Equiknoxx, Tarquin, Dre Skull, Ludwig Goransson and DJ dad spin Dirty Projectors and Dawn Richards’ Cool Your Heart towards the ‘floor in diverse fashion.
It’s a tropical weather system of styles, running from a loved-up, sitar and steel drum-inflected Equiknoxx remix to a giddy, almost proggy reanimation from Tarquin, also taking in a mellow dub dip from Mixpak’s Dre Skull and Childish Gambino producer Ludwig Goransson’s ruggedly stripped down swerve between trap and footwork.
Stunning, often ecstatic and frenzied album of 12-string fingerstyles - hugely recommended.
The lesser-spotted Poon Village pick Boston-based Rob Noyes’ captivating debut LP of Basho-esque 12-string fluidity, The Feudal Village for release some two years after their excellent excavation of William Winant’s virtuoso percussion on Five American Percussion Pieces. We’ll be damned if this isn’t some of the most amazing guitar work we’ve heard since those Tashi Dorji records.
With the Demo 2014 tape already to his credit, The Feudal Village necessarily presents Noyes to a wider audience, well, at least those who are lucky to snaffle a copy of this record, which is already - perhaps understandably - trading for twice the shelf price 2nd hand. And we say that as admitted dilettantes to this deeply-rooted genre, although it’s really not hard to hear that Noyes style is deeply impressive.
In eleven parts he’s the best kind of show-off, weaving his elaborate melodies and complex harmonies so quickly and with such rhythmic intricacy that it’s a joy just to try and keep up with him. But once you’re settled into his elemental cadence you’re in for a gripping 35 minutes which only feels half as long by the run-out groove.
“Rob’s playing carries the weight of many possibly imaginary forebears, but the way he smears them all together shows a holistic mastery of touch and imagination that defies a lot of today’s players” -
Bare-bones, proto-technoid primitivism from Shane English, following his previous LP, Conscious Walk for Unknown Precept, and a split LP with Beau Wanzer as Corporate Park. RIYL Thought Broadcast, Conrad Schnitzler, Nocturnal Emissions
“American experimental musican Shane English continues in a long tradition of outsider electronics as he's been humbly prolific in his output though the years involving himself in numerous recording projects. Collaborating with Jonah Lange in their group Corporate Park as well as an ongoing collab with Beau Wanzer (seeing a release last year under the CP/BW name), English now commits his second full length solo offering to vinyl in the form of the General Dimensions lp.
Sparse machine driven electronics dominate the recording providing a back drop for the occasional pulsating rhythm, metallic clank or floating obscured vocal. While it is a dark and sparse affair there is a quiet downtrodden beauty throughout giving the recording a sense of uncertain serenity in an almost shoegazey way. Highly recommended for those into early electronics.”
Timeless roots reggae volley
Sister Rasheda decries the oppressors in World Crisis teamed with Dougie Wardrop and Jerry Lyons’ rollicking dub on the A-side, then steps out on a more mellow, effortlessly driving UK steppers sound in Earthquake and the scooped out Dub produced by Tenastellin.
Instinctive, primordial regressions to pre-history Japan
“Japanese saxophone transgressor Akira Sakata meets with his long-time collaborator and Fender Rhodes virtuoso Giovanni Di Domenico, Portuguese guitarist Manuel Mota, and drummer Mathieu Calleja for a session recorded at Les Ateliers Claus in Brussels.
Named after the Jomon period of the Japanese prehistory - when Japan was inhabited by a hunter-gatherer culture rich in tools, clay pottery, and jewelry made from bone and stone - the record features three tracks: Jomon (縄文), Kaen (火焔), and Dogu (土偶). The Dogu (literally: "clay figures") were small humanoid and animal figurines made during the Jomon period for religious purpose: it may have been believed that illnesses could be transferred into the Dogu, then destroyed, clearing the illness, or any other misfortune.
The record itself is a musical healing ritual invoking and unleashing a powerful demon with Sakata's throat singing, then slowly hypnotizing it in the second half of the album, putting it back into its vault before it's too late. Beautiful artwork made with Sakata's hand-painted Kanji characters.”
Innovations in ‘free’ middle eastern experimental music
“Featuring some of the most innovative players from Beirut, Cairo and Istanbul, Karkhana met for the first time in Beirut in 2014, bringing together influences from the three major experimental music scenes of the region and beyond. Through their live shows, the band's seven multi-instrumentalists build a transcendental atmosphere developing what could possibly be called free Middle Eastern music. Shades and traces of shaabi, tarab, sufi and much more are heard in the distinct blend of free jazz and psychedelic krautrock they've created.
Recorded and mixed by Matt Bordin at Outside Inside Studio - in only two days - and mastered by Carl Saff at Saff Mastering Studio in Chicago, For Seun Matta is the first studio album by the band, following Nafas (Omlott, 2016) and Live At Metro Al-Madina (Sagittarius A-Star, 2015). Featuring Sharif Sehnaoui on electric guitar, Sam Shalabi (The Dwarfs of East Agouza) on oud and electric guitar, Maurice Louca (The Dwarfs of East Agouza) on organ and synth, Umut Çağlar (Konstrukt) on zurna, gralla, bamboo flutes, and percussion, Mazen Kerbaj on trumpet, Tony Elieh on electric bass, and with the recent addition of Michael Zerang on drums.
"I wish I could track down more of this tantalising outfit's music to share...This Middle Eastern supergroup first got together to celebrate the music of Egyptian surf guitarist Omar Khorshid – who was also a key figure in Oum Kalthoum's orchestra – but their remit has expanded somewhat and now they're fully committed to outer-perimeter explorations in Krautrock-leaning, cosmic free jazz" (John Doran, The Guardian)”
Stunning 30 minute session of brain-searing noise techno deconstructions from the virulent Pete Swanson.
'Pro Style' continues the former Yellow Swan's work on 'Man With Potential' and that mighty 7" for BEB's Confessions series, rerouting disparate strains of modular synth squall and bludgeoned rhythms into a decaying techno multiverse on the brink of collapse. The title track rams grotty, toiling bass hits under a face-mauling blast of dissonant, sticky noise calamity, like a dose of sonic bath salts straight to the ear.
A VIP mix follows, placing more emphasis on hulking, viscous dub lurch and really allowing the noise to shred through the pain threshold into a zone of cathartic, psychedelic pleasure. He saves his best effort for the flip, as 'Do You Like Students?' occupies a breathtaking interzone of transcendent Goan bliss and industrially-reinforced, 6am-eternal rhythms, a collective dark fantasy brought to life by a man who's probably spent very little time on the dancefloor, yet knows exactly what he needs it to sound like.
After attending college and getting deeper into computer music, Sam Obey began releasing music as Obey City. The project quickly took off with EPs for LuckyMe, forming the Astro Nautico label with his best friends, multiple tours and collaborating with Kelela and Flatbush Zombies. Now, as Sam O.B., he returns to what his oldest confidants know he’s always had up his sleeve: his voice and his bass guitar.
"‘Positive Noise’, the debut album by Sam O.B., is not a ‘journey of a record’ but it’s also not Party Time USA. It’s nuance; cloud patterns; like good progressive jazz. Like the refinement of refinement, the elegance of elegance. Sound propelled by its own smoothness. A coolness that isn’t cold. The earnestness of an old friend. Expanse. Experimentation. Actual warmth.
Sam O.B. is (and has always been) a man of classics. When you hear the sax on ‘Salt Water’ you’ll understand this ambition with precision. Arpeggiated horn delay and female ‘oohs’ fall like geodesic rain. The blasting synth leads on ‘Midnight Blue’ and ‘Nearness’ waver and find their way. The sing-and-play harmonies of ‘Sirens’ refer to the stunning bliss of smooth jazz, which has been in Sam’s arsenal of interests for longer than anyone can remember.
‘Positive Noise’ also has a strong anchoring in the thick pulsing rhythmic stylings of 70s and 80s disco and funk grooves. Sam is a dedicated vinyl collector, having curated DJ residencies around NYC (Hot Sounds Island, Astro Nautico, The Lot) that practically worshipped smooth jams."
Lasse Marhaug and John Hegre's Jazkamer troupe are among the most respected and prolific members of the infamous Norwegian noise/metal scene.
They love making a f**king good racket. During 2010 they undertook an ambitious project to release an album of new material every month for 12 months via a subscription service. 'Chestnut Thornback Tar' was originally the May edition but the fiends at Type just had to own it on vinyl, hence this wax-only pressing including a bonus mix CD reducing the series to 75 minutes of absolutely deadly and mind-bending visceral noise collisions.
The album is dominated by the 20-minute molten suffusion of 'Sentimental Journey', a wading-through-mollasses sprawl of sustained tones and howling-into-the-wind white noise bearing no small debt to Dylan Carlson's Earth (it's a bit of a giveaway that Lasse wears an 'Earth 2' t-shirt on the rear sleeve image!) and conducted with an almost Zen-like attention to detail.
However, the rest of the LP takes a very different shape, joined by collaborators Nils Are Drønen and Jean-Phillipe Gross to crush out another side of overdriven avant-metal dementia with splattercore drums seething under banks of petrifying noise worthy of Whitehouse at their most fearsome. Yet, the most impressive thing here is probably the CD, forcing 12 months of multi-disciplinary noises to co-exist in dissonant harmony - making for one of the most visceral and exciting mixtapes you'll hear this year.
Marc Richter is a bit of a musical chameleon, operating at the cusp of experimental music for many years at the helm of the Dekorder label and via his excellent Black To Comm project.
His last album for the Type label, 2009’s excellent 'Alphabet 1968’ perhaps didn't quite get the attention it undoubtedly deserved, but it still stands out as one of the most oddly memorable drone-ambient albums we’ve heard this last decade, vaguely tapping into the Hauntological zeitgeist of the day but extending the remit to create something far more unsettling and ambitious. That it was subsequently sampled on Evian Christ's standout EP ‘Kings and Them’ perhaps best illustrates the gap between Richter’s creative scope and his relative anonymity.
News that there was a new double album recorded for Type filled us with curiosity, and the result is another sprawling, ambitious re-modelling of ideas that perhaps started life in the ambient realm but soon became infected by a signature surrealism that genuinely sounds unlike much you’ll have heard before. The album extends from the pulsing, chattering opener ‘Human Gidrah’ to the delirious fractured pop of ‘Hands’, while the 20 minute long ‘Is Nowhere’, builds slowly via rumbling organ sounds and buzzing filters to a noisy, sparkling climax.
There are real songs hidden in there somewhere, but Richter’s restless production style never quite lets them fully surface, throwing numerous stylistic distractions that take in everything from skittering jazz-atmospheres to bombastic spoken word narratives and quasi-operatic chanting - gliding from one track to the next without anything like a coherent progression in mind. That the sum total of these tracks isn’t a sprawling mess is an achievement in itself, but that repeated listens (and it doesn't take many) reveal a kind of addictive, earworm quality is genuinely surprising for an album whose sole remit seems to be to wrong-foot and frustrate. So yeah, 'Black To Comm' is undoubtedly a more challenging record than its predecessor, but one which repays the patient listener in dividends.
Type follow up Mike Shiflet's 'Sufferers' side with a further exposition of his individual and far-reaching sound palette.
A member of C Spencer Yeh's revolving Burning Star Core unit, and a prolific collaborator with the likes of Daniel Menche, Chris Corsano, Pete Swanson and many more, Shiflet has honed an intensely visceral feel for tone and texture which makes his records so intriguing to lovers of experimental composition and music making. With some production/audio mastering assists from fellow Columbus, Ohio-based musician Joe Panzner, on 'Merciless' Shiflet engages with corrosive textures from the off, enticing us in with fractured small sounds on 'Feeble Breaths' before weaving a lattice of quick-drying fibreglass strands over your cochlea which become infested with scuttling, insipid rhythms and abstract noise abrasions designed by Panzner on the lloopp software for max/msp.
This induction, by contrast, makes the second half piece of evolving horror drones in 'Exodus And Exile' that much more affective, while the 2nd side plays through as one longer, queasy composition veering from cacophonous noise to wheezing drone and chilly isolation with added cassette manipulation by Jason Zeh, Cello by Marina Peterson and Violin from C. Spencer Yeh.
Well, somebody had to do it, and we could think of few better than Italy's Alga Marghen label. Punning on the title of Simon & Garfunkel's classic LP (even reproducing the front cover), Patrice Caillet, Adam David and Matthew Salladin have collected those infamous "silent" tracks from releases by Ciccone Youth, Crass, Andy Warhol, Whitehouse, Sly & The Family Stone, John Denver, John Lennon, Robert Wyatt, Orbital, and many more.
It's equal parts a provocative statement, as many of the pieces were intended, and also an aesthetic exercise if we take their instruction to "play loud" literally. All silences are presented as they were originally recorded, from the four minutes of Orbital's 4 minutes of silence for the death of rave, 'Are We Here? (Criminal Justice Bill?)' to John and Yoko's 'Two Minutes Of Silence' , right thru to the void of Yves Klein and Charels Wilp's interpretations of silence on 'Prince Of Space', with each keeping intact the infidelities of their recorded medium - Orbital's digital recording near silent apart from this disc's inherent crackle, to the rich patina of surface disturbance in Yves Klein and Charles Wilp's. The in-depth track descriptions and liner notes are a good read, but really, ultimately it's just all a bit of a p*sstake right?
For reasons that will become lysergically clear once you’ve heard the samples, Midori Takada's sublime debut album Through The Looking Glass  is widely regarded the holy grail of ‘80s Japanese ambient & minimalist music. Perhaps it’s no wonder that 2nd hand copies are known to trade for over £600, and, therefore this deluxe reissue is welcomed by a whole new generation of listeners tracing this enchanted sound back to source.
Rooted in Midori Takada's fascination with Asian and African percussion traditions, Through The Looking Glass documents the Japanese musician navigating syncretic channels of practice between floating fantasy kingdoms and parallel ambient dimensions whilst guided by a deeply ethereal, oneiric spirit that’s utterly key to the album’s appeal. While it broadly falls under the ambient banner, the results are far too grand and ambitious to be considered sonic wallpaper - they’re more like widescreen tableaus that open out exponentially the deeper in you dive.
The image of a Lady Godiva-like character riding a hare-sheep-horse chimera on the cover symbolises the surreal confluence of ideas and gestures within; a Japanese musician translating Victorian psychedelic fantasies into a language of rippling rhythmelodies and softly pealing harmonics that nod to Pygmy music as much as gamelan traditions, the soundtracks of Cocteau films and precise marimba patter.
The rest, we’ll leave for your dilated discovery. Take it on trust that this is especially spellbinding and sui generis stuff without complete comparison. A dream.
Tresor back up Detroit boss DJ Stingray’s Kern Vol.4 selection with a powerful collection of electro-techno missiles, as deployed in his mix. Exclusive, new gear barges shoulders with not-so-recent and vintage weaponry ranging from his own NRSB-11 duo with Gerald Donald to AFX, Professor X, Herva, Gesloten Cirkel and more.
The oldest cut is probably the classic, Kraftwerk-sampling Professor X (Saga) - a big 313 tune since 1989 - by erstwhile N.W.A. affiliate Mik Lezan aka Professor X, The Arabian Prince, whilst rarest cut is probably Syncom Data’s squeaky Musik Politik, which previously appeared on an obscure Cunker Records tape in 1998, making its first vinyl appearance here, as does his slamming Detroit girder Nationalised.
Of course they all sound strong, but when you hear them in the mix at Stingray’s hand, they truly come alive. Now’s your turn…
AR is the collaborative project of Richard Skelton and Autumn Richardson
Originally published in a limited CD edition of just 200 copies, 'Wolf Notes' is the debut album from *AR, the collaborative project of Autumn Richardson and Richard Skelton. While both are already accomplished solo musicians, 'Wolf Notes' marks a stunning new chapter in their canon, and like all great collaborations takes the finest elements of each, moulding it into a pitch-perfect whole.
Those of you familiar with Skelton's previous works, most notably 'Landings', might be surprised to hear that the central instrument on 'Wolf Notes' is the human voice. Autumn Richardson's glassy, lilting echoes haunt the record like distant spirits, with her melodies kneaded and obscured by Skelton's patented treatments and signature strings. The central theme is established with relative ease, but is allowed to shift like the tides, pushing and pulling throughout the record's duration. 'Wolf Notes' might be split into five distinct parts, but they are all simply sections of a clearly defined whole, and are not intended to be heard in isolation from one another. Quite possibly the most sublime project from Skelton yet - adding to an already precious catalogue of releases.
Following on from a pair of Extended Players released in 2011 ("Passed Me By" / "We Stay Together") Andy Stott returns to Modern Love with 'Luxury Problems', an 8 track album of new material recorded over the last 12 months.
Five of the tracks on the album feature the voice of Alison Skidmore, Andy's onetime Piano teacher whom he hadnt seen since he was a teenager back in 1996. There was no grand gesture in mind, it just sort of happened - but after almost a year of studio work the result is really quite unlike anything you'll have heard from him before. 'Numb' opens the album with Alison's voice; layered and looped but essentially left bare and exposed, tumbling into a dense shuffle, sort of somewhere between Theo Parrish and Sade, but more f*cked.
'Lost and Found' follows and deploys a growling rave bassline and a disturbed vocal, the beat assembling itself around a squashed Linndrum like a submerged Prince/Cameo production, haunted and impenetrable, but full of funk. 'Sleepless' started life as an African drum edit that sooner or later succumbed to Stott's intense rhythmic shifts. It's a sound that's been imitated countless times since the release of 'Passed Me By', here re-tooled and re-built for its next evolutionary phase. 'Hatch The Plan' ends the first half of the album with some heavily treated location recordings and a low end grind that probably doesnt quite prepare you for the vocal arrangements that follow - it's just a beautifuly inverted pop song.
The second half opens with 'Expecting', the most recognisably 'Stott' moment on the album: a wrecked, deliriously knocked-out 4/4 shuffle deployed at halfspeed; those heavy kickdrums sucking in everything around them. 'Luxury Problems' is next and offers up the album's most quietly euphoric and open 5 minutes; conventional arrangements and drumloops disrupted by sharp disco bursts that mess with what you know: it's straight and beautiful and unbalanced and damaged, somehow all at once.
"Up the box" switches up the narrative and goes somewhere else entirely, an extended intro that seems to build continuously for 3 minutes before breaking off into a slowed-down Amen edit, creating a kind of narcotic Jungle variant that fragments everything and ends just at the point you think it's going to go off, before "Leaving" finishes the album with an almost unbareably beautiful arrangement of voice and synth and a final key-change that takes you from joyful to forlorn in an instant.
Pat Maher has left an indelible mark on our listening habits over the last few years - from the ketamine techno fractals of his Diamond Catalog alias to the cough syrup-laced chopped and screwed productions as DJ Yo Yo Dieting, the guy just seems to have furrowed his own unique path situating him somewhere between the films of David Lynch, the aesthetic of the Tri Angle label and the mindset of the most experimental end of the U.S. underground movement.
But by far the deepest impression Maher has made has been left by the unforgettable degenerations of his Indignant Senility project. 18 months have passed since the release of 'Plays Wagner' (his debut proper), in which time he's become scarily familiar with his technique of decaying and manipulating found sound and sampled detritus. Like some arcane alchemist perfecting his magick, or a Victor Frankenstein of thrift shop wax, on 'Consecration Of The Whipstain' he's resuscitated acousmatic fragments of f*ck-knows-what into a supernatural collage of symphonic ambient space and cold, metal-on-shellac texture.
But most importantly it's the channels between the gauzy layers, in the cracks of the dulled ceramic glaze, where the ghoulish drafts circulate more freely and chill to the bone with an intravenous sense of movement which wasn't quite there previously, despite always being hinted at. Like the best of his work, there's an unpredictability to the (de)composition of his occult sonics which, like the most memorable horror films (or their soundtracks), sustains the suspension of disbelief without you ever noticing, always holding back more than it gives away.
And to further the celluloid analogy, it's handled with a masterful attention to the lighting of each scene, allowing certain looming objects and apparitions just enough light to elicit deeply instinctive responses from the listener/viewer. There's a list ranging from Xennakis to The Caretaker, Bellows to Lustmord and Kevin Drumm who could be more or less compared to this sound, but ultimately there's something genuinely, quietly demented about it which should be approached with caution by anyone of a nervous disposition. It's just hugely recommended to everyone else.
20 years since they peaked out with a seminal, eponymous techno album, Thomas Köner and Andy Mellwig’s Porter Ricks return with a super robust, dynamic new LP of hydro-tech mutations for Tresor, following up the gritty example set on last year's Shadow Boat 12”.
Tough but deep whatever way you view it, Anguilla Electrica revolves around a signature Tresor sound in effect, toiling well into the trench between aerobic proprioception and psychoacoustic sound design with an immersive, sensational impact that’s just as bracing on headphones as when felt over a big rig - although we’d definitely recommend the latter!
Its six cuts are optimised to a pair of LP's, giving nuff room for the likes of their scowling, skudgy title track and the distended, subaquatic stepper Scuba Rondo to fully flex their thrilling dynamics over a side-a-piece, while elsewhere they perfectly reprise the elemental psychedelia of their early releases with the pendulous swang of Shoal Boat and the sloshing skanker, Port of Tangency.
But if we’re talking about techno psychedelia in terms of amorphous dexterity and elusiveness, then the most impressive examples are reserved to the breathtakingly intricate flux of Sandy Ground, and no doubt the near-weightless, water-treading abstraction and unquantised polymetrics of Prismatic Error.
Take it as a firm yet mutable reminder of what’s possible within the dub-tech-noise paradigm; a deeply smart way of consolidating keening experimental impetus with proper dancefloor pressure.
An amazing selection of works by American composer Robert Ashley, Alga Marghen's release The Wolfman compiles tape music from 1957 to 1964.
The earliest composition is 'The Fox' a stuttering, half-broken recording of a story being read out with a creepy delivery by Ashley. The broken tape sequences are somehow tinted by darkness - a fragmented, discordant flow of sound that can barely prepare the listener for 1964's 'The Wolfman', a scouringly ferocious noise piece that rivals anything you'd hear in modern times from Wolf Eyes, Prurient or even Merzbow.
It's just incredible, and almost impossible to place within the wider context of music being made in sixties America - you really have to hear it. As an accompaniment, 'The Wolfman Tape' takes away the vocal elements of the recording, resulting in a more subdued collage excursion. Finally comes the three-quarter-hour piece 'The Bottleman', conceived as a soundtrack to a George Manupelli film. This hollowed out drone work is a deeply subtle exploration of tonality, quietly plotting out a tundra-like sonic plain with an eerie sense of harmonic fluctuation.
It's a breathtakingly good conclusion to an album that reveals a visionary figure in electronic music - one you may never have encountered previously, but whose output should be regarded as being of immense historical value. Very highly recommended.
Immersive, transporting and deeply arresting music from the revered autodidact and audio oddity. If you've never encountered Ghedalia before, this is an excellent place to start, welcoming you to a whole other world of exotic, electro and acoustic sounds, composed between 1979 and 1987 according to a genuinely far reaching and individual agenda.
"More than 5 years after the CD edition of Eclipse totale de soleil and Transportes, Alga Marghen finally decided to also reissue the first and forth LP by Ghedalia Tazartes including both on one CD. Ghedalia Tazartes is a nomad.
He wanders through music from chant to rhythm, from one voice to another. He paves the way for the electric and the vocal paths, between the muezzin psalmody and the screaming of a rocker. He traces vague landscapes where the mitre of the white clown the plumes of the sorcerer, the helmet of a cop and Parisian anhydride collide into polyphonic ceremonies… The greatest trips were made in the deep end of the throat: the extra-European music open the ear to Ghedalia's intra-European exotism. Where was music before music halls? Where was the voice before it learned how to speak? Ghedalia is the orchestra and a pop group all in one person: the self is multitude and others.
The author and his doubles work without a net, freely connecting the sounds, the rhythms, his voice, his voices. The permanent metamorphosis is a principle of composition, it escapes control, refuses classification. To hell with the technocrates of noise and the purists of synthetic culture. All art like all true mythology use a double clavier, playing nature and culture, feeling and the distance of the flesh, death. Off limits!"
Mysterious 1982 cassette masterpiece by Amos and Crew from the It's War Boys catalogue available now on LP. Remastered from the original tapes by Amos himself! Recorded in Tokyo, Japan on Mr Shiota’s old four track cassette in Mr Kitamura’s kitchen in sporadic three day binge.
"Existing exactly mid-way between the dropping of the atomic bomb and the time a moment ago when you opened this insensibly incendiary package, the throwaway aesthetic of True Tears now glows like a malevolent object in an ever-expanding universe. It's an emetic emissary from the senseless empire of the incredible shrinking man, an attack of a fifty-foot pylon into which The Three Stooges recklessly bang nails in the hope of a hereafter. It's above all an invocation of a truly plastic world. Nails are forced into each other's heads.
Heels clatter on new vinyl steps, the apartment rents out at only slightly more than average, and this is a good neighborhood. We watch the traffic as if alert to the nuances of a symphony, the choreography at midnight might as well be some modernist masterpiece, and the descent of the planes in the darkness, tubes of incandescent cells, strikes terror into all the denizens of the deep. So when I say plastic, Douglas, I mean consider the landmarks that emerge from the fog in the landscape of the last two centuries. Ruin. Cot. Window. Corpse. Airplane. Aerial Photograph. Fossil. Groove. Pine grove. Hoover. Hoe. And so on. And then consider too the tools that allow for the forensic examination of all that matters in the last 100 years or so, the age of relativity that has thrown up parallel universes, murder mysteries, musique concrète, detail, childhood, The Other, and a dismissal even by savants of consensus reality."
Sultry reggae-boogie from the island, 1982, courtesy of The Wailer’s Glen Adams and Emotional Rescue, who provide its first ever reissue. Original copies trade for near enough £200 and more, just saying.
A Beat For You gets all languorous on the A-side with simmering boogie pulse gelled to greasy synth and Glen’s romantic croon in classic style, so classic you’d be wondering why you haven;t heard or slow danced to it already. The instrumental Version is equally delectable, especially those flanging licks and shoulder-controlling, snaky bassline.
Polymath James Leyland Kirby must surely have one of the most confounding CV’s in the business...
He spent years taking the piss out of the music industry with anthems rallying against the (VV)MCPS, he notoriously fell out with various well known record labels for reasons you’ll just have to google, goaded Aphex Twin with a series of ‘tributes’ and channelled his love of everything from Falco (Rock Me Amadeus), Chris De Burgh, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Stockport karaoke nights into a stream of increasingly bizzare 7”s back in the early noughties. But at the same time he was responsible for releasing some of the very earliest material from Boards of Canada (Hell Interface: 1997), made a ruck of frankly groundbreaking industrial electronic records, brought New Beat to the world’s attention and, in 1999, made his first album as The Caretaker, a project that would go on to release some of the most loved Ambient/ Lynchian albums of recent times.
Since then he’s also produced an incredible suite of releases under his own name, scored various film projects and released three EP’s under the ‘Intrigue & Stuff’ banner which are, for our money, so ahead of their time they might just start sinking in properly by the end of the decade. All of which brings us to ‘Watching Dead Empires in Decay’, a new album recorded under another of Kirby’s pseudonyms ‘The Stranger’ and released on Modern Love, a label that has been close to Kirby through these last eventful 15 years. It’s a dream album for the label: perhaps the most ambitious of Kirby’s career so far. It’s complex, singular, enigmatic, percussive, dark, and you just can’t work out how it was constructed.
Gone are the sampled 78’s of The Caretaker, but it also doesnt exactly sound electronic - you just can’t quite fathom how any of it was put together: Field Recordings? Found Sounds? Sheets of metal scraped and hammered? Drum machines re-wired? It’s stark and unsettling, haunted, even troubling - but often just beautiful. It starts with the sharp clang of opener ‘We Are Enemies But Not Here’ before the woozy percussive crawl ‘So Pale It Shone In The Night’ sucks you into a bare landscape: somewhere between Eraserhead and Fumio Hayasaka’s music for Akira Kurosawa.
And then there are moments that break through the tension with clarity and familiarity, nostalgia even: ‘Where Are Our Monsters Now, Where Are Our Friends?’ could have been made by Boards of Canada if they had taken a turn into more noxious terrain back in 1998, while ‘Spiral Of Decline’ offsets the drum programming you’d most likely associate with a Powell record with an oblique sense of timing and space. It all ends with ‘About To Enter A Strange New Period’, an unusual, vaporous coda that offers no resolution - it just shuts proceedings down with nothing settled.
Bewildering and brilliant freeform rock, jazz, and cut-up tape music from 1979 by a would-be collaborator with NWW - included on their legendary list! RIYL Ghedalia Tazartes!
"Released in 1979 in a limited edition on his own d'Avantage label, Catalogue, with its overt theatricality is every bit as wild as the previous Paralleles. Not really jazz, not rock, having nothing to do with contemporary music either, Catalogue is a kind of sonic postcard which features not the group of the same name but instead numerous Berrocal associates including Potage (co-founder of the d'Avantage label in 1976), Parle, Ferlet, Pauvros and recording engineer Daniel Deshays, plus many musicians from the French underground collective scene of the 1970s.
Not content with manhandling a toy piano on 'Tango' (which features mind-blowing accordion from Parle), abusing an arsenal of instruments including saw blades, pistols, shower attachment and even gingerbread, Berrocal pushes his own voice way over the edge on 'Incontrolablslaooo' and 'Faits Divers,' moving from a 60-a-day smoker's cough to a terrifying sequence of gargles and vomits. The grungy free rock of 'No More Dirty Bla Blaps,' the Portsmouth Sinfonia-like spoof Dixieland of 'Rideau,' the distressing punk of 'Signe Particulier' and all manner of fields recordings and cut-ups in Berrocal's Artaudian theatre style, combining the excesses of glam and punk cold-wave to post-1968 Situationist perspective. With the same creative attitude documented through the mythic d'Avantage label (1976-1979)
Berrocal later accumulated an extensive archive of unreleased recordings, some of which finally surface now on this new edition. Catalogue represents the most experimental and complex of Berrocal's records, as historical as contemporary modern, classic and at the same time as fresh and strange as if it had been recorded last week. During the same year Steven Stapleton frequently travelled to Paris to meet Jaques Berrocal and discuss a possible collaboration. In 1980, Berrocal travelled to London with his pocket trumpet and Tibetan oboe and recorded with Stapleton, Heman Patak and John Fothergill on NWW's second album, but that's another story."
Éphémère I & II' (for tape, or to be played with various instruments) are two previously unpublished masterpieces which represent a very specific moment in the creative life and catalogue of Luc Ferrari.
"Luc Ferrari was tempted in the mid-1970s by the idea of leaving the final realization of these pieces open to the performer's intervention (a perspective he decided not to develop in future researches). 'Exercises d'Improvisation', a score conceived in 1977 and unreleased for almost 35 years (first recorded this year by the GOL collective with Brunhild Meyer-Ferrari for an LP to be issued on PLANAM), directly comes from the two works presented here. Éphémère I' (or 'L'ordinateur ça sert à quoin?' i.e. 'What's the use of computers') is a 27 minute piece for tape only, created in 1974, conceived as a kind of electronic drone superimposed by fragments of multi-language whispered voices that creates the thrilling effect of a 'sea-like' continuum.
Éphémère II' (or 'Lyon 75' after the only recorded realization) is a 51 minute tape piece with guitar improvisation. The electronic repetitive structure reminds some of the most radical works of American composer Terry Riley, while the guitar sounds, first resulting as live manipulated pointillistic impulses, develop into a blues sonority superimposing the tape drone and creating a heavy psychedelic atmosphere of the most sublime kind.
The end of this long suite lead us back into more abstract and live-electronic sonorities. This very intense work can be placed in a context between scored music and totally improvised music. First press limited to 500 copies in tri-folded digipack sleeve. Please note: these 2 previously unpublished pieces revealing a hidden part of Luc Ferrari poetics are not included in the INA 10CD boxset. Only available on this CD edition."
Ease back with Dean Blunt on a rare, lowkey solo trip, curling up two H-pop / weightless soul bewts for late nights in with red wine and moonrocks.
They’re both some of the gentlest works in his catalogue of recent years, hearkening back to the gauziest aspects of Hype Williams or perhaps an expansion of his wistful LP interludes, which leads us to two conclusions; they’re either archival recordings or just a necessary salve for the times. Either way they’re dead sweet.
On the A-side’s As Long As Ropes Unravel Fake Rolex Will Travel he binds effervescent guitar licks and ear worming vocal loop to conjure something like Steve Reich and Vini Reilly on a lazy sunday, meddling with loop pedals while lounging on a balcony overlooking London. FUNKTION on the other hand, swipes away the vocal to leave behind salty, saturated traces of a purely guitar-based piece, recalling Last American Hero era James Ferraro meets beautifully maudlin Loren Connors in the process. Last Brexit Hero, anyone?
One of Charlemagne Palestine's best-known works, "Four Manifestations On Six Elements". "Two Perfect Fifths, A Major Third Apart, Reinforced Twice" (1973) is an electronic piece that deals with the search for the essence of timbre, sound color, through exploration of the inert chemical activity in the overtone series of tone fundamentals.
"In this genre of his work Palestine feels akin to a kind of sound alchemist - blending elements over and over again through the years searching for the Golden Sound - the essence of the chord or harmonic structure itself. In "One + Two + Three Perfect Fifths, In The Rhythm 3 Against 2, for Piano" (1973) the elements introduced are now elaborated upon on the piano.
The resonant Bösendorfer allows Palestine to create a more lively and complex variation of tones, intervals, overtones and rhythms. "One Fifth" evolves by reinforcing the fundamentals of a fifth with their higher octave. Each performance of this work is different as Palestine reinterprets these simple elements listening within them for variations of amplitude, mixture and inertia at the moment of the performance. "One + Two Fifths" deals with the way a rhythmic sonority sounds when the sustain pedal of the piano in not used, thus focusing on its rhythmic aspect. Gradually by adding the sustain pedal the external rhythmic pattern begins to internalize becoming an inert part of the whole tymbral fabric - a piece expressing the battle of rhythm versus timbre for dominance.
In "One + Two + Three" a third fifth is added - variations of melody and sonority reinforcements culminating in a rhythmic deceleration process ending the work."
Manhattan's Ezekiel Honig makes a welcome appearance on Type with the beautifully melancholy 'Folding In On Itself'.
The frayed, spectral layers of ambient sound and dusty pulses within recall the works of jan Jelinek, The Remote Viewer or even elements of the first MvO Trio LP, but his serene, almost sorrowful palette of tones comes from somewhere more private and personal. While those artists are all defined by a sense of intimacy in wide open space, Ezekiel's location in one of the most densely populated areas on the planet perhaps gives it a more introverted insularity, as though he's cosily enveloped by his memories while the world scurries about on the outside.
Those memories and their corruption or decay are at the core of this record, like the overlaid family photos on the sleeve, capturing a sense of entropy in his quickly disintegrating city. Locally made field recordings are placed as rhythmic and textural clues to the shape of his environment, and when they happen to fall in sync with his instrumentation the effect is lush, creating and effortless illusion of everyday aleatory syncopation. This beautifully measured sense of drifting, stigmergic arrangement with programmed elements makes for a captivating narrative as varied as a walk through the city itself, but subtly enhanced like some sort of moody augmented reality app or wandering blindfolded through some vivid sound art installation.
Captivating avant-garde pieces layering a recording of a solo piano recital with field recording of a storm
"Utopia Andata e Ritorno is the title of the new composition by Walter Marchetti, recorded in Milano in 2005. It has two parts, each one CD long. The first part, 'L'Andata,' puts together two former recordings of Marchetti. The recording of a real storm and a recital for solo piano. This is not the first time that Marchetti mixes a piano solo recital with the recording of a natural live event, thus creating a 'piano concert'.
The second CD, 'Il Ritorno', reverses the direction of the first record and literally destroys itself. In the first part of this work, Marchetti puts music successfully in the place it has to have today: on the road to renewal in contact with reality, a reality that is a synonym for vacuity, that is the interdependence of phenomena, music, reality, technology. There is nothing mimetic or anecdotal in this work. The storm is a real storm and the solo piano recital is a modern work of pure music, without the excesses that the society expects of a piano recital from composer and virtuoso player. Pure music, in the best sense of the word. 'L'Andata' is one of the great works of music of our time, or, as José Luis Castillejo remarked, 'it may be the best modern piano concert since Brahms.' In the second part, 'Il Ritorno,' sound waves are deformed when one tries a reverse hearing and the turn around trip becomes an aural nightmare.
Of course, avant-gardism has made us accustomed to noises and silences and to the arbitrary idea that anything is music. 'Il Ritorno' announces the end of musical avant-gardism and its technocratic aspirations. It points to the end of music avant-gardism because it exposes the technological manipulation not only of technology beyond its powers, but also the manipulation of both music and sound. 'Il Ritorno' is such a problematic work also because its subject is failure and impossibility."
Sublime ambient works for gongs and bowed cymbals from Jon Mueller and Eleh collaborator Duane Pitre.
Inverted Torch' is an incredible, immersive session of treated gongs and bowed cymbals from Jon Mueller (Volcano Choir) and dedicated minimalist Duane Pitre for Type. It's the 3rd Type release for percussionist Mueller, and the first for former pro skateboarder Pitre, who's been quietly amassing a catalog of sublime LPs for Important Records and others since 2007, including a superlative split with Eleh. In collaboration, they find a deeply immersive equilibrium where their tempered, haptic gestures give rise to a play of shimmering tones in negative space recalling the soundtrack to some black light theatre piece or Far Eastern classical.
It breaks down as two extended 20+ minute pieces, 'No Longer Our Time' and 'A Fading Light Within Its Place' both taking influence from Edith Matilda Thomas' poem, 'The Inverted Torch' by using its text as a key touchstone and rich imagery for the album's sense of push and pull between the "real" tones - the light -and their effortless, near-imperceptible transformation of synthesised negative space into a part of the composition itself. The results feel more "free" than any of Pitre's Important Records releases, and as coolly disciplined as any of Mueller's previous for Table Of The Elements, Taiga, or indeed Type. It's a record that defies comparison and encourages patient, deep listening.
Lavish 4CD box set includes the complete Ghedalia Tazartes recordings previously issued on cd by Alga Marghen, plus a new mini-cd titled "les danseurs de la pluie".
"Diasporas-Tazartes" is the cd edition of tazartes' first and fourth albums, "Transports" is the cd edition of Tazartes' second album complete with four bonus tracks. "Une Eclipse Totale De Soleil" is the CD edition of tazartes' third album with a long bonus track. "Les danseurs de la pluie" gives title to the complete anthology and is a 12 minutes mini-cd, presented on creative disc, including four previously unavailable tracks: two 1977 recordings from the Eclipse Totale sessions of a very wild and residential nature; and two colossal new pieces recorded in 2005."
An absolutely essential, first ever vinyl reissue of Maggi Payne’s hugely immersive and mind-expanding Crystal [Lovely Music, 1986] - an outstanding example of the crossover between West Coast American new age thought, computer synthesis and electro-acoustic composition in the mid ‘80s, remastered and cut by Rashad Becker to make for one of the standout archival releases of 2017, bar none.
To mark the 30th anniversary of its release, Belgium’s Aguirre Records have thankfully re-generated Crystal on vinyl for the first time, re-cut at 45rpm by Rashad Becker to render its chromatic sweeps and dynamic vortices as vividly as when they were first realised;- at the esteemed Mills College, where she is co-director of the the Center for Contemporary Music (CCM), and teaches recording, engineering, composition, and electronic music.
Crystal forms the 2nd vital reissue of Maggi’s work in recent years, following up the revelatory Ahh-Ahh (Music For Ed Tannenbaum’s Technological Feets 1984-1987) reissue by Root Strata in 2012, which coincidentally soundtracked one of the strongest LSD trips in this writer’s memory not long after its re-release. I won’t bore you with details of a flashback, but I can safely say that undergoing Maggi’s music in that altered state gave it unforgettable context - a unity of the senses - which aided to reveal its insight or foresight in gloriously transcendent style.
With that in mind, Maggi likewise distills a potential for profound experience within Crystal, as she explains, “I create immersive environments, inviting listeners/participants to enter the sound and be carried with it, experiencing it from the inside out in intimate detail. The sounds are almost tactile, visible, tangible. A narrative of the imagination exists, allowing each person experiencing the work to thread their own paths through their mind's imagination and their body's physical engagement. Each sound slowly unfolds, revealing intricacies and complexity. Each grows and evolves like crystals forming under the microscope.”
Within this finely controlled and naturally, mathematically rigorous approach to architectronics, Maggi divines a range of dynamics which feel to vividly represent elemental forces or noumenal gestures. Whether sending us skyward to throbbing modular techno and gloriously pensile drones from the faintest initial murmurs of White Night, or sensitively extruding your mind thru stages of lush, keening discord in Crystal, and effectively diffusing the senses, the ego, thru the tenebrous electromagnetic disturbances of Solar Wind, the effect almost inevitably leaves listeners wide-eyed and open-jawed, wondering where the hell they’ve just been and how to get back there.
For us at least, it’s easy to place Maggi’s music with some of the most important research of her era - a generation who instinctively and academically explored the potential of psychedelia thru the prism of new technology, and evidently made some truly astonishing discoveries along the way. If you’ve ever been wowed by the work of Pauline Oliveros, Roland Kayn, Christina Kubisch, or Alvin Luceir, you owe it yourself to immerse in Crystal at the earliest opportunity.
Inga Copeland collaborator John T Gast’s narcotically seductive Invocations is (as far as we’re aware) the 2nd Blowing Up The Workshop session (Project 34, 2014) to see a welcome vinyl release, following in the footsteps of that much-loved 100% Galcher Lustwerk set.
Arriving in the wake of his Sisters of Control 7” with Inga Copeland, this one is a real melter from run in to run out, nourishing last night listening needs with a sublime shadow play of gauzy pads, ambient motifs and submerged rhythms strewn with miasmic R&B/rave vox.
One of the most impressive facets of Gast’s music is the patient sleight of hand and attention to tone, managing to gel a range of tempos and ostensibly disparate strains under the same, personalised street-lamp glow with a sense of mise-en-scene and lighting that’s practically Lynchian in effect, and almost unmistakably eldritch with it, too.
Of course, you can fully make up your mind whether you like the record by checking his mix online before purchase, but if you’re feeling trigger happy and willing to get lead down an unknown, yet strangely familiar path, we’d recommend buying this blind for optimal returns. It’s a real bewt.
An excellent Arvo Pärt primer...
"Arvo Pärt creates music of deceptive simplicity, and listening to his work can be a transformative experience. Imagine taking your ears on a retreat, and you’re some way to understanding why his work is so popular.
The Estonian composer underwent his own transformation in the 1970s, having explored dense avant-garde music in the early part of his career. He put himself through an eight-year creative exile, and emerged with a new, purer voice. The Arvo Pärt that many people are devoted to today (including R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe and Björk) creates music that cleanses. A sonic detox."
Wildly unpredictable, strangely exotic and magically eccentric art music recorded 1979-83 spanning jerky post-punk, drones, cut-up collage, noisy blues-rock skronk and improvised electro-acoustic dubbing. An important and outstanding release. Fans of Wire/Dome through The Residents and Ghédalia Tazartès should invest, we don't think you'll be disappointed.
"First in a series of alga marghen editions documenting the activities of the It's War Boys underground label, founded by Amos (of The Homosexuals fame) in the late 1970s. The original LP was issued in an edition limited to 300 copies (most are on blue vinyl but there are some on pink vinyl and a few on black). The material was recorded from 1979 to 1981 but wasn't released until 1983 due to problems with the silkscreened sleeve. The band only put out this record, a real hidden gem. Lepke said that he wanted it to sound like a Beach Boys LP by using lots of different studios but it was mostly done on a cassette machine with a primitive 'surround' function.
If The Homosexuals were a strange prospect and their music should fit into a similar spot as that of angry young men like Wire and Magazine who carried their penchants for art-school angst in the midst of proto-thug posturing, Milk from Cheltenham were even a more extreme band. Not only progressive with a certain artistic notion (a reference could be found in This Heat, Family Fodder and Chris Cutler's bands Henry Cow and the Art Bears) but also closer to more primitive sound experimentations of a cryptic and sinister Residential perspective. This release finally documents one of the most important projects developed in the scene explored by The Homosexuals.
First compact disc edition including a previously unreleased track titled The Geek. Graphics reproducing the original graphic material from the early 1980s. Digipak first edition limited to 500 copies."
Osiris have the rare honour of hosting a typically sublime Burial remix on the B-side to Deep Summer, Simon Shreeve (Kryptic Minds) aka Mønic’s melancholic and dusky industrialullaby.
Perfectly measured for the pensive atmosphere of summer 2017 in a Brexiting UK, Mønic’s Deep Summer courses ghostly R&B/folk vocals thru an arid scene of knackered, worn-down drums and keening harmonic pads, barely but stoically keeping its head up against its impending conclusion in a cannily metaphorical narrative arrangement.
Trust Burial, then, to extract and amplify some sense of beauty from the reserved anguish of Deep Summer on the B-side, opening with a filigree collage of seagulls, windchimes and pads recalling the “better days” of ‘90s summers, before lone voices sardonically echoes the sentiments of Nigel Farage (say it like garage) in the recurring phrase ‘we don’t need noone else’ against a rhythmelodic moire of maribas, pealing sax and queasy subbass squirms, perfectly capturing the lucid sleepwalking momentum and frayed socio-cultural fabric of Britain right now in the gauziest, impressionistic terms, replete with an updraft of balearic guitar in the closing stages perhaps predicting our mass exodus to a Ballardian super-city along the mediterranean coast.
Benidorm, you’ve been warned.
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.
Autechre's classic third album from 1995, reissued for the first time in 15 years...
Completing the triumvirate of early Autechre essentials, Tri Repetae was the duo’s cranky contribution to mid ‘90s electronic music, and, like its predecessors - Incunabula and Amber - a record that completely defines certain aspects of that era for many electronica nerds, us included.
It’s possibly best known for including the peerless electro-trance swerve of Eutow - which could literally kill someone prone to AMSR in the right situations (not a bad way to gan) - whilst the rest of the LP cements some of Autechre’s sharpest, neck-snapping hip hop beats.
If you’ve only heard this album via download or streaming, or are only aware of their later gear, you’re in for total treat.
Laurel Halo focusses and diffracts her energies into the hi-tech jazz-fusion advancement of Dust; her stellar 3rd album with Hyperdub following the modern classic Quarantine  and the harder-to-grasp Chance Of Rain .
Whilst fully formed in their own rights, those records now appear to be a playground or warm-up for the stunningly loose yet instinctively coherent geometries and ideas that crystallise, slosh and flit all over this one, and which should surely place Halo among the most enigmatic artists in her astral field.
While swarmed with a daring roll call of collaborators such as Klein, Eli Keszler, Julia Holter, $hit & $hine and Max D, Laurel’s myriad ideas both anchor and form a glowing lattice which beautifully perfuses the whole record, tying together her roots in Detroit techno’s makeup - sci-fi, jazz, electro, japanese electronics, dub and nEuropean concrète - and seamlessly incorporating up-to-the-minute gestures from pop, R&B and 4.1 world dimensions in the most elusive yet insoluble style of her own.
If pushed to reduce that concoction to any one common factor, it’s got to be the sense of keening electronic soul that lights up the whole album, lending a cybernetic sensuality and pathos that’s entirely of its time yet totally transcendent for anyone with ears open wide enough to accept the interrelated nature of all the above references.
It would take a braver scribe than us to properly dissect each track, but the exercise would also be a a little pointless or, at least like like describing architecture thru dance, which funnily enough is perhaps the best analogy; a prism thru which to view the deliquescent R&B physics of Solar To Sun and Jelly at the album’s front, to the 3D weft of tribal percussion and Kraftwerkian bleeps wrapped into the avant-pop structure of Moontalk and the insectoid perspective of Nicht Ohne Risiko, or drifting out of 10th storey windows in the dusk of a hot summer day in Who Won? at the album’s core, whilst Syzygy sounds like an ancient construction site visited by a choir of swooping R&B angels from the future.
There’s little doubt that Dust will be one of our favourite albums for the (hopefully) long hot summer of 2017 and beyond; it’s just a brilliant, imaginative and inspiring piece of work.
Not for the first time, but arguably the most significant, Pye Corner Audio crosses paths with Ghost Box for his first LP of 2016; a narcotically hypnagogic and dystopian trip entitled Stasis.
At least one leap year cycle since his last album with the GB’s, Sleep Games, right now this one feels like a stygian trudge into bleakest futures, operating at such a stoned pace that it moves slower than actual time, and by submitting to its temporal warp we’re allowed to regress back into a pre-digital epoch of paranoid cold, or even civil war atmospheres and paranoia.
It could almost be the soundtrack to a Ben Wheatley flick (low budget, not the over-glossy high rise) about British time travellers, forgoing Dr. Who queso for a more hard-boiled, furtive vibe about anachronistic assassins sent back to kill Nigel Farage at birth, only to uncover that he’s part of an exceedingly dangerous non-human race with ties to Johnson, Cameron and all the other pebble-people, so they round them all up and lock them in a hostel in Middlesbrough with a broken kettle and packet of poisoned monster munch between the lot.
Of course, that fantasy is all set to a soundtrack of wistful electronic mists and pulsating arpeggios that could be right out of some late ‘70s / early ‘80s synth library, and ultimately shows that whilst technology has advanced in the meantime, that ostensibly archaic music still reflects an underlying eldritch darkness contemporary and relevant to both eras, then and now.
Norwegian ambient maestro Geir Jenssen aka Biosphere maintains his fascination with natural landscapes in The Petrified Forest, in a sort of impressionistic illustration of Archie Mayo’s 1936 film of the same name.
After imaginary trips taking us to Trømso, the Wolski forest on Poland, and more esoteric corners of his mind, this time his music inhabits a noirish world on the edge of the desert, populated by nervous and disillusioned characters who crop up in snatches of sampled dialogue across strewn across the album’s isolated, imagined interzones.
Night falls with the opening prickles of starlit synth and smooth blanket of darkness in Drifter, inviting us to scud across the endless panorama of Black Mesa pushed by spare electro downbeats, touching upon the fulgurite synth figures and charred beat stumps of Turned To Stone, whilst The Petrified Forest itself appears a totally serene space akin to one of Wolfgang Voigt’s wistful Gas spaces, and Just One Kiss recalls Pye Corner Audio waltzing into the dawn, before the album resolves with thew weightless 808 sway of This Is The End, which could almost have come from a late ‘90s AFX or Ae album.
Legit reissue of a proper Belgian new beat nugget!
With thanks and gratitude to Adelaide’s Isle Of Jura label, Twilight Ritual and A Split Second founder, Charisma Chayell’s sexy new beat ace, Beach is reissued at a reasonable price, considering that original copies rocketed in value after DJ Harvey played it on Boiler Room.
Although not our favourite Chayell joint - that’s definitely Don’t Even Think About It (1989) - this 12” is a prime example of new beat at its earliest, refined and syncretic; filtering 4th world electronic voices, electro-boogie grooves and industrial-pop arrangements with that ice-cool ‘80s Belgian sensuality that we’re deeply attracted to.
Both tracks are essentially ‘floor-readied versions of Drinking Sand off A Split Second’s seminal Ballistic Statues album, the same LP that generated Flesh - which was most often played at 33rpm instead of 45rpm, a pivotal moment in the birth of new beat - and like Flesh was a staple on influential Goan, Balearic and Belgian dancefloors at the time.
Speedos in the briefcase times. Big tip!!
Richard D James' classic album from 1992, re-pressed countless times but still sounding as vital and impoirtant as it did way back when. Still probably the most uplifting and nostalgic thing in the AFX catalogue...
Clad in retina scorching pantone-printed jacket, Pedrodollar’s fully fledged solo debut for Born Free...
...renders a sleazy turn of psychoactive disco-dub, getting into a slack gear with the scuffed swerve of Money Money Money, then percolating the fizzy come-on, Just Dub, and making room for something sweeter with the curdled casio riffs of U Gotta Do What U Gotta Do, and the salty ambient salve of A Fun Time Is A Great Time.
Think Ilpo Vaisanen meets $hit & $hine or Zuli clashing Pat Maherr…
“All spectrums explored. The off kilter dub waltz of '16-16' stutters into view with a heavy and heady rolling dread, whilst inaudible vocal snippets and flatlining synth lines echo and enforce a melee of repetition and danger. 'Fitness Talk' perhaps best showcases Assel's interest in Dubwise production techniques, and his ability to soak up a palette of sound and turn it into something truly his own. Soft familiar bass pads provide the backbone here for all out sample mayhem, a space where recognisable dub effects and sonars vibe alongside absolutely unsettling outer samples of jarring vocals and inaudible upset, purposefully mixed to jolt ears into unfamiliar territories. 'This will not stand' opens and closes in similar fashions through 'Don Leo 2' and 'Don Leo 1', with Assel crystallising the themes of grit, surrealism, absurdism, dub, and experimentalism explored over the EPs 22 minutes into two short sharp bursts.”
'Music always should be surprising and make you alert. You must be on your toes and you should feel that anything could happen, the weirder the better. I love darkness and grit in music, it's great when it doesn't quite fit - that's far more interesting to me then any kind of smoothness.' - Robin Asselman / Assel”
The follow up to last year's 'Caramel', which explored and disassembled the afterglow of warm rave memory.
"The EP kicks off with the joyous actual rave of Cascada, a piece of sunny techno with a modulating, catchy stab riff over strong kicks. Next up, 'Species with Amnesia' starts of with hazy bells and synthetic, warped bird-like sounds, before dropping into a chugging Italo disco bassline and a relaxed synthline which snakes around the chords in unexpected ways as the track progresses.
The first of two remixes, the µ-Ziq mix of 'Caramel', is recast to maximise it's airiness, its soft chords building into epic slabs of choral sound over loose breaks. The EP finishes on the slowly evolving dawn ambience of Huerco S.'s 'Extended Stay - The Morning Version' of 'Beatrice's Visit', eleven pure minutes of gentle bliss to get lost in."
Revered west coast DJ/producer Kutmah takes a massive mind-dump with his long-overdue debut LP, Trobbb!, forming a 26 track mosaic of sawn-off beats and ragged atmospheres that works just like a mixtape of exclusive, original material.
“The record features an incredible cast of guests - Gonjasufi, Jonwayne, Natureboy Flako, Ta’Raach, Jeremiah Jae, Zeroh, Zackey Force Funk, N8NOFACE, Sach, Akello G Light and DJ Chris P Cuts - spanning experimental meditative, Zennist loops; crackly oddball beats and abstract raps; as far as outright punk/noise and even folk/blues. At its heart it’s an incredibly sentimental record, heavily referential to his past but also future-facing, and not just in its sonics. “I wanted to make a record for loners. You know some records have that ‘Hey! I'm at a festival!’ sound? Well I wanted to do the opposite of that”.
The album was recorded in Berlin in Winter. Being in a foreign country around the holidays when one is supposed to be with family… that emotion of isolation weighed heavy on Justin: “For three weeks during this time I didn't speak to a single person… I had no internet and no phone.” Accordingly, half of the record fits this season and these emotions. In Spring the sun came out and the flowers were blooming: “I started to cheer up a bit and so did the beats,” says Justin. “I like that there are polar opposite vibes on the record. Hopefully I'll hear from some punk kid that they only like Part One, or from some hip-hop head that they only like Part Two… or some beat head saying they only like the instrumentals.”
Close friend Dario Rojo Guerra (aka Natureboy Flako) played a key role in piecing the album together with Justin, acting as engineer and occasionally producer, in addition to providing a set of trusted ears.
There’s a definite sense of contemplation and memory with “TROBBB!”. The title is a reference to Justin’s school days in Brighton. He would go to Egypt to visit family in the summer holidays and come back to school suitably tanned. One bully took to calling him Black Belly Button until one day Justin took retribution with his fists. The cover photo, taken by Justin himself is in itself highly symbolic: “It’s my homegirl Angela at lunch break at Hoover High in Glendale around 1992. We would always try to go where no dickheads were hanging out, so we would go chill by the bleachers and take photos of each other.”
LA’s Gifted & Blessed (GB/The Reflektor) returns as The Abstract Eye with a hot flush of loose and supremely adroit electro-funk zaps on Rush Hour.
Check for funkiest highlights in the chromatic keen and wobbly but snappy groove of Cool warm Divine and the bubbling low key beauty, Twinkerbelly.
Theo Parrish grips two yung Detroit producers, Julion De’Angelo and Thomas Xu, for a superbly refreshing blend of traditions, old and new, with Roots That Talk for Sound Signature.
Track for track they give up some of the baddest gear on SS in a minute, with De’Angelo’s Chase The Summer pivoting around a killer, angular Afro-drum cadence, electro-stab punctuation and virulent synthlines, and then playing out the perfectly hazy, dusky ghetto ride of Pocketfull’s Omar-S style steez.
Thomas Xu keeps up his end of the bargain, too; getting down with balafon-like percussions and thumb piano chimes in Alottochewon before a rudely fulminating synth wickedly upsets the rhythm - this will sound mental in the club! - whereas his Acceptance groove meditates on more charming vibes redolent of Africans With Mainframes at their more laid-back angles.
Wolf Eyes fix a possessed gaze on a sort of squashed slow techno abstraction in two excursions for their Lower Floor label
With roiling globular pulses and colourfully plumed flutes and oscillator tweaks coming off like Rashad Becker jamming with The Sperm for the first half of 11817, before committing to something like Black Mecha doing native american music for the 2nd half, before 11317 takes off on a slightly shorter but more wigged out trip churning up woozy clarinet with free-handed guitar noise and absolutely messed up, barely harnessed bass muck.
“Wolf Eyes return to the audio world with two bangers of free abstraction and stretched out otherworldly electronics with ‘Strange Days II’. After the ‘Undertow’ (previous Wolf Eyes album) washes you up on the shores of an unmarked empty island, you find yourself stuck dead centre tangled inside a world where the air is filled with buzzing electronics beamed in from a arcane planet and the ‘things’ that are living are hungry for marrow of anything that was considered ‘music’ from the year 2391 AD. You are left alone with how to recreate sound from scratch, using nothing but the wind and mystery. The only words left from the human race are carved slowly on the trunk of a twisted tree, carefully saying “Wolf Eyes were here and these were truly strange days.””