The outstanding maiden release on Pete Swanson’s Freedom To Spend label is a reissue of Michele Mercure’s sublime obscurity Eye Chant (1986), which was originally issued under her then married name, Michele Musser, and has since become a proper collectors item regarded for its patently otherworldly blend of minimal wave, new age ambient and creamy, krauty electro boogie.
In the early ‘80s, with a background working as a cell animator, and hailing from a mid-sized industrial town, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA, Michele was embedded in the the town’s visual arts community but suffered for lack of decent music - a familiar whinge from anyone who grew up outside of the big cities - so she made her own wickedly inventive and expressive sound using synths, effects, tape loops, vocals.
Her visual and musical worlds first gelled in a 1983 soundtrack for Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot, followed by three self-released cassettes which built on that aesthetic, creating a richly synaesthetic style of highly visual yet mostly minimalist music.
Released a few years later, Eye Chant was the pinnacle of her output, and is now revealed to the world at large, thirty years later. From the rim we’re sent skyward into the waltzing orbit of Tour De France (Day 2) and kissed with the budget Jean Michel-Jarre vibes of In The Air, handing over to the wistfully primitivist incantation, The Intruder and hitting lightspeed with her soaring soundtrack for a performance art piece, 100% Bridal Illusion, where she calves from ecstatic highs into a scene of tumbling 606 drum machine, seagulls and nods to squabbly free jazz.
The others also live up to her name, almost imperceptibly shifting from glowing microtones to alien noise and slippery, lounging electro fusion with Dream Clock, and then like some salty-curdled ambient stroke in Proteus and the Marlin that uncannily reminds us of mid ‘90s Rephlex charms - think super melodic AFX or Cylob - before melting all over the ‘floor with a wigged-out waltz called Too Much primed for the back room at One Eyed Jack’s.
It’s easy to hear, this is strongly tipped to fans of Julia Holter, Suzanne Ciani, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, AFX, Irdial Discs.
White Materialists Galcher Lustwerk and Alvin Aronson draw us in on further adventures in Studio OST.
Oddly overlooked in the 2016 EOY list blizzard, Galcher Lustwerk and Alvin Aronson’s Studio OST debut was a promising collection that proved the White Material pair could turn their hands to a broad range of styles.
Reconvening in the downsized 12” format, Studio OST smartly turn out a quartet of productions geared towards the more inventive selectors. The solemn washes in STL-style dub house wiggler Eventide will probably hook anyone still getting residual highs off that 100% Galcher mix for BUTW, with the effect magnified on the accompanying Beatless mix.
The snarky synths on Ascension lend a certain jaggedness to an otherwise inoffensive drum track, which sort of makes the subsequent Drums version a bit redundant….
Long Distance Operators is a collaboration between the Australian musician Hugo Race and the Belgian violinist Catherine Graindorge.
"Hugo Race is a singer, songwriter, producer, and author, who has a long and wide-ranging history, from the trans-global Dirtmusic and his groups True Spirit and Fatalists, to his origins in the '80s Melbourne post-punk scene with Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds and The Wreckery.
Catherine Graindorge is a Belgian violinist, composer, and actress, known for her work with the Belgian groups Monsoon and Nox, and more recently with Détroit (Bertrand Cantat and Pascal Humbert), John Parish or the German singer Andrea Schroeder. She also plays and composes for theater and cinema. Long Distance Operators is an intensely atmospheric dream-weave of violins, electronics and Hugo's darkly evocative voice.
The duo explores metaphysical lyrics, experimental sounds and retro-baroque orchestrations in a romantic, song-based context.”
Oh Dark Entries, how we adore thee! At long last San Fran’s finest pull out one we’ve been waiting for; a comprehensive collection of Night Moves’ essential Trance Dance power play, containing the original and sought-after UK mixes plus the New York Disco Mix and GC1 Version, all on the same platter, for the first time. Swoooooon.
Hailed as an (un)common root of debonaire ‘80s UK, Euro, Chicago and NYC disco scenes, Trance Dance is patently a total and pivotal anthem, favoured by everyone from London’s New Romantics to Larry Levan, Ron Hardy and Tony Humphries for its ineffable style and finesse.
Aside from inferior bootleg pressings, the original pressing have been hard and/or damn expensive to pick up, so it’s an absolute pleasure to finally cop full fat versions of the searing New York Disco Mix and the totally proto Dopplereffekt vibes on the GC1 Version, and likewise clasp clammy palms on the later 1983 (Robot Rock) UK Club Mix with its heaving bass, or the beautifully gaunt UK Disco Mix on the flip.
Sadly the release is tinged with sadness as it also doubles up as a tribute to the dancers and crew who perished in the Oakland Ghost Ship fire on 2nd December, 2016. Their memories will live on in the best record bags and shelves around the world.
Totally wicked slab of disco funk and electroid boogie on Amsterdam’s Music From Memory, pulling out their very first reissue/compilation by a Dutch artist, Richenel, who was a something of a dance-pop-star in his home country through the late ’80 and into the early ‘90s.
Compiled under guidance from Orpheu De Jong, they’ve applied the usual MFM filter to Richenel’s sorely overlooked debut, La Diferencia, resulting four alternate takes and two previously unreleased zingers - Slave of the Body/Mind and I Won’t Bite - all taken from the artist’s personal copy.
Realised in makeshift studios and squats against the backdrop of drugs and social unrest in the early ‘80s, the flamboyant set and costume design student’s first release holds tight to a lean and deadly effective punk funk sound, wrenching a proper, soul-warming disco buzz from lo-fi gear in a way that resonates with everything from ESG and Detroit’s Witch to earliest Cybotron and Prince or the nattiest Minimal Wave numbers.
It’s headed up by a massive highlight, six minutes of adroit drum machine boogie gilded with rudest fretless bass, aching vox and viiiiibes in Autumn, and also includes alternate versions of the nagging chops on Gentle Friend and an outstanding, hot-stepping La Diferencia that sounds uncannily like Liaisons Dangereuses or that mad Velodrome 12”, but with Krishna Goineau morphing into Klaus Nomi.
The other two are completely exclusive to this 12”. Slave Of The Body/Mind is a strong stripe of bluesy boogie disco, and I Won’t Bite gets it dead right on a slow, strung-out, synthy downstroke, equal parts lo-fi soul and sleazy red light wave. A lot of boogie nuts are going to drip all over this one, and we can thankfully expect more from the Fetisj label and Richenel on Music Frtom Memory in the future. This one will more than suffice for now.
Bleak, acrid chamber noise electronics from Paris-based Mondkopf, resonating strongly with the reverberant recordings of Alessandro Cortini or Joachim Nordwall, but better compared with the former for its swelling, emotive grip.
Tom Ruijg, a veteran of the Amsterdam club scene, debuts his Tracey moniker on Tom Trago’s Voyage Direct series
Rolling with avian chimes, sublime strings and loping jack like some $tinkworx or early Ross 154 gem in Skyfall, whereas Earthrise adopts a more Larry Heard vibe with rolling square bass and jazzy electronics yoked to an insistent jack; the flipside is given to Tape Records founder Deniro and his ruder Mental acid remix of Skyfall, before properly putting his weight behind the wall-banging kicks of his Oude remix.
Cali’s finest double-down on a set of effervescent and deep tissue massaging acid house trax one year on from their celebrated debut collaboration.
Divine styles in each quarter, taking us from the elliptical 303 bass contours and pinched shuffle of Railjet at the front thru the piquant pointillism of Bim, pinned in place by swanging claps and swept up with lush chords, before the head high poise of Danube Nights waltzes on air to the beautifully tactile bass pressure and chamber-like gloom of Prater Allee, which presumably destined for the most submerged points of the night.