Inventive electronic explorer AGF seriously impresses with the playfully loose-limbed and devious calculations of her Solid EP, a killer, “messy” adjunct to her self-released Solidicity LP released in 2017.
The Solid EP firms up as four deliciously sloppy spurts of unquantised rhythm and abstract electronics almost certain to catch the dancefloor off guard, offering myriad permutations for the adventurous rug-cutter in the fractious funk of Solids, with the mind and body-bending proprioception of Unlimited Migration, and to noisier, brittler degrees with GReeD, and gleefully ripping the spine out of footwork and replacing with concrète electronics on i-tikka.
Martin Hannett’s classic production for Wythenshawe’s funkiest post punks, ACR, To Each…  bubbles back up for reissue more than 35 years since original release on Factory Records.
Cosign into play as ACR’s 1st album proper after a string of then well-received dance singles, To Each… found the group marrying them rhythmic sensibilities, influenced by American disco and Afro- latinate styles, with a gloomier, atmospheric sound, effectively imagining a more danceable adjunct to Joy Division - a fact no doubt consolidated by Martin Hannett’s signature, super spacious production.
Perfectly timed for the longest nights, Timo Van Lujik (Af Ursin, Elodie) and Mark Harwood (Penultimate Press, Astor) commit their first recordings to Vang Circular, a liminal transmission of etheric timbres and oneiric chamber music gleaned from vibes, mellotron, natural reader, an iron ant, synth, metal pipes, slide guitar and a double bass.
Recorded over a weekend at Luijk’s Kulta Saha studio, Belgium in June 2017, the session unfolds cryptic coordinates for heavy-lidded astral travel from the comfort of your sofa, collapsing time and space into seven shimmering projections that, on one hand, soothe and dissolve the listener’s senses, while on the other hand, leave so much space to the imagination that you could end up somewhere quite unfamiliar and deeply surreal.
Leandro Fresco & Rafael Anton Irisarri surely have your back for this lush ambient / neo classical freefall session - their first collaboration - dispatched via the mutual support network of A Strangely Isolated Place.
Both hailing from the west coast of the Americas, but at its extreme ends, Argentina’s Leandro Fresco and Seattle-raised Irisarri make perfect bedfellows in La Equidistancia’s high tog quilt of diaphanous, immersive ambient music.
They might not be breaking any rules or new ground, but what they do is to tranquillise and manipulate the soul with sincere intent and sublimely romantic effect, scaling from Snowman-style panoramic overviews in Cuando El Misterio Es Demasiado Impresionante, Es Imposible Desobedecer to the insulating density of Bajo un Ocvaso Desteñido before erupting with shoegaze pathos in Lo Essential Es Invisible A Los Ojos, then seemingly descending that peak with the plangent, glacial glide of Las Palabras Son Fuente De Malentendidos to the thick, powdery texture of Entre La Niebla, and the Cortini-esque catharsis of Un Horizonte En Llamas.
Jim Jupp (Belbury Poly) and Jon Brooks (The Advisory Circle) metamorphosize into The Belbury Circle, incorporating their pal John Foxx on two tracks of Outward Journey.
Pulsing with proggy soft trance riffs and draped in nocturnal atmospheres, it’s one for driving your car late at night thru the conurbations, commuter villages and gentrified docklands of a pensive Brexit Britain, turning up two standout moments in the John Foxx-led highlights of Forgotten Town and the beautifully wistful Trees, with plenty of time of reflection over your milky tea on Café Kaput and the twinkly gaze of Departures Inc, with a wistful guitar solo worthy of an Alan Partridge-style despairing breakdown in a lay-by.
Shenzhou is next up in Biosphere’s album reissue schedule.
Original issued in 2000, it finds the Norwegian artist following the wistful loops of Cirque farther down the rabbit hole, leaving behind the purely electronic contours and beat-driven elements of his early work for a subtler, textured electro-acoustic style comparable with The Caretaker and Leyland Kirby or William Basinski’s faded tape loops. Your attention is required to the mesmerising string swells of Houses On The Hill, the cinematic midnight jazz gesture of Path Leading to the High Grass, and the Deathprod-alike gloam of Lorry Shuttle Shaft.
Penultimate Press bossman Mark Harwood takes a cross-continental trip as Astor, traversing sanguine solo piano pieces, haunted train toilet recordings and death croak noise gasps. All very uncanny and lo-fi, pocked in the space between reality and dreams, as you might well expect from this artist and label.
“The fourth Astor offering presents itself as a limited cassette, intended to fill the vacuum prior to the next full length LP expected to hatch in the year of 2018. A self titled diary-esque offering, this collects recordings made in the UK and Europe throughout 2017 – from a toilet on a train in France to a piece played on Henning Christiansen’s piano on the island of Møn in Denmark. Here we embark on a journey of sound that travels through a vast terrain which holds itself together through the sheer audacity of outre elements and unusual construction. From organ jams to syncopated screams, from absolute beauty to unbridled terror, Astor takes a magnifying glass to reality and unfurls it as an uncanny audio essay.”
PAN’s Afrikan Sciences and Gaël Segalen have hatched one of 2016’s most curious fusions of mystic beat geometry and electro-acoustic process with Low Doses. We’re not sure if that title’s a reference to them micro-dosing LSD - which is entirely plausible after hearing the record - or something else, but either way their debut LP is a deeply trippy dish.
Transcending styles with a deceptive effortlessness, Low Doses feels to be all about locating that elusive, near-mythical third track - a sort of metaphysical alchemy - amidst the duo’s perfectly unbalanced equations. Whilst approaching the same point from differing disciplines - Porter from a world of futuristic hard bop and hi-tech soul; Gaël from the sphere of sound design and concrète praxis - they’re clearly as much aware of their differences as they are sympathetic towards each’s overarching agenda.
At an attuned, yet defocussed and lushly amorphous mid-ground between those aesthetics, Low Doses really comes into its own as a sort of psychotropic, deep topographical journey between their mindsets, conflating sheets of street noise and organic pastoral location recordings with rhythms that seem to have spilled from the field to the club via decades of cryptic encoding.
It’s all totally jazz and definitely experimental electro-acoustic, but in a mixing oil ’n sand way that would have been almost unimaginable or deemed too mutually exclusive in the not so distant past. Ultimately, then, they’ve achieved an unprecedented, imaginative, innovative and stellar music which should only be ignored by followers of great, timeless electronic sounds at the risk of stupidity.
This compilation spanning a period of 37 years features Burnt Friedman's releases and edits thereof from vinyl-only labels (Latency (FR), Marionette (CA), Dekmantel (NL) amongst others) plus 4 hitherto unreleased tracks, making them available on digital formats.
"Friedman's music from 1980 to 2017 covers a broad spectrum of played and programmed rhythmic styles that traverse not only club music from techno, electro and dub, but, above all, trace Friedman's own artistic development. A trajectory that owes a lot to his long-standing collaboration with Can drummer Jaki Liebezeit, who died at the age of 79 in 2017. Like Liebezeit, Friedman already explored even and uneven rhythms back in the late 1980s. This selection of 17 tracks documents this pursuit while bringing rough or discarded tracks to light, which did not fit onto any album or were intended for the Nonplace label.
The compilation runs the entire gamut of his work on percussion, keyboard, samplers and toys of all kinds using various production methods (tape, Atari, Midi, sampler, hard disk recording, digital audio tape). Studio work (instant-composition, programming and recording) underwent major technological changes and revolutions in the 1980s and 1990s, but Friedman's distinctive signature style prevails throughout. Surprisingly danceable tracks, interrupted by alien atmospheric periods, defy any genre.”
Washington’s finest go toe-to-twinkling toe on Future Times, with Beautiful Swimmer Max D in Dolo Percussion mode
Meshing deep house hustle with Dawit Eklund’s low key vox on the Kwaito-esque nudge of Rise, then on a more screw-faced sort of brukbeat riddled with ricochet drums and recoiling dub delays and, of course, Dawit emoting killer, autotuned vocals for the late freaks.
The blinding Habibi Funk survey of Eclectic Music from the Arabic World lights up a lesser known paradigm of artists from the Arabic world incorporating sounds from beyond their local traditions with often stunning, wild and bewildering results. After teasing the set in with a handful of tasty previews in recent months, the full collection includes 5 tunes completely unreleased on any other format, from blazing funk throw-downs to Caribbean-tinged soukous, disco and smoothly harmonised psych-soul.
“Habibi Funk is dedicated to re-releasing a style of music that historically never existed as a musical genre. We use the term to describe a certain sound that we like from the countries of the Arab world. The songs we chose were created in places quite far from another and under very different circumstances. Some were written and recorded during war times, others in exile. Despite the differences we think there is a musical connection between them. Essentially, we are interested in the musical endeavors, in which artists from the Arab world mixed local and regional influences with musical interests that came from outside of the region.
Even though the name suggests it’s all about funk music, our focus is more than just that. Often these influences might be inspired from Western popular music such as soul, pop and rock but it’s not limited to that either. Some of our favorite records are best described as Arabic zouk (a genre originating from the Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe) like Mallek Mohamed’s music, Algerian coladera (a popular musical style from the Cape Verdean islands) or Lebanese AOR, which means the process of musical influences displayed on this compilation was much more versatile than just taking Western music as a blueprint and translating it with a local accent. The compilation features 15 different artists. Some you might already know thru Habibi Funk’s releases like Fadoul, Ahmed Malek, Dalton or Al Massrieen, while others are meant as an introduction to artists like Kamal Keila, Sharhabeel Ahmed, Attarazat Addahabia & Mallek Mohamed who will all release full length albums on Habibi Funk in 2018.”
10 original tracks and a remix from Ancestral Voices,
"Opening number “Intimacy is Violence” does a remarkable job capturing the vibe of the album, serving as a great introduction. The track has a very industrial tone, with a strong cinematic feel to it. The following track, “Rote Zora,” follows suit with a more percussive and colorful arrangement, with a more substantial focus on rhythmic patterns.
“Cut Off From Modern Society” its combination of dark atmospheres, lush melodies, and glitchy beats. “Sudden Burst of Safety” is another excellent track worth mentioning, due to its stadium-sized drums and saturated sounds, adding an aggressive feel to the music. All in all, the album is a real sonic journey, begging to be enjoyed from start to finish!"
TAR is a poetically plotted suite of ambient/noise and modern classical composition with a real emotive pull, firmly realised by Iranian artist, Siavash Amini. It follows a pair of his albums issued on tape by Mexico City’s excellent Umor Rex to pursue a personal exploration of “the fragile tensions between an individual and a collective subconscious” - effectively opening up and inhabiting the space between waking life and nightmares/dreams.
Let’s be fair, there’s probably 20 albums a week that purport to delve into that twilight zone, but the efficacy of their vision rests on a delicate balance between the presence of the composer and their ability to subtract themselves and leave behind something more intangible,and in turn their ability to suspend our disbelief and immerse us in that space.
By sleight of hand and detail of tone and space, Amini arguably maintains that veil impeccably throughout the four sections of TAR, generating an oneiric series of visual/musical prompts which suggest riveting, yet sometimes harrowing, imagery and sensations, but like a dream its sense of “darkness” is just out of reach, impending and lurking rather than in your face or quite real.
It flows with an elemental sorcery from reverberant electronic space and caustic noise swells to sweeping strings in A Dream’s Frozen Reflection in a way that recalls subtler Ben Frost, while the stygian viscosity of Rivers of Tar recalls the most impressive aspects of Subtext’s grand statements, but again with a more nuanced, modern cinema noir appeal, and Face On The Sand reminds us of parts to Sir Richard Bishop and W. David Oliphant’s Beyond All Defects.
But it’s really all building to the denouement of The Dust We Breathe, which generates Tar’s most tumultuous and varied topography, from gripping electrical storm disturbances to keening strings and a jaw-dropping turn half way thru its 14 minute trek, towards a more glorious light that reminds of the fade out to Kara-Lis Coverdale’s Grafts.
If you know what’s good for you, check this album out.
French election politics and rave music prompt this ace compilation of winners from Low Jack, J-Zbel, and U-202 (Ron Morelli), dispatched to celebrate 3 years of hook ups between L.I.E.S. and Brothers From Different Mothers.
BFDM’s J-Zbel turns up two ‘ardcore-infected zingers on the front with a wide-eyed zinger named Nik Molina full of trancing arpeggios and strobing choral voices, then on a killer ’91 breakbeat tip with the savant brutishness of Selecta (Neneu Anthem #5).
Sharing the flipside, Low Jack plates up the spooky dancehall dub of Ice Formula Riddim somewhere between the eyes of Equiknoxx and Jay Glass Dubs, and Ron Morelli beats off the gristly, dogged noise torque of Whistler (Edit X), which sounds like one of Cylob’s Lobster Trax gone feral.