After a session together in a Bergen studio 20 years ago which sadly only resulted in a distorted tape, Bjørn Torske and Prins Thomas finally get back together to make music.
"Bjørn Torske is a figurehead and grand old man of the electronic music scene in Norway, inspiring and laying the foundation for producers like Prins Thomas, Lindstrom and Todd Terje.
Bjørn and Thomas' relationship goes back to the mid 90's when they first bonded over a shared passion for oddball disco, dub and detroit techno. This album is in many ways full circle with Bjorn and Thomas making music together for the first time.
Square One is a collection of loose, abstract and freeform avant-disco jams, parallel world-disco maybe? Whatever you call it, this album is a labour of love. A sound they both have traveled towards for all these years. And here they finally are, at square one.
The album was recorded live in Taakeheimen Studio, Oslo, in the spring of 2015 with both guys manning an instrument each in each overdub, piling the layers of sounds on top of each other. A year later they took the now edited tracks and mixed them down in live takes with all hands on the desk in Malabar, another Oslo studio. After a couple of rounds with some very blunt scissors the tracks became what are now included on this album.
Square One is a meeting of two minds. Probably as close to their musical soul as you can get."
The dual albums find the trio of Buzz Osborne, Dale Crover and Steve McDonald showcasing two distinct sides to the band’s music: ‘Death’ is a ‘proper’ Melvins’ release and ‘Love’ is the score to the Jesse Nieminen-directed, self-produced short also titled ‘A Walk With Love & Death’.
"“This was a huge undertaking,” explained band ringleader Buzz Osborne. “All three things: the album, the soundtrack and the film are benchmarks for us.” Drummer Dale Crover added, “‘A Walk With Love & Death’ is one giant, dark, moody, psychotic head trip! Not for the faint of heart. You’ll sleep with the lights on after listening.”
The albums, which include guests Joey Santiago (The Pixies), Teri Gender Bender (Le Butcherettes / Crystal Fairy) and Anna Waronker (That Dog), were co-produced with engineer Toshi Kosai."
As one of the standout projects unveiled by the excellent but sadly now defunct /\ \ Aught label (2014-2015), Xth Réflexion’s /\ \ 05 + /\ \ 06 tapes transmitted some of the most enigmatic dub techno mutations since Chain Reaction kicked the bucket in 2003. Now brought to vinyl by a mysterious new label, Chained Library, we’re given a firmly tangible, if decidedly elusive reminder of Xth Réflexion’s raving, abstract excellence here.
Collecting /\ \ 05 + /\ \ 06 in their entirety - 10 tracks to be precise - Xth Réflexion’s first vinyl plunges listeners into a world of kinetic dub ephemera, feeling out a grayscale palette of cracked rhythms, silty chords and atmospheric grit with a sublime appreciation of flux and drift that feels to emulate the sensation or dynamic of brownian motion with an intoxicating appeal akin to the systolic diffusion of opioids or air-con in a sparsely furnished, humid room.
They scale and skid between tempos with naturally fluid agility, sucking us in with the flux of acousmatic source material, strobing dub rhythms and coruscating noise in 01 before winding up the tightly coiled, double-time flex of highlight, 02 and jabbing out the panicked underwater coda of 04 on the first disc, before the 2nd wraps up wickedly restless square bass squirm and rhythmic noise in 05 and 06, along with the desiccated structures of 07, plus the Voices From The Lake-style roil of 08 and the Lee Gamble-like immersion 10.
Striking the finest balance between abstraction and just-about-buoyant dub function, they are, by some distance, the best examples we’ve heard crawl out of the whole grey area in the last few years. A really strong look for anyone looking for solutions to grid-locked rhythm and sound problems.
P.S. if you’re worried about the packaging affecting the fidelity of the vinyl, we’re pretty sure that’s supposed to be the point, especially considering that the originals were presented on tape.
Akkord slip out of the shadows with the wraith-like jungle killer RCVR and a mutant ‘ardcore twyster, XMTR for their spiritual home; Rob Booth’s Houndstooth.
With time spent on respective solo projects since release of the Obelisk 10” , they hungrily converge on a sound somewhere between Burial and Demdike Stare with the lip-bitingly strong swerve of RCVR, seemingly reanimating the cadavers of ’94 Dillinja and Bizzy B like when you run an electrical charge thru a dead frog, triggering a golem-like creation of brittle breakbeats and arcing, slashing mentasms primed to run amok in the rave.
XMTR goes even farther backwards/forwards into the grave of UK ‘ardcore, exhuming and experimenting with the bodies of 2 Bad Mice in a back street vivisection of illegal subs and gristly breaks guided by a dread hand.
Rubadub kicks off an irregular new series with three dead-on techno-house tracks by New York's Anthony Naples (Mister Saturday Night / Trilogy Tapes / Opal Tapes). Buff up yer dancing clogs 'cause this one's an ace, from the Shake-like chords and jack of 'Ill Still' to the good-times disco -house vibes of 'Faceless', and the gritty-but-elegant thump of 'I Don't See Them' on the flipside. Aces.
Aisha Orazbayeva and Naomi Sato link up for this richly textured reading of John Cage´s Two4, a late work from the composer's series of Number Pieces. The release follows recent records from SN Variations featuring music by Giacinto Scelsi, Adrian Corker and Chris Watson among others.
Steady, crystalline tones emanate from Naomi Sato's shō - a Japanese wind instrument associated with gagaku court music, and one of the few non-Western instruments that Cage wrote explicitly for. In contrast, Orazbayeva brings out the violin's fragile grain with the soft scraping of horsehair and the interplay of upper partials.
Like all of Cage´s work from the early 1950s onwards, the Number Pieces were composed using chance procedures, in an attempt to free music from the composerly impulse to order and fixity.
The Number Pieces occupied Cage throughout the last six years of his life, and are marked by the use of time brackets: simple fragments of music with timings indicating when, in the overall composition, they should begin and end. In Two4 (as in the majority of the series) these timings are flexible, to be determined by the musician either in performance or, again, through chance procedures.
In Two4, the fragments are often no more than a single note. The interaction of sounds becomes highly unpredictable: at some points violin and shō mesh in a kind of brief unity, while elsewhere they seem to drift serenely past, or through, each other. Throughout, sounds spill out like ink on blotting paper, surrounded by pregnant silence.
Other recent projects from Aisha Orazbayeva include performances at Oslo's Only Connect (with Tim Etchells) and Copenhagen's Klang festival (with Plus Minus) as well as recording Morton Feldman's Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello for forthcoming release on Another Timbre.”
After hinting at this sound for years, Stefan Schneider and Sven Kacirek turn out as uniquely beguiling mesh of textured rhythmelodic electronics and Sofia Jernberg’s pinched, puckered vocals shaped into wistful, sorta-ambient pop songs. RIYL Kriedler, To Rococo Rot, Harmonia
“Another dose of whirring rhythms and dark drones courtesy of Stefan Schneider and Sven Kacirek. This time around they have introduced the beguiling tones of Swedish singer Sofia Jernberg on three pieces. The Düsseldorf/Hamburg duo Schneider Kacirek released their debut album Shadows Documents some three years ago (BB 175CD/LP). A coarse energy ran through Shadows Documents, drawing on the pair's various excursions to Kenya as producers. Shadows Documents was a somnambulistic interpretation of Kenyan music using drums and percussion (Kacirek) and analog synthesizers (Schneider) -- no samples. The two of them took their time working on Radius Walk. Since their debut release, they have toured extensively with the likes of John McEntire (Tortoise, The Sea and Cake). The experience of playing together in live situations has influenced how they interact as musicians, a process which has helped to shape the new record. The acoustics of Sven Kacirek's studio were set up perfectly to capture the forceful sound of the drums and analog synthesizers as they melt into a compact whole. The result is a sonically more concentrated and more transparent album in comparison to its predecessor.
Dark bass drones and whirring percussion sounds figure prominently in the music. A fascination with repetitive rhythm is the common thread which runs through the musical development of both musicians: listen to Stefan Schneider in his other projects, the bands Kreidler and To Rococo Rot, and his albums with Hans-Joachim Roedelius. Further evidence can be heard on Kacirek's solo albums, in particular on his much-lauded Kenya Sessions (PING 020CD, 2011). By introducing the Swedish singer Sofia Jernberg, Schneider and Kacirek have added a new dimension to their music. They first met Jernberg in Berlin, where she performed with Kenyan singer Ogoya Nengo for whom Schneider and Kacirek had done production work in the past. As one of the most sought after vocalists on the improvised music circuit, Jernberg made an immediate impression on Schneider and Kacirek, who were quick to suggest that they work together. The splendid fruits of their labors can be savored on three tracks on the album. "Dust", "i Atlanten", and "Smiling" express both Jernberg's love of Scandinavian folk music and her mastery of improvisation. Her voice neither dominates the songs in the manner of a singer-songwriter, nor does it lean towards crossover experimentation. It feels more like a brand new genre of music.”
Smoky, lo-fi introspection from Italy’s Morkebla and Portland-based Best Available Technology (BAT) from 2015, making its first digital appearance here.
The Morkebla tracks are oozing with late night feels, with the claggy chamber synth meditations of Absent Visor and I Numeri Maestri sandwiching the SKRSINTL-esque dub wormhole, A Sob Inverts, and BAT does his cranky offbeat thing with murky results in Recasting Ope and what sounds like Pole played by machine sprites in Spectra Exigent.
Dutch electro-jazz-funk oddball Jameszoo gives a welcome follow-up to his bugged-out Fool album with the mad flair of his Flake EP, including faithfully freaky remixes from Niels Broos and Frans Petter.
Working at the maddest angles of his ‘Comedy Funk’ style, Jameszoo treads a fine line between instrumental looseness and bittersweet synthetic tones across the EP, turning up most endearing highlights in the head-pinching highs and collapsed groove of Rolrolrol, and the almost Arca-esque swoon and discordant keen of Spit, before his Jameszoo Quartet keyboardist Niels Broos squeezes the title cut Flake into wild, squirming, weightless figures, and Frans Petter strokes the same elements into a sort of curdled fusion jazz with tuffer breaks.
Jan Schulte makes his Dekmantel debut with Peace Moves, an EP of percussive soul, that captures the Salon Des Amateurs resident in full, tribal swing.
Four tracks of informed, well-paced grooves, and finely crafted beats that extenuate the German’s penchant for the mature, and fun loving heads.
Drowsy, melancholy dub-pop from New Jackson’s From Night To Night album
...backed with a dosed-up and floppy skanking Peaking Lights remix and his vocodered kosmiche boogie ace, Let The Freak Come Out At Night.
San Antonio, Texas-based House of Kenzo add to the trail of dancefloor destruction on Rabit’s Halcyon Veil with a debut EP of rugged hard club tracks experimenting with a fusion of gabber kicks and heavy metal slashes.
Bonfires of Urbanity showcases three of the collective in fierce fashion, tossing up the controlled rage of Ledef’s blast beat rushes, side-eying vocals and cartoonish sirens in Purity Bynez, and to Death Grips-like effect in Hangar Queen featuring barked vocals by Kelly Mizrahi, with a paranoid, claustrophobic diagnosis of American contemporary culture in the EP’s most impressive part, Tone Pardon’s fractious anti-banger, Melania Carry.
Electro expert, Ekman on a dark and mysterious mission with Crème Organisation
Twisting up killer hydro-licks in Doomsday Argument, The Great Filter, and Post Singularity Day for fans of Ultradyne or Drexciya, then with a more acidic charge, jacking charge, Helena Hauff-style, in Antifragile and Into The Grey Goo.
Dom & Roland’s Dubs From The Dungeon series squeeze off two previously unreleased tech-steppers from DJ Krust dating to late ‘90s.
Flip It is a clattering, boisterous roller built around distorted bass and his patented hardass drums.
Ivory Puzzle is more intriguing, harnessing devilish bass chicanery in a taut 2-step rollcage with signature attention to detail.
Venerable virtuoso guitarist Mike Cooper evokes rich imagery and narrative through simple means - lap steel guitar, FX and imagination - on a particularly personal, compelling solo journey for Room 40; an elegy to formative influences, acknowledging departed friends in beautifully affective style.
If you’ve ever heard a Mike Cooper album you’ll already no doubt be familiar with his peculiar kind of alchemy, taking traditional Pacific music and re-factoring it with electronic treatments influenced by his love of radio art and sound installations.
Now 75 years old - his music sounds utterly contemporary, situated somewhere between Takoma, Exotica, 4th World and Ambient musics; always with a minimal, evocative signature that honestly sounds quite unlike anything or anyone you’ll have heard before.
His inspiration for this album, recounted below, provides heartbreaking context for the sounds you’ll hear on ‘Raft’, but suffice to say that this album has once again convinced us that Cooper is one of the most inspirational and consistently brilliant artists working on the scene today, long may his reign continue.
“When I was 18 years old I had a friend who was twice my age - 36. We worked together in the same timber mill - Baynes in Reading - where i was apprenticed by my father - I had no say in the matter - despite wanting to go to art college - which in hindsight would probably have been a mistake.
My friends name was Jim - Jim Sale. I sensed that Jim was different to all the other men who worked in the mill and my suspicion was confirmed when discovered that he was building a boat in another part of the mill - nearer to the Kennet and Avon canal that ran past - not far away. i was actually destined to work for a while in that part of the mill for a while - it was where they ‘kiln dried’ timber prepared for building purposes.
As time went on Jim became a kind of ‘life mentor’ for me. He and his wife (name gone Im afraid) were my first ‘adult’ friends outside my family. Jim and his wife already lived on a boat when we first met - a canal barge - longboat - and i often visited them down on the river Thames where they were moored. I began to love the river due to them and spent many hours walking it in all the time that I lived in Reading.
The millionaire and holiday resort owner Billy Butlin organised a charity walk from John O Groats in Scotland to Lands End in Cornwall for a prize of 500 to the winner -- 715 people entered - including Jim who as far as I remember completed the walk but didn’t win the money to finance his boat. It was about 1000 kilometres all in all. That was kind of person he was.
Eventually Jim did finish building his boat -- more of a waterproof plywood box really. One weekend he borrowed one of the timber mill cranes and lifted it up and over the fence into the canal. It floated -- he then single handed poled it down the canal to the main body of the Thames. He had no means of steering this box and its only power was his two arms and a long pole. It was reasonably ok going down the fairly tranquil flow of the canal but when he finally hit the main river the current took hold and it began to rotate while being dragged down stream - which wasn’t the direction Jim intended for it to go. Somehow he survived it all and managed to get it to go where he wanted which was to De Montfort island - now called Fry’s Island. There was a ‘bohemian jazz club’ on the island at the time called The Bohemian Club. The island was named after Robert De Montfort who fought a duel there in 1157 with Henry Of Essex.
Jim and his wife settled into life on the island - fitted out the ‘boat’ and had two children - they travelled back and forth to the river banks by a small rowing boat whenever they needed. My own life took me away from them as i began to play music with my band The Blues Committee and sing and play in folk clubs.
We had friends in common and I stayed in touch and I visited several times - one day I heard the terrible news that the boat had caught fire and they were unable to rescue their two children. It was the first funeral i ever attended and I have never saw either of them again after that.
So - Raft will be dedicated to them as well as William Willis and Vital Alsar and his crew.”