Jamal Moss aka I.B.M. puts all his chips on industrial red with devilish beatings of SPK, Nitzer Ebb and Severed Heads for the 2nd instalment of Medusa Edits - dedicated to an underage club he frequented (when also underage) in late ‘80s Chicago.
He fuses a few Nitzer Ebb workout classics into the ramrod of An Industrial Beating on top, then runs thru SPK’s Mouth To Mouth prancer and Severed Heads’ All Day Sins for the most insatiable bodies.
Well studied throwback funk, soul bossa and jazz-fusion from London, 2017
“The album starts with 'Moonlight Woman,' a song that harks back to the Headhunters era, but with a contemporary twist - close your eyes and your transported to 70s Harlem, walking shoulder to shoulder with Richard Roundtree! 'Elephant & Castle' follows, a clear reference to south Londons Latin quarter, the tune has a distinct hustle and bustle quality. With a strong flute solo and upbeat rhythm section this tune is sure to have you clapping your hands and stomping your feet. The first side draws to a close with a tasteful Dilla inspired skit, 'Trudi's Mood,' which demonstrates the bands wealth of influences and leaves the listener eager to continue their sonic voyage, with Ruby Rushton at the helm.
Side two opens with a haunting ballad, 'Prayer For Yusef,' a song written in memory of the late Yusef Lateef. It starts softly with a bowed double bass and bamboo flute, accompanied by ghostly percussive noises and slowly rises to a large crescendo, with drums and piano in tow. It's a strong tune and a fitting dedication to the late, great Yusef Lateef. No sooner has Lateef's ballad gently faded away then 'Where Are You Now?' kicks in. Starting with a cool, neck-popping 3/4 beat, and utilising a four-piece horn section, the rhythm section struts its stuff whilst flute and trumpet carve out a playful melodic line. Just as you settle into its hypnotic bounce the tune falls through a Monk inspired chromatic bridge and without warning reappears as a solid Latin groove, leading to strong solos from both sax and keys. The rhythm section charges through to the end, never lagging, and are rejoined by the four-piece horn section, which stabs its way to a tight finish. The album comes to a close as 'The Camel's Back' fades in with an eerie sax solo and free form drums, before settling into a catchy bass motif and quickly fading away, leaving listeners on the edge of their seats and wanting more. It’s a great ending to an intoxicating joy ride through a multitude of genre defying styles!
Simply put, this album is a must have for any listener yearning for exciting and fresh contemporary music. Essential listening for fans of Kamasi Washington, Yussef Kamaal and GoGo Penguin.“
Frankly f*cking terrifying rhythmic noise assaults from Masami Akita aka Merzbow in full flight for Serbia’s Jezgro label.
The Torus EP trades in pure, inchoate rage and sensory saturation between he barrelling oscillators and radioactive distortion of Torus 1 and the collapsing gstructurw of Torus 2, with phasers set to absolutely maul your life in the horrors of Street Noise 1 and the throttling force of Street Noise 2.
Dry and crunchy techno variants from Detroit youngblood Altstadt Echo, making his first incision on Interdimensional Transmissions’ Eye Teeth imprint after a string of 12”s for his Modern Cathedrals label.
The sound is distinctly more european than Detroit, turning up a brittle, breaks-driven groove in the titular A-side Reposed In Nihilism, whilst the B-side’s Ersatz juggles Diwali Riddim-style claps over gaunt dub chords and restless bass, and The Necessary Facade kills the lights for a hunched tri-step shuffle with stark features picked out by spotlighting chords.
Alessandro Cortini (NIN) and Japanese noise architect Masami Akita aka Merzbow elicit previously unheard voices from the classic EMS Synthi; a British synthesiser from the early ‘70s which has been extensively used by a panoply of prog rock legends such as Tangerine Dream, Pink Floyd and Heldon during its influential lifespan. Trust that Cortini and Akita’s efforts sound absolutely nothing like the aforementioned and boldly put a bracing, refreshing new spin on its classic sound.
Making thorough use of the now rather rare and expensive classic model, highly regarded for its tactility and portability, the duo coax out a coarser voice than we’re used to hearing from the EMS Synthi, as though there’s a whisky swilling, 60-a-day roadie trapped in there since the ‘70s and they’ve only just realised how to get his voice out.
The result is a retching, sputtering beast of a record wresting jittery animations of white noise and spooling oscillators into chaotic briar patch of pure analog synthesis making the machine wail, buckle and cough up its least salubrious secrets in four extended parts.
If you’re familiar with each artist, respectively, you’ll find it perhaps leans closer to Merzbow’s putative aesthetics than the more layered appeal of Cortini, but when when it does congeal into more viscous puddles of bass and perceptibly sweeter harmonics, one can hear Cortini’s touch come clearer into play, but ultimately they’re both goading each other into a tornado of ferocity.
Another absorbing, colourful instalment from Chinatown, NYC’s Georgia duo, casting their stylistic net far and wide to achieve a lushly syncretic fusion of myriad genres and outernational vibes, a deeply respectful sort of 4.1 world music, if y0u will.
Capping their busiest year on record, which has already seen them issue great records for F T D and Kashual Plastik, All Kind Music is a typically elaborate tapestry of style ’n pattern executed with filigree, needlepoint dexterity in dazzling 3D geometries, succinctly incorporating vocals by Caroline Polachek (Chairlift), Abang Essone Sarah Maya and India Menuez with the instrumental virtuosity of Mary Lattimore (harp) and Wednesday Knudsen (Sax).
Their recordings are the result of live jams, juiced in the edit for all the pulp and sweetest parts which are later shaped into these shiny prisms, capturing the expressive fluidity of digits-on-strings and skins and rendering those performances even more wonderful by binary process and diffraction.
The label behind the release, Palto Flats, point to apt comparisons with Jon Hassell and 23 Skidoo, and we’d add K. Leimer’s Savant, African Sciences and even Oliver Coates’ or his peer, Mica Levi to that list, particularly in terms of Georgia’s rhythmic suss, heady ambient space and dilated grasp of non-standardised scales and unique textures, at the least.
There are other, less mentionable names trading in this magpie-style, but few others do so with such jazzy looseness and skill, shaocased in their deceptively effortless ability to travel from frayed Eats African styles to gamelan funk and hyper footwork voodoo and free jazz flights without ever missing a beat.
Spain’s Pedro Vian enlists Inga Copeland and Pye Corner Audio to remix the latest, Black Toms, on his Modern Obscure Music label.
Vian makes a strong showing with the dancefloor-swimming deep and jazzy electro-techno of the title track and the cinematic, stygian drug chug momentum of Cops de Cap.
Remixing, Inga Copleand turns Black Toms into a boiling, tarry soup of reverse loops and banking drums, whilst Pye Corner Audio also upholds his end of the equation with a supremely heavy dark side disco wader remix of the latter.
Ethiopian Urban and Tribal Music is a fascinating field trip to a region rich in musical culture, offering dual perspectives on the sound of its capital, Addis Ababa, and farther afield on the borderlands with the Sudan and Kenya, all recorded in 1971 by Ragnar Johnson and Ralph Harrisson.
Amharic poetry and chants shoulder-to-shoulder with ritual dances and some remarkable, virtuosic instrumental performances such as the buzzing ‘Harp of David’ and the hypnotic, syncopated helixes of Fila Flute Dance
“Mindanoo Mistiru means 'What is the Unknown?' Gold from Wax refers to the layers of meaning in Amharic poetry.
Ethiopia has many languages and styles of music. These recordings were made in the Empire of Ethiopia in 1971. The music recorded in Addis Ababa uses masenko fiddles, craar and bagana lyres, washint flutes and kabaro drums. There is folk music played in Addis Ababa tej beit bars with vocals, craar, masenko, washint and kabaro, Ethiopian Christian songs accompanied by the bagana large 'Harp of David' and Mary Armeede's craar accompanied Amharic sung poetry. There are Afar chants and flutes from the Danakil Desert, Anuak thumb piano, Nuer harp, laments and drumming, a Konso dance and a Gidole flute dance from the Sudan and Kenya borderlands.”
Tumultuous techno topography - from full throttle pelters to rugged electro and barely there ambient pieces - from a L.I.E.S. regular moonlighting on The Bunker NYC
“The latest transmission from the world of Gunnar Haslam, Kalaatsakia wildly sprawls across the intersections of techno and more abstract sounds to take us on a wide-ranging journey from the subterranean to the coastal, from blown-out dub tones through fractured rhythms. An incredible work that is not easy to pigeonhole, Kalaatsakia is a full length album that navigates and sketches landscapes where new languages are created from old, dead ones to emerge as the lingua franca of interconnected immersive zones.
Haslam is an avid home listener of dub, dancehall and calypso, and that influence is quickly felt as Kalaatsakia launches with a tight electro snap and dubwise crash. Kalaatsakia advances and retreats seasonally, tightening up for the floor with the chrome-plated “Broadcast” and “Kjolle” while splintering apart on “Kalapuyan” and “nxbound”. Its constituent parts are often left to collapse in on themselves, smearing themes into residual trails. As the narrative of the album disintegrates and unfolds into more deconstructed territory, it stretches out even further with a striking skittering mental tease, settling into burbling sub-audible vocals and resonant spaces that all form a part of Haslam's self-created subconscious language.”
Elysia Crampton’s first move of 2017 arrives in form of a ‘sample pack’ revolving 8 concise Spots and six full length parts meshing central/south American club rhythms nodding to DJs Rodini and Sailer, and Mega DJs from Cochabamba, with collaged melodies and signature use of sweeping FX, including a big highlight in the nine minute Spittle (Safeway Parking Lot), referencing classical American composers such as William Gran Still & John Adams.
The eight Spots - each no longer than 16 seconds - are effectively discrete, GIF-like idents, the sort that might be looping on your desktop, stabbed into a commercial radio show, or emanating from a mobile phone computer game near you, right now.; each like a mini, but fully formed thing in its own right, though.
The other six tracks offer something a little more substantial in length, with highlights in the bombed out Battle & Screams, which sounds like frontline reportage from COD severely compressed to YouTube, and certainly in the psychedelic mixture of Bolivian folk melodies and electric shocks of Promesa (Placer County Pride), whilst the symphonic vignette Chuqui Chiunchay adapts exaggerated movie trailer voiceover style with poetic insight.
It really all comes together, though, in the denouement of Spittle (Safeway Parking Lot), where Crampton inverts her usual attention-span deficiency to stretch out on sliding, subtly augmented neo classical keys and daubs of synth in a way that perhaps reveals Elysia at her most stripped down, vulnerable and captivating, before shifting back to more familiar atmospheric collage with Sombre Blanca Misteriosa (y Rara).
NON agent Chino Amobi presents his engrossing soundtrack to minor matter, a performance piece by acclaimed choreographer, Ligia Lewis, that “deftly articulates an argument for minoritarian politics”. The work is released as part of the VF x CTM ‘Fear Anger Love’ vinyl series and relates to NON’s new multi-disciplinary piece, The Great Disappointment, which premiered at the 2017 edition of the CTM festival in Berlin.
If Chino Amobi’s widely acclaimed Airport Music For Black Folk  was a vital treatise on the way Black, Brown and Queer folk experience and navigate the interzones of airports - basically, a far more jarring and anxious experience that that induced by Brian Eno’s Music For Airports - then minor matter can be heard to explore that feeling beyond the airport, in the air and amid other de- and re-territorialised spaces.
Introducing itself with the nerve pinching synth high of Children of The World II the record pivots around Locus Of Control from Amobi’s original Airport… album, using its mournful strings and cold, hard realism as a mutual sore point of reference between the two projects. From here he spins out a tense and densely packed suite, reaching out from the prickling avant-electro of Sudan to the electrical storm shocks of Nymphieta II before scaling the jagged peaks of Hard Staccato featuring operatic vox by Embaci.
He then implores us to Disappear With Me in a maze of stark, looping corridors lit by crackling lightbulbs and the artist’s unambiguously unfriendly request, and finally calving off into what sounds like a tortured knot of Whitehouse’s Munkisi Munkondi voiced with distorted, over-the-shoulder lyrics by Chino Amobi.
It's a fascinating and visceral record, open and ready for your interpretation.
Beautifully romantic, skilfully ecstatic side of vocal studies and purring techno from James Place on Mexico City’s trustworthy Umor Rex label - home to aces by Kara-Lis Coverdale, Felicia Atkinson, Driftmachine - ushering in a suite of light-footed and high-register works using sampled voice, live percussion and machine manipulations to refreshing, head thizzing effect.
James Place uses a combination of fine grained, tiered tones and precision, pointillist arrangement to wistfully yearning ends in Voices Bloom, snagging the ear with incredible levels of detail that really seem to suspend time and allow the listener to get right inside and inhabit the vaulted dimensions of his work.
Hailed as “a distillation of cultural memory through electronic process”, the album unfolds in seven parts, departing from a line in TS Eliot’s Four Quartets that reads “the moment in and out of time” to effectively divine its own temporality within ultra-wide, subtly modulated spatial settings connected by a red thread of melodic logic.
The voice of James Baldwin opens with the LP with his query, “do you have the courage to ask, will you be my brother?” which lends its title to the melancholic determination of Courage To Ask, striking a course of percussive intricacy and flyaway voices as seductive as any intro you could hope for. Therein Robin Weep follows, recalling Visionist’s pitched vocal cut-ups but applied to a nimble tech-house shuffle underlined with swooping subbass and primed for sylvan raves in the forest.
What follows is best described as a dream sequence of events, from the way the vocal blooms into full body from wispy tones in the airy step of Move In Blue, thru the phoenix-like choral burn of Rumor and Choir, into the vast, spare dimensions of Theatre where earth and sky become uncannily inverted, to the MDMA-kissed trance eye flutter of Echo You, and finally emerging at the gates of Vangelis’s secret garden with the awe-inspiring, landscaped beauty and windswept percussive minimalism of Wild Theme Unseen.
We don’t want to over-egg it, but yeh, you really need to check this one - it’s a proper pearl for summer 2017 and beyond.
First ever official reissue of John Bender’s seminal sophomore LP, originally recorded 1979-81 around the same time as I Don’t Remember Now. A none-more-definitive slab from minimal wave/post punk’s most fecund period of innovation/exploration!!!
John Bender’s earliest output essentially forms a metaphorical bridge between the original templates of minimalist, industrial and punk music from Terry Riley, T.G. and Suicide in a way that was previously unimagined in 1979-81, or, at least executed with such acute, idiosyncratic vision by anyone else.
Originally issued on the artist’s own Record Sluts label, the first 1981 pressing of Plaster Falling was notoriously housed in sleeves that were hand-dipped in plaster and hermetically sealed in latex, meaning that lucky owners had to break open the box to get at the record inside.
What lies within is a true testament to following one’s instincts, which history has proven to be utterly fucking correct in its assertions that previously, mutually exclusive bedfellows, weren’t that incompatible after all.
It’s easy enough to say that in the non-linear flatland of 2017, but back when this record was made, nearly 40 years ago, this was a major achievement, picked up on by those few in the know, but largely reserved to fetishists and collector’s lists ever since.
A masterful balance of intuitive experimentation and avant-pop yearning lies at the core of its allure, deftly mixing drily sparky drum machines with off-kilter synth hooks and his own observational, lyrical abstractions delivered in a patented, droll and robotic voice in a way that, with hindsight, clearly predated, if not directly influenced, a whole wave of mimetic interpretations. But most crucially, they’re tunes! OK, albeit strange ones, but proper tunes all the same, and with devilishly strong grooves to boot.
Plaster Falling is the sort of record which didn’t exist before it was conceived, and not many since have topped it for immediacy and enduring effect. An essential addition to any electronic or weirdo music collection!!!
Stockholm native Demen delivers a striking statement of intent on this Kranky debut, coming across like a lost artefact from 4AD supergroup This Mortal Coil at the height of their powers, and without doubt heavily indected to Cocteau Twins' masterpiece Head Over Heels.
This latest Kranky offering comes wrapped in mystery and elaborate intrigue, the Chicago label apparently receiving ‘Nektyr’ out of the blue several years after the elusive Demen first made contact with some anonymously-submitted demos. Seemingly based out of Stockholm, this most talented if slow-working of musicians has crafted quite the debut album, sounding more like a hermetically sealed archival discovery from the glory years of 4AD rather than any modern-day counterpart.
Listening to this album, it is clear Kranky have stumbled upon quite the musical talent in Demen, or Irma Orm as she is apparently known. Each track here seems to be telling its own story, and Demen’s supple mastery of understated composition and instrumentation is evident throughout. The way she creates drama through sudden silence and unannounced sonic swerves suggests the work of a seasoned professional musician.
It’s the interplay between this ghostly musical backdrop and Demen’s shimmering voice that makes this such a powerful listen however. An otherworldly and evocative whisper, Demen doesn’t form words, but rather intones emotion through sheer yearning power.
A gothic opera of the highest ethereal order. RIYL Cocteau Twins, Tropic Of Cancer.
Lifetime of Love is the debut album by Moon Diagrams, the solo recording project of Deerhunter co-founder and drummer Moses John Archuleta.
"Gradually pieced together over a ten-year period, it finds Archuleta processing various stages of love, loss and regeneration via forlorn outsider pop, minimal techno and warm, weightless experimentation. Hymnal opener “Playground” has echoes of Eno and Grouper; lengthy workouts such as “The Ghost and the Host” recall long-lost Harmonia outtakes, or something from one of Warp’s Artificial Intelligence compilations; the bitter pill pop of “End of Heartache” has the scratchy guitar of New Order circa Brotherhood and the square pegness of Dazzle Ships-era OMD.
Several songs are instrumental, while “Bodymaker” features Sian Ahern (Eaux, Sian Alice Group). Subtly grandiose and quietly epic, Lifetime of Love really does live up to its title: a hopeful and curious beginning makes way for a morose middle, before a bittersweet, optimistic end."
Deluxe, expanded edition of Domo Arigato which followed on the heels of ambitious ‘modern classical’ album Without Mercy a year earlier, and saw composer/guitarist Vini Reilly and percussionist Bruce Mitchell augmented by John Metcalfe on viola and Tim Kellet on trumpet.
"Their show-cum-recital at the Kan’i Hoken Hall on 25 April was recorded digitally and filmed on two 35mm cameras. ‘Mixing down was fun,’ recalled Durutti manager/mentor Anthony H. Wilson. ‘We were on a flight out next morning so Nippon Columbia hired a mobile studio recording truck and we mixed from midnight to 6 a.m.’
In fact the group always considered this rather hurried mix imperfect, and therefore for this greatly expanded 2017 reissue Factory Benelux have returned to the original soundboard tapes and remastered the entire 90 minute performance, in the process restoring the original running order.
Disc 1 of the 4 CD set presents the original digital mix from 1985, while Discs 2 and 3 include the 2017 soundboard remaster plus a previously unreleased gig from Tokyo Loft Club on 29 April 1984. Disc 4 is an NTSC format DVD featuring a pristine transfer of the original Japanese laserdisc edition of Domo Arigato, which is the filmed version of the show with the 1985 digital mix.
A double disc vinyl edition is also available with a bonus 7" single, Dedications for Japan."
Ride release their first album in over twenty years, ‘Weather Diaries’.
“Produced by legendary DJ, producer and remixer Erol Alkan, ‘Weather Diaries’ is packed with all the classic elements that made Ride one of the defining bands of the early 90s. Trembling distortion, beautiful harmonies, pounding rhythms, shimmering soundscapes and great songwriting all combine to make an album that’s ambitious in scope, timeless and thoroughly addictive.
The album sees the band reunited with label co-founders Dick Green and Mark Bowen, who worked with Ride during the band’s early years on Creation Records. It also brings the band back together with mixer Alan Moulder (Arctic Monkeys, Smashing Pumpkins, The Killers) who mixed their seminal 1990 album ‘Nowhere’ and produced its follow up ‘Going Blank Again’."
Antifrost overse’er Dimitris Kariofillis (Ilios, Mohammad) and Ensemble Phoenix Basel pay tribute to the memory of Daniel Buess, an esteemed percussionist and experimental musician born in Basel, Switzerland, who was found dead in the Rhine after going missing in early 2016.
Written and conducted by the composer, Ilios, and performed by him with an 11-piece ensemble live in Geneva at Cave12 on June 12th 2016, the album plots a perhaps predictably, and suitably, doom-laced affair that finds a mutual sore point between Ilios and Buess’ bodies of work, arriving at an expansive conclusion of spectral strings, wind and haunted, hadean electronics that get right under the skin for the duration.
A tasty morsel, this: Oliver Coates and Eliza McCarthy perform two works by pre-eminent composer Mica Levi aka Micachu, originally previewed on the Feeling Romantic Feeling Tropical Feeling Ill mixtape, respectively.
Mica’s first new release since her soundtrack to Jackie finds her working again with longtime collaborator, cellist Oliver Coates, following their Remain Calm  LP with Coates’ rendition of Peace - an intensely jagged and sore piece written for Mica’s mum, which was premiered on NTS in 2014 and re-recorded in 2016 for this release. the results are more gnarled than anything off their album together, and much closer to the almost vicious strings of her soundtrack work, with Coates beautifully channelling the piece’s searing emotion.
On the other hand, following her contribution to the Jackie soundtrack, Eliza McCarthy reprises her role as Mica’s favoured pianist with a tumbling rework of Harpo Dine, whose febrile cadence seems to capture a sense of being drunk on love or booze in its bluesy classical wooze.
J. Albert’s Exotic Dance Records catch DJ Osom debuting on the off-beat with four killer tracks of adroit, Afro-Cuban-informed house grooves.
Like the scuzzier cousin of DJ Qu, the styles inside exhibit a much finer grasp of rhythmic nuance than the legion wallopers in circulation right now, instinctively working off and around the kicks with a far more satisfying appeal to those DJs and dancers who can’t be arsed with ploddy line dancing.
From the top, he untangles a wild stripe of knucked tribal percussion and creamy acid streaks in Glued, eventually resolving with a much softer deep house shuffle, but the itch is back with infectious effect in the gear-slipping drum magick of In Case Of Emergency, before he gets down with a wicked, scratchy sort of Soca-house/UKF bump ’n roll in Chch, and then with a maaad Miami electro-bass mutation called Rubberman.
Seriously, this is a mint plate. Makes a lot of other stuff sound infantile and formulaic by comparison.
Making a smart move to Honest Jon's, Actress offers his first brand new material (discounting remixes) since his landmark 'Hazyville' album dropped in 2008.
The move signifies a subtle but essential development in his sound, preparing the ground for a hugely promising album with two mindblowing tracks. 'Paint, Straw And Bubbles' seemingly untethers his Detroit dream from terra firma, percolating his ethereal sound through a system of camouflaging filters until the joins dissolve and we're left with a remarkable feat of intangible spatial dynamics viewed with an incredibly unique depth perception. It's electro-acoustic mind-dance music for Afro-futurist stoners.
The near absence of any bass only enhances the weightlessness of the track, creating that heady sensation of an overcast day between pressure systems when everything doesn't feel quite as it should. 'Maze (Long Version)' is going to become a serious anthem. Here, Actress looks to early 80's synth wave and the cold industrial pulse of groups like Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire, pinpointing the influences of Detroit music from Model 500 and Shake which in turn so heavily informed his sonic outlook.
The warped, modern-day answer to John Bender and reams of early ‘80s freaks, Beau Wanzer rattles out a grotty lot of no wave machine misshapes on his latest self-released Untitled session.
This time out he expectorates 12 gobs of curdled electronics, barely getting into gear with the slurred, half-speed electro of Dr. Dre’s Smelly Feet - which sounds excellent on 45rpm, too - beside the V/Vm new beat styles of Front/Side View and other dank lowlights such as the blunt EBM slugger, Something Stinks and the keening hot stepper, Shock Therapy, leading up to dainty-but-fucked waltz of Happy Birthday To Me.
No doubts, this is the real deal dirt. Huff it.
Shifted gets into 2nd gear on his new label, Drifting Over
Coming with the foundation quaking subbass roll and superb depth perception of Gauze; a piece of Mike Parker-esque aquatic movement in Centipede; and, best of all, the brutally blinkered purity of A Way Beyond on a vintage Ø or Plastikman tip.
Misty-eyed deep techno missions from the Lord Of The Isles...
Minting the DFSANT label with a sublime three track turn taking us from classic Carl Craig levels of loved-up depth in B2B4, to ersatz exotic boogie in F.A.P., and filigree spring reverb control in the dusky electro of Rave May Four.
Bank Records grip Bookworms & Steve Summers for their 4th collaboration, a thistly, pastoral house groove with charming melodic progressions in STE-018, leaving Bookworms to go heads down and solo on the murky trudge of STE-101.