Penultimate, 5th Stage of The Caretaker’s ‘Everywhere At The End of Time’ series charting severe levels of musical/mental deterioration and sensory detachment through four extended, smudged and hallucinatory side-long pieces.
As we near the end, ‘Stage 5’ sees our protagonist enter a near-permanent state of confusion and horror. Mirroring the endemic deterioration of dementia’s latter phases, were pulled through the most extreme entanglements in the series so far; repetition and ruptures, barely maintaining a connection to waking life and a sense of self.
In the most classic sense, we become witness to an abandonment and dissolution of ego, as the mulch of bygone ‘78s totally loses itself in a way that connotes misfiring synapses failing to properly relay information at advanced levels of the disease.
It feels as though our skull is being scraped out, uncovering hellish layers of accreted sensation and mulched imagery, occasionally recognising calmer patterns, only for them to fray into the ether before it’s possible to parse and dwell on them.
At this point it’s also perhaps worth pointing out the uncannily profound synchronicity between the timelines of ‘Everywhere At The End of Time’ and Brexit, which both started in 2016 and are due to wrap up in spring 2019. It should be no stretch of the imagination to read into their parallel progression from nostalgia and historic/collective amnesia, to progressive dementia and complete obliteration of (the) sense(s).
Rasping’ power n0!se pop from Sarah Froelich, Philip Best and Russell Haswell a.k.a. Consumer Electronics
On the A-side they follow suit with both Russell Haswell-produced albums, ‘Estuary English’ and ‘Dollhouse Songs’ with a combo of pinched pulse and oblique noise torque applied to an obliterated cover of The Band’s ‘The Weight’.
B-side with ‘Hostility Blues’ they switch tack to let Russell rip loose with chrome-tearing synth gremlins and sustained high register tones pinning Sarah Froelich’s possessed shrieks into place.
“President’s Health Club, USA. Time to plot a hazy progress from Al’s Spa Tub Motel to the Free Speech Cafe before termination at Pilgrim Drugs. Sahara Sue’s been diagnosed with ‘Closing Down Syndrome’ and has retreated ghost-like to a queasy mirage of bleached-out condos and multi-lane freeways basking under great wheels of light.
Long hours in dim warehouses scanning shelves and trying not to notice the declining shadow or gathering rot on display. Airless back rooms piled high with stacks of handwritten pages, academic journals and unfathomable tracts - ‘Human Remains Index,’ ‘Keep Christ in Chains,’ ‘Mortuary Therapy Explained.’
Outside the use-of-force team waits primed. She remembers a childhood visit to Atmosphere, the highest restaurant in the world, maybe from up there she did, in fact, look down and see a plan to it all. How blessed and fragile and perfectly planned everything truly was. The floor tips down and away. For the Jane and John Does. PB / Austin, TX 2018”
Anthoney J Hart a.k.a. Imaginary Forces a.k.a. Basic Rhythm a.k.a. East Man pushes a scowling Hi Tek take on hardcore ‘nuum styles for his newly minted label.
It’s basically instrumental grime pushed into the red, working between the 8-bar swerve of ‘Twilight’ and the aggressive jaws of ‘Future Tek’ on the front, before the boisterous Breakstep lash of ‘Nose Bleed’, and rounding out with the dank presha of ‘Mash Head’.
Twysted post-techno/noise torque from Chafik Chennouf, owner of Amsterdam’s Leyla Records, and Japanese techno explorer Katsunori Sawa
“Rapid conglomerations of noise-techno, death industrial and musique concrete rear their ugly selves over the six tracks of "For The Mimics'.
After a long period of collaboration Chennouf and Sawa-san release a seamless collection spun through their vast knowledge of the previously mentioned genres and their studiously detailed work as individual musicians on Leyla, Weevill Neighbourhood and Voidance.
They are joined by David Foster (HUREN, Teste, Ontario Hospital) on the closing track Inner Scars, barely a touch of ointment following the earlier onslaught.”
’Tomb Machines’ is a survey of work by John Powell-Jones, a Manchester-based artist whose gruesome and psychedelic illustrations have stained the sleeves of tapes and records by Moon Duo and for the Reel Torque, Diagonal and Opal Tapes labels, as well as great posters for the Faktion club events
Documenting and expanding upon ’Tomb Machines’, a body of work exhibited in February 2018 at Castlefield Gallery’s New Art Space: Great Northern, this boxset of the same name contains the first significant overview and analysis of John’s output to date, which covers a cross-section of multidisciplinary work in the fields of illustration, sculpture, screen-printing, video and music, and often simultaneously.
Without getting bogged down in art speak, John’s phantasmagoric imagination has long spoken to us on an intuitive level, consistently coming up with images that summon a sense of the eldritch, dreamlike and grotesque that’s hard to shake once encountered. In the book, Sara Jaspan’s essay provides a finer, informed grasp on the conditions and ideas that make up John’s warped weltanschauung, evidenced in the selection of physical curios to fondle and ogle over.
But perhaps of most interest to people on these pages is a red C40 containing some of the strongest music that John has put to tape. In its gurning, curdled drones and alchemical electro-acoustic atmospheres redolent of everything from Wolf Eyes and Aaron Dilloway to Gruppo at their most abstract, we possibly find the best way into his noumenal gooch between waking and dreamlike dimensions.
Luke Slater on rugged manoeuvres as L.B. Dub Corp for Stroboscopic Artefacts
Built for the long run and big rooms, ‘Roar’ gives a strident, bass-swollen start to the session which also takes in the sidewinding electro-acid-dub torque of ‘Hard Wax’ and the serpentine swerve of ‘Sure Step Dub’ with its killer, pinging woodblock percussion.
Umo Vogue formed in Bristol by Stig Manley, Russ Crook and Neil Deamer who were in Bath based ska rock outfit ‘The AT’s’, along with Bristol based singer Debbie Marlow.
"Neil’s Brother Clive joined the band bringing a fantastic new dynamic to the band on drums, percussion and heavy artillery. The band name is a deliberate misspelling of the ultra-chic Italian fashion magazine ‘L’Uomo Vogue’. After winning the Bristol ‘Battle of the Bands’ in 1982 they were signed to Phonogram and dropped a few months later. They then signed to EMI in ’83 and released their first single ‘Just My Love’ released in early 1984. The second single was ‘Make It Real’ and was never released as the band were culled from the EMI roster in late ’84.
For this reissue of their debut single we’ve added 3 bonus tracks, a demo of “Just My Love”, the unreleased follow single “Make It Real” and a bedroom demo “Erotica.” Each song displays ridiculously catchy melodies and innovative electronic rhythms. The drum tracks, a combination of rhythm machines and hand percussion, were mixed down from the 4-track tape used as backing on stage, with the rich slap bass and Roland SH09 synths weaves fluid lead lines in between the harmony vocals. All songs have been remastered by George Horn at Fantasy Studios. The record is housed in an exact replica of the original jacket and includes an 8-page booklet with photos, notes and press clippings from the band’s archive. “We’re synthetic but not antiseptic. We are interested in the naivety and spontaneity of music.”Umo Vogue."
A “Lost” Aegean club hit from D.E., the alias of Akis, whose ‘Into The Light’  album inspired the name of Greece’s smartest reissue label
Recorded in 1992, ‘Giant Step (Club Mix)’ is a sultry beauty marrying New Jack Swing funk with brooding synths in a way recalling early Wild Bunch or cuts from that Pablo’s Eye reissue on Stroom.
However, the B-side’s ‘Giant Step - Demo Version’ is the payload for us. Recorded in 1989, it’s more stripped down and edging on a sort of slinky, crooked new age boogie, pan pipes and all.
Founding member and co-creator of ‘Aiwo rec.‘ DJ Normal 4 delivers Second Circle’s eleventh release to date with the EP ‘Exoticz’ .
"Raised close to Düsseldorf in the Ruhr Area, Normal 4 grew up amongst a landscape of dusty factory skeletons and abandoned machine complexes in a formerly thriving industrial conglomerate. Bringing his signature sound of broken industrial dreams mixed with escapist rave fantasies, Normal 4 delves into the archives with two tracks ‘Kalaidoka’ and ‘Aeo’ recorded around 2011/2012, alongside a new track ‘La Arabia’.
Produced at Altstadt Studio Mülheim an der Ruhr, with Normal 4’s good friend Anke Preuß on guitar and vocals, ‘Aeo’ is given the remix treatment by Phillip Otterbach on the ‘Aeo (Ottertasia Mix)’. On the B side the synth freak out ‘Kalaidoka’ is followed by ‘La Arabia’ which rides the breaks into a dusty moonlit desert rave."
Second vinyl edition of a super in-demand Scando disco session from Sasac on Malmo’s Fasaan Recordings
It’s not hard to tell why the first edition is trading for triple the price on 2nd hand markets - ‘Future Disc’ is a carefully plotted beauty drawing from myriad stripes of classic African and Afro-American disco, boogie and Italian cosmic styles, but trimmed to svelte perfection at every angle, leaving vocals out of it and instead focussing on lissom instrumentals licked up with very tidy guitar and synth chops and natty drum machine shuffles.
Tokyo industro-dub mutant Mars89 flings down a killah 3rd disc for Bokeh Versions with a handful of grizzled dub abstractions and sawn-off 8bit samples inna classic soundsystem style.
Cutty Ranks is sacrificed to the cranky jaws of opener ‘End Of The Death’, where ‘Run To Mall’ follows with a shuddering halfstep hingeing around sawn-off sci-fi film samples and militant steppers drums.
‘Visitor From Ocean’ offers a moment of respite, but with an underlying tension that could erupt into soundsytem warfare or descend into dread depths at any moment - canny mixing tackle - before ‘Random Coherence’ ups the pressure with swaggering EBM/dancehall percolations, and he ducks between railgunning hi-hat and snare crossfire in the decimated no-mans-land of ‘Throbbing Pain’.
Industrial techno beasts Dave Foster (Huren) and Richard Oddie (Orphx) double down on their O/H project with a 2nd set of ramrods delivered on their L.I.E.S. debut.
They ain’t messing about. A-side they lace up the stentorian vocal and bludgeoning EBM techno of ‘Media Blitz’ and the gravelly slosh of ‘Supply/Demand’, again with barking Industrial vocals.
B-side they spit out ‘Human Waste’ and the slow motion pump of ‘Wage Slave’ along with the embittered cry of ‘Poverty Line’.
Debut dread declarations from Nazamba, a fire and brimstone dub poet out of Kingston, JA, produced by G36 for The Bug’s Pressure label...
Heralding Nazamba’s forthcoming full album with France’s O.B.F. sound system, ‘Vex’ sounds the alarm with apocalyptically gruff vocals set to pulverising production from Nagasaki’s anarcho-dub collective, G36.
“The spirit of Prince Far I reincarnated, riding a sci-fi steppa that relentlessly aims to flatten all floors. Nazamba's angry rant against the global epidemic of morally bankrupt, indelibly corrupt politicians, is a straight shot to Babylon's head…”
‘Mandy’ is the exceptional final soundtrack realised by dearly departed composer Jóhann Jóhannsson for the film directed by Panos Cosmatos. A supporting cast of Stephen O’Malley, Kreng and Yair Elazar Glotman, plus production from Randall Dunn ensure a majestic final missive and one of the most rich and varied releases in Jóhannsson's canon, taking in elements of metal, drone and doom ambient, even retro-futuristic synth work...
With a crack squad including O’Malley on guitar and additional production from gifted sound designers Randall Dunn, Pepijn Caudron (Kreng) and Berlin’s Yair Elazar Glotman (Ketev), the results lurk like blinking red eyes in a dense nocturnal forest, swarming in formation from widescreen romance to petrifying, plangent cues and pockets of heart-sinking gloom, saving the gnashing guitars for when their bite is felt strongest, but equally knowing how to send shivers shooting down the spine in moments of sublime, contrasting relief on the ‘Memories’ theme.
Jóhannsson's deft approach to sonic extremities is the real eye opener here; far removed from the emotionally driven demands of his more mainstream work for hollywood, here we're taken through grinding, industrial metal scrapes one minute and insanely rich ambient textures the next - with no concession to soaring emotional cues. Not that Jóhannsson ever really succumbed to much of that; but nonetheless - it’s a total pleasure to hear him reach into those darker recesses on Mandy - a soundtrack that’s likely to be remembered as one of his best.
R.I.P to a true master.
Features new, exclusive recordings by Stuart Hyatt, Dan Deacon, Juana Molina, The Field, Pantha du Prince, Eluvium, Dntel, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Gazelle Twin, Visible Cloaks, The Album Leaf, Loscil, Matmos, Rafiq Bhatia, Paul de Jong, Julien Marchal, Mary Lattimore, Lali Puna, Lusine, B. Fleischmann, William Tyler, Nick Zammuto, Lullatone, Benoit Pioulard, Luke Abbott, Marcus Fischer, Rafael Anton Irisarri, Greg Davis, Player Piano, Prototokyo, Daring Ear, Enrique Ramirez, and Forrest Lewinger.
"Metaphonics: The Complete Field Works Recordings is a sprawling anthology of site-responsive music, imagery, and original text, spanning 7 vinyl LPs and a hardbound book. Inspired by Stuart Hyatt’s audio field recordings, musicians from around the world have contributed complex sonic narratives under the Field Works banner. Each album begins with Hyatt’s samples and soundscapes from a particular time and location, weaving them into musical phrases and ultimately into song cycles intended to give the listener a heightened and more nuanced sense of place."
For the few people lucky enough to have heard the entire album in the five decades since its release, the mythical Popera Cosmic LP is now considered to be France’s first dedicated psychedelic album and the shrouded blueprint for the hugely influential Gallic concept album phenomenon that followed, including Serge Gainsbourg’s ‘Histoire De Melody Nelson’ and Gérard Manset’s ‘La Mort D’Orion’.
"Spearheaded by François Wertheimer (songwriter for Vangelis, Barbara and Byg Records), composed with future Jodorowsky soundtracker and genius all-rounder Guy Skornik and based on an embryonic concept co-conspired by a teenage Jean-Michel Jarre, this instantly-deleted 1969 recording is a true essential for any outernationalradicalised record collection.
With credentials that mark the birth of the cosmic funk (later disco) that helped shape the influential sound of France today, this album also includes the first pressed instrumentals by members of Space Art, some of the best orch rock arrangements by William Sheller (Lux Aeterna, Eriotissimo) and orchestrator Paul Piot (Jean Rollin), as well as sitar psych benchmarks courtesy of uber legend Serge Franklin - all pinned down by the rhythm section that would later be known to prog aficionados as Alice.
Subtitled ‘Les Esclaves’ (The Slaves), this street theatre / rock opera (influenced by the work of Julien Beck’s Living Theatre) now celebrates its 50th birthday standing firmly as a sonic tome to the birth of the no-no era (that rebuked France’s ‘yé-yé’ hamster wheel) leading directly to the thematic progressive network of Wakhévitch, Manset and Magma while comprising an inter-Gallic intergalactic super group from the early annals of France’s pop psych revolution. Imagine a rock opera where the cast of Mister Freedom perform ‘Clash Of The Titans’ at the foot of The Holy Mountain - then pinch yourself."
Includes fold-out A3 liner notes of an interview among Celli, Niblock, and Susan Stenger, plus original recording notes. Housed in tip-on style jacket
Phill Niblock’s riveting and rare work for Joseph Celli sees necessary and long-awaited reissue on the amazing Superior Viaduct, who continue to carefully and studiously unfold the history of avant-garde and experimental music before your ears. ‘Niblick For Celli’ is nothing short of stunning and life-affirming music, extremely transfixing and powerfully meditative. Play loud - it really comes alive with amplification!
“Composer, filmmaker and photographer Phill Niblock is a true pillar of the New York avant-garde. In the past 50 years, he has curated over 1,000 performances at his Centre Street loft and steadfastly built a massive, multidisciplinary body of work. While his earliest musical compositions date back to 1968, Niblock waited until the early '80s to release any recordings. Notion To Look At Just A Record, a powerful debut with densely layered trombones, would be the first to unfurl his unique approach to sound.
The second album and perhaps the most rare in Niblock's vast catalogue, 1984's Niblock For Celli / Celli Plays Niblock is a meeting of two great minds. Working with reed player Joseph Celli (a composer in his own right, who has collaborated with John Cage, Pauline Oliveros and Ornette Coleman), Niblock nimbly removes the breathing pauses from Celli's oboe and English horn to create seamless, enchanting drones.
Niblock insists that his music be played loud: only in this way can one experience the visceral ringing of these long instrumental tones through the speakers and their natural overtones generated by the room. Niblock For Celli remains deeply absorbing.
This first-time reissue is recommended for fans of Alvin Lucier, Yoshi Wada and Dome.”
Breathless dance music for robots, produced on SuperCollider by Forces for Berlin’s ace Conditional label
Taking cues from Boston Dynamics prototype ‘dog’ bot, and the strange empathy humans feel towards a military creation that will probably kill you one day, Forces flips that idea on its bonce to posit and answer the question: “why can’t we make robots to rave and dance instead of fight our wars?”
Across nine tracks Forces supposes a music that would drive robots to the most dazzling feats of acrobatic expression, and likewise the more daring humans on the dancefloor. The results range from what sounds like double speed flashcore to next level takes on the hyper funk of VHS Head and the disruptive patterns of Rian Treanor.
We’ve genuinely wondered why the fuuck nobody has ever designed a dancing avatar that reacts in realtime to rhythm. We’d love to see what such a thing would do to this music.
Ecstatic offer a deeply arresting and definitive collection of Works by erstwhile Serbian factory worker-turned-synthesist Abul Mogard; containing selections from two cassettes released in 2012 and 2013 on Steve Moore and Anthony Paterra’s VCO Recordings, as well as a cassette only release last year on Ecstatic, never before available on vinyl. RIYL Alessandro Cortini, The Caretaker, Fennesz, Tangerine Dream, Brain Eno, Tim Hecker...
Abul Mogard’s relatively unusual path to releasing music is well documented, but bears repeating here. Upon taking retirement from a job at a factory which he held for decades, Mogard craved the mechanical noise and complex harmonics of the industrial workplace, and found that the best way to fulfil that need was through electronic music - using a limited set-up of Farfisa organs, voices, samplers and a self-built modular system to realise a peaceful yet haunting, sweetly coruscating sound that resonates uncommonly with music from Leyland Kirby to Alessandro Cortini, or Fennesz and Tim Hecker.
The nine tracks on Works are soused in an emotional richness that’s hard to forget once experienced. Broad daubs of distorted bass and naturally glorious harmonic progressions paint panoramas of wide open, grey-scaled skies whilst equally conveying the intimate feel of a person with their nose to the machine, toiling for a sound or feeling that really means something to them, and by turns, us.
The fact that Mogard hails from an area hardly well-known for its synth music, and that he’s of an age where most people take up gardening or lawn bowls, rather than synth music, only helps to aid the enigma and magick surrounding this remarkable artist and his layered, emotional music.
Wild, wig-flip dub session from the Seekers International Sound System.
SKRS and Boomarm's latest is to dub what Actress is to techno-boogie; dissolving and diffusing the genre's tropes and structures inna psychedelic, impressionistic refraction.
And like Actress's approach, they still function heavily, albeit from a properly skewed angle, especially in the previous single cut, 'GyalCircuit', the loopy kosmiche ragga whorl of 'ABwoytest', and the frayed, wicked misshape of 'SophisticatedGirlVIP'.
RIYL Ras G, Tapes, Actress, or Best Available Technology.
The new album Pastoral, by Gazelle Twin, exhumes England’s rotten past, and shines a torch over its ever-darkening present.
"Told through a troupe of multi-gender voices, in vernaculars old and new; from the shrill echo of folksong to tabloid-tinged jaunts, the artist aka Elizabeth Bernholz, presents the notion that “there is horror in every idyll, and danger lurking beyond the “quaint” ”. The village square - once host to centuries of public torture - becomes a floral framed postcard, dolled-up for the Summer Fête. A sunny, afternoon walk over the hills unsettles a cloud of angry flies feeding from unidentifiable remains. Bigoted vitriol gently murmurs amidst tearoom chatter, as the neatly framed pastoral picture dissolves into a solemn ennui."
'Colleen Et Les Boites A Musique' ("Colleen and the music boxes") is Colleen's most arresting and sublime offering to date - constructed entirely from the impossibly beautiful sounds of chiming music boxes.
Opening with the clanking and winding of 'John Levers the Ratchet', this is the perfect introduction, as if the record were being wound like a music box to run across its 40 minute life-span before returning to stillness.
The music box has, of course, been used before within a contemporary framework (Aphex Twin's "Nanou" for one), but the way Schott composes seems so obviously matched with the mechanical and naïve qualities we hear that she seems to own the concept.
"Colleen Et Les Boites A Musique" is in fact so sublime that her output to date seems to have been merely leading up to this serendipitous moment - concept and execution coming together for a wondrous display of simplicity and beauty. Like the soundtrack to your favourite half-remembered fairytale, you won't find a warmer, more inviting record this year.
Melodies International move from North America into Brazilian territory reissuing a remarkable piece of 1970s MPB (Música popular brasileira) written and mostly recorded by a single family.
"Trio Ternura (or Tenderness Trio) consisted of two sisters, Jussara, Jurema and their brother Robson. Their father, Umberto Silva was a revered Brazilian songwriter and recording artist who introduced his children to the music world at a very young age.
After performing some songs on broadcast television and at festivals early on, their father Umberto and brother, Beto Scala wrote A Gira for the Trio to record. The song is a tribute to nature, spirituality and mindfulness. The hommage is made through a form of “cantico” (chant) or “saudação” (salutation), aimed at invoking an Orisha named “Oxossi”. Otherwise known as “Saints”, Orishas are the deities worshiped in the Afro-Brazilian religion of “Candomblé”.
African religion and culture have had an undeniable impact in Brazil, especially in music and on artists with African roots as its rituals were often accompanied by music comprising highly percussive drumming. As a result, A Gira, an homage to a Candomblé deity recorded in 1973 involves mesmerizing polyrhythms from the very first few bars and throughout, followed by the sisters’ soaring vocals and impeccable instrumentation. It’s a song that they can really identify with, in their own words “it has the dancing, the expression, the lyrics and musical relaxation - something very Brazilian”.
Originally released on Polydor in Brazil, fully licensed and remastered from the tapes – MEL012 comes forth in its 7-inch original vinyl format and digitally, b/w Trio Ternura's stunning version of Gato Barbieri's Last Tango in Paris and is accompanied by the first bilingual Melozine."
‘Sadomodernism’ takes a few tracks to get going, but when it reaches critical mass you’ll know all about Osheyack, the newest lamb on Bedouin Records. Expect Cut Hands-style drum works veering into full pelt hardcore techno gabber
“At the crux of American-born, Shanghai-based producer Eli Osheyack's debut album, Sadomodernism, is a question of agency. Borrowed from film theory, the album title was originally coined by writer Moira Weigel to describe a waning European art house tradition that vehemently rejects 'naïve pleasure'—the tranquilizing comfort of conventional cinematic narrative, like mainstream Hollywood—and opts for violence and pain, with the aim of shaking audiences out of cinematic manipulation and into their own position vis-à-vis the malaise of contemporary life.
Echoing the work of sadomodernist auteurs, Osheyacks's Sadomodernism is a deeply political project with critical ambitions. The smashing and blending of genres, from techno, industrial, noise and gabber to ballroom and metal, even opera, and spontaneous percussion arrangements, sometimes mixed with distorted spoken word, do not mean to please, but provoke through disorder and chaos. Laden with Brechtian alienation affects, Sadomodernism interrogates the notion of autonomy in contemporary music, club culture, and social-political life.”
Iona Fortune’s Tao Of I came out a few weeks ago and was available in such limited supply that we had the vinyl edition up for sale for about an hour before it sold out. Now that it’s been re-pressed it’d be totally remiss of us not to bring it to the attention of anyone who missed out; it really is one of the year’s most striking debut albums.
Inspired by Eastern Philosophy and slated to be the first in an 8 album series exploring all the symbols of the I Ching, Fortune's music is described by the label as loosely fitting in with Fourth World concepts imagined by Jon Hassell, and indeed she meshes traditional guzheng and gamelan with lustrous tones from a Synthi AKS that provides an incredible sub-bass throb that runs through the record.
However, Fortune’s is an exercise in deep contemplation that isn’t afraid of baring it’s teeth. As opposed to so many Ambient albums riding revivalist waves right now, she seems aware of a basic truth that sound rarely works in one dimension. She aligns tradition and technology in a way that seems expansive and new, almost revolutionary; instead of creating soothing background sounds she makes use of grit and abrasion.
This makes Tao Of I a singular record, measured with a poise and patience that’s utterly arresting in its stoic elegance and sound sensitivity, drawing on a history of arcane, intramural Scots energies and channelling a mystic, ambiguous instrumental voice. It's completely enchanted, enchanting music.
Takashi Kokubo’s sublime 1987 ambient soundtrack for a luxury air-con range sees its first official (remastered) vinyl pressing, replete with a previously unreleased B-side of stargazing, shoreside bliss.
Recorded in 1987 as one of many promo works by Kokubo, whose subsequent commercial work has ended up everywhere from Japan’s earthquake warning systems to their contactless payment jingles, ‘Get At The Wave’ is here retitled, expanded and complemented with a bonus side of shimmering percussion and crashing waves in the transportive ‘Ocean Breeze’.
When combined with the recently salvaged B-side, the two pieces add up to a picture postcard perfect simulacra of Pacific exotica, exactly the kind of thing that James Ferraro and Spencer Clarke have playfully rerouted into the vaporwave sphere over the past decade, and which has become reclaimed as a necessary balm for overworked minds across the world - not just clammy Japanese businessmen in need of refreshing aircon and ambient music.
Original copies of the promo-only soundtrack trade for a pretty penny 2nd hand nowadays, and perhaps understandably so, as this is one of the best, transcendent examples of Japanese ambient electronics in circulation right now.
Another warm funk gust from early ‘80s Holland, courtesy of the butter smooth Richenel. Check for the swanging ‘Rap Apocalypse’, the stark soul burn of ‘It Takes Time’, and the arcade game funk of the title cut!
“Music From Memory return with a further six tracks from Dutch musician Richenel. Continuing with recordings taken from his debut album 'La Diferencia’, originally released in 1982 on the cult Amsterdam cassette only label Fetisj, the tracks on Music From Memory’s second EP ‘Perfect Stranger’ includes alternate takes drawn from Richenel’s personal copy of the album alongside a further composition which didn’t make it onto the original Fetisj cassette.”
Amazing proto-Drexciyan synths and alien electronics from Portugal, 1983, a first time reissue on Holuzam - a brand new label from the people behind Príncipe. Don't miss this!!!
Holuzam is a new label from Prícncipe Discos co-founders José Moura and Márcio Matos. Their first release is an expanded edition of Telectu’s freakishly immersive 1983 LP, ’Belzebu’; a 40min suite of sweltering, proto-Drexciyan synths, lilting Afro influences and subaquatic rhythms unavailable on any format since the original release, which now trades for triple figures in the 2nd hand market
Viewed from any angle, ‘Belzebu’ is an iridescent oddity in its field, and was certainly among the first of its ilk within the Portuguese music scene. It was the product of experiments by multi-instrumentalist and music writer Jorge Lima Barreto (JLB), and the co-founder of pop-rock band GNR, Vitor Rua (VR), whose shared interests dovetailed into a mutual fascination with unorthodox, improvised and electronic sounds, leading to these remarkable, home recorded conclusions in 1983.
During late 1982 and into 1983, JLB and VR channelled those notions, together with ideas picked up from the NYC minimalist and no wave scene during travels in North and South America, into a strangely prescient and non pareil sound. Homing in on a high pitched, chaotic granular squabble they termed ‘Belzebu Zero’ - which forms the original demo for the album and is included here as a bonus CD - the duo layered that sound with precise guitar strokes, drum machine, synths and FX to hypnotically immersive and dramatically alien effect.
On the A-side ‘Rotas Opera Temet’ they plunge into a 20 minute vortex of electric blue synth noise and scaly flutters recalling a prototypical Drexicyan soundtrack to a film about Atlantis. With the B-side, they take that idea fathoms further into the abyss, wrapping coruscating chords and ticking machine pulses to the high end squabble with a supremely heady sensation, especially when the rhythm opens out into a demented shift in the track’s 2nd half.
There’s a genuine genius at work in this record which is bound to enthrall and absorb listeners from myriad perspectives. Everyone from Jamal Moss fiends to Drexciyan divers and Craig Leon fans need to spend some time with this beautiful oddity....
Following hard on the heels of BBE delving into the archives of Detroit’s Strata Records and delivering their widely acclaimed and hugely in-demand exploration of J-Jazz, comes another crate digger’s delight- Ralph Thomas’ ‘Eastern Standard Time’, which dropped the USA back in in 1980, on the obscure Zebra Jazz imprint.
"This is the is the kind of “spiritual’ jazz gem that appears on You Tube and upon checking it out on Discogs reveals a price well in excess of £150.00. To have it widely available in its original vinyl format, as well as digitally and on CD, is a real treat. So, who is Ralph Thomas?
The self-produced ‘Eastern Standard Time’ features Thomas on baritone, alto and tenor saxophones as well as flute and percussion. He describes himself as a practicing ethnomusicologist whose musical vision evolved during the Sixties and it’s Thomas’ multifaceted, global approach that gives the music on Eastern Standard Time’ an engaging and distinct flavour.
"My music has always been open to different cultures and sounds Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, Mexican, Peruvian, American, Hebrew, Turkish, African, Indian and Japanese,” declares the Chicago born musician. While attending the Chicago conservatory of music in 1969 he became a member of the Chicago A.A.C.M, studying with master musicians Phil Cohran and Richard Muhal Abrams. He also recorded with well-known blues legends, Howlin' Wolf and Mighty Joe Young for the Cadet imprint of Chess records.
In 1974, he moved to Los Angeles and was employed as a session player with both 20th Century Fox and Motown – where he recorded with Marvin Gaye, Jermaine Jackson, Smokey Robinson and Rick James. In the early Eighties he was working for Quincy Jones Productions appearing on the soundtrack of Roots and The Color Purple but a passion for reggae music led him to Jamaica where he recorded with producer Jack Ruby and artists like Augustus Pablo and Gregory Isaacs.
In ’86 he moved to NYC where he collaborated with Boogaloo legend Johnny Colon and played with like-minded musical explorers Sun Ra, Don Cherry and Olatunji. However, by 1993 his restless spirit carried him to Paris where studied Ethnomusicology and performed with trumpeter Mra Oma and film-maker Ranaivo-Rajaona Hery. There were also gigs with percussionist Trilok Gurtu as well as drummer Sunny Murray and saxophone legend Archie Shepp. Upon moving to the South of France Thomas ran an art gallery and initiated his MusArt project – which has since toured in the US, Canada and Japan
After a productive stint in Chiang Mai, Thailand – where he immersed himself in Issan culture – Ralph Thomas recently relocated back to the US to live and work. Though creating a huge amount of music over the years ‘Eastern Standard Time’ remains Ralph Thomas' only album."
Autechre weigh in the labyrinthine 8 hour ‘NTS Sessions’, parsing the guts of their hard drives for gold and other precious materials dating back to 2011
The duo were initially commissioned to do a DJ residency on NTS, following their show from early 2016, but what transpired is closer in approach and results to a super extended Peel Session, featuring stacks of reworked material along with exclusive new notions generated by their infamous ‘System’ of software patches.
Given so much time to roam, they explore a full spectrum of meters, tones and alien machine feels ranging from succinct hyper-symphonies to an hour long closing passage of unfathomably deep ambient music, all sequenced with a non-linear narrative arc influenced by the stunning 3rd series of Twin Peaks, and with distant echoes of their seminal, freeform Disengage shows for Kiss firmly in mind.
Call it an album, call it a radio show, call it a massive excuse to lock yourself away for 8 hours, either way ‘NTS Sessions’ is a vital dispatch from the North Face models, with material such as the squirming tech-step of ‘North Spiral’ and the slimy electro of ‘Four Of Seven’ from the 1st session, or the footwork-esque ‘Gonk Tuf Hi’ from the 2nd, and the free-floating structures of ‘Cluster Casual’ off the 3rd volume offering some deeply satisfying rhythmic convolutions for the dancers, whereas the preponderance of durational cuts, including highlights such as the hour long ‘All End’, the breathtaking visions of ‘Turbine Epic Casual, Stpl Idle’, and the plasmic wormhole of ’Shimripl Casual’ reach deep into the most abstract, amorphous nooks of their sound in a way comparable with visionary work from Roland Kayn or Iannis Xenakis.
In other words, it’s fuucking mint.
Cass. lands on Greece’s Into The Light Records with the lush ‘Postclub Prism’, a set of phosphorescing ambient nocturnes and synth vignettes blessed with a melancholy sense of futurism.
For his first release of 2018, following a string of deliveries for Throne of Blood, International Feel and Emotional Response in recent years, ‘Postclub Prism’ follows a clear line of melodic, instrumental narrative that will firmly endear it to more romantically-inclined ears.
From the tremulous new age vox and pads of ‘1000 Superdolphins’ at its introduction, thru the sloshing, widescreen electro-dub roil of ‘Leaving’, to richly poignant pieces such as the quivering, coruscating synth miniature, ‘Albertine’, and the gorgeous, early 0PN vibes of ‘Painful Love in 96 kHz’, and the sublime nesting film dialogue samples and feather touch synth strokes in ‘Redwood’, Cass. cups your spirits with trustworthy hands for the fragile hours of the night-turned-morning.
With ‘Best Troubador’, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy pays homage to a longtime and forever hero, the late Merle Haggard.
"A singer who, some 25 years previously, first performed in public by playing a Merle Haggard song, Bonny has often cited Merle’s work in performance, on records and in conversation with anyone who was around, even talking to Merle himself for Filter magazine in 2009.
‘Best Troubador’ flips through his song book, landing on pages unmoored from their time and located anew. Moving from 1978 to 1969 to 2003 to 1981 allows the album to circle Haggard’s music in a simulation of thought and memory, slipping around from spot to spot as if they were discrete impressions, unknown but knowable yet."
Marcel Dettmann experiments with a spectrum of styles from broken, abstract to crunching techno functions for Ostgut-Ton
Three of them are really worth closer attention, namely the roiling, Autechrian fizz of ‘Test-File’ showing the kids how to do it weird but driving, also the T++ or Dynamo-esque lurch of ’Torch’, and a Drexciya-infected slice of EBM-techno hydrolixx called ‘Metalloid’.
Bonny sings Susanna, to simply try and save the world.
"Sonata Dwarf Mix Cosmos is an old companion of his and with the Chijimi house band +1 they bring it all back home again, this time to the space in Bonny’s place.
“As other practitioners are leaving the room in favor of novel forms of recording and distro and consumption, PALACE, fantastical and real
structures and practices. Like we are allowed into the museum at night. We can make a great essentially live record with great songs and great players because nobody else is? ‘Wolf Of The Cosmos’... is about, as much as anything, direct engagement with recorded music. So step right up to the replicant.” -
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy is joined by musicians Emmet Kelly (bass guitar, voice, acoustic guitar), Cheyenne Mize (violin, slide ukulele, voice), Chris Rodahaffer (banjo, voice, acoustic guitar) and Elsa Madeline Oldham (juice harp)."
The final performance of Throbbing Gristle before their initial breakup, at the Kezar Pavillion, San Francisco on 29 May 1981.
‘Mission of Dead Souls’ documents the notorious final performance of Throbbing Gristle in their original incarnation (1975-1981). Recorded at Kezar Pavillion, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco on 29th May, 1981 and unavailable on vinyl since the early ‘90s, it’s now back on wax with a new inner sleeve including photos and a passage of text by Jon Savage
Recorded by Monte Cazzaza, long a satellite member of the band, ‘Mission of Souls’ captures the band in a period of broken relationships and internecine collapse, which definitely only adds to its historical weight as a document of the late 20th C’s most important band in its death throes.
Counting Genesis P-Orridge, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Chris Carter and Peter "Sleazy” Christopherson on stage, the infamous four generate a dense black energy in ten parts, culminating in killer and now classic takes on ‘Spirits Flying’, a possessed version of ‘Persuasion U.S.A.’, and a trampling curtain call with ‘Discipline (Reprise)’.
Another gem of late ‘80s bubblegum boogie plucked out by Jo’burg, S.A.’s Afrosynth Records store-turned-label
Brimming with good times vibes as antithesis to the b/s of apartheid, Tomorrow gets on with it in super infectious style, glyding from the marimba-gilded swang of the title cut to the grubbing hustle of I’Ve Got A Friend on a haughty Grace Jones tip, then stoking the deeper fires with the simmering synthetic romance of Is This Love, and In My Mind, and rounding up with the radiant Mina Ngilijaji.
Mysterious happenings on Andrew Lyster’s Youth label from a "well known producer" involved with the label wishing to stay incognito; that probably means it's Kassem Mosse, who knows?? - in any event - this one's a killer.
Deploying a trio of slow dancehall-indebted digital dubs, EP opener Diamonds functions as a kind of late night slinker, all angular and spaced-out, as if Equiknoxx found themselves transported back to classic-era Source records via Move D / Reagenz.
Noh Mas is on a more demented Workshop tip, complete with maniacal laughing fills and righteous strings somewhere between Kassem Mosse and Madteo, while 7" closer I, I drips into being with pure slow house filth.
The utterly unique 1971 debut album by Meredith Monk reissued on vinyl after years out of print, a frankly mind-boggling set of compositions for voice; years in the making and still a total f*cking inspiration - you can hear its influence on anyone from Bjork to Joanna Newsom to Maja Ratkje half a century later. We really cant think of anything from that era that sounds anything like it; wildly experimental but also highly visual in nature, a kind of proto-multimedia project that still sounds completely alien and groundbreaking.
"Composer, singer, director/choreographer, creator of new opera, musical theater works, films and installations, Meredith Monk is one of the most unique and influential artists of our time. Awarded a National Medal of Arts by President Obama in 2015, Monk has blazed her own influential trail through music and movement over the past 50 years. Pitchfork noted in a recent review of her latest ECM release, ‘On Behalf of Nature’: “Meredith Monk’s influence as a singer and composer extends through Björk, Joanna Newsom and beyond.”
‘Key’ contains Monk’s earliest compositions for voice, composed and performed from 1967-1970. In her words: “In ‘Key’ I wanted to create a constantly shifting ambience. Each song dealt with a different vocal character, landscape, technical concern or emotional quality. I was trying for a visceral, kinetic song form that had the abstract qualities of a painting or a dance. I knew that I didn’t want to set music to a text; for me, the voice itself was a language which seemed to speak more eloquently than words. I chose certain phonemes for their particular sound qualities. In a sense, each song became a world in itself with its own timbre, texture and impulse.”
A study in friction and sublimity, transitioning from gritty airborne textures to droning, somnolent songcraft...
“Two Words is the debut release from the duo of Canadian sound artist crys cole and Australian songwriter Francis Plagne. Building on a series of experimental live performances in which the pair toyed with possible common languages for their seemingly unrelated approaches to music, the LP's two sides present a single piece that brings together abstract texture and slow-motion song in a sonic space where genre cedes to the logic of dreams. The piece begins with a long, nearly static sequence built primarily from rubbed surfaces, using movement in the stereo field and changing mic placements to create a unified but unstable sonic environment that mimics wind, water, and breath, opening an impossible space between nature and artifice. This artificial outdoors ultimately makes room for Plagne's electric organ, which sounds a series of melancholic chords to accompany a wandering Wyatt-esque keyboard line as cole's intimate contact mic textures sizzle and pop in the foreground. From here the piece makes a surprise detour into song, as the majority of the second side finds Plagne intoning a series of obtuse two-word phrases (from a text by Berlin-based poet Marty Hiatt) to an austere organ accompaniment.
Working closely with engineer and producer Joe Talia, cole and Plagne extend the studio-as-an-instrument tradition of Teo Macero and This Heat, introducing subtle yet unexpected production shifts that lead the listener from the initial austerity of the organ and voice to an oneiric space of asynchronized vocal doubles, creaking textures, and distant whistling, ultimately arriving at something like an imagined meeting of Organum and Arthur Russell. Packaged in a suitably mysterious sleeve featuring a lush work by Australian painter Anne Wallace on the front and text by Hiatt on the back, Two Words is both comforting and strange, a disorienting blend of seemingly discrepant elements.”
KILLER reissue of Wackies gold, now including a previously unreleased 13 minute B-side peach ‘What A Feeling Dub’ & ‘What A Dub’
Last spotted tucked away at the end of Jon K’s Fact Mix 364, ‘Betrayed Dub’ is an aching lovers rock lament whose original pressing perhaps understandably trades for a pretty penny on the 2nd hand market.
This new edition makes Annette Brissette’s tunes available for first time in 35 years, with the grounation drums and stark lyrics of the original now sitting next to the crucial dub on the front, while the B-side follows in that melancholy vein with the deliciously woozy organ and languid Afro guitar influences of ‘What A Feeling’ from her ‘Love Power’ album included as ‘What A Feeling Dub’, and also firmed up in ‘What A Dub.’ Aye, it’s a cover of *that* song from ‘Flashdance’.
TTT cop a pair of sylvan downbeat beauties from Conrad Standish and Sam Karmel’s CS + Kreme
One of the most distinctive acts to emerge from the southern hemisphere in recent memory, CS + Kreme’s first self-tiled 12” marked them as ones to keep an ear on, and each subsequent rendering has only made us love their immaculate blend of ambient-pop and shoegaze even more.
Safe to say we’re feeling this one too. Where previous outings have been partly defined by Standish’s plaintive vocals, they contrarily don’t appear until the closing strokes on this one, as they roll out 9 minutes of horizontally-inclined vibes in ‘Eyes On Ceiling’ with its sonorous 808s and shallow plasmic dubbing recalling a long soak in the bath that’s starting to lose its heat, before ‘Husk’ emerges into balmier air streaked with filigree electronics, shimmering pads and a pleading sax that paves the way to a very Mark Hollis-esque denouement.
In Sudan, the political and cultural are inseparable. In 1989, a coup brought a hardline religious government to power. Music was violently condemned. Many musicians and artists were persecuted, tortured, forced to flee into exile — and even murdered, ending one of the most beloved music eras in all of Africa and largely denying Sudan's gifted instrumentalists, singers, and poets, from strutting their creative heritage on the global stage.
"What came before in a special era that protected and promoted the arts was one of the richest music scenes anywhere in the world. Although Sudanese styles are endlessly diverse, this compilation celebrates the golden sound of the capital, Khartoum. Each chapter of the cosmopolitan city's tumultuous musical story is covered through 16 tracks: from the hypnotic violin and accordion-driven orchestral music of the 1970s that captured the ears and hearts of Africa and the Arabic-speaking world, to the synthesizer and drum machine music of the 1980s, and the music produced in exile in the 1990s. The deep kicks of tum tum and Nubian rhythms keep the sound infectious.
Sudan of old had music everywhere: roving sound systems and ubiquitous bands and orchestras kept Khartoum's sharply dressed youth on their feet. Live music was integral to cultural life, producing a catalog of concert recordings. In small arenas and large outdoor venues, musical royalty of the day built Khartoum's reputation as ground zero for innovation and technique that inspired a continent.
Musicians in Ethiopia and Somalia frequently point to Sudan's biggest golden era stars as idols. Mention Mohammed Wardi — a legendary Sudanese singer and activist akin to Fela Kuti in stature and impact in his music and politics — and they often look to the heavens. A popular story is of one man from Mali who walked for three months across the Sahel to Sudan because the father of the woman he wanted to marry would only allow it if he got him a signed cassette from Wardi himself. Saied Khalifa is said to be the one of the few singers to make Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie smile.
Such is the stature of Sudanese singers and the reputation of Sudanese music, particularly in the "Sudanic Belt," a cultural zone that stretches from Djibouti all the way west to Mauritania, covering much of the Sahara and the Sahel, lands where Sudanese artists are household names and Sudanese poems are regularly used as lyrics until today to produce the latest hits. Sudanese cassettes often sold more in Cameroon and Nigeria than at home.
But years of anti-music sentiment have made recordings in Sudan difficult to source. Ostinato's team traveled to Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti, and Egypt in search of the timeless cultural artifacts that hold the story of one of Africa's most mesmerizing cultures. That these cassette tape and vinyl recordings were mainly found in Sudan's neighbors is a testament to Sudanese music's widespread appeal."
This triple LP reissue of the band’s first two albums - the first installment in a three-part series dedicated to Dur-Dur Band - represents the first fruit of Analog Africa’s long labours to bring this extraordinary music to the wider world...
"Some thirty years after they first made such a splash in the Mogadishu scene, they have been freed from the wobble and tape-hiss of second and third generation cassette dubs, to reveal a glorious mix of polychromatic organs, nightclub-ready rhythms and hauntingly soulful vocals. In addition to two previously unreleased tracks, the music is accompanied by extensive liner notes, featuring interviews with original band members, documenting a forgotten chapter of Somalia’s cultural history.
Before the upheaval in the 1990s that turned Somalia into a war-zone, Mogadishu, the white pearl of the Indian Ocean, had been one of the jewels of eastern Africa, a modern paradise of culture and commerce. In the music of the Dur-Dur band - now widely navailable outside of Somalia - we can still catch a fleeting glimpse of that golden age. When Analog Africa founder Samy Ben Redjeb arrived in Mogadishu in November of 2016, he was informed by his host that he would have to be accompanied at all times by an armed escort while in the country.
The next morning, a neighbour and former security guard put on a military uniform, borrowed an AK-47 from somewhere and escorted him to Via Roma, an historical street in the heart of Hamar-Weyne, the city’s oldest district. Although previous Analog Africa releases have demonstrated a willingness to go more than the extra air-mile to track down the stories behind the music, the trip to Mogadishu was a musical journey of a different kind. It was the culmination of an odyssey that had started many years earlier. In 2007 John Beadle, a Milwaukee-based musicologist and owner of the much loved Likembe blog, uploaded a cassette he had been handed twenty years earlier by a Somalian student.
The post was titled ‘Mystery Somali Funk’ and it was, in Samy’s own words, “some of the deepest funk ever recorded.” The cassette seemed to credit these dense, sonorous tunes to the legendary Iftin Band. But initial contact with Iftin’s lead singer suggested that the ‘mystery funk’ may have actually been the work of their chief rival, Dur-Dur, a young band from the 80s. Back then, Mogadishu had been a very different place. On the bustling Via Roma, people from all corners of society would gather at the Bar Novecento and Cafe Cappucino, watch movies at the famous Supercinema, and eat at the numerous pasta hang-outs or the traditional restaurants that served Bariis Maraq, a somali Beef Stew mixed with delicious spiced rice. The same street was also home to Iftinphone and Shankarphone, two of the city’s best known music shop. Located opposite each other, they were the centre of Somalia’s burgeoning cassette distribution network. Both shops, run by members of the legendary Iftin Band, would become first-hand witnesses to the meteoric rise of Dur- Dur, a rise that climaxed in April of 1987 with the release of Volume 2, their second album."
Isabella Koen debuts on Peder Mannerfelt Produktion with a personalised batch of power ambient aces, following the lead of Sissel Wincent with five curious explorations of high-velocity techno and queered electronic atmospheres, big recommendation if yr into Sissel, Via App, Peder Mannerfelt....
Slipping frictionally into Peder Mannerfelt’s label, Isabella plays out a killer jagged sound strung out between ostensibly opposing yet complementary poles of banging dance music and introspective tonal arrangements.
On the A-side, she spells out this paradox between the cascading chromatic arps and zinging vamps of ‘Dicey Takes Its Form’, and the starkly contrasting slug of sub-loaded, clambering 134bpm techno in ‘Penchant Disenchantment’.
For the B-side she flips the mode, kicking off with the bone-rattling 150bpm techno highlight of ‘Vain’ before slipping down the rabbit hole with the narcotic drip-off, ‘I Could Get You’, and clocking off with the groggy maze of cold, dubbed-out techno abstraction in ‘Residual’.
Porridgy breaks and skudgy techno from The Maghreban, backed with an ace, meter-messing remix by Batu running at c. 160bpm
‘Monster VIP’ is a slompy shot of breakbeat hardcore from the echoplex, whereas ‘Carpet Bombing’ traces undulating techno with zig-zagging psych-funk synth squirms.
Batu’s remix is the best thing on offer, making a rare foray into higher tempi with an initially tentative, but ultimately roguish joyride consolidating ghetto-tech, footwork and rolling UK bass styles with inimitable style.
Shalt binds emosh post-rock/‘tronica and zeitgeist-surfing club music on ‘Seraphim’.
Check for the sweeping, crushing melodramatic sound design of ‘Preserved In Amber’, the bestial torsion of ‘Fleeting’, and the schizzy switch between cooled-out, in-the-pocket dembow bumps and post-rock angst in ‘Charred, Cleansed’.
A 2018 funk odyssey by keyboard maestro, vocalist, composer and astral traveller Brandon Coleman.
"A regular fixture in the Kamasi Washington band, Brandon Coleman is introduced onstage at gigs as ‘Professor Boogie’ by his longtime friend and collaborator. ‘Resistance’ represents a new chapter in the funk dynasty that spans Parliament, Funkadelic and Zapp through to Dr. Dre and Dâm-Funk as Coleman salutes his musical heroes - Herbie Hancock, Peter Frampton, Roger Troutman - and honours their ethos of freedom and experimentation in his search for funk’s future. For fans of Kamasi Washington, Dâm-Funk, BadBadNotGood, Yussef Kamaal..."
Co La renders a morphing, 20 minute tapestry of fresh, abstract sound design on Ohio’s Orange Milk Records
The most significant release from Matt Papich a.k.a. Co La since his ‘No No’ LP for 0PN’s Software label and his work on the Lifted LP for PAN in 2015 (discounting a wicked track on 12” for 369 Us), ‘Sensory Dub Example’ captures Papich stretching out over a single, 20 minute canvas in four loose fitting parts.
The 1st Q is spent establishing ambient electro-acoustic dimensions somewhere between Visible Cloaks and Sugai Ken, with a canny voice intoning “this stuff smells so good but it doesn’t taste like anything”, like a more genteel, less in-your-face SOPHIE or PC Music piece, before the 2nd Q unfolds along more cartoonish lines of inquiry into precisely blunted and then floral baroque figures. In the 3rd Q it becomes more inward looking, gruffly textured and discordant, ultimately shifting into more melting, soured sounds and synthetically windswept dynamics by the piece’s close.
Rarely has an album owed so much to production... Low return with their most daring, experimental release in years, co-produced by James Blake's man at the controls B.J. Burton, at times verging on a layered, pulsing electronic sound you'd associate with the likes of Andy Stott. Doused in distortion, throbbing electronics, submerged vocals, side-chain effects - this could easily have been a nauseating exercise in modernisation; but instead the strength of the songwriting shines through for one of Low's best = a standout full-length for 2018.
"In 2018, Low will turn twenty-five. Since 1993, Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker—the married couple whose heaven-and-earth harmonies have always held the band’s center—have pioneered a subgenre, shrugged off its strictures, recorded a Christmas classic, become a magnetic onstage force, and emerged as one of music’s most steadfast and vital vehicles for pulling light from our darkest emotional recesses. But Low will not commemorate its first quarter-century with mawkish nostalgia or safe runs through songbook favorites. Instead, in faithfully defiant fashion, Low will release its most brazen, abrasive (and, paradoxically, most empowering) album ever: Double Negative, an unflinching eleven-song quest through snarling static and shattering beats that somehow culminates in the brightest pop song of Low’s career.
To make Double Negative, Low reenlisted B.J. Burton, the quietly energetic and adventurous producer who has made records with James Blake, Sylvan Esso, and The Tallest Man on Earth in recent years while working as one of the go-to figures at Bon Iver’s home studio, April Base. Burton recorded Low’s last album, 2015’s Ones and Sixes, at April Base, adding might to many of its beats and squelch and frisson beneath many of its melodies.
This time, though, Sparhawk, Parker, and bassist Steve Garrington knew they wanted to go further with Burton and his palette of sounds, to see what someone who is, as Sparhawk puts it, “a hip-hop guy” could truly do to their music. Rather than obsessively write and rehearse at home in Duluth, Minnesota, they would often head southeast to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, arriving with sketches and ideas that they would work on for days with Burton. Band and producer became collaborative cowriters, building the pieces up and breaking them down and building them again until their purpose and force felt clear. As the world outside seemed to slide deeper into instability, Low repeated this process for the better part of two years, pondering the results during tours and breaks at home. They considered not only how the fragments fit together but also how, in the United States of 2018, they functioned as statements and salves.
Double Negative is, indeed, a record perfectly and painfully suited for our time. Loud and contentious and commanding, Low fightsfor the world by fighting against it. It begins in pure bedlam, with a beat built from a loop of ruptured noise waging war against the paired voices of Sparhawk and Parker the moment they begin to sing during the massive “Quorum.” For forty minutes, they indulge the battle, trying to be heard amid the noisy grain, sometimes winning and sometimes being tossed toward oblivion. In spite of the mounting noise, Sparhawk and Parker still sing. Or maybe they sing because of the noise. For Low, has there ever really been a difference?"