Exquisite neo-folk from Kiev Ukraine, 1995, dropping on the mind’s eye like freezer-fresh LSD to conjure bucolic imagery fraught with a frazzled, hyaline tension that could snap either way.
"Svitlana Nianio and Oleksandr Yurchenko are musicians with a long history in the still-mysterious Kiev Underground. Nianio’s first group Cukor Bela Smert [Sugar, The White Death] were active from the late 80’s through to the early 90’s, and following an intense period of touring, collaboration, experimentation and a string of mixtapes and self-published recordings, Nianio’s first official solo album ‘Kytytsi’ was released in 1999 by Poland’s Koka Records. Oleksandr Yurchenko, a longtime collaborator and a pivotal figure in the Kiev music scene, was instrumental in creating the Novaya Scena, a loose conglomerate of artists who encouraged each other to excavate both the sounds of the West and Ukrainian tradition. ‘Znayesh Yak? Rozkazhy’ (‘Know How? Tell Me’) is the duo’s most fully realised collaboration, an enchanting, complete world in which Yurchenko’s instrumentation and playfulness with form frames Nianio’s otherworldly soprano, recalling Liz Fraser steeped in contrapuntal melody and hymnal improvisation. Originally made available on a self-released cassette in 1996 (re-issued in 2017 by Ukraine’s Delta Shock label) where the album was twinned with ‘Lisova Kolekciya’ (re-issued on LP in 2017 by Skire) this is the debut release of ‘Znayesh Yak? Rozkazhy’ outside of Ukraine.
Recorded in an abandoned park in Kiev during a fertile period for artists and musicians following the collapse of the Soviet Union, ‘Znayesh Yak? Rozkazhy’ sees Nianio and Yurchenko combine Casio keyboard, hammered dulcimer, percussion, and Nianio’s unmistakeable soprano vocalisations to create music sympathetic to the specific locations in which they chose to record. Yurchenko’s contribution is perhaps more present on this recording than anything else we have heard from the duo. His percussive dulcimer playing provides the basis on which Nianio can weave delicate keyboard lines while playfully contorting her voice, shifting from a low register reminiscent of Nico to what could be perceived as the call of a bird or an animal in distress. Whatever the intent, the effect is haunting and beautiful in equal measure. There’s a prevailing earthiness on the recordings, found in the warm hiss of the lo-fi means of recording or the grinding, unspecified sounds that occasionally accompany the melody, like drones created on the fly by hands trying to keep warm in the ice. A prevailing mood of fragility and beauty seeps from these melodies, delicate moments of clarity spun by the two musicians. ‘Znayesh Yak? Rozkazhy’ is a dream spun in twilight, a crystalline, private world where the listener feels both alien and welcome.”
Magisterial debut LP from Rebecca Foon, a cello player involved with many of Montreal’s greatest bands, here presenting her quietly arresting vocals buoyed by cinematic string and piano arrangements in a suite of rustic folk-pop ballads, torch songs, and swooning dream-pop. RIYL Susanna, Marissa Nadler, A Silver Mt. Zion...
“Rebecca Foon, the composer and musician behind Saltland and Esmerine (and former longstanding member of Silver Mt. Zion) presents a new album entitled Waxing Moon. While best known as an incomparable cellist crafting textural soundscapes and instrumental chamber-rock in the aforementioned projects (and more recently recognized for her creative and organisational work as cofounder of Pathway To Paris), this new collection of songs finds Foon emphasizing piano and voice with striking intimacy and elegance, showcasing a captivating evolution in her always resplendent songwriting. The climate crisis has profoundly framed Foon’s political and artistic life for many years now, and Waxing Moon finds her writing and singing her most arrestingly direct yet poetic words, tapping universal and personal heartbreak in both despair and hope.
With Waxing Moon, Rebecca sets side the Saltland moniker – her electronically-tinged string-centric project from the past five years – to release this more personal new work under her own name. The album's ten songs are predominantly minimal and delicate, immersive and hauntingly beautiful – with vocal-driven tracks booked-ended by piano-based instrumentals, along with one up-tempo guitar-driven number ("Wide Open Eyes") that closes out Side One. While piano figures most prominently on the record, Foon continues to play cello on several tracks, complemented by gentle touches from a close coterie of musical guests including Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire) and Mishka Stein (Patrick Watson) on acoustic and electric basses, Sophie Trudeau (Godspeed You Black Emperor) on violin, Jace Lasek (The Besnard Lakes) on electric guitar, and Patrick Watson as co-vocalist on the dreamlike "Vessels". Foon co-produced the album with Lasek at Montréal's Breakglass studio and it sounds glorious.
Waxing Moon is Rebecca Foon's first eponymous release: a sublimely stunning, bracingly intimate, glimmeringly full-hearted new chapter in her celebrated musical catalog. Thanks for listening.”
Gqom Oh! chart the roots and evolution of South Africa’s dark, viral club sound thru the productions of Citizen Boy and his Mafia Boyz crew
Pulling from pre-Gqom productions circa 2013, and reaching up to the stealthy developments of 2018’s ‘Dark City’, the collection spells out the range of a pioneering Gqom producer, taking in unmissable heat with his sleekly toned, vocal-lead zinger ‘Mzansi’, while highlighting a weird underlying link to Belgian New Beat in the chopped vox and slow, darkside push of ‘Woza’, and checking for thrilling new Gqom mutations in the super sparse touch of tabla-like percussion in ‘Teaspoon La Qoh’, and the quarter-step suss of ‘Hiasela’.
We hardly need to overstate it to Gqom fiends the world over, but ‘From Avoca Hills To The World’ is surely among the sound’s most vital releases to date. Expect to hear in a self-respecting club near you very soon.
Addendum to Latvian artpop group, NSRD’s Workshop For The Restoration Of Unfelt Feelings compilation, STROOM 〰 give up 4.5 ‘floor ready examples of hot-wired, off-kilter takes on acid house and synthwave compatible with freaky late ‘80s new beat and early ‘90s euro-techno-pop mutations.
Yet another peach plucked by STROOM 〰, NSRD covers a blind-spot in the general knowledge of Baltic electronic music during the ’89-’92 house phenomena. A-side gives up the suave but daft swerve of Neskaties , a rickety sort of acid house that sounds perhaps closer to original Chi templates and the warped EBM/industrial of Smersh, for example, than much other stuff from that period. Ziemeļbriežu pajūgā pa Rīgas jūras līci  follows on a wistful sort of Larry Heard tip, following more jagged lines of inquiry with a fizzy fuss and finale recalling Novo Line’s Atari ST mutations.
B-side, Spilvens  commits a more brooding, romantic blend of folksong and endearingly cranky, lo-fi darkwave pop with cold baroque flutes and nuff ferric wow-and-flutter, and Augu nakti. Kādā rītā. Šovakar hears them stretch out on a jacking sort of primitive, woozily melodic techno-pop.
Tuff but playful house and juke tekkers from Chicago’s Ariel Zetina on their debut for femme culture; a London-based record label and collective.
Taking YouTube Make-Up Artist videos as inspiration, Zetina jumps from the syncopated psycho-jack of ‘Eyeshadow Fallout’ to a killer spin on Prince classic production for Vanity 6 in the aptly titled ‘Vanity 7’, whereas ‘Bombshell’ wickedly ramps the tempo to a sort of rapid, acidic Jersey bounce, and ‘Channel’ hits even harder with wild, 303-laced nods to Belizean punta, and ‘Compact Mirrors At The Bottom Of The Sea’ starts out in 90’ of subaquatic 8-bit tones, before popping its percolated funk.
“Ariel said about MUA's at the End of the World - “it’s stemmed from the rhythms of putting on makeup. And the perception of makeup as armor, barrier, stealth; makeup as a method for passing for trans women (and the politics of what it means to pass for a cis woman in general).” But digging more in depth, Ariel also mentions more key elements of this EP that are underlining throughout - such as makeup tutorials (and internet as method for passing on information) for a public broadcasting of private routines.”
Wondrous debut LP of sound poetry from Italian avant-garde poet Adriano Spatola, presenting a sound dear to the heart of Sean McCann’s Recital.
“Ionisation is the first LP by Italian poet Adriano Spatola. Born in Yugoslavia in 1941, by the age of 23 he became a major force in the Italian Avant-Garde. “Towards Total Poetry,” Spatola’s critical study on the state of modern poetry, spells out his position: “to become a total medium, to escape all limitations to include theater, photography, music, painting, typography, cinematographic techniques, and every other aspect of culture, in a utopian ambition to return to origins.” Graphic poetry (cut-up zeroglyphs), volatile and beautiful prose (particularly his books The Porthole and Majakovskiiiiiiii), and of course sound poetry, represented here for the first time. Spatola was the editor of many underground publications: Baobab (a legendary audio-cassette magazine), Tam Tam, and Edition Geiger. Each of his pursuits spread the margins of the format, all done with a relentless, piercing curatorial eye.
Spatola has dark, drunken wit in spades. In his sound poems, an even more saturated persona is conjured. A desperate humor sneers through this LP, a humor that has surrendered to the severe joke of life long ago – lashing out on syllables and ingrown word games. Particularly, his classic “Aviation/Aviateur” (akin to his “Seduction/Seducteur,” & “Violacion/Violateur” etc.). Read by lesser performers, these pieces would falter and float by in the trough, though Spatola’s bull-like confidence tears through. “Poker Foundation” features the poet hysterically singing “the play of the words” over a classical radio piece, mocking and squawking against the string swells. Steve Lacy plays scissors, knife, and saxophone on “Hommage à Eric Satie,” a piece originally recorded for the luxurious Cramps LP boxset Futura. Collaborators Gian Paolo Roffi and Paul Vangelisti are also featured across the collection.
The LP concludes with the titular work “Ionisation,” recorded just days before his premature death in 1988. Feeling his sinking health, his belly in the quicksand, he prefaces the piece, “a funeral march for my body.” He proceeds to scrape and pound the microphone on his chest, face, and clothing. This thick pumping of Adriano’s torso rapping across the speakers abruptly stops after two minutes. A piercing moment.
I was born the day after Adriano died, which has some poetic meaning to me, naturally. I am indebted to him, his sickly sweet manner. The opportunity to publish these largely unknown sound works is an honor which brings a warmth to my torso. Much appreciation goes to Giovanni Fontana (poet and dear friend of Adriano), who helped produce this edition with me. “Every single word has been a tempest of gestures.“
Sean McCann, January 2020”
Astral Black gather a 2020 family portrait, spanning rave, hip hop and broken beat treats including Jossy Mitsu’s dread roller, Creep Woland’s jungle rush, melted bassline pressure from Xao, and light-headed 2-step from Shy One
“Illusive Astral Black OG, DJ Milktray turns in the skippy club bubbler Instinct, his first release for 4 years. Tiff's Joints label-head Poison Zcora (FKA Born Cheating) takes the Frass FM opportunity to make his production debut with the gloriously bounce-strapped, broken stomper, 'Victory Over The British Museum'. Rinse FM/6-Figure Gang's Jossy Mitsu brings us the second of our production debuts with the breaks-laden 'Whirl', whilst elsewhere fellow Rinse FM resident, Izco, handles intro duties with deep chords and rolling percs. Maxwell Owin (South London Jazz scene's answer to Rick Rubin) teams up with Anurah on the fittingly titled 'TOI 700 d', named after our closest habitable planet; and long-term Astral Black affiliate & Co-op/Soulection member Sivey reimagines Dave Gruisin's 'Modaji' into a holy-spirit capturing 160-bpm foot-work roller.
If that's not enough, the compilation boasts equally as note-worthy contributions from the likes of multi-genre Team Sesh producer hnrk, Grime 2 wonder-kid Polonis, label mainstays Creep Woland, Xao, F17, Shy One & Impey, new school squad members Bruised Skies & Thugwidow, legendary UK rap producer/mastering mastermind, Telemachus and 616/Swamp81 affiliate, Sumgii.”
‘The Flame of Love’ is the debut single by Jack Cruz, the singing primate from David Lynch’s Netflix short ‘What Did Jack Do?’
We’ve only seen the clip, not the full piece, but it’s as freaky as one might expect. Our money’s on Lynch himself as the voice of Jack Cruz, but f*ck knows, really. Either way, treat yourself to a pair of string drenched, top shelf enigmas from a master of sinister whimsy.
L.I.E.S. boss Morelli serves out a Body Music sound for Phase Fatale’s Bite label
‘Put Your Head on the Floor and Have Somebody Step On It’ gets on it like a gnashing late ‘90s DJ Pete or Female cut; ‘Exhibition of Counterfeits, Pt. 1’ rolls out a drily repetitive, droning EBM sound, also explored with a slightly different tone in ‘Pt. 2’; and he has a go at prodding, Bunker style acid in ‘Two Fingers Up’.
And breath, it’s OK; Jonny Nash & Suzanne Kraft will ease your woes or provide empathetic accompaniment to your blues with ‘Knife’, a languid nine minute meditation for keys, spongiform bass, percussion, dial tone, and guitar, while the burnished organ pipes and keys of ‘Processing The Negative’ beautifully ache in space between Kara-Lis Coverdale and The Boats
@@@@@ is Arca’s kindred spirit to her &&&&& mixtape that blew minds back in 2013 - an hour of new material.
In Autechrian style, Arca debuted the 62 minute piece on NTS yesterday, and it’s now available for offline application in the comfort of your own atelier/fetish dungeon/second life cloud chamber.
As mentioned,’@@@@@‘ is a direct - if seven years removed - follow-up to the ‘&&&&&’ digital mixtape (and impossible to find vinyl) which marked a huge turning point for Arca’s production back in 2013, when she shifted from making dead canny edits and beats, and into a form of stunning studio sorcery. Like that 26 minute work, this 62 minute “song” is defined by an even more intensely fractalised mosaic of ideas that tile and shatter in gloriously decimated style, riddled with the voice of her DIVA EXPERIMENTAL avatar in a visceral enactment of transhumanist thought manifest in eschatological soundscapes strewn with the detritus of late 20th and early 21st Century culture. In other words it’s a proper trip that sucks you in and practically leaves you a different person, or, as she puts it:
“"'@@@@@' is a transmission broadcasted into this world from a speculative fictional universe in which the fundamentally analogue format of FM pirate radio remains one of few means to escape authoritarian surveillance powered by a hostage sentience gestated by a post-singularity AI. The host of the show, known as DIVA EXPERIMENTAL, lives across multiple bodies in space in virtue of her persecution—in order to kill her, one would first have to find all of her bodies. The bodies that host her carry fetishes for paralinguistics, breaking the fourth wall and nurturing a mutant faith in love in the face of fear." “
An exceptionally weird and charming example of early ‘80s Japanese synth-pop, ambient dub, experimental prog, and acid folk, Masumi Hara’s ‘4 X A Dream’ (1984) is newly expanded with demos and reissued internationally for the first time
“A seamless mix of the organic and inorganic, the recent past and distant future, and the possible and impossible, Japanese multi-media artist Masumi Hara’s sophomore album arrived like a fish on the moon in 1984. An album filled with contradiction and purpose, 4 X A Dream is both balearic acid folk and damaged steel drum dub, hi-tech new wave balladry and ambient synth pop. Classical and neoimpressionist vibes haunt and entrance. Quite possibly the most unique LP you’ll ever add to your collection.”
UK bass mutant Neana locks off a singular style of dance pressure informed by neeky sci-fi culture in his self-released sophomore album
Hailing from North West UK, Neana spent the latter half of the last decade affiliated with Night Slugs and Gang Fatale, the latter of which also included Clara La San in their now-inactive crew. With ‘Renegade Lakes’ he returns to the fray in a big way, adapting his nods to Jersey house, Ballroom bangers, and classic grime with a rudely playful cyberpunk style that’s informed by time spent in the fringes of Berlin’s club scene.
Leaving no nanosecond of music begging for detail, ‘Renegade Lakes’ is an intensely absorbing listen if you’re into that kind of thing, throwing up highlights for the club in the barking, sleazy shunt of the title cut, the recoiling breaks and jagged stabs of ‘Copters’, and the giddy uptempo groove of ‘Gravy’, but to be fair the whole album lends itself to the club as much as a headphone mission, and is balanced as such for a playthru listen that resembles a ‘90s neo-noir cyber soundtrack, kinda like a knowingly cooler answer to The Crystal Method.
Ben Chasny sets fire to his sound in ‘Companion Rises’ with a strong influence from kosmische electronics and psych-pop added to his root blues and avant-garde inspirations, arriving at a sort of Sci-Folk style shared by the likes of Current 93, Alexander Tucker and Sun City Girls.
“Six Organs of Admittance is back after 3 years with a new record, new techniques in sound generation, and a new attitude. Companion Rises has a driving force only hinted at with previous releases. Manipulating the rhythmic DNA from songs such as the bass-dominated “Taken by Ascent” (on his last record, Burning the Threshold), Ben Chasny has grown a new sound creature in his lab that is as welcoming as it is terrifying and as fun to listen to as it provocative and intriguing.
Methodologically, Companion Rises sometimes recalls the early-mid low-fi work of Six Organs, with modern techniques swapping digital processes in for the analog techniques of those early days, and algorithmic programs creating the rhythms rather than Ben’s overdubbed hand percussion. Also like those early records, Companion Rises has Ben creating all the sounds, doing all the recording and mixing the entire record himself. But do not mistake this as some sort of return to an older sound. One listen and it is obvious that this Six Organs of Admittance release is all in the present. One thinks of Octavio Paz’s oft used metaphor of the concentric circle, as Companion Rises returns to a similar place but is much farther out from the center.
Sonically, Ben’s songs are bursting with ideas, harmonically rich, gorgeously arranged; often presenting two versions at once, overlaying electric and acoustic treatments that interlock like two shards that form a single key. Companion Rises plays like a mutant joining of avant and good-time forces, as if Faust produced The Revolution instead of Prince, or This Heat recorded on top of Amon DuuI’s classic "Paramechanical World," but left a few of the original tracks to bleed through. Waves of electric fields wash across the record like a charged Pacific Ocean and guitar solos slice through at various intervals in a warped and fractured way of shreddage, not totally unlike the imagined sound of Edie Hazel jacking into the CPU in Tron.
Thematically, many songs on Companion Rises seem to navigate a similar Stellar-Gnosticism that 2012’s Ascent explored, but with a completely different set of stories. Whereas Ascent was locked into a narrative concerning a sentient Jupiter, Companion Rises presents a handful of folk-tales whose topics span in scope from panspermia to specific constellations, all written in a way that eschews new age presentation tropes and embraces the now. With Companion Rises, Ben has created a Sci-Folk record that feels totally in the right place welcoming in the new decade.”
After two feverishly received albums as King Krule, plus another low-key outing under his own name, the 25-year-old from Peckham in South London adds further depth and substance to his oeuvre with another wondrous long-player called ‘Man Alive!’. It arrives packed full of his trademark sonic ambition and compositional skill, as well as the now-familiar corrosive lyricism and lurid social observation.
"In an accompanying video, his first foray into directing, Archy Marshall’s long-time love of cinema seeps, pulling influences from Carl Theodor Dreyer’s classic The Passion of Joan of Arc while still creating a typically wry King Krule visual."
The voice of the late, great Mark E. Smith appears riddled into four parts of freakish electronics by Jan St. Werner, his erstwhile bandmate in Von Sudenfed. Includes a chuckle-worthy cut featuring Mark reading Domino’s rejection letter to VS, lol
“Molocular Meditation is a bespoke light and sound environment featuring the voice of the Fall’s Mark E Smith. Smith is heard making observations on mundane objects, events and a range of meditation techniques basically associating his discontent with an apolitical british upper class. His voice forms the narrative component of an electroacoustic composition by Jan St. Werner placed in a hyper-real scenario evoking a state of transformation and deceleration. Molecular Meditation premiered at Cornerhouse, Manchester in 2014. This album presents a re-edited stereo version of the original multi-channel installation. Voice and guitar feedbacks were recorded by Werner and Smith at Blueprint Studios Manchester, electronics in Werner’s Studio in Berlin.
The B-side consists of unreleased new work partly written around the same time as Molocular Meditation in context of Werner's Fiepblatter Catalogue on Thrill Jockey. Back to Animals is a non-metric rhythm exercise frantically hybridizing percussive accents with synthesized pulse. On the Infinite of Universe and Worlds is the layout for an electronic opera on Giordano Bruno’s Renaissance writings which Werner was asked to conceptionalize for Finish festival Musica Nova. VS Canceled finds Mark E. Smith reading an email from Domino Records explaining their discontinuation of Von Sudenfed, a band Mark E. Smith had founded with Mouse on Mars' Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma in 2006. Their debut album Tromatic Reflexxions came out on Domino in 2007.
The vinyl record, cut with a diamond needle, delivers as much dynamic range as the digital format.”
ISAN’s Robin Saville speaks to the salubrious qualities of a good mooch in a very sweet album inspired by what he sees and feels during his daily perambulations and incorporating field recordings, drones and acoustic instrumentation.
"A lot of things have been written about what happens to the mind when the body starts moving. Instead of reciting poems of the inevitable self-help books, let’s get straight to the point: For many, taking walks on a regular basis is both liberating and empowering. It is not necessarily so much about the exercise, but rather finding one’s own rhythm in life. Robin Saville – of ISAN fame – is such an ambler His walks inspired him to base his third solo album – his first one for Morr Music – on the out of the way places he came to see and experience while being out and about.
Clocking in at just under 40 minutes in total, "Build A Diorama" is both a subtle culmination and a poignant antipode to what Saville has achieved together with Antony Ryan as ISAN. While the aesthetics might seem similar in places, Saville opts for a decisively different pace when it comes to writing and producing. Progress is steady, and change, however, is slow – like looking at a diorama for a long period of time in the ever so slightly changing light or as a flaneur focussing on one particular spot, a found object so-to-speak, waiting for the mind to orchestrate it appropriately, giving it sense and meaning.
Built around quiet field recordings, Saville’s six compositions transform this highly personal and, therefore, difficult-to-convey experience into a comprehensible exploration of beauty. Where ISAN almost exclusively uses electronics, Saville deliberately expands this well-established palette with acoustic instruments like bass guitar, chimes and glockenspiel, aiming for an even more suitable musical manifestation of what the walker sees and feels once he fully engages in his passion. Ranging from blissfully pulsing pads allowing for complete associative freedom ("The Deepdale Halophyte Economy") to the playful minimalism of an orchestra dominated by busy bells ("Bosky"), Saville’s "Build A Diorama" is not just a valuable addition to his musical output, but an essential audio guide for those striving to explore, learn and understand.”
Aïsha Devi’s Danse Noire imprint returns with this absorbing new album of glassy electronics and futuristic soundscaping from French-Canadian newcomer Racine, sitting somewhere in between the artificial life forms of Kara-Lis Coverdale’s ‘Aftertouches' album, the sweeping vistas of Autechre’s ‘Amber' and Arca at her most glacial.
Transmuting the worries of the world into sorely bittersweet electronic compositions, 'Quelque Chose Tombe' (something falls) offers a fully realised sound that makes a virtue of biting point dissonance, something that places Racine in good company among Danse Noire’s roster of fleshy conduits for what Aïsha Devi terms her "Spirit Liberation Front”. Fluidly adept at speaking the language of hyper-contemporary electronic music, they gradually sketch out a labyrinthine album intended to reflect a modern life of “grinning through worry, living in insecurity”, where “to be vulnerable is the new normal; afraid, a bare minimum”.
Racine wring as much emotion as possible from each curdled chord and warbling note in fractal patterns that connote the elusive nature of the future and the intense flux of emotions that never seem to go anywhere, but only compound into feedback loops of anxiety and impotent anguish as the bridges burn in front of us. They run from the remarkable ‘Sujet’ - a dead ringer for some of Kara-Lis Coverdale’s most emotionally absorbing and complex work, to the sublime 'Désordre Baroque’, where the same motifs are wrapped around barely-noticeable key changes that remind us of Talk Talk’s 'Laughing Stock's quietest moments, before a heavily vocoded voice fractures into several trajectories all at once, like mercury slivers on the loose.
By the time ‘Geranium’ arrives, choral voices, flutes and distortion take things to more epic and forlorn dimensions, with "Sans Titre” prescribing drone and bird song as a kind of short-lived catharsis.
Pivotal Montréalais musician Tellier-Craig (Fly Pan Am, Set Fire To Flames) leaves post- and avant-rock for dust with a long-form suite of probing electro-acoustic abstractions and decompositions comparable with classic GRM works for the excellent Second Editions label...
“Second Editions is pleased to present Études by Roger Tellier-Craig. This holds four new compositions conceived by Roger Tellier-Craig during his studies at the Conservatoire de Musique de Montréal. Merging subject into object, opposing chance to narrative, putting source against sound. Tellier-Craig constructs and simultaneously questions the relation of composition and/as deconstruction. These pieces, or studies, are as much about organization as they are about irruption, or attention and idleness. Seeking to configure tensions through the use of differences, creating an extensive network of relationships between differing sonic phenomena. Time and sound coherent and in contrast in an acoustic space. But this goes beyond homage, and has nothing to do with electroacoustic nostalgia. These pieces carry a present day urgency. What does it mean to utilize, to arrange, to listen?”
Blasting from the recent past, Neana’s boisterous 2018 one-two and accompanying DJ Spider remix
‘Private Joke’ works out in the digitally rendered shadow of Jam City’s ‘Classical Curves’ with oodles of shiny synth optimism and a rugged groove control on the cusp of broken beat, whereas ‘Scrub’ goes harder on a tropical jack spiced up with trilling bird/phone-calls. We’re really not sure if DJ Spiider is a spelling mistake for NYC’s DJ Spider or a unique entity unto themselves, but either way they turn ‘Private Joke’ into a prism of sweetly iridescent, cascading harmonies and below-the-waist ballroom drive.
crys cole beckons us to listen closer with the skin touch intimacy, isolationism and drone poetry of her 2nd solo album, leading on from a string of uniquely quizzical collaborations with Oren Ambarchi, Francis Plagne, Leif Elggren.
“Beside Myself is the second full-length release from Canadian sound artist crys cole. Known to many through her extensive collaborative practice with artists such as Oren Ambarchi, Leif Elggren and James Rushford, in her solo work cole uses contact microphones, voice, simple electronics and field recordings to create sonic environments that linger uneasily at the threshold of perception. Demonstrating how cole’s work has developed and deepened since the relative austerity of her first solo LP Sand/Layna (2015, Black Truffle), Beside Myself offers two lushly immersive side-long pieces that explore ideas of compositional drift.
'The Nonsuch' is inspired by the aural hallucinations experienced in the hypnagogic state during the onset of sleep. Opening with scratching contact mic textures and unintelligible vocal murmurs, the piece threads together live and studio performances with field recordings of urban environments to create a texture that is at once seemingly consistent and marked by constant transitions. Individual elements rise up from the background thrum only to disappear just as we become conscious of them; heterogenous sounds and spaces succeed one another with the unassailable logic of dreams.
'In Praise of Blandness (Chapter IX)' also focusses on drift and transition, but in a much more single-minded way. Over a rich, slowly-evolving organ drone, cole reads a passage from the French sinologist François Julien’s book In Praise of Blandness exploring the concept of ‘blandness’ in the Taoist aesthetics of sound. Beginning crisp and clear, cole’s voice becomes gradually less distinct over the course of the piece, the spoken words blurred by resonant frequencies à la Lucier’s I Am Sitting in a Room until we are left with only the rhythm of incomprehensible speech. The text that cole reads acts a perfect description of her aesthetic project: ‘We hear it still, but just barely, and as it diminishes it makes all the more audible that soundless beyond into which it is about to extinguish itself. We are listening then, to its extinction, to its return to that great undifferentiated matrix’.
- Francis Plagne (November, 2019)”
IDM diehard Konx-Om-Pax pulls together a Skee Mask remix, plus his own edits and alternate mixes of cuts from his 2016 + 2019 albums for Planet Mu
Skee Mask gets right into Funckarma or Funkstörung-style mode with a hyperkinetic remix of ‘Rez’, alongside Konx-Om-Pax’s original, vocodered breakbeat techno roller ‘Return to Cascada’; a 303-powered bleep techno-style ‘Club Edit’ of ’Säule Acid’ featuring Silvia Kastel; a flighty beat-less ambient mix of ‘I’m For Real’ with Lightwave; a thudding live version of the emosh ‘Caramel’; and the exclusive weightless grime/IDM hybrid ’Teufelsberg’.
Among electronic music’s most intriguing new artists, Zoë McPherson devilishly complicates her sound in adeventurously strong 2nd album starring Elvin Brandhi and Greetje Bijma. Really strong LP this.
Chasing up her debut LP ’String Figures’ (2018) and last year’s collab with Rupert Clervaux, ‘States of Fugue’ frames Zoë’s sound at its most elusive/illusive and cryptic, weft with samples of uncertain origin and sledding into unexpected places of enquiry.
"On ‘States Of Fugue’, Zoë Mc Pherson orchestrates a very personal, tactile and fluid journey through emotions that range from subdued calm through to outright rage and playful devastation. She takes plunges into the deepest depths, lead by multiplied voices from the distance, with sounds crawling from beneath the surface of bass-frequencies, with what we can only describe as a rubbery synth glue (check ‘Growth’) before untangling all the tension in a whirlwind of mangled percussion (Exile) and letting completely loose on the rhythm-driven ‘Taste’… And this is just a pointer towards the three opening tracks!
As the record continues, we visit vast worlds via Zoë Mc Pherson’s forward-thinking, left-turn taking sound. We haven’t even reached the polyrhythmic banger ‘Tenace (Dogs On Road)’ and the vocal disturbance of ‘Get It!’ yet, and we’re already super-charged on Zoë’s unique energy.
Although her roots as a drummer can be heard throughout the record’s versatile and deft appliance of off-setting rhythms and the unique unscrewing of percussive elements, it’s the use of her voice that carries the record through so effectively. The direct stream of voice that locks in and out through each tune, wether in a directly understandable form or in a more guttural, effected shape really gives the record its feeling. The noises are relatable even in their strangest shape, and the narrative only compliments the sentiments of sound within. On ‘Learn Your Language Faster’ with Elvin Brandi on vocals, Zoë found her perfect match in terms of this vocal-charged message."
Shanghai’s pioneering SVBKVLT imprint finally make one of last year’s defining albums available on vinyl for the first time. 33EMYBW tangles up footwork, deco-club music and trilling trap wrapped in complex, futuristic electronic structures accross 7 tracks, with additional remixes by Lechuga Zafiro, Ikonika, and Hakuna Kulala’s Don Zilla.
Originally Issued on download formats late last year to coincide with its live premiere at Poland’s Unsound festival, ‘Arthropods’ is now available on a limited vinyl pressing for the first time and manifests as the alien spirit twin of the soul-seeking creatures 33EMYBW brought to (semi)life in the ‘Golem’ album. Her animist powers appear strengthened here, generating unique constructions that synthesise aspects of footwork, deco-club music and trilling trap with crystalline melodies and a virulent, gremlin-in-the-machine sort of madness.
This stuff is pretty much exactly what we reckon a lot of folk imagined music to sound like in the year Blade Runner takes place. From the lush pads and flyaway chorales of ’Symmetry’ 'Arthropods' delivers a futurist rush of probing electronic tones and posthuman, bone-bending rhythms between the rail-gunning attack of ‘Tentacle Centre’ and the tri-step trills of ‘Induce’, packing thrilling runs into dembow DNA mutation with ‘Adam Bank’ and a sort of militant sino-soca-footwork style in ‘Arthropods Continent’, while ‘Drum3’ sounds like it evolved from a patch left on a synth in the Radiophonic Workshop.
For the remixes, Ikonika evens out ‘Arthropods Continent’ into a sort of bucking ballroom workout, and Lechuga Zafiro reins in ‘Adam Bank’ with a fidgety parry, but Uganda’s Don Zilla keeps it out there with a cyclonic twyst on ‘Drum3.’
Spritely harbinger of doom Grimes coughs up her long-in-the-making grungy riffs on climate change and modern worries in a hugely anticipated 5th album of puckered, penetrative pop brilliance.
Under the ‘Miss Anthropocene’ mantle, Canada’s Claire Boucher aka Grimes transmutes the psychic anxiety of modern life into a 10 song concept album about an “anthropomorphic goddess of climate change”. The record has a much darker vibe than 2015’s ‘Art Angels’, and sees her craftily come to own the media’s implications that she’s some sort of “villain” due to her relationship with Tesla founder and multibillionaire, Elon Musk; taking on a sort of anti-hero role or caricature inspired as much by fictional characters such as The Joker as the gods of Roman mythology in order to personalise and make relatable the almost hard-to-grasp scale of climate change, rather than guilt-trip you into doing your recycling.
It’s surely fair to say that ‘Miss Anthropocene’ is the ultimate manifestation of Grimes bittersweet style of cyberpunk techno-pop. All the ideas found on her run of albums since 2010’s ‘Halfaxa’ are now distilled and refined into a sound that hits the spot dead-on, twisting the last 25 years of emosh pop and prevailing underground trends - from grunge and nu-metal to ethereal wave styles - into her singular, subversively ironic strain of wavey techno-pop. It’s a sound that will surely resonate with anyone over the age of 30, and we can only hope that the irony isn’t lost on youngsters taking up the fight against climate change in earnest, as Grimes’ POV appears to acknowledge and smudge a subtle cognitive dissonance between the broad sections of society termed boomers, Generation X, Xenniels, Millennials, and Generation Alpha thru her self-produced and written palette of sonic and lyrical references.
From the cold breeze of LP opener ’So Heavy I Fell Through The Earth (Algorithm Mix)’, with vocals placed high in the mix over stark, roiling electro, to the relative optimism of ‘Idoru (Algorithm Mix)’, which is flush thru with bittersweet melodies recalling her early records, the album is a richly absorbing and entertaining experience, enlivened with mutual souls such as Pan Wei-Ju on highlight ‘Darkseid’, and I_o in the proper power pop of single track ‘Violence’, which shares a confidence in common with ‘My Name Is Dark (Algorithm Mix)’, while ‘You’ll Miss Me When I’m Not Around’ mixes cartoonish and melancholy in equal measures, and ‘Before The Fever’ highlights the generational/stylistic/emotional difference between Grimes heart-on-sleeve style of pop and, say, the numb shrug-pop of Billie Eilish.
Delicious dose of Belgium gloom-pop from who else but Stroom, holding a candle to the mid-‘80s run of Gerry Vergult’s Fred A. output in a charming shadowplay of dark comedy and cabaret or Belgian “kleinkunst” conjuring imagery of lowlit bars, lofts and drizzly cobbled streets...
“A first appearance of Fred A. – the brainchild of Gerry Vergult – was noted in ’84. Gerry, who already had a foothold in the music scene with the Flemish cult ensemble Aroma Di Amore, was in need of a new creative disguise, to get some ideas out of his system. He managed to get three of his tracks on a split-album with Le Travo and his wistful song ‘November’ even became a modest radio hit. The minimalistic disposition of Fred A. was reinvented when Gerry accidentally met Gerrit Valckenaers. Upon their very first meeting, Gerrit proved himself a virtuoso on the primitive synthesizer that Gerry just had bought and G and G decided to team up. A second record was wrapped up shortly after and the tone was set.
In line with the artist inside Gerry, Fred A. was a two-faced act. His musical grasp to the new wave-movement was countered by his lyrical love for Flemish and Dutch ‘kleinkunst’, and his progressiveness as a composer was in stark contrast with his restraint as a performer. With Fred A., Gerry had unintentionally – and to his regret – manoeuvred himself into the role of frontman. This resulted in a short-lived career as a live act, with only one single gig as Fred A. in a local venue in Leuven in ’86. Somewhere below the current, Fred A. would always remain a living room project.
The often downhearted lyrics in Gerry’s songs were most of the time autobiographical. “The explicit nature of my lyrics was closely tied to my personal life. To this extent that I almost feel embarrassed when I look back at it today. I often ask myself why I needed to put things that way, but I just had to write some things off my chest.” Despite his lyrical talent, Gerry never felt like a writer, neither he ever felt like a singer. “Every single day I had 10 musical ideas welling up, but for 10 lyrical ideas it took me a year.” It caused Gerry’s productions to gradually drift towards the instrumental and after a failed attempt to reinvent his old work under a new alias, he finally drew a line under his Fred A. remnants.
‘De Angst Voorbij’ is an anthology of those remnants, with eight songs derived from the most fertile period in the musical career of Fred A. The record translates how Gerry opened up again to his late musical endeavours, recalling the 30-years younger version of himself. “The music on this record is a testimony of my life back then. It is delimited in time, that’s why this whole feels coherent to me. It shows who I was back then and what I stood for. And that’s worth cherishing.”
Prolific cellist and composer Lucy Railton releases her long awaited solo debut for Modern Love; an intense and multi-layered opus that reminds us of everything from Alvin Lucier, Beatrice Dillon and Nate Young, to Valerio Tricoli and Popol Vuh.
A prolific performer who has appeared on countless recordings and collaborations with many important figures in contemporary music over the last few years, Paradise 94 is, remarkably, Railton's solo debut - featuring archival, location and studio recordings which serve as a time capsule of all the myriad disciplines and influences that have brought her to this point in time. It both plays up to and shatters expectations of her music, which harnesses a duality of energies - acoustic/electronic, real/imagined, iconic/iconoclastic, pissed-off/romantic; out of place and androgynous - resulting in a visceral emotional insight and rare narrative grasp.
Variegated, asymmetric, and located somewhere between her usual fields of exploration, Paradise 94 gives free reign to aspects of her creativity that have previously been subsumed into collaborative processes and interpretations of other composers’ work. Here, she’s free to probe, sculpt and layer her sounds through a much broader range of techniques and strategies, placing particular focus on non-linear structural arrangements and exploring the way her cello becomes perceptibly synthetic through collaging, rather than FX. At every turn Paradise 94 is bewilderingly unique.
The A-side unfolds an oneiric, inception-like sequence traversing temporalities, timbres and tones from what sounds like a spectral ensemble playing on a traffic island in Pinnevik, to bursts of rabbit-in-headlights trance arps emerging from meticulously dissected musique concrète in The Critical Rush, and a collision of masked vocals, string eruptions and a deeply moving, light-headed Bach rendition in For J.R.
On the other hand, Fortified Up on side B tests out a far rawer approach, sampling herself playing the same glissandi over and again, which she layers into a sort of perpetual, sickly motion, the Shepard Tone riffing on the listener’s psychoacoustic perceptions before calving off into a cathartic dissonant folk coda in its final throes.
In the most classic sense, you can only properly begin to f*ck with something from the inside once you truly know it. Railton’s dedicated years of service have more than equipped her with the nous and skill to do just that, gifting us with what will no doubt be looked back on as a raw, exposed and important solo debut in years to come.
Additional Note: The album features Beatrice Dillon on acetone drums on 'To The End', Gard Nilssen on cymbals and glass samples recorded and provided by Nicolas Becker on ‘The Critical Rush’. Organ extract on 'For J.R.' (Erbarm dich mein, o Herre Gott) is composed by J.S. Bach and performed by Kit Downes, drain pipe is performed by Koichi Makigami.
Serious levels of subbass on this deeply weaponised debut from Minos, backed with a gritty but debonair Claude Young remix
Making a strong first impression, Minos lays the subs on with a trowel in the druggy electro swag of ‘Brown Sauce’, and rolls off the bone into Batu-like terrain with ‘Coaxial Drive’, while a pair of canny ambient interluud show off his textured sound design chops, and ‘Aquaplaning’ dances on a mentasm-laced electro rave pivot. It’s also great to see a relatively rare appearance of Claude Young, remixing ‘Brown Sauce’ with a signature ruff but suave touch.
A long overdue survey of minimalist new music composer and multi-wind instrumentalist Jon Gibson, a pivotal performer with credits on classic records by Arthur Russell, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Moondog, Theatre of Eternal Music...
“Since the mid-1960s, Jon Gibson has played a key role in the development of American avant-garde music. As a versatile reed player, he has performed with everyone from Steve Reich and Philip Glass to Terry Riley and La Monte Young. In the 1970s, Gibson would emerge as a minimalist composer in his own right and release two exceptional albums, Visitations and Two Solo PIeces, on Glass' Chatham Square imprint.
Songs & Melodies brings together recordings from 1973 to 1977 (mostly previously unreleased), featuring prominent figures in New York's scene including Arthur Russell, Barbara Benary and Julius Eastman. This double LP collection showcases the breadth of Gibson’s expressive range – from introspective piano meditations to cerebral ensemble works – and the subtlety of his radical compositional techniques.
The front cover artwork, a hand-drawn diagram by Gibson, originally appeared in the program for a March 1974 concert at Washington Square Church in Greenwich Village. While this concert was not the first to feature the composer exclusively, it would be a pivotal event in Gibson’s early career as a composer.
Superior Viaduct is honored to present this long overdue archival release that not only documents Gibson’s important work, but also a crucial period in NYC musical history.”
Extreme high energy dance music from Mali’s DJ Diaki; a thrilling introduction to the style of ‘Balani Fou’ - or ‘Crazy Balani’, as favoured in the Malian countryside. One tape of original productions, one tape of DJ mixes - the latest and most lavish Nyege Nyege Tapes release to date (i mean, who gets a reclaimed tape clamshell screen printed on all 3 sides???)
A proper party starter hailing from 20km outside Bamako, Diaki Kone is a producer/DJ and originator of the Balani Show style that favours rapid coupé decalé rhythms lit up with whistles and crashing cymbals. The style was conceived by Seydou Bagayoko in the late ‘90s as a cheaper alternative to Balafon groups used for celebrations and dances, and was progressed by his apprentices DJ Diaki and DJ Sandji in the 2000s, resulting in the current style of ‘Balani Fou’ (or ‘Crazy Balani’) which favours remixes made on-the-fly with additional drum pads and sometimes synths, as heard in this exhilarating double tape which introduces the style to listeners beyond the region.
Balani Show hit a peak in the 2000s, with DJ Senateur performing on Malian TV, but in recent years it’s returned to its road level roots, soundtracking block parties and neighbourhood shindigs. Shows are high energy affairs, and get even more raucous in the country, where dancers prefer faster tempos than in the city, occasionally leading to moral panic at the sight of young ravers dancing provocatively at night, and attempts to ban the sound which has resulted in fewer Balani Shows in Bamako.
But DJ Diaki lives in the country and it’s different there, where he pushes the rhythms to body-rattling breaking point in the hypnotic style of Balani Fou. This set showcases 10 original productions in this mode on the first tape, ranging from the breathtakingly frenetic ‘But Show DD 1 Mix’ to the entrancing melodic appeal of ’Shekey Mix’ and the thrilling percussive pelt of ’Show Time Mix’, all primed for the nuttiest DJs and dancers. Meanwhile the 2nd tape’s two mixes put it all in context across seamlessly-blended 30 minute jags recorded in Sanankoroba during 2018-2019, that bring you as close as possible to the crazy energy of Balani Show without actually being there.
Super strong stuff. A must for anyone who loves the reckless rave of Tanzanian Singeli or hardcore dance music of any strain for that matter.
A more concise and direct album than their eponymous debut, Ride The Skies finds Lightning Bolt planting themselves firmly at the vanguard of noise rock, going so far as to make music approaching conventional song structure.
Take for example the two-handed tapping euphoria of Brian Gibson's explosive bass on the title track: it's like a quotation of Van Halen's 'Eruption' rerouted through a half-dozen pitchshifting pedals. Levels of recording clarity have been upped too, to the point where you can almost decipher Brian Chippendale's distorted, frantic vocals. Almost.
Considering this is an album of tight, blistering rock music, the standard of musicianship is pretty astonishing. These guys go way beyond mere tightness, somehow being able to sound free and inventive at bpm counts most musicians would find prohibitive. Ace.
In the wake of his work on the Safdie Brothers’ ‘Uncut Gems’, Daniel “0PN” Lopatin speaks about cinema por l'ouielle to the Wire this month in a feature also covering Fatima Al Qadiri, The Haxan Cloak and Colin Stetson’s cinematic efforts.
There’s also a feature on Yeah You, the father/daughter duo of Gustav Thomas and Elvin Brandhi, plus London jazz drummer Seb Rochford tested by The invisible Jukebox, and a related feature on “Resetting The Rhythm” with percussionists Eli Keszler, Will Guthrie, Claire Rousay, and Tim Barnes. Also includes all the news, reviews and listings you need to know for the next month.
Inimitable what-the-f*ckery from Lolina, answering the big question on everyone’s lips with ‘Who Is Experimental Music?’. Imagine Biz Markie meets Thomas Brinkmann and you’re only half way there…
Formerly known as Inga Copeland during her years with Hype Williams, Alina Astrova a.k.a Lolina is one of the most distinctive electronic composers and voices of her generation. ‘Who Is Experimental Music?’ works an acute right angle to what you know of her music, radically breaking down song structures until they barely resemble any convention, but somehow still recognisable as Lolina songs.
Save for a legible vocal louchely urging you to ‘Let Go’ in the first track, Lolina inhabits the tracks in a much more elusive way than we’re used to. She’s variously expectorated, masticated and hacked-up across the six tracks of severed glitch, grungy bass, and even some mad spin on Indian classical techniques, just not as you may have come to expect from her puckishly melodic avant-pop styles.
Exploring a sort of jilted funk for the enervated generation, Lolina wildly scrabbles between the Biz Markie meets Brinkmann vibes of the opener, to psychotomimetic sample syncopations in ‘Good or Bad’, to sound like Phil Minton in a tumble dryer with ‘Glitching’ and ’Strobing’, and her closer ‘Who is experimental music?’ sounds a bit like like Rian Treanor and Goodiepal on a bender, but ultimately it’s all Lolina, and the maddest thing she’s ever put to record.
The return of Japanese music ensemble Maher Shalal Hash Baz with this not quite "best of".
"Je est un autre" is a reflection of Tori Kudo's evolution as a composer, from playing with seasoned musicians, to playing with people just starting out, from playing with meticulous scores, to playing call & response melodies written down, to the songs here on "Je est un Autre": instant improvisations based on keyboard compositions that Tori plays for the group. Yes, that is it. He plays a recording of himself on the keyboard, with singing or humming sometimes and he leaves it to the "big band" to interpret this on the spot. Sometimes, you can make out the melody, other times it is quite obscure, as if a sort of common shyness flows out of the collected instrumentarium. And other times, well, it is a big party.
Mr Kudo and the group were invited to tour Europe to celebrate 20 years of the project Le Ton Mité, members of which are absorbed into the ensemble. The recording evolves from the static sound of hermetic conditions to the live concert in the later tracks. The studio here, is a trendy concert hall in Brussels Les Ateliers Claus. You hear the applause of the brave ears that weathered the ride of accidental psychedelia & moiré of various notes fading into and out of each other. This is only a sliver of the material from the 20 hour recording marathon documenting the new composing/playing style of Mr Kudo & snippets from the last concert of the March 2018 tour. Perhaps the album should be called "Je est un autre : Volume 1" in a vague reference to "My Brother The Wind" series from Sun Ra. In any case, here you have four sides of ten inch vinyl to take you on a journey into Maher: Je est un autre…”å
Avant R&B star Mhysa follows her acclaimed debut ‘fantasii’ - one of the definitive underground albums of 2017 - with its sister side, ‘Neveah’ for Hyperdub; a sprawling mosaic of raw, introspective R&B ballads, including a haunting take on a Nas classic in ‘breaker of chains’.
“MHYSA started NEVAEH in the fall of 2017, shortly after the release of her debut album 'fantasii,' honing the albums sentiments while touring, recording audio notes and writing lyrics on her iPhone to de-stress. All of the tracks were then recorded in her flat in West Philadelphia, some with the input of lawd knows, a frequent collaborator on their Scraaatch project.
NEVAEH is MHYSA’s intimate reflection on the black femme experience from multiple vantage points ranging from sex and sexuality, self-love and self-discovery, black empowerment and lineage, pleasure and lack of it. She describe the album as “a prayer for Black women and femmes to be taken to or find a new and better world away from the apocalypse…NEVAEH is a safe space, a sort of negro heaven.” These ideas are declared from the opening skit where MHYSA reads out Lucille Clifton’s 1994 poem “won’t you celebrate with me”.
The album is deeply personal but easily relatable. The intimacy is heightened by scattered acapella moments, covers of classics such as Nas’ - 'If I Ruled the World' and a reprise of 'When the Saints'; songs that reference black pop culture, interludes and drifts, where MHYSA’s delicate voice is laid bare and enhanced by spacious instrumentals. She describes tracks like 'Brand Nu' and 'w_me' as throwbacks to the melancholic R&B her mother raised her on, updated through a queer lens. “I wanted to really get into the form of R&B on this album which is also why it ends with a gospel track which I feel is quintessential R&B. "
However it’s not all melancholic, the lead track, plus the mischievous 'Sanaa Lathan', and the skeletal 'w_me', where MHYSA uses her breath and vocals with a live druml, have found themselves in Kode9's sets recently. MHYSA also explores sensuality in the build up to the apocalypse, on tracks like 'before the world ends.'
On NEVAEH’s progression from fantasii, MHYSA says, “I wanted to be more vulnerable with my tracks and experiment with vocal range…I wanted to write more complicated vocal melodies that would be harder for me to do.” What's more MHYSA's production experiments with new techniques, live sounding digital instrumentation, playing keys, using her voice in new ways - much of which was self taught, in the tradition of the musicians in her family who came before her.”
The breathtaking expanse of ’In The Sea’ was the 1987 follow-up to Ellen Fullman’s groundbreaking classic of 1985, ‘The Long String Instrument’. Only ever available on a hard-to-find tape, this is its necessary first ever reissue.
Collapsing millennia of musical practice and research into a singular sound, Fullman’s 2nd recording of her self-built instrument engulfs the senses in unfathomably complex overtones generated by 25m-long strings which are tuned to Just Intonation and played with rosined hands. Ellen’s sound effectively bridges the deeply mysterious sound of Indian classical music and the kind of contemporary minimalism explored by Ellen Arkbro and Kali Malone, and should be sought out by any listeners seeking sonic transcendence.
“Ellen Fullman began developing The Long String Instrument in her St. Paul, Minnesota studio in 1980 and moved to Brooklyn the following year. Inspired by composer and instrument builder Harry Partch, Fullman’s large-scale work creates droning, organ-like overtones that are as unique in the world of sound as her vision of the instrument itself.
Along with her 1985 debut album – appropriately titled The Long String Instrument – Fullman’s only output in the 1980s would be two self-released cassettes, In The Sea and Work For Four Players And 90 Strings, recorded in 1987 at an unfinished office tower in Austin, Texas. This double LP collection features music from both cassettes as well as a previously unreleased piece from 1988 at De Fabriek in Den Bosch, Holland.
Ethereal and exquisitely paced, these rare recordings capture minimalism's quiet radiance. Within a musical landscape that has seen the rise of contemporary drone practitioners like Ellen Arkbro and Kali Malone, Fullman is sure to find a legion of fans.”
Available on vinyl for the first time since its original release in 1984, Outernational Sounds presents Build An Ark pianist Nate Morgan’s second outing for the celebrated Nimbus West label – the conscious and spiritualised sounds of Retribution, Reparation.
"Pianist Nate Morgan (1964-2013) was a central figure on the Los Angeles jazz undergound. A core member of the circle around the legendary bandleader, pianist and community organiser Horace Tapscott, Morgan had been part of Tapscott’s U.G.M.A.A. (Union Of God’s Musicians and Artists Ascension) since he was just a teenager, and was a key member of the Pan Afrikan People’s Arkestra, known as ‘The Ark’. Through the 1980s and 1990s he kept the PAPA flame alive, organising the Ark’s sprawling songbook, running legendary jam sessions, and keeping LA’s deep jazz roots well watered. By the early 2000s he was bringing hard won knowledge to a new generation as part of the Build The Ark collective. He was a musician’s musician, at the beating heart of the radical, community-minded Los Angeles jazz network that Tapscott and his associates had first put together in the early 1960s.
Retribution, Reparation was the second of the two LPs Morgan recorded for Tom Albach’s storied Nimbus West imprint. His first, Journey Into Nigritia (Outernational Sounds OTR- 008), had been a declaration of arrival laced with energies drawn from Cecil Taylor and Coltrane. One year later, with nods to Herbie Hancock (‘One Finger Snap’) and Ellington (‘Come Sunday’), Retribution, Reparation was a confident statement of purpose. Politically charged with pan-Africanist and Black nationalist sentiments inspired by Marcus Garvey, and titled with uncompromising directness, the album focusses the soundworld of the Ark into a surging, restless masterpiece of spiritualised modal jazz. With Danny Cortez on trumpet and Ark stalwart Jesse Sharps on saxophones the frontline is explosive (this set is also one of the few places the extraordinary Sharps can be heard in a small group setting), while Fritz Wise and Ark regular Joel Ector hold down the rhythm section. Morgan’s forceful, Tyner-like chords and virtuosic solos and bind the music together. From the poised drama of the opening dedication to Tapscott’s U.G.M.A.A. (‘U.G.M.A.A.GER’) to the propulsive militancy of the title track, Retribution, Reparation spreads the word: ‘Advance to Victory, Let Nigritia Be Free!’"
Strong showcase of fast, broken techno and juke mutations from Italy’s XCPT Music crew
Modes boots off with the straightjacket funk rolige of ‘FB2thsn’, and Train to Eltanin throw down the decimated IDM/acid-jungle-techno beside the rugged footwork tekkers of ‘Yeah Boy’ by DJ Plant Texture. Nothus drags the tempo down for the broken techno parry of ‘Konnor 3012’ in a way recalling Concrete Cabin’s brand of rudeness, and Marco Segato spits out the choppy bruktek rhythms of ‘Pirate Utopias [live]’, while Soreab wraps up with the nagging, Batu-esque motion of ‘AVP’.
Inimitable Texan electro droid Cygnus can’t help but do it his own way on this class batch for Glasgow’s Craigie Knowes label
Although comparable with work by E.R.P., Æ, Gerald Donald, there’s a level of detail and amorphousness to Cygnus’ productions that couldn’t really come from anyone else. Over all five cuts he crams tight vamps and semi-organic flourishes at ever opportunity without losing the all important flow, resulting stellar stuff between the sloshing, romantic writhe of ‘Ebony Starlight’, the quicksilver run of ‘My Secret Data’, his Bitsream-esque downstroke ‘Metroid C64’, and the filigree tweaks of Connection Error’.
Luscious first survey of late ‘80s/early’90s work by Brazilian anthropologist, composer, and multi-instrumentalist Priscilla Ermel; a beautifully “universal” dream sequence of sound owing to indigenous Brazilian music, Tai Chi and new age synth styles
“Music From Memory is delighted to announce a retrospective of an artist long-loved by the label, Brazilian composer and multi-instrumentalist Priscilla Ermel. Origens Da Luz brings together a selection of recordings drawn from a body of work that was originally recorded between 1986 and 1994.
Priscilla was raised in a musical family in São Paulo and learned the cello and guitar at an early age. She then embarked on a deeply personal musical journey that would travel from origins rooted in Tom Jobim and Chico Buarque to recording the music of the natural world and the communities around her. A film-maker and anthropologist by training, Priscilla is a lifelong student of a universal music. Disillusioned with contemporary European classical music, she spent long periods living with indigenous populations in Brazil, collecting instruments that she would later combine with synthesizers and field recordings. After studying with the renowned Taoist master Liu Pai Lin, she integrated the slow-moving pace of Tai Chi into a music that connects intimately with a multiplicity of cultures at the same time that it unmistakably reflects her Brazilian soul.
Combining sounds drawn from the history of Brazil with her own explorations of analogue sound technology, Priscilla’s music opens up a mystical space, where ancient and modern evolves into a new language. Compiled by John Gómez and released on 2xLP, Origens Da Luz offers a panoramic view of this artist’s unique and mesmerizing sound world.”
Incredible compilation of Mika Vainio’s earliest work with Janne Koski and Tapio Onnela in pioneering Finnish industrial/noise unit Gagarin Kombinaatti circa 83-85. Vainio was just 20 when these recordings were made...R.I.P
Until now, the only locatable evidence of Gagarin-Kombinaatti’s existence was an intriguing listing on discogs - a single track featured on a 2CD of early Finnish avant-garde - but now Sähkö prove they were a real, and rather wicked band, taking strong cues from TG, Einstürzende Neubauten and Test Department, and moulding them into a brace of cranky, funked-up garage industrialisms.
It’s very easy to hear Vainio’s signature noise laced throughout the collection, from the bladesaw blizzards of Survos, to the cold, clipped drums and brooding bass tone of Reikäkorttia, or the windswept atmospheres of Osat, for instance.
But they’re only component elements of the band, which, thanks to the rudimentary recording techniques, sounds as though they’re soldered together, sparking up expressive, freeform jams ranging from the cold swagger of Tiedonantaja to proto-techno drum patterns and workshop noise in Ukaasi and the dirgey crawl of Raskas / Chemical Weapons.
‘Lick In Heaven’ offers the juicy first taste of new Jessy Lanza material since 2016
Working again with the signature touch of Jeremy Greenspan (Junior Boys), Jessy warmly remind us of what we all loved about her first two albums, puckering up lyrics about “being angry with people and not knowing what to do about it” over her rude SH-101 bassline, and a nagging chorus beautifully shaped by Greenspan. Bodes very well for a new album...
Masami Akita’s dazzling 1996 classic ‘Pulse Demon’ rears its grimacing head on Relapse’s expanded 2019 reissue
Emerging from a pivotal period in Merzbow’s oeuvre, ‘Pulse Demon’ has remained one of the project’s most prized emissions ever since. More or less defining and destroying the square root of noise (blistering, howling chaos) and techno (loopy, hypnotic linearity), the album’s original eight tracks, plus the fiercely technoid bonus cut ‘Extract 1’ epitomise the notion of being so wrong that it’s dead right; doing everything that hoary old musical convention said you should’t, and letting it all hang out with thrilling, almost rubbernecking results that are almost too cataclysmic to witness, but one can’t help but ogle at.
Aye, it’s not for everyone, but if you’re not everyone, leave your keys in the pot and come party like its the end of the fucking world. Practically worth it for the mesmerising op-art jacket alone.
Bullion meets Diego Herrera (Suzanne Kraft) on an achingly sweet deep pop diamond from his new EP
‘We Had a Good Time’ feels like the prelude to a summer evening storm, with woozily heatsick synth chords and hand-cranked drum machine buoying Bullion’s humbly gorgeous vox, all sparingly lit up with crashes of incoming thunder. Actually, is it a prelude to the storm, or an elegy for what happened? Either way, it’s great.
Tweaky, rugged acid-house jackers from Italian producer Bawrut, making a rare foray away from Ransom Note with his debut for Life & Death
‘Rollin’’ metes out a cosmic-tribal vibe lead by live-wire synths and sizzling drums, whereas ‘Terza’ tempos out a sort of Italo-house booster and ‘Drum Beat’ kicks it harder, freakier in a proto-Italo-techno style.
Killer, brazenly ruffcut, abrasive jams from Daisuke Imamura’s DJ Die Soon for Rabih Beaini’s Morphine Records.
Hailing a full length of this material forthcoming in March 2020, the rusted clangour and mulch doom of these tracks should get the rhythmic noise and Japan-o-philes salivating for his cyberpunk gunk.
Up top, ‘Propagate’ is a nagging jack attack in a style somewhere between Beau Wanzer and Russell Haswell, while the strange title of ‘Jon Stewart and Colonel Sanders with the dog’ signifies the sorta head-slopping gear found on the B-side.