Murky bedroom techno, jungle and ambient melancholy from Kassir, marking his solo debut on Gost Zvuk along with guest appearances from Perila, Shumopeleng, and DJ Anibari
Hazily hypnagogic but burning with a desire to dance, ‘Brown White’ plays out a fleeting mix of moods and grooves, strafing from collaged cinematic ephemera to sleepwalking deep techno recalling Morphosis and Actress in his solo works, while the collaborators help reveal further aspects of his style, from the burned-out ambient techno noise of ‘Naiv’ with Perila, thru a trio of highlights ranging from cloudrap to washed out jungle and dream-whizz techno with Shumopeleng.
Mor Elian returns to her Alloy Sea project after 2020's brill "Petrichor" tape, borrowing IDM aesthetics, dub tech and new age drones to construct tweaky FM bass-music inversions. RIYL Arovane, B12, Martyn, T++.
When Elian debuted the Alloy Sea project, it was with 50 continuous minutes of flowing ambience and dub techno-indebted moods, assembled like a mixtape and released on her own Syn Syn label. 'Xoomin' is a more robust proposition, put together at the request of Paralaxe Editions' Dania Shihab and made up of eight FM-powered tracks that betray Elian's love of early IDM and glassy new age sounds.
The linking thread on 'Xoomin' is Elian's sonic palette, using frequency modulated synths - the sounds most commonly connected to Yamaha's DX-series of synthesizers - to give the record its particular sound. Combining these textures with snippets of voice, she makes music that exists in a hypnogogic state, between dancefloor and sleep zones.
Opener 'The moment' deploys Elian's vocals at an almost inaudible level, smudged into raw Grouper-esque notes underneath synth blasts. Just when you expect the track to erupt into a full-pelt 4/4 monster, Elian pulls it back. 'You stepped outside' is muddier still, sounding as moody and dreamlike as Motion Sickness of Time Travel and as rhythmically propulsive as B12's defining 'Time Tourist'. The use of FM sounds roots 'Xoomin' in 1980s electro and TV soundtrack aesthetics - we can't help but get reminded of Peter Davidson's Radiophonic Workshop run - but Elian saturates these sounds and curves them thru nu-dub ideas to separate them from their usual cultural references. So while 'On your skin' sounds relatively throwback, 'Rain fell down' drags the glassy sounds thru miles of muck, sounding closer to Vladislav Delay or T++.
'We will never' is our pick of the bunch - a mid-point between early electronic experimentation and electro punchiness, it flows around a single, distorted low-end synth tone, moving slowly thru robotic, rhythmic loops, before being suddenly disrupted by sharp FM blasts.
DDS catch enduringly absorbing sonic alchemist Jim O'Rourke at his knottiest and most ingenious in a wormholing suite of amorphous rhythm and psychedelic electronics - a massive RIYL Autechre, Roland Kayn, Bernard Parmegiani, NYZ, Keith Fullerton Whitman.
Playing up to and into DDS’ freeform aesthetics, O’Rourke renders 40 minutes shearing hyaline synth tones and ruptured rhythm generated at his Steamroom facilities in Tokyo, a modular out-zone trawling that harks back to his iconic Mego releases and some of the more recent Steamroom experiments. It’s an ideal addition to the ever expanding DDS cosmos, following Demdike’s recent ‘Drum Machine’ expo with a slice of purist and screwed modular magick that transcends early electronics and modern styles in pursuit of musical sensations that defy stylistic brackets.
'Too Compliment’ was assembled using a bespoke Hordijk modular system, a rare West Coast-style setup hand made by Dutch engineer Rob Hordijk. O'Rourke focuses on the frequency shifter here, using it to coax out fluxing tone thickets, haphazard frequencies and elongated drone corridors. It's transportive stuff, harking back to the early days of private press academic synth music but also sitting on edge alongside Autechre's recent long-form work, as well as O'Rourke's classic "I'm Happy, And I'm Singing, And A 1, 2, 3, 4”
In O’Rourke’s hands, the mass of electronics takes on throbbing, organic dimensions, congealing grey matter and purplish veins of fluid in viscous transitions that glisten and spark with invention as they form new tissue. What comes out is as unearthly as the earliest electronic music, but also blessed with a psychedelc spirit in a way that’s long kept O’Rourke right out on his own, teetering between paradigms yet never settling into any single style. If you’ve always been keen on finding a way into that sprawling soundworld, 'Too Compliment’ is a perfect entry point into a highly rewarding creative macrocosm.
Mindboggling new material from GRM pioneer Beatriz Ferreyra and British acousmatic expert Natasha Barrett. Seriously next level outer zones for dedicated, adventurous listeners.
Ferreyra has been pushing sound into new directions since she joined the Groupe de Recherches Musicales in 1963 and here offers up new twelve minute piece 'Souvenirs cachés' and bundles it with 2003's shorter 'Murmureln' to fill out the A side. On the flip, tireless British sound alchemist Natasha Barrett explores Norwegian culture with 'Innermost', a long, ghostly abstraction of whispers, shouts and drones.
Both sides are essential listening for anyone with even a cursory interest in offworld abstraction or concrete music. Ferreyra's side sounds like the gurgle of a room full of woodwind instruments, pushed into a swamp of digital FX and seismic tectonic shifts. It's psychedelic by its very nature, toying with our learned perception of sound and tripping up our brain's programmed responses; voices become synthetic gurgles and electronic womps and transported into airy hisses and almost imperceptible clanks and croaks.
Barrett meanwhile uses two long recordings from outdoor events in her home base of Norway. Over the course of the piece, echoing almost inaudible voices and cheers suggest the blurry quality of memory before being squashed into numbing drones, pulling the mind into dark recesses pocked with occasional beams of light. It's phenomenal stuff, and both sides compliment each other perfectly.
Kosmische dub, faded soundscapes and sublime, haunted acid? Don't mind if we do.
'Spume & Recollection' is Berlin duo Driftmachine's sixth album, and fleshes out the pitch-perfect cosmic experimentation of their previous run of full-lengths with journeys into dilated bass musick and knackered modular techno. It's evocative stuff from beginning to end; Andreas Gerth and Florian Zimmer prefer to work in long-form, allowing their hardware jams to evolve slowly over ten minutes rather than chop them off before they've had a chance to breathe. The two producers are concerned with the small details rather than flashy tricks - there's a feeling that the music sits out of time, sounding like Rhythm & Sound, Deuter, Cluster and early Plastikman (particularly the sinister "Consumed") all at once.
'The Surge At The End Of The Mind' is an early high point, reminding fondly of Andreas Tilliander's TM404 project with squelching, acidic bass and brittle percussion that swirls in lysergic spirals, leaving empty holes where a kick drum might live. And when the album reaches its peak on closing track 'Soon I Will Disappear', mournful shortwave pads beam suggestively from undiscovered lands, decorating a shuffling inverted dubtekno beat that sounds like Deepchord at their druggiest. Wow and flutter.
Open-hearted and fiery techno-dancehall futurism from the Democratic Republic of Congo's Rey Sapienz, vocalist and dancer Papalas Palata and rapper Fresh Doggis. Tradition, anxiety, conflict and stargazing fever dreams of the future for fans of Zazou Bikaye, Don Zilla or STILL.
Brought up in the midst of the bloodiest conflict since World War II, Rey Sapienz used music to both audit his horrifying experiences and momentarily escape reality. He started rapping at only 12 years old, before leaving the DRC for Uganda and learning to make beats with Kampala's growing crowd of visionary producers. "Na Zala Zala" is the result of Sapienz attempt to create a Congolese response to techno, and positions him alongside two performers who bring their own unique experiences to the mix.
Papalas Palata was a singer in Congolese legend Papa Wemba's band and was expected to be one of the greats of the genre. But war has a derailing affect on progress, and as his country was forced into catastrophe it was impossible to continue his work. Rapper Fresh Doggis is younger and brings his own unique perspective to the mix, learning his craft in a country ravaged by war. Between them, the three artists have developed a style that sits with the traditions of Congolese soukous music, but spikes it with ideas formed from a love of rap, techno and experimental music.
Both vocalists trade words in Lingala, singing and rapping about the constant anxiety that comes with their memories of the DRC. These words are splayed over beats that use Congolese percussive elements and loop them into kinetic, rolling rhythms that draw a straight line between techno, footwork, soukous and the 'ardkore continuum. It's expansive, motivated and unmistakably political music - the sound of artists who are screaming for their stories to be heard in a world that has ignored them for far too long.
Mazy no-wave dub killers by Grim Lusk’s Dip Friso, committing a 4th session of sawn-off drums, atmospheres and edits to surrealist effect on their Real Landscape label.
Hashed out in Glasgow and resonating with the city’s fine, strange energy, ‘Crocodile or Real?’ stages a gloriously daydreamy sort of sojourn from reality that variously bends between aspects of illbient, DIY concrète cut-ups, post-punk and dub, proper, in order to limn a day-in-the-life feel to proceedings. The results comfortably sit next to records from the 12th Isle quadrant, edging on new age exotica realms, but blessed with a haptic oddness and unexpected detours towards more elusive pleasure centres.
Ruffcut in a way that’s too often forgetten in favour of so much surface sheen, the dozen tracks fracture and stumble to create an engaging mosaic with a brilliantly groggy logic, drifting from the lounge swirl of the title tune thru half-cut vignettes like ‘Bananas’ to Dilla-esque sample chops in ‘Good Morning’, and what sounds like Golden Teacher in miniature on ‘Zig Zag Serpentine’. The serrated edges of ’Seventh Dub’ meanwhile recall Yong Yong’s wonky oddities, and ‘ThatIs Ugly (Whats Going On-) sounds like it crept out of an NYC sewer circa 1980, before it starts to congeal into more hallucinatory measures of Nyabnghi-like whorl on ‘Danger waters’, and precipitates the BAT-like grog of ‘Storm Clouds’.
Strong, weird gear.
Nyege Nyege presents another lightning-fast set from Tanzania's fresh 'n boundlessly creative singeli scene, this time zeroing in on Duke's Pamoja Records studio and its local cast of young MCs. There's nowt else like this - jerky, breakneck 200bpm+ rollers with Dar Es Salaam's most exciting vocalists trading bars overhead.
Pamoja boss Duke started making music when he was just 13 years old, opening the doors to his studio when he turned 18. "Sounds of Pamoja" is a document of his self-styled "hip-hop singeli" sound and his contribution to the blossoming Tanzanian scene, featuring a varied roster of youthful spitters: Pirato MC, Dogo Kibo, MC Kuke, Dogo Lizzy, MC Dinho, MC Kidene and of course MCZO, who'll be familiar to anyone who caught Duke on tour pre-COVID-19. And for a country with half its population under 15 years old, it's hardly surprising that Tanzania's most vital dance sounds are being pioneered by a group of producers and vocalists barely over 20.
'Sounds of Pamoja' brings back the sweat of rave backrooms or rap basement parties, with samples, shoutouts and chipmunked adverts hiccuping between breathless MCs and overdriven, clattering production. This is dance music that exists leagues outside the polite world of business techno and the nauseating sponsored content realm: its tongue twisting vocals and blink-and-you-miss-it glo-fi rhythmic shakes make it an uncategorizable and challenging movement for the lifestyle set. As soon as you think you have a finger on what's going on, the beat is likely to shift, the sample flip and the vocal mutate into something completely different.
Duke's outlook is different from many of his contemporaries; influenced by US rap as much as local Tanzanian producers and performers, he finds a sweet spot between the surreal, tongue-twisting sound of early Busta Rhymes and singeli pioneers like Jay Mitta and Bampa Pana. So the music we're treated to here sounds rougher and harder than the sounds on Nyege Nyege's last Tanzanian compilation, 2017's brilliant "Sounds of Sisso". Since then the sound has shifted considerably, and Duke's take on singeli retains the backbone of taarab - a popular traditional fusion of East African and Middle Eastern sounds - but offers it the immediacy of a ringtone.
If you wanna remember what joy and pure physicality sounds like, there's few other dance movements out there right now with the same levels of kinetic pressurei. "Sounds of Pamoja" is for the dancers, in the best possible way..
The long-awaited debut release by yung new producer Croww for The Death of Rave, somewhere between a mixtape, imagined soundtrack and demonstrative showreel pieced together from a Slipknot sample pack used by the band’s Craig Jones on their landmark debut album and highly recommended if you're into Autechre, Rabit or Total Freedom.
The severely gurned and kerned result is the Prosthetics (MechaMix) unique to the vinyl edition, and four constituent Prosthetics, featuring the original samples painstakingly dissected and assembled in uchronic form to suppose an alternate history of the last 20 years of pop and subcultural phenomena, one where rap metal is dissolved and alloyed with the extremities of grindcore, flashcore, late ‘90s D&B and hypermodern rap instrumentals. Safe to say it sounds like naught out there right now.
Gestated from the seeds of a conversation after 2015’s Moss Side carnival, Prosthetics has grown into a sort of hybrid golem via intensely scrupulous sessions spent panning the original sample pack for flecks of precious, vantablack metals. In the process it became as much a study in coming to terms with formative influences as an exercise in sui-generis sculpturing, effectively forming a noumenal sidestep around the sub-cultural phenomena of Slipknot’s (like it or not) landmark debut record - an album which, at the time, sent shockwaves thru teenaged suburban bedrooms and the kind of clubs you could then get into with a fake ID.
With the benefit of hindsight, Croww has acknowledged and figuratively taken those early influences on a vector that few would have imagined back then. From the record’s early warning of “...they’re doing something rather curious with the parts of the body, in a way we don’t fully understand…” the piece buckles and convulses in a reticulated series of wretches and spasmodic yet disciplined blast beats as much associated with Columbian paso doble as the pitching meter of La Peste’s seminal flashcore tracks or grindcore proper. Samples from Iowan public access TV are mutilated in the strangely brittle yet mercurial mix, whose Black Metal-debted pallor is unpredictably lit up with flashes of shellshocking psychoacoustic treatments in a complex, sci-fi style dramaturgy punctuated by abyssal lacunæ and intensely detailed cues.
To be honest, The Death of Rave was never into Slipknot at the time, yet it was hard to ignore their ubiquitous presence if you were at all inclined to look beyond prescribed chart chaff. But, as the business end of late ‘90s house and trance has become a de facto club soundtrack in 2017, Slipknot’s awkward outsider legacy deserves some polish and attention.
Croww has turned Slipknot’s cultural cadaver into a polysemous mutant that works as a brutalist DJ tool, or indeed as an introductory mixtape/imagined soundtrack boldly expressing the artist’s individuality, which feels deadly important in an age swamped by mimetic clones blindly chasing empirical populism on one hand, or all too happy to wallow in staid ideas of nostalgia on the other.
It's a beguiling reminder that there’s always a third hand, a third track or third path.
Aye whats this? Omar-S’ FXHE with a deadly set of dripping Jit x Ghettotech x Footwork energies from the Motor City, produced by Milf Melly & King Milo aka Hi Tech, cutting fast tempos with smudged strings and city-at-night romance. It’s full deadly gear, huge tip if yr into anything from Shake Shakir to DJ Nate to Alexander Omar Smith, you know it.
Hitting one of the label’s rarest seams of inspiration, Hi Tech tip the needle up to proper 150bpm+ tempos in a contemporary echo of classic jit steez. While FXHE is best known for deepest, rawest Detroit techno-house, Omar has previously touched ass at this tempo with ‘Jit’ off his debut LP, and more recently on ‘Ain’t No Real Pimps Anymore’, but never indulged quite to this extent, with Hi Tech brandishing a fully fledged combo of quick drums and glyding chords peppered with pitched vox that goes hard, we tell ya.
Built for DJs, the dance, and gas-guzzling road boats, Hi Tech’s debut efforts balance the upfront ghettotech rawness of jit, proper, with a more debonaire flair in 11 parts; tapping in with the Henny-flavoured neon wooze of the opener, and holding the line thru butterfly drums of ‘Big Prism’, to the female vocal kiss of ‘Poppin @ The Suite’ and ‘Funny F*ckwits’; pulling up to ruggedest rap on ‘$$$cashapp’, with MC ‘Milf Melo’ taking the spotlight on it’s juiciest highlight; and ‘I Swear It’s a Bop’ best revealing the sound’s shared DNA with Chicago footwork, beside a Future-facing curtain closer ‘Fitness By King Milo’.
Straight killers, don’t sleep!
Like waking from a dream, only to return to its febrile clutches, ‘Musick To Play In The Dark²’ extends the etheric pleasures of Coil’s turn-of-millennium classic on a keenly coveted, first time vinyl reissue. Pinch yourselpH…
Reaped from the sessions that became Coil’s 1999 calling card, its sibling piece emerged one year later to explore further folds and aspects of the same physical studio space that begat the duo’s noumenal projections. Produced at their palatial seaside estate in Weston-Super-Mare - a sleepy retirement town where they must have stuck out like alien ambassadors - the results get more intimately acquainted with the fleshly and plasmic spaces first unveiled by ‘Musick To Play In The Dark’; taking a more languorous look inside/outside themselves under the glowing auspices of what Jhonn Balance termed “moon music” - a perfectly poetic summation of their late period style of melting parlour musick designed to soundtrack the partners’ notorious narcotic escapades.
Like its precedent, the album simply exists in a skin and league of its own, with Sleazy & Jhonn placing their exploratory studio tekkerz at the service of slippery songs that have patently endured due to the quality of their spell casting, carrying their legacy to soothe, bamboozle and perplex future generations. Embracing stellar kosmische as much as Italian renaissance chamber composition and the peculiar electronic glitches that emanated from their organismic studio, the duo took their role as psychopomps seriously and most playfully, bridging the depths of their imaginations and ours with an effect that only seeps deeper with every return to the album’s hallucinatory sensuality.
Also involving the clammy touch of Thighpaulsandra, and the presence of goth pin-up Rose McDowell, the album is as close as you'll likely get to the heart or solitary soul of Coil’s sound. Between the mantric invocation of ‘Something’, the astral carpet ride of ‘Tiny Golden Books’, and carmine harpsichord seep of ‘Paranoid Inlay’, thru the shivering soliloquy of ‘Where Are You?’, it feels like watching them watching themselves melt into the mirror after too much this and some of that, and we’re always here for it.
Regis’ deadly slab of gothic hard-body machine funk returns, the blueprint for those shockout British Murder Boys excursions and generally one of the most influential Techno records of all time, here on a newly mastered 20th anniversary edition, once again ready to wallop.
‘Penetration’ practically defined this type of loopy, gnashing techno before a gradated phase shift into sleeker forms of minimalism came to pass during the following decade. It would be nearly 20 years before Regis issued his solo follow-up, ‘Hidden In This Is The Light That You Miss’, with time well spent on developing his roles in British Murder Boys and Sandwell District, among many other things, but ‘Penetration’ stands as a paradigm of Techno’s gothic-toned, gnashing wing in its purest, deadliest form.
Bolstered by Simon Shreeve’s airy remaster, ‘Penetration’ kicks like a thoroughbred. From the stentorian, Latinate drum friction of ‘Get On Your Knees’ to the monotone drone tension of ‘Aftertaste of Guilt’ and ‘It’s A Man’s World’, or the stealth ratchet of ‘Thirst’, it’s not hard to hear hallmarks of Regis’ sound that would inform his run of seminal British Murder Boys productions with Surgeon a couple of years later. Yet cuts such as the shark-eyed drive ‘White Stains’ and the sleazy dark room afterthoughts of ‘Slave to the Inevitable’ distinguish the album as sole property of Regis in his prime, before taking on the mantle of UK industrial music’s renaissance man over the past decade. With 20 years hindsight, it remains a tough, adrenalised energy-rush for the ages - here sounding heavier than ever.
Newly remastered by Rashad Becker for this vinyl edition, ‘Echo’ finds Félicia Atkinson synching her feelings into a watercolour suite of solo keys, voice and field recordings, unfurling 40 minutes of new music that we wager will take your breath away.
Félicia was undertaking an artistic residency in La Becque when the plague took hold in Europe at the start of 2020. Stationed with her husband and young child in the small artistic community near Geneva, she wrote this “imaginary garden” of music dedicated to anyone in pain or isolation. The result is a ponderous mix of slow but searching keys, windswept sax, room recordings and sensitively detached but intimate electronic touches that she intended to mirror the solace she came to find and provide a place for reflection for anyone in need.
Working from a wooden chalet surrounded by gardens, and particularly one inspired by Derek Jarman’s in Dungeness (created in the years after he learned he had AIDS), Félicia acts as a transducer for quiet energies and the worries of a world where, as she puts it; “basic things… suddenly seemed so crucial and vast; health, disease, plants, nature, solitude, family, people, fear, calm….”.
Across six pieces spanning almost 40 minutes, Félicia describes a slow but fleeting passage of time between pruned pieces of sound poetry, uncanny concrete abstractions and broader parts of ambient jazz that recall the vulnerability and fragility of Terre Thaemlitz’s solo piano expressions with her own sort of tactility and blurry ambiguity, especially the 13 minute ‘Lillies’. Around and behind each note you can hear the creak of Félicia’s chair, her breath on the microphone, birds outside - radiating warmth and a wondrous intangibility that’s impossible to express in words, imbuing the listener with a sense of liminality - of existing between worlds.
A proper salve for the soul, we tell you.
Could this be the world's first experimental MOR album? Nah, but time has decided it is perhaps the most supreme. Wackos of the world, take over...
Named after the Nicolas Roeg film of the same name (in fact several of Jim’s albums are named after Roeg films, R.I.P), Eureka features a huge cast of ensemble players - many of them core members of the same Chicago underground scene that O’Rourke was part of until the turn of the century which this album predated by a few months - including Edith Frost, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Rob Mazurek, Bob Weston, Ken Vandermark, Darin Gray and others.
O’Rourke's obsessive mastery of any genre he turned his attention to is by now almost taken for granted, but when Eureka came out in 1999 people were shook by its mainstream appeal and beautifully produced, almost overly sweet arrangements. In hindsight, it’s easy to peg Eureka as O’Rourke’s pop masterpiece; a beautifully crafted collection of accessible but highly intricate songs that lodge themselves deep in your mind almost instantly, with nods to everyone from Bacharach to Fahey with several unpredictable trajectories in between.
An absolute avant-pop masterpiece.
Originally released on tape in 2019, 'Big Room' helped establish Philly's Ulla Straus as one of the key figures in the post-"bblisss" wave of nu-ambient practitioners. Interchangeably glacial, gaseous and liquid, it's a rare downtempo tome that never shies away from sensuality and raw, messy emotionality. Gorgeous material: essential listening for anyone into Jake Muir, Perila, Shuttle358, Oval, Pendant or Space Afrika.
'Big Room' is a technically advanced record that never dangles its prowess in your face. Ulla's sound sculpting is remarkable, but the key to 'Big Room' is not her processing skill, it's her open-hearted emotional honesty. And if contemporary ambient and experimental music has been pocked by the Instagrammable nostalgia drip and hacky tacked-on PR narratives, 'Big Room' succeeds because it offers us a clear, demarcated alternative. Ulla doesn't need to shoehorn in a grandstanding press release or video footage of an elaborate modular setup to get our attention, the music does all the heavy lifting, drawing us in with clouded bathhouse textures and soft-focus dub rhythms, chiseled digital hiccups and levitational synthesizer loops.
From the opening tones of 'Nana', with its sloshing pads and subtle glitches, to the dislocated wind chimes and blurry electronics of 'House', there's a resounding faded texture to Ulla's music that helps set a picture perfect mood. 'Big Room' is an album to lose yerself in - Ulla's able to dial in an aesthetic that goes beyond the surface level, piercing not just the production elements but the writing itself. Using relatively few elements, she's able to bridge the gaps between dub techno ('Net'), Mille Plateaux-esque processed glitch ('Past'), glowing Eno-influenced ambient ('Billow') and breathtaking arpeggio-led kosmische sounds ('Sister'), linking each track with her diaristic subtlety and careful choice of processes.
In a forest of withered ambient mediocrity, 'Big Room' is a lonely, pristine evergreen - we just can't recommend it enough.
25 years since ‘Gore Motel’, Bohren & Der Club of Gore hold their smoky line of doom-jazz in a sublime, haunting 10th album that once again taps into that interzone between classic Lynchian motifs and fizzing gothic undercurrents.
The sylvan intimacy of ‘Patchouli Blue’ is a Bohren's ineffable skill at lulling listeners into richly hypnagogic states. As ever they prize a deep sense of cool yearning that hearkens back to the slow burn atmospheres of classic film noir as much as David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti’s soundtracks, dark ambient and the bluest jazz, plus the doom metal of Black Sabbath, Gore, and their dusty echoes in Earth. It’s surely a velvet cloak for the senses; essentially a heavily tranquilising sound, but one fraught with an existential angst that’s won them a captive audience over the years, and is fully in effect here.
As ever, ‘Patchouli Blue’ is a strictly all instrumental affair and was recorded in Cologne and Mülheim An Der Ruhr - site of all their recordings (bar ‘Mitleid Lady’) since the seminal ‘Sunset Mission’ (2000). It was composed by core members Christoph Clöser (Tenor Saxophone) and Morten Gass (Piano, Engineer, Producer) and is performed by them along with longtime member Robin Rodenburg’s plucked, stalking bass lines in a classically sulky, gratifying way bound to make your glass of single malt taste smokier, sweeter. As such, the album is really meant to be taken in one sitting, but if we’re to point out highlights, the slow rise of slinking drum machine and creeping arps of ‘Vergessen & Vorbei’ is just masterful, as is the distant, burnished, Vangelis-like synth glow and elegiac brass of their last call, ‘Meine Welt ist schön’. Basically it’s dead good for what ail’s ya.
Incredible album of ruffneck outernational soundsystem abstractions brought together by Uganda’s by-now infamously fecund Nyege Nyege crew; an impressionistic industrial/ambient soundtrack where chopped & screwed gristle meets ballistic singeli and mutant electro-acholi. If you’re into anything from King Midas Sound to classic Talking Heads, Nearly God and The WIld Bunch - this one’s a stone cold killer.
London’s Jesse Hackett and Chicago-based Mariano Chavez distill a wickedly sozzled, bleary impression of their time spent with Lord Tusk and a crack squad of Ugandan musicians in Kampala, 2019. Documenting the result of six weeks of making music, art and videos, and Waragi Gin-fuelled rides into the Kampala nightlife, their debut album features a full battery of traditional percussion and strings, plus the canny use of whistling and Lord Tusk’s rude sound system sensibilities, serving a triple AAA-rated trip that lures listeners into their intoxicated/intoxicating state of mind and effectively conveys the experience of a jag deep into the belly of Uganda’s thrilling, sprawling capital city at a major crossroads of East and Central Africa.
It’s not the first time Jesse Hackett has worked with Ugandan musicians - his 2017 album ‘Ennanga Vision’ saw him teamed with electro-acholi stars Otim Alpha, Geoffrey Opiyo Twongweno, and Albert Bisaso Ssempeke - however the vibe this time is more psychedelic in a road-level, grimy and noisy style thanks to the expanded platte of inputs, including an all-star Ugandan roll call of Otim Alpha, multi-instrumentalist Lawrence Okello, percussionist Omutaba, and Rian Treanor-collaborator Ocen, all girded by the vital ruggedness of London underground don, Lord Tusk.
In their pair of ‘Dream Sequence’ suites the album freewheels with delirious style, from mechanically musical drones in the title track to a quietly febrile conclusion recalling Craig Leon’s ‘Nommos’. Bouts of melodically stressed noise give way to Gin-steeped sing-song, chunks of chopped & screwed gristle, and dizzy clusters of Singeli-esque rhythm in a stop/start, unpredictable manner that sounds like nobody else right now. DJs will find ways of working this material into sets, although the album is really best downed in one for a vividly soundtrack-like experience that recalls the thrills and spills of a Safdie Bros flick, but set in Uganda, effectively throwing listeners head first into the thick of Kampala’s nightlife.
Jo Montgomerie intensifies her sound in shorter, more nuanced forms of bloody-minded solo piano and crushing tonal pressure after a series of durational releases that have staked her on the map of uncompromising, contemporary noise - RIYL Reinhold Freidl, Éliane Radigue, Alberich, NWW
Firmly established as one to keep an ear on since 2019 via tapes for Industrial Coast and Helen Scarsdale Agency, Jo now diffracts her waves into a more nuanced grip of six cuts for Brachliegen Tapes, hailing from the historic coast of Deal, Kent. Where the unyielding structures of her previous required a focussed level of attentive listening from the user, these ones span Friedl-isch solo piano to whelming industrial drone, ‘Those Things Beyond & Within’ farther reveals her trenchant close listening of the minutiae to her combinations of documentarian field recordings and, for the first time most explicitly, her refusenik background of practice and training as a pianist.
We’re particularly struck by album opener ‘focus on the constant’, where she jabs the lower registers of the piano in a properly doomy processional accreting gloaming overtones like Reinhold Freidl channelling Éliane Radigue. Suitably submerged in her world, the set continues with the gravelly waves of bass attrition in ‘the times i let you think you know me’, while the relative spatial relief of ‘they all fell so easy’ shores up in furnace intensity, and ‘think we lost them’ recalls the sound of the fridge on the other side of my bedroom wall that lulls me to sleep paralysis every night.
By this point you’re either all in or not at all, and ‘i only just realised’ polishes off the with a stare-down 12 minutes of martial industrial percussion and stealthy escalating drone that feels like Black Mecha or Wold’s mentation electronics in its unyielding density. Gwarn Jo, ya mad scone.
Brilliantly freeform smudged ambient/house blissness from the widely-adored NYC producer and boss of the Incienso and Probito labels, shaping up his 2nd album three years after ‘Body Pill’ for Kieran Hebden’s Text.
Across the 12 tracks of ‘Take Me With You’, Naples rudely works out of the lines, with tracks bleeding into one another to the chagrin of any neat-ass DJs, but making for a deliciously keening, psychedelic effect that emulates the good hours of a mushy trip, or the effect of having multiple browser windows in the afterparty serendipitously fading into one another, in the best way.
Puce Mary and Jesse Sanes commit their intensely personalised JH1.FS3 duo to wax, pressed on transparent vinyl with a 12” x 12” colour insert/lyric sheet. Edition of 300 copies only...
We may be going out on a limb here but, all clues - from the intimate photographs to the record’s lyrics and its slippery electronic movements - point to Frederikke and Jesse as a couple exploring their mutual binds, which, if we’re correct, places them a in a strong lineage of recording couplings that includes Chris & Cosey, Genesis and Lady Jaye P-Orridge, Venetian Snares and Hecate etc. Either way, it’s easy to pick up on the sparking frisson of energies, yin and yang, generated by JH1.FS3’s proximity, romantic or not.
Comprising the entirety of their 6-track Silence.DOM  tape along with four new pieces, Loyalty forms a marriage of sensibilities, of sensualities, of shared tastes, quite literally framing their time together in the record’s diaristic bookends of 28.08.2014 and 18.12.2015 and documenting their unhiemlich movements between the gripping dungeon tones of 1000 Synonymous Titles About Despair, and with unsettling closeness with the humid location recordings of Damaged Seeds and Virtues Of Desperation, before they really come together in the exquisitely prurient-esque Visions of a Scene (Coney Island).
Using Welsh mythology to guide her process, Flora Yin-Wong juxtaposes phantasmagoric sonic elements - scorched earth noise, evocative field recordings, spiraling vocals and dubbed-out drones - to catalyze an isolation soundtrack that sounds completely rooted in Celtic history.
Undertaking an artist’s residency in an isolated cabin outside Machynlleth, north Wales, Yin-Wong's focus on acoustic ecology and the relationship between listener/environment is compelling. Machynlleth is home to The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) which investigates practical solutions to a carbon free future. Flora surveyed the area with the mind’s eye of her field recorder, capturing an impression of its uncanny landscape, often pocked by the scars of industrial mines, and wove those recordings with inspiration from a modern adaptation of The Mabinogion - the earliest set of Welsh myths - and vox by Berlin’s Rachel Lyn, evoking a dreamlike play of greyscale tonal contrasts rendered with subtly psychedelic use of natural and manufactured reverbs.
'Hanging A Thief' starts us off slowly, searing resonant dub chords into mic-rattling foley noise and spacious environmental recordings. It sounds like a mystical presence attempting to make itself known through sheets of rock, flickering in-and-out of view. On 'Unhappy Disclosures', she changes pace, using dissociated piano and string sounds to shimmer like watery pools underneath foggy clouds of vocals. 'Willow Bends' features Berlin-based DJ and composer Rachel Lyn, who speaks slowly over reverberating dark ambient groans that emanate from damp, cavernous depths. "These ancient and contemporary currents, carrying their secrets from up-stream," she murmurs.
Yin-Wong's understanding of the "acoustic ecology" theme is inspired, she's come up with music that sounds as contemporary as last year's ace "Holy Palm", but feels rooted in a past that bubbles beneath our feet. On the final, title track, vocals loop and swirl around clanging metal and searing feedback - like medieval church choirs singing folk songs in an abandoned factory as it disintegrates. Beautiful and ugly, all at once.
'Electrogenesis 1978-1980' is a comprehensive survey of Sheffield's proto-ABC group, Vice Versa.
Comprising demo versions, live recordings, both of their 7"s, and the '8 Aspects Of' cassette pressed to vinyl for the first time, it sums up a "bizarre trio who show occasional flashes of promise, but whose pretentiousness becomes quite tiresome", according to an NME journo commenting on their support slot for The Human League in Sheffield, 1978.
With hindsight, that pretentiousness is really what set them apart, what with track titles such as 'Democratic Dancebeat' and 'Genetic Warfare' backed up by searing machine rhythms, futuristic synthesiser sounds and dead stoic vocals. V-O-D and Trevor Jackson have both rightly invoked Vice Versa in recent years with compilations that focussed on their peers - Cabaret Voltaire, Clock DVA etc - and and it's only right that VV's caterpillar stage receives the same sort of documentation, circa their transformation from austere, machine-driven dance music into world taking pop musicians.
Properly gorgeous, 1979 solo piano and flute works by one of the geniuses behind Italian new music masterpiece ‘Prati Bagnati Del Monte Analogo’, issued here for the first time after more than 40 years in hiding.
Back in 1979, Messina released his most high-profile album "Prati Bagnati Del Monte Analogo", a dreamy Harold Budd-esque collaboration with Raul Lovisoni that emerged on the cult Italian imprint Cramps. He was invited to perform in Milan shortly after the album's release, but was worried it might be difficult to reimagine in a live setting. "Due to the limited availability of key technical features, it would have been too complicated to perform Prati Bagnati," he writes in the album's liner notes. "Therefore I opted for these three pieces instead."
Messina had never performed the pieces together before, so he rented a studio the day before the concert and recorded the music to tape. That was the end of the story, until now. "Reflex" is very different from its predecessor, it feels far moreindebted to Steve Reich and Charlemagne Palestine's fluid, hypnotic minimalism, but the spirit of "Prati Bagnati" is still present in the three pieces' levitational tone and whimsical mood. Eleven-minute title track 'Reflex' is our pick, and delays the piano to create a disorientating ping-pong effect as delirious phrases morph into the stereo field.
'Head Over Heels' is perhaps the most influential album in the Cocteau Twins catalogue and one that continues to confound almost 40 years later.
The band’s second album, it was recorded in 1983 mostly as a duo of Fraser and Guthrie, and was the first album to make a real feature of Liz Fraser’s made up, oddly intoned vocabulary. More hard-edged and loud than Treasure, Head Over Heels is also a marvel of production - the way the guitars stay submerged in the mix while the drums pound, those sudden key changes, small flourishes etched into eternity.
Coming not long after original bassist Will Heggie had departed the band, the chemistry between Fraser and Guthrie moved the band on from the starkness of their debut; they were now making the music that would help them define the decade ahead; her wordless, dreamlike vocals a powerful instrument over his lush, textured guitars.
They just don’t make them like this any more (although Demen tried).
Very canny breakthru debut album from John Glacier, expressing her East London soul with executive production by LA-based Vegyn - a strong look for fans of Coby Sey, Tirzah, Mica Levi, Dean Blunt
‘SHILOH: Lost For Words’ frames Glacier’s singular sort of punk poet rap in 12 concise cuts that lay out her sound at the fringes of electronica, indie-pop and rap, proper. A remarkably diverse but collected whole, the album’s variegation owes to its plethora of like-minded producers - Vegyn, Holly, Psychedelic Ensemble and Tn_490 - who keep the ground shifting woozy and curious at Glacier’s feet, underlining droll lyrics about her hopes and dreams with suitably hazy, suggestive beats, at best in the over-compressed Dean Blunt styles of ‘If Anything,’ the sweetly skewed soul of ‘Trelawny Waters,’ and must-check highlights on the crystalline rap of ‘Boozy’ and the screwed jungle blues hymnal ‘Some Other Thing.’
“John Glacier says she chose her stage name because she's "icy". But, like her pitch-shifted vocal and deadpan stare, that dissembling coldness is shattered by the blistering reality of her lyrics. Everything she writes, in her punk-poet electronic pop songs, is viscerally vulnerable. Her debut album, produced with fellow London-born, LA-based producer Vegyn, is what she calls a "selfish" record, documenting "how I feel, what I'm going through, and where I want to go in my life." But like everything John touches, even this answer shapeshifts, revealing itself to be something unexpected by the time she's finished speaking. SHILOH is a document of healing and evolution that John created over the course of a year. Each track is a reflection of a moment, captured fleetingly, showcasing a different face of John Glacier. "The songs are all completely different spaces," she notes, but the common theme of the album is reflection, and processing – like chipping away at ice.”
An invaluable document of Martin Hannett's work with Joy Division, which not only takes in alternate, 'director's cut'-type mixdowns of the studio sessions which would eventually become 'Closer', but even includes recordings of false starts, dialogue between the producer and the band plus a few snippets of Hannett's sound design exercises such as recordings of lifts creaking into action and assorted weird synth tones.
Among the full-length alternate mixes are 'From Safety To Where', 'Autosuggestion' and '24 hours'. It's the more muffled, gloomier mixes that stand out the most however: 'Heart And Soul's cavernous drums and dark, droning synthesizer carry an enormous emotional clout, and the same is true of the rasping digital reverb that soaks 'Passover' to its core. Certain tracks are presented in more than one incarnation, such as 'The Eternal', two different mixes of which round off the album.
The first is in keeping with the darker, bassier tone that dominates much of this collection, but the final rendition lets a little light in, particularly on the snare, whose springing pulse seem to illuminate the sallow washed-out feel of the other of the instruments. Fans of Joy Division, Hannett and this particular chapter in Manchester's remarkable musical history won't want to miss this - Essential stuff.
Emotional exploration through sound can become so indulgent that it overshadows the journey.
"JH1.FS3 eschews mining the human condition as mediation, opting for nuanced analysis rather than vanity. Using the seeds of improvisation as their root construct, the duo work without code, vocabulary or genre. Instead, they systematically work as individuals in tandem, using disparate and varied sounds and sources to create gauzy collages of ideas, sound and visceral sense reaction.
Comprised of Frederikke Hoffmeier (Puce Mary) and Jesse Sanes (Hoax, Liebestod), JH1.FS3 delineates a more subtle “cinema of the ear”, and a cold approach to reflecting on experience without leveraging tropes or familiarity.
“We try to reconcile these emotionally massive things in a way that is sincere and measured, but without being sappily diaristic or confessional,” they explain. “A cinematic quality develops really quickly and our attempts to traffic in generalizations, unbiased observers of ‘relationships’ gets turned on its head. We find these sets of unique errors that feel more like Super-8 (film) home footage.”
This transference allows cracks and fissured to be filled in new ways, where error is championed—highlighted as intention rather than happenstance. Throughout Trials and Tribulations, their debut LP for Dais records, the reconnection of idea and experience conducted with surgical diligence becomes a mode to deconstruct familiarity through shade and accident.
With each exposition on Trials and Tribulations, the duo ornately explores the relationship between space and time by reconfiguring the tendrils and fissures that bind them. Percussive oscillations, descant vocals, and deconstructed patterns create fields that vibrate, plunge, and drone. Sequentially, each track contributes a lucid vignette to the larger account, engaging the listener to query where, when, and how they’re being driven. The contrast of the lead single “Aleppo In Headlines,” with its thrusting syncopation to the cautious beauty of “At the Bottom of the Night” compounds and depth and disquisition of the duo’s process."
FDW sets it off on a rolling dub house and deep, percussive techno tip in a sturdy follow-up to his ‘Apparitions’ album for Livity Sound
Weaving his own way thru a rhizome of related rhythmic styles, Forest Drive West can’t help but do it with a properly in-the-pocket flex on the ‘Dualism EP.’ The title may refer to the chimeric nature of the EP’s sides or an eternal tension between the bass heft and deft atmospheric thizz of his style, but either way they’re all classically skooled in the manner that's made his productions a cult property over the past half decade.
‘Dualism’ rides out head high, eyes-down on a stepping techno motion shades away from Substance & Vainqueur, whereas ‘New Day’ loosens up the hips and opens out with lush choral pads. On the other side, ‘Ritual’ pares back to pure percussive patter in a subaquatic techno doe, and ‘Scorpion’ works a delicious groove of slippery, tabla-like drums sure to light up fans of Beatrice Dillon or DJ Plead works.
Neuropean electro hero Dynarec takes his bow on CPU’s roll call of IDM/electronica greats with a classically tangy clutch of machine drills.
For a bit of trivia, Dynarec can lay claim to inventing the term “vaporwave” with his formative private label, although it has nowt to do with the calcified a e s t h e t i c joke that Vapourware has become. Anyway, his CPU debut is a typically damn effective set, defined by a keen melodic edge and crisply propulsive drum programming in four diverse shots, rounding from the strobing vocoder work filleted into the sparkling Drexciyan arps of ‘A Dispatching Role’, to the more discordant, nervy jag of ’Stabilized’ recalling Ultradyne, and that sick flared bassline on ‘Canonical Form’ and the below-the-belt drive of ‘Classification of Elements’ are giving us Automat and Heinrich Mueller vibes.
Footwork's most prominent standard-bearer's heavy debut album for Hyperdub. R.I.P. Rashad...
Perhaps better described as a collaborative effort - all bar two tracks feature Spinn, Addison Groove, Taso, Manny, or Earl - 'Double Cup' is the freshest missive from the rapidly ascendent and influential Chicago scene.
Over 14 fibrillating tessellations of classic funk, soul, house and jungle Rashad stakes his ground with assured swagger. When he really cuts wild the effect is remarkable: previous single, 'I Don't Give A F**k', with its minimalist bleep coda and strobing bass pulses is a big winner, as are the juicy, acid-bootied 'Double Cup' with Spinn, and the 45rpm flip of Larry Heard's 'Donnie', here as 'Reggie', or the lush-out '94 jungle styles of 'I'm Too Hi'. Tipped!
D.K.’s blissed performance at intimate S. Korean venue The Edge becomes the latest LP on 12th Isle
Following in a familiar vein to D.K.’s enchanted fortcoming Good Morning Tapes EP ‘The Goddess Is Dancing’, the Paris-based producer of Vietnamese descent spies a rolling soundscape of lissom rhythmic contours and finely graded harmonic humidities across the tranquilising expanse of ‘Live at The Edge’.
Everything inside feels to float gradually higher from the ground and hold a mid-air conference of chirruping avian electronics, wilting gamelan-like tones and DMT-breath synth chorales on the A-side, while the B-side introduces purring low end and nimbly stepping percussion until it wins up in massage chamber ambience.
A magisterial totem of US avant-minimalism from one of the US industrial/noise scene's earliest and most under-sung underground operators, Robert Turman’s 1981 classic ‘Flux’ has been given a new 2022 pressing, for the good of our health.
Robert Turman made his recorded debut on 1979’s ‘Mode Of Infection / Knife Ladder’ single, but within years he moved into much quieter yet expansive zones with his solo material. His self-released 1981 tape, ‘Flux’ is the seminal first example of Turman’s relatively drastic new direction, weaving kalimba, keys, a “Mini-Pops Jr.” drum machine, and tape loops, to create a gorgeous cat’s cradle of small sounds that absorb the listener with much subtler tactics and tactility than his previous work.
We could quite easily classify ‘Flux’ in that category of albums that always seem slippery and fuzzy to the memory due to the fact they tend to lull us into a sort of meditative state on every listen. Shy of any hypnic jerks, the thing flows with a steeply mesmerising sandman quality, coaxing mottled rhythmelody and shimmering harmonics from his set-up in a way that was far ahead of its time, but can’t help but seduce the senses to more atavistic, dreamlike states.
It's the gnostic missing page that contextualizes the US noise/experimental scene’s occasional flirtation with dreamy guitar jams, futzed psychedelia,deep listening and hypnogogic tape loops, working like a diary or self portrait, revealing a personal journey marinated in emotion, texture and wonder, sitting a few paces outside the musical establishment's buttoned-up critical perception.
It’s a quiet wonder and an acknowledged influence on everyone from Aaron Dilloway to Helm, with this new pressing you’ve got another chance to dip into one of the most unusual and mesmerising transmissions from a scene usually fizzing with more aggy energy, Stunning.
Fresh grimy blood on Hajj’s Dawn label, Gohda debuts with a brace of moody but effusive steppers and glyders after a spot on the label’s ‘From Dawn Till Dusk’ compilation.
Gohda first emerged in 2017 with a prototype for this album on Bun The Grid. His ‘Posted In The Back of the Club’ session updates the style in line with ’22 grime, drill, hardcore and intsro rap styles with engaging melodies, vocal sampling and needlepoint drum programming that dance in the smoky, strobing integers of Mssingo, Banshee and Zomby.
It’s a heart-on-sleeve sound, brimming with emotion between the tears-in-the-club vox and topline of ‘All Nite Long (i’ll be ur song)’, and the tonking trance party thrust of ‘He’s Gotta Be The 1’, with crystalline hooks in R&G lean of ‘For Awhile…’, sublime grime tension in ‘Lost Without U’, and wickedly restless 2-step swivel of ‘Faded Luvv’, plus a class kinda ’92-meets-’22 hardcore R&B flex on ‘Deep Cover (2k21 no drama edition)’.
Absolutely overdue freshly issued collection of hits from cult Aussie jangle-pop band The Cat's Miaow, including faves 'Not Like I Was Doing Anything' and the proto-Beach House burner 'What Time Is It There'. Essential listening for anyone into Talulah Gosh/Heavenly, The Pastels, Black Tambourine or The Vaselines.
You'd be forgiven from having missed The Cat's Miaow first time around. Formed in Melbourne in the early 1990s, the four-piece (comprised of vocalist Kerrie Bolton, bassist Andrew Withycombe, guitarist Bart Cummings and drummer Cameron Smith) were assembled from various members of the city's indie sprawl. Kerrie sang in The Beat Poets and Tra La La, Andrew played in The Ampersands and with Bart in Blairmailer, and Bart in Library Records and with Cameron in Girl of the World. Between 1992 and 1999, they recorded a slew of pristine DIY pop music that felt like an antipodean answer to the UK's post-C86 Sarah Records sound - twee and rugged, but emotionally destructive. "Songs '94-'98" sweeps up most of the band's best tracks, and the majority of those included on 1997's beloved comp "Songs For Girls To Sing" - out of print for far too long, these songs should help to re-establish The Cat's Miaow as an important part of the jangle canon.
The comp lays out its intentions with 'Hollow Inside', a track from the band's "How Did Everything Get So Fucked Up" tape that quickly solidifies their DIY sound. Recorded on Andrew's portable 4-track recorder, it's lo-fi without the contrived intention - The Cat's Miaow weren't trying to ape a sound, they were doing what they could at the time, and it just happened to come out this way. 'Not Like I Was Doing Anything' is snipped from the same session, and remains one of the band's best-loved tracks, sounding like a precursor to Belle and Sebastian's "Tigermilk" or a contemporary of Heavenly's brilliant "The Decline and Fall of Heavenly". 'What Time Is It There?', taken from the "I Kept All Your Letters" 7", is the oddest track on the collection, replacing drums and guitars with overdriven organ and blown-out electronic beats and signaling towards Beach House's woozy indie-lounge experiments. It also telegraphs the band's later (completely essential) electronic-focused work as Hydroplane.
Another highlight is the moody 'Shoot the Moon', taken from The Cat's Miaow's Wurlitzer Jukebox-released split with Stereolab, all submerged, reverberating drums and dual vocals from Kerrie and Bart. The band's later material found their sound flux into near-ambient territory, like the smudgy organ-led 'Barney & Me' and the gusty 'LA International Airport'. It's music that still sounds crucial now, linking the post-C86 jangle of bands like The Pastels with the techno-aware shoegaze of Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine.
A phenomenal collection of music "Songs '94-'98" re-establishes The Cat's Miaow as an important part of both the Aussie indie scene and the general jangle-pop canon - whether you're into The Vaselines or more recent revivalists like The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, it's an essential listen.
Newly expanded, definitive edition of Ramleh’s 1987 unholy grail for Broken Flag - a dedication to the influential queer poetry, literature and life of Jean Genet - including sounds supplied by the brothers Toniutti and widely considered a totem of power electronics-(not power electronics). A sore and damaged set full of raw noise masochism and distorted emotion, laced with unexpected beauty that in a way paralleled shoegaze. Drink deeply.
“On its initial release in 1987, Hole in the Heart was a radical reinvention of Ramleh. The band had split in 1984 after two years of power electronics noise assaults and it was assumed this would be more of the same. Listeners were in for a shock though. Gary Mundy, the sole survivor from earlier line-ups was a big fan of the writer Jean Genet and had been deeply upset to hear of his death and had recorded a four track solo tribute called Hole in the Heart using lyrics inspired by the book Funeral Rites but decided to release it as Ramleh.
Musically it was a mix of trebly psychedelic guitar, noise, mournful hymn-like keyboards and distorted vocals with no obvious influences. It is often described as one of the best power electronics records of all-time but isn’t really a power electronics record at all, although Ramleh needed to have been through that scene to end up at a place like this. If there is post-punk and post-rock, this is post-power electronics. It was released on cassette only on Broken Flag records and generally confused Ramleh’s audience and vanished quickly.
Further recordings in a similar vein were made using base sounds supplied by brothers Massimo and Giancarlo Toniutti released as Redcap, again on cassette only. A third tape called Pumping was released featuring the 23 minute epic True Religion. Again the music was met with little love. Then, an extract from True Religion called Bite the Bolster was released on the Broken Flag compilation Never Say When on vinyl and that got more attention. Over the years the tracks were shared between fans and through word of mouth people began to talk about these recordings as being in some way special. The track Product of Fear especially started to become mentioned as a classic track that needed to be heard and remains Ramleh’s most listened to track.
In 2009 Dirter brought all of the tracks together on a double CD which sold out and now changes hands for large sums. The popularity of the record is now such that users of the website Rate Your Music now rank the record one of the 30 best albums of 1987. 13 years on, a double vinyl version is finally here. The tracks have been reordered to put the original 4 tracks on the first disc where they belong. 300 copies have been pressed in special black and white vinyl alongside the standard version and all copies include a 7″ single featuring a contemporaneous compilation track missed off the CD version.
Ramleh still exist making records that are always unexpected. They are a band restlessly seeking new sounds and ways of expressing their vision of this strange thing called life. Hole in the Heart sounds like no other record by Ramleh or anybody else and has taken on a life of its own far from the cassette only tribute to Jean Genet that nobody heard back in 1987.”
Listening to this latest album from Liz Harris’ Grouper project it’s easy to forget how much of a hard sell her music was back when 'Way Their Crept’ landed with us back in 2005.
Her eerie, layered mix of bare vocals, guitar and tape delay didn't quite fit in with what anyone else was really doing on the scene back then - and it completely knocked us out even if no one was buying it. By the time her breakthrough ‘Dragging a Dead Deer…’ arrived on Type three years later she was more or less playing to a baying mob hungry for any little morsel she cared to throw their way, her (by now) more fleshed out shoegaze variants marking her out as a natural outsider who had managed to tap into some kind of collective melancholy, her songs both hugely affecting and yet somehow emotionally opaque. Last year’s 'The Man Who Died In His Boat’ collected previously unreleased material from the ‘Dead Deer’ era and, despite it essentially being an assembly of offcuts, still managed to sound as coherent and bewitching as any of her ardent followers might have imagined. ‘Ruins’ is Harris' first new album proper in several years and - to no one’s surprise - is just utterly sublime.
The opening and closing tracks excepted, Harris’ instrument of choice here is the upright Piano, delivering a sequence of songs that feel utterly bereft and lonely, intended by Harris as “...a document. A nod to that daily walk. Failed structures. Living in the remains of love.” There are also found sounds (you can here a microwave switching itself back on after a powercut in the background), and the room recordings lend an effervescent quality to the recordings that somehow magnify the sense of timelessness. ‘Ruins' is book-ended by two instrumental pieces, the pulsating field recorded opener ‘Made of Metal’ and the 11 minute closer ‘Made of Air’, an instrumental, ambient piece recorded at her mother's house way back in 2004. Together, these tracks make for another sublime 40 minutes spent in Liz Harris’ company, a precious distraction from the clutter and noise of the outside world.
Burial with his most substantial release in years, over 40 minutes of fizzing seasonal crackle and ultimate wooze.
Practically album length by other standards, the 'Antidawn EP’ plays thru five parts in 44 mins, unravelling a sequence of signature, crackling samples and vaporised soul strokes that play deep into his soundtrack-like collage style. It’s a real one for midwinter consumption, with the capacity for a sort of introspective romance that holds its own without explanation. Ye ye anyone hoping for another Untrue will have to go whistle but, for the diehards, it’s another surefire salve for frayed nerves and burned out heads.
Nose to tail it’s proper central heating for the soul, convecting a palette of pop and film dialogue snippets weft with ephemeral organ vamps and dabs of ‘80s/’90s synths that hazily throw back to frosted lens vibes that were canon to a generation who’ve perhaps slipped into older age by this point, some 16 years since Burial first struck a nerve. ID hounds will have a field day attempting to unpick its constituent parts, but suffice it to say, it’s predictably evocative gear that feels like an extended tease; you’ll just have to listen till the end to see if those woodblock drums ever make an appearance, we ain’t sayin.
K-Lone's newest is hard to fault, turning away from UKG and 160 pressure to lock into a purple groove on 'Squelch', capturing Dipset-era flamboyance on the flip.
K-Lone's an adept shapeshifter, and 'Squelch' might be his best yet. It coolly harks back to another era in the city, when Joker and James Ginzburg bust out the velvet coats on 'Purple City', with an equal nod to Cali synth fetishist Dâm-Funk and his acolytes.
'With Love' is on another tip entirely, using subtle koto sounds and an early '00s rap shuffle to weld together Dipset-era East Coast flavor and contemporous grime developments. Remember when that crossover almost happened way back then? 'With Love' sounds like that alternate timeline. Impressive.
Nigel Ayers ov industrial pioneers Nocturnal Emissions supplies cranky, offbeat dubs to Príncipe’s weirder sibling, Holuzam
‘In Dub’ holds Ayers most concerted effort in the echo chamber, committing his formative, longtime love of its etheric spatialisation and meditative appeal after some 30 odd years of dicing with its techniques in a plethora of mutant industrial, post-punk, dark ambient styles.
Nigel originally hails from the Peak District, far from any soundsystem culture, but formative years Brixton osmotically and explicitly instilled a love of dub in context, much like many musicians who moved from the provinces to urban centres such as London, Leeds, Manchester, Bristol, etc. Therefore, his take on the sound isn’t strictly orthodox, but skewed by nature, resulting an odd slant on digi-dub across these eight tracks, from the moonboot skank of ‘Follow the Science Dub’ thru the UK steppers impulse of ‘Energy Dub Crisis’, to the knotted rhythms of ‘Capital Crash’, almost Muslimgauze-esque thizz on ‘Contagion Dub’, and the metallic industrial skronk of ‘No God No Devil Dub’.
Adrian Sherwood’s On U Sound compilation series rolls out an 8th set of archival, new, and alternate cuts by the likes of Lee “Scratch” Perry, Horace Andy, Tackhead, LSK, African Head Charge, Hebden’s Hifi and more
Perhaps best regarded as one for the label heads and longtime followers, it’s a set of sturdy frolics in the classic On U Sound style. It spans moody Bristolian trip hop by Denise Sherwood thru to the merry sway of ‘Many Names of God’ by Lee “Scratch” Perry, reggae rock by Tackhead, the scoop-testing bass that underlies Horace Andy on ‘Watch Over Them’, and a murkier update from Sherwood & Pinch on ‘We No Normal (Anger Management)’ for the nippers, with grizzled dub punk witterings by Andy Fairley.
Highest grade club moves from SA’s Mbulelo, chasing a sorely slept-on 12” for Transmat with four unmissable, deep house and gqom-adjacent bullets for Hakuna Kulala,
First spotted by keener heads on a stunning 12”, ‘Robotic People’ for Detroit’s legendary Transmat in 2018, Mbulelo has been cutting rug since at least 2013 under the Xerophytic Soul alias, responsible for some of the decade’s best broken beat/gqom/deep techno mutants you’ve never heard. In 2022 Mbulelo puts his bad foot fwd again for NNT’s Hakuna Kulala sibling, working up a slick sweat with masterful body control in each part thru swingeing, propulsive, encrypted African rhythms galvanised by cutting edge electronics.
A wee story for ya: this writer was spinning an Mbulelo track at 7am at Nyege Nyege Festival, 2018 when the Nile rain gods arrived after 3 days without. Hakuna Kulala however took a track ID and reached out to Mbulelo, hence this release. And it’s a fucking pearler! ‘Play The Beat’ set the tone with a killer cowbell and neuro synth-driven zinger gwan like Leonce’s brother from a different mother, before ‘Kalibre’ comes thrillingly harder with militant, gqom-like log drums and biting-point synths that slay the floor. The Detroit-toned pads and slinkier gait of ‘Uranus’ are perhaps closest to the deep technoid sensuality and proggier house traction of his Transmat 12” - a super classy antidote to gqom’s brutalism - and ultimately leads to the suspenseful depths of ‘God’s Groove’, with trancey pads and weightless rhythm precipitating a masterfully refined permutation of South African deep tech futurism.
Ebullient Township Jive from South Africa Zimbabwe, deep funk bubblers and soulful bops with that signature SA tightness of groove, compiled with love and due research by Analog Africa, who always put it better than we ever could, read on for the full lowdown
“The story of The Movers began in 1967 when two unknown musicians – the brothers Norman and Oupa Hlongwane – approached Kenneth Siphayi a stylish and wealthy businessman from the Alexandra township to ask if he could buy them musical instruments. In return he would receive a cut from future life shows and record deals. Kenneth, ended up doing much more, becoming their manager, setting them up in a rehearsal space, and introducing them to an organist who would prove to be the missing link in the band’s skeletal sound. He also gave them their name: The Movers … because, as he said, their music was going to move you, whether you liked it or not.
The band exploded onto the country’s racially-segregated music scene at the dawn of the 1970s with a sound that applied the rolling organ grooves and elastic rhythms of American soul to songs that came straight from the heart of the townships. Rumours of the band started to spread throughout the country and soon the record labels were sending their talent scouts to the Alexandra township to hear it for themselves.
The Movers finally signed to Teal Records in 1969, and their first album, Crying Guitar, went on to sell 500,000 copies within the first three months, launching them into the front rank of South African bands. In their first year they went from local sensations to being the first band of black South Africans to have their music cross over to the country’s white radio stations.
Although the first record was entirely instrumental, The Movers started working with different singers soon after – scoring an early hit with 14 year old vocal prodigy Blondie Makhene – and enriched their sonic palette with horns, extra percussion and various keyboards. Their stylistic range also expanded, incorporating elements of Marabi, Mbaqanga, jazz, funk, and reggae into their soul-steeped sound. But the essence of their music came from the almost telepathic connection of its founding members: the simmering organ of Sankie Chounyane, the laid-back guitar lines of Oupa Hlongwane, the energetic bass grooves of Norman Hlongwane and the simmering rhythms of drummer of Sam Thabo.
The band reached their apex in the mid-1970s, and their hit ‘Soweto Inn’, sung by Sophie Thapedi, became inseparable from the student revolts that signalled a new resistance to the apartheid government. In 1976, however, their manager was forced out, and their producer started to play a more active role in the band’s direction. By the end of the decade there were no original members left. But at their height The Movers were titans of South African soul who left a legacy of over a dozen albums and countless singles of pure groove. On The Movers 1970–76, Analog Africa presents 14 of the finest tracks from the band’s undisputed peak.”
A gossamer collection of tranquillised and dissociated material from the perennially underrated and consistently excellent Natalie Beridze, curling her distinctive vocals like incense smoke around faded pads and processed field recordings >> highly recommended if yr into Cucina Povera, Nozomu Matsumoto, Ernest Hood, Hiroshi Yoshimura, 'Tragedy'-era Julia Holter.
Currently a resident of Tbilisi after a spell in Berlin, Beridze parses some 14 years of previously unreleased work 2007-2021 on this new LP for Room 40, tapping into her synaesthetic sensibilities for a quietly shimmering, poetic suite of ambient-chamber pieces. There’s a particularly blissed and calming feel to proceedings, with smudged vocals unfurling glossolalic murmurs that say it without saying it, while her carefully layered arrangements lull us into soporific states; eyes shut and skin porous to feelings.
Heady and deeply personal, these tracks poke into Beridze's gooey core, inspired by memories of rummaging thru her dad's studio: the smell of books and glue, the feeling of an old armchair, the outline of a flickering desk lamp. Percussion is minimal throughout; syllables are extended and elongated, melodies bent into disquieting shapes, echoes modulated into neuron-teasing loops.
None of this material is experimental for the sake of being weird, Beridze manages to shape a mood that's coherent and challenging, but never walled off. On 'Drift', cinematic synths and strings heave beneath swirling vocal chops that never fully descend to darkness. Instead, Beridze uses her processing skills and compositional expertise to elide mystery and wonder.
The most obvious comparison - on tracks like 'Door Part II' or muted piano-led closer 'Sadness' - might actually be to Scandinavian jazz-electronic sounds, the sort of crossover experiments that have emerged from labels like Smalltown Supersound and Rune Grammofon over the years. Beridze treats her instruments and compositions with care, but her music's never precious, it's rigorous, poetic, and endearingly reflective. On standouts like ‘X It’ she mines a rich vein of celluloid romance - like a time-washed remembrance of the theme from Love Story.
Studio-as-instrument science from the labs of Kingston’s pioneering Studio One, where the team of engineers, DJs, and artist assembled by Clement “Coxsone” Dodd changed the shape of music as it was known
Soul Jazz put their inestimable compiling skills to work reaping the intense experiments in sound projection and groove of some 17 artists, many sharing common ingredients, put tweaked out in myriad manners of style and pattern built for the dance, radio and back yards. They’ve dug especially deep for this one, plucking ever-salient pieces of reggae spanning roots to funky and dub, vocals and instrumentals, that highlight the way Jamaica punched well above its weight, considering the size of the island and its population, in contrast to almost anywhere else.
There are fittingly lucubrate liner notes from On The Wire legend Steve Barker to bury your nose in, and we’ll highlight but a few of these nuggets to get you in the mood. From the earliest ska days Cedric Im Brooks’ horn and organ-led skanker ‘Glory To Sound’ is a joy, and there’s a nice & easy, modal beauty by Jackie Mittoo on signature keys in ‘Lazy Bones’, contrasting with his slant on US funk chops in the up-and-bustling ’Sunshine of Your Love’, or the soul jazz lilt of Roy Richards’ spin on the standard ’Summertime’.
For the dub nuts, Dub Specialist’s ‘Message From Dub’ also riffs on classic US vibes with unmistakeable JA accent, and takes it groggy as on ‘Chainey Roots’, with Sound Dimension trading in overproof bass and psychedelic mixing on ‘Face Man Version’ and heaviest roots trod located in ‘Dread Head’ by Pablov Black, and if you aren’t bobbing and reeling to ‘Surfing’ (Part 2)’ by Ernest and The Sound Dimension, we can’t help ya.
Dextrous Italian rapper Franco Franco teams up with Young Echo's O$VMV$M on "Solo Fiori", a collapsible set of incisive rhymes and blasted-earth blunt fried backdrops that burn between thru Tricky-strength psychedelic moods and inverted Screw tape sludge..
You don't have to have a degree in Italian to soak up the sunlight on Franco Franco's debut solo LP. The rapper was last spotted collaborating with Kinlaw on the Avon Terror Corps-released "Mezzi Umani Mezze Macchine", but is now able to help realize a more personal musical vision, with help from O$VMV$M, the Bristol-based trio of Amos Childs, Neek and Sam Barrett. Franco moved to Bristol after obsessing over the city's music scene from afar, and immediately immersed himself in local culture; on "Solo Fiori" he delivers tongue-twisting lines with a snarling cadence, spooling his words across half-speed beats that embody the West Country city's green-hued musical legacy.
While Franco's work with Avon Terror Corps looked towards a cybernetic future, dragging ideas from Death Grips and Deli Girls, "Solo Fiori" sounds rooted in Bristol's foggy British eccentricity. There's a hip-hop backbone no doubt (you can hear traces of everyone from Outkast to Tommy Wright III in O$VMV$M's chunky productions) but none of these tracks every lapse into simple repetition. Even the most overtly throwback moments - like the rattly 'Apatia' - are offset by knowing creepiness, with beatbox thumps replaced by chain jangles and melodic strums interspersed with guttural samples.
Oh this is good! If you love Daniel Lanois' heart-piercing pedal steel clouds on Brian Eno's "Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks", then this collection of modern pedal steel-based drift music is gonna hit you straight in the gut. Features contributions from Susan Alcorn, BJ Cole, Luke Schneider and more.
For Tompkins Square's eleventh "Imaginational Anthem", the label sign up Third Man's Luke Schneider - an in-demand Nashville pedal steel player - to assemble a selection of tracks that survey the modern pedal steel landscape. Schneider's comp offers us a bit of history, opening on a track from legendary player BJ Cole, who's played with Harold Budd, Björk, Dave Gilmour and The Orb, and provided pedal steel to Icebreaker's versions of Eno favorites like 'An Ending (Ascent)'. His 'Ely Revisited' echoes that era of ambient music, setting sublime pitch bent country-fried tones against billowing pads that throb into a hopeful, oscillating crescendo.
NYC player Jonny Lam - who's performed with everyone from Pharaoh Sanders to David Byrne - opts for a more open approach, nestling his hypnotizing tones in a fantastical country backdrop filled with birdsong and light gusts of wind. The album takes a turn when it his 'An Ode to Dungeness', a UK guitarist who moved to Nashville to follow his interest in American country; his track brings in drums and piano, and is the most self-consciously Americana moment on the set. Barry Walker Jr. lifts us back into the heavens with 'I Will Tread Upon the Lion and the Cobra', that feeds lilting pedal steel phrases into a phaser, creating a psychedelic mood without even trying too hard.
Of course though, it's Susan Alcorn - the avant-garde pedal steel innovator who's worked with Pauline Oliveros, Jandek, Ellen Fullman and Josephine Foster, among others - who pushes hardest into the unknown. 'Gilmor Blue' doesn't take any easy routes, and Alcorn sounds as if she's resisting the temptation to drift into loveliness, exploring the pedal steel's pitch bends with an inquisitiveness that's hard to turn away from. It's a fantastic set - one of the best compilations we've heard in a minute and a glorious celebration of an instrument we can't get enough of.
Berlin's Vaagner/Vaknar label taps Jeremiah M. Carter for the second part of his anxious triptych, another dusted ambient voyage into soft-focus acoustic instrumentation, analog synth melt and elongated drone. RIYL Celer, Forest Management, KMRU.
Like many of us, Nashville-born Jeremiah Carter was thrown into chaos and spiraling anxiety in 2020 as the pandemic and lockdown measures ruptured the normality of his existence. But despite the uncertainty, Carter was able to find the time to dedicate himself to music, expunging his turbulent emotions as raw composition. He wrote so much material that it formed the basis of a triptych, three albums that began with "Rejoice", released on Opal Tapes, Vaknar and A Sunken Mall back in 2020. The second part is even stronger, a whisper-quiet hum of delicate electro-acoustic dreamweaving, hazy long-form synth sweatiness and cautious, meditative drone. There's even a nifty nod to Enya-esque vocal pop.
Early album tracks like the industrial 'Give it the Shade' and frothy 'Midday and Midday and Midnight' are par for the course if you're familiar with Carter's previous material, or indeed the Vaknar label. Carter's resolve is strong though and he's able to effortlessly flit from humid Steve Roach-ian new age into distorted foley-fuct drone with barely a wave of the hand. But the record really gets moving when the calm is interrupted and more personal, short-form tracks like the piano-led 'He Speaks Truly...' and moving spoken word spooker 'Now Shrinks the Place...' make themselves known. These flow into the album's standout track 'A Thread By Which...', a slow-paced micro epic that layers gorgeous vocals over cracking, negative-space electronix. Very nice.
Spanish DJ/producer Ginno Russo returns to Modern Obscure Music with this perky trance jammer, but the real looker is a narcotic remix from everyone's favorite Dominican hazer Kelman Duran.
Russo's original does the job if you're after a tweaky reminder of Köln's glory days, but it's Kelman Duran yet again who goes above and beyond here. He turns Russo's buzzy trance topline into a memory fragment, letting it twist in-and-out of beats so low and slow they practically scrape the earth's mantle. In the final third, Duran even strips the melodic parts away completely, leaving Chain Reaction-style rhythmic curdles and raw echoes.
Russo gets another go at it with the minimal 'Balance', but this time it's Valencia's Pépe who outdoes himself on remix duties, turning a slow-mo mid-set mover into an AFX-inspired chunk of electro-acid euphoria. Not bad at all.
Premiere edition of Kenji Kawai’s absorbing OST for the classic ’93 anime, a forerunner to his seminal ‘Ghost In The Shell’ soundtrack and a big one to tick off the all-time wants list.
Deployed by Geneva’s relentless WRWTFWW, ’Patlabor 2’ finds its place on vinyl in a market fully primed for Japanese re/issues over the past few years. It’s a prime example of Kenji Kawai’s definitive knack for anime soundtracks, supplying slick cybernoir synth arrangements for one of the genre’s most beloved flicks. Directed by Mamoru Oshii, it continues the first film’s political sci-fi story of tensions between the state and its artificial workforce, resonating themes from Bladerunner as much as Japan’s own postwar history and international geopolitics at the time.
If you’re not familiar, but were previously snagged by the bootleg pressings of Kenji Kawai’s ‘Ghost In The Shell’, or have a kink for ‘90s sci-fi synth moods, we assure you it’s crucial listening. Between the sublime pads of ’Outset’ thru the grand choral and string staging of ‘Hallucination’, you’ll find the film’s plush ‘Theme of Patlabor2’, plus killer cues foreshadowing the likes of the Goldeneye N64 soundtrack, more super plush synth passages in ‘Unnatural City I’, and the 10 mins of meldodrama in ‘Outbreak’, with a properly furtive sort of backalley skulker in ‘IXTL’.