gordon’s Star Jaws and Tyranny’s Out of the Blue, many others are available here for the first time. Trust in Rock contains nearly two hours of what Ear magazine called “NEW MUSIC FOR ROCK BAND.”
Except: by 1976, the idea of a capitalized “New Music” had increasingly lost its punch for Tyranny and Gordon. Rock and Roll, likewise, was nearing an apparent generational expiration. The way out of this impasse was trust in rock, which was both description and command. Rock, for this all-star cast of Bay Area heads, became a perpetual revolution that could be serious, playful, polemic, focused, technical, and lovely. And you can hear it in the music: Tyranny’s songs swing from intimate and profound to blissful and joyous, with solos on saxophone, piano, synthesizer, and electric guitar over interlocking rhythmic and melodic cells; an ecstatic performance of Gordon’s “Machomusic” gives a single pitch the real Rock’n’Roll treatment; and Acker’s lyrics on “God’s a Man,” “When Baby Gets Wet,” and “Cloves and Cinnamon” pulse with transgressive sexual energy. This is neither New Music nor Rock as anybody had previously understood those terms, but something else entirely—a kind of transcendent synthesis that audibly reveled in its newfound energy.
On Trust in Rock, Tyranny, Gordon, and their band played at, with, and through not only the generic boundaries of New Music and Rock, but also the stylistic boundaries of minimalism, jam bands, and punk. Tyranny had quit Iggy Pop’s band in 1973; Gordon had already moved to New York and began playing with Arthur Russell and Rhys Chatham. That night in the University Art Museum, playing saxophones and and synthesizers, they were not afraid to trust in rock to get them where they needed to be. This was a band that was not afraid to “listen to the interior state of something,” as Tyranny later put it: they put their trust in rock, and this album lets us hear what happened.”
Endearingly naif Aussie art-school/post-punk pop from Melbournian J. Macfarlane’s Reality Guest, finding an ideal home on Glasgow’s Night School
““Ta Da” is the debut full length from J. McFarlane's Reality Guest - aka the solo music of Australian artist Julia McFarlane. As a member of the group Twerps, McFarlane has traversed guitar-centric, melodic pop music for some years while honing a highly unique, personal musical language. Ta Da is the first recorded unveiling of McFarlane’s affecting, oblique songwriting panache. Originally released in her native Australia on Hobbies Galore, Ta Da will be released worldwide by Night School in June 2019.
Wheezing into view with a troubled reed instrument set against a s of whoozy synth lines, Human Tissue Act is a foggy curtain the listener is invited to peel back. The dissonant notes are left to dance entwined, with clarinet heralding a Harry Partch-esque mallet percussion interlude. It’s a mood. With no resolution in sight, an audience dragged closer into uncertainty is suddenly drenched with the light of inter-weaving wah wah synth and saxophone. I Am A Toy introduces us to McFarlane’s vocal, an effortless and matter-of-fact, accented statement that quietly takes the reins. While McFarlane’s previous work in Twerps might reference 80s UK and antipodean guitar pop, Ta Da showcases a different influences immersed in psychedelic music and synths. It’s a brilliant, deft concoction swimming in Young Marble Giants-type minimalism washed with bare pop and harmony similar to Kevin Ayers making sense of a Melbourne suburb full of faces half-recognised in the blanching sun.”
It’s been 20 years since we heard Smog’s ’Spanish Moss’ for the first time and every Bill Callahan record since has f#cked us up. This is his first new one in years and is quite possibly his best. Supremely beautiful music...
"As you listen to ‘Shepherd In A Sheepskin Vest’, a feeling of totality, of completeness, steals over you, like a thief in broad daylight. Of course it does - you’re listening to a new Bill Callahan record. The first one in almost six years. First, it’s a different kind of record. Bill’s now writing from somewhere beyond his ‘Eagle’-‘Apocalypse’-‘River’ headspace and ‘Shepherd In A Sheepskin Vest’ is very much its own beast. The songs are, by and large, shorter and there are more of them. It took almost all of the previous three albums to add up to that many. Plus, twenty’s a lot of songs.
After ‘Dream River’, Bill’s life went through some changes. Good changes - marriage and a kid - but afterwards, it was suddenly harder for him to find the place where the songs came, to make him and these new experiences over again into something to sing. His songs have always been elusive, landing lightly between character study and autobiography, as the singer-songwriter often does. This felt different, though. After 20 years of putting music first, he wasn’t prepared to go away from it completely. Or was he? The lives of a newlywed, a new parent, they have so much in them - but writing and singing, it was his old friend that had helped him along to this place where he’d so happily arrived. Was there room for everybody? While sorting it all out, he worked on songs every day - which meant that for a while, there were lots of days simply confronting the void, as he measured this new life against the ones he’d previously known.
It informed the shape of the album. Moving gradually from reflections upon the old days in ‘Ballad Of The Hulk’ and ‘Young Icarus’ to the immediacy of the present moment in ‘Watching Me Get Married’ and ‘Son Of The Sea’, Bill traces the different life lines, casually unwinding knotty contradictions and ambiguities with an arresting stillness. The sense of a life thunderstruck by change infuses ‘Shepherd In A Sheepskin Vest’ - the songs wander from expressions of newfound joy and great contentment to other snapshots, considerations of the not-joy that we all know. Unsettling dream-images and mythic recollections are patiently received; the undertow of the past is resisted, pulling against it instead into the present, accepting revolutions of time and the unconscious as a natural flow.
These transcendent expressions are wedded translucently to the music. Acknowledging the uncertainty in which the songs were assembled, Bill went to the studio alone, unsure if he could find what he was looking for with a band riding along - because who knew how long it would take? This allowed the fluidity of his song-thoughts to be laid down with the right feeling. Once there was guitar and vocals, the other parts came. Matt Kinsey’s guitar partnership is an essential relationship within the music, as is Brian Beattie’s acoustic bass - but also, Bill found himself overdubbing parts himself for the first time in many years, which lent the songs an episodic drift, as if he’s passing through rooms while singing.
In its final mix, ‘Shepherd In A Sheepskin Vest’ glows incandescent - an entirely acoustic arrangement, sounds and stories shifting seamlessly, almost like one big song made of a bunch of new stories - the kind that only Bill Callahan thinks to sing. It’s a joy to hear from this old friend - informing all the lives that we’ve led in the hearing."
Following their acclaimed opera-in-suspension about Fugazi, NYC’s Object Collection imagine a delirium of transhuman thought and progressive politics on their return to the inimitable Slip label.
‘You Are Under Our Space Control’ sees the duo of Kara feely (text) and travis just (music) refocus their “operatic” sensibilities into a typically confounding “space-opera” that somehow ties up references as wide reaching as John Cage’s 1951 piano solo ‘Music Of Changes’, with Cy Roth’s sci-fi ‘Fire Maidens From Outer Space’ from the same year, as well as texts inspired by Sun Ra and the Russian Cosmists’ poetics and philosophies, and interviews from real (and imagined) space travellers and astronomers.
Aye, it’s a proper headful of ideas, and understandably chaotic with it, but OC’s make a virtue of somehow maintaining a coherence though their sharply chopped arrangements, which start out tightly puckered, but gradually loosen up into more sprawling, psychedelic designs as the album proceeds. What happens in its 18 parts is comparable to a sort of home-brewed sci-fi soundtrack imagined by a teenaged dream-team of Todd Dockstader, Bruce Haack, and Sonny Blount; a sound full of mercurial wormholes, with an animist capacity to rouse arcane spirits, and a magnetic pull to the most restlessly searching listeners of the weird and wonderful. Most crucially, for an album rooted in ‘50s sci-fi and avant-garde, the results prize that era’s modernist promise without coming off as retrogressive or corny.
Surprise new release on Low Jack’s much sought-after Les disques de la Bretagne series, a tropical spell from Dominick Fernow’s Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement on a lights-out dancehall voodoo tip - the first RSE release outside of Hospital Productions.
Dominick Fernow (Prurient) and Low Jack untie for this latest incarnation of Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement, after stumping one of 2018’s biggest surprises with their dread-filled collaboration ‘Red Ants Genesis’
On the A-side’s noxiously swampy ‘Bridgetown Dub’ they come to bury the dance with mesmerising chants and skeletal drums and powerful electro-dub subs - brought to life in-the-mix by Paul Corley - while lightning and thunder threaten collapsing skies. The synthetic vocal edits and drums take this deeper into steppers territory than any other RSE (or for that matter any of Fernow's many aliases) we can recall - proper vibe.
‘Price To Pay’ on the flip follows in bassy suit, starting off almost shorn of drums and licked with currents of tropical warm air chords that lull you into a state of a most welcome mental paralysis, before those kicks come in again for a delirious sense of momentum.
Powerful spells, strongly recommend to fans of Demdike Stare, Equiknoxx, Shackleton, Burial.
‘The End of Radio’ collects Shellac’s two previously unreleased Peel Sessions, recorded 10 years apart in 1994 and 2004
“The 1994 session was recorded at BBC Maida Vale Studio 3 and originally aired on John Peel’s BBC Radio One show in July of 1994. The four songs were recorded to 24-track and then mixed to stereo on the same day. While a studio version of “Crow” was released in October of 1994 on the band’s debut album At Action Park, studio versions of “Canada”, “Disgrace”, and “Spoke” would not appear on any Shellac albums until much later (1998’s Terraform and 2007’s Excellent Italian Greyhound) - making the 1994 Peel Session recordings the only official recordings of these songs for several years thereafter.
The 2004 Peel session is a “Live From Maida Vale” session recorded live to stereo in front of a small audience at BBC Maida Vale Studio 4. It originally aired in December of that same year. As with the 1994 session, this recording includes songs that were previously unreleased and would not appear as album versions until years later. (Album versions of “The End of Radio”, “Steady As She Goes”, and “Paco” were released in 2007 on Excellent Italian Greyhound.)”
Leading on from last year’s ‘A Sole Game’ album, Redshape rounds back to Delsin with a simmering batch of breaks-driven techno and electroid house
The big one is the title track, a writhing piece of techno chicanery sparked off with wobbly bass and rolling breaks, while ‘Passengers’ catches a breezy sort of Detroit house swing, and ‘Bishop’ hearkens back to his early vintage with patented, dissonant synth blushes and nagging drum programming.
‘Commissioned Work’ is a fascinating testament to the diversity of AGF’s compositions, focussing on her abstract electronic works for theatre, radio, classical ensemble, contemporary dance, installation and film work. Make sure to check out ‘smell of DAT (score)’ and the incisive inceptions of ‘myzelimPRO’
“This album is quite gentle I hope, with a few exceptions. In the last years I have been commissioned audio pieces under remarkable circumstances and I did not want to loose them to rotting hard drives. As the album title states, it is about work. Writing, performing, handling music is work. I mean that in an absolute Marxist sense. The works were written for a specific purpose like radio, theater, classical ensemble, contemporary dance, installations, film and video work. With permission of the commissioners the pieces have been thoroughly reworked for this release and are now compressed "moods" of the originals or some are processes and combinations.
Making this release was more complicated than expected and made me think about "composition" in general and how I perceive it. I drew it out on the cover artwork: position - sound - composition. Along the process it manifested the practice of sculpting audio, my process of "writing" music is closer to poetry or sculpture than the one of a classic composer or musician. Important steps like research, thinking, building a context, forming a position, collecting sound within the context, sound design, purpose, attitude, politics and eventually crafting something that is narrative or listenable in the format it is presented. I spent a lot of time finding the right tracklisting to allow a dynamic interesting listening experience of the entire work. As an electronic composer I used diverse sampling techniques, field recordings, my voice and multiple layers of digital processing and eventually mixing and mastering.
One will hear machine sounds like an East German grass cutter, a 3D food printing machine, syringes, bells, human chatter, one will hear the endangered tree-dwelling mammal species Indri "singing" a song, sonified mushrooms going wild, mycelium compositions, police dogs smelling data, ice hockey recordings from the ice court in Hailuoto (Finland), where kids play all winter only when they do not play Fortnite, one can hear rural field recordings and my body amplified with a contact microphone. Melody on this record is minimal and derived from the field, rather led towards dissonance as a form of resistance to harmony. Thanks for listening, Listening is a political activity and is the ground work for justice.”
Berlin’s Wilted Woman puts a keen, gritty spin on her electro-techno styles for Erol Alkan’s Phantasy Sound, backed with a pumping Detroit-techno remix from Laurel Halo
Practically gnashing at the heels of her collaborative tape with Nick Klein, ‘Lon Lon Night Vision’ catches WW jamming jagged computer music textures and sub-heavy jack in the acrid pound of her title track, and switch out to a scuzzy sort of electro-trance in ‘No Stinger’. LH follows suit with a kicking remix of ‘Lon Lon Night Vision’.
Genuinely head-frying avant doodles from a perennial oddity of the late ‘70s underground, originally issued by The Residents on Ralph Records, now remastered and repackaged with a bonus LP-worth of unreleased madness.
“A biomedical scientist and an architect form a band in the early 70’s with nothing by the way of traditional musical talent or skill but with endless enthusiasm and their own unique musical sensibility. The ensuing career and creative output of this ongoing home studio / bedroom band remains one of the most significant song based ‘outre’ catalogues ever produced in the United Kingdom. This comprehensive 2 LP (+7” for first 300 copies) set contains their first official LP (originally released on The Residents legendary Ralph records label) along with an extra album of different versions and extra tracks which reside here for the first time on vinyl.
The duo Renaldo & The Loaf, originally Portsmouth based, now in Portsmouth and Mid-Wales, remain an enigma whilst amassing an enormous cult following worldwide. Their singular take on music encompasses wit, strange melodic construction and an off kilter
sensibility which successfully rendered them engaging for each emerging generation. The ability of Renaldo & The Loaf to unnerve and entertain in equal measure is what binds these songs to a musical universe outside of all other forms that existed around the time of release. The Residents are obvious spiritual heirs.
Songs For Swinging Larvae is a classic collection of confounding songs which lead the listener into a surreal world of twisted tunes and perverted pop. Songs from the Surgery is made up of improvisations, early/alternative versions of various Larvae tracks and unreleased
pieces from the same period. The results leave one laughing through a thick veil of unease. As the original Ralph records press release said of Songs For Swinging Larvae: “This is an album of primitive modernism, energetic obnoxious noises, manic high pitched vocals and sweet brilliance.”
Hyper-cubist 2-step and gutting ambience from Burial in classically old skool mood, loading some of his classiest vocal work since ‘Untrue’, b/w dense, shadowy midnight atmospheres.
Without a doubt, ‘Claustro’ is an instant Burial classic. Lathering an ear-worming R&B motif (Brandy again?) into hair-kissing, lip-smacking skip-to-my-loops, he channels Steve Gurley on the cusp of hardcore into 2-step in a way that distinctly recalls his ‘Untrue’ cornerstone, and quite possibly heralds its follow-up on the distant horizon.
Likewise, ‘State Forest’ is signature Burial, but playing deep into his isolationist aesthetic with 8 minutes of heavy tog gloom lit with sparking clippers and alien craft landing-site pads.
Fringe experiments in dance and ambient styles from Argentina’s electronic underground
"La Danza del Agua" (The Dance of Water) is an eclectic musical journey through Latin American experimentalism - a sort of unofficial companion to the Anthologies of Atypical Portuguese Music volumes but focussing on South American music themes instead. Originally released as two volumes on digital and tape versions on Papaki Records (2017, Argentina), this new concise edition presents 12 of the original 38 artists. Not to be seen as exhaustive document representing the wide styles of the even wider continent, it hopes to showcase some of its more marginal music with artists from a variety of countries such as Argentina, Mexico, Peru, Bolivia & Venezuela.
As such, this compilation shines a wider light on new and exciting sounds from the vast continent with a wide range of styles such as digital cumbias, sound experimentation, freak folk, noise, exotica, danceable beats and much more, mixed together to give life to the continuing strange world of contemporary South American experimental music.
A logical continuation of our New Weird South American explorations after releasing works from Meridian Brothers, Romperayo, Chupame El Dedo and a tape batch on Sucata sister label featuring Panchasila, Los Siquicos Litoraleños, Bardo Todol, Tomás Tello and more.”
Wigged out kosmiche electro chug from Oz! Thee Roundtable cough up a necessary 1st ever vinyl edition of ‘Planetarium’  by Ian MacFarlane ov Australia’s Cybotron - the antipodean outsider answer to Klaus Schulze or Ian Boddy
“Post-Nuclear Mind Music? Lizard Strategies? Void Spirit...? These bizarre titles are just a few of the self-coined terms that Australian electronic musician Ian MacFarlane has conjured to represent his eccentric sonic world. An artist whose unique style of electronic experimentalism has balanced dangerously close to the edge of popular convention, existing outside the mainstream and extending well beyond the fringe of any sanctioned independent scene. A futurist outsider whose extraordinary musical vision has explored the uncharted realms of consciousness and fantasy. Following a brief stint with the legendary Australian Krautrockers Cybotron, MacFarlane produced three independent solo albums throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s. His debut LP Void Spirit, an experimental album issued under the pen name ‘Violet Lightning’, was followed by a further two albums published under his own name, the cosmic influenced Back From Beyond and finally the privately issued electro-ambient suite Planetarium.
Presented with hours of unreleased home recordings, The Roundtable has begun a dedicated search through the fascinating archives of this under exposed artist. Beginning with a vinyl release of the rare cassette-only album Planetarium; this private press sees MacFarlane armed with a bank of Roland synthesizers, drum machines and field recordings, spawning a mutant amalgam of German Kosmische Musik, French Library Electro and Private Issue New Age. Surrender to the stars and welcome to the first instalment of “Muzak To Moralize By”.”
‘Gold Fiction Loop Garden’ is an overlooked gem of “vintage court gardens” music by Imaginary Softwoods - the pastoral-minded solo synth project of former Emeralds member, John Elliott. So nice this one.
First despatched on (a now hard-to-find) cassette in 2016 by Elliott’s Mineral Disk label, the album revolves a beautifully tempered suite of short loops recorded 2014-2015 live to two-track digital. Using analog synths, Mellotron, and multiple arrays of configured FX processes, Elliott evokes a gentle, earthly bliss in each of the album’s nine succinct parts, steering away from the more grandiose, kosmiche scope of his work with Emeralds to connote a more intimate, personalised sort of synthetic soul warmth that’s hard to ignore once it seeps in.
Trust us; it’s quietly life-affirming stuff.
‘Arc 1’ is the first posthumous release of Mika Vainio’s solo material, taken from a large collection of his unreleased music. The archive series will present pieces which can be considered as completed works.
‘ARC 1’ is a fittingly contemplative example of Mika’s patient, sensuous minimalism released under his solo moniker, Ø. The 34 minute work was conceived for the radio project ‘Ambient City’ at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, 1994, and can be considered a complete, singular work, and one of the purest in his catalogue.
Working at the threshold of perception in a way comparable with fellow minimalist masters such as Eliane Radigue or Kevin Drumm, ‘ARC 1’ follows a glacial transition from elemental subbass pulses through sustained, hovering drone before almost imperceptibly changing state half way, when a field of static disruption reorganises the piece’s atoms, only for the noise to recede and reveal a more complex timbral aurora, and the piece’s final tract of isolationist ambience flickering like northern lights.
The first volume comprise of two selections from the 48:22 long untitled recording Mika Vainio did as Ø for the radio project Ambient City at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki 1994.
Stockport’s deepest stepper meets like-minded spirits Arovane and Marenn Sukie on his eponymous label
‘Transmission’ finds Synkro and Arovane knitting high tog blankets of shoegaze/IDM electronics to effortlessly whirring, halfstep D&B mechanics, while ‘Get Together’ sees Synkro and his fellow Apollo ‘naut, Marenn Sukie go aerodynamic on a quicksilver D&B roller clearly skooled in Calibre and Burial styles.
Bristol/London’s Otik tucks the groove tight in-the-pocket for DEXT Recordings, with Bruce on vacuum-sealed remix detail
In three parts Otik demonstrates a classy rhythmic nous and sharp sound design chops, variously applied to the bubbling crystalline melodies and vertiginous swing of ‘Dioxide’, next to the booming breakstep and Turkey-gobble motifs of ’Tuskanary’, before switching tack entirely into lush virtual soundscaping with ‘Theia’, while Bruce adjusts the formula of ‘Dioxide’ for a more brittle, agitated reaction.
4Hero’s Marc Mac delivers 17 summery golden-era style hiphop instrumentals raw and direct from his MPC
One of two LPs alongside the ‘Red’ side, they contain some 38 beats between them, including many which have previously starred vocals, but all available as instrumentals for the first time.
The vibe recalls classic killer Madlib and J Dilla beat tapes from over a decade ago, with tracks seamlessly segued (there are no individual track markers) and primed for listeners to drop the needle, sit back, and spark up.
Surgeon gets back to basics with a volley of steamers built for his sets at ADE 2018
Using only a PIN Electronics Portabella synth and Roland TR-909, he fires direct and for the jugular between the needle-fanged, size 12 footer ‘Raew Trax 5’, the blistering Bunker styles of ‘Raw Trax 10’, and the exceedingly soggy sock of ‘Raw Trax 6’.
Tuff 2-step techno and coiled brukbeats from Stenny on his spiritual home at Ilian Tape
Presumably fresh from prayers at Ilian Tapes’ grotto to Rene Pawlowicz (Shed), Stenny steps out with four cuts clearly modelled in His image, twysting out from the subzero acid 2-step swivel of ‘Stress Test’ and chop up killer brukbeats in ‘ElasTCT’, before going harder on an electro pivot shot thru with rumbling shockwaves in ‘Adequate Force’, and tucking away early hardcore-styled rufige in ‘Fail Better (Bent Mix)’.
Remarkable set of compositions for violin that more or less reshapes what we know of the instrument in three different but equally startling and compelling ways. Oh there’s also an incredible remix from Actress as a digital bonus, did we say? What a f#cking record!
The fact that Galya Bisengalieva's pedigree working with everyone from Radiohead to Frank Ocean is the least interesting thing about this record should give you an idea of what we’re dealing with here. Leader of the LCO, Bisengalieva demonstrates on her second EP that genuinely “modern” classical music has nothing to do with the kind of middle class music for numbness so often associated with the term. Instead, and with the help of a couple of choice collaborators (more on which later), Bisengalieva methodically broadens parameters, rooted in a deep knowledge of the classics but not bound by them, in a daring pursuit of the new.
Opener 'Zohra’ was composed and recorded with avant-turntablist Shiva Feshareki, where Galya responds to Shiva’s extended turntable techniques with the recorded results then cut to dubplate and used in a duet between violin and turntable. It’s a jagged and to our mind completely unprecedented mix of keening dissonance and splintered junglism with a gripping focus on the physicality and resonance of their sound. To say that it sounds more like Photek then Erased Tapes should tell you all you need to know.
Galya’s own ‘Umay’ follows with a necessary contrast to the opener. Taking cues from the titular goddess of the earth and fertility in the Tengriism religion of the Mongolian and Hunnic empires - a protector of women and children - Galya mounts an almost overwhelming maelstrom of whirling strings and guttural, ragged low end that literally reflects the goddess’ mythical, radiant solar form with 60 (!!!) layers of electronically manipulated violin drones interwoven with virtuosic passages and driven by a “drum machine” built from recordings of a Shankobyz (a reed-based Kazakh instrument).
Chaines brings an otherworldly nature to the plate with ‘Claycorn’, a fantastic piece teeming with insectoid detail and chattering, characterful electronics which draws much influence from the animation of award-winning Czech game developer Amanita Design. Together with the gasping, hoofing machine rhythms and dreamlike wind-tunnel dynamic of Actress’ ’26 Drones’ remix of ‘Tulpar’ available as a digital bonus, it all adds up to one of the most thrilling expositions of new music we’ve heard this year.
NYC-based, multidisciplinary art+music platform Blank Forms Editions pack a headful of info into the 2nd volume of their occasional journal, including standout features on John Corbett’s study of Sun Ra’s reel-to-reel tape annotations; a trio of pieces focussed on Maryanne Amacher; and Catherine Christer Hennix writing on just intonation and her time spent studying under Hindustani classical vocal master, Pandit Pran Nath...
“Music from the World Tomorrow" brings together a combination of never-before published, lost, and newly translated materials. The journal is envisioned as a platform for critical reflection and extended dialogue between scholars, artists, and other figures working within the world of experimental music and art.
Music from the World Tomorrow includes contributions by Alan Lucht, Tony Conrad, Klaus Lang, Tashi Wada, Patty Waters, Larry J. Nai, Kan Mikami (translated by David Hopkins), Dafne Vicente-Sandoval (translated by Charles Curtis), Akio Suzuki(annotated by Aki Onda), Marcus Boon, Catherine Christer Hennix, Limpe Fuchs, David Fuchs, Zoro Babel, Amy Cimini, Annea Lockwood, cry cole, John Corbett, Scott Fisher, Olaf Stapledon, Andrew Lampert, and Matana Roberts. Edited by Lawrence Kumpf with Joe Bucciero.
Ultra-heavy gabber/doomcore and schranz/acid techno by Service Animal (Vereker) & Crime Unit on this first vinyl pressing of impossible-to-find 2018 tapes issued by cult DIY label; Live Adult Entertainment. Unmissable hard rave tackle if yr into Nkisi, Caustic Window, The Mover, Stay Up Forever, Maflannagan Skajellafetti...
The punkish reputation of Live Adult Entertainment precedes them as one of the underground’s keenest yet elusive operations to emerge in recent years. Based in Thessaloniki, a port city in northern Greece, they’ve released some 28 tapes, CDR’s and lathe cut vinyl of musick ranging from psy-trance to industrial noise and concrète since 2017, and always in editions ranging from zero to 20 tops, leading to feverish and frustrated reactions from those listeners who’ve chanced upon their YouTube videos before they get taken down. Finally, this 12” features the first readily available and properly mastered LAE material on a physical format.
On the A-side, Endangered Species label boss Oliver Vereker adopts his gabber alias Service Animal for his first outing proper since appearing as Renoir on his label’s 2017 CD, ‘Death Always Follows’. Revolving material originally available on tape in an edition of 20 copies, it boots off with the 12-hp hoof and dive-bombing drones of ‘Core Of Reality’ next to the evil Arcardipane styles of ‘F.T.W’, which are both produced with the same, powerful conviction in charred black metal, noise and hardcore techno that made his 2015 releases as Restraint and Grace so vital, only with added acceleration and syncopation.
The B-side follows with a pair of seething workouts from the ‘Cyber Afterbirth Vol.1’ mix by LAE co-owner, Crime Unit. Hearkening back to a sound that was ubiquitous between Hackney Warehouses and small-town UK/European techno clubs in the late ’90s/early ‘00s, they are ravenous examples of the LAE aesthetic, applying scuzzy DIY principles to gnashing German schranz and adrenalising acid trance with ruthlessly direct results that pack one of the meanest breakdowns you’ll hear this year. Trust they will mercilessly sort the dancers from the posers.
Addendum to Italo hero Fred Ventura’s ‘Future Unknown: The Lost House Trax 1988-1992’ album, packing Alessandro Adriani’s extended edit of ‘Technologies’ plus four exclusives edging on New Beat and acid house
Adriani’s sleek arps and lip-smacking pads in the edit make for a big highlight, while there’s also a spot of Kraftwerk-esque New Beat electro in ‘Afraid To Dance’, plus the chunky jack of ‘Looking For The Western Beat (Year Zero Mix)’, the smooth dream house purr of ‘The Endless Journey’, and the wistful electro wiggle of ‘Lost Memories.’
Skinny, impassioned indie/post-punk jangles and reverbstorms from Flying Nun act This Kind of Punishment, reissued for first time on San Francisco’s Superior Viaduct
“With This Kind of Punishment , Graeme Jefferies and Peter Jefferies produced some of most adept DIY sounds to emerge from New Zealand's 1980s post-punk scene. After their phenomenal self-titled debut and classic A Beard of Bees, the brothers would make one last album together, In The Same Room.
Originally released in 1987 on Flying Nun, In The Same Room is perhaps the straightest rock offering in TKP’s esteemed catalogue. Opening track "Immigration Song" expertly pairs jagged guitars with wrathful vocals – resulting in one of the most celebrated moments in their recording career – while "Don't Go" puts the full breadth of the Jefferies brothers' method on display: spiraling riffs, somber baritone and chamber-like calm give way to frenzied rhythms and antagonistic lyrics.
From deeply insular songwriting to hands-on production, This Kind of Punishment draw the listener in close – nearly within the same room as the players – and remain rooted in a distinct approach to presentation that is inseparable from their music.”
Avant-garde composer and student of La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela and Jung Hee Choi, Ellen Arkbro renders sustained and harmonically opaque chords on her stunning second solo album for Subtext. More minimal and extended than her 2017 debut ‘For Organ and Brass’, 'Chords’ is a focussed study in a gradual manipulation of acoustic timbres, using subtle synthesis of organ and guitar through two extended pieces bound to generate uncanny sensations to anyone familiar with the conventional tone of her chosen instruments.
Although underpinned by mathematical rigour, Arkbro draws direct connections to sacred music through a strict method of reduction, stripping away elements in a process she likens to a sculptor chipping away at stone. What’s left is primed for a kind of mind-altering osmosis, where the listener gradually fills in the gaps, or as she tells the most recent issue of The Wire “…what you pay attention to will change what you hear”.
Influenced by her teachers and the spirit of New York’s 1960’s Downtown scene, Arkbro is meticulous in her process and use of unusual tunings to reveal strange, sustained sounds that seem to continuously change shape. This pursuit of a kind of sonic “emptiness” belies the often unearthly spatial dimensions she manages to conjur, making highly perception-based sounds that have an almost supernatural quality.
The results sit somewhere between sacred and industrial music, a listening experience with highly meditative, spiritual, sometimes disturbing qualities - quite a remarkable achievement.
Low Jack’s keenly awaited sequel to the acclaimed ‘Riddims du Lieu-dit’ smash is finally here, deploying 6 anti-nuke riddims inspired by radio jingles, YouTube dembow mixes and sound effects - a big look for fans of Equiknoxx, The Bug, Ossia, Demdike!
He continues to rudely shape the dancehall in his own style with ‘Jingles du Lieu-dit’, packing innovative mutations picking up where his screwed industrial dancehall edits left off last year. Churning up pendulous grooves in acres of murky dub space with a patented sleight-of-hand, these are oscillating weightless, dematerialised, and heavily present, turning the dancehall into a flux of ‘90s ragga mutations and now ting reggaeton, leaving its rugged structures notably free of vocals but full of characterful samples, idents, and studio elves that can’t help but connote the artist’s moodily crafty and kinetic style, lying right on the cusp of darkside and party-ready concerns.
Up in it, he executes a scything re-chop on Richard Browne’s ‘Baddis’ riddim teasing out its eastern motifs into woozy shapes on ‘More Speed’, whereas ‘Dinner’ exerts a hypnotic spin on reggaeton’s rub ’n tug rhythms and ’Shell’ spirals headlong into a vortex of soundsystem ephemera. Down below, meanwhile, ‘Lasers’ finds its range in massively swollen bass and GRM-like cyberdub dimensions, along with the windswept dancehall of ‘Find Them’ and the outstanding, hydraulic pressure of ‘Wheel.’
Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam Guebrou was born into a prominent literary Ethiopian family in 1923 and partly educated in Europe. She studied piano and violin but political problems in her homeland led to an unsettled and peripatetic youth.
"Dispirited by events in her life, she found consolation in religion and became a nun. Although dedicated to teaching at an orphanage, she nonetheless found time to create a series of slightly jazz-influenced, neo-classical pieces, many of which are showcased here. The material is culled from two LPs that were released in 1963, when she was 40 years of age.
Meditations on bible themes and the beauties of nature were her favourite subjects and her compositions were often built around recognizably Ethiopian melodic structures. But they also reveal refracted shards of what would certainly be cited as influences if only it could be established she had ever heard the works of Count Basie, Oscar Peterson, Keith Jarrett, Abdullah Ibrahim and especially, Eric Satie."
Drifting, panoramic, pastoral ambience from Poland’s Bartosz Kruczyński
“Birdsong and bright mornings announce the arrival of spring, and Growing Bin celebrate the season of rebirth with the return of a hardy perennial. In the three years since he introduced the world to his Baltic Beat, Bartosz Kruczyński has traded dub techno, Berlin electronics and jazzy Balearic on a string of highly regarded labels. Now the Polish musician is back in the Growing Bin, ready to take us on another audio adventure through the meadows and forests of his native land.
Vivid LP opener ‘Pastoral Sequences’ leads us down the garden path, around the lakeside and across the train tracks, striking a cinematic tone as gentle piano and subdued synth tones drift around natural field recordings. Dip a toe in the stream and feel the breeze between your fingers as you stroll towards the Balearic brilliance of ‘In the Garden’, a carefree cooler built on a subtle bossa rhythm, serene chords and chiming mallets. Bartosz reprises the aquatic grandeur of his first Baltic Beat on the immersive ‘Petals’, a selected ambient work where Tangerine pads underpin interlocking electronics and stately keys. Guitars ring out, Reich’s mallets ripple and well tempered piano drift over a thick sequence as ‘Voices’ propels us to the halfway point with soft power.
The B-side opens with the delicate hypnotism of ‘If You Go Down In The Woods Today’, a modern minimalist masterpiece alive with circular mallets and sultry woodwind, before ‘The Orchard’ paints an impressionistic vignette from the same palette. Shifting focus but not feeling Kruczyński takes us home ‘Along The Sun Drenched Road’ in two stages; the first a gorgeous combination of the acoustic and electronic where hints of dub techno sit beneath languid piano notes, the second an eastern tinged reprise of the album’s opening and a welcome return home before the storm breaks.”
Never has a defrosting refrigerator or a dripping pipe sounded so poetic as on Anne Tardos’ entrancing ‘Gatherings’ recordings, which now become a crucial part of Sean McCann’s Recital programme alongside the label’s modern classics by Sarah Davachi. Proper find.
Recorded at various points over 1974-1981 in NYC, the enigmatic mix of observant location recordings and layered vocal improv in ‘Gatherings’ was originally issued on tape in 1982 as part of the New Wilderness project’s Audiographics series; a little-known treasure trove of avant-garde art music explorations including great works by Annea Lockwood, Phillip Corner, and Charlie Morrow (who provides the sleevenotes here), which only recently celebrated its 50th anniversary.
Coincidentally, we stumbled across ‘Gatherings’ after falling heavily for Recital’s R.I.P. Hayman side ‘Dreams of India & China’, which lead down the rabbithole to New Wilderness Audiographics and inevitably their Anne Tardos tape. No hyperbole, our first meeting with ‘Gatherings’ supplied one of those rare, subtle epiphanies when the music gets right under your skin and you can’t shift it. Under the unflinching gaze of a fixed position microphone, Anne’s recordings of her refrigerator dripping while defrosting had and still have us rapt to their elemental pulse, and when she started singing you could put a fork in us, we’re done!
Heard from inside the fridge in a way that pre-echoes Peter Rehberg & General Magic’s ‘Fridge Trax’ by decades, ‘Refrigerator Defrosting’ happily and most poetically gives new meaning to Peder Mannerfelt’s idea of “domestic techno”, while Anne’s documentation of ‘Pipes at 110 Mercer, November 1974’ uncannily resembles the irregularities of a free jazz drummer at his loosest, or even playing off some algorithmic bleep track dialled back in time from Mark Fell. It’s literally just a fridge dripping and the heating pipes playing up, but somehow it’s one of the most thrilling listens in recent memory.
Factor in the deeply strange tape compositions of 1980’s ‘Seven-Layer Song’, the other dimensional drone of ‘Voices of Video’, and the voyeuristic 10 minutes of ‘Real Sleeper / Real Dreamer’ and you have one of those most elusive beauties, an avant-garde obscurity that’s never testing and simply, utterly, strangely life-affirming in its dreamy evocation of everyday reality.
Enchanting studies in 17th Century Italian baroque classicism, presenting Michel Samson’s first published recording since his unparalleled work with Albert Ayler in the late ‘60s, fulfilling a longheld dream of Sean McCann’s Recital to “publish an album that gives reverence to his violin playing”
“The collection on this LP holds numerous 17th-Century works of the Italian baroque, performed by Michel Samson and his wife, Rebecca. It showcases some of the earliest music composed for the violin as a featured soloist. Rebecca accompanies on a replica – believed to be the only extant replica in the United States – of the claviorganum, a rare and curious instrument that traces back to the 15th century. Comprised of both an organ and a harpsichord integrated into a single case, the claviorganum harkens to a time of experimentation and artistry of design. Michel’s violin was made by Francesco Gobetti in 1718; its sound carries beautifully throughout the room. Samson worked as a dealer of rare and antique violins for many years, and has an ear for majestic craftsmanship. The style adopted by Italian composers during the baroque was one of heightened lyricism, emotion, and ornamentation, especially when voiced through the violin; it is no accident that Michel’s unique approach to articulation and intonation speaks both to the present and the past.
In these recordings you can hear the same joy dripping across the strings, as in his days with Ayler. It shows what beauty can be instilled inside someone. Rebecca’s playing is exquisite, too, complimenting each movement as they fold on. Please enjoy this special album.
Sean McCann [with contributions by Sarah Davachi], April 2019”
Crushing Metal alchemy from Jack Adams (Mumdance) and James Kelly (Altar Of Plagues, Wife), committing a ravishing assault on the senses in their debut album as Bliss Signal
Originally conceived as a live project for Unsound Krakow 2017, Bliss Signal bloomed into a full studio project with recent release of their ‘Drift EP’, and this towering debut album now cements the duo’s efforts in bridging the ostensibly, mutually exclusive fields of Black Metal and electronic rave music. And we say ostensibly because, in 2018, this kind of hybridisation shouldn’t be seen as novel or even unlikely, but rather as a necessary experiment in diversifying bonds, building bridges and finding commonality between fringe or extreme styles and communities.
On the one hand, James Kelly brings a wealth of experience to the project, from playing in lauded BM group Altar Of Plagues, to his forays into emosh electronica as Wife, while adept collaborator Jack Adams logically leads on from his work with Logos and Shapednoise in The Sprawl (also an Unsound commissioned project) to bring powerful sound designer skills and a rave-hungry temperament to the table.
The result of their endeavours is a blistering bind of styles, matching the bloodied and bludgeoning repetition of BM proper with the body-focussed momentum of hard dance music. But the results exceed the sum of its parts thanks to the artist’s deep, experiential knowledge of their genre’s cliches, and their concerted effort to consolidate those styles while generating something new in the process.
It’s possible to find precedents for this music in the fringe lunacy of Wold and its Black Mecha output, but Bliss Signal tend toward feats of chest-bursting emotion rooted in the feeling of communal reverie and ecstasy, both negative and positive, that comes with raves and big stage gigs.
Factor in mixing by Jaime Gomez-Arellano (Paradise Lost, Sunn 0))), Ghost) and mastering at Abbey Road Studios, and you’ve got a steeply impressive sound.
First in a vital series presents four prime examples of the godfather of disco edits at his best, each cut a side per piece
Disc 1 includes Moulton’s mix of ‘I Love Music’ by The O’Jays and Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes’ legendary soul burner ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’ tweaked out for 11 minutes of deep satisfaction.
Disc 2 revolves the simmering smoothness of Archie Bell & The Drells’ ‘Let’s Groove’, backed with the classy sashay of Lou Rawls’ ‘You’ll Never Find A Love Like Mine’ primed for disco deployment.
Debut release from award-winning violinist and member of The London Contemporary Orchestra Galya Bisengalieva, occasional Radiohead, Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Frank Ocean and Actress collaborator. On this EP she performs her own work as well as pieces composed by Claire M. Singer (Touch) and Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch, another award-winning artist who records for FatCat’s post-classical label 130701.
The A-side's ’tùs is a majestic piece written by Singer, a soaring, widescreen drone inspired by Glencoe, an extinct volcano in the Highlands of Scotland. At 10 minutes it’s the longest piece on the record, and uses a mixture of strings, organ and electronics to beautifully limn an awe-inspiring sense of space. What starts as a barely-there wheeze of bowed strings builds into an almost grandiose, panoramic soundscape that will be easily recognisable to anyone who has visited or even seen the breathtaking, rugged wilds of Northern Scotland.
On the other side Bisengalieva opens with ’TULPAR’. in a marked contrast to the A-side’s billowing, sustained drones, she here uses her violin rhythmically to animate the winged horse of Kazakh mythology, connoting the sensation of quick, galloping hooves and massive, beating wings in the lower ends. More complex and insular, this is the sound of the violin as pitched at an atomic scale; intimate and alien.
Emelie Levienaise-Farrouch seals the EP with ‘Oparin’, which takes inspiration from Alexander Ivanovich’s theories about the origins of life in the primordial soup. Her vision takes flight here, conjuring a hugely dynamic play of stereo strafing strings and breathlessly high register electronics that connote chaos and tension in the first 2/3rds, then bloom into wilder discord and romantic sweeps implying danger and beauty in the final section.
UK rave eccentric, Scratcha DVA turns out stripped-down edits of Louie Vega’s cfunk house classic ‘Basstone’ and one of the tracks off last year’s ‘Interludes’ collection
In Scratcha’s mitts the sirens and bolshy drums of Sole Fusion’s ‘Basstone’ are stripped for parts and reassembled into a dry, hard riddim somewhere between c*nty New York house and Gqom. Meanwhile his track ‘Secret Garden’ appears in a holo’d out dub and its original, succinct form on the backside.
Meitei follows the ghostly beauty found on the sublime Kwaidan tape with a second album of minimalist and fragrant ambient scenery for Séance Centre’s outlet for Japanese music, Métron.
Doubling the label’s tally after 7FO’s ‘Moment’ 2LP, ‘Komachi’ yields a more serene angle to Meitei’s music in 12 instrumental parts rippling with fleeting melodies, fringed by delicate location recordings, and arranged in a naturally time-slipping ebb and flow. While super pretty and functional as ambient scenery to immerse in, the music’s careful pruned structuring specifically speaks to the artist’s preoccupation with Japanese cultures, traditions and atmospheres that have become lost in translation with age, and particularly with the loss of his 99-year old grandmother, whom he believed was among the last Japanese people to take with her the true experience and understanding of traditional Japanese ambience.
‘Komachi’ is therefore dedicated to Meitei’s grandmother, and draws from classical Japanese artform of Gagaku, as well as environmental sounds of water, bird calls, and white noise as air, in a way that reflects the work of Japan’s ’80s ambient pioneers, and their ‘90s antecedents such as Susumu Yokota and Nobukazu Takemura, and how they synthesised electronic music to reflect Japanese tradition and its intangible ambience. Each of the album’s tracks limn a specific scene with the lightest brushstrokes and tonal shading, conjuring a series of dreamlike situations connected by a flickering narrative thread that comes out in style of jazz-wise freedom also shared by the likes of Foodman and Visible Cloaks, both artists who share Meitei’s skill for making the invisible almost real, and for exquisitely rendering and preserving Japan’s enigmatic soul in sound.
As light as a warm breeze on skin, Earthen Sea’s latest album for Kranky ‘Grass and Trees’ showcases Jacob Long’s natural sensitivity for low-key, enchanting electronic sound craft.
Bobbing gently in the wake of 2017’s ‘An Act of love’ and ‘A Restless Gaze’ outings, Earthen Sea’s ‘Grass and Trees’ channels a liminal mix of spatialized, organically warm-sounding tones that run into each with the quality of watercolours, as characterised in the sleeve art. But where previous Earthen Sea outings were yoked to a regular pulses, there’s a finer push and pull of syncopated, latinate rhythms that works under the surface of ‘Grass and Trees’, lending the whole album a delicious slink that pulls listeners right into its wavey motion. Fans of Gas, Strategy, Beatrice Dillon, or even those breezy Werkbund bits, need apply!
“Jacob Long's reductionist rhythmic ambient vessel, Earthen Sea, ebbs towards a more purely elemental state on his second excursion for Kranky, Grass and Trees. He describes the creative process as one of "simplifying things as much as possible," designing uncluttered spaces traced in nothing but breath, field recordings, and "sounds that could be played by hand but weren't." The results feel decentralized but dynamic, low-lit evocations of ambiguous nocturnal environments - dub techno disassembled into stray pulses and spare parts. It's a music both interior and infinite, languorous yet transformative, made in the outer boroughs of a metropolis but attuned to its own liminal wilderness.
Long's vision is a grounding one, rooted in the physical body but attuned to larger currents: "In response to living in a fairly hectic city, and at a very hectic time for the world at large, creating something more drawn back and restrained felt appropriate."