Another thuggish-sluggish session from J M S Khosah & Brassfoot’s NCA, this time presenting Black Void Smith or BVS working out 60 minutes of slompy grot threaded with excellent samples from celluloid, TV, animations and heck knows where else.
Alloying neck snap beats with raw string slashes and mottled acid bass in a rugged flow of decaying, rasping, rotten-round-the edge productions, it’s absorbing and disorienting in equal measures, maybe best considered as occupying ground between Black Zone Myth Chant, NYC’s Spectre and blunted UK trip hop from Moon Wiring Club.
Your guess is as good as ours as to who’s behind Holograms & Hypnosis - one head, or two? And from what ill quadrant? - but that’s also part of the tape’s allure; a series of unidentified offbeats that leave you sunk low and with unresolved questions that are bound to evaporate by the next track or toke. And yes, we’d definitely recommend doing this one with something sticky, smelly and green between your lips.
Tala AM (or Tala Andre Marie to give him his full and proper name) was born in Bandjoun in Cameroun in 1950. Talas life initially wasn't easy, he becomes blind at an early age and has lost both his mother and father by the age of 12. He then went on to make his first guitar by hand and form his first band "The Rock Boys" by the age of 17. Shortly after he meets the powerhouse of Camerounian music at the time Manu Dibango, a pivotal moment. With help, he re-locates to Paris and signs a contract with Fiesta Records. The first fruit of those labours is his debut album "Hot Koki".
"The lead track (and highlight of this compilation) is "Hot Koki" it is a powerhouse of funk guitar, soul and infectious afro rhythms. Fast forward to 1974 and the famous "Rumble In The Jungle" fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. The story goes a little something like this... At an accompanying musical event we find James Brown and Tala AM. JB Hears Hot Koki and creates a remarkably similar sounding track "The Hustle" (check it out side by side if you have the time). Tala sued.. and won.
Fast forward another 40 years. Time to take a look back on the funkier moments of Tala. This is not a "best of" Tala, that has already been done. Want to get into Tala's famous Tchamassi sound or do some "bend skin" beats... well check out the other compilations. Here at Africa Seven (and in this case) we are headed for destination funk. The musical topic inevitably leads us to the 70's and we borrow our super slick source material mainly from the albums Tala made for Fiesta Records from 1973 to 1978.
We open up the bombastic brass, swinging basslines and all out groove of Hot Koki (well after a little intro ditty gem). Then its on to the one of the highlights of "Arabia" album "Black Gold". This track swoons groove. Layers of picked and choppy guitar and on point drumming. "Sugar Lump" is next which sticks to the formula of the previous track but adds in catchy vocals.
Mining into the cave of delights that is the 1978 "Black Woman" album we then follow up with the driving afro beat grooves and stabby brass of "Gotam" and the boogie flowing grooves of "Black Woman" and the frenetic and driving grooves of "Ma Ka La". We round things off with the stabby clavi-funk of "Nom Te Ma" and the ultimate groovy funk-riff closer (and ear worm) Tcham Tcham."
Foundational techno business from 1993, documenting Mark and Moritz pelting ‘em out live at 145bpm at Waschhaus, Potsdam and setting the template for a whole genre.
Phylyps Trak is the one for the DJs.
Totally bewitching, zonked electronics and spectral pop glossolalia from Nadine and Tanya Byrne aka Ectoplasm Girls, the long-awaited follow-up to their incredible TxN album from 2011.
Ectoplasm Girls sound like the progeny of some ancient, mythological creature as opposed to anything of this earthly realm. Their music distills traces of post-techno, doom metal and esoteric electronic pop into a skin-crawling residue that strongly resonates with their name.
As with the aforementioned TxN - a unique highlight of the 2011 schedule - their follow-up spells out a mostly wordless grimoir of slow, writhing rhythms, bittersweet tones and phosphorescent texture incomparable with almost anyone else we can recall, bar maybe Coil or the that ghost band who soundtracked your dreams last night.
Perhaps more so than on TxN, in this instance they feel more faded, detached from the listener, drifting thru 15 stages of séance-like ambience with an incorporeal presence belied only by their clammy sleight of hand and vaporous traces of breathing.
It’s all dark as you like, but crucially with a sense of ambiguity that allows for interpretation depending on your mood and ability to discern between poltergeist-like trembles and the spirits of two possessed artists never afraid to head down whatever musical rabit hole the mood takes them. It's surely one of the most absorbing and mysterious electronic albums you'll hear in 2016 - think of it as sitting uncomfortably somewhere between Grouper, Coil and Rashad Becker.
Reissue of DJ Sprinkles' classic Midtown 120 Blues, self-released by Terre Thaemlitz through his own Comatonse imprint
Bringing deep house back into contact with its club culture roots, Terre Thaemlitz has created one of the most essential house albums of the last few years with 'Midtown 120 Blues'. Terre was originally working as a DJ under her Sprinkles alias in the gay clubs of midtown Manhattan and New Jersey in the late 80's when deep house began to blossom. It's this early period of House history which Terre has beautifully recreated over 10 tracks, making a pointed comment with the intro track taking shots at Strictly Rhythm for becoming 'Strictly Vocal' and pulling no punches towards "Most Europeans who think deep house means shitty hi-NRG vocal house".
With the intentions made clear, Terre develops a masterpiece of serene melancholy and sublime deep house crafted with the skill and dedication of someone who you can truly believe lived this music at that time. From the rich subbass driven tones of 'Midtown 120 Blues' with plaintive pianos slowly encircling one another, to samples of drag queen monologues over the deepest ambient brushed rhythms on 'Ball'r (Madonna-Free Zone)' or head-meltingly warm chords and caressed percussion of 'Brenda's $20 dilemna' - this will suck in and swallow any deep house lovers in one go.
A total pleasure.
Master of Mannequin and darkroom specialist Alessandro Adriani unleashes the beast on four cuts for Pinkman, surfing the grottiest wave styles from the gnawing synths and EBM buck of You’ll Simply Never Understand The True Meaning of Sacrifice to the acid waterboarding of Will To Power and following his nose thru to the deeply druggy jag of Claustrophobia, just about keeping it up for a final 100bpm slug called Interdependence.
Over 2.5 hours of beautiful, affective deep house, collating all material from their now sold-out double packs and the newly issued triple LP 3rd volume. The first CD contains all of Will Long's original productions, the second CD all of Sprinkles' versions.
As promised, Tokyo, Japan-based American artists, Will Long (Celer) and DJ Sprinkles offer a CD edition of Long Trax, gathering all three vinyl volumes of their sublime, durational deep house studies examining the dancefloor in light of contemporary socio-political inequalities and failed illusions of ‘Revolution’ and ‘Progression’, for Terre Thaemlitz’ Comatonse label.
Revolving around some of the deepest house music you’ll hear in 2016, Long Trax collects beautifully modest, economical productions backed with corresponding, masterful overdubs by DJ Sprinkles that reassert the sound’s original intentions and aesthetics in a way that’s inarguably closer in structure, feel and intent to the original, queer and black-rooted dance music of late ‘80s/early ‘90s NYC, yet feels timelessly effective.
Collected, these tracks outline their point with tactile subtlety and clarity; using minimal, era-consistent means of rhythm composer percussion, polyphonic synth chords and rack-mounted samplers to reveal a humbling alternative to flashy, overproduced, modern deep house that effectively runs counter to its badly repackaged vibes and empty sloganeering and its position as the catalyst of social trends, rather than social transformation.
The beautifully absorbing results - which sound miles away from Long’s gentler ambient and experimental work - are testament to the democracy of early deep house and prove that it is possible to elicit subtle yet optimal responses with a well-selected palette of grooves and samples, faithfully taken from speeches by civil rights leaders including Jesse Jackson, H. Rap Brown, T.R.M. Howard, John Lewis, Kathleen Cleaver and Bayard Jackson, respectively.
To perfectly underline that point, DJ Sprinkles’ meticulous, pensile overdubs quite literally and psycho-acoustically resonate their intention by tactfully rending a farther, lush physicality and soulfulness from Long’s slinky bones. Whether adding a lick of rolling, era-consistent breaks to Under-Currents or nimbly toying the bassline of Daylight and Dark with frankly jaw-dropping results, her overdubs prove that there’s a whole world of new sounds to be drawn out from within, and with relatively simple, classic technique, provided you’re willing to look deep enough.
It is rare that a conceptually rooted project should occur within the realm of modern deep house, and perhaps even rarer that its conceptual thrust resonates so systematically and with such meticulous attention to detail and faith in the subject. But, considering the project’s inputs, we’d hardly expect any less from these two exceptional artists.
Subtly uplifting, dusty and driven deep house from Bruno B., a.k.a. Folamour with Shakkei for All City, and previously on 12”s for his Moonrise Hill Material and FHUO Records labels.
A-side he marries windswept flurries of jazz keys to a heavy swanging and stepping deep house groove like a rawer Henrik Schwarz piece. B-side, he simmers down to the shuffling percussive hustle and swooning harmonies of Maybe I Did Burn Ya Place, and then gets all disco plush with Each Day Is The First Day.
Colleen's beautiful debut album finally reissued on vinyl - a magical zoetrope of ramshackle mechanics and improvised vignettes...
"Everyone Alive Wants Answers" is the haunting work of 26-year-old Parisienne Cecile Schott. Her debut album release, she has previously released a gem of a 7" single (Babies) on Active Suspension, which brought her to the attention of The Leaf Label. An effortlessly charming album, naive instrumentals filled with warmth , melody and soul, played on a broken music box, a glockenspiel or a guitar. The recordings seem pieced together from an array of field recordings and home tapes, melodies and aroma's slowly infused to create a homespun exercise in delicacy, beauty and a joyously moving appeal to nostalgic sensibilities and abandon. Gorgeous stuff..."
'ZA86' presents reporter Nigel Wrench's remarkable documentation of South Africa under apartheid in 1986, using tapes unlocked for the first time from a Cape Town cellar.
Released to mark the 25th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's release from prison, 'ZA86' offers a detailed portrait of a critical point in the regime's final and most oppressive years, built using extracts edited from nine tapes out of the unique cassette archive of Turnstyle News. From street level perspectives of white right wingers and 19 year old platoon leaders to the funeral of TV cameraman and a May Day call to arms by Winnie Mandela, it's an unswerving reflection of a real hell on earth. Highly recommended.
Rawest, illest hip hop/dub mixtape from '98 by Wordsound capo, Skiz Fernando Jr a.k.a. Spectre, feat contributions from sometime Madteo collaborator Sensational, Kevin ‘The Bug’ Martin’s Techno Animal alias, Bill Laswell’s Dubadelic project, Godflesh’s Ted Parsons and more.
This is a fine history lesson for many yungers, and a red-eyed flashback for many heads who came thru in the '90s. Originally released on cassette in edition of only 100 copies, it documents late night sessions recorded in New York during the formative era of abstract and experimental beats - a natural progression from more gangsta and hardcore styles to someplace more esoteric, smoked-out, and featuring contributions by non-rhyming MC Sensational, the earliest iterations of Kevin Martin (The Bug) as Techno Animal, and The Jungle Brothers. I
n the parlance of the day; it's a trip, boy. Most of the tracks were produced or "reduced & jinxed" by Spectre, including a number of on-the-fly basslines and drum loops lending it a really frayed and lop-sided quality that producers have tried to recreate since, and definitely sounds leagues away from the last half decade or so of trap trills. But it's also weird for the inclusion of pitched-down, spoken word intros for each cut, framing it closer to a radio show than typical mixtape. Ultimately it's a heady shot-to-the-dome from late '90s New York, which sounds like a different world altogether from our 2015 perch. RIYL vintage Mo'wax, DJ Screw, Company Flow!
Oblique, intense and spirit-gnawing electro-acoustic exercises from The Skull Defekts founder / Ideal head honcho Joachim Nordwall, presenting a brilliantly stark album of direct and gnarly Machine energy that comes highly recommended if you're into anything from Pan Sonic to Alessandro Cortini, Deathprod or Emptyset. So good.
Working with a bunch of tone generators fed thru a massive wall of amps at Elementstudion in Gothenburg, Nordwall isolates and fearlessly homes in on the recording space’s resonant frequencies until you can physically feel the room grinding, whining and shuddering in the kind of spasms that arch the spine and set your back teeth on edge. And he does it relentlessly for the whole record.
It’s what Nordwall in December, 2016 described as “…my ideal black. A place I enjoy to place myself in” and, by turns, appears to be a place we enjoy inhabiting, too. There’s really a lot to be said for the unadulterated pleasure of sustained atonal assaults, and feeling like you’re about to be asphyxiated from the sheer pressure of it all.
The only steady variable in this elemental organism is the sense of rhythm; a metric, pulsing heave that keeps each piece’s tangibly immense weight pushing forward from the crack’d slap of a drum that pins The Ideal Black into place, to the quasi-step lurch of Great Mind of Fire, thru the Alessandro Cortini-Like impulse of Extreme Solution for a Simple Problem to the palsied, cog-ground rattle of System For Psychic Expansion and Black Out at its nether limits.
In the rarest way, thanks to Joachim’s direct approach, the mixing of Linus Andersson, and Heba Kadry’s master at Timeless Mastering, Bushwick, The Ideal Black is about as close as you’ll hear to a 1-to-1 representation of pure, crushing tonal terror. A character-building exercise strongly tipped if you like the biting point sounds of: Kevin Drumm, Alessandro Cortini, Emptyset, Gottfried Michael Koenig
Intrepid, cinematech intrigue from Samo DJ and Max Stenerudh (Maxxxbass), reprising their KWC92 duo on a 2nd night-flight with L.I.E.S. in pursuit of the sought-after Dream Of The Walled City (O.S.T.) LP.
This is some proper, international espionage business, expanding their scope from Stockholm via Hong Kong to a mysterious Iran over an eight-part series of furtive, noirish synth motifs, all separated by colourful, almost cartoonish interludes and pulsating techno themes.
It’s all clearly inspired by the emotive, dramaturgical genius of Giorgio Moroder and Tangerine Dream’s definitive ‘80s soundtracks, but also with a streak of, perhaps, slightly lower grade made-for-TV or VHS themes, which is actually a large part of its charm - recalling hazy cues and feels from more indistinct reference points and leaving the script loosely open ended for nocturnal mind-drift.
Basically; if you loved the last one as much as everyone else, you’ll be all over this one, too.
The xx’s anticipated third album, ‘I See You’, is the follow up to the band’s two previous albums ‘xx’ and ‘Coexist’.
‘I See You’ marks a new era for the London trio of Romy Madley Croft, Oliver Sim and Jamie Smith, both sonically and in terms of process - while ‘xx’ and ‘Coexist’ were bothmade in relative isolation in London, ‘I See You’ was recorded between March 2014 and August 2016 in New York, Marfa TX, Reykjavik, Los Angeles and London and is characterised by a more outward-looking, open and expansive approach.
Produced by Jamie Smith and Rodaidh McDonald, ‘I See You’ is The xx at their boldest yet, performing with more clarity and ambition than ever before."
'Live Knots' presents two immersive live recordings of Oren Ambarchi playing the epic 'Knots' from 'Audience Of One' (Touch, 2012) in Tokyo and Krakow's Unsound Festival.
Captured with alternately intimate and widescreen fidelity, the original elements of cyclonic guitar harmony and quicksilver percussion are twisted different ways across the two performances, exploring and testing every nuance of the track's framework. 'Tokyo Knots' intimately documents their show at SuperDeluxe in March 2013, Ambarchi cautiously stalking Joe Talia's prickling, Dejohnette-esque percussion with viscose bass tone and heady harmonic incense, progressively whipping up a free form storm of buzz-saw guitar attacks and crashing drums, organically resolving to a lean motorik groove flecked with spring reverb.
By contrast, the twice-as-long performance of 'Krakow Knots', featuring Sinfonietta Cracovia led by Eyvind Kang on viola, presents a more expansive reading of the same structure, adding a prelude of sliding string dissonance before swelling against Talia's adroit patter with a burgeoning tension, ratcheting the mid-section squall to blistering barrage of buzz-saw flares and strobing fuzz, before burning out to reveal a captivating resolution of string glissandi swept against Joe Talia and Crys Cole's skittish percussion objects and retching spring reverb. The applause at the end is very well earned.
Siaya County, Kenya meets the German underground on this killer grip of Ogoya Nengo And The Dodo Women's Group revisions from Lena Willikens, Tolouse Low Trax, Don’t DJ and more.
Sven Kacirek and Stefan Schneider’s TAL label returns for a second release that revisits last year’s wonderful On Mande album of Luo standards from Kenyan ensemble Ogoya Nengo And The Dodo Women’s Group. On Mande Versions is a decidedly Düsseldorf affair with Salon Des Amateurs regulars Lena Willikens, Tolouse Low Trax and Don’t DJ all involved alongside Version boss Orson.
The Orutu Run Version from Willikens is an ambitious undertaking, pilfering sound samples from various songs on the album to deliver a cacophony of serotonin-rushing percussive textures. By contrast, Detlef Weinrich opt for a typically less is more approach with his Tolouse Low Trax reduction of Mix Zwei, and Don’t DJ’s Sorbe Pekingese remix employs some of the intricate sonic trickery he used as part of Durian Brothers.To close Orson further embellishes on the spacious vibes explored by Weinrich, twisting some Ohangla drum patterns into a taut, fizzing stepper on Bunde Dub.
Groove-driven psych-rock from the Montreal stronghold of Constellation Records.
“Psychedelic rock, krautrock, desert rock, punk rock, noise rock, afrobeat, experimental pop, post-rock, electronic; all are touchstones for Avec le soleil sortant de sa bouche. Their multi-movement durational music arguably combines trance rock and audio collage above all - a diced and spliced approach to longform multi-movement groove music played by a stripped down quartet of two guitars, bass and drums, synched to pre-recorded electronics and musique concrete.
The band's unique restlessness and inventiveness seduces with shifts, turns and dovetails, consistently destabilizing its own inexorable musical logic in highly satisfying fashion. Avec le soleil sortant de sa bouche deploys a panoply of buoyant musical ideas, subtly sumptuous sonic treatments, and joyous stylistic nods - while remaining fundamentally devoted to working the groove from a kaleidoscope of angles. Their sound always seems to be escaping overt homage or retro tendencies; neither freighted with reverence nor weightless with irreverence, the music of Avec le soleil routes and uproots itself along its own refreshingly untrodden path.
Pas pire pop, I Love You So Much is post-modern psychedelic trance-pop that sounds like no other. Quite literally: the needle drops on “Trans-pop express” with Avec le soleil in full swing, playing a musical theme that had been submerged at the end of Zubberdust’s closing track, now developed in the full kaleidoscopic light of day. Unfurling over 10 minutes of sinuous bass, chiming guitars and wordless vocals, “Alizé et Margaret D…” opens with naive melody lines played on dry staccato guitars, peppered with ragged vocal calls, before transitioning through some unison riffing into one of the band’s signatures: clean, methodical, exuberantly layered grooves perhaps most reminiscent of Remain In Light era Talking Heads.
Nothing the band has recorded to date quite drives home the fascinating sonic identity they’ve forged from their overflowing toolbox of techniques and influences more than “Tourner incessamment dans l’éclatement euphorique…”, the 20-minute tour de force that comprises Side Two of Pas pire pop.This is post-modern psychedelic trance-pop the likes of which we can honestly say we’ve not heard before.”
Deadbeat at his rolling, effortless best on these two for Echocord; going long and deep with the tunnelling, suspensfully balanced ten minutes of acid dub techno in Put On Your Red Shoes And Trance, whereas Just Jackin Around Man plays into that drily fruity, wiggly Berlin tech house sound.
Creeping up on you like 3am on a work night, when you should be falling asleep but the moon is too bright and your flat starts is contracting with the cold, Naaahhh’s deeply blunted Themes for Blackest Ever Black nails that feeling of transition between worlds, of spirits dissolving into the ether and ready to chuck a few coins to the sandman.
In circulation since early this year, they are as effective as these homemade valium that are knocking around Manchester right now for setting you in that drifty wonky state of soma, coursing the lushest pads thru Blooz, and melting away like a decaying plant in Vini Reilly’s flat with Empty Rituals, whereas My Theme dredges Cthulhu-like dread bass from deep below, and Theme 2 seems to feel out the uncanny valley between Leyland Kirby and his The Caretaker alter ego.
Or, as BEB eloquently put it: “Five tracks of darkside slither from somewhere under London. Sidereal downers for all hardcore ravers. The dread energy of grime and bleep techno distilled into pungent electro-acoustic ooze. Paranoid street music meets the cosmic disturbances of musique concrète, the MDMA spine-freeze of isolationism and England’s hidden reverse. Staccato string stabs, murmured voices, black holes of reverb and pulverising, body-numbing bass. Drums optional. Unwanted side-effects include nosebleeds, earaches, stomach cramps, and nausea. Just say naaahhh.”