Limited new vinyl edition of Sunn 0)))’s immense Dømkirke darkening our doorstep with 64 minutes recorded live in Bergen Cathedral, Norway, on 18th March, 2007.
The roll call for this particular venture includes core trio))) Attila Csihar, Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley joined by regular collaborators Tos Nieuwenhuizen and Steve Moore, and augmented by Norse duo Lasse Marhaug and John Hegre, for a massively atmospheric and dramatic call to the spirits.
Taking the first side to erect a massive swell of synth, organ and vocals in Why Dost Thou Hide Thyself In Clouds, the guitars appear, proper, accompanied by viking horns and Attila’s possessed howl in Cannon. We can only imagine that the blackened squally blooms of Cymatics, and the sludgy subharmonic pressure of Masks The Ætmospheres which follow would have sounded close to a religious experience in Bergen Cathedral,
This was an expanded line-up of Sunn 0))) which these ears were lucky enough to witness a handful of times during that era, and the same band who i’ve seen deck fans thru sheer volume and sonic pressure - me included, head-first thru the doors and down both flights of stairs at Leeds Cockpit, no shit.
Like this record, it was thee heaviest trip.
Wonderful suite of archival gamelan minimalism from Bay Area practitioner Daniel Schmidt.
Recital dip into the personal archives of Daniel Schmidt, an integral scholar in the development of American Gamelan. After studying Javanese gamelan at California Institute of the Arts in the early ‘70s, Schmidt set about creating a West Coast movement based around an aluminium version of the instrument – the Berkeley Gamelan - forged of his own design. He’s since gone on to build numerous gamelan instruments, theorise on it’s compositional qualities, collaborate with Lou Harrison, Jody Diamond, and Paul Dresher, and currently teaches at Mills College San Francisco.
‘In My Arms, Many Flowers’ captures the American Gamelan movement in its nascent state, the result of a personal invitation for Recital boss Sean McCann to rifle through three boxes of Schmidt’s studio and live recordings committed to cassette between the late ’70s and early ‘80s. What’s immediately striking here is how Schmidt deviates from the traditional Javanese style of gamelan composition, instead seeking out the minimalist movement of North America for guidance.
Making use of a primitive sampler borrowed from Pauline Oliveros (RIP), lead track And the Darkest Hour is Just Before Dawn pairs a sumptuous looped string arrangement with Schmidt’s delicate caresses of the Berkeley Gamelan which build with quiet melodic complexity into something quite wonderful. The title track sees Schmidt augmenting the mysticism of his Berkeley with the bowed strings of a rebab, another traditional Indonesian instrument, deployed to signify a bird that “calls from far away.”
Ghosts is one of two compositions done solely with the gamelan, Schmidt leading a procession of players using traditional techniques on a detailed 14-minute recording of percussive dexterity and intricacy that highlights the spiritual powers of the instrument. Faint Impressions offers a sombre finale, the ringing melodicism of the Berkeley gamelan set to a backdrop of an understandably captivated audience.
First time on vinyl for a lost gem of the L.A. deep jazz underground, mostly recorded in 1985, with bonus side captured in 1979
“The saxophonist Jesse Sharps took over from Arthur Blythe as leader of Horace Tapscott’s Pan-Afrikan People’s Arkestra. ‘He became the Ark leader…he was hardcore,’ the pianist recalls. ‘They’d all be quiet and listen to him when he talked.’
This was the period of such classic PAPA recordings as Flight 17, Live At IUCC and The Call; lit up by the funky, deep spirituality of Sharps compositions like Desert Fairy Princess, Macramé and Peyote Song II.
His own Sharps And Flats album was recorded in 1985 for Tom Albach’s legendary Nimbus West imprint, adding a stunning sixteen-minute bonus cut by the Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra, featuring Horace Tapscott, recorded in 1979.
A lost classic of the Los Angeles jazz underground, on wax at last!”
Electronic music's most mysterious act briefly come in from the cold with their first new release since 2007.
Leisure System have the honour of presenting the latest lab results from Heinrich Mueller and Michaela To-Nhan Bertel aka Dopplereffekt: three tracks of selective electro engineering executed to exacting degrees. Their first new work since the incredible 'Calabi Yau Space' for Rephlex is typically iced-out and dazzling, scoping steppers' electro model, 'Tetrahymena' with its free-floating sci-fi pads and body-prod rhythms alongside the elegant arpeggiated helixes of 'Gene Splicing' and the wormholing pulses of 'Zygote'. It's as good as you'll get from the electro realm this year...
It's difficult to overstate the unique brilliance of Arthur Russell's posthumous release, 'Another Thought'.
Like many others, I wouldn't be ashamed to admit shedding a tear or two to the sheer life-affirming qualities of this record over the years. It's not sad, it's just heart-breakingly beautiful, stripped to the bare essentials of Arthur's voice and cello dappled with effects and backed with his own drum machine, plus congas, sax and keys from longtime collaborators such as Peter Zummo, Elodie Lauten, and Mustafa Ahmed, among others. In the most transcendent sense, it's music that occupies its very own genre, a magical soundworld all of its own, ready for you to visit when times are good, and perhaps even more so when they're bad and you really need a fillip.
Although it's already available on CD, first on a 1994 pressing for Point Music, and later in 2006 for his longtime ally Philip Glass's Orange Mountain Music, the magic is arguably enhanced by Arc Light Editions' genius gesture to press it on wax for the first time. It's like finding a new, secret entrance to your favourite place in the world. Even passing Russell fans will likely know a few of its charms such as 'This Is How We walk On The Moon', 'Another Thought' itself, or the alternate version of 'Keeping Up' from 'The World Of...', and we truly envy any of you who're about to encounter it for the first time...
Tim Hecker had proven himself to be one of the great survivors of 90s electronic music. While he might have only surfaced at the tail-end of the ailing IDM scene, Hecker’s distinctly original brand of rich, textured ambient music set him apart from his peers.
Many have tried to emulate his sound, but few have come close, and while he peaked with the punishingly noisy and effortlessly beautiful ‘Mirages’ a few years back, his subsequent flirtations with a quieter, more meditative sound have been similarly arresting.
Unusually, ‘Ravedeath, 1972’ sees Hecker moving away from his comfort zone and collaborating with one of the very people who attempted a second-wave of the Hecker grit, grind and harmony – Ben Frost. This is a move which saw Hecker up sticks and fly over to Iceland, where he proceeded to record the album over a handful of days using a pipe organ. Frost clearly adds some of his production expertise (he moonlights as an engineer) and with this there can be no doubt that ‘Ravedeath,1972’ is the most hi-fi album in Tim Hecker’s discography to date.
The sound that Hecker has made his own is now reproduced in High Definition, billowing with basses dribbling and treble firing with slick precision. The powerful pipe organ sound underpins everything; coughing, wheezing and stuttering beneath Hecker’s expertly crafted granular sounds like the ghost of the Catholic church itself.
At times it might simply appear in amongst a cloud of white noise, and at others there is only the familiar shadowy blast, shrouded in the trappings of morals and dogma. Pitting his knowledge and skill against that of Ben Frost has yielded an album’s worth of crushing, near-spiritual sound, making for a compelling, immersive listen. Highly Recommended.
For 'Black Telephone Of Matter' we hear the contrarily noisy and contemplative side of Mika, no beats, but plenty of completely devastating aural views surveying vast abstract landscapes.
'Roma A.D 2727' weaves sinewaves sculpted into brutally effective and nerve stimulating squalls. 'Silence Traverses Des Mondes Et Des Endes' opens with the horrific cackle of a murder of crows before sharply focussed bass blasts with ever encroaching proximity and unrelated shards of textured noise dynamically ascend before crashing to point zero. If you've ever experienced one of his frightening but life affirming live shows, the album's centre-piece 'Bury A Horse's Head' should help you relive the life-changing intensity of his powerful drones with 11 mins of austere oscillator experimentation, only you'll have to turn the volume up for the full body tactile effect.
Paralleling this is the set's other extended composition 'A Measurement Of Excess Antenna Temperature At 4080 Ml/s'. A reduction of excess to the bare minimum of electronic hum with brain massaging waves of subbass that'll make your eyeballs vibrate if you're paying attention on good headphones.
Editions Mego present an immersive live recording of Donato Dozzy and Neel's Voices From The Lake, captured in Rome's breathtaking MAXXI museum.
As chance would have it, this reviewer was lucky enough to walk in halfway thru the performance (word, LSWHR!), already dazed by the contours of Zaha Hadid's incredible architecture, to be pleasantly consumed by VFTL's free-floating topography of ambient techno. It was a perfect sound for such a grand container, both reflecting each others' seemingly impossible structures - precariously balanced staircases giving way to huge, sweeping passages and mezzanines in stark monotones - in a contrast and comparison of their respective, curvilinear grids and flowing geometries.
Now, several months later, the sense of scale and motion to this 50 minute piece has lost none of its ability to inspire transcendent states, swirling siren-like synth voices with complex rhythmic patterns that ostensibly stay ever the same, but, upon closer inspection, are found to be always morphing and in flux between dimensions - at once hazy yet lysergically lucid and melancholic as their proverbial lake itself. Book your slot in a floatation tank pronto, and then grab a copy of this.
Amazing record! Avant-pop enigma Leslie Winer slinks the plasmic, recursive matrices of Jay Glass Dubs in a brilliant but unexpected marriage of husky trip hop and psyched-out dub styles on Your Mom’s Favourite Eazy-E Song for Bristol’s excellent Bokeh Versions.
Finding common, scorched ground between Jay’s gutted structures and Leslie’s abyssal, esoteric insight, YMFEES serves to perfectly highlight the similarities and mutabilities common to both artist’s oeuvres, which have previously shared label space on The Tapeworm, and both share a keen lust for the dankest ends of the dub pool.
With Winer’s lyrics reprinted in swirling ellipses and contoured kerning on the inner sleeve, and presumably (and smartly) designed to mirror the elusive structure of Jay Glass Dub’s arrangements, the listener is offered some kind of star chart thru their no-man’s-land mental dub scapes of ricocheting riddims and droll reportage from the brink of consciousness.
In a dancefloor situation, we’d imagine these tracks to trigger some healthy bewilderment, as bodies get snagged on Jay’s cranky churn and heads spun by Leslie’s stream-of-non sequiturs in Woodshedded, or likewise bullied by the blown-out bass and genuinely spooked, over-the-shoulder vocal of About The Author. However, it’s most likely to be consumed in solitude, which is probably the most appropriate for really getting into the album’s strangest nooks, such as the deliciously OOBE-like detachment of No Famous Actors featuring Winer as HAL-like ghost in the machine, or the masterfully heavy-lidded drowse of Cogged featuring a barely-there Winer suspended above Dubs’ murkiest, hypnotic strokes.
What a beauty?! Don’t sleep!
Listening to this latest album from Liz Harris’ Grouper project it’s easy to forget how much of a hard sell her music was back when 'Way Their Crept’ landed with us back in 2005.
Her eerie, layered mix of bare vocals, guitar and tape delay didn't quite fit in with what anyone else was really doing on the scene back then - and it completely knocked us out even if no one was buying it. By the time her breakthrough ‘Dragging a Dead Deer…’ arrived on Type three years later she was more or less playing to a baying mob hungry for any little morsel she cared to throw their way, her (by now) more fleshed out shoegaze variants marking her out as a natural outsider who had managed to tap into some kind of collective melancholy, her songs both hugely affecting and yet somehow emotionally opaque. Last year’s 'The Man Who Died In His Boat’ collected previously unreleased material from the ‘Dead Deer’ era and, despite it essentially being an assembly of offcuts, still managed to sound as coherent and bewitching as any of her ardent followers might have imagined. ‘Ruins’ is Harris' first new album proper in several years and - to no one’s surprise - is just utterly sublime.
The opening and closing tracks excepted, Harris’ instrument of choice here is the upright Piano, delivering a sequence of songs that feel utterly bereft and lonely, intended by Harris as “...a document. A nod to that daily walk. Failed structures. Living in the remains of love.” There are also found sounds (you can here a microwave switching itself back on after a powercut in the background), and the room recordings lend an effervescent quality to the recordings that somehow magnify the sense of timelessness. ‘Ruins' is book-ended by two instrumental pieces, the pulsating field recorded opener ‘Made of Metal’ and the 11 minute closer ‘Made of Air’, an instrumental, ambient piece recorded at her mother's house way back in 2004. Together, these tracks make for another sublime 40 minutes spent in Liz Harris’ company, a precious distraction from the clutter and noise of the outside world.
Cellular Automata is the first new Dopplereffekt album in a decade! Rudolf Klorzeiger and To-Nhan kept us waiting but the anticipation pays off with some of their most striking electro architecture to date, tangibly making good on the promise of their Tetrahymena  and Delta Wave  deliveries over the interim, which, like this one were also released by Berlin’s Leisure System.
The symbiotic duo’s last album, Calabi Yau Space  remains one of the most memorable, puristic electronic records of its decade and Cellular Automata is up there with the most distinctive of its ilk in the current sphere. To outline their intentions; “Cellular Automata approaches mathematical growth and decay as an iterative process, with each data input considered individually relative to the overall model”, which broadly translates as a lofty metaphor for refinement thru increasingly searching practice; both technical research and the fine-tuned discipline of their physical, melodic inputs.
Difficult to say really how that works out from initial listens, but in aesthetic terms at least their sound is shockingly sharp and dense yet incredibly spacious, executing that unique balance of sheer technological advance and heightened emotive response in way that’s long been key to the success of their sound, encouraging listeners to revel and marvel at both the pure sonification of their sounds and equally their near-baroque classical elegance.
If you need any prompts, check out the vast harmonic structures of Cellular Automata and the tempestuous kosmische momentum of Exponential Decay at the album’s bookends, or deeper in for the uncanny stere-imaging of Gestalt Intelligence and the nerve-biting noise of Pascal’s Reunion, or the abyssal morphosis of Mandelbrot Set for the strongest sensations, but, as you’ll understand it’s definitely best consumed as whole for the most lucid yet disorienting experience.
Oh my god this is good!!! Philip Jeck makes an always welcome reappearance with the sensational sampledelics of 'Cardinal' for Touch marking his first major solo release since 'An Ark For The Listener' (2010).
He's been just out of earshot for long enough for this set of ears to feel like they've just been reacquainted with an old friend, and you've both been thru some heavy times over the interim.
Thus ensues 63 minutes of heart-wrenching emotional catharsis, regaling riveting stories from live shows in Krems, New Jersey, Athens, St. Pancras Church and Barrow-in-Furness, alongside windswept, wistful collages realised at his home in Liverpool.
They may be abstract, atonal and impenetrably woven but, the venerable composer certainly knows how to hold a story, sucking us in head-first with the breathtaking symphonic synth noise of 'Fleeting' and depositing us at 'Saint Pancras (The One That Holds Everything)' by way of 'Reverse Jersey''s cascading chromatic pitches and the nine minutes of heavy-lidded atmospheres that swell, recede and engulf the senses with 'Called In'.
It's a heavenly reminder of something - quite honestly f**k knows what - that lies beyond, or within, yet takes someone like Jeck to firmly remind us of that fact, or at least bring it almost within reach.
In other words - a truly amazing album.
While the filtered, tape-fuelled obfuscation of Grouper's signature sound remains, Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill is far more resonant up front about the songs at the heart of her work.
Opening track 'Disengaged' offers a segue from the cloudy, amorphous Grouper output of old and this current strain of more easily deciphered writing: it's a mass of mesmerising magnetic hiss and soft noise, with a voice cloaked in lo-fi haze somewhere at the back. Soon after, Harris' guitar and voice emerge, reverberant and phantom-like, and yet comprehensible.
If previously you've struggled to make out Grouper lyrics, and wondered what's going on beneath that veneer of musty, degraded audio, 'Heavy Water/I'd Rather Be Sleeping' offers you a way in. Those dense recording techniques have become a unique production signature and it's virtually impossible to separate Liz Harris' creative identity from that uniquely ghostly sound of hers, but now it feels like a conduit to her songs rather than a barrier. There are echoes of her earliest work on the album too, as on the wordless, partially acappella atmospherics of 'Wind & Snow', but the overall impression left by this album is one of inspired creative renewal, and the unveiling of a songwriting talent that's previously been content to dwell in shadows and deflect attention with smoke and mirrors.
A real milestone release for Harris, and a definite high point for the rejuvenated Type label, we've been unable to stop listening to this incredible album for weeks - it's an absolute must.
Gescom’s ‘MiniDisc’ for Russell Haswell’s OR label was the first ever MiniDisc-only release back in 1998. This CD reissue edition contains all 45 tracks (in 88 pieces) from the original MD version, ready for listeners to use on random shuffle function just as the original MD was intended
Back in 1998, MiniDiscs were then the most advanced iteration of portable music players, but soon to be usurped by the mass emergence and use of portable media players. At a quick glance, Discogs only lists 1,668 total MiniDisc-only releases, however, ‘Gescom:MiniDisc’ remains a true oddity in its field; a proper novelty hated by some and loved by others, especially those with a taste for Russell Haswell or Autechre’s more extreme angles of inquiry.
So ‘Gescom:Minidisc’ is effectively a Haswell + Æ +++ release, only they’d probably never let us or you describe it as such. Inside you’ll find all sorts, from longer trips such as the 4 minute ambient float of ’Sheogazer’, to reverberating echo chamber pieces in ‘Cranusberg’ and the haunting dimensions of ‘Fully’, plus quite literally dozens of shorter cuts which turn the whole thing into a mosaic of a maze.
Paris-based Iranian, Nima Aghiani makes a welting mark on PTP with the clawing, atonal electronics of REM following his violin input on Siavash Amnini’s acclaimed ‘TAR’ LP
Helping to further shape our conception of modern electronic music rooted in Iran, after examples from the likes of SOTE, Opal Tapes, Siavash Amini and Sohrab in recent years, Nima’s REMS follows similar lines of enquiry into bold realms of microtonal rhythm and noise operation, giving voice to a complex sound and logic that feels somehow familiar if you’ve previously heard work by Xenakis or Haswell, yet still feels properly alien to many conventions we can think of.
A companion to his acclaimed Ravedeath 1972 set, Dropped Pianos collects sketches for that album recorded by Tim Hecker last year.
While on paper it might sound like something for completists only, trust us when we tell you that this LP is a beguiling listen in its own right: shorn of the disruptive electronic processing which defined Ravedeath, what you get instead is a series of exquisitely reverbed and layered piano instrumentals which showcase Hecker's gift for minimalist composition and mournful melody.
Richly evocative of rainy, post-war cityscapes, of mortality and of thwarted romance, it's another masterful offering from an artist at the top of his game.
Following a series of impossible-to-obtain releases for her own Yellowelectric imprint and a CD compilation of her gorgeous 'A I A' set, Liz Harris seems to have settled with Kranky who are re-releasing her classic Type album 'Dragging a Dead Deer..' and this new album of previously unreleased material drawn from the same period: 'The Man Who Died In His Boat'.
It's not so hard to believe but we'll say this straight away - the material on this new set is just jaw-dropping, a worthy companion piece to 'Dragging a Dead Deer' - once again finding Harris delivering material edging ever so slightly towards more traditional 'songs' but executed with so much introspection and mystery that she really sounds unlike anyone, or anything, you'll have ever heard before. The record has an interesting backstory, as Harris explains - "When I was a teenager the wreckage of a sailboat washed up on the shore of Agate Beach.
The remains of the vessel weren't removed for several days. I walked down with my father to peer inside the boat cabin. Maps, coffee cups and clothing were strewn around inside. "I remember looking only briefly, wilted by the feeling that I was violating some remnant of this man's presence by witnessing the evidence of its failure. Later I read a story about him in the paper. It was impossible to know what had happened. The boat had never crashed or capsized. He had simply slipped off somehow, and the boat, like a riderless horse, eventually came back home." The narrative somehow enhances the songs - an achingly beautiful combination of forlorn, reverb-drenched lullabies draped in a veil of isolation reminding us of a more damaged Mark Kozelek, and indeed the classic 4AD sound with which Grouper has been compared so many times in the past.
By the time you reach the closing track 'Living Room', however, you come to the realisation that despite her best efforts to obscure her songs, Harris might just be one of the most gifted songwriters of her generation. An incredible album - possibly her finest yet.
The cult Australian trio align with Stephen O’Malley’s label for a fine new album.
After delivering a trilogy of albums for their own Fish Of Milk label, Chris Abrahams, Lloyd Swanton and Tony Buck resurface with a new long player as The Necks on Ideologic Organ. Few other bands can grapple three decades of genre-defying musical innovation and still sound fresh, but The Necks do it with supreme class on Unfold, a four-track album pressed up on double vinyl and gifted the mastering touch of Rashad Becker at D&M.
The label state these four tracks are not numbered deliberately, leaving the listener to navigate Unfold from whatever angle they choose. All four approaches are, as you would expect, a delight; be it the arresting musical symbiosis of Rise to the brushed percussive drama and crystalline piano motifs of Blue Mountain via the clockwork free-jazz skitters of Timepiece and Overheard, perhaps The Necks’ most accomplished slice of melancholia.
One⁹ is one of the trickier Cage compositions, yielding 2 hours of shrill, minimal accordion by Edwin Alexander Buchholz
““sounds brushed into existence as in oriental calligraphy" (Cage)
the sounds in one9 are single tones and chords, up to six part harmonies.
how do sounds come into existence, how do they gain focus, how do they resolve, how do they merge into one another, how can one quietly and attentively, in all modesty, follow their unfolding?
these are the questions that guided edwin alexander buchholz in his interpretation of the piece.
over the years he played one9 time and again - for himself and in concerts. gradually solutions manifested themselves which he never, at first, would have considered.
it is not simply the case, that this music, which was originally written for shô, the japanese mouth organ from gagaku music, may also be played on accordion.
much as the immemorial shô, originated about 4000 years ago, and the modern accordion are related, they are not interchangeable. one9 has been written specifically for shô and first has to find its way to the accordion, in order to become real accordion music.
the accordion is a wind instrument, but also a keyboard instrument, it has stops, its colours are eminently rich and its two sound sources, as long as they are sounding, are always moving: away from each other, towards each other.
for edwin alexander buchholz one9, in the course of time, grew into a music, that integrated all of this, a music entirely for his instrument: the accordion.
traditionally the sound of the shô is connected to the heavens' gleam. I have no trouble hearing this quality here, in the sound of the accordion.
The first Grouper album in 4 years finds Liz Harris stripped of FX, pairing her vocals with skeletal piano gestures in beautifully pregnant space. For anyone familiar with the miasmic fuzz of Grouper’s previous releases, the relative clarity is quietly shocking in effect, revealing her songs and sound at their most vulnerable, and, in the process, locating a newfound strength in fragility.
Grid Of Points was recorded in Wyoming shortly after Liz finished recording Grouper’s Ruins out in Aljezur, Portugal, and on the most immediate level it seems to describe the difference in recording locations between windswept Atlantic coastline and sparse, landlocked insularity. The seven songs were written over a week and a half, with the process curtailed by a bout of what she describes as “high fever”. What remains forms some of Grouper’s most legible lyrics and intimate instrumentation, with each piece framed by stark, unprocessed space working in the same role usually occupied by her billowing sheets of harmonic distortion.
Untreated and unfiltered, Grouper's voice rings plaintively clear, sometimes layered in ephemeral harmonies or curling off with jazz-soul wise inflections shadowed by modest piano phrasing in a crepuscular style that links back to all her previous work. Yet, in places the clarity is such that it almost feels like we the listeners have just been hearing her songs with clogged ears for the past decade and longer.
Ultimately, these results perhaps most acutely resonate with the etymology of Liz’s moniker - ‘Grouper’ as in member of a Fourth Way commune, The Group, which was inspired by the philosophy of George Gurdjieff, whose mystic meditations surely linger in the magick of Grid Of Points.
A study in friction and sublimity, transitioning from gritty airborne textures to droning, somnolent songcraft...
“Two Words is the debut release from the duo of Canadian sound artist crys cole and Australian songwriter Francis Plagne. Building on a series of experimental live performances in which the pair toyed with possible common languages for their seemingly unrelated approaches to music, the LP's two sides present a single piece that brings together abstract texture and slow-motion song in a sonic space where genre cedes to the logic of dreams. The piece begins with a long, nearly static sequence built primarily from rubbed surfaces, using movement in the stereo field and changing mic placements to create a unified but unstable sonic environment that mimics wind, water, and breath, opening an impossible space between nature and artifice. This artificial outdoors ultimately makes room for Plagne's electric organ, which sounds a series of melancholic chords to accompany a wandering Wyatt-esque keyboard line as cole's intimate contact mic textures sizzle and pop in the foreground. From here the piece makes a surprise detour into song, as the majority of the second side finds Plagne intoning a series of obtuse two-word phrases (from a text by Berlin-based poet Marty Hiatt) to an austere organ accompaniment.
Working closely with engineer and producer Joe Talia, cole and Plagne extend the studio-as-an-instrument tradition of Teo Macero and This Heat, introducing subtle yet unexpected production shifts that lead the listener from the initial austerity of the organ and voice to an oneiric space of asynchronized vocal doubles, creaking textures, and distant whistling, ultimately arriving at something like an imagined meeting of Organum and Arthur Russell. Packaged in a suitably mysterious sleeve featuring a lush work by Australian painter Anne Wallace on the front and text by Hiatt on the back, Two Words is both comforting and strange, a disorienting blend of seemingly discrepant elements.”
Iona Fortune’s Tao Of I came out a few weeks ago and was available in such limited supply that we had the vinyl edition up for sale for about an hour before it sold out. Now that it’s been re-pressed it’d be totally remiss of us not to bring it to the attention of anyone who missed out; it really is one of the year’s most striking debut albums.
Inspired by Eastern Philosophy and slated to be the first in an 8 album series exploring all the symbols of the I Ching, Fortune's music is described by the label as loosely fitting in with Fourth World concepts imagined by Jon Hassell, and indeed she meshes traditional guzheng and gamelan with lustrous tones from a Synthi AKS that provides an incredible sub-bass throb that runs through the record.
However, Fortune’s is an exercise in deep contemplation that isn’t afraid of baring it’s teeth. As opposed to so many Ambient albums riding revivalist waves right now, she seems aware of a basic truth that sound rarely works in one dimension. She aligns tradition and technology in a way that seems expansive and new, almost revolutionary; instead of creating soothing background sounds she makes use of grit and abrasion.
This makes Tao Of I a singular record, measured with a poise and patience that’s utterly arresting in its stoic elegance and sound sensitivity, drawing on a history of arcane, intramural Scots energies and channelling a mystic, ambiguous instrumental voice. It's completely enchanted, enchanting music.
A variegated expo for Dutch pianist Dante Boon, presenting interpretations of experimental works by John Cage, Jürg Frey, Samuel Vriezen, Richard Ayres, Tom Johnson and Michael Manion, sequenced to highlight their range of technical, melodic and expressive qualities. His take on Jürg Frey’s ‘Sam Lazaro Bros’ and the slow, stately procession of Michael Manion’s 34’ ‘Music For Solo Piano’ are particularly sublime
“Pianist and composer Dante Boon often programs his recitals as webs. He likes to put compositions of great diversity in style and technique side by side. However, myriad connections can always be found between pairs of pieces, and these give the whole a subtle coherence. This is also how his first CD is organized, presenting pieces by seven composers spanning almost a century of music. But the most important unifying element of this disc is Dante's own musical personality and approach to the piano.
Two poles are important for Dante's playing. On the one hand he is drawn towards the musical discipline of the Cageian tradition and its concern with objectivity in sound. On the other hand, early Romanticism, particularly German song repertoire, is important to him. For many listeners, these poles may seem like opposites. For Dante, however, there is no contradiction. In his playing, precision of technique and conceptual clarity are expressions of a passionate engagement with sounds and their progression as melody. Here, melodic thought reveals the sonic concept and it is the concept that is sung.
For example, Tom Johnson's Tilework for Piano, probably the most austere piece in this collection, is a systematic exploration of the ways in which a fifteen-beat phrase can be covered by a simple rhythmical three-note pattern that appears at five different speeds. Those five layers by themselves have a percussive quality. But in his performance, Dante is more interested in the surprising melodic figures that result from different combinations of the layers, and his articulation and phrasing stress the melodic aspect over the separation of layers.
Likewise, in a seemingly chaotic piece such as John Cage's Etude no. 2, Dante manages to let expressive melody surface suddenly, while giving the piece's complex, anarchic texture a sense of balance and composure. Similarly, the nervous inner motions of Richard Ayres' No. 8 are performed with a concentration that draws us into their expressive detail, and the sudden bursts of pure movement in my own series of Possible World pieces gain in brilliance through Dante's refined articulation. (No. 5, scored for 1 to 4 pianos and allowing for variety in form, is played twice in different versions.) Cage's early Two Pieces, works of great melodic invention, fit Dante's playing naturally.
The other pieces presented here are all based on chords and chord progressions. Here, too, there is much melodic interest, and Dante brings a clear balance to all sounds, making them sing. Jürg Frey's Sam Lazaro Bros turns out to have an almost Schubertian atmosphere, though listening to it I'm equally reminded of 16th-century choral progressions. In John Cage's One, a piece that requires the pianist to carefully organize his phrasing, even the chords themselves already seem to sing at times - particularly some of the louder ones. In Morton Feldman's Last Pieces, there is always a subtle local melodic logic to the progression of seemingly unconnected sounds, which allows Dante to bring great depth to his playing in the ultra soft range.
The program closes with Michael Manion's Music for Solo Piano, dedicated to Dante, which draws its chords out into long, sometimes subtly swinging pulsating moments. Over its extended duration, it goes through no more than about twenty chords that form one long melodic arch, taking over half an hour to get to its surprising and very beautiful final cadence.
Steve Hauschildt follows his eponymous 2013 compendium for Editions Mego with this romantic lush-out for Kranky.
Hauschildt's first proper solo release since the group disbanded in 2012, 'Where is Fled' charts an alchemical, emotional spectrum of synthetic and natural timbre/spirit within 14 tracks of symphonic swell and resolution infused with processed crowd noise, piano and animal noises. Wandering its sleek gradients in headphones whilst looking at the album sleeve's CGI artwork feels like taking a mooch in No Man's Sky accompanied by the perpetually shifty looking Enya, pointing out new plants on far-flung planets while she coyly glances away, only to morph into Vangelis before scuttling away after a giant pink squirrel and leaving us with that most intangible sensation - am I dreaming or is this a Steve Hauschildt album?
Tint is an intently focussed showcase of the sound sensitivities which have made Joe Talia a cult figure in contemporary electro-acoustic and avant garde circles. If you’ve ever been caught by the work of Oren Ambarchi, Jim O’Rourke, Andrew Chalk, John Duncan or Jean-Claude Éloy, you need to clasp ears on this album!
“Tint is the first new solo recording from Joe Talia in over a decade. Australian-born but now based in Tokyo, Talia is known to many listeners as a drummer (frequently collaborating both live and in the studio with artists such as Oren Ambarchi and Jim O’Rourke) and as a recording and mixing engineer responsible for dozens of releases across the fields of contemporary experimental music, wayward pop, and jazz. Alongside James Rushford, he is also responsible for one of the most legendary releases in the Kye records catalogue, the creaking electronic morass of Manhunter (2013). Lovingly crafted over many months in his tiny Tokyo studio, Tint is an album-length electroacoustic suite that brings together Talia’s expertise as percussionist, studio engineer, and performer on analogue electronic instruments (primarily modular synth and Revox tape machine).
Ranging from minimalist austerity to kosmische lushness, Tint refreshingly refuses the dark and moody sonic palette of much contemporary electroacoustic music in favour of an airy, at times almost weightless sound-world of gliding tones, skittering percussion, and burbling field recordings. Drawing inspiration from Jean-Claude Eloy’s epic concrète love letter to Tokyo, Gaku-No-Michi, Talia makes extensive use of his own recordings of his new home, but removes any sense of audio verite, abstracting them into transparent glosses of outdoor ambience or unidentifiable chimes and creaks. Flowing seamlessly between distinct episodes, Tint is compositionally controlled while retaining a sense of played spontaneity, eventually building to a maelstrom of analogue synth zaps and tape manipulated percussion that reflects Talia’s deep engagement with the relentless yet constantly shifting dynamics of free jazz.”
Following dissolution of the Yussef Kamaal project, Kamaal Williams a.k.a Henry Wu spreads his jazz charms solo on a debonaire début The Return, delivered via his newly minted Black Focus label. The spectres of ‘70s jazz fusion are felt strongly on this one, but updated with a rugged South London vibe that will bring feet to the ‘floor and see some heads get hot under the collar. RIYL Dego, Floating Points, Gilles Peterson
“The Return is a natural evolution from the Yussef Kamaal project, mining the influence of visionary jazz but blended with all kinds of texture, sounds and signals from the over-saturated London streets.
Notable tracks for old and new listeners are ‘Salaam', 'Situations', 'Medina', 'LDN Shuffle' which features Mansur Brown (of Mansur's Message) and for those die hard Yussef Kamaal fans - they should hear the interpolated roots of 'Strings of Light' in the title track 'The Return’. And that signature Wu Funk can be heard on 'Broken Theme', and 'High Roller'.
The Return is the debut album released on Wu's new label Black Focus Records.”
Kaitlyn's solo debut Euclid (primarily written on a Buchla Music Easel synthesizer) was inspired by her love of mbira music, early electronic music pioneers like Laurie Spiegel, Oskar Sala, and Terry Riley, and euclidian geometry. Each of the first six songs on Euclid were initially structured using euclidian geometry, an idea which Smith explored while attending a class at the San Francisco Conservatory.
"As Smith explains, "We each chose a 3D shape and assigned our own guidelines to the different components that make up the shape. For example each point of the shape represents a different time signature, each line between the points represents a pitch, each shape within the closed lines represents a scale, etc. And then you play the shape." Despite their heady geometric origins, the songs have a playfulness and warmth that makes them inviting and memorable.
In addition to the buoyant grooves of Smith's synthesizers, some of the songs feature wordless vocals, which energize the otherworldly songs, while grounding them with Smith's earthly presence. She slows things down for the second half of the record, which features a collection of twelve short pieces, Labyrinths I-XII. Originally composed as new soundtracks to old silent films she found online, Smith says the tranquil Labyrinth pieces are "intended to feel like one is walking through a holographic labyrinth and encountering different experiences such as hang gliding, viewing microbes under a microscope, ice fishing in Alaska, and watching glaciers collapse."
Despite their brevity, most of these songs feel like mini odysseys, effortlessly casting a cinematic hue on the the listener's world. Throughout Euclid Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith consistently delivers sonic puzzles draped in a warm Pacific mist. At times these songs feel so alive — like the musical analog to roots growing deeper and stronger, leaves on branches bending towards the light, or the sun peeking over the horizon, briefly igniting the air with a primordial swirl of warm and cool colors."
Utterly charming Calypso Limonense from Costa Rica by the king of his style, Walter Gavitt Ferguson. Totally remarkable songs salvaged from home-recorded tapes made during the ‘70s and rediscovered in an attic, all awash with background sounds from roosters to road traffic. Folkways fans, this one’s for you!
“99-year-old Walter Gavitt Ferguson from Costa Rica is a humble soul and a living legend, a Calypsonian of mythical proportions. Rooted like an old tree on the caribbean shore, he has never left his home town to look for fame, instead fame did come to look for him. Throughout eight decades, rumours of his musical gifts have attracted people from near and far, contesting Calypsonians, fans, tourists, musicologists, musicians, pilgrims and the President of the Republic. They once even moved a recording studio to his house as he refused to go to the city.
But many years before that, Ferguson used to sell his legendary self recorded cassettes to travellers and music lovers from all around the globe. He never kept a copy for himself and with age started to forget many old compositions. A recently started, international "Tape Hunt" was able to locate 9 such tapes in Canada and rescued 50 of his forgotten songs. Vol.1 of this tropical treasure is now available, resurrected directly from original cassettes of the Calypso King.”
Naturally, Tresor 303 is a killer album of 8 driving acid studies by Italian maestro Donato Dozzy
On ‘Filo Loves The Acid’ Dozzy presents his first solo album since ‘The Loud Silence’ [Further Records, 2015]. But, where that album and his collaborations with Anna Caragnano, Bee Mask and Neel have tended to his experimental side, this is the first time that Dozzy has focussed on dance music for a long player, finally exploring the functions of his numerable 12”s in a broader, durational format, and with predictably immersive results..
It’s all supremely strong and slick gear, opening out with the panoramic pads and plangent tweaks of ‘Filo’ - named after his best bud, whom the album is dedicated to - before getting crafty with the slipping kicks of his ‘Vetta’ pounder and the overpronating drive of ‘Duetto’, to go hard for a late ‘90s skullhead style on ‘Nine ‘o Three’.
With ‘Back’ he brings a flavour of early ‘90s psycho-tribalist stompers, while ‘Vetta Reprise’ ramps the energy level to breakneck, and ‘TB Square’ settles its arse down to a more hypnotic swing jack, before ‘Rep’ rips out with a proper, brain-drilling riff and martial tattoo of the type you’d expect to hear in Tresor, cloaked in smoke and blinded by the strobes.
Dom unleashes two deep, ravenous ’94 jungle dubplates by Dillinja from his special archive (presumably a steel and concrete reinforced bunker somewhere in the home counties)
So, yeh, You is pretty much almost an alternative version of Deep Deadly Subs (Remix), and we can’t really believe it’s been sitting unnoticed or unused for this long - spliffs will drop from slack jaws ‘pon hearing it! - while we’d speculate that the tuffened hardstep of King Of The Beats hearkens from a later date, possibly ’97.
James Ferraro offers an insightful critique of modern day America viewed thru the grim prism of one of its largest stable homeless populations in the notorious, eponymous district of L.A.
Arriving two years since 'NYC, Hell' and, six months since the very sad loss of his early patron and ally, Hippos In Tanks' Barron Machat, the album straddles a typically ambiguous line between cliches of burnt-out urban ennui and excess, and a sense of psychedelic, soulful sincerity with much the same sort of class and verve of his sometime collaborator, Dean Blunt.
The unshakeable influence of late '80s/early '90s commercial music, pop and R&B and cinema lingers from his earlier phases but, those elements feel more sculpted, uncannily spaced-out and with eerie room to breathe in-the-mix.
First and foremost, though, these are proper songs and it plays thru like a proper album, rather than a concept suite or stream-of-consciousness spool. Ferraro sings, raps and talks about his everyday observations, with lyrics about psycho cops, mediated violence and racism often stemming from his poetry and attempting to sum up "the state of the world around me, living on what feels like the brink of societal collapse while also seeing high excess everywhere… all the sounds of the streets crept in."
From our relatively detached position in the UK, 'Skid Row' offers a unique, anachronistic and possibly, darkly romanticised insight to a world far removed, usually only glimpsed in newsreels and internet video clips and effectively unrepresented in 99% of the American music that we stock.
Repeat listens will unpackage its themes further, but for now you can colour us beguiled.
Steve Hauschildt’s grasp of synthesis reaches alchemical, intuitive levels of lushness in ‘Dissolvi’, keening towards a broadly appealing ambient-techno-pop sound without losing the enigmatic, abstract, deep space quality of previous efforts. It’s his finest achievement since striking solo from the influential Emeralds and, quite honestly, isn't a million miles away from late 90's IDM keeprs like Arovane's Atol Scrap. And on we go in circular motion...
“In search of the sublime, contemporary electronic musician Steve Hauschildt has designed grids and panoramas of sound across multiple releases through the rise and dissolution of his former band, Emeralds, an American touchstone of 2000s home-recorded psychedelic noise music. Consistent with his solo work is Hauschildt’s ability to coil his craft in precise, varied, and distinctly physical forms. Gently spinning arpeggios converse with post-industrial decay. Sonic fibers sway like pendulums from static melancholy to motorik bliss. Dissolvi, the artist’s first full-length with Ghostly International, engages sublimation from an ontological perspective: by dissociating the self. Hauschildt steps out from the singular path, for the first time in a traditional studio, to compose and arrange contributions from friends. As a result, his most collaborative work to date extends a vast, vibrating framework in which to consider the state of being.
The album's title — a reference to cupio dissolvi, the Latin phrase meaning "I wish to be dissolved" — needn't be taken one-dimensionally or as purely solipsistic. It does, however, serve an apt reference. Physiological phenomena are of interest to Hauschildt. These back-of-mind ruminations find their way out. Songs are cerebral in orientation, but beyond explanation, the music is truly visceral. Involuntary eye movement inspires the serene, sanguine-nearing-suspicious "Saccade." Hauschildt feathers soft percussion beneath the echoed refrains of Los Angeles musician Julianna Barwick, together shaping a svelte suggestion of the anxieties brought about by modern-day surveillance; if everyone is being watched constantly, there is no individual, no self, only a broadly monitored and clumsily cataloged populous. The work of Chicago poet Carl Sandburg comes to mind: “I am the people—the mob—the crowd—the mass.” The individual dissolves into the taxonomic crowd.
Minimalist techno impulses provide a stylistic through-line for Dissolvi. Understated synth phrases and drum grooves take hold in selective moments, like synchronistic structures onto which nebulous mists, like the rapturous voice of Gabrielle Herbst aka GABI on "Syncope," cling to and cloud, producing a dazzling rift in consciousness. The 7-minute centerpiece "Alienself" reiterates this creative logic, burbling like an amorphous body of water on a low-gravity planet, on the verge of dissolving, but never fully dematerializing. The album was constructed in Chicago (where Hauschildt now resides) and partially in New York. "Much of it was recorded in a windowless studio which removed elemental or seasonal references to time in the music," says Hauschildt. "The focus this time was on mixing the album and incorporating a broader set of instrumentation. I describe my compositional approach as being quasi-generative." Embracing new methods and philosophical curiosities, and in turn, expanding the range of his repertoire, Hauschildt proposes a fascinating and profoundly rich experience in listening, being, and deliquescing.”
Organ whirling Turkish psych soul heavily influenced by classics from Baris Manco, Selda and Erkin Koray, but produced in in 2018 with a contemporary concision. B-side is peach! The 6th instalment of Bongo Joe’s 7” series...
“Altın Gün offer an exciting mix of Turkish folk, psychedelia, funk and rock.After performing in Istanbul with Jacco Gardner, bassist Jasper Verhulst became fascinated by the Turkish sound of the 70s. At that time, artists like Selda, Barış Manço and Erkin Koray combined traditional music with western rock influences. Along with bandmates Ben Rider (guitar) and Nic Mauskovic (drums), Verhulst searched for Turkish musicians to revive this sound. They found Merve Dasdemir (vocals) and Erdinc Yildiz Ecevit (vocals, saz, keys) through Facebook. Jungle by Night’s energetic percussionist Gino Groeneveld joined the groupand the band was complete.Altın Gün play songs from the aforementioned artists from the 70's and their lesser-known contemporaries and also make their own arrangements of Turkish traditionals. This way different worlds meet and form a refreshing danceable sound.”
Despite praise and acclaim throughout his career, Roy Montgomery hates his singing. From his point of view, it’s done out of necessity, when he doesn’t have anyone else around to substitute.
"Roughly one quarter of Montgomery’s epic multi-album 2016 release R M H Q had his singing, and those are his least favorite tracks. Grapefruit has done the best they can to argue that his basso undertones are the center of his appeal throughout his entire body of work, from the first The Pin Group single on Flying Nun in 1981, through his work in Dadamah, Dissolve and on to his legendary ’90s solo releases. However, is it a surprise he jumped at the idea of composing an album for other vocalists? This began as a series of alternate takes of the material on Tropic Of Anodyne, the tracks with vocals off his last release.
That concept morphed into assembling vocalists to sing on new songs, and he conceived instrumental material that would fit each singer. Half of the songs came together, resulting in Suffuse. The album charts a slow progression from those who share similarities with Montgomery’s rumbling vocal technique to those who come at singing differently, with minute contrasts throughout. Haley Fohr (Circuit des Yeux) and Jessica Larrabee (She Keeps Bees) bring the first two tracks, with Katie Von Schleicher following with a raw expression of emotional loss, and the sisters Clementine and Valentine Nixon (Purple Pilgrims) expressing emptiness by stripping away words, weaving their voices together through Montgomery’s elastic webbing.
Julianna Barwick adds drive and nuance to the foamy sonic waves of “Sigma Octantis,” as “Landfall” crashes in slow motion chaos over Liz Harris’s (Grouper) multitracked layers. These compositions generously embrace their guest leaders, and for the first time in his career, Roy Montgomery has made a cogent artistic argument as to why he shouldn’t be singing these songs himself."
Two discs with 17 tracks on each of Beuger whistling, quietly and with a silence and patience of intense concentration emerging from near silence...
"I am well aware of how mushy and subjective this review may read, but for me, from the moment I pressed play on the CD player for the first time on Friday, this music has had a profound, and yet very simple effect on me. Throughout the two pieces there are basically two sounds to be heard. The first is a barely audible, but constant layer of roomtone, presumably where the microphone gain has been brought up. This soft background is perfect for the CD, somehow giving it all a context and just enhancing the human aspects of it all. Then Beuger whistles… softly, always with a slight breathy hiss, never full on piercing notes. The sound resembles little gasps of air forcing their ways through a crack in the door more than anything tonal, though as the score seems to dictate particular notation then there are certainly particular pitches here, just softly, cloudily picked out.
Its the human aspect of it that works so well for me though, and also the fact that it is Antoine whistling here, not anyone else. I say this because the power of this music comes from its direct simplicity, and so hearing the composer pick out what he wants from his score himself and then just performing it, presumably while alone in a room (the score says the whistling should be “whispered very quietly to oneself”) adds to this feeling of directness, and brings a sense of incredible intimacy to the music.
The actual sounds are mostly short lines, roughly three or four seconds in length, spaced apart by silences that aren’t overly long, but leave the listener enough time to contemplate each short burst before absorbing the next. There are also a few little shorter sections which occasionally run through scales, and also hint at bits of melody, but for the most part (as with much of Beuger’s work) there isn’t much in the way of silence here, just a sense of incredible calm and peacefulness. The CD sleeve recommends that the music should be played at very low volume, a suggestion that will always win my approval, but here this is vital. I can’t think of any CD that would be destroyed more by being played at very high volume.
This is music I will return to often at the end of stressful days. It is music I will play when I wish to get off to sleep in a gentlest of manners, but it is also music that I will put on and just sit and listen to quietly, a kind of distillation of musical expression down to this most basic, refined human experience, and so a thoroughly uplifting and inspirational thing, not unlike the birds that can be heard singing every morning here, not unlike the simple beauty that poetry creates when two words are placed beside each other. For me, Keine fernen mehr portrays the very best of humankind, an antidote to the noise, to the chatter of technology, to the anger, to the cruelty that exists in the world today, two CDs that, for me, flood my surroundings with undiluted joy. I have heard so much wonderful music this year, and doubtlessly much of it is technically superior, structurally more complex or conceptually more intriguing to what is presented on these CDs, but nothing, nothing at all at all has had such a deeply moving effect on me as the music here. Utterly magical."
Richard Pinnell, The Watchful Ear.
After 10 years of releases, Synkro mints his eponymous label with ‘Luminous’, featuring two signature slices of Autonomic/Ambient D&B, backed with a killer Paradox remix
Produced at his studio in the Peak district, ‘Luminous’ is a fine example of Joe McBride a.k.a. Synkro’s heart-on-sleeve style, marrying ethereal synth voices with drizzly drums and sloshing Reese bass in the title cut, whilst ‘Weakness finds him vulnerably melodic i9n a way recalling BoC interludes or Bibio dream sequences.
Remixing ‘Luminous’ on the B-side, Paradox is on top form with freely fluid and sinuous drum programming underlining Synkro’s emotive synth arrangements with suspenseful, breathtaking impact.
John Cage's "Empty Words" (1974) is drawn from the Journals of Henry David Thoreau, written in four parts:
Part I omits sentences, Part II omits phrases, and Part III omits words. Part IV, which omits syllables, leaves us nothing but a virtual lullaby of letters and sounds.
On her widely acclaimed debut album proper, Philadelphia’s Moor Mother protests and sounds out against the current state of race relations in USA, using a dense weave of field recordings, machinery, analog noise makers and, most prominently, her wildly processed vocals to punch her message in no uncertain terms.
Variously self-diagnosed as “Low fi/dark rap/chill step/ blk girl blues/witch rap/coffee shop riot gurl songs/southern girl dittys/black ghost songs”, her heaviness is only rivalled by the likes of Death Grips for its thorny Black Punk sensibilities, which she refers to in a wider sense as Black Quantum Futurism, which arguably better covers her rich bed of influences reaped from the musics of Sun Ra to Alice Coltrane, and the literature of Amiri Baraka and Sonia Sanchez, for example.
Fetish Bones cropped up on many EOY lists in 2016 and it’s not hard to hear why. Pitting unflinching, documentarian lyrics about low income life in North Philly and the battle of Black bodies against the police state, with chokingly layered location recordings, palmed noise and turgid, rollicking rhythms, the results are a furnace blast of energy which, once witnessed, indelibly imprints the mind with her sound and politics much in the same way that, say, Matana Roberts’ Coin Coin chapters take us deep into those places, but far more violently and relevant to right now.
The godfather of Afrobeat and the Finnish funk freak go to town, well Cafe Oto to be exact, on this live recording, featuring Allen using a prototype, drum-triggered Moog to devilish effect
“SEPT 2016. The Moog Sound Lab’s first trip out for a live session at Café Oto’s project & café rooms. Jimi Tenor, finnish futurist, shako & Warp Records confederate, jazzed, funked, far-ra’d out. Tony Allen – original drummer to Fela Kuti – Godfather of the Afro-Beat.
These two titans of the beat strange -fed & watered through the mighty Moog Sound Lab via a prototype future sound systems drum trigger unit built & operated by UK moog minder engineer Mr Finlay Shakespeare. New sound universes emerge, collide.
Explosions & implosions make sonic debris. Cosmic dancers prepare to be run ragged by a feral ‘tronic funk that brings to mind early ‘D.A.F” [Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft].”
Finally available again - Second of two crucial Shackleton singles on Honest Jon's, weighted with dynamic remixes by T++ and Mordant Music.
In contrast to the coffin intensity of 'Deadman', 'Fireworks' is widescreen and viewed from above (perhaps best imagined from the perspective of the unfortunate soul in Gaspar Noé's 'Enter The Void'?), suspended in up-drafting columns of ghoulish synth voices, silvery hi-hats and convulsing kicks evaporated from viscous subs way below.
With 'Undeadman' his zombied cadaver arises again, divined like a worm from the ground by plunging subs to join the skull disco on consecrated ground. T++ is similarly averse to gravity, his agile rebuild feeling like it's being dragged upwards by the chest, limbs carving 'ardcore torque in mid-air, buffeted by sub-harmonic turbulence. There's a reference to his classic Dynamo 12" in the title 'Außen Vor', but we haven't the foggiest what it means. Kindred darkside shamen, Mordant Music plays the 'Undeadman' like a dread-dub marionette, trapped in halfstep inertia at the centre of a dizzying atmospheric pressure system. Essential!
In the 15+ years that have elapsed since 'Loop Finding Jazz Records' first shuffled out of his ambrosially dusty speakers, Jan Jelinek's most famous album has acquired an almost mythical status. Originally released via Pole's defunct Scape imprint, it now finds new life via Jelinek's own Faitiche label, for a new generation to marvel at one of the finest examples of loop-based electronic music typical of the early noughties.
Taking what reads like a pretty austere set of ingredients, Jelinek's technique revolves around a trio of elements which consist of second long cuts of 1960's-70's jazz recordings, the loop-finding modulation wheel (do your homework!) and the Moiré effect; albeit rendered in the acoustic as opposed to the image and spectral domains.
If all this sounds a bit academic, be assured that on record it is anything but; as crumbling edifices of mealy rhythms slowly pulse into life and swirl around your head like snow storms clashing with a dust devil. Taking sediments of fathom deep static then skimming the best stuff from the top, Jelinek opens through the dampened echoes of 'Moiré (piano & organ)' wherein a slow-motion thrum of spiraling clicks, rustles and analogue tones conspire to give the impression of recondite perspectives that extend well beyond the constituent elements.
Elsewhere, 'Rocky in the Video Age' instills a gratuitously optimistic blush to the aquatic micro-sound ebb, 'Moiré (Strings)' is a perfect companion to Basinski's disintegrating tape archive, whilst 'Them, Their' represents an aural crease so sleight you can only catch its distinctive gleam from the corner of your eye.
Khotin smushes your temples with soothing ambience in ‘New Tab’, newly availed on vinyl via Pacific Rhythm Music following self-released tape.
Drinking deeply from the cup of Vancouver’s new age spirit, Khotin presents a lovely suite of feathered ambient chords fringed by field recordings and laced with various voices - Japanese, Russian, English - in a milky sequence of sounds, mostly beatless but with a handful of dips into effervescent breakbeats and glassy balearic downstrokes.
There are few contemporary musicians who have had as much of an impact on us as Mika Vainio, so each new release is always cause for celebration. Whether exploring the grim underbelly of the electric guitar on ‘Life (… It Eats You Up)’ or haunted minimalism in his collaboration with Kevin Drumm and friends on ‘Venexia’, Vainio somehow manages to throw us into a state of awe consistently time and time again.
‘FE3O4 – Magnetite’ manages to uphold this quality but takes a stylistic about turn, exploring the two poles of noise and silence, finding Vainio explore distortion and contrast in a way he hasn’t for many years now. Radio static emerges from almost nothing, sounds appear for a second and are gone and cables are established and removed without warning. This dynamic is offset by Vainio’s well-documented expertise with very loud drones, and the drones we’re treated to on ‘FE3O4’ are louder and more intense than you’re likely to find almost anywhere else. Sub bass tones tear through the silence heralded only by small pops, and wavering, distorted oscillators cut and slice like a lone machete in a dark night.
This is often terrifying music, but thanks to Vainio’s calm hand it never devolves into mere theatrics. Rather the sounds are so well paced and expertly handled that you feel like you are being treated to the work of a pioneer, and someone whose work is a direct descendent of Bernard Parmegiani, Luciano Berio and Throbbing Gristle. Incredible music, and yet another totally unmissable full-length from Mika Vainio.
Awesome 2nd volume of ‘Midnight in Tokyo’ jams, with selector Dubby taking over from Toshiya Kawasaki to pick a diamond-studded set of ‘80s jazz fusion vibes from Japan...
All but the most ardent Japanophiles will be new to the sounds in ‘Midnight in Tokyo Volume 2’, which takes the listener for a personalised cruise around Dubby’s hidden gems, collected over decades and perfectly picked to brief.
To play favourites, the delicious warped slump of ‘Hikobae’ by Genji Sawai is frankly unmissable, as are the glittery glyde of ‘So Long America’ by Yasunori Soryo & Jim Rocks, the slinky tickle of ‘Imagery’ from Katsutoshi Morizono with Bird’s Eye View, and the glam strut of Parachute’s ‘Mystery of Asian Port’.
Compelling Ballardian descriptions of life in a seaside town, rendered in textured ambience, melancholic techno and warbling, degraded synth vignettes. RIYL Leyland Kirby, Bellows, Helm...
“Vast, expansive and introspective works utilising place-specific found sound on this second Cremation Lily LP for Alter. Contemplating mortality, illness and the perennial bleakness of British winter in a seaside town we find Zen Zsigo experimenting with piano, violin, synthesiser and walkman tape players. Layering field recordings of the Hastings shoreline atop druggy, stretched out 303 basslines and snippets of spoken word there seems to be an overarching thematic of memory and reflection at play.
From vignettes of crumbling glass and bittersweet drones through to sprawling, semi-rhythmical pieces (‘As a sea creature...’) it seems as if Zsigo is trawling the coast for fragments of its former glory. The end result of his study manages to echo the work of Yoran, Leyland Kirby and even Jacob Kirkegaard yet the rare moments where he lays bare his own vocal narrative seemingly transforms In England Now, Underwater into sonic diary territory. Mixing salt-water soaked cassette loops with haunting, minimalist piano motifs and warped recordings of crashing waves and bird noise an intense atmosphere of Ballard’s drowned world is evoked through sound.”
Antipop Consortium’s High Priest a.k.a. HPrizm drops a rugged batch of illbient hip hop instrumentals on New Jersey’s Don Giovanni Records
Only recently we had been wondering where the heck he’d gotten to, and now here he is, nearly 20 years since we first emerging with the pivotal APC, and still pushing a uniquely flavoured and crooked style of beat craft.
Pretty much picking up where our last memory of his work - the ace Airborne Audio project - left off, the vibe on ‘Catching a Body’ is in heady flux between vaporous drone dubs styles in ‘Knitted Crown’, skulky street corner at dusk feels in ‘Clearbody’, and a proper killer in ‘Asiatic’ recalling Mutamassik’s ‘War Booty’ zinger.
‘Emotional Music’ is a beguiling suite of ambient electronica synpathy from L.A.’s Robert Girardin, marking up his début proper and first solo release with Palto Flats and Elon Katz’ Zero Grow. RIYL 0PN, Rene Hell, Visible Cloaks
“R. Girardin – Emotional Music is a collaborative release from Palto Flats and Zero Grow, a contemporary rendering of synthetic midi-fusion and DAW experimentalism. Drawing links between Rashad Becker’s textured compositional approach and the multicultural electro-fetishism of Benjamin Lew, Emotional Music uses known palettes in non-traditional methods.
In Emotional Music we are treated to Girardin’s tooling of the synthesizer as a spiritual instrument, one where the typical motifs of musicality and style degrade in favor of poetic modulation matrices and breath controlled hopefuls. Synthesizers occupy a special place in sonic energy, dependent on electricity for physical sound creation, void of voice without human intellect and touch. Emotional Music is a synthesis of both the human and synthesizer’s expressive logics; one of internal architectures capable only through external inlets and outlets.
R. Girardin is a Hollywood location scout living in Los Angeles. Recent work includes contributions to the score of Invernomuto’s film “Vers L’Europa Deserta, Terra Incognita,” and lectures on the aesthetics of decentered spatiality in Southern California at ECAL in Lausanne, Switzerland and UC Irvine. Girardin has previously released music on Italian label Hundebiss.
The artwork features a cover photo by Girardin and blind drawings by artist Roee Rosen.”