Cooked up and cooled out in time for summer, the 2nd part of Theo Parrish’s pivotal and deeply influential debut album, First Floor  lands back on the format it was conceived for. Best believe this is one of the most addictive, raw and soulful collections of music from the Det-Chi connection that you’ll ever hear.
Now on its 3rd vinyl edition, First Floor Part 2 still sounds achingly strong and inimitable as ever, working right on that soulspot with the haunting swagger of Electric AlleyCat and the air-treading pressure of Sky Walking beside swingeing drum cut ups in JB’s Edit and Dark Patterns, and proper, sun-dazed funk in Electric AlleyCat.
If you don’t know; here’s your chance! Essentials.
Warp’s resuscitated Arcola label gets into 2nd gear with an hypnotic techno trip by Dream Catalog boss David Russo (HKE) and Luke Laurila (t e l e p a t h) in their 2814 mode.
A-side they synch a misty-eyed vision of Burial on techno manoeuvres in Tokyo - or Phaeleh dabbing dubhouse in Chinatown, depending your disposition - with the monotone pulse and swarming atmospheric disturbance of Pillar, while the B-side loops up and pursues that feeling down a reverberating alley of ambient garage techno for gamers.
Imagine Arve Henriksen jamming with Jon Hassell and Vangelis on a dusky evening by the savannah / prairie / dockside - you’re in sniffing distance of the properly lush vibes in Joseph Shabason’s Aytche. 4th world, yacht-drift ambient and new age, he does them all beautifully well inside. And if you don’t believe us, then trust pivotal Montreal players Sandro Perri (Polmo Polpo) who says “highly recommended”.
“Saxophonist and composer Joseph Shabason's debut Aytche builds a bridge off of the precipice his forbears established, skirting jazz, ambient, and even new age with the same deliberate genre-ambiguity that made their work so interesting.
Aytche is a document of exploration both inward and outward. Every step taken in sound-design mirrors a stride in emotionality, as Shabason employs a variety of effect pedals to coax rich moody textures from his instrument. He explains, "I feel like robbing the sax of the ability to shred by effecting it and turning it into a dense chordal instrument really helps the instrument become something that it's not usually known for." Aytche deals with themes of degenerative illness and assisted suicide with eloquence that instrumental music rarely achieves regarding any subject, much less such difficult ones.
Album highlight "Westmeath" approaches Aytche's subject of inspiration head-on. Here, the album's only verbalization appears in the form of an interview with a man discussing his father's trauma and eventual suicide after surviving the holocaust. Though we only hear a few obscured words and phrases from the interview, the impact is powerful. For Shabason, whose grandparents survived the holocaust, this selection is anything but frivolous.”
Sterling Dug Out drop: a delectable slab of talking drums and late night rasta soul by a former Jamaican drumming champion, recorded at Harry J. Studio and mixed at King Tubby’s, 1976.
Fronted by Leroy ‘Mabrak’ Mattis, and originally issued on his Lightening & Thunder label (Issat Mabrak in Amharic), Drum Talk was conceived as an extension of his Liquid Talk version for Harry J’s personal mix of the legendary Liquidator Riddim - essentially a live version loaded up with his own drumming - which impressed Tubby so much that he asked Mabrak to do a full album of Harry J riddims.
Drum Talk is that album, and it’s a beauty. In terms of smoked-out midnight vibes, it’s about as close as you’ll come to the deeply cherished reissue of the Dadawah album in Dug Out’s catalogue but, it’s also more danceable, if you’re partial to a woozy skank.
For percussion nuts and Jamaican music lovers, Drum Talk comes with the warmest recommendations.
12th Isle pick up and press X.Y.R.’s sublime trip El Dorado on its 1st vinyl version following a sold out micro edition of 25 tapes released thru Illuminated Paths in 2015.
A perfect fit for the label’s emerging aesthetic, equally porous to influence from 4th world and ambient dimensions, X.Y.R. uses archaic Soviet synths such as the Formanta mini keytar and Alisa 1377 to divine a pulpy blend of “experimental cinema sonics, electroacoustic research practice and shadowy wind instruments” in a way that’s comparable to Popol Vuh or Eduard Artemiev’s widescreen synth visions, but grounded with a more lo-fi sweat lodge mysticism.
Like some intergalactic bard, Vladimir Karpov a.k.a. X.Y.R. has also toured the likes of Singapore Sling Tapes, Not Not Fun Records and Constellation Tatsu with this sound over the best part of last decade, with El Dorado remaining an elusive highlight of his journey. In six parts it unfolds a tenderly personalised, shimmering sound world, a place for mental retreat thru atmospheric anaesthetisation, keeping all the tones weightless and free floating for a lushly immersive sense of suspense that should be clearly recognised as precious by any souls sensitive to rarified electronic psychedelia.
AtomTM returns to raster to complete his series that has begun with Liedgut and continued with Winterreise.
"The 7 tracks, created in collaboration with russian singer lisokot, are subdivided into 3 pieces of 2 minutes each and 4 pieces of 3 minutes each, intentionally reflecting the 3/4 time of a classic waltz. throughout the release, lisokot’s delicate vocals are put into different relations to atomTM’s rather cool machine music, either complementing or contrasting each other. in the same line, the 3 shorter “leitmotifs” provide the main theme that is taken up repeatedly in the course of the release."
Without question, some of the most beautiful Quiet music you'll likely ever hear, compiled in a 4 hour-long triple disc set.
'Fremde Zeit - Addendum' collects five pieces of engrossingly etheric, liminal composition by Jakob Ullmann (1958), the widely acknowledged master of quiet music and cover star of The Wire magazine.
For us, as we'd imagine many others, this is a striking first introduction to the devoted German minimalist's very particular body of work. Comprising 4 hours of barely-there strings, percussions, wind instruments and voices prefaced by the instruction "Please choose, for each piece, the volume settings of your sound system so as to just barely mask the ambient sounds in the room", this is music made for concentrated listening, recorded and specifically designed to give listeners "the opportunity to hear more, and better" by the simple but essential notion that "We hear better because we make an effort to hear better."
With this is mind, we're invited into a sound world which actively, yet effortlessly and sublimely challenges our perceptions of space and time with a compelling, transcendent effect akin to that of listening to music by, say, Eliane Radigue or Morton Feldman, yet with an alien, detached appeal entirely its own. Due to their extended durations - no piece is shorter than 34 mins, and over an hour at the longest - we form temporal impressions which blur the boundaries between our immediate space and the apparent vastness of the recording, teasing our sixth sense to wander on a knife edge of trepidation and somnolence.
Yet, musically, it covers a far more subtle spectrum of emotions and cabalistic atmospheres casting metaphoric allusions to "…antiquity, to the Middle Ages, to the Baroque, to the 20th Century and to the present" by means of its extreme dilation of space/time and anticipation, and relegation of distortion or any untempered gestures.
Once you've heard this music it should come as little surprise Ullmann studied sacred music in Dresden from 1979-1982 - his music could be the lingering resonance of an Arvo Pärt piece played in a huge cathedral, and it carries the weight of history - spanning over 18 years of work, the results are duly, deeply considered.
A revelatory package, whose impact will surely emerge and manifest as slowly, yet powerfully, as the music itself.
This is one of the few instances of Korean Classical Court music that we’ve stocked, and every time it stops us in our tracks. To our native western sensibilities the music is captivatingly slow and dissonant, and with a measured, stately quality of its own. These recordings of compositions made in the 15th century are totally fascinating, maybe an acquired taste, but arresting any way you hear them.
"Yŏmillak is the most extended piece of orchestral court music surviving in Korea and it has for many centuries been used for royal processions and at banquets. Yŏmillak is the piece notated in the oldest surviving Korean score - a score contained in the Annals of Sejong, written in 1454.
The piece originally consisted of ten movements, but three were discarded over time, leaving just the seven movements heard here, and different variants evolved, distinguished in terms of orchestration and size; two of the later (19th century) versions, Kyŏngnokmugang Chigok and T'aep Yŏngch'un Chigok are contained here. The final piece, Sŏilhwa Chigok, is an additional orchestral suite."
Antwerp’s Ekster Records proceed Elko B’s flight of fancy with Gazebo Compositions, a sophisticated suite of solo piano compositions by Han Swolf aka Hantrax, whose previous releases have swerved from braindance electro to more cyberpunkish concerns recently on Ticker Tape Parade for Palermo Records.
Gazebo Compositions appears to by-pass his electronic inclinations and find the artist returning to his roots at the piano stool, where he turns inspiration from a video-work by Flemish filmmaker Jef Cornelis into a series of ambiguously nuanced mood pieces reflecting on themes of youth and its inherent emotional turmoil.
The eight pieces are almost exclusively informed by jazz and classical schooling and performed on winged piano, clearly demonstrating Swolfe’s instrumental aptitude (he was accepted at the prestigious Antwerp Jazz Studio aged 15) and virtuosity in its carefully plotted narrative and play of harmonic shadowing.
However, if we’re correct, it’s possible to also detect the subtle presence of electronics underlining a number of the pieces, as with the swooning bass behind Composition in Cmin, and which shockingly prang out from Dor de Casa, whilst the LP’s title piece - and head-turning highlight - Conservatory features heavy electronic processing to radiant and absolutely immersive effect, in a strong way recalling the electro-acoustic nuance and duality of the Belgian composer, Dominique Lawalrée, who was recent subject of a crucial retrospective.
For your late needs and dreams of high-ceilinged apartments, this one comes with warmest recommendations.
Canadian quartet BADBADNOTGOOD take on creating the ultimate “late night” selection of tracks from their record collections...
"The original trio of Matthew Tavares, Alex Sowinski and Chester Hansen formed while studying music at Toronto’s Humber College (they’ve recently added Leland Whitty to the line-up). A shared appreciation of hip hop and instrumental covers of Gucci Mane and Earl Sweatshirt suggested a worldly outlook and reciprocated love from Tyler The Creator and Ghostface Killah, which whom they made 2015’s Sour Soul.
This is an international effort: Velly Joonas’ Estonian version of ‘Feel Like Makin’ Love’, Kiki Gyan, Admas and Francis Bebey representing Africa (Ghana, Ethiopia and Cameroon respectively), Les Prospection from France, Scots’ Boards Of Canada and fellow Canucks River Tiber and Charlotte Day Wilson.
Finally, there’s the no-small-matter of the Late Night Tales cover version, in which BADBADNOTGOOD take on Andy Shauf’s ‘To You’ is turned into a mournful delight. while the Queen Of Siam herself, Lydia Lunch, delivers a sexual sermon involving only you, her and Jim Beam.
“We were really excited to have the chance to put together a Late Night Tales compilation, it’s a great organisation. We decided to use it as a vehicle to show everyone all the amazing music we have gotten to experience by touring and meeting new people. Every track on this comp was either shown to us by an incredible person or made by one of our friends. We also included a little cover of a song by one of our favourite current musicians, Andy Shauf.
These artists, as well as many, many others, have infuenced us to create and kept our deep love of music alive. This mix will keep you company on a quiet night by yourself or with friends. You can check it out on the plane, the bus, a long walk, or any situation where you want a soundtrack for reflection and meditation.” - BADBADNOTGOOD May 2017
"We would like to point out that this piece is extremely quiet. Please choose the volume setting of your sound system so as to just barely mask the ambient sounds of the room"
Jakob Ullmann: "voice, books and FIRE is the result of my reflections about the relationship between music and language: language as sound and language as text, the numerous relationships between texts of different cultural and religious traditions, between the work of the human spirit in the present and in the past and the questions arising from the problem of understanding these different traditions, languages and texts and representing them in a present, which has lost knowledge about substantial parts, even of its own tradition and history."
In Jakob Ullmann's 2nd release through Editions RZ, solemn, practically whispered incantations and creaking extended vocal technique of eight singers play in half-lit, wide open mid-air against the phosphorescing resonance of viola, violoncello, saxophone and flute. Recorded 1st July, in the Abteikirche Neresheim. Recommended
Quiet music conceptualist and practitioner, Jakob Ullmann's 2nd release and first with Editions RZ was first issued in 2005.
It yields a single 73 minute piece written for an ensemble of thirteen solo strings and up to three additional solo parts arranged to explore the filigree infidelities of their range between almost "pure", natural harmonics to diffuse noise at the lowest threshold of perception thanks to masterly feats of restrained technicality and the composer's vision.
Of course, this is much more than an exercise in academic or technical exactitude. Ullmann's score elicits the players to play at the edge of their nerves and skill to reaffirm the piece's sureness and manifest the slightest differentiations, sustaining our attention in pensile equilibrium so that the most minor shifts in pace, tone, timbre ensure optimal effect, and live up to the piece's conceptual power.
…And the earth crack'd to reveal Scott Walker & Sunn 0)))'s colossal offspring 'Soused' in its riveting, tragic glory.
Four years on from their intended collaboration in 'Monoliths & Dimensions', the arch avant-crooner meets the robed duo (and Tos Nieuwenhuizen) at the apex of their powers, presenting a peerless, operatic vision of doom metal informed as much by Native American history and the underground US psyche as experimental jazz and electronic dynamics. We can safely say it matches and surpasses our high expectations of the project, offering a complex, widescreen portal to a chiaroscuro world slashed in black by Anderson and O'Malley and illuminated by Walker's range of possessed vocal personas, from anguished despair to internal torment and shocking convulsions.
Embarking over the bull-whipped Moog bass momentum and banking riffs of 'Brando', Walker is a disturbing yet utterly compelling presence enticing us to cross thresholds into the arcane, uncanny worlds animated by Sunn 0))), whether projecting across the molasses drone trudge of 'Bull' or alternately wilting and lashing out from the percussive attacks and abyssal tar pits of 'Herod 2014'. By 4th song 'Fetish' their path has narrowed to a 'marish corridor of re-amped synth ghouls and spectral noise before distant drums abort the pregnant drones somewhere in the final third, for closing shot, 'Lullaby' to emulsify their unheimlich resolution at its most dramatic, synth-fired and intimate. It's a genuinely remarkable session, surely one of 2014's best.
Echovolt’s reissue series turns up a clutch of early ‘90s Italian deep and dream house gems by Don Carlos, all drawn from his illustrious catalogue of more than 25 years of productions.
It’s well worth checking for the NYC-spirited flutes and pads of the introductory Inspiration, and not least for the chiming, metallic calypso motif that opens and slinks thru Moment, especially cos it sounds like a dead ringer for the lick from Para Noise’s rare New Beat classique, Incantations.
Expertly compiled selection of Tudor's essential performances of works by John Cage, Morton Feldman, Christian Wolff, Sylvano Bussoti spanning 1955-1963.
"Includes "Music For Piano 21-36", "Variations 1", "Variations II", "Winter Music", "Piece For Four Pianos" (including performance by Feldman), etc. Essential document. "David Tudor, pianist -- a profession, a vocation, a life. From 1950 until around 1965, David Tudor was the epitome of the pianist who could simply play anything. In fact, David Tudor was no longer a name, but an indication for instrumentation as dozens of pieces were written 'for David Tudor.'
As early as 1960, after having conquered all of the challenges posed by serial piano music, Tudor began to differentiate between composers who filled him with life and those who left him cold -- the focus of his repertory became crystallized. The main criterion for his choices were shaped by the part he would play as interpreter in the composition. He distinguished carefully between having a free choice among prefabricated parts -- generally called aleatoric, as for example, Stockhausen's 'Klavierstück XI' (dedicated, as his 'Klavierstücke V-VIII', to Tudor) -- and indeterminate actions. In the first case, they have a tendency to 'put me to sleep,' whereby pieces that are less limiting led him to say, 'I feel that I'm alive in every part of my consciousness.' The program of these CDs portrays these distinctions." --Frank Hilberg"
Features two long-form tonal compositions, Sovereign of the Center (1972-1974) and the engrossingly slow movement of The Realm of Indra‘s Net (1974), running to 60 minutes total.
"Both works on this CD form, in a manner of speaking, bookends for another piece of mine, The Winds Rise in the North. The first of the two, Sovereign of the Centre, was my initial attempt at putting a new musical way of thinking into an ensemble rather than solo form. The second, The Realm of Indra's Net, builds on musical "discoveries" I made in the course of revising The Winds Rise in the North.
It is a hybrid work in as much as it is an "acoustic-tape piece" (not music concrete): There are four tracks of solo violin mixed down in different track combinations. (The one heard on this CD is a full-track mono version of the work.) Both of these pieces reflect a general shift in my musical thinking, which occurred in 1968 with Chimyaku (Japanese for "barely moving") scored for solo alto flute. It was with that work that I began to compose "slowed-down" music, like slow motion images in film, not merely slow music such as that of Feldman. H.G. July 2009 - January 2010"
Uncompromising minimalism from the Bristol underground courtesy of Emptyset and their long-awaited debut full-length.
The duo have been exploring brutally reduced techno styles over the course of three 12"s for Caravan and Future Days since 2007, aligning the bass heavy sound of their Bristol heritage with the streamlined and linear structures of Berlin's Sleeparchive or Marcel Dettmann. For their self titled release they've extended the concept to a full album, allowing themselves to move away from strictly dancefloor functions and experiment with merging drones and gruff tonal textures into their oblique rhythms.
At times there are hints of inspiration from Alva Noto, in the caustic digital textures, or even glimpses of isolated Deathprod bliss, but the closest comparison may be to Dubstep's noise mongers Cloaks, who also stoically mix noisy textures with repetitive beats inherited from the dancefloor. Very good indeed.