Bass sage Liam Blackburn’s been on the mushies again, tuning into the Ancestral Voices in his head and relaying their psychedelic chorus in Mycelia: the 1st spore from his new label; The Fifth Kingdom.
Picking a most worthy subject for the latest recital of Ancestral Voices, Liam invokes the power of the naturally ubiquitous yet unethically policed psychoactive flora in an undulating suite ranging from widescreen synth panoramas to hyaline peaks and radiant revelations
Ancient sounding folk-blues wheeze and dusty backwater strums by travelled American singer/songwriter Michael Hurley
“"Reissue of the classic from 2010! One of our favorite Hurley LPs ever. Side A features Michael on the pump and electric organ and side two features Michael on guitar. Nice and sparse. Some of his most moving and heartbreaking work here. Absolute stunners. This edition comes with nice liner notes written by Michael himself and some beautiful drawing Michael made way back in 1962! Suitable for framing. Michael Hurley is one of the world's greatest singer songwriters and here in lays the proof."
Dragan Lakic tests out a snarling sort of industrial techno sound for Power Vacuum after a string of straighter bangers for the likes of Planet Rhythm records.
Like Limewax or Current Value trying out techno for size, Oleka lunges for the jugular in all four parts, resulting a proper filthy bollocking in Ostentiferous, the skull-cracking bezerker Thereoid, and the dry wretch/hump of Hamartia.
Second of 6 samplers marking the 10th birthday of WPH
DJ Red D plucks out FCL’s sought-after classic More Than Seven - a classic spin on the house staple Seven Ways to Jack - beside three new jobs from label fam: DJ Longsleeve Ft. ITW with the dreamy deaths of Ode Aan De Filosofie; Reggie Dokes on the signature oddness of Earth, Wind & Fire; and Luv Jam with the tweaky acidic pinch of Grarf. Jelly, ice cream and garys all round.
Jung Am Tagen fire one of the strongest, most forward new techno records in recent memory - Agent Im Objekt - for the ever-amazing Editions Mego. In all 12 cuts the Viennese computer techno wizards do their part in closing the gulf between techno’s original, faceless abstraction and thrill of the new, and the current milieu of ubiquitous fizzogs playing to trampling herds in European megabarns.
Where their previous album Das Fest Der Reichen was given to cosmic urges, abetted by Ensemble Economique and friends, this time they get to grips with proper dancefloor / freaky electronics in a balance of severity and playfulness that’s going to light up a lot of heads and make a lot of others ask for some Marco Carola.
Like Florian Hecker on the bosch with DJ Nigga Fox, or NHK executing a courtship ritual for a robot, Agent Im Objekt pushes all the right buttons to short circuit the conventions of rote techno with its mix of probing technical suss and infectiously off-centre rhythms that don’t simply sound like big room templates or sample packs.
Working in a lineage of direct and forward techno native to Vienna since UR visited during the early ‘90s, JAT dare to mess with the form while remaining true to its function, meshing mind-messingly dissonant, curdled tones with both jacking and heavily swung grooves to a mix of delirious and sober effect that makes a lot of other modern techno appear to be made by pedestrian jocks with colouring-in books, rather than the innovative, hypnotic sensual and viscerally exciting sound it can be - just like this LP.
The series’ penultimate instalment...
Rotates the balearic hip-house of Bufiman’s Hymn To The Moonfaced (Break Mix) next to a ruder strip of raw house from Betonkust & Palmbomen II riffing on Art of Noise, while the B-side brings airy Detroit style techno-funk from Space Dimension Controller, and the salty swagger of Neue Obakel from Lena Willikens.
Julio Bashmore and T. Williams harness a 2nd session of supple, rolling UKF mutations on their Conch label.
Returning to base UKF after a number of raids on the house of disco and boogie that no doubt earned them £’s, but inverse returns on decent dance floors, they gets back to basics with cool results in Conch 002; keeping the pressure bubbling down below with the A-side’s bare bones swagger and percolated synth voice, while the B-side strips back down to a sound like early Dettmann or Nodge lost in South London, then like Roska dissolved in a bath of acid.
Sweden’s Anna Von Hausswolff plays the gothic diva figure with gusto, accompanied by her band and darkside über-producer Randall Dunn on ‘Dead Magic’; her first album since 2015’s ‘The Miraculous’.
Cosmic TRG switches moniker to Com Sin for the fluid techno-house hydraulics of Fiere
Backed with the Matthew Herbert-esque blend of grubbing bass and off-kilter electronic chimes in Vedenie, and meshing monotone bass to keening loops in Miere.
Gully, bittersweet UK pressure on the cusp of grime, hip hop and dubstep
Turning up highlights in JT The Goon’s phthalo-sino grime ace Blizzard, the nimble 16th note shuffle of Nightfall by Dr. Hugo, a crucial sidewinder from Glasgow’s Polonis, and the room-razing shoulder roller Filthy sax from Filthy Gears.
Mango-sweet roots reggae starring the mellifluous tones of Cornell Campbell
...an OG ska and rocksteady artist, here recording later in 1982 on rides played by The Aggravators, produced by Buny Lee and mixed by Prince Jammy at King Tubby’s Studio.
After being enchanted by Sugai Ken’s UkabazUmorezU LP for RVNG Intl, we play catch up with the Japanese artist’s On The Quakefish album from last year, issued by the excellent Lullabies For Insomniacs label who were also behind that mental Lazslo Hortobaygi reissue.
Here, we’re privy to another array of deliquescent electronics and mercurial hooks, framing Ken’s vision of the Japanese nightscape with absorbingly evocative, impressionistic effect. Based in Kanagawa, Japan, on the edge of the Tokyo megatropolis, Ken draws from his surroundings to paint immersive scenes in succinct, pointillist dashes and vaporous strokes that dissolve into acres of enigmatic, negative space.
Quite boldly, Ken is unafraid to embrace sounds perhaps unfamiliar to the classic Japanese records we’ve heard, or the swell of ambient/new age reissues from that region. He freely vacillates these stranger, abstract sounds with more conventional gestures in a way that adroitly brings his subject - the Japanese night - to life in a way that doesn’t simply soothe the listener, but keeps their ears intrigued, moving around the sound sphere attempting to locate their possible sources.
This effect relates to the Zen tradition of Satori, “imagining circumstances and atmospheres that are so silent, one can hear the sounds of the wind and water streaming”. For us this effect also recalls the studied audness of Rashad Becker’s Traditional Music For Notional Species, as much as Luc Ferrari’s poetic concrète scapes, or a very canny first person computer game or avant-garde film soundtrack; exactly the kind of stuff to bed down with during long, dark winter nights over here.
Reissue housed in die-cut jacket designed by Peter Saville with infamous glass paper (or sandpaper) inner, and 7” ‘testcard’ featuring two tracks by Martin Hannett
The Durutti Column’s sublime debut album is back in circulation on vinyl for the first time in four years, presenting a definitive edition replete with the extra tracks featuring drum programming from Eric Random and a bonus 7” of two cuts from seminal producer Martin Hannett, who produced this album and many more for the legendary Factory label.
Not sure what we can add to the gushing rivers of praise for this record already out there?! Save possibly to say that in the 37 years since conception, Vini Reilly’s best loved album, The Return of The Durutti Column has clearly lost none of its evergreen charm and rarified Didsbury air. That’s possibly down to its timeless, fluid ‘simplicity’ and minimalism, or because of Martin Hannett’s future-proofing mixing desk trickery. But, either way it still floods your listening space with light and languorous, lushly introspective feelings that reams of artists have chased ever since.
Highly recommended? Essential!
Members of Total Control and Grass Widow converge a mannered, almost eldritch-tinted style of synth-pop crossing lines with Group Rhoda, John Foxx, Carla Dal Forno, HTRK
“THE GREEN CHILD is the long distance musical collaboration of Mikey Young and Raven Mahon, who met in 2013 when their bands, Total Control and Grass Widow played a show in Oakland, California. They started writing songs together in Australia in 2014 and the project has been on a slow burn since. Their self-titled debut album is the culmination of few years of putting ideas together internationally and periodically recording in Mikey's home studio. Some of the lyrical content and the band's name was inspired by Herbert Read's 1935 utopian, communist, sci-fi novel called The Green Child.
With such a choice name, it's no surprise that The Green Child draw their sound from an illusory past as much as they stalk into pastures new. Broadly retro-futuristic in scope, verdant acres of lushly evocative synthesizers and blippy drum machines underpin most of their upbeat yet decidedly uncanny songs. Raven's calmly scenic and measured vocal flits like a will-o'-the-wisp throughout the tracks, proffering a guiding hand as she walks us through the often eerie, electronic concoctions.
'Traveler' opens the album all redolent, beat-minded and labyrinthine. Twisting melody lines swirl and envelop like a sandstorm, whilst Raven coolly projects on a "solitary man" lost to "green oblivion". Similarly, 'Her Majesty II' glistens with its playful yet plaintive vocal and iridescent arpeggios, whilst 'Bertha' slows things down with tumbling chimes and stately use of space.
The Green Child are adept at atmosphere, their songs are refined from gently unfolding ideas that never fail to realise and build to their potential. Tracks like 'Walking Distance' (featuring Al Montfort on saxophone) and 'New Years Eve' are exercises in evolved composition with ideas budding off and blossoming into truly resonant dimensions. The band's cover of 'Marie Elene' (by Keith Pearson) and closing track 'Destroyer' are further crowning achievements, both pieces subtly handled with poise and ample melancholic grandeur. The Green Child fix their sights on the heights they want to reach within their songs and much like the project itself don't want to rush to the finish line. When it becomes more about the unfurling journey, why not take the time to enjoy the trip and burn slower?”
The killer third Errorsmith album contains a selection of live interpretations of classic disco and r'n'b songs. Digitally synthesized, distorted and filtered clubmusic which go far beyond the source material.
More dancefloor compatible than the two previous Errorsmith releases, this album relates closely to stuff from Smith'n'Hack and his MMM project with spar Fiedel, both projects involving Erik integrally. These were live laptop sets like you've never seen, employing a self built digital live tool, a combination of a simple sequencer and a synthesizer. Errorsmith uses this tool to manipulate both rhythms and triggered sounds in realtime.
With a huge degree of freedom playing his instrument, every gig was different. Initially planned as a release of studio versions, Errorsmith decided to keep the raw, live feeling of these amazing recordings.
Brilliant, mind-bending disco anachronisms from Dutch dude Arp Frique featuring musicians from Surinam and Cape Verde, all recorded in the modern day, although you’d swear it was from the ‘70s!
Arp Frique is Niels Nieuborg from Rotterdam, a key member of the Dutch live music scene who has saved his first recorded works for this session, bringing Americo Brito on vocals for the freaky Afro-disco-dub adventure of Nos Magia, before spinning out like Black Devil Disco Club in Lagos, ’78 with Kamajo, and the Afro-beat burner Ijo Ya, both set off perfectly by vocals from Orlando Julius.
Mannequin head Alessandro Adriani yields some of his fiercest EBM jackers on this white label for Mannequin.
All three are proper hoofers, rolling out stacked synthlines and rasping drum machines in a Tuning Circuits style with A Man who would come here of his own free will, then on a slightly deeper EBM trance trajectory with he is everything and nothing, and finally in the deathly jack of You never sleep.
The urgency and viscera - both live and on record - that led Yorkshire-based five-piece Hookworms to prominence across two blistering full length albums, 2013’s ‘Pearl Mystic’ and 2014 follow-up ‘The Hum’, remains.
"However, as they return with their much-anticipated third record ‘Microshift’, the band deliver a seismic shift in their sound, dynamic, songwriting and production.
Radiant, immersive and teeming with light but still heavy and forceful, the music on ‘Microshift’ acts as a very deliberate counter to some of the difficult topics the album’s lyrics address - ranging from death, disease, heartbreak, body image and even natural disaster.
Hookworms have pulled off a triumph against adversity, a comeback with what they may see as a ‘Microshift’ but is in fact a massive advancement."
The crown prince of Japanese indie-prog-pop yields his Mellow Waves LP on vinyl, his first albumin over a decade, arriving some two years since his Ghost In The Shell Arise O.S.T.
"For the uninitiated, Cornelius is the brainchild of Japanese multi-instrumentalist Keigo Oyamada. A performing musician since his teens, Oyamada created his creative alter-ego (the name is an homage to the Planet of the Apes), in the early 1990s from the ashes of his previous project, Flipper's Guitar.
With the 1997 release of Fantasma, Cornelius gained international recognition for his cut and paste style reminiscent of American counterparts Beck and The Beastie Boys and was released internationally by Matador Records. Being called a "modern day Brian Wilson" for his orchestral-style arrangements and production techniques, Cornelius subsequently became one of the most sought after producer/remixers in the world, working with a wide range of artists including Blur, Beck, Bloc Party, MGMT, and James Brown.
With 2002's Point, Cornelius' music took a quantum shift, going from sampling "found sounds" to looping organic elements and creating lush soundscapes. Using water drops as the rhythmic backbone of "Drop" on his vocoder-infused cover of "Brazil", the album dazed and amazed fans and set the path for the next phase of his career.
2007 brought this philosophy to an even higher level with the release of Sensuous. Cornelius' live shows are known around the world for spectacular visuals (all perfectly synchronized to the performance), custom lighting that doesn't simply augment the performance, but becomes another instrument within it, and a full band of equally talented and diverse players.
The companion piece to the album Sensurround + B Sides, earned the nomination for "Best Surround Sound Album" at the 2009 GRAMMY Awards.
The summer of 2016 saw the release of Fantasma Remastered, on Lefse Records. The package, a 2LP reissue of his classic album, also included 4 additional outtakes and earned Pitchfork's "Best New Reissue".
Cornelius has recorded music for Edgar Wright's Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, scored the anime mega-film Ghost in the Shell Arise, performed as the backbone of Yoko Ono's reformed Plastic Ono Band, played the Hollywood Bowl with Yellow Magic Orchestra, and co-wrote and produced the Japanese artist salyu x salyu."
In which members of Caribou, Floating Points, Hot Chip, Junior Boys and Simian Mobile Disco team-up as a synth super-group to render two performances of Frank L McCarty’s 1973 graphic score to Tactus Tempus. The percussive side could find some traction on odder ‘floors
“Tactus Tempus is a, lost, graphics based, experimental score by prolific composer Frank McCarty. The piece was originally conceived and performed in 1973 by McCarty's group BIOME on 5 EMS Synthi synthesizers.
By following a set of simple, yet subjective instructions the piece begins as a sparse moire pattern of bursts and tones before evolving in density and intensity as the players symbiotically interact guided only by the illustrated curve found on the score.
This EP features two new performances of the score featuring members of Caribou, Floating Points, Hot Chip, Junior Boys, Simian Mobile Disco and friends. Gathering in a rare moment of collective down time in London in July 2016 the spontaneously formed group performed the piece at Joe Goddard's basement studio. Each participant used a separate synthesizer or modular synthesizer system and while the original slides were projected on the wall, the ensemble recorded two versions of the piece, each one recorded live in one take, lasting 15 minutes. One version is tonal the other on percussive timbre."
A pivotal side in the history of rock and electronic music
Pierre Henry and Michel Colombier’s Les jerks électroniques de la Messe Pour le Temps Present  is an much-mined source of samples form myriad producers, and most famously includes Psyché Rock, a.k.a. the template for the Futurama theme tune. Proto-everything from the last 50 years.
Superb debut album by one of the UK’s more distinctive new pop voices and producers. After cutting her teeth with idiosyncratic releases on No Pain In Pop and Kassem Mosse’s Ominira, Throwing Shade adopts her birth name, Nabihah Iqbal for a more personalised set of songs, adapting influence from ’80s goth, Egyptian mythology, and Teutonic psychedelia to realise a striking, unexpected sound, especially when judged against her early work.
Weighing Of The Heart finds Nabihah firming up and expanding upon her identity as a female British Asian artist in a way that doesn’t play into cliché or expectations. There’s no discernible sonic correlation between her heritage and the music, but that’s most likely symptomatic of her London environment more than anything else. Immersed in the great NTS radio station and busy with myriad art and film projects, her sound is better considered in terms of a sense of pop-wise unity and appeal, as part of a greater sum than herself.
Her vocals alternately lend themselves to comparison as much with The Streets as Teresa Winter, whilst the gated ‘80s snares are a common hinge between stripes of synth-pop, rare groove and proto house, essentially forming a mesh of dream-pop that neatly and knowingly exists within and outside of its temporal context. From our perspective, it sounds like a very London album, and maybe that’s the point; that London is a world or identity unto itself, inextricable from her own.
Avant-garde Japanese vocalist Phew follows her sublime Light Sleep for Mesh Key with this album of purely vocal works combining extended vocal technique with Dadaist sound poetry and complex, alien electronic processing.
Voice Hardcore a deeply strange and surreal listening experience, which flits a fine line between real, natural recordings and their warped reflections, gauging a wide space for free expression and, by turns, interpretation, which requires no understanding of the Japanese language in order to grasp its otherworldly beauty.
RIYL Kurt Schwitters, Toru Takemitsu, Joan La Barbara.
The 15th and possibly best known title in Moondog’s legendary catalogue
The Story Of Moondog  is a true evergreen from the fringes of experimental, jazz and big band paradigms. Andy Warhol’s mum, Julia Warhola, did the calligraphy on the cover - Andy took credit for design - assuring its place in the pantheon of influential avant-garde classics.
Heavyweight roots reggae and dancehall dub vibes, now available to legitimately download for the 1st time. Recorded and mixed between Channel One, Joe Gibbs Studio and King Tubby’s.
Stone cold aces, especially Prince Hammer’s shuddering King Selassie M.16.
Nope, not the ‘90s house act, but rather Philadelphia’s original ‘80s synth trio, The Nightcrawlers, are subject of this revelatory compendium from Mexican Summer’s Anthology Recordings. Spanning 14 works in just over 2.5 hours, The Biophonic Boombox Recordings form a gateway to distant, lo-fi but fantastical dimensions
“Deep, diverse, and unheralded, the Philadelphia ambient electronic music scene of the 1980s is explored with The Nightcrawlers’ The Biophonic Boombox Recordings, an expansive archival collection documenting the hard-knuckled kosmische synthesizer trio’s home recordings self-released and distributed over 35 cassettes between 1980 and 1991.
Featuring the farthest reaching spacescapes of those cassette releases – improvised straight into the mic of a JVC Biphonic Boombox – none of these performances have been released beyond the original format, and essentially went out of print when Nightcrawler Peter D. Gulch got tired of dubbing them to blank tapes to mail-order through his Synkronos label and sell at live shows. Restored and recalibrated from the original cassettes, The Nightcrawlers’ music has never sounded better or so readily accessible.”
Getting in there just as his new album proper drops, Ben Frost presents his tense soundtrack to Super Dark Times, a new flick directed by Kevin Phillips and hailed as “an unnerving cross between ‘Stand By Me’ and ‘Donnie Darko’” by IndieWire.
Like his work on Fortitude, and his acclaimed A U R O R A album, the Australian composer diffuses scarily close strings thru diaphanous soundscapes to mirror both the film’s imagery and his own internal landscapes.
More specifically, Frost picked a palette of sounds appropriate to the film’s setting in ‘90s upstate New York, generating a temporally sensitive tension that drew on his formative experiences with digital delays, Boss Metal Zone distortion pedals and Peavey Amps that was also pretty ubiquitous to that era.
The results sound like the downstrokes of NIN, threaded with thwarted techno impulses and rent with a gripping sense of digital awe.
In pursuit of the ambient zeitgeist, Vakula presents a suite of metaphysical, esoteric research in Metaphors via his Leleka label.
Arriving months after release of Techno Game for Arma Recordings, Vakula’s scope is dilated to encompass a world of influences from Soviet electronics, Ukrainian folk melodies and traces of Detroit techno, amounting to a hypnotically layered and vertically inclined album drvien by an underlying, kinetic pulse that keeps it hovering between the armchair and the dancefloor of the imagination.
Abyss X follows a notable turn for Halcyon Veil with her steeply enigmatic début of mystic composition for Aïsha Devi’s Danse Noire
“Taking its title from a Minoan legend that deals with rage, greed and destruction, the latest release from Abyss X expands and reconstructs conceptions of aural space and time. Out on Danse Noire, Pleasures of the Bull finds the multi-disciplinary artist and producer flirting with the sounds of hard jazz while mystifying the parameters of experimental music across several distinct movements, thus allowing the listener to break free from their sonic principles.
Intoxicating, ambient textures mesh with Abyss X’s own expressive vocals, as well as the sounds of the traditional Cretan lyra, played by Maria Skoula. Her sound modification creates a collage of temporalities – allow yourself to move outside linear dimensions, and her to confide in you. Prog rock guitar lines twist stolidly beneath warped vocal samples, and the timbre of the bowed lyra permeates the atmosphere in a thick, suffocating haze.
As the listener travels through space and time, so too does the artist. Abyss X delves into the fullness of her craft, drawing from her background in theater and performance, in addition to the frenzied energy of her live shows as a musician. The music throbs with a frantic yet unmistakably deliberate drama. Pleasures of the Bull feels like a gentle punch in the gut; a compelling auditory performance and a bold exploration of the narrative album format.”