Kiki Hitomi (King Midas Sound) & Shige Ishihara (DJ Scotch Egg) mesh Min'yō - C. 20th japanese folk - with rhythms cadged from footwork, J-Pop, B-More breaks and techno in their 2nd album as WaqWaq Kingdom
Adapting the homogenous style of Min'yō folk song to driving, worldly rhythms, the Kiki’s lM.I.A.-style lilt and Shige’s off-kilter programming yield a colourful album brimming with cartoonish, psychedelic detail as reflected in the cover art’s blend of traditional and modern aesthetics. Make sure to check for standout moments in the Burundi Black-style chants and percussive churn of ‘Circle of Life’, their tense instrumental drone and drums piece ‘GaGa’, and a meeting of trembling avant-folk-pop with spy jazz and psychedelia worth of comparison with Mr. Bungle in the 10 minutes of ‘Medicine Man’, starring guest input from Jimi Tenor and Tom Page.
“Uniquely omnivorous in their approach, WaqWaq Kingdom’s endless range of stylistic adventures sees them draw lines between traditional Japanese and contemporary electronic, between Jamaican dancehall and 8-bit techno, between African polyrhythms and experimental music, with plenty more helping to colour a powerful, vibrant palette. This new record - after 2017’s debut Shinsekai - is the first under the new line-up of Hitomi and Ishihara, as former drummer Andrea Belfi leaves the band for his own projects. This shift in personnel and dynamic has allowed Hitomi’s vocal delivery and Ishihara’s production to explore even deeper new ground, borrowing infinitesimally small snippets of sound and style to craft a singular hotpot of musics. From opener “Mum Tells Me” (written after Kiki sadly lost both her parents in a short period of time) and its Shinto bells and Afro-trap percussion, to “Itakadakimasu” and its reproach of human greed via twisted Cubo-Cumbia beats, Essaka Hoisa rarely stays in one place at a time.
Conceptually, Essaka Hoisa draws influence and imagery from traditional Japanese history and mythology. The title is taken from the cry of kago carriers - seen as Kiki and Shige on Kiki’s illustration for the record sleeve - two people carrying ruling-class or religious dignitaries over great distances. The shout Essaka Hoisa was said to lift the carriers’ spirits and strengthen their unity. In her lyrics, Kiki uses this imagery to explore our own reflective burden - experiencing life without an understanding of its meaning. Carrying hardship, sadness, pain and difficulty like a kago carrier, shouting essaka hoisa to get through the struggle. “We keep on going and shouting Essaka Hoisa together with partners, our kin, friends and people that we walk together and carrying on our life with laughter and tears,” Kiki writes. “No matter what, I am carrying on my life. I won’t give up and keep on going, keep on making, keep on learning with hollering the word Essaka Hoisa.”
In which Nina K. invites Jlin, Batu, Laurel Halo, EOD, Pearson Sound and Emika to rework St. Vincent’s 2018 Grammy Award-winning album ‘MassEducation’.
Anyway, Nina supplies a minimalist tech-house rework of ‘New York’, Emika is in her dubstep wonderland element, Jlin sounds like she made the ’Smoking Section’ remix in her sleep, and bass-music prefect Pearson Sound does his crafty thing to ‘Dancing With A Ghost’. EOD gives the most radio-friendly moment with a synth-pop cover of ‘Slow Disco’, Batu whips ‘Hang On Me’ into a needling electro style, and Laurel Halo impresses with an EBM-toned take on ‘Young Lover’.
Produced and mixed by Rafael Anton Irisarri (The Sight Below, Ghostly International) and mastered by Taylor Deupree...
"Previously performing as The Greatest Hoax, Washington, D.C.-based composer T.R. Jordan debuts a new album of contemporary classical and ambient music with Past Inside the Present. Entitled Just for You, Jordan presents an album focused on the evolution of personal relationships and the paths they take.Recollections Suite, the companion cassette, is a long form classical piece featuring a string quartet led by cellist Mark Bridges (High Planes/Loscil, Kranky Ltd)."
Frieder Butzmann (Din A Testbild) faithfully mixes 1983 and 2019 live recordings of legendary german free-jazz drummer Sven-Åke Johansson and his sometime bandmate Thomas Kapielski into a sizzling roil of drums and freehand noise
“The LP "recovered", mixed and mastered by Frieder Butzmann, features a previously unreleased concert recording from 1983. Joint performances by Kapielski and Johansson took place in clubs like the Korrekt (Alt-Moabit, Berlin) or - as part of the experimental concert series "Materialausgabe" initiated by Heiner Goebbels and Christoph Anders - at the Batschkapp in Frankfurt/Main.
Das Moabiter Duo, as we can see from today's perspective, already anticipated live performances between noise, improv and advanced electronics that now almost daily enrich the nightlife of a city like Berlin. But back to the concerts of that time: Kapielski's electronic manipulations of sounds from everyday objects resulted in, as he himself puts it as ironically as conceitedly, an "ingenious-stockhausianistical" performance. Meanwhile, Johansson explored the sonic possibilities of shoe trees, lashed out with towels, grabbed his accordion with its attached rear-view mirror, and, last but not least, played, of course, his astonishing drum kit.
Confusion arose - both during the actual performance and, in a completely different way, decades later, when Kapielski rediscovered the audio tape with a concert recording in an old carton - because of a typically unique idea by Johansson: "With a professional gesture, in the middle of the concert and while playing, Sven-Åke exchanged the cymbals, mounted on stands to the left and right of the bass drum, for large ‘cymbals’ made of thick foam pads. And he continued to play on them. We laughed - but we heard nothing. Or presumably even more. Each of us something different. That was enlightening - how else would this scene still be so present in my memory after 35 years." (Heiner Goebbels, text excerpt from the booklet)
Obviously, listening to the original recording on which the LP is based you wouldn't be able to see Johansson playing his foam cymbals, in order to, as it were, hear them before the inner eye. Moreover, as Kapielski remembers in an e-mail to Johansson printed in the booklet, the recording microphones were placed in such a way that little of Johansson's drums could be heard anyway.
So, across decades, a special kind of improvisation emerged: Johansson added new, "real" sounds with his drum kit, turning his improvisations with Kapielski into a, not only in a temporal sense, genuinely free-floating undertaking: "recovered”.”
Featuring Rafael Anton Irissari on mixing and production duties.
“Previously performing as The Greatest Hoax, Washington, D.C.-based composer T.R. Jordan debuts a new album of contemporary classical and ambient music with Past Inside the Present. Entitled Just for You, Jordan presents an album focused on the evolution of personal relationships and the paths they take.
Produced and mixed by Rafael Anton Irisarri (The Sight Below, Ghostly International) and mastered by Taylor Deupree (12K Mastering).”
Berlin’s Aquarian lives up to a mean reputation with an outstanding debut album of brooding sound design and deftly thrilling breakbeat-techno mutations for Bedouin. BIG RIYL Jasss, British Murder Boys, Christoph De Babalon
One of the classiest darkside dance albums in recent memory, ‘The Snake That Eats Itself’ is a deeply satisfying knees up for discerning ravers. Step for step it maintains a shark-eyed swerve thru all 10 tracks, toggling the pressure from war-fomenting levels of rufige to abyss-staring dark ambient and caustic noise attrition.
Starting up with the bittersweet glow and fizz of ‘End Credits’, the album enacts a proper soundboy burial for the ‘ardcore troops that takes the dark energy of late ‘90s rave as the jump-off for killer twists into militant ragga-jungle-tekno on ‘Blood Sugar’, a sneaky transitions from slow throb to breaker in ‘Ouroboros’, and coldest hardstep pressure in ‘Tarp2’, along with a trampling nod to BMB in ‘Hate Is a Strong Word’, and seething, Ruffhouse-styled D&B in ’365 Days and Counting’. Factor in quizzical beatless compositions such as ‘Sketch 2 (Song for D.O.U.G.)’ and the drone-pop meditation of ‘Letting Go At Arm’s Length’, and you have a real purler for the journey thru troubled times.
‘All my Heroes are Corn Balls’ is the direct follow-up to JPEGMAFIA’s cult ‘Veteran’ album, and was produced in its immediate aftermath circa late 2018
This 2LP aims to sate a worldwide hunger for JPEGMAFIA’s brand of deep fried production and wrenching honesty on physical format. The album offers a lower key flipside to the raging ‘Veteran’, catching JPEGMAFIA exploring a more smoked out sort of psychedelia and rugged rap sprinkled with melodic ambient electronica and late night R&B vibes, including the burned-out soul of ‘Rap Grow Old x Die x No Child Left Behind’ produced by Vegyn.
JPEGMAFIA says: “This album is really a thank you to my fans tbh. I started and finished it In 2018, mixed and mastered it in 2019 right after the Vince tour. I don’t usually work on something right after I release a project. But Veteran was the first time in my life I worked hard on something, and it was reciprocated back to me. So I wanted thank my people. And make an album that I put my my whole body into, as in all of me. All sides of Me baby. Not just a few. This the most ME album I’ve ever made in my life, Im trying to give y’all niggas a warm album you can live in and take a nap in maybe start a family and buy some Apple Jacks to. I’ve removed restrictions from my head and freed myself of doubt musically. I would have removed half this shit before but naw fuck it. Y’all catching every bit of this basic bitch tear gas. This is me, all me, in full form nigga, and this formless piece of audio is my punk musical . I hope it disappoints every last one of u. 💕💕”
Faith was released in 1981 and is the second in a trio of albums (starting with Seventeen Seconds and ending with Pornography) that are considered by some the most important and influential in The Cure's discography. Fuelled by Simon Gallup’s Fender bass - in turns deep, angular, growling and comforting - for our money it's one of the most sparse and singular albums to ever edge into the mainstream.
The monochromatic cover image (a picture of Bolton Priory in the fog, painted by The Cure’s Porl Thompson) gives away the mood here; funereal, downcast, brooding, containing some of Robert Smith’s most unashamedly morose songs. But it’s the production, influenced by Joy Division, that’s a complete revelation. ‘All Cats Are Grey’, as one example, does a thing with synths, bass and percussion that could effectively have been the blueprint for much of the last 4 decades at the fringes of electronic music. ‘Faith’, the closing, title track, repeats the trick - but this time with a treated drum track so delicate and forward thinking we could listen to it on a loop for eternity.
All of this would be for nothing if it wasn’t for Robert Smith’s songwriting - here in fine form on the hooky ‘Primary’ and ‘Doubt’, as well as the foreboding ‘Funeral Party’, but this is The Cure album that is, above all, defined by its sound and production. ’Disintegration’ (which appeared almost a decade later) is far more grand and ambitious in scale and has understandably become the go-to The Cure album for those looking for a depressive fix. But, for us 'Faith' (and to a slightly lesser extent, ‘Seventeen Seconds’), feels like the most conceptually tight and age-defying work in their enviably deep catalogue, and the one whose influence we hear most often at the margins. If you’re interested in bass sounds, and space - so much space - in production, this is basically the template.
Slowdive’s Simon Scott debuts his new ‘Index' project with a visceral new sound that absorbs and transmutes political, ecological and psychic dread into a caustic, dissonant style of drone and textural sculpture for iDEAL Recordings, a worthy follow-up to last year’s ’The Sacrificial Code’ album release on the label by Kali Malone. Recorded in Los Angeles between 2016 and 2019, and featuring the voice of Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell, it’s a multi-layered album that comes highly recommended if you’re into anything from Throbbing Gristle to Ilpo Väisänen, Arthur Russell to Basic Channel.
‘Kainos’ sees the veteran UK composer, field recordist, drummer and mastering engineer explore a prism of formative musical influences from the post-industrial music of Coil, Throbbing Gristle and early Black Sabbath, to the non-musical and conceptual inspiration taken from the turmoil of Brexit - including recordings of the Houses of Parliament - thru to the radical feminist scientific writing of Donna Haraway, and the conceptual vigour of Luigi Russolo’s Futurist manifesto, ‘The Art of Noises’.
The album’s title ‘Kainos’, from the ancient Greek meaning “new” or “fresh”, characterises Scott’s efforts to glean something practical from the world’s current state of chaos, enacting a tectonic shift from bucolic sonic signifiers to signposts of the post-industrial world that could hardly be more apt at at a time when electronic and ambient music are prized for their safe and sterile wallpaper qualities, rather than a potential to evoke and invoke more powerful feelings.
Based around modular synth-mangled recordings of the Houses of Parliament during the prelude to Brexit, Scott’s compositions take these fractious debates as building blocks for the album’s caustic improvisations and compositions, ranging from convulsive clangour to pulsating tracts of strobing distortion and gutted, lurching-rhythms riddled with the voice of Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell, before eventually resolving with a more spacious, textured sense of relief by the album’s close.
Despite being considered by many the definitive Cure album, 'Disintegration' actually marked the band's move away from the more esoteric and experimental writing style that characterised their run of releases the previous decade. It also just happened to become their most successful record and the first to really find a huge audience Stateside, cementing their reputation as arch-miserablists with a knack for writing a perfect pop tune.
The thing that's so special about this Deluxe triple CD edition, however, is the bonus material - especially the second CD that features raw early versions of pretty much every album track, plus a ruck of alternate versions of b-sides and outtakes that have never been heard before. These are an absolute revelation - the personal and foggy quality of these early versions removes much of the bombast that would grace the final mix and instead returns to the visceral, haunting quality of what are, for our money, the two finest Cure albums - Faith and Seventeen Seconds.
Tracks like 'Fascination Street', for instance, stripped of all the distinctive production you'll know all too well from the final mix, actually sounds not too far removed from the kind of hazy post-everything pop, an effect that's amplified by memories of listening to the original over and over again during a late-80's London childhood. Nostalgia definitely helps here, but there's an intangible, almost Ha*ntological quality to these tracks that should be investigated regardless of whether or not this album means much to you. The extensive liner notes by Robert Smith are also v satisfying - making this quite a treat for this particular listener. Recommended.
Yorkshire electrobot Tom Knapp aka SDEM coughs up his 1st 12” of cracky dancefloor complexity on CPU
Unavoidably comparable to Autechre’s nervy tics and the asymmetric ructions of Dalglish, ‘Index Hole’ spurts brittle, overpronating bones and knotted tendons at every angle, rolling out form the hyperstep of ‘Arc Rail’ to crooked hip hop-tyle rhythmic anticipations of ‘BX16’ on the front, then wrestling with sheared metallic textures and gut-twysting bass in ‘Mitherer’, and yoking back to a clunky electro style shades away from his early Skams with Mortal + Chemist.
‘The Main Thing’ delivers the band’s most self-aware set of songs to date, created over the course of a year at upstate New York’s Marcata Sound.
"Following his work on 2011’s Days, engineer Kevin McMahon returns as producer and, for the first time ever, Real Estate have brought in outside instrumentalists and special guests like Sylvan Esso, whose vocalist Amelia Meath features on ‘Paper Cup’. Across the album’s 13 interrogative tracks - as full of depth, strangeness, and contradictions as they are lifting hooks - the band balances existential, environmental and political anxieties with fatherly sentiments, self-satirizing lyrics, forever-lively guitar lines and shimmering strings."
Outstanding first-ever survey of early ‘90s productions by the DJs-turned-producers who helmed Italy’s famous Afro/Cosmic sound of the ‘80s
At the point when original ‘70s disco and its Italo offshoot became mainstream popular in Italy and the rest of Europe circa at the early ‘80s, a number of Northern Italian DJs were playing a much slower (95-110bpm, as opposed to 125-130bpm), sophisticated blend of emergent electronic music from Britain and Germany alongside rare African and Brazilian grooves. They forged a style that became known as “Afro” or “Cosmic” which would be played in discotheques and sold on mixtapes from boots in the disco’s car parks. While this style would fade away in the ‘90s to be replaced by trance and prog house, there was a strange crossover period between the late ‘80s and early-mid ‘90s when the style’s instigators started producing records that sounded like their sets, even playing the nascent trance and house at 33rpm, not the intended 45rpm, just as they did originally. This compilation takes a long overdue dive into this gooch of disco history and comes up with eight total pearls.
Mirroring Belgian new beat’s transition from synth-pop/slowed EBM/House into its full form as much as the current style of Vladimir Ivkovic - itself borne in Belgrade, almost in echoing distance of the Italians - the eight tracks of ’Studiolo’ offer a embarrassment of riches for any self-respecting chug fiend or slow mo night slugs. They weave a silvery trail from the humid heave of Lazy’gal’s edit of Fred DJ and Boran DJ’s ‘Cosmic Patch’ to the very New Beat compatible budge of ‘Ethno Beat’ by African Project, and the masterful cosmic buoyancy of Mamakuta’s ‘Tanatwina’ on the first disc. Meanwhile on disc 2, Claudio Diva takes it up to a reckless 115bpm in ‘Funky Nephos’, and DJ Fred, DJ Otti and Jay Pee slay with the hypnotic ‘Indien Summer’, leaving Innsbruck, Austria’s DJ Egger to display how he mutated sounds he heard on holiday in Rimini with the heavyweight cruiser ‘Cosmic Esmeralda’, and Ygal Ohayon nails the super stylish vibe with the viscous slow trance of ‘Sonar (Virtual Version - Low Gravity Edit)’.
Sorely slept-on 2017 EP of hushed poetry and woozy, heatsick backdrops from London/Melbourne’s Laila Sakini & Lucy Van - a must check for fans of CS + Kreme, Bullion, Jonnine
On its initial release ‘Figures’ was the first recording issued by Purely Physical Teeny Tapes, a probing London-based label who’ve since welcomed M. Quake and Max Eilbacher to their tight fold. With ‘Figures’, Laila & Lucy locate a finely gauged mix of confessional lyrical honesty and minimalist music that treads the waviest line between awkwardly offset and soothing. The dusky blue waltz of ‘Those Who See’ comes off like a lighter Leslie Winer meets melodic early AFX, and ‘Deep End’ sees them nudge into more claustrophobia-inducing introspection a la HTRK, while they hold a hypnotic line of bedsitter ennui on ‘False Ceiling’, and shore up in a really dank sort of trip hop sleaze with the title song.
"Laila Sakini, a DJ who has recently emerged as a songwriter-producer, shapes music around each poem intuitively, adding context with restraint, in an experimental, yet pop-conscious process. Initially developed as a one track hobby project for a noise and spoken word poetry night (which was cancelled), 'Figures' continued to evolve into a more complete body of work, with Laila leaking the demos on her NTS guest slots, leading to this eventual, finalisation of an EP.
Laila and Lucy: Lucy writes about poetry and photography. She is a post-doctoral researcher in the English and Theatre Studies program at the University of Melbourne, and an editor at Cordite Poetry Review. Lucy also writes lyric and prose poems, and has spoken at venues including The Slow Canoe, Station Gallery, and the National Gallery of Victoria.
Laila's role as a DJ and emerging producer/songwriter has seen her traverse between her home town of Melbourne and London. She has performed across clubs and festivals in Melbourne and in various venues throughout London, Paris and Belgium along with art spaces including The National Gallery of Victoria, Carriageworks and The Australian Centre for the Moving Image. She presents semi-regularly on NTS Radio, has appeared on Boiler Room and has opened for the likes of Dopplereffekt and Optimo. Laila has recently begun producing, writing and performing live solo and collaborative works.”
Bristol legend RSD gives the seminal theme tune a killer dubstep makeover
Following The KLF and Orbital’s 30 year lead, RSD doctors the dance with a darkside take on one of the first electronic music theme tunes written for a TV show. Basically the timeless bass hook and soaring vamp created by The BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s Rob Grainger and Delia Derbyshire are reset to an elegantly lumbering halfstep, all stripped down to the bare essentials and assured of big impact on a proper soundsystem. Flip over and ‘Look’ leans into more rooted territory in a classic, bubbling steppers style.
Thollem, Nels Cline, and William Parker convened at Peter Karl Studios in Brooklyn on January 3rd, 2012 and recorded two complete albums. The first was Gowanus Session I, released by Porter Records in April of that year. This second volume was put aside to eventually complete the five-album palindromic cycle of trio albums Nels and Thollem ambitiously set out to realize. The albums in between include Radical Empathy with Michael Wimberly (Relative Pitch), Molecular Affinity with Pauline Oliveros (Roaratorio), and Reality and Other Imaginary Places, with Michael Wimberly (ESP-Disk').
"William Parker debuted on ESP-Disk' in the mid-'70s on Frank Lowe's classic album Black Beings (ESP3013), with additional material from that session released as The Loweski (ESP4066). He returned to the label this century with Mat Walerian's group Toxic (ESP5011) and in a quartet with Ivo Perelman, Matthew Shipp, and Bobby Kapp (ESP5036), while being highly prolific as a leader, notably with a series of brilliant albums on AUM Fidelity. Nels Cline has spent decades changing people's ideas about the role of the electric guitar in multiple contexts, ranging from Wilco to Anthony Braxton (think about that!) as well as many projects as a leader, earning a spot on Rolling Stone's Top 100 Guitarists list.
Thollem is a perpetually traveling pianist, keyboardist, composer, improviser, singer-songwriter, activist, author and teacher. He's spent most of his adult life living on the road throughout North America and Europe. His work is ever-changing, evolving and responding to the times and his experiences, both as a soloist and in collaboration with hundreds of artists across idioms and disciplines. Thollem is known internationally as an acoustic piano player in the free jazz and post-classical worlds, as the lead vocalist for the Italian agit-punk band Tsigoti (ESP4057), and as an electronic keyboardist through a multitude of projects."
Electronic brutalist Somaticae distills a rage against surveillance software company ‘Amesys’ in his ferocious new album of rhythmic digital noise for Mondkopf’s In Paradisum label, coming off like Pan Sonic using Toshimaru Nakamura’s No Input Mixing Board in the process…
Fuelled by a justifiable need to disseminate information about Amesys, a French company who have supplied discreet surveillance software to government organisations and dictatorships around the world - including Muamar Gaddafi’s Libya, the European Commission, and the French M.o.D. - Somaticae’s 3rd album for In Paradisum is framed around tense, weaponised sonics that act as metaphor for the relationship between France’s role as the 4th largest arms exporter in the world, and its emergent position as low key facilitator of “Big Brother”.
Finding Somaticae in his 13th year of operations, the project takes on a heavier meaning with its ‘AMESYS’. In seven tense steps he affords scant relief from a raw, pulsating core of energy that he just about tames over the course of the album. Working right at the biting point of digital noise in patented style, he churns up squabbling patterns and sheer binary scree with a manacled grasp of loud/quiet dynamics that handles the listener from passages of gnashing tension to guttural spasms of bass and pelting, almost Frenchcore-style kicks.
Although recorded in the studio, the album’s livewire ruffness surely lives up to Somaticae’s notorious reputation for live, improvised performance in the European DIY scene to record. It’s a proper seat-edge listen that imparts its message in no uncertain terms, galvanising his audience to the struggle against deployment of facial recognition, and the inherent erosion of civil liberties, which are aided by Amesys and its offshoots, Nexa Technologies and AMES. The issue isn’t sci-fi any more; it’s real and impending.
Brilliant, baffling geekery from RM Francis, toying with pareidolic perceptions of vocal pattern recognition thru a range of computer music techniques. Believe it or not, no human vocals were used in its creation. In other words; a very playful headf*ck and exactly what Calum Gunn’s Conditional is prized for
“RM Francis explains: The core group of files used in these pieces was created in 2015 for a project that was never released. I found that any one-minute stretch of that body of work was interesting on its own, but that listening for longer periods induced a kind of fatigue; they were hyper-dense in a way that created an overall flatness that left no room for movement. I shelved the project and forgot about it until a couple of years later, when I was testing out some new spectral processing techniques, which formed the basis for a series of performances from May 2017 through August 2018.
Pianist/composer & arranger Giorgi Mikadze has created a striking new hybrid of traditional Georgian folk music and progressive microtonal jazz on his debut album, Georgian Microjamz.
"Georgian Microjamz discovers unexpected common ground between the ancient traditions of Mikadze’s native Georgia, where the Orthodox Christian church featured only vocal music in its services, and the very modern microtonal innovations of guitar great David “Fuze” Fiuczynski, with whom the keyboardist studied while at Boston’s Berklee College of Music.
Fiuczynski joins Mikadze to breathe life into this alien-sounding fusion, along with Greek-born bassist Panagiotis Andreou (Now vs. Now, Mulatu Astatke) and drummer Sean Wright (Musiq Soulchild, Taeyang). On three tracks the quartet is supplemented by the stunning vocals of Georgian choir Ensemble Basiani, while singer and ethnomusicologist Nana Valishvili adds a heartwrenching vocal performance to “Moaning,” a powerful ode to the victims of the 2008 military conflict between Russia and Georgia."
Hot-wired IDM/jungle/industrial rhythms and dreamlike ambience from Florence, Italy’s Train To Eltanin project
Leading from Train To Eltanin’s 2018 debut 12” with CyberspeakMusic, ‘4D R.E.M. Computation’ is a 7-track EP of nimbly crafted electro and drill ’n bass spams interspersed with icily melodic works and trancey arp rushes that attempt to emulate the brain’s activity during R.E.M. sleep,.
The jagged IDM jiggle of ‘Swimming Angels’ recalls their Italian brethren D’Arecangelo and Skam’s Jega, while the likes of ‘Page Table Isolation’ and ‘Ariverb’ touch on a crankier electro sound recalling Seefeel’s Mark Clifford, and at best they come off like DJ Stingray going toe-2-toe with Lorenzo Senni in ‘Unexpected Store Exception’, and the heart-in-mouth lift of ‘Ricominciando Dalla Fine’ that closes the LP with a lush flourish.
French electro specialist Maelstrom returns to Sheffield’s CPU for a smart 2nd session
Working within sharply defined parameters, he turns out four distinctive cuts ranging from the stilted lurch of ‘Fragment’ to the punchy knocks and squirrelly synth jabs of ‘The Scope’, then slows down for a cranky acid turn in ‘Ussidd’, and a proper, Stingray-style shadowboxer titled ‘Utility Shift’.
Synth, sax and pump organ pieces from John Chantler and Johannes Lund, unleashing expressions of elemental chaos in their 2nd self-released throw down with a killer, sustained bass-sax drone on the flip. It’s clear to hear the duo’s near-precognitive familiarity with each other’s sonic lust oozing out of all three pieces - brilliant stuff.
In the first they appear to scare the insides of a massive, resonating skull with their biting-point synth distress and dizzyingly breathless sax blurt holding a gloriously ear-flossing intensity for 14 minutes. At the mid-way point, the transition from tense hush to bestial discord and pastoral sound in ‘Open Field & Forest’ acts as crisply sparse and enigmatic palate cleanser for the B-side’s ‘Under Barn Floor’, which follows thru with guttural, sustained blasts of fog horn sax gnawed with insectoid electronic crackle and iridescent organ tones dispersed across the soundfield to stealthily breathtaking effect.
“Recorded during the summer of 2019, while the duo were on a residency in rural Sweden, the LP’s three works present a radical rethinking of aural collectivism. Each is a space within which the environment and its many actors — the floorboards of a barn, a grassy field, distant hills, insects, the pulse of an electric fence, or a passing tractor, threaded with the tones and responses of Lund’s saxophone and Chantler’s pump organ and synth — are given equal presence and voice. A clear, conceptual extension of both artists’ long standing pursuits of collaboration and the building of context, whether creatively or as facilitators, notably via Chantler’s Edition Festival in Stockholm, and Lund’s work within the Danish community as a founder of the legendary space, Mayhem. Andersabo represents a rigorously forward thinking rendering of utopian sound, inextricable from the joy, playfulness, and humour with which it was made. Two artist bound by friendship, dramatically opening the sense of creative possibility for the next.”
Wickedly scrappy, wigged-out post-punk from Barcelona-based Brazilians Mentira, cruising from bass-revving groovers to saltily melodic instrumentals, Kiwi-sounding drone rock and noise pop
“After two well-received self-released records Mentira have hooked up with Harbinger Sound for the release of this mini-album which features six brand new tracks recorded over 2019. This Sao Paulo duo - although they now reside in Barcelona - produce more infectious tunes than those previous records hinted at. These fragmented minimalist tracks captured with just cheap keyboards, a bass and the occasional drum topped with some engaging vocals from Laura Lanca will please anyone one with an ear attuned to contemporary post-punk coming from further afield than London.”
Master improvisers Bobby Previte, Jamie Saft and Nels Cline make their bid for immortality with Music From the Early 21st Century
"While hardly representative of the hits streaming through the Bluetooth ether these days, Music From the Early 21st Century is nonetheless aptly titled, colliding as its does entire threads of musical history leading up to the very moment of its explosive creation. The album, captured live during a brief tour of the Northeastern U.S. in early 2019, is essentially a freely improvised organ trio set. But filtered through the lens of these three encyclopedically eclectic masters, it morphs continually from one prismatic hybrid of styles to another throughout its ten carefully curated pieces."
Weighty, freehand dub pressure from the mysterious Itinerant Dubs, done black-label style.
Going deep and cranky in their signature form of hardware improvisation, ID dig out two staggered dub turns from their 2014-2019 hiatus between releases. A-side is a charred and sizzling stepper shifting its weight between 75bpm halfstep and 150bpm paso doble switch ups, all locked in place with a wavey organ lead. The B-side offers an abyssal adjunct trading in booming 808 bass and hi-hat needlework on a mystic steppers tip comparable to John T. Gast.
Schacke returns with welting high intensity techno-trance for SPFDJ’s Intrepid Skin label
Leading on from last year’s ‘Kisloty Forever’ anthem for Клуб, the Danish producer makes classy use of a classic ‘80s disco vocal - as famously employed by Foul Play in ‘Dub In You’ - on the freshly milled 140bpm girder ‘Role Modeling’, while ‘Full Contraction’ goes full throttle with the palpitating kicks and rave stabs, ‘Hard Feelings’ works up a dry big room sound, and ‘Forever In Total Negation’ drop the tempo a few BPMs on a stripped down trance-techno mission.
2nd volume of suave, party-starting digs from the Disques debs International catalogue out of Guadaloupe.
“Disques Debs is the longest-running and most prolific label to have come out of the Francophone Caribbean. Based in Guadeloupe and helmed by producer and musician Henri Debs, the label ran from the late 1950s to the early 2000s and released over 200 LPs and 300 45s, playing a pivotal role in bringing the creole music of Guadeloupe and Martinique to a wider international audience. Volume 2 celebrates the ‘70s recordings of the label that drew local, regional and international musicians and influences together to create a signature sound and style from its base in Pointe-à-Pitre.
At the beginning of the ‘70s, the Disques Debs label was already more than a decade into its existence and had begun to dominate the local record market in Guadeloupe and Martinique, anchored around some of the best studio equipment in the region and staff with a keen ear for a hit record. By the end of the decade, the label and studio had pulled far ahead of the pack, pushing groups like Super Combo, Typical Combo and Les Vikings into Europe and across the Caribbean and stamping its own sound and aesthetic on the musical output of the region, paving the way for the global success of acts like Zouk Machine in the ‘80s.
The increasingly sophisticated sound coming out of the Debs studio found a home across the Caribbean diaspora in Europe and the Caribbean, bringing a new vision of Caribbean music. Compiled by Hugo Mendez (Sofrito) and Emile Omar (Roseaux), ‘Cadence Revolution’ is released in conjunction with Henri Debs et Fils and Air Caraibes. The package features previously unseen photos from the Debs archive with both formats featuring extensive liner notes and an interview with singer and trombonist Christian Zora (Les Maxel’s, Energy).”
Djrum strikes a fine balance between his beats and rekindled classical piano skills, also featuring Zosia Jagodzinska (Cello), and Lola Empire (Vocals). Check for canny highlights in the rudely serpentine swerve of Sex and the scrollin hardcore tapestry of Showreel, Pt. 3.
“'Portrait With Firewood' is Felix’s most personal body of work to date, the product of an emotionally turbulent 2017, capturing the range of feelings and emotions he went through in vivid sonic beauty. By putting aside his previous sampleadelic approach he returned to his childhood instrument of the piano as a core starting point.
"It's a confessional record… I realise that's a word mostly used to describe singer/songwriter rather than (largely) instrumental music, but I think it's apt. There's a sort of emotional candour.”
Felix is classically trained in the jazz tradition and influenced by the likes of Keith Jarrett and Alice Coltrane. Previously he was shy at the prospect of fans hearing his piano playing, but determined to overcome this fear he has brought forward a new honesty to his work. "Finding the confidence to work with my own piano improvisations was a big part of that. Once I had figured out how I was going to make the music, it actually fell in to place rather quickly.”
Felix's goal was to create something "overwhelmingly beautiful", but also to capture the "inherent melancholy in beauty in all it's impermanance and fragility". He took inspiration and solace from performance artist Marina Abramovic. "She has an incredibly deep understanding of the human condition, and expresses it in such a poetic way. Many of the themes of her work had particular resonance for me over the course of 2017 as I worked on the album. I was moved to tears on several occasions watching her videos or reading about her work.”
Felix collaborated with cellist Zosia Jagodzinska and vocalist Lola Empire. Jagodzinska recorded several takes of improvisations over the track 'Creature' which Felix would chop, pitch and layer into new melodic lines and seed throughout the album.
Felix's new approach expanded to experimentation with field recording, contact micing his beloved piano and purchasing his first hardware synth, all in service of enriching the personal, humane quality of the record. "Music helps me to communicate the sorts of things that I find almost impossible to put in to words. I think the process for this album has helped me create a more rich and emotionally complex body of work than I have managed before.””
Bit of a must-have for collectors of whimsical oddities, 5”s of loops from UK/Kiwi A/V project Sculpture
The smallest to date of their innovative zoetrope disc series, ‘Projected Music’ is loaded with 26 loops of animated, frazzled electronics that will provide hours of fun for listeners with nimble digits, and possibly hours of frustration for any sausage-fingered types trying to find their groove. Hard to deny that this is a very pretty little disc.
Remastered and sounding better than ever, ‘Compiled 2.0 / 1981-84’ wraps up the most indispensible bits by Gudrun Gut and co’s all-female German post-punk unit Malaria! - effectively Berlin’s answer to The Slits or The Raincoats and one of the key Neue Deutsche Welle and post-punk units of the era.
Staking a ground zero for Berlin post-punk, Malaria!’s music was a product of the West side of the city’s scuzzy aesthetics and progressive politics. Gathering the powers of co-founders Gudrun Gut and Bettina Koster, plus Christine Hahn, Manon P. Duursma and Susanne Kuhnke, Malaria! hit the ground running with their eponymous debut 12” and soon after a support slot for New Order at Ancienne Belgique in Brussels, leading them to tour venues across the world and become one of Berlin’s most distinctive and influential bands.
This comp spans Malaria!’s vital early years when their sound emerged as a mix of driving punk that veered from No Wave and NDW to skronky, dubbed out disco-punk mutations. Notably including material recorded at Studio Christoph Franke, the legendary Berlin facility behind classics by Tangerine Dream, the results have withstood the test of time thanks to the band’s mix of direct, experimental yet disciplined rawness and studio magick.
From that debut 12” you’ll find the martial swagger and honk of ‘Kämpfen Und Siegen’, and the wilder patchwork dub collage of ‘Dabo’ recalling Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Gray from the same era. Also from 1981, ‘How Do You Like My New Dog?’ is a killer bit of electroid deathrock scuzz, while ‘Pernod’ feels out a jazzy sorta No Wave sound akin to James Chance and The Contortions, and the rudely discordant, nerve-jangle disco-not-disco jagz of ‘Zarah’, ‘Geh Dischen’ and the sly pop brilliance of ‘Your Turn To Run’ cement the NYC connection in recordings made at the city’s Sorcerer Sound.
Caterina Barbieri somehow recalls both Laurie Spiegel and Lorenzo Senni on her staggering debut album for Editions Mego, with ‘Ecstatic Computation’ yielding her most striking and accessible experiments in pointedly explorative synthesis
Working at the point where deep, learned R&D meets sophisticated expression of soul, ‘Ecstatic Computation’ is one of those rare LP's that comes close to divining the ghost in the machine. In further pursuit of the themes underlining Caterina’s ‘Patterns of Consciousness’  and ‘Born Again In The Voltage’  records, here she uses more complex sequencing techniques and pattern-based operations to generate the kind of vivid, hallucinatory trance states that many electronic music followers arguably spend their lives seeking.
With ‘Ecstatic Computation’ Caterina’s basically mastered the art of extracting a contemplative wonder from her machines, creatively using formal process to manipulate the listener’s temporal and proprioceptive senses, subtly distorting our perception of time and space with spellbinding and psychedelic effect. Most crucially, just like her fellow Italian composer, Lorenzo Senni, Barbieri achieves this effect through minimalist means, with a certain magick lying in the way she allows her machines’ full voice to speak as fluidly as the languages of classical music, but with the immediacy of Trance.
From the vertiginous scale and epic breadth of ‘Fantas’, thru the intensely expressive miniature ‘Spine of Desire’, to the balletic agility of ‘Closest Approach to Your Orbit’, Barbieri veritably dances on our nerve endings, before swiftly inverting that headlong futurism with the chamber-like design of ‘Arrows of Time’, featuring vocals by Annie Gårlid (UCC Harlo) and Evelyn Sailor, and wrapping up with the visceral ecstasy of ‘Pinnacles of You’ and a spine-freezing finale ‘Bow of Perception’.
It’s glorious, life-affirming stuff, sure to send her audience stratospheric.
A holy of ‘70s avant-garde holies available on vinyl for first time in 40 years; Robert Ashley’s ‘Automatic Writing’ is a spellbinding masterpiece of un/conscious composition influenced by Ashley’s preoccupation with language and the nature of human sounds. It features in Pitchfork’s list of the 50 "Best Ambient Albums of All Time", but it’s far too provocative and ambiguous to fit within any notion of Ambient listening. From the proto-ASMR / dub-through-the-wall trip of the title track to the disturbingly prescient narrative of 'Purposeful Lady Slow Afternoon’ - it’s a remarkable album that continues to weave its spell almost five decades on; every encounter will pull in you in a different direction.
Reissued on vinyl for the first time since 1979 by Lovely Music - the groundbreaking label beloved for its catalogue of enchanted avant-garde recordings, including editions of Ashley’s equally seminal ‘In Sara, Mencken, Christ and Beethoven There Were Men and Women’ (1974), and ‘Private Parts’ (1978) - the artist’s most influential LP holds a very special place in the imaginations of myriad listeners and artists due to its uniquely absorbing, liminal blend of voice and very quiet musical backdrop that rarely fails to leave the listener entranced.
By the time of these recordings, Ashley was a well established figure in the American experimental avant-garde sphere, working across multiple disciplines of TV opera, theatre, music, and academic research and teaching. He would bring many of these strands together as director of the San Francisco Tape Music Centre from 1969, and also as director of the famous MIlls College Centre for Contemporary Music which, under his tenure, was a hive of groundbreaking artistic activity during the ‘70s.
‘Automatic Writing’ was realised during the quiet summertime at Mills College over the five years leading up to its release in 1979. The piece stems from Ashley’s idea that his mild form of Tourettes Syndrome - a condition causing involuntary speech - was in itself a form of primitive composition which deserved his closer attention. Various attempts were made to capture the symptoms on tape, but they were too often conscious attempts; and the real, unconscious results only came when the Mills campus was deserted over the summer, and he captured some 48 minutes of involuntary speech, all recorded very close to the mic.
The recordings provided an incomprehensible dialogue which Ashley prized for the meaning of its rhythm and intonation, rather than its literal meanings, and he would combine this with three other “characters” or voices - his wife Mimi Johnson reciting a french translation of Ashley’s original, plus his own Moog articulation and background organ tones - in a form of semi-conscious opera. This elegantly simple idea manifests with ineffably magical results, somehow sounding like we’re overhearing someone’s mental subvocalisation while Al Green croons from another room and a French film matinee plays in the corner. While a glib description, it’s also pretty accurate, but perhaps doesn’t account for the piece’s deeply hypnagogic but sometimes disturbing effect. If you've not heard it before - we implore you to get acquainted.
Exceptional, 15 minute long dancer from Beatrice Dillon, blessing the 12 x 12 series with a concatenated ‘nuum sidewinder Can I Change My Mind?, where the London-based artist nimbly finds the square roots of jungle, techno, noise and minimalist dance music firmly anchored in steppers’ dub and West African percussive tradition. If you’ve ever been snagged by Sotofett, DJ Krust or Shackleton’s devilish dubs, this one’s for you!
Since first emerging with a highly regarded monthly NTS radio show, a reel of widely-praised mixtapes for The Trilogy Tapes, Blowing Up the Workshop and, most recently, a mix with Ben UFO for Wichelroede, Beatrice’s uniquely focussed solo works - including two excellent EPs for Where To Now? and a split with Karen Gwyer - along with two acclaimed LPs with Rupert Clervaux and her recent remix for Helm on the PAN label, have all come to define a curious juncture of worldly rhythm studies and probing electronics which arguably exists in a long lineage of avant-garde experimentation done at the service of ‘floors both real and imagined.
Can I Change My Mind? is Beatrice’s most tracky solo production to date, and also the most singular, adroit demonstration of what makes her tick, combining and parsing the most affective, tactile parts of Black Atlantic percussive patterns with a learned appreciation of dub-style economy and concrète texturing.
Across 13 minutes of morphing, fractious rhythm, Beatrice renders clear the prismic and rhizomic dub binds and syncopations that connect original, rolling African drum traditions with Afrobeat and highlife, and likewise between proper UK roots steppers, house and ‘90s jungle, or, for that matter, the mosaic of modern antecedents which continue to be informed by those styles - from the rites of Shackleton to Tessela’s visceral techno swerve and the mercurial grooves of Rian Treanor or her sometime collaborator, Kassem Mosse.
Urged by the intuition of a helpless riddim fiend and premo DJ, Beatrice nimbly synchs swollen, globular bass, needlepoint hi-hats and shocks of flinty amens at 150bpm in a deadly, mutating bogle, effectively exploring every interstice of half, double, and triplet-timed calculation with devilish sleight of hand and cadence; never letting the ball drop whilst suggesting myriad points of interpretation for the dancers and DJs.
It’s a singular work of experience, intuition and technique, and perhaps surprisingly only her 3rd solo release proper. But its daring ruggedness and stringency is a clear indication that Beatrice Dillon is only just warming up and coming into her own. There’s only one side, one track. But it’s all you need.
Andy Bey is one of those few jazz vocalists who are so singularly personal and distinctive in style that they communicate the material they choose more in the manner of an instrumentalist than a vocalist.
"On these recordings from 1995, his first after 1974’s “Experience And Judgment”, he sings and accompanies himself on piano on a series of standards, including four by Duke Ellington (including “I Let A Song Go Our Of My Heart” and “In A Sentimental Mood”), two by George & Ira Gershwin (“Someone To Watch Over Me” and “Embraceable You”), Cole Porter’s “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To”, Jerome Kern’s “Yesterdays”, and others by Ann Ronnell and Tadd Dameron. The setting is intimate and showcases his broad range from baritone to falsetto and his angular and often sparse piano accompaniment. This is the first time these recordings have been issued on vinyl.”
AYA & Air Max ’97’s A2A avatar ‘ave it in a warped garage style for their debut with Local Action
As previewed in the ‘floor-churning lead single (for a single! too much of this nowadays) ‘Turf’, the EP ties up the best of both artists’ tekkers in a deft play of 2-step parries, hardstyle riffs and buckling IDM sound design across three distinctive workouts.
‘Turf’ is the most up-for-it , with whistle-able lead melody harnessed in Erotek-style electro/2-step snares and grizzled subs, whereas ‘Yike!’ takes a more oblique angle to the ‘floor with fermented crowd noise and acid leading into a nasty sort of electro pressure, kinda like a looser Neil Landstrumm, before they see it off at the deep end with ‘Lilac’ on a breaksy flex recalling Skee Mask.