Unforgivingly bleak, strung-out North American noise scapes, converging the visions of William Fowler Collins and Aaron B Turner’s as Thalassa in their debut release, Bonds Of Prosperity for the latter’s SIGE Records.
If you’re at all familiar with their respective output - Turner as member of Isis, Mammifer, and a duo with wife, Faith Coloccia, for BEB; Collins’ palmful of releases as Mesa Ritual with Raven Chacon, and solo for Type and, more recently, SIGE - then you’ll be familiar with the bare, elemental ground they explore inside, and likely armed with the knowledge that mental Goretex and strong boots are required for such territory.
In four expansive parts they trudge from marshy distortion to hard gneiss and stunning synth panoramas, embarking with what sounds like a field recording of primitives dragging boulders across vast plains to a site of worship in Pitted Aegis, then bowing and staying down to the all-seeing drone with the incendiary intensity of Secular Pyres.
Rotating your hog-tied and petrified remains 180º to face a black and blue bruised sky with the shifting, inclement weather systems and death howls of Face Obscure, they lay your flayed mind to rest in the widescreen flatlands of Revolting Corpus, with wind bitten and decaying strings leading up to an excoriating, ultimate noise destination.
The Night Slugs capo returns on a firm R&G footing for his first dispatch of the year with Salvage 2017 - his first proper solo release since 2014’s Your Charizmatic Self and grimiest gear since the Southside EP .
Exclusively built from 12-bit blocks of material, the vibe is London through-and-through, teasing out the warm breeze chord chops and mercurial tri-step tics of Island Hopping beside the ruddier, recoiling bang of Salvage Lurkin, then slicing in era worming vocal samples around the lean beat and natty digi strings of Know Already, and drifting home with he balmy, dawning beat-less flex of PR Drawbridge.
Just add ice.
Reckonwrong’s 2015 debut EP for Pinkman - the precursor to his pair of 12”s with Whities - secretes four cuts of wayward house electronics in distinctly unique style.
There’s an infectious jazziness recalling Jameszoo releases that worms its way into he salty hooks of Especially You, but slanted to a wonky house groove in his very own image, but we’d struggle to think of any direct precedents for the baroque house waltz of Hansie.
We can hear shades of broken techno recalling A Made Up Sound in the bumpy slug of Morton, but again he puts a different spin on familiar sounds with the glassy synth voices and psychedelic bassline cadence of Innerzone Atmosphere, which is just outright weird but strongly functional dancefloor material.
The Ostgut Ton staple yields a 2nd album of intricate house and electronica designs with Work for the Berlin-based powerhouse.
Urged by a restless, hypnotic dancefloor sensibility, but measured out in waves of alternating pressure, Work scales between a broad range of styles and tempos within Höppner’s house remit, stretching from Plaid-like IDM with opener All By Themselves (My Belle) to Suicide-al strokes of Three Is A Charm W/ Randweg at the close, glyding thru bassliebn-driven garage-house tribalism in Clean Living w/ Tram 78; West London broken beat suss in Hoel Head; a slow-motion dive with The Dark Segment; and even pulsating Italo-disco-pop with From Up And Down.
The main player behind the dictaphone moniker is Oliver Doerell, a multi instrumentalist originally from Brussels who now resides in the musical heartland of Berlin. The last 3 years have been spent working on the Dictaphone project, assisted by the saxaphone and clarinette playing Roger Doering. Their past has been spent in similar fields, Oliver has composed numerous scores for theatre work, and Roger has a film soundtrack for ‘Alaska.de’ which was a major box-office hit in Germany. Their first full length work, ‘m.=addiction’ is a beautifully crafted album that trancends classification with all it’s regerences to midnight jazz, old film reels and heartwarming, nostalgic found sounds. Points of reference range from the Cinematic Orchestra through to Boards of Canada and down to a deeply unconscious underground aesthetic, the beauty of this album is wrapped in an incomprehensible warmth - its indecipherable accessability and its undeniably microscopic, home-baked construction. Pure magic, so pleased to have this incredible album available again.
PDP and his engineer assistant Kassian von Troyer return to The Triad  one year later, extracting and augmenting its melodic soul in a deliquescent and starry-eyed suite of Ambient Versions.
While traces of vocals and beats may bookend the record, with the very Jimmy Somerville-esque turn of Queens on The Winter Hymn and in drowsier style fringed by drizzly tics in Wallflowers For Pale Saints, the rest of the album is broadly ambient in its reflective tone and spacious design, reworking the original light footed grooves into weightless song structures which reveal PDP’s lyrical melodies and vaulted harmonies as its dreamlike narrative impetus.
With the sprawling, psychedelic structure and intent of Temple of BBV arriving after years of freeform jams, Paddy Shine tests out a more organised sort of compositional democracy for Gnod alongside Dutch psychonauts Radar Men From The Moon.
The results are decidedly masculine, largely due to the bellowing lead vocals, and mostly connotes an angrily confrontational sort of psychedelia. But if there’s any sense of release it’s within the record’s sprawling dub dimensions, rendering a widescreen impression of the recording session that embeds the listener at the centre of it all.
“In 1965 the Dutch scientist and psychedelic pioneer Bart Huges embarked on a personal journey by taking an electric dentist’s drill and using it to open a hole in his skull, theorising that this measure - known as trepanation and chronicled in this book ‘The Mechanics Of Brain Blood Volume (BBV) - would result in enhanced mental power, and in effect a permanent high for the owner of the skull in question.
Fifty-one years on, in 2016, this act formed an inspiration for a meeting of mind and matter on an entirely different level, as Salford’s imperious collective Gnod locked horns for a collaboration with Dutch psychedelic and experimental force Radar Men From The Moon, also originally set to take place in the Netherlands, at Eindhoven Psych Lab.
Written and recorded in only four days, the result is four uncompromising transmissions, informed equally by stark intensity and hypnotic repetition. ‘Temple Of BBV’ sees both acts spurring the other on to higher peaks of intensity. “Both bands had agreed from the off that we were not just gonna go in there and just jam and play over each other for hours in the hope that something good would happen” elaborates Gnod’s Paddy Shine. “We went in with the mindset of creating sound structures which turned out to be a very gratifying process” Powerful testimony to the expansive and exploratory nature of both bands, ‘Temple Of BBV’ is a radical foray into the unknown that exists firmly outside of genre or classification. Aptly, the set will be performed once again as part of Gnod’s residency at this years Roadburn Festival.
The collaboration maps out intimidating psychic landscapes that revel in challenge and confrontation, and appear set to enter the skulls of the uninitiated by any means necessary.”
Oliver Doerell and Roger Doering's revive their much-loved Dictaphone project, last active in the early-mid 2000s on City Centre Offices. Joined this time around by Alexander Stolze on violin, they generate a lavishly cinematic sound, at times distinctly Continental, at others given a decidedly Arabic lilt, especially on the gorgeous 'Manami' and 'Soylent Green (1973)'. There are echoes of the micro-level loop-finding experiments of Jan Jelinek, at others the midnight arthouse blues of Julian Neto, but Dictaphone have got their own thing going, and Poems From A Rooftop is an elegantly constructed work of modern electronic jazz, suavely bohemian without being flip, beautifully detailed without being over-fussy, and warmly recommended.
Fresh from his wide-scoped ‘Fiction / Non Fiction’ side for Fatcrta’s 130701 label, Olivier Alary (Ensemble) follows quieter lines of investigation to enchanting, sublime conclusions in his first suite of purely electronic music under his birth name - RIYL Eleh, Eliane Radigue, Kevin Drumm
“LINE is happy to announce Pieces for Sine Wave Oscillators by French composer Olivier Alary. This collection of works comes on the heels of his acclaimed poetic album Fiction / Non-Fiction on 130701 records.
Pieces for Sine Waves Oscillators is the first collection of purely electronic music by musician and composer Olivier Alary. These six tracks explore the melodic, harmonic and contrapuntal possibilities of the most rudimentary expression of sound: the sine tone.
In Alary’s hands, these basic, occasionally discordant elements become a soundtrack to feeling and rest, dream and presence—sometimes bell-like, sometimes evoking brass, strings, organs or woodwinds. Using a network of 64 software oscillators, the composer creates voices, blurring melodies, which drift and intertwine—a post-modern, digital chamber music that also recalls Medieval forms, Renaissance choirs.
Pieces for Sine Waves Oscillators has none of the coldness that characterizes similar work by minimal electronic composers: these gentle, vivid elegies seem to shift and breathe, twisting like aurora, gesturing toward the sacred.
An otherworldly elegant collection of works for those who love Eliane Radigue, Eleh, or Celer.”
Northern Spain’s Jasss returns to Mannequin’s Death of The Machines series - which she kicked off in 2016 - with a 2nd shot of harness-straining EBM noise and slow, seksi, mutant chugalug.
No Complicate knuckles down to raw, fleshly synth noise and bony rhythms on the A-side, arching up from a cavernous intro before unleashing a streaking, needling lead that will elicit winces and jackal grins in equal measure.
On No Chance she drags the tempo right down to a 100bpm grind riddled with expressive synth voices and barking stabs, deferring another beastly lead line until it’s required, and promptly resetting the track with electrifying force.
Featuring the distinctively husky whisper of Iggy Pop, The Pure and The Damned is the closing track from Oneohtrix Point Never’s Cannes Award-winning score for Good Time, directed by the Safdie Brothers and starring Robert Pattinson.
An Album Co-Composed By Four Musicians: Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly, James Mcalister...
"Flanked by a string quartet and a consort of seven trombones, this unique collaborative ensemble have assembled an expansive song cycle that explores the Sun, the Moon, the planets and other celestial bodies of our solar system (and beyond) through soundscape, song, science and myth.
The subject of the album is not just the wilderness of outer space, but also the interior space of human consciousness and how it engages with divinity, depravity, society and self - what does it mean to be human? A musical and aesthetic journey as far-reaching as its subject: from lush piano ballads to prog-rock political anthems, curious electronic backbeats to classical cadenzas, which occasionally give way to ambient interludes and majestic brass chorales, buttressed by a percussive drive that keeps the momentum skyward.
In spite of all the experimentation in sound and style, Sufjan’s vocals provide a clear and coherent centre of gravity, and includes some of his most diverse vocal performances to date (from soft hush to guttural scream); whether he’s singing through effects pedals, vocoders, auto-tune or not, his voice delivers an ambitious flight map through the cosmos..."
Shimmering, proggy techno roller, Hard Times from Christian Nielsen (Chris Minus), backed with Locked Groove’s unlocked, breezy shuffler, Dawn, which is clearly intended for the most wide-eyed and loved up points of the morning.
Grim trapstep pressure from Compa and Newham Gens’ Footsie, backed with a murderous instrumental, In Check.
No Hype kills cold and hard with proper UK road flavour, with Footsie stressing out on natty strings and reticulated drums in classic form. Instant anthem.
For something more atmospheric, mutable, In Check drops a severe payload of tightly coiled grime drums and choral arrangements right out of a late ‘80s/early ‘90s horror flick.
Black Merlin brings his patented, hypnotic drums and synth pressure to Pinkman; swaggering on the clubfoot with a head-drilling drone bomb named Phase 1, and recalling Toresch’s clanking industrial thrust with the intensely reverberating drums and noise of Phase 2.
Louisiana’s Suicideyear returns from hiatus with this cracked banger on LuckyMe.
It’s not quite as giddy as his earlier gear, finding him homing in on rugged boom clap patterns and blistered shoegaze/electronic motifs with a more refined sort of intensity.
Lanark Artefax scales up a dazzling Braindance sound for Whities, firming up his electro rhythms and dynamic production for the clubs following more abstract, tentative aces on Cong Burn Waves and UIQ over the last coupla years. If AFX and Objekt adopted a sprog, it would probably grow up to sound just like Whities 011…
Flickering Debris acts as an excellent, vertiginous intro, tilting up like a rollercoaster car in the final moments before it goes into freefall, but then cannily deferring the gratification of the drop and leaving us suspended in choral hyperspace. The drop, if you want to call it that, comes proper with the hard, fine-tuned electro of Touch Absence, which arguably matches the clinical edge of Objekt’s white labels with the lushness of mid ‘90s AFX, although it also kinda takes us back to that SCSI/Finlow/Datathief era at the turn of the century.
Hyphen To Splice follows into more abstracted, messed up designs somewhere between, say, the emotive nuance of Oneohtrix Point Never or Maxwell Sterling, and Rian Treanor’s bendy metrics, leaving the majestically vaulted chorales and sweeping recursive electronics of Voices Near The Hypocentre to blossom in delirious, mind-bending fractals.
Utterly exquisite, decayed and subtly dynamic ambient gestures from Tokyo’s Chihei Hatakeyama, who crosses paths with Lawrence English’s Room40 for the 4th time in this blissed-out suite of studies on the metaphysical relationship between sound and architecture. A must check for fans of early 0PN, AFX’s SAW II, Stars Of The Lid or Leyland Kirby!
The sublime end product of five years of recording, which Cheihei embarked upon after observing he labyrinthine bazaars of Turkey, Mirage is presented as “a meditation on the phenomenology of music and architecture” and particularly acknowledges the interaction of human voices and manmade spaces used for worship and ritual, and how they shape one another within the collective percpetive experience.
Drawing from that experience of Turkey both literally and figuratively, Hatakeyama uses location recordings made during his field trips to frame and environmentally watermark a series of sublime, gauzy sonic postcards that live up to Johan Wolfgang von Goethe’s poetic statement, “Music is liquid architecture; Architecture is frozen music”, by effectively distilling and rendering those places and headspace as scenes torn like pages from a sketchy memory.
And so they appear Mirage-like as flickering, intangible reminisces of serene sound baths in familiar yet unfamiliar spaces, cradling the listener in a metaphysical space that feels calmingly nostalgic and timeless, out-of-place, yet transcendent to most, if not all, cultures who place value in the transformative experience of sound perceived within spaces of special meaning.