'Two/Three' is the second installment in Dabrye's hip-hop triptych - following on from 2001's intricately plotted 'One/Three' and bringing with it a slew of grandstanding MC's with which to pock-mark his electrofied compositions.
Indelible in the best possible sense, Dabrye has risen through the ranks from his Detroit-based origins - offering up the most cohesive and consistent set of digitally rendered hip-hopl. Boasting the likes of MF Doom, Jay Dee, Beans, Wildchild and Big Tone, 'Two/Three' wastes not a drop of the assembled talent - bringing the spectrum of vocal styles crashing down on brittle beats, Blade Runner-synths and a truly dizzying scope.
Opening on the squall-masked thunder of 'The Stand', Dabrye displays an intuitive way with structure, MF Doom provides a suitably marble-mouthed appearance atop cobalt chords, likening himself to "the blood in your stool", before the back-to-basics instrumental 'Machines Pt. 1' provides a brief respite in preparation for Kadence's shoulder-shrug for 'Encoded Flow'.
With an obvious highlight being the stunning hook-up with the late Jay Dee for 'Game Over', other moments of clarity arrive in the form of 'Viewer Discretion' and it's blipping entourage, Beans' polemical outburst on 'Special' and the break-marinated 'Get It Together' - wherein Invincible and Finale embark on an old-school ram raid. When the only real criticism you can level at a record is that it's size and ambition could potentially drown unseasoned listeners, you know that you're nit-picking...
Explorative ambient spirit Phil Struck makes an absorbing new album of ambient gestures, ersatz ethnomusicology and pastoral, lower case electronica in NNO, making for a fine follow-up to his lush Quiet Time tape.
Joining the likes of Limpe Fuchs and Sculpture on Hamburg’s Ana Ott label, Struck tentatively plays up to their far-reaching aesthetics with a humbly un-showy and subtly captivating collection of frayed sounds and arrangements that recall the smudged rhythmelodic improvisations of Bellows as much as the padded spheres of Space Africa and Bernard Baum.
In the most classic sense of ambient music, NNO is meant to melt into your personal ether with a barely-there presence, the kind of sound that triggers the olfactory and feels like there’s an abstract window open in the room bringing warm breezes and smells from f*ck knows where, but wherever it is, it’s a lovely place that we should all visit every now and then.
‘Poke It With A Stick’ - the only record by Louisville legends Your Food - is a sui generis gem of the American underground, now faithfully reissued for the first time by Drag City.
"Recorded in 1983 by four scarecrows from Kentucky subsisting largely on cheap beer and baked beans, the album is a burbling burgoo of hypnotic rhythm, uncoiling tension, and sharp invective - a proud bastard of post-punk royalty. Slint drummer Britt Walford remembers seeing Your Food at age 11: “You knew you were in the presence of something powerful whenever they played. Their sound was open and catatonic. Cathartic. You recognized it right away. A lot of it was based on the bass, which was cool, and the drums were expressive, too. Like the bass, they were simple, but odd and insistent. The guitar was angular and somehow just as present as the bass and drums, which seemed like the center. Doug’s singing went right along with it. He was mocking and smart, then bare and vulnerable, without being vulnerable.”
In the fall of 1981, the residents of 1069, Louisville’s original punk house, began to spy three teenagers lurking outside the decrepit environs. Eventually the teens grew bold enough to approach, and soon two, John Bailey and Wolf Knapp (“that’s my real name, not my punk rock name”), were learning guitar and bass in the trashed rehearsal space within. “Their practices seemed interminable at first,” remembers Charles Schultz, “and then picked up confidence and momentum.” Charles had been the drummer for Louisville’s recently defunct Dickbrains, a band described by the Village Voice as freaky weirdos who couldn’t fit in if they tried. He started playing with John and Wolf. Douglas Maxson, the Dickbrains male singer, was lured back from New York with the promise of beer and cigarettes and soon Your Food were playing weekly shows at the local Beat Club, mostly for free beer. (The third lurking teen, Janet Beveridge Bean, formed left-of-the-dial, cracked country act Freakwater with Dickbrains guitarist Catherine Irwin.)
Financed by a Pell Grant and what little cash the band could scrounge, the album was cut largely live in the studio by a guy who usually recorded church groups and self-released on the band’s own Screaming Whoredog label. The prevailing themes of restlessness and isolation are palpable in songs like opener ‘Leave’, where ennui morphs into dark comic fantasy. The punk funk of ‘Don’t Be’ fits perfectly with the downtown NYC groove of bands like ESG and Bush Tetras. Doug’s sardonic wit laces each song with trenchant, first-class put-downs. “Everybody really wants to be your friend / Shit, I wouldn’t even want to talk like you.”
The band became big brothers and bad influences for prepubescent Slint project Languid And Flaccid (which included Will Oldham’s elder brother Ned). It was a golden age but a waning one, an adolescent state before hope or commercial prospect or any plan for the future. When no one gives a damn what you are doing, you are free to do what you want.
Your Food managed three short tours in a world before cell phones, social media, or global positioning and earned the admiration of the few who heard them but they were sonically out of step with the then-dominant hardcore scene, where speed and aggression alone were valued. It all came to a spectacularly bitter end on the side of some frozen, forlorn highway in West Virginia. The tour van broke down three times in four days. The money for the planned second album went to repairs and the band, beaten and broken, called it quits."
What were the clouds like when Huerco S was young? The Kansas-raised, New York-based producer’s absorbing ambient album For Those of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have) goes some way to answering The Orb’s fluffy little proposition…
Brian Leeds a.k.a. Huerco S’s 2nd album, following Colonial Patterns (2013) finds him working between the cracks and fissures of what we’ve previously heard from him, drawing out nine pieces of mineral ambient textures and non-percussive rhythms marking his best work since the 20 minute Untitled track off his debut for Opal Tapes in 2012.
Defined throughout by a low lit, low-lying sense of intimacy, rather than oceanic or celestial tropes, Leeds’ appreciation of lower case nuance is in warm, crackling effect with a hazy hummus like grain and bonfire glow that recalls Wanda Group’s earlier outing as The Hers, or the sweeter touches of Bellows.
Like a well timed gary, once it really begins to sink in, the warbly electronic pitches and subtly chaotic ferric details really get to work in hypnotising and making you forget where you started, suspending disbelief for a 50 minute window of time just long enough to let your mind wander over the horizon.
Time will tell, but this is surely a future ambient classic.
An astonishing solo debut by acclaimed cellist and composer Lucy Railton featuring one side of filigree, multi-layered autobiographical collage-work, the other of raw and phased cello glissandi. RIYL: Mark Leckey, Alvin Lucier, Beatrice Dillon, Nate Young, Valerio Tricoli, Popol Vuh...
Lucy Railton is 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, her 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.
Proper dancefloor dreadnaughts from Nkisi for Warp’s reheated Arcola label, binding Congolese rhythms with Mittel European hardcore styles as you’ve rarely heard them before.
Landing after Rian Treanor’s opening gambit Contraposition and 2814’s Pillar, this plate catches some serious heat from NON figurehead Nkisi, slicing off a sick full frontal showcase of her signature battering ram rhythms and blend of intense, needle-toothed synths with noxious gloomcore pads.
In effect, these are the latest examples of Nkisi’s unique form of up-to-the-minute, mutant folk music; four mutable grooves that twist the bones of later ‘90s brutalist aerobic mysticism between the Hecate or Christoph De Babalon-esque gloom of The Dark Orchestra and the brittle syncopation of Violent Tendencies on the A-side, and over to the ravenous Cold Rush cavalcade of G.E.O. and her frenetic, pitching stepper, Dark Noise.
Unmissable, this, liike.
Perky as you like Afro-funk and Funaná from ‘70s Cape Verde’s Pedrinho, written when he was 18 years old after arriving in Lisbon, Portugal where he made his new home...
“Mar & Sol first release Is Aleluia Lp from the Cabo Verde singer Pedrinho. At the time, late 70's, this Lp was one of the biggest successes from Cabo Verde music. Singer Pedrinho moved to Lisbon when he was 18 years old, and recorded this album, the first one of his career.
Aleluia was produced in the same street where Mar & Sol is based nowadays, in Rua de S.Bento, Lisbon, Portugal. This street was also where Pedrinho come to live when he arrived in Portugal, like the majority of the musicians and emigrants from the old African Portuguese colonies move at that time, to try a new luck.
A big community grew here and these artists got the opportunity to record their own traditional music by the hands of local labels. Now is the time for Mar & Sol to give a new life to all this music, this is the first of many reissues that are coming to start the series of the label.”
Babes, here it is: the first batch of Johnny Jewel’s soundtrack work for the new series of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks; comprising 14 original themes, cues and songs under his own name and with his bands, Chromatics and Desire.
If you’ve been keeping up with he series, the above is surely all you need to know, but for everyone else, Windswept is the stuff dreams be made of, draped in lustrous synths evoking all the immaculate ambiguity and American Dream-like nature of the new episodes’ interweaving stories, from he romance of Heaven and The Crimson Kiss or the shimmering Americana of Slow Dreams, to the feverish horror cue of Insomnia’s tense strings and the air-conditioned jazz cool of Motel, with a massive highlight in the all-too-short synth strokes of Between Worlds and Stardust’s sexed up mystery.
Tresor’s 300th release is a 15 track anthology of the Scopex label, a hugely coveted late ‘90s UK electro imprint whose releases by Simulant and Pollon now fetch triple figures for 2nd hand copies. When this set was announced a few weeks back, we could practically hear the collective relief of a thousand night owl neeks hooting at the moon and salivating at the prospect of fresh vinyl editions of Simm City, Out OfEther, and Electratech, all newly remastered from DATs and included here inside.
Right up there next to classic Drexciyan Storms and the black secret technologies of Ultradyne in the pantheon of 3rd/4th wave electro, Scopex releases defined ’90s electro at its tightest and mercurial best with a blend of razor sharp production and concise, sci-fi vision that’s rarely been surpassed.
In chronological order, you’ll find diamond-cut new pressings of Simulant’s Simm City , which is perhaps most noted for its Stinson-esque strengths in New Machines and the rare charms of Musical Box, or the low-lying missile Wav. Form (Mix), before Out Of Ether  dispenses some of the nastiest electro-funk to come from the UK in Knife Edge and the clenched swing of Access Future Audio (Mix).
Pollon’s Electratech  follows to open the 3rd disc with the tense angles of Lost Souls, as deployed by Objekt on his Kern Vol.3 mix for Tresor, and also included in a banging alternate Mix beside the epic Lonely Planet, while the previously unreleased, slow-mo sci-fi electro grunge of Optimal Flow completes the set and sees the label to its final resting place in one piece.
Come git it!
Shed’s 2nd album, The Traveller is also known as the one that’s not as good as Shedding The Past.
It’s definitely not terrible, per se, or even bad - check the lush, C2-style breakbeat techno chops on Leave Things, or the searing noise techno elegy Hello Bleep! - but it’s just maybe too sentimental and awkwardly experimental to live up to comparison with its predecessor.
Don’t let that put you off giving it a crack though; it’s riddled with details and ideas worth checking out.
Mercurial maverick of the maelstrom, John Duncan presents a definitive, new, 3rd vinyl edition of his Riot  album: re-recorded, re-mixed at EMS and expanded with material that didn’t make the initial pressings, all taken from original 8-track master tape - which required them to revive obsolete machinery - and all re-mastered by Rashad Becker for this release; which, according to the legendary avant-garde agitator himself, is finally packaged in artwork befitting of his vision. Or take it straight from the horse’s gob: “If there is any one must-have releases that defines my work in sound, this is it.”
So, for anyone who made first contact with John Duncan’s catalogue via his sublime, deathly Bitter Earth [iDEAL, 2016] LP songbook, this one may come as a shock. But considering that practically everything else in his catalogue is more akin to this record than Bitter Earth, you may have some catching up to do, and this is a perfect place to start.
Employing the chaos generated by his favoured shortwave radio, coupled with “computer program transmissions, military morse code, atmospheric interferences, random sounds”, Duncan makes a genuine, head-flossing racket on the A-side’s Riot. Scrambled not stirred, the results still stand gnarled in the historical stream of noise records, strongly representative of a pursuit for total atonality and arrhythmia - pure randomness in a state of flux always anticipating, never resolving.
Contrarily the B-side throws words, both legibly spoken in english and chopped-up in Japanese, into stark negative relief. Firstly a droll description of viciousness at an event by Paul McCarthy at a Los Angeles gallery, then a passage of fulminating noise chaos, followed by an extraction from a performance at the outdoor amphitheater in Hibiya Koen, Tokyo, 1983, and unpredictably shattered into an extreme inky blacknuss.
No messing, this is extreme music of the highest order.
A dream come true; Jochem Peteri a.k.a. Newworldaquarium a.k.a. 154 blesses our 12x12 series (already home to releases by Kara-Lis Coverdale, Beatrice Dillon, Raime, DJ Sprinkles & SND and V/Vm) with his first new release in 14 years. His 'Strike' album under this alias remains unsurpassed in its field today, influencing everyone from Actress to Lee Gamble and Huerco S over the past decade and more, and it’s fair to say that this new LP beautifully lives up to that classic high water mark.
In Wherever You Go, I Will Follow he deploys 22 minutes of cascading deep techno romance, cleft in two and cut at 45rpm each side for mutable DJ options and listening modes; swelling with breathtaking, pulsating techno harmonics at the original speed, and yielding a head-engulfing smudge of billowing dynamics when slowed down.
While it remains patently the work of Peteri, it finds him wholeheartedly embracing the harmony between analogue and digital realms in his studio; finally allowing him to dynamically compose, edit and effortlessly shift between and inside mediums; something he’s been hoping technology would allow for years but which has only effectively become possible recently.
Taking inspiration from the birth of his second child, the results are suitably life-affirming and bathed in light. They take the listener beyond the smoked-out introspection of Strike  and The Dead Bears  to a more contented and quietly alluring place on the horizon, positively replacing his earlier work’s sense of detachment with transcendent feelings of intimacy, happiness, love.
Or in Peteri’s own words, this one is about family...
Renowned photographer Wolfgang Tillmans demonstrates the distance travelled from his earliest musical work thru a mix of new, original material, archival finds, and remixes from Justin Strauss, on his Fragile label.
Leading on from his recent live shows with Powell, the Heute Will Ich Frei Sein EP is a typically diverse and spunky set drilling down to Tillmans’ variegated musical interests, namely darkroom EBM/house in the title track; a light headed sort of avant-ambient-trance-pop in Completely Changed; and strong nods to classic synth-pop and Salem in On My Own.
Yet, our favourite piece is perhaps the most whimsical, a 2 minute field recording of a Tired Car Alarm going thru its paces, while the speed-freak NDW styles of Fast Lane (original 1986 / 2016) recalls strapping DAF classics, and comes in dubbed-out, cosmic disco remixes by Justin Strauss.
Very sadly, this is the posthumous pressing of a long-awaited reissue for Jóhann Jóhannsson’s world-taking début album, Englabörn, which is now packaged with an extra side of reworks by peers including A Winged Victory for the Sullen, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Hildur Guðnadóttir, Paul Corley, and Jóhannsson himself with Francesco Donadello.
Born in 1969 in Reykjavik, Iceland, Jóhann Jóhannsson passed this mortal coil on 9th February 2018 in Berlin, Germany. An esteemed regular on these pages since this release of his first album, Jóhannsson recorded for practically every notable modern classical label in circulation, and also worked extensively beyond those parameters alongside everyone from Marc Almond and Barry Adamson to avant garde maestros such as BJ Nilsen and Pan Sonic, including most recently recording a number of soundtracks to high profile Hollywood movies.
Opening with the instantly recognisable processed vocals of Odi et Amo, Jóhannsson’s first album recorded under his own name has long held an uncannily nostalgic appeal, one which takes on a new poignancy in light of his passing. For anyone yet to encounter Englabörn it will remain an unusually absorbing experience, while anyone familiar with its tremulous strings, fleeting plays of light and shivering electronics will surely hear it imbued with a new levity.
Of the Englabörn Variations, we’re most attracted to Jóhannsson’s revisions of his own work, alongside Francesco Donadello. The practically chopped & screwed version of Odi et Amo is highly likely to induce tears in susceptible listeners - also appearing as a more glacial bis rework - while Ryuichi Sakamoto also plays the heartstrings like an aeolian harp in his breathtaking rework of Jói & Karen, and cellist Hildur Guðnadóttir takes Sálfræðingur Deyr to its deepest point, before Paul Hilliard’s other vocal ensemble Theatre Of Voices leave us shivering with a final version of Odi Et Amo.
R.I.P. one the 21st century’s first, great composers.
Fusion of sleek rolling techno by LLC producer Uge Pañeda with texts John Cage, Laurie Anderson and others, for the purpose of choreography by Barcelona’s Aimar Pérez Galí
“MOM 012 is the soundtrack to a very special performance named ÉPICA. Directed by Barcelona based choreographer Aimar Pérez Galí, it was premiered at Sonar 2017. EPICA brings clubbing culture inside the theatre, to deliver a highly energetic performance, joining bodies, sound and voices of historic and political dissidence. It is about communication between bodies (without language) and the liberty of being on the dancefloor. Freedom of movement, expression and happiness through music! Okkre has provided a startling soundtrack. This soundtrack complements the performance of the dancers beautifully but also deserves to be listened on its own. It is both powerful and dramatic, fitting the title.
The music of the soundtrack has been adapted for its imminent release on vinyl. The piece begins with the rhythmic movement of beats, which provides a structured backdrop. They are complemented by a swirling bassline. Overlayed percussion of differing styles comes in and out. Harsh almost metallic synths enter after a few minutes, which also have the sensation of breathing. Later on, powerful synths battle sturdy cymbal assisted percussion. In the latter stages, everything gets even more intense techno feel and the A Side ends with dense dark synths. The music is alive!
While the other side gently mixes a melodic bassline that moves like the wind with intertwined chorus and voices, which appeal to the spirit of the artistic work, evoking space for feeling and touching. At the same time, insistent beats offer a club feeling. Scary yet empowering strings create a hypnotic atmosphere alongside falling keys and vocal impressions. The final few minutes provides a strong climax to the record. This features hammering beats, a circling bass and powerful keys. A mighty performance! ÉPICA is indeed epic.”
Lone gets it right on these rugged but lush UK ravers, nailing a crafty blend of dembow knuck and early ‘ardcore bruk spiralling to a widescreen, flute-led new age peak in Temples, then swanging out with the infectious rub ’n tug of ruffcut Detroit house and fluoro nEuro trance lines on Hyper Seconds.
Force of energy Dale Cornish commits a particularly variegated blatz of songs as the 1st release on Vanity Productions, a new label related to The Tapeworm, who’ve previously issued Cornish material, as have Halcyon Veil, Entr’acte and Anòmia over the past 5 years and more.
This one sports Dale in fine voice alternating between a range of almost jazzy cabaret styles both in a cappella and joined to music, typically bucking any one framework to variously go over bursts of techno, cut-up radio samples, or acousmatic scrabble.
By any measure it’s the wildest and broadest snapshot of a genuinely singular artist, likely to reveal new aspects to those who thought they were quite familiar with his work, while also re/combining familiar elements in uncanny, refreshing ways recalling musics we love from The Caretaker to Ghédalia Tazartès and NYZ.
Still one of the best techno albums out of Berlin in this millennium so far, Shed’s seminal debut LP, Shedding The Past is finally and necessarily reissued on his own label, The Final Experiment - newly expanded to include all 12 tracks from the CD edition, and cut to heavier vinyl than the original 2008 pressing!
Thanks to the timeless cues and intent it was built on, Shedding The Past still sounds amazing today, working to an effortlessly adroit, light-footed and dynamic schematic that makes much of his subsequent work feel a bit clunky and overdone by comparison.
On release in 2008, it was a seriously big album for a techno world in flux between classic Detroit house, echoes of UK dubstep, broken beat and Braindance, and traces of tuffer Frankfurt sounds - all components of the Soloaction sound he’d developed for years prior.
Fair to say that Shed distilled those styles perfectly in his début album, as proved in its most impressive highlights such as the balletic gait of Another Wedged Chicken, the misty-eyed beauty of The Lower Upside Down and the breakbeat seduction of ITHAW, but most powerfully in its spine-freezing eternal anthem, Estrange.
Trust us: no techno collection is complete without a copy of this album.
The Ghost of Georges Bataille is a superb, if unexpected, collaboration between erstwhile Coil member Drew McDowell and fellow NYC-based artist Nicky Mao a.k.a. Hiro Kone, slotting very neatly into the Bank Records NYC catalogue amid their roster including Wetware, Nick Klein and Bookworms.
Strung out in the ether between Alva Noto, Coil and contemporary Chris & Cosey, the pair have nailed a timelessly stylish darkside vibe herein, with McDowell pursuing the sleek contours and intoxicating timbral qualities of last year’s Unnatural Channel into more liminal, mystic space somewhere between the ‘floor and restless mind-frames, smartly invoking the spirit of their titular subject.
The first side is spent establishing elusive/illusive parameters with the layered synthetic thizz and pent pulse of Barely Awake, then getting under the skin with the hugely impressive interplay of spectral synth voices and uncommonly thick, lustrous subbass in Dreaming Is Nursed In Darkness, which ends up sounding like some prime late ‘90s Autechre remix.
Their B-side is just as strong. Bright Kiss of Fire opens out a fathomless, dank space which they flesh out with sensually latinate rhythms that are all too absent in this quadrant of industrial music, or at least this subtly, before they again really impress with the fractured ballistics and sublime ‘90s electronica synth contours of Violence.
No doubt it’s a big RIYL Toresch, Ae, CS + Kreme, Coil
Widely regarded as the 20th century’s most important singer of English traditional song, Shirley Collins is someone who was born to invoke the old songs. Alongside her sister Dolly, she stood at the epicenter of the folk music revival during the 1960s and ‘70s.
"In 1980 she developed a disorder of the vocal chords known as dysphonia, which robbed her of her unique singing voice and forced her into early retirement. The Ballad Of Shirley Collins – which premiered at last year’s London Film Festival – tells this story, though to reduce it to that single aspect does everyone (not least of all Shirley!) something of a disservice.
The story proves itself to be something of a time-travelling Transatlantic road-movie of sorts, utilising a motherlode of archive audio to recount the tale of her seminal 1959 song-collecting trip around America’s Deep South alongside her then-lover (and legendary ethnomusicologist) Alan Lomax. As well as these songs (notably Alabama Sacred Harp Convention, Texas Gladden and Sidney Hemphill-Carter) there are more recent offerings, a home recording of Shirley’s sister Dolly Collins, and a BBC session from 1958, “Eight Five Spiritual” which gets its first release, some 60 years after it was recorded. Shirley Collins spent her life in song. Even during her time without her performing voice she was telling the stories of others’ music. Not once has she dropped the baton in keeping these songs, these stories, these people alive.
The soundtrack to ‘The Ballad Of Shirley Collins’ – though diverse – showcases just a fraction of the facets that make up an extraordinary career by anyone’s standards. Deliberately eschewing a straightforward biopic approach, Rob Curry and Tim Plester’s follow-up to their award-winning documentary WAY OF THE MORRIS, is a lyrical response to the life-and-times of this totemic musical figure. Granted intimate access to recording sessions for Shirley’s first album of new recordings in almost four decades, and featuring contributions from the comedian Stewart Lee and David Tibet of Current 93, what emerges is a meditative and carefully textured piece of portraiture.
A timely delve into the arterial blood, loam and tears of our haunted island nation. The film was released in October and has played more than 50 venues to date. December brings the last few screenings, before a major new wave of activity in January. January 9th is the date to look out for, with the film showing at around 30 venues across the country."
Character Collapse, Ian Hicks’ hotly anticipated follow-up to the VIY  EP, and its massive highlight False Awakening, finally lands heavy on JD Twitch (Optimo) and co’s So Low label, sprung from the Glasgow club night of the same name.
With only a necessary inclusion of False Awakening on So Low’s Now & Then EP to tide us over in the meantime, this set is seriously welcome, delivering exactly what we need with the arcing widescreen drag of Character Collapse, then properly putting the boot in on his power anthem Depths of Psyche, while the acid churn of Chemical Environments will quite literally eat the ‘floor from under ya feet, and the chronic dissonance of Continuous will send eyes and bodies spinning in strobe-lit rooms full of smoke.
A previously unreleased Sun Ra solo piano improvisation recorded in June 1990.
"As Jez Nelson says in the sleeve notes: “At the end of our conversation I asked Sun Ra if he would play something for us on the beautiful Schimmel piano in the studio next door. He smiled the smile of an ancient spirit with a childlike joy and said he’d be delighted. Then he walked next door, sat down at the piano, said “Hello Mr Schimmel” and played”.”
Lakker’s Dara Smith follows bandmate Eomac’s lead to go solo with a batch of mad electro-folk (read: definitely not turbofolk!) mutations under the new moniker; Arad, for Bedouin Records.
The Glimpse follows thru on the mystic and historic invocations of recent Lakker releases to diffract a worldly rush of inspirations thru technoid prisms, variously keening from what sounds like Irish flocked thru a vocoder and alloyed with 2-step EBM rhythms in the title cut, whereas Inti hints at North African Arabic modes, and Fried Salt simultaneously indulges his melodic and textural fascinations in sweetly elusive style.
Baked Arms then catches him percolating Afro-Latin patterns on a bed of cranky dissonance, and We Are Bacteria Sent Out Into Space forges a mix of snappy Afro-electro drums and Bruce Haack-alike vocoder expressions, and Slua Washed finds a clash of vocoloid spirits with charred noise.
Veronica Vasicka’s curatorial sensibilities are at best on this compilation of Minimal Wave from around the world 1980-1991, collecting a range of material shared by a common purpose - music made in or for the bedroom. Features tracks by Unovidual, Autumn, Pink Elln, Karen Marks, Vorgruppe, Aural Indifference, Perfect Mother…
We’re instantly drawn to the blue, sluggish melancholy of Mensch Im Eis by Vorgruppe, taken from their 1982 7”, as well as the anaesthetising gauze of Iham/Echo’s exceptional Eagle , which could almost be a pre-echo of Teresa Winter, and likewise to Denial’s cover of California Dreaming, which could just as easily be a pre-echo of Carla Dal Forno, while those who like to dance when nobody’s watching will no doubt get along with Perfect Mother’s grinding Japanese EBM in dark-disco-da-da-da-da-run, and the Belgian reserve of Unovidual’s Dit Is Pas Het Begin.
15 hours of recorded sounds are condensed into a vivid sound portrait depicting the way funerals and burials are lived in the Caribbean island of Haiti.
"Recorded in Port au Prince by sound artist Félix Blume in early December 2016, Death in Haiti plunges the listener into a world of pain, loss and solemn celebration as each funeral comprises of its own live jazz band as well as a plethora of characters like the joker (le blaguer) who cracks jokes and tales about the recently deceased. A beautiful document of a thriving tradition, a counterpart or updated version of those famous Dirge Jazz records such as the New Orleans’ Eureka Brass Band on Folkways.
About the artist: Félix Blume is a sound artist and sound engineer. His personal work is based on field-recordings and uses sound as a raw source, in sound pieces, radio plays, videos, actions and installations. A particularity of his work is that the audio and visual aspects are closely intertwined. As a sound collector, he has a large sound library recorded from different parts of the world that he freely shares on the Internet. His work as sound engineer focuses on sound recording, sound design for documentaries, feature films and video art, collaborating with different directors and visual artists.”
Enigmatic collective De Leon, known for a pair of cult tape releases on the Aught label, casts the 3rd release on Mana, following their sides by Pierre Mariétan and Benedict Drew with a display of rippling rhythmelodies and sloshing patterns, including some ripped from their Blowing Up The Workshop mix and all bound to resonate with fans of Shackleton, Don’t DJ, or Burnt Friedman.
Blurring distinctions between field recording and electro-acoustic performance in a gauzy sort of esoteric dance music, De Leon have worked coolly and obscurely in pursuit of an outernational spirit since their pair of tapes for /\\Aught in 2014-15. On Mana they pick up where we last heard them on a mix of exclusive productions for the BUTW mix series, rendering material from that set along with gear produced around then, or even more recently (we’re not sure to be honest, they don’t give much away).
The vibe is essentially a sort of trans-cultural moiré of ideas, converging elements of gamelan, West African tribal drums and Native American pipes in six seamless dream sequences that feel at times like Villalobos conducting Marginal Consort or at others like a naturally occurring delta of plugged in new age techno which has mutated in order to inoculate dancers against rigid metric conformity.
Techno, Berlin style, from a relatively new guy on the ‘floor; Somewhen.
Where Ostgut Ton’s previous release, Answer Code Request’s Gens album, worked a really cheesy mix of Breaks and IDM electronica, this guy makes up for that misstep with five shots of driving, twysted, fresh techno in the EBM-toned banger Ryte, on the lusting darkwave swagger of Undress, and the lockjawed pounder AFL.
Cottam returns to FCR with a more fleshed-out release that takes his signature Deep-House into new territories. ‘Locked In The Groove’ is a three track EP with lashings of Disco, Funk, Dub and South-Asian influences, broadening the palette of Cottam’s already eclectic releases.
"The title track is a solid continuation on Cottam’s previous FCR release, ‘I Can’t Carry On’, while it’s just as progressive in structure and instrumentation, ‘Locked in the Groove’ feels lighter in tone and more playful with its slomo-disco drums, funk bass and waves of filtered samples. Impossible to fully unpack in one listen, Cottam once again boasts his skill of fleshing out a groove with plenty of intricacies that require repeat listens.
Both tracks on the B-Side flaunt the meditative side of Cottam’s productions. The aptly named ‘Sample Heavy Dub’ displays the producers tentative use of percussion amongst a whirring drone that feels more like the soundtrack to a tribal ritual than a club tune. Like most Cottam tracks, the lengthy duration of ‘Sample Heavy Dub’ flies by as if time had stood still. The EP finishes with ‘Dreaming of Another Place’, a brilliantly paced track that recalls ‘Pink’ Era Four Tet after too many painkillers. Underpinned by a wildly organic beat, the subdued dub brass and mystifying vocal sample constructs a haze in which the EP slowly fades away into the memory of the listener and stays there.”
Björk casts her butterfly net over Jlin, Lanark Artefax and Kelly Lee Owens for remixes of her and Arca’s Utopia album cut, Arisen My Senses.
Lanark Artefax does his hyper-tactile IDM thing, threading Björk thru a maze of unmetered, Autechrian fuss and decapitated rave whoops, nestling a gorgeous breakdown in the later stages.
Trust Jlin to push the prism though, as she dissects and resynchs the vocal into remarkable, body-knotting tumbles and nano-rhythmic plies, and KLO turns the same elements into one of her supremely sensuous ambient house specials underlined by plush subs. We can imagine these latter two spinning the dance beautifully.
Complementing IDIB's deluxe reissue of 'Night Drive', the label present a buffed up edition of Chromatics' breakthrough single 'In Shining Violence', retitled as 'In The City' and including five new tracks.
The eponymous lead cut was already antiqued anyway so it's definitely not lost any of it's dilapidated disco lustre, in fact it's just as addictive today as when we heard it first in 2007. For the spotters, their 'Hands In The Dark' track from the 'After Dark' comp is also here, retitled as 'Dark Day' and remade with extra-swoony guitars, next to a cover of Bruce Springsteen's 'I'm On Fire'. Back to the 'floor they drop the vocodered slow grind of 'Lady', and the dramatic Drag pop of 'Dagger Moon', compatible with the likes of Balam Acab, and usefully provide an instrumental of 'In The City' - but really, who doesn't like that vocal?! Awesome.
A now-classic slice of early ‘00s beat music, Instrmntl is Dabrye’s follow-up to the insta-classic One/Three.
It was originally dispatched by Prefuse 73’s Eastern Developments label and followed it predecessor’s vibe with ten tracks of gritty, playful hip hop knocks which, with hindsight, now sound like early templates for half step dubstep as much as the wave of off-kilter styles from Mike Slott and Hud Mo to who came thru in dauberies’ wake.
Daniel Avery calls in some smart remix back-up for his recent Slow Fade EP - one of his strongest solo releases - with Actress, Surgeon and Inga Mauer on remix duties.
Surgeon turns Radius into a well balanced ambient techno roller, whereas Actress brings up the snaky acid of Slow Fade to a sort of haunted warehouse sound, and Inga Mauer hears Fever Dream as an echo of Baby Ford & Ifach Collective’s minimal techno lust.
A Certain Ratio return with the next phase of reissues on Mute, part of the ongoing collaboration with Mute that started with ‘The Graveyard And The Ballroom’, and ‘To Each’ and ‘Force’.
"A Certain Ratio embraced the ethic and culture of the late Seventies post punk explosion but sounded like nothing else around them and refused to fit in. Formed in 1978, the band had various members throughout their career and a core line up of Jez Kerr, Martin Moscrop and Donald Johnson.
Hailed universally as pioneers of what became known as ‘punk funk’ thanks to the success of ‘Shack Up’ on both sides of the Atlantic, their sound is not easily pigeonholed and their influence can never be understated."
Sister collection to “The Flesh Creeping Gonzoid & Other Imaginary Creatures.” Studio out-takes, deleted obscurities, compilation appearances and vinyl and download releases.
The DVD included is an extended version of the very limited DVDR of “Life Is An Empty Place”. (N.B: DVD may not play in all territories – it is REGION 2). All discs are over 75 minutes in length and feature a wealth of previously unreleased material. The discs are housed in individual card sleeves. Box includes a 4 page insert with the track-listing. Limited to 500.
Dollkraut does a nippy rejig of Eefje de Visser’s melancholic synth-pop ditty Scheef, the lead track from her self-released 3rd album, Nachtlicht .
Eefje’s pulsing, folkways dream-pop original is a relatively rare - for us at least - example of Dutch language pop, with floaty results that sit rather nicely on the ear. Dollkraut’s remix takes Eefje in another direction entirely though, with dancefloors full of shuffling waifs and foppish wave flounders squarely in mind.
The first label compilation from PG Tune in a series of thematic installments. In the focus this time are Moscow raised producers and live performers, sharing a fresh vision of the globally evolving dancefloor universe.
Includes music by Philipp Gorbachev, Obgon, Interchain, DEKA, Dubrovsky and ushi333.
One of the highlights from Johnny Jewel’s acclaimed OST to Drive comes back around on a new colour vinyl pressing.
Still the same tracks inside, including the starkly filtered carpenter-esque swagger of Tick of the Clock and the distorted synth lead of the Edit for Film mix, plus the tense 9 minute version of Tick of the Clock Extended Overdrive.
Dub-scorched contemporary blues mutations from LAPS, or Ladies As Pimps, as Glasgow’s Lady Two Collars of Golden Teacher and Sue Zuki are also known.
This is their 2nd EP, first for London’s MIC, and a far more developed follow-up to their promising début EP, Ladies As Pimps [Clan Destine Traxx, 2014], which is rightly now a sought-after item on the 2nd hand market.
On Who Me? they sound utterly possessed by classic spirits, channelling a blend of R&B vocals, drugged-up post-punk baselines and spare, drifting dub and hip hop rhythms that hit the mark with pop accuracy at each turn.
With opener Gush coming off like a rawer Tweet meets Toresch, they keep the pressure heavy and irresistible from the sinuous dub poetry of Who, Me? thru the plaintive blues of Ode To Daughter, whilst Edges leans in tuffer, more insistent, loaded with metallic dancehall rhythms, barking dogs and vocals for the club, and saving the up-to-the-second minimalism of Ladybug for a thoroughly satisfying closer.
Swear down, you should be hearing a lot about this record in 2018.
Not a band who ever do things by halves, this opus from Stars Of The Lid is a mammoth three disc set and is sublime for the entire duration.
You see, although some might level that Adam Wiltzie and Brian McBride have really stuck to the same style since their inception, they have been moving steadily forward with each release and have gone from whispering post-shoegaze guitar drones to something altogether more grandiose.
It would be crass to describe the music as cinematic, but the first thing that strikes me about "And their Refinement of the Decline' is its similarity to the work of Zbigniew Preisner and specifically his work with film director Krzysztof Kieslowski. Stars of the Lid share Preisner's (and Kieslowski's) sense of restraint, minimalism and stark beauty without resorting to sentimentalism. What we have here is beautiful music in its rawest form - horns, strings and that haunting reverb-drenched guitar all perfectly placed and allowed time to breathe. Nothing here is rushed, you hear passages rise and fall gloriously, sounds make an entrance and slowly disappear and nothing ever dares to outstay its welcome.
Arvo Part, Gavin Bryars or Brian Eno would all be more than appropriate comparisons for this stunning collection of work, but Stars of the Lid are almost at the point where they defy comparison altogether. Of course they have introduced further, more overtly 'classical' elements into their mix but the music they are making is quite uniquely their own - they are one of those rare bands that has absolutely defined a sound. What we are hearing is frankly two musicians who are at the top of their game, sharing their carefully measured view of the world with us and allowing us a peek into musical perfection - and you really can't ask for anything more than that.
Dharma as they were simply known, at the time when they were still playing, englobed all the incarnations of the group, trio, quartet (essentially as a live band) and quintet built around the stable core of pianist and bassist Patricio Villarroel and Michel Gladieux.
"Snoopy's Time is their second album, concentrated on the rhythm section including the ever-faithful Jacques Mahieux on drums, and recorded three months after Mr Robinson, the first album, made as a quintet including Jef Sicard and Gérard Coppéré, both at the time saxophonists with Claude Delcloo’s Full Moon Ensemble.
It is the most classic album in their discography, marked by the influence on Patricio Villarroel of the electric explorations of Miles Davis’ pianists from 1968, that is to say Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Joe Zawinul and Keith Jarrett. Indeed, the use of echo, reverb and saturation by Patricio Villarroel is similar to that of his famous counterparts. It would be a year later in France, but with a sound all his own, that Siegfried Kessler would undertake similar experiments playing with Perception, a group similar in spirit to Dharma.
Specialists may also evoke Paul Bley, notably on Scorpio and Sweet Earth Flying, or even Richard Beirach with Dave Liebman on Drum Ode, but these albums came out a few years after the innovative Snoopy's Time surprisingly released in 1970. Even amongst all the instrumental funky music of the time it is rare to find such a communicative energy, magnified all the more by the subtle use of effects and an innate sense of groove."
For Gérard Marais, guitarist with Dharma (the quintet), from this third album (in fact he replaced Gérard Coppéré, one of the two saxophonists present on the first album), Albert Ayler’s instruction to play your own music was the detonator. This did not fall on deaf ears, and was particularly appropriate as it would have been difficult, even for a musician attracted to free jazz, to make something of his own from the esthetic and political direction taken by Cecil Taylor, Archie Shepp or Sun Ra. What could be summarised as ethnic differences. The quest was to find one’s own music, whatever the more or less apparent roots.
"For, at the beginning of the 1970s, Gérard Marais and his comrades in the Dharma Quintet were overwhelmed by electric period Miles Davis. Not the band with Pete Cosey, which was still gestating, but the one fascinated by electronic keyboards and the famous Fender Rhodes which added so much to the atmosphere of In A Silent Way.
From the beginning of Dharma, but without ever copying anyone, Patricio Villarroel played the role of Chick Corea with Miles Davis. While Gérard Marais whose fulgurant playing dynamised the group, was at the level of John McLaughlin, or Sonny Sharrock at the same period. Another important soloist, alto saxophonist Jeff Sicard was as inventive as Byard Lancaster, Noah Howard, Gary Bartz, Marion Brown or Sonny Simmons. It’s difficult to do any better!
Questioned by a critic, years after the group split, Gérard Marais insisted on it being an idea born of the seventies, which seemed the only creative way to enable written music and improvisation to co-exist. This was a philosophy that he would continue to develop within Michel Portal’s group, on Splendid Yzlment, but also in a great duo with Joseph Dejean (of Full Moon Ensemble), and yet again in a trio led by drummer Stu Martin, with two guitars the other being Claude Barthélemy.
The Dharma Quintet, made their mark, appearing under the letter D, between Dedalus and Dies Irae, on the list of major influences created in 1979 by Nurse With Wound."
Another chance to cop one of the most essential dub 10"s ever. To our knowledge this is the fourth official repress of Rhythm & Sound's 'No Partial', the opening track from the R&S compilation CD and one of the most important foundational tracks for the Berlin dub style.
The only drawback to this 10" is that they've now omitted the original Wailers cuts on the flip, but on it's own 'No Partial' still remains one of the most immersive seven minutes of dub purity from recent years. You should know the score with this, if you dont already own it, make the investment now and thank yourself later.
In an interview with Jazz Magazine in the early 1970s, Dharma, as a collective voice, outlined their method: “we try to reach, within free jazz, the same sort of rhythmic cohesion as in Bop, a cohesion based not exactly on tempo, but something which feels like tempo. A kind of underlying pulse”.
"Evidence of these ideas can be heard immediately on listening to Mr Robinson, the first album by the Dharma Quintet, for whom community living seemed obvious, in order to add to the aforementioned cohesion. Through this, the group members played together on a daily basis, trying out things which were worked on day in, day out. They were also listening to a lot of records, with of course a preference for free jazz, but not forgetting Miles Davis in his electric period, notably for the keyboards of Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea. To which should be added esthetical-political concerns based on a refusal of hierarchy, and a desire to escape from a restrictive academic approach…
It was within this framework that Jef Sicard and Gérard Coppéré (saxophones, flute, bass clarinet), Patricio Villarroel (electric and acoustic piano), Michel Gladieux (bass) and Jacques Mahieux (drums) formed the first version of a collective united by structured intentions. Because, within Dharma, individual improvisation cannot be envisaged outside of a clearly designated framework, even non-tempo. The result is a beneficial cohesion, and moments of great beauty born of a collective excitement and giving rise to ambiances which seemed almost possessed. The use of modes could seem to link Mr Robinson to the spiritual jazz of the past but that is without taking into account the fact that the benevolent spirit of Eric Dolphy seems to watch over this album. In France, a similar desire for cohesion could be found in the Cohelmec Ensemble, who had parallel preoccupations, to the point where their bassist, François Méchali, ended up by joining Dharma: there is unfortunately no recorded trace of this, just the memories.
As a quintet, with however some personnel changes, Dharma recorded three albums (there is also one as a trio, under the name of Dharma Trio), which are all of fundamental importance (Dharma would also accompany, and to great effect, the songs of Jean-Marie Vivier and Colette Magny). Individually, the members would record with musicians passing through (notably Anthony Ortega, Dave Burrell) and participated in other key groups including Machi Oul and Full Moon Ensemble."
The Basic Reshape of Carl Craig's 'The Climax' is without question one of the finest remixes of all time. Seminal 12" from Basic Channel....
It's a definitive, driving, hypnotic club killer that rebuilt the tribal mastery of the original into a logic-defying display of bass shuffles and aquatic percussion that kills us every time/
"Remake" Basic Reshape from 1994 relates to "Remake Uno/Duo", Carl's sample-based re-interpretation of Manuel Göttschings epochal E2-E4. Basic Channel take a radical, abstract, sample-free approach with a breathtaking slow motion groove under a multilayered sound sphere.
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."
After turns by Burnt Friedman and Max Loderbauer, Marionette return attention to Benjamin Kilchhofer’s lilting drum patterns and bittersweet electronics on The Book Room, his broadest and most significant release to date. Followers of Burnt Friedman’s rhythmelodic arrangements, the ersatz ethno vibes of Don’t DJ or Shackleton’s hypnotic patterning will find lots to delve into here.
“Benjamin Kilchhofer is not new to the world of recorded music, yet he doesn’t seem to fit into a particular scene or group. As an outsider he is, however, fully immersed and melded into his own universe. He mentally escapes to a parallel world and weaves an alternate reality which would otherwise not exist in his daily life. Kilchhofer avoids the spotlight and therefore isn’t really visible in today’s culture of ever changing content and social media. This is where Marionette steps in to attempt to shed as much light as possible on this unique and incredibly talented artist.
The Book Room is Kilchhofer's musical diary, it's his library of emotions. It's a fairytale, an imaginary place shaped by exotic cultures, an escape from modern society, a collage of real and imagined experiences. You can hear influences abstracted from a wide number of musical approaches: the story-telling nature of folklore music, naive and conflicting rhythms of tribal drums, melodies and pads reminiscent of classical minimalism and microtonal experimental music, the freeform approach of early electronic music and krautrock, and buried deep within the tracks some hints of hedonistic dance and club music.”