Robin Buckley a.k.a. rkss reasembles mainstream EDM sample packs on the killer, unconventional ‘DJ Tools’ - the long awaited first album on Lee Gamble’s UIQ label following 12" releases from Lanark Artefax, Renick Bell, Sim Hutchins, Zuli and others. If you're into anything from Florian Hecker to Rian Treanor, Evol, Errorsmith, Theo Burt or Lorenzo Senni - this one’s a doozy!
Manipulating off-the-shelf sounds from ‘EDM Kicks Vol.1’ through various processing techniques, rkss explores the politics and aesthetics of club culture, technology and queerness by radically altering these preconceived, “purpose-built” blocks of sound from their original use, and rendering them in a spectrum of non-standard, ambiguous designs that both highlight, abstract, and reimagine the samples’ social function.
The result is nine hyper-colourful, unpredictable and uniquely engaging tracks that metaphorically connote queer dynamics, employing the user-oblivious potential of computer software to shape a form of dance music that insightfully reflects and celebrates rkss’ difference within the flux of today’s social spaces. In other words it’s a music very much of, and for, its times, crucially in step with current redefinitions of musical boundaries and identity politics.
In Robin's own words:
“DJ Tools was recorded at a turning point for me as an artist & person as I came into the aesthetic and social limitations I was finding in contemporary dance culture. I started to change how I thought about myself as an artist in terms of changing the way I created music, instead of writing the music at home and later arranging it for the club, I started writing music for live performance first. I wanted to be able to arrange these pieces/excerpts / sketches live. I was beginning to re-arrange how I thought about my gender / self and placing, exploring and finding the language to point to my sense of difference as a rans person. DJ Tools was where I began to formulate my own relationship to club culture as a mostly sober, transgender person, what version of club music did I want to engage with in that social space? Fluid, dynamic and reacting to audience. Highlighting the social. Sharing & connecting through my difference rather than erasing it.”
A star of Mexico City’s ace NAAFI crew, Debit offers a taste of her upcoming instalment for NYC’s Quiet Time Tapes
‘Overcome Isolation’ is a spacious swell of curdling synth harmonies rendered with an extraordinary, absorbing depth of field recalling work by Murcof as much as Tangerine Dream. If you’re intrigued by what you hear, we recommend checking Debit’s excellent ‘Animus’ album for an immersively rugged yet lush example of her singular sound.
Yamaneko feels trancey AF on ‘Afterglow’, his 4th set for Local Action following the fractal grime and ambient sessions of ‘Pixel Wave Embrace’ and ‘Spa Commissions’
An ode to the dawning, gurny hours of the night ‘Afterglow’ is perhaps Yamaneko’s most broadly appealing missive yet. Extracting from the thizzing spirit that links bedroom-crafted ‘80s new age to late ‘90s megadome trance, he yields a lushly tempered suite laced with cloaked inference between the Jesus arms bliss of the title track, thru the the inversely steepled peak of ‘Second Encounter’, to a floating jazzy sweetness in ‘Oslo House Sunrise 4K’, whereas ‘Unreachable Feeling’ sounds out somewhere between TCF and Philip Jeck, and ‘Hydrokinesis’ recalls the delicate lustre of Tim Hecker.
‘So Right’ is a massive highlight of Marie Davidson’s blazing new album, ‘Working Class Woman’
On the original and its spanking new extended mix, Marie taps into a deep vein of Canadian synth-pop/garage-house/EBM, working ohrwurm vocals around a lean, muscular bassline, flickering rimshots and nimble dub chords in deadly simple but effective style.
John Talbot supplies a more sluggish ‘Pressure Dub’ remix working on a sort of druggy Go-Go bent. It’s not a patch on the OG, though.
That sought-after bblisss tape from a couple of years back - featuring Huerco S’ first appearance as Pendant, as well as incognito contributions from West Mineral crew uon, Ulla Straus, and Exael - has been remastered and pressed to vinyl for the first time. There’s a copy of the tape edition up on d*sc*gs right now for £70+ so don’t hang aboooot.
Pulled together and first issued on cassette by Ryan Fall (uon, Caveman LSD) a.k.a. uon in 2016, ‘bblisss’ has since become one of the most sought-after surveys of contemporary ambient music in circulation right now. On its initial release it introduced many of its artists and aliases for the first time, perhaps most notably Huerco S trading under the Pendant sigil, and also Ryan Fall’s emergence as DJ Paradise, which ushered in a gauzier take on the sublime dub abstraction found in his subsequent uon productions.
As DJ Paradise, Fall offers two of the set’s sweetest highlights with 12 minutes of coagulating ambient clag in ‘Ssumo’, and what sounds like a balearic groove heard from under those greasy puddles on the rocks outside Cafe Del Mar in ‘Mbizi (R)’, while Huerco S a.k.a. Pendant rolls that vibe out to sea in the gently mesmerising slosh of ‘Des Vieux Temples.’
Along with the shimmering debut entry of Ulla Anona, who would later team with Pontiac Streator for ‘Chat’ on West Mineral, a hyaline vignette from Billington & Tramposh, and the slowly strung out, systolic throb of ‘Procel’ by uon collaborator, Naemi (a.k.a. Exael - soon to have an LP on West Mineral), bblisss is pretty much guaranteed...
Sim Hutchins follows up his well-received ‘Clubeighteen2thirty’ album with new cuts and remixes by LOFT, Rennick Bell, and Object Blue
The new bonus tracks pursue moody lines of enquiry in the soured electro-garage roll of ‘Pissing WKD Blue’ and the melancholy swing of ‘Like Herding Cats’, but the best bits here are the remixes.
LOFT rearranges ‘Bath Salts in the Saccharin’ with a blue, emosh dembow swagger in their ‘Artificially Sweetened Luv Mix’, and Rennick dissects + inverts ‘Baby You’a Drug’ with proper, proprioceptive chicanery. Object Blue, meanwhile, wanders out for a sharpened, atmospheric, properly luxurious fluid banger in half motion - prob the best of the bunch 'ere and one well worth returning to.
Incredible recordings of tropical birdsong from Venezuela, made by French ornithologist Jean C. Roche c. 1969 and often referenced by David Toop
“Sub Rosa present a reissue of Jean C. Roché's Birds Of Venezuela, originally released in 1973. The bird on the cover is a potoo; this metal-looking bird is one of the sonorous curiosities of this mad nature, the sound that he produces essentially is a death song that David Toop heard on his 1978 expedition, but was unable to record, amazement playing its role.
Jean C. Roché on his recordings: "The bird songs which I had recorded in the West Indies in 1969 made me inclined to find out more about those of the nearby South American continent, and convinced me, moreover, that musically speaking, they possessed an unquestionable originality in comparison with those of Africa and Europe. I therefore decided to carry out a series of ornithological trips on this continent, starting in the north with Venezuela. With this in mind, I disembarked at Caracas on 27th May, 1972. The unusual musical volume of this tropical country made its impact known to me on my arrival in town, where the unbearably shrill chirping of the cicadas overwhelmed me each time I passed under a tree. At night fall, around even the meanest of ditches filled by the daily rain, myriads of toads and frogs struck up a concert, which, through its sheer intensity, muffled all other surrounding noises. When I penetrated the forest, I could hear bird species literally by the dozen and individuals by the hundred, all calling and singing together at dawn and at dusk."
David Toop on Jean C. Roché: "Jean-Claude Roché (b. May 11, 1931) is a French ornithologist and wildlife field recordist. Roché recorded bird songs worldwide for over 30 years and has released over 130 records out of his recordings. Among many of his amazing records, I came across Birds of Venezuela, a beautifully produced LP of birdsong. I began to plan a trip to Amazonas, to record for myself the unearthly song of potoos and Yanomami shamanism."
Carl Stone and Miki Yui meld minds, voice and circuit boards in the surreally imaginative ‘Realm’ for Meakusma following their 2017 digital debut for Cafe Oto’s Otoruku label...
“Realistic Monk is the new performance project from Carl Stone in collaboration with artist and composer Miki Yui. Carl Stone is one of the pioneers of live computer music and has been composing electro-acoustic music almost exclusively since 1972. The Village Voice has famously hailed him as 'the king of sampling'. Miki Yui is an artist and composer who develops pieces of music, drawings and sound installations that start from a perception of the faintest sounds and noises and subtly reference existents.
Realistic Monk has previously released the recording of their 2017 live performance at Caf Oto, making Realm their de facto debut album. Over the course of five pieces, they focus on small sounds, often at the edge of perception, aiming at a deeper listening and perception of their musical stance and technique. Soundscapes that play with enchantment and disenchantment, emerging out of voices, noises and field recordings and acoustic feedback, their work is as subtle as it is fearless. Realm's play with musical and other signifiers make the album into a highly relevant and even outspoken take on electronic music today.”
Young Marco tweaks out two South African house gems for his Safe Trip label
Uptown, he pays attention to the rolling, percolating breaks and piano house keys of Madlak’s ‘Dance Forever’, and downtown he reworks the funky mid-tempo budge of Hot Slot Machine’s ‘Rhythm’ .
Shxcxchcxsh smartly mess with their mutant techno sound on ‘Shulululu’, marking their return to Avian after their self-released Rösten 12”s in 2017
Making few concessions to convention, the Swedish act plough deeper into their sound with unsteady, sloshing, pebble-dashed effect on all five tracks. They impress most with the hyperventilating rhythm and groggy synth voices on ‘SHULULULU’, before ‘SHUDUDUDU’ holds listeners right under the waves with choking effect, and ‘SHUMUMUMU’ sinks into Emptyset-like tonal subsidence, and the bone-splintering torque of ‘SHUBUBUBU’ shores us up with severe coral rash and spitting salt water and gravel.
Chicago’s Tevo Howard rounds up 11 personalised and ace cover versions of classic ‘80s disco, synth and electro-pop
His dry but groggy take on New Order’s ’Sub-Culture (ElectroVain Mix)’ is a big highlight, as are his gentle spin on Madonna’s ‘Holiday (Full Accommodations Mix)’, and the electromance of ‘Moments In Love (Electro Micro Moment Mix)’.