Topdown Dialectic make a sort of systems-based dance music that finds not-so-distant precedents in K. Leimer/Savant as much as Actress, NWAQ, Madteo and Jen Jelinek's Farben project. Over 8 tracks on their debut LP you’ll hear trace echoes of disco in frayed flux with fathoms-deep dub bass, soulful chords and swathes of electro-acoustic ephemera, somehow maintaining a sense of hypnagogic coherence that’s a total pleasure to follow.
“The dissociative electronic designs of incognito American producer Topdown Dialectic originated as a set of software strategies, rather than compositions in the traditional sense. The recordings are captures and edits of various nonlinear sound-systems, shifting conditions, and reactions to internal changes. Despite such a conceptual basis the music is hyper-sensory, evocative, and emotive, meshing the impossible sonic geometries of early UK warehouse bleeps and IDM stutters with the gritty spatial abstraction of Basic Channel to chart dynamic and diaphanous electronic topographies, at once decentralized, parallel, and environmental.
The eight identical-length tracks comprising this self-titled vinyl debut demonstrate the breadth of the Topdown sound world: shuddering, circuitous, textural, kinetic. Algorithmic arrhythmias phase and pulse and oscillate, chopped voice samples flutter within buffering static, peripheral melodic fragments glitch and glide in and out of time. It’s an aesthetic both autonomous and expressive, impersonal and inscrutable, in keeping with artist’s roots as a central operative in revered anonymous cassette collective, Aught. This is compelling, composite music, instigated as much as created, like obscure machinations occurring deep in the labyrinth of a server somewhere.”
A very welcome surprise. Don’t sleep on this!
Japanese percussionist and ambient pioneer Midori Takada meets her long lost daughter Lafawndah in an out-of-the-blue, self-released, 20 minute work scrolling from rippling rhythmelodies and glassy high registers to the entrance of Lafawndah, who beautifully sashays from operatic flights to R&B styles as Takada’s percussion rolls out and finally scales down to the smallest tinkles.
One of the standouts from 0PN’s ‘Age Of’ album heralds its own single release, due to be packaged with two new cuts and the previously Japanese-only beauty, ‘Trance 1’
Intriguingly enough, ‘The Station’ is based on a demo intended for Usher that Daniel ‘0PN’ Lopatin wrote in his hotel room. He’s just shared the original demo online, and the topline is identical in both, but ‘The Station’ is also blessed with Daniel’s own autotuned vocal and aching trancey counterpoint to great effect.
Cripes, where did this come from? This is a new limited edition (not to mention beautifully packaged) Will Oldham album in which he combines with Faun Fables' Dawn McCarthy for an alternate take on material penned for the last Bonnie 'Prince' Billy album. The incredibly rough recordings that make up Wai Notes were once demos for The Letting Go album, an LP that was about as hi-fi and full-blooded as you could ever hope to hear. Perhaps because of those maxed-out production values, the album tended to split opinion between long-term Oldham followers, but hearing the songs in their nascent form is sure to be unanimously well received among Bonnie 'Prince' Billy die-hards. The format is pared down to just Oldham and McCarthy singing whilst accompanied by a little acoustic guitar and a whole lot of tape hiss. It's rather odd to hear a song like 'Cursed Sleep' bereft of its lavish string arrangements, but here it is complete with errors and fumbled lyrics, and it sounds just great. Of course to get the full benefit of an album like this it really helps if you know the songs as they appeared on the album in the first place, but even if this is your first time dipping into the material there remains an obvious beauty to these coarse documents. It's interesting that McCarthy gets first billing on the CD, her voice seems to be more defined and spatially diffuse than Oldham's own performance - presumably it's been overdubbed at some later time with some slightly higher quality equipment. In any case the uncompromising physicality and intimacy of the material here makes for a wonderful listening experience. Very highly recommended.
It's finally here, the Bonnie 'Prince' Billy covers record, or as it's become known, the record where our protagonist takes on R.Kelly's 'The World's Greatest'. He does too, and what's more he comes out relatively unscathed, something that's proven quite difficult to most alternative artists in the last few years. The novelty cover has been something of a fixture in the current musical climate, what with Jose Gonzalez going head-to-head with Kylie, The Nouvelle Vague attempting to 'lighten' just about anything and Susanna Wallumrod taking on Kiss (among others) but you should know that with Will Oldham you're in safe hands. The man just has the ability to transform almost anything into a heartbreaking folk standard, and that means that even if he's singing lyrics like "I'm that star up in the sky/I'm that moutain peak up high/Hey, I made it/I'm the world´s greatest" it becomes melancholy rather than the bravado-fuelled masculine boast-fest it originally was intended to be. The most striking song for me however was the song I felt Oldham would have most trouble with, Bjork's 'I've Seen it All' from her Dancer in the Dark score. The song which was co-written by Lars Von Trier is a summation of the movie in a way, a point where everything falls together and is in this both touching and incredibly sad, but Oldham captures this perfectly without ever trying to mirror or imitate what Bjork managed in the original. And this is probably his biggest success, when he takes on Sinatra on 'Cycles' there's never a sense that Oldham is trying to out-sing the great crooner, far from it, rather Oldham is putting his fingerprint on a song he loves and in that we get an indispensable collection from an incredibly important artist of our time. This is a personal selection of secluded moments, hell even Glen Danzig is taken to another level. Maybe Will Oldham is the world's greatest after all?
‘Suicide By Sun’ marks the beautifully rapturous return of Erik Kowalski’s Casino vs Japan to heavenly realms of shoegaze and ambient electronica...
Arriving 20 years since his acclaimed self-titled début (we’re still waiting on a vinyl edition!) left its indelible impression, Erik Kowalski reprises an inimitable, expansive sound that keens with the dissonant lushness of MBV and evokes the nostalgic allure of classic BoC, yet somehow retains a patented watermark of shimmering qualities that is patently Casino Vs Japan, no matter what angle you view it form.
“Suicide By Sun accrued across countless home studio sessions, slowly sequenced into four sides of narcotic reverberation, reflective loops, and dream-soaked delay. Guitar gestures refract into twilit horizons; hymnal drones swell and shimmer; smeared notes sway like lullabies of quiet communion. This is pensive, patient, personal music, mapped with feeling and finesse by storied hands.”