For many people 'Work And Non Work' was the first introduction to one of Warp’s most singular and interesting signings ever - Broadcast.
Released in 1997, it compiled a bunch of early singles and EP's the band released on Wurlitzer Jukebox and Stereolab's Duophonic label, making for a spectacularly unusual hybrid of evocative songs capturing the psychedelic spirit of "The United States of America”, augmented by a love of radiophonic sound effects and electronic production.
Although those early releases fell broadly alongside Broadcast's Birmingham contemporaries Pram, Novak and Plone, the group fast outshone all of their contemporaries and went on to produce some of the most brilliant and individual sounding records made by anyone in the UK over the last 30 years, reaching a creative peak with the magnificent ‘Tender Buttons - surely one of the finest albums ever released by Warp.
Oake really find their gothic muse in debut album, 'Auferstehung' for Downwards.
Firmly building on the foundations of two shadowy 12"s released in 2013, the duo distill and transcend their influences across eleven stations of unrepentant gothic histrionics and industrial techno prostration. The production is now right up there with the detailed, excoriating levels of The Haxan Cloak, and also matching the rhythmic heft of label-mate Samuel Kerridge (with whom they recently formed the UF collusion), but with a kohl-eyed romanticism all of their own creation.
From the swooning black metal/shoegaze signatures and blast beats of entrance, 'Vorwort: Umiha Sien' we're manipulated with the near-religiose levels of mysticism, vacillating between shorter, doomy 'Kapital' invocations and the blasted sound of bellicose/ecstatic congregation in 'Erstes Buch: Desterieh l'Remm' to the eulogistic sludge metal drones of 'Fuenftes buch: Dreloi Wechd' and the stygian trudge of 'Sechstes Buch: Rehmin Sicht', departing with the widescreen epic, 'Siebstes Buch: Drestan Sened'. RIYL Scott Walker & Sunn 0))), Sam Kerridge, Swans.
Great ambient dub techno abstraction from uon, the newest moniker of Ryan Fall aka Caveman LSD and DJ Paradise, following superb pair of releases in the same vein for Barcelona’s Anòmia with this, his debut vinyl release - massively tipped if yr into Rhythm & Sound.
Stalking terrain familiar to Wanda Group, Pole, Xth Réflexion, DeepChord, the zlo EP captures a wickedly paradoxical sense of movement within static sound in four parts: meshing cooling pads with mercurial kinetics in the title cut, and pushing off into opiated, subaquatic zones with kosm, and hypnotically stumbling up/down an endless Escher staircase with the gravity defying dynamics of suB1, and diffusing your bone into deep space on kissing.
Prime material, all 35 minutes of it. Don’t sleep on this beauty!
Necessary reissue of Yasuaki Shimizu’s highly regarded ambient-jazz-pop oddity Kakashi from NYC’s Palto Flats and Geneva’s WRWTFWWR, who were jointly behind that prized reissue of Midori Takada’s Through The Looking Glass. Off the wall and enchanting in equal measure, Kakashi is a riddling and enchanted recording from the fertile hotbed of early ‘80s Japan, compatible with the fecund, widely scoped genius of Arthur Russell and Roland P Young from that same era. In other words, a real gem.
“A wonderful, rare record wrapped in a mysterious yet playful ambiance. Or maybe it’s just the impression that the Japanese language often gives me. ‘Suiren’ is an odd jazz-fusion-wave tune that sounds like its boiling, waiting to burst but somehow manages to stay in control. Like the nervous tick of a leg fidgeting under the table of a restaurant on a first date.
Yasuaki Shimizu is a Japanese composer, producer and saxophone player. He worked with Ryuchi Sakimoto on certain arrangements, with the South Korean artist Nam June Paik on art+sound installation pieces and even DJ Towa Tei (of Deee-Lite fame). “Suiren” was released in 1981 and is the opening title on the sought-after “Kakashi” album and is my personal favorite on this overall brilliant record. It weaves behind new wave, jazz, fusion, ambient and experimental music.
Repetitive and hypnotizing, punctuated by exclamation marks on most first mesures, the muted triangle percussion hits me straight in the heart. About 90 seconds into the song, the saxophone makes its appearance and the song goes from “this is cute” to “oh, this is some serious shit!”. Shimizu’s saxophone frees the song from the rest of the elements which are more calculated and repetitive.
A joyful, mysterious slow-moving train ride led by the artist’s mellow voice that rocks us with this calming but funky lullaby. Every phrase is punctuated by the xylophone there to energize the piece, albeit very subtely.”
The master of enigma and virtuoso of vinyl ephemera, Philip Jeck presents Arcade, a follow-up recording to last year’s Iklectik, which was also recorded at the central London arts space of the same name. If you’re ever looking for a precedent to The Caretaker’s sound, check this out.
As ever, words generally fail us in properly capturing the fleeting beauty of Jeck’s work here, but fuck it we’ll have a stab, eh? For 32 minutes the multidisciplinary Liverpudlian artist coaxes an intoxicating, elusive cadence of crackle and harmonic swell from his modified turntable and treated vinyl loops. At a number of points within its windswept flux, we hear the BoC-like guitar streams rise to the surface, only to decay and deliquesce into the aether with a quality best described as mirage-like. Along with wizened traces of folk fiddles that blur distinctions between Celtic, Indian or Avant traditions, all infiltrated by the most gorgeous sylvan pads, this one is certain to leave a real lump in the throat and send shivers down the spine.
We’ve said it before about Jeck’s work, and it bears reiterating; we can’t help but feel his music is naturally informed by the play of light between the Irish Sea, the River Mersey and the roiling skies and topolography Merseyside. If you’ve ever visited, you’ll likely know what we mean, but if not then this sound is about the most acute, if impressionistic, allegory we can find. If you really want to understand it, we’d warmly suggest taking a folder of Jeck gear to the ‘pool for a headphone dérive.
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith applies her delicate modular synth touch to Abstractions, a score for the Harry Smith animations of the same title, as the first volume in a new Electronic Series for Make Noise Records.
As with Kaitlyn’s collaboration with Suzanne Ciani, and handful of LPs on Western Vinyl, the mood is psychedelically pastoral, reflecting the artist’s roots in the wilds of Orcas Island, North West America, and her passion for the natural world as much as the collaged geometries, tons and textures of Smith’s short films.
Using the Make Noise System, a bespoke synth previously used by Keith Fullerton Whitman, Alessandro Cortini and Robert A.A. Lowe, as well as her favoured and rare Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 synth, Kaitlyn unfurls two extended pieces of sweetly tempered and subtly gilded transitions describing transcribing and complementing the visual aspect.
Over its 23 minutes breadth, the piece opens out from rudimentary lines into gradually more complex and layered structures with a rhythmic playfulness that reflects early electronic music which would have been created around the same time as the films. Cartoonish boings and blatz pepper the piece at angles, sprouting and wilting with the ephemerality of old celluloid, calving off into a placid bleep coda by the end of side one, and developing into more chaotic animalistic and alien voices in the second part, resembling an original BoC soundtrack or the band themselves at times, and the Radiophonic cuteness we’d also associate with Ghost Box.
Japanese ambient dispatched from Osaka via Toronto. RIYL Visible Cloaks, Kagami, Haruomi H!
“Following on from his exceptional recent releases for RVNG International & Bokeh Versions, Osaka based producer 7FO helps launch Métron Records with his first full length LP release.
The mysterious figure recorded the tracks at home, processing guitar sounds, using a sampler, synthesizer and junk equipment. Following in the footsteps of the ambient giants of his native lands, 7FO’s music continues this illustrious heritage whilst offering something fresh, modern and beautifully rendered. He describes his own sound as ‘gorgeous sustained tones and dreamlike oscillations that drift through the inorganic/electronic world reverberating through our subconscious creating sonic fables in our minds’.”
La Contra Ola is the fascinating 1st ever survey of Spanish electronic music during the post-punk and synth wave phenomenon which swept subterranean US and European scenes circa 1980-1986.
By their own admission, Spain was late to electronic music, mostly due the restrictive dictatorship of General Franco. But when Franco fxcked off in 1975, it was open season for sounds made with boxes and plugged-in guitars. You’ll find many of the best examples from that period in this set, ranging from the funked EBM swerve of La Fura dels Baus and Diseño Corbusier thru to the orientalist pop jitters of Lavabos Iturriaga and warped disco brilliance of Oviforia Sci, along with loads of other names you’ve never heard before.
Nowadays, although not necessarily synonymous with electronic music, the likes of Madrid, Barcelona and bits of the Basque country have a reputable electronic music scene, mostly a result of artists in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s artists figuring it all out on their own terms and from a distance to the usual electronic power hubs, variously updating old styles, importing from parallel scenes, and essentially imagining their own. In the past decade’s groundswell of reissued classic and obscure material, the likes of Diseño Corbusier’s El Alma De La Estrella and various oddities from Esplendor Geométrico, Luis Delgado and the Grabaciones Accidentales archive have been reissued and reappraised by the likes of Dead Cert Home Ents and EM Records, but now it’s the turn of the others to share the spotlight.
They’re generally all dancefloor-themed, or at least rhythm-driven and pop-wise, as opposed to avant or explicitly experimental. Aside from the better known Diseño Corbusier ace Golpe De Amistad, you’ll also come across their much rarer Meta Metallic  ace nestled next to the hoppin’ punk hustle of Zombies’ La Rebelión de los Objetos, and tentative 4th world/post-punk mapping recalling 23 Skidoo in Derribos Arias’ A Flúor. The aforementioned bendy disco bewt, Mao’s Children by Oviformia Sci is a really big highlight for the DJs, as are the fresh cuts of Moscú está helado and the wiry funk of TodoTodo’s electro bubbler Autogas and the Liquid G-alike EBM force of Himno from El Humano Marrano, while natty surprises keep on coming in the form of Derribos Arias’ Suicide-like dream-bop ditty Aprenda Alemán en 7 dias, and in the melodic fructose of Línea Vienesa’s Cangrejos en la cocina.
So yeh, as you can see and hear, there was a lot of quality gear coming from Spain during that fecund, pre- home computer period, which makes this set rather tasty as both a historical education and a class set of tunes.
Architect of the present future, Chris Carter goes retro hauntological on CCCL Volume One, his first solo album in 17 years.
Since his previous album, released in the last century, he’s been busy taking his influential duo with partner Cosey Fanni Tutti to a natural close, and likewise seeing thru their trio with Nik Colk Void, while at the same time diversifying his bonds with remixes of the contemporary field, from Factory Floor to Nisennenmondai and Perc. Here, however, the enormously pivotal artist paints a sonic self portrait indulging an unswerving thing for the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop and the malleability of modular synths, all with a mixture of wide-eyed, youthful innocence and high end studio nous executed to nostalgic degrees.
In the classic framework of hauntology, Carter’s nostalgia is for a lost, assuaged or thwarted synthetic future he experienced explicitly and cosmotically growing up during the ‘space age’, when synthesisers were vehicles for interstellar and interdimensional travel and acted as the connective ligament of counter-cultural likeminds across the world, so its easy to understand why he can’t shake that feeling here.
Like a grown up kid with all the kit he could ever dream of, Carter brings his ideas to life in uniquely tactile style, working like a sculptor with broad palette of amorphous materials that continue to react and mutate after he’s fixed them in place, at his legendary studio in Norfolk. Each of the 25 tracks feels to offer a window onto worlds of encrypted kinetic energy, fulminating figments of the imagination which come to life in shapeshifting, plasmic forms made all the more “real” and hyperstitious thanks to his application of AI like vocaloids which populate the album, cropping up as alien sirens, glossolalic darkroom murmurs, and fully-fledged “singers” in their own strange right.
The result is a uniquely absorbing album tied together by Carter’s smart internal logic, a mazy manifestation of bio-electronic feedback systems that gives voice to the machine as much as the man operating it in a way that will really speak to followers of classic electronic music.
RVNG Intl parse Pauline Anna Strom’s incredible new age recordings on this collection of boundary-smudging synth journeys, containing material originally released between 1982 and 1988. They've spent almost a decade trying to bring this collection to life, kudos to them once again for compiling and conceiving it with so much care and attention to detail.
Drawn from seven obscure tape and vinyl releases made between 1982 and 1988, Trans-Millenia Music lives up to its mantle with a sense of ancient knowledge transposed into the contemporary future of the 1980s, realising a latent, transcendent sound that was perhaps just waiting for technology to catch up so it could speak freely.
Through the circuitry of pioneering synth tools, the blind composer and keyboardist from San Francisco feels out a spectrum of unfathomably celestial and synaesthetically-heightened sound colour along myriad, psychedelic vectors, haptically connecting diffuse spatial coordinates with a gossamer web of FX and morphing filter envelopes.
It’s music for oceanic introspection, beckoning listeners to fall deep inside themselves and diffract profound visions through their own lens, where you can interpret her descriptions of sonic flight in Crusing Altitude 36,000 Feet and In Flight Suspension, or decode the entheogenic synth voices of Mushroom Trip according to your own understanding of the cosmos and its play of energies, and draw your own meanings.
Gorgeous music, highly recommended if you're into Suzanne Ciani, Laurie Speigel or indeed Midori Takada.
Autechre's classic debut album from 1993, reissued for the first time in 15 years...
Go on, blink; for the first time in fifteen years Autechre’s peerless debut album, Incunabula is reissued as a facsimile copy of the original, 1993 release, replete with silver-printed gatefold jacket.
We’re not going to bang on about this too much, but you should know by now that Incunabula is one of the cornerstones of modern electronic music, one of the pinnacles of the British rave epoch and among the most life-affirming records ever, bar none.
Aye, it’s 100% essential.
On Bloodline, Steven Julien a.k.a. Funkineven explore a charmingly personalized sonic ontology under his own name for the 2nd time following 2016’s self-titled album, coming into his own with a wickedly expressive meld of jazz-fusion and machine music.
Bloodline is concerned with paying dues to Steven’s ancestral roots, but it’s also an acknowledgment of influence of new age synth styles, Japanese electronics and the history of East London raving, adding up to a sound that’s brilliantly timeless and distinctly his own.
It’s a sort of hauntological soundtrack, if you will, traversing in a range of jump-cuts and fades from the filmic synth atmosphere of Hunt to a killer 303 + Linn drum combo in Roll Of The Dice, and ruggedly debonaire electro-bass on Bloodline, before swerving hard into mutant jazz-funk with Apache. The vibe then takes a super sweet turn with the percolated electro-funk of Queen of Ungilsan, and wraps up with the classicist ‘80s boogie-meets-new age strokes of Temple Rd.
The 20th volume of Numero's Eccentric Soul series has all the boxes checked: Gun-toting, skip-tracing record producers, child stars, rip-offs, the “World’s Greatest Bail Bondsman,” swindles, soaring falsettos, and a dwindling rust-belt cityscape offering mere glimpses of hope before the record industry escaped for the coasts.
"Helmed by the O’Jays Bobby Massey, Saru was a creative vortex that pulled Cuyahoga County’s greatest talent in, making a strong case for Cleveland to contend with Detroit, Philly, and Memphis as America’s soul music’s capital. Includes obscure and unknown sides from the Out of Sights, the Elements, Pandella Kelly, David Peoples, Sir Stanley, the Ponderosa Twins + 1, Ba-Roz, Bobby Dukes, and of course, the O’Jays."
Steeply abstract, mesmerising regressions of future-primitivist electronics inspired by archaeological sites in Indonesia and produced by Matt Shoemaker. Posthumously issued on the persistently searching Helen Scarsdale Agency. RIYL Zoviet*France, NWW, Jim Haynes
“fosil sangiran is the pseudonym for seattle polymath matt shoemaker (1974-2017). the two recordings that have been uncovered from his archives under this moniker were recorded during a lengthy sabbatical in java, indonesia between 2012 and 2013. though these works both operate very clearly within shoemaker's aesthetic, he choose to operate under this moniker to provide a clarifying distance from what he believed to be his commonplace birth name. sangiran refers to the unesco world heritage site in indonesia where numerous archeological discoveries have been made providing insight into the understanding of early human development. it's an apt metaphor to his churning arrays of psychotropic sound design, which give the allusion of being distressed from aeons of jungle rot.
khayal kuno represents one of several detours that shoemaker undertook over his career. instead of the long-now drone mutations, shoemaker turns his attention to an interplay between warbling cassettes and primitive rhythm-box sequencing. the minimal, proto-techno explorations suitably evolve slowly out an initial dispersion bloom from swarms of cassette splutter and insect mimesis. cast within his slinkies-as-spring-reverb contraptions that provided a signature kirlian glow to his work, shoemaker's foray into the realm of the rhythmic are masterful declarations of his under-recognized talents. through his brilliant aptitude for cross-hatched filtering, spatialized modulation, and electro-magnetic tricknologies, his stark pulsations take on organic qualities through a surging fluidity and a varispeed vortex of blank hypnosis. his motorik pulsations recall a rich if elusive vein of taut, industrially minded electronica sculpted by monoton, nord, omit, and conrad schnitzler at his most laser focused. published with the approval of the shoemaker family. all profits will be donated to the jack straw cultural center.”
Steeply abstract, mesmerising regressions of future-primitivist electronics inspired by archaeological sites in Indonesia and produced by Matt Shoemaker. Posthumously issued on the persistently searching Helen Scarsdale Agency. RIYL Zoviet*France, NWW, Jim Haynes
“fosil sangiran is the pseudonym for seattle polymath matt shoemaker (1974-2017). the two recordings that have been uncovered from his archives under this moniker were recorded during a lengthy sabbatical in java, indonesia between 2012 and 2013. though these works both operate very clearly within shoemaker’s aesthetic, he choose to operate under this moniker to provide a clarifying distance from what he believed to be his commonplace birth name. sangiran refers to the unesco world heritage site in indonesia where numerous archeological discoveries have been made providing insight into the understanding of early human development. it’s an apt metaphor to his churning arrays of psychotropic sound design, which give the allusion of being distressed from aeons of jungle rot.
pasar fosil is classic shoemaker. at the core to this album is an ur-drone sculpted from electro-acoustics, analog synthesis, and most probably a radically altered field recording here or there. all of these accretions of sustained tone organize themselves with a rhizomatic logic of recombinant twists, folds, and mutations. elegant harmonics with golden, clarion hues set the stage to this album, but shoemaker would never allow for any his compositions to merely stand as polite ambient music. no. he deftly introduces sheared metallic timbres and rasping dissonance that tug with a gravitational heft. by the second half of the album, shoemaker plunges into aural thickets that are openly hostile to the listener, articulated through allusions to a humid claustrophobia and radioactive toxicity. even compared to the muscular minimalism of organum, pasar fosil is unsettling as it is exquisite. published with the approval of the shoemaker family. all profits will be donated to the jack straw cultural center.”
Addendum makes 12 never-before-released Maus cuts available for the first time.
We’re sure you’re as excited as us, and the material doesn’t disappoint. Knowing he’s such a perfectionist, it’s maybe easy to understand why the material wasn’t just squeezed in or tacked on to previous works, but, like A Collection Of Rarities And Previously Unreleased Material , they add up to a smart album in their own right, sprouting big highlights in the hot-stepping dream boogie of Figured It All Out, on the exquisite Kraftwerk-meets-Suicide flex Middle Ages, and his driving death disco zinger 1987.
oOoOO ventures back from the mists of Witch House on this trip hop revival programme with Islamiq Grrrls, tapping right into the zeitgeists blue vein of ‘90s nostalgia with a mix of authentic coffee table ennui and up-to-the-moment emo rap tropes.
"The LP is a collaboration between oOoOO & Islamiq Grrrls. The album's title - "Faminine Mystique" - is an allusion to the Betty Friedan book 'Feminine Mystique' that inspired the 2nd wave feminist movement in the US. Freidan said that while society was providing (middle class) women with historically unparalleled material abundance, it failed to allow space for personal growth. A rigid apparatus was keeping women in a narrowly defined social role that all but excluded self-exploration.
Pronounced 'Famine in Mystique,' the LP's name reflects our feeling that, in a similar way, an increasingly powerful set of contemporary social forces are aligning to, on the one hand, provide people with more music & art than we've ever had access to before, yet rigidly limiting the types of music offered to people to sounds that favor a rigid economics first model of clicks & easy consumption over exploration & experimentation.
Faminine Mystique's 13 songs are framed by fragments of lost, forgotten, or discredited 20th century artists & genres: the well crafted guitar solos of 80s metal; jazz guitarist Barney Kessel; the Ashley's Roachclip drum break; Milli Vanilli; a Kool DJ Red Alert radio show barely audible on some bedside clock radio in some blue collar town on the outskirts of Manhattan; A freeform saxophone solo vocals of a France Gall or Astrud Gilberto. All blended into the compressed sounds of modern pop & RnB.over a 2 minute, feminist juke-punk anthem. The elusively simple but dreamy vocals of a France Gall or Astrud Gilberto. All blended into the compressed sounds of modern pop & RnB."
Guitarless Guitar Music. This is the self-imposed one-line description chosen by Auckland, New Zealand’s Wax Chattels.
"The keyboard, bass and drums trio don’t have a guitar player, but their overwhelming sound and energy create an atmosphere akin to a traditional power trio though their music is anything but traditional. They create darkly hypnotic and frenetic music that’s rhythmically complex and sinister; there’s heavily treated keyboards, unrestrained basslines and punishingly simple drums. And, it’s loud.
Peter (keyboards/vocals), Amanda (bass/vocals) and Tom (drums) met while studying Jazz Performance at the University of Auckland. After living abroad, completing Law School and/or performing in a myriad of other music-related projects, they started Wax Chattels, working up their material for a year prior to recording. “We tracked the songs as a live band to capture the energy of the live show, restricting ourselves to instruments which we play live and keeping all production to a minimum to focus on the band’s sound itself.”
Live, they are not to be missed. While they do come across as a “rock” band, it’s coming from so many places so quickly that you’re kind of left wondering where you’re going. The opening of the one-chord tour de force “Concrete” begins in a downright frightening and jarring place and ends up in a Krautrock-via-Suicide crescendo. It was after a particularly insane live performance that they were signed by both Captured Tracks and Flying Nun Records on the spot.
Wax Chattels recall the other side of Kiwi underground rock history that’s a bit less sunny and a bit less jangly. The small, yet constantly groundbreaking nation has put forth a new act and album that demands your attention."
Marking 50 years since Mai ’68, Soundwalk Collective present a rare insight into the archives of filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard with this collaged suite of recordings using samples from Godard’s personal archive. It’s enchanting at the very least, luring listeners into an other world of Gallic whimsy, smoky jazzz, and sound poetry with a dreamily nostalgic effect that may even be described as hauntological. Keep an ear out for upcoming Ricardo Villalobos reworks of this gear…
“Audio-visual artists Soundwalk Collective were granted exclusive access to the personal archive of the groundbreaking filmmaker and present their ambitious New Album and Remix EP: What We Leave Behind released on 18th & 25th May 2018.
The NYC and Berlin based group were invited to aurally explore the archive of the seminal French director Jean-Luc Godard and release their interpretations in an innovative new album What We Leave Behind. Drawing on Godard’s personal collection of shot film, reel- to-reels and historical ephemera, the recordings reveal the moments before and after the camera rolls, from stage directions and on-set asides to rehearsals, false stars and outtakes.
“There are boxes filled with sounds, words, chaos, and also silence. For Godard sound is a musical composition and when I began listening to the tapes and heard his voice between takes, it was like little bits of life...each sound has its own value. It has always been part of our working practice to venture into untapped sonic territories, discover the poetics behind them, and explore how we (as humans) relate to it, it is part of a larger discourse.” - Stephan Crasneancki, Soundwalk Collective Revealing much insight to the director’s process and personality, the 6-track album will be followed by a remix EP, featuring unique reworks from Ricardo Villalobos, Jan Jelinek and Petre Inspirescu. What We Leave Behind, and the subsequent remix EP, arrive 50 years to the day that the the Cannes Film Festival, 1968, was closed after Jean-Luc Godard, Francois Truffaut and Claude Lelouche, publicly announced their closing of the festival in solidarity with workers and students protesting across the country.
The LP features a conversation between Stephan Crasneanscki, of Soundwalk Collective, and François Musy, Jean-Luc Godard’s sound engineer, printed on a translucent paper insert. The LP and Remix EP both contain imagery taken by Stephan Crasneanscki of the archives, which he has also filmed to create a series of mesmeric short music videos of original and remix tracks. An international genre-bending group of artist-musicians with studios in New York City and Berlin, the three members of Soundwalk Collective (Stephan Crasneanscki, Simone Merli, and Kamran Sadeghi) formed in Manhattan to produce concept albums, sound installations, and live performances, and have worked with a diverse range of collaborators, from Nan Goldin and Patti Smith to Berghain and Zaha Hadid.”
The prodigal return of Venezuelan artist Carlos Giffoni to the avant-electronic music scene he was instrumental in shaping with the seminal, hybridising No Fun Fest and No Fun Productions label, which was home to debut releases by Oneohtrix Point Never, and classics from Haswell and Prurient during the late ‘00s to early part of this decade. If yr into 0PN or Keith Fullerton Whitman, this album f u c k i n g r u l e s
Carlos’ first new release in 6 years, Vain was drawn from hundreds of hours of improvisations made at his Malibu studio, offering a tumultuous narrative in affective abstract swells and pulsating rhythms that trigger curious sensations and emotions ever familiar to his variegated, extreme, yet essentially organic output.
Despite not releasing anything for the past 6 years, Carlos still sounds like he lives and breathes electronic music. Where those ‘noise’ artists who originally played at No Fun Fest and released on his label have arguably carved out major career paths from myriad mutated genres, Carlos’ music still feels captivatingly ancient yet advanced and uncannily hypnotic.
In a cascade of minimalist arps and cloud dynamic harmonies, the album’s story starts in the vortex of Vain’s Face and sweeps thru the granular flux of The Desert to a staggering piece of noise techno dissonance in Erase The World, which calves away into the curled plunge of Hands and the anxious needling of We Pay The Price. At the mid-way point it turns lusher with the pulsing and coruscating kosmische tang of Stop Breathing, leading to the metric complexities woven into Faith and Pain and the heightened high-register sensitivities of I Can Change, whose shatterproof hyaline steeples ultimately deliquesce into the shimmering beauty of Sun Rain.
With hazy resolution and ambiguity of effect, the record works its magick in memorable style. Like the best abstract sonics of Peter Rehberg or Keith Fullerton Whitman, an intuitively applied formula of geometry, rhythm, tone and timbre add up to inexorable effect, rendering the closest possible connection between the machines and the artist’s pathos.
For syntesthetes and attuned listeners, the effect is likely to conceive new colours on the mind’s eye, and move them to finer states of emotive response. In others words: it’s a seriously good listen.
Deep house maverick Alan Abrahams follows his self-titled Portable album for Studio !K7 with these elegant cuts for Dial
Taking in the slinky hustle and sylvan keys of I Open My Eyes, along with the jazzier fuss of Wear Your Life Like A Loose Negligee on a very STL or Afrikan Sciences-compatible flex, while Sheltered Light finds him most beautifully crooning like Antony Hegarty.
Distant Animals is the artistic output of Daniel Alexander Hignell, a researcher and sound, video and performance artist from South East England.
"Hignell has developed a practice indebted to political and participatory resonance of creative acts, interrogating notions of autonomy, collaboration, and the tension between sense (what is perceived by the senses) and sense (what is made sensible by the community). He has recorded, written, performed and researched numerous socially-oriented sound works across Europe, often choosing to work with a diverse range of collaborators, including visual artists, choreographers, theologians, lawyers, and political activists.
Drawing upon the works of La Monte Young, Morton Feldman, Eleh, and Mauricio Kagel, the album employs a highly conceptual approach to its genre, incorporating the notion of the drone as both a compositional method, a spiritual approach, and a participatory tool for engaging its audience. The album contains a pack of 4 postcards, documenting a land-art intervention undertaken during the creation of the score. Included in each pack is an individually hand-stamped and numbered print, created by inclusive artist Layla Tully, and responding to the albums central theme - materiality, substance, emergence, and the process of 'line-making'"
Magisterial, glacial, attention-demanding and powerful exposition of Buchla 200 synth tones mapped to acoustic woodwind and brass by a promising young composer; Stockholm’s Kali Malone. A strong tip to fans of work by Caterina Barbieri, Emptyset, Sarah Davachi.
Arriving in the resonating wake of her self-released solo début Velocity of Sleep , and flanked by the recently issued Organ Dirges 2016-2017 tape for Ascetic House, the Cast Of Mind LP gently but grandly expands the constellation of Kali Malone's solo releases, next to her Upper Glossa collaborations with Caterina Barbieri, a tape with Ellen Akrbro, and acclaimed live performances.
Joined by Yoann Durant (Alto Sax), Isak Hedtjärn (Bass Clarinet), Gabriella Varga Kalsson (Bassoon), and Mats Äleklint (Trombone), Kali’s Buchla 200 Synthesiser forms the basis for a quartet of diaphanous and slowly unfolding electro-acoustic landscapes that externalise a highly personalised form of emotive topography.
In the titular opener, wood and brass trace the swooning ellipses of Kali’s Buchla contours in stately procession suggesting a sort of resigned march to battle, before the Buchla appears to dominate in the warped streaks of Bondage To Formula, but listen closer and it’s harder to tell whether it’s electronic or organic sources so fully lending flesh to her rich sound field.
The answer to that question is much clearer in Arched To Hysteria, whose keening, hunched electronic forces hold powerful potential to conversely induce paranoia and heavily hypnagogic effects, whilst Empty The Belief yields a lustrous, Raga-like drone capturing a marriage of Buchla and bassoon at their most transcendent and steeply attractive.
This one should be filed for reference and safekeeping beside recent transmissions from Sarah Davachi, Anna Von Hausswolff, and Catarina Barbieri = properly good.
8Ball’s rolling amen smasher Total Kontrolz goes thru the motions the front, but the one you need to check is Mr. G’s G10 Dub on the B-side
...where he yanks down the tempo to a rolling 125bpm for a rudely sub-fuelled breakbeat house killer, saving a synthy sting in the tail that keeps it burning up to the core.
In the golden, shimmering wake of his Ripple Effect album, Fluxion rolls out these effortlessly elegant dub house winners for Solar Phenomena.
Commencing with the gritty bottom end shift and fluid chords of Juxtaposed, the Greek producer tactfully tends to the ‘floor with hushed, jazzy swagger leading to velvet coated rooms in Versal, where Poise unfolds a sublime scene of bird calls and flute spritzed with hi-hats in the most seductive style, while Bound staggers along, dazed and wound up with woozy accordion.
A perfect complement to the sublime album, we’re sure you’ll agree.
Swaggering, jacking computer grooves and nothing but, from tuuun on Stockholm’s prism-tweaking Fluf label.
On 0014A it sounds like he’s splaying an 808, resulting a wickedly offset volley of spark-spitting hi-hats and bullwhip snare cracks that stagger and teeter in an agitated funk. Think Russell Haswell’s latin freestyle nods or Mark Fell’s Sensate Focus or a drier Rian Treanor.
However, 0014AA is straighter, jacked to the bone with booming, warped kicks and a lone vocaloid intoning ‘acid’ in stealthily evolving permutations for the duration. EVOL fiends, this one you!
Luke Slater gets back to his best as L.B. Dub Corp with a strong batch of spheric jackers and spaced out swingers for his Mote Evolver label
Where prevailing trends have tilted towards classic house, garage and trance, Slater is following his nose for a leaner sort of mix of classic early ‘90s house and the kinda minimal techno less heard since its early ‘00s heyday. To be fair that era’s due a 20 year revival, so maybe Slater’s just ahead of the curve?
Check for highlights in the hypnotic slow swagger of LBEES Jam, the rolling sound design of Reel One, the chunky pull of Edge 7, and the early/mid ‘00s minimal tekkers of Float When You Can and the ruggeder bleeper Forever In A Day.
Restless shapeshifter Deadboy pivots on a scuzzy, mongrel garage-house-&-techno tip for Local Action following dispatch of his début album Earth Body in 2017.
Deemz checks in a a breaksy garage sound revovling natty vocal ident and ringing bells in style recallign vintage Warlock warehouse gear. R-Less also keeps it warehouse, but with a looser, whirring swing that gets right in yer bones. Sheener yokes the groove to a simmering, bucking garage-meets-Dance Mania style, and Come Back to the World resolved that pent energy with lush Detroit / UK techno pads on a gnashing house rhythm.
Sublime, spiralling Harp and FX works from Mary Lattimore, collecting her first solo LP proper with Ghostly International, following a string of tapes, collaborations, and collections of older material issued since 2012. Ranging from the Enya-esque to West Coast new age flights of fancy and cinematic gestures flooded in unfalteringly positive light, ‘Hundreds of Day’ is one that some listeners will fall head over heels for
“"It was the most beautiful summer of my life." Memories — places, vacancies, allusions — are fundamental characters in Mary Lattimore's evocative craft. Inside her music, wordless narratives, indefinite travelogues, and braided events skew into something enchantingly new. The Los Angeles-based harpist recorded her breakout 2016 album, At The Dam, during stops along a road trip across America, letting the serene landscapes of Joshua Tree and Marfa, Texas color her compositions. In 2017, she presented Collected Pieces, a tape compiling sounds from her past life in Philadelphia: odes to the east coast, burning motels, and beach town convenience stores. In 2018, from a restorative station — a redwood barn, nestled in the hills above San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge — emanates Hundreds of Days, her second full-length LP with Ghostly International. The record sojourns between silences and speech, between microcosmic daily scenes and macrocosmic universal understandings, between being alien in promising new places and feeling torn from old native havens. It's an expansive new chapter in Lattimore's story, and an expression of mystified gratitude. A study in how ordinary components helix together to create an extraordinary world.
Lattimore's voice sweeps beneath the plucks and washes of opener “It Feels Like Floating,” enraptured by the winding current, and reappearing in the second minute of the immense "Never Saw Him Again." The track elevates towards a shimmering apex of static and percussion before organ drone yields to signature halcyon flutters. As with much of Lattimore's work, the track titles are telling; "Baltic Birch" is a somber windswept march that sways gracefully out of step, a remembrance of a recent trip to Latvia where she was struck by the abandoned resort towns along the Baltic Sea. “Hello From The Edge of The Earth” is an earnest reflection of Lattimore’s love of the natural world, recognizing the thresholds of varying terrains.
The album's fifth track borrows its name from Lattimore’s favorite line in Denis Johnson’s short story “Emergency” from Jesus’ Son. A character, lost in a blizzard, reassesses a disjointed universe, a clash between curtains of snow and angels descending out of a brilliant blue summer: it isn’t an apocalypse, it is a drive-in movie, with stars hovering above the lot, off the screen, in the throes of the Midwestern storm. This mix-up is disorienting and existentially tragic; Lattimore's darkly strummed piece is a melancholic parallel, mimicking Johnson’s elegant suture attaching two remarkably discontinuous spaces.
Micro-revelations, not quite as bright as torn skies but nonetheless enlightening, were everyday occurrences during Lattimore's residency. Living small days with small tasks — feeling little dramas within the arcadian universe of a national park — rendered her the sense that disjointed spaces can be interconnected no matter the enormity that divides them. It's in this elastic scale of perception that something as simultaneously simple and intricate as Hundreds of Days can flourish.”
Complimenting Song for Alpha, Daniel Avery presents the Projector EP.
"Taking its title from one of the album’s spectral highlights this additional trio of original productions expands on Avery’s regenerated sonic vision. Leaning further towards the rhythmic and propulsive intent behind his recent, marathon DJ sets, the record serves to delve further still into his unfolding, ever-deepening sound.
Following the lead of ‘Projector’ itself, the record transitions into the first exclusive cut, ‘Shadow Mountain’. Soft in texture and bathed in ethereal feedback, a glitching, transfixing synth line gradually reveals itself as the spine of the piece.
Throughout ‘Glass’, an intimate, breathy vocal sample contrasts with a more industrially tinged base of heavily processed drums. Influenced by Song for Alpha’s embrace of the small hours, “the light emerging from the darkness”, both tracks conjure an almost overwhelmingly tender atmosphere, rich in the hazy strains of rave history.
On the more experimental REHBGBV4367, the seams of Avery’s influences lap against one another in a steady crescendo of beautiful yet beatless noise, dissipating into ambience. Expanding on the delicate core ideas at the centre of his creative ethos, the EP invites listeners on a further excursion of transient, psychedelic bliss."
Versatile scroll right back to Paris, 1996 with two boogie cuts by core player I:Cube.
Just as a whole wave of dancers are coming onto late ‘90s filtered disco house right now - a sound which Versatile were instrumental in bringing about - I:Cube reasserts his foundational boogie influences in the suave, low key glyde of XXX (Abel’s Edit)[Live], and then in a style that strongly recalls NWAQ or Actress album tracks and his Thriller 12”s in the smudged swang of Etire en avant (Live).
CPU keep it close to home with Steel City son Evan Majumdar-Swift’s first release as 96 Back.
As the offspring of Matt Swift, promoter of Sheffield’s legendary Live Turkey events, Evan takes the city’s bleep and bass bloodline into 2018 with slickly updated but classic sounding production, while Warp co-founder Rob Gordon seals the SoYo deal with a dynamic mastering job.
A-side he hearkens back to Xon Network classic Dissonance in the stripped back, sub-heavy boom and recoil of 000 and a niggling, scaly concatenation called 050 on a more militant, shadowy dancefloor mission, repleted with coded voices.
B-side, he allows for some romance with the coy, slippery swing of 085, and brings back the boom with an acidic, Atkins-esque tang and crisply nagging snares in 100.
Cult industrial concerns, Bernd Kastner & Siegfried Michail Syniuga a.k.a. Strafe Für Rebellion, unveil their first new material since 2013 with The Bird Is Stolen, written and recorded at STRAFE Studio, Düsseldorf, Germany for their longterm supporters at Touch.
Joined by vocals from Caterina De Re, Strafe F.R. sustain their pursuit of the unheimlich and phantasmagoric into their 4th decade of operations, and still with the timelessly primordial, experimental vitality of their early work; which is maybe best described as if Chris Watson made music with Laszlo Hortobagyi and Xao Seffcheque while he was in flux between field recordings and playing in Cabaret Voltaire.
In classic but completely up-to-date fashion, the soundd of The Bird Was Stolen is remarkably striking, full of unique resonances, acousmata and complex timbres that keep ear highly entertained and trained across their sound field of Ddisembodied, centre-less, and uneasy dynamics. Thus its fair to hear Strafe F.R.’s sound as in essence a form of industrial dub music that shares as much in common with contemporaneous avatars NWW and Dome as aspects of Jay Glass Dubs or even Raime in the modern sphere.
References aside, though, The Bird Was Stolen firmly holds it own, working on such a level of tough-edged psychedelic abstraction and crisp clangour that shows their experience in spades and proves they were never some half-arsed dilettantes, but the real, cranky thing who can’t help but best express themselves this way. Basically this is one industrial revival that’s worth checking out. Shame we couldn’t say that more often.
OG grime architect Terror Danjah gets loose and lush on the Super Set EP
Linking with Trends for the swingeing calypso grime of Control Alt Delete, and with longtime spar D.O.K. for the bright and choppy Shock After, but left to his own devices he goes weirder, wonkier on the swollen dub freak Nosedive and then with a flash lick of boogie chords and R&G vibes in Patron X.O Cafe.
Cómeme ring-master Matias Aguayo spearheads this playful session with the offset tribal EBM churn of Selvagem
Katerina melds filigree, woozy Euro synths with dusty jack track in Trouble Boy, Daniel Maloso x Red Axes cut loose and psychy with En La Oscuridad, and Gladkazuka takes the jack where the sun don’t shine with the darkroom canter of Futuro Caos.
Playful, daft, sleazy boogie house and funk styles from Oslo via Glasgow
“It’s the return of the sexual vigilante Sex Judas and his trusted sidekick Ricky. This time in full album mode. Norwegian producer Tore Gjedrem of Ost & Kjex fame, channels his love of comix, bohemia and fascination with human vice, the unspoken, the Red Light districts, the alleys of the mind into his alter ego.
Sex Judas is no bad character but certainly says what it’s author cannot. “I wanted to create a world where any musical idea is possible, wound together by the world and word of Judas, the ultimate sinner, reborn as a child of Venus.”
Inspiration ranges from Africa to 80’s NYC, from Bohannon to Quasimoto, from Norwegian New Wave to Acid House. With contributions by friends in the Oslo scene as hometown legend Dj Pål Strangefruit Nyhus, composer Ole-Henrik Moe, jazzpianist Bugge Wesseltoft, Sidiki Camara from Mali playing that beautiful Ngoni, and multi instrumentalist Ivar Snuten Winther, the album touches anything from blues, funk, disco and post-punk to IDM, acid house and electronic explorer music.”
Wobbly acid funk misfits from Kelpe, making his first outing since The Curved Line  album
Fathoming sub-tropical acid lushness in Polymard, a mid-tempo electro-disco-acid strut recalling Luke Vibert in Polymare, along with some muttley funk in Polymarf, and a canny subaquatic acid abstraction named Polymang.
Super pitcher, Samo DJ, L.B. Dub Corp and Powder provide the obligatory remixes to Axel Boman and John Talabot’s debut Talaboman album. The Powder mix is the one...
Aksel Shaufler does a low-key and stealthy job on Dins El Lit, taking 11 minutes to bring it up from greyscale groove to cascading stellar outro; Samo DJ gets much ruder with an electro sidespin of The Ghosts Hood; Luke Slater takes Brutal Chugga Chugga to the warehouse for a nagging jackers drill; and hotly tipped Japanese artist Powder swangs some wildly sloshing subs under Loser’s Hymn with delirious and deliciously physical effect.
On in High Dive for the excellent UNO NYC label, Blue Angels switches tack to a slower, gauzier sound driven by dembow drums and rendered with widescreen reverb.
Far Out is primed for dancefloor aches with killer R&B vocal loop underpinned by brooding bass in a very Holy Other style, while Why crawls along at megadon pace like BoC meets DJ Screw.
Term Three then comes saltier on a distorted dembow bogle, and Floss fades out like a smudged take on DJ Python.
The starkest gear we’ve heard from Stuart Chalmers
Dropping the cut-up schtick for stare-down drones and the kind of gloom that comes early in the evening in steep valleys. Alternatively, it’s “A Journey in 6 stages through the dark regions of the mind and hidden realms of unconsiousness.”
Superb selections and sequencing from Forest Swords on his DJ-Kicks instalment
Cutting across the board from The London Bulgarian Choir’s Pilentsee Pee (as referenced in the Ghost In The Shell OST), thru Rhythm & Sound’s Best Friend evergreen; rude post punk from Anna Domino and Neneh Cherry; skulking D&B by FIS & Tokyo Prose; goth steppers from Dead Can Dance; a elusive beauty by Kara-Lis Coverdale; spidery jazz techno rhythms from Laurel Halo, Rupert Clervaux & Beatrice Dillon; and esoteric charms by Demdike Stare, Orbital, David Toop and Baka Forest People of Southeast Cameroon.
DJ Nozaki a.k.a. ZZZ pumps the box for L.I.E.S.
Extruding the churning 303’s and 808’s of Psychic Agony Ov Session (Original Mix) across the A-side, and slanging it Santos style with the rushing waves of percussion in Psychic Agony Ov Session (Grave Master Yardie Mix), along with the Legowelt-like square based roiler, Pelectrique.
The music of Australian artist Thembi Soddell resides in a zone of unrelenting darkness and physical affect. Working at the nexus of raw emotion, sound design and musique concrete, she creates sound worlds that are effortlessly dense and abyss-like. In her performances, she explores sonic environments which swallow the audience. By utilising intense sound pressure and varying dynamics she creates profoundly unsettling, but fulfilling, experiences for her audiences.
"Love Songs, her latest work, is easily the clearest articulation of her methodologies. A work of extreme dynamics and intensities, the record is one of the most fierce sonic expressions to be delivered from an Australian artist in recent years.
“The title Love Songs,” Thembi explains, “is a little dark humour on my behalf. As the compositional process evolved the work became a meditation on the lived experience of insidious forms of abuse within supposedly loving relationships, in connection to certain forms of mental illness. These experiences are ones of extremes and emotional intensities; the tensions between horror, beauty, rage, desire, confusion, love and perceptual annihilation. Also, a good deal of the source material for the album is voice. I asked Alice Hui-Sheng Chang to vocalise perceptual collapse, which I sampled and manipulated into expressions of these themes. So, these are my love songs.”
Published alongside an extensive book, outlining more literal readings of her ideas of sonic affect, contemporary relationships and the nature of becoming, Soddell’s Love Songs is an utterly personal and compelling listen. It’s equal parts horror, anxiety, relief and exhilaration, often in the same instant. A truly remarkable rendering of sound that extends the possibilities for how we are embraced and engulfed by the acoustics we encounter.
Thembi Soddell (b. Australia 1980) is a sound artist and electroacoustic composer with an interest in psychology, perception, subjectivity and affect in relation to intense encounters with sound. Her distinct approach to composition exploits dynamic extremes, creating volatile, evocative sound experiences with a disquieting edge. She creates works for recording, installation and performance — including three solo CD releases, presentations at Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and City Gallery Wellington, and two European tours in a duo with cellist Anthea Caddy. Since 2010 she has been engaged in practice-based research at RMIT University, focusing on the articulation of firsthand experiences of mental illness, trauma and psychological distress using sound art practice. She also works as sound designer and dramaturg for theatre and dance and has guest curated for the National Gallery of Victoria. Her work has been described as “extremely accomplished” (Diffusion) and inducing of "psychological terror" (Real Time Arts). Soddell lives in rural Victorian town, Clunes."
Outstanding hybrid of classical orchestration and electronic sources from Portuguese composer Joana Gama and regular collaborator Luís Fernandes, with José Alberto Gomes arrangements for the 15-piece Orquestra De Guimarães, and production by Room40 caretaker, Lawrence English.
Whatever we were expecting, it wasn’t this: a stately transition from stark, pounding percussion to brilliantly soured strings in Neither Flesh nor Fleshless, thru stirring experimental techno vectors in Perpetual Possibility, to the staggeringly windswept dynamics of The Pattern Is Movement and Through The Vibrant Air, to a the glorious, minimalist resolution in Shaft of Sunlight. Trust us, this is one of the mot arresting Room40 releases in an age. RIYL Lawrence English, Jani Christou, Zeitkratzer Ensemble, Transflora...
“Joana Gama and Luís Fernandes’ new offering At The Still Point Of The Turning World, borrows its title from T. S. Eliot’s poem Burnt Norton. It is a record of restless motion, lilting and pulsing with a sense of gentle determination. Born out of a period of mutual loss, the works carry a bittersweet sentiment. Bitter in the sense of loss; sweet in the sense of lingering memory and influences recognised of those departed.
It is also a record that, like the poem from which it takes its title, mediates on the nature of time and the way music must be explored as temporal art. The very nature of the compositions, their meaning and structural qualities unfold across the record with a particular and measured temporal gesture. This sense of measure is the result of musicians involved, guided by Gama and Fernandes, working for and against one another within each of the tracks.
Pieces such as ‘Neither Flesh Nor Fleshless’ and ‘Lucid Stillness’ capture this essence. The sharp attack of their rhythmic spines, create macro environments within which instruments float into and out of focus. Rather than simply acting as anchor points for the pieces, these markers become buoyant amidst atmospheric layers of strings, percussion and horns. The music swells and breaths.
Commissioned by Câmara Municipal de Guimarães and A Oficina / Westway Lab Festival in 2017, At The Still Point Of The Turning World, is the most considered output from this duo to date. Informed by a shared interest in the timbral connections between piano and electronics, these pieces extend outward from Gama and Fernandes and in combination with Orquestra de Guimarães and arrangements from José Alberto Gomes, they create a charged collection of minimalist inspired sound fields.”
A Colourful Storm’s Mark ravages the ‘floor for Unterton with three bleeding-edge industro D&B cuts likely to trip up the techno kids looking for another dose of 4/4.
Like his ruffneck volley Integrier Dich Du Yuppie issued at the start of ’18, The Least Likely Event Will Occur In The Long Run calibrates a mix of strongback D&B and dark, ritualistic electronic atmospheres with runs into more mutant forms.
Know No Out Only In kicks it off with a dense, pensive intro precipitating a recoiling hardstep coda right out of the Doc Scott playbook, whereas the amorphous, beatless sound design of Veiling Hazards feels lifted straight out of a sci-fi soundtrack, but with a very canny surprise in the closing strokes, while the crooked half step dip of See In Symbols feels like a sparring partner for Raime goods.
High quality reissue of the monumental work August 1974 by Japanese experimental music ensemble Taj Mahal Travellers.
"In April 1972 a group of Japanese musicians set off from Rotterdam in a Volkswagen van. As they crossed Europe and then made their way through Asia they made music in a wide range of locations. They also paid close attention to the changing scene and to differing ways of life. Midway through May they reached their destination, the iconic Taj Mahal on the bank of the Yamuna river in Agra, India.
The Taj Mahal Travellers had fulfilled physically the promise of the name they adopted when they formed in 1969. But their music had always been a journey, a sonic adventure designed to lead any listener’s imagination into unfamiliar territory. The double album August 1974 was their second official release. The first July 15, 1972 is a live concert recording, but on 19th August 1974 the Taj Mahal Travellers entered the Tokyo studios of Nippon Columbia and produced what is arguably their definitive statement.
The electronic dimension of their collective improvising was coordinated, as usual, by Kinji Hayashi. Guest percussionist Hirokazu Sato joined long-term group members Ryo Koike, Seiji Nagai, Yukio Tsuchiya, Michihiro Kimura, Tokio Hasegawa and Takehisa Kosugi. The enigmatic Takehisa Kosugi, whose soaring electric violin was such a vital element in their music, had been a pioneer of free improvisation and intermedia performance art with Group Ongaku at the start of the 60s. Later in that decade, before launching the Taj Mahal Travellers, he had become known internationally through his association with the Fluxus art movement. During the mid-70s the Travellers disbanded and while his colleagues more or less stopped performing as musicians Kosugi continued to reach new audiences across the course of several decades as a composer, regular performer and musical director for the acclaimed Merce Cunningham Dance Company. August 1974 captures vividly the characteristic sound of the Taj Mahal Travellers, haunting tones from an unusual combination of instruments, filtered through multiple layers of reverb and delay.
Their music has strong stylistic affinities with the trippy ambience of cosmic and psychedelic rock, but the Taj Mahal Travellers were tuning in to other vibrations, drawing inspiration from the energies and rhythms of the world around them rather than projecting some alternative reality. Films of rolling ocean waves often provided a highly appropriate backdrop for their lengthy improvised concerts. This is truly electric music for the mind and body."
A wonderfully mystic midsummer episode of free improv jazz recorded and reworked in Tokyo, 1976, now rendered and wrapped up for reissue by Belgium’s Aguirre. Original copies trade 2nd hand for the price of a small hatchback with a few miles left on the clock. This one will travel, we promise (no dodgy car dealer chat!)
“Thelonious Monk, Mal Waldron, Don Cherry, Roswell Rudd, Derek Bailey, Musica Elettronica Viva – saxophonist Steve Lacy played with them all. Renowned for remarkable solo concerts that confirmed his mastery of the soprano horn and that carried its instrumental language into previously unexplored regions, Lacy also loved to collaborate with musicians who could inspire him to stretch the boundaries of his own artistry.
During the summer of 1975 Lacy toured Japan, and on June 24th he entered a Nippon Columbia studio in Tokyo with Yuji Takahashi and Takehisa Kosugi, two adventurous kindred spirits, guaranteed to fire Lacy’s creative imagination. The fascinating outcome of that dynamic session is Distant Voices, an album without parallel in Lacy’s extensive discography.
Composer Iannis Xenakis was so impressed when he heard Yuji Takahashi playing piano in 1961 that he later wrote music especially for him. The Japanese virtuoso rose to that formidable challenge and many others as he rapidly established himself as one of the foremost interpreters of contemporary composed music. His repertoire extends back to Bach and Purcell yet for Takahashi music has remained an open quest and a process of discovery.
Takehisa Kosugi on the other hand has been a legendary figure in the international avant garde since the mid-1960s when his work was endorsed by the Fluxus movement. In Japan he was by then already well established as leading practitioner of experimental music and intermedia performance art. At the time Distant Voices was recorded Kosugi had also developed a following for his electric violin playing with the Taj Mahal Travellers, a group whose sound had strong stylistic affinities with psychedelic rock and space music. Subsequently other audiences worldwide came to know Kosugi through his long association as a composer, performer and musical director with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.
On 24th June 1975 Takahashi sat at a grand piano, with celeste and vibraphone alongside him and small bells attached to his hands. Kosugi was equipped with violin, flute, mouth organ, an electronic modulator, porcelain bowls and at times he used his voice. Lacy played soprano saxophone, of course. Now and then he pressed the mouth of the instrument against the skin of a kettle drum. He occasionally fiddled with a transistor radio, and also found uses for a stepladder, a toothbrush and a spinning wheel. This was in no sense a routine musical session. Distant Voices preserves a unique occasion when three singular musicians joined together to embrace the unknown.”