Reggaeton experimenters DJ Clara! and Maoupa Mazzocchetti exert a tripped-out spin on modern Latin dance and vintage Galician folk styles for Low Jack’s boundary-stepping club division of Editions Gravats.
Following the duo’s 2018 debut EP and Clara!’s ‘Meiga de Acero’ single in 2019 for Les Disques De La Bretagne, ‘Luna Nueva’ binds the duo’s astrological, spiritual and romantic dancefloor cues in a significant new take on Caribbean futurism. Designed to make you sweat - and maybe check your head - the album pairs Clara!’s effortlessly nimble vocals with lean and spacious co-production by Maoupa Mazzocchetti in a way that faithfully and daringly plays with reggaeton convention, and, by extension, offers a critique of global electronic dance music currents.
Based in Brussels, Belgium, but originally from northern Spain, Clara! brings a strong knowledge of reggaeton, perreo and trap absorbed from beach parties and clubs back home to a wickedly offset batch of productions by Maoupa, who’s arguably earned a mean reputation in recent years for his killer mixtapes with the PRR! PRR! gang, as well as a slew of 12”s for everyone from Unknown Precept and Mannequin to Arma since 2014. Together they throw down eight distinctive vocal cuts on disc 1, while disc 2 is loaded with their singular instrumentals. Clara! dispatches ice cool but barbed bars in diverse flows, bewitching Maoupa’s rhythms with on point style in the dramatic ‘Badman’ - a bullet for the male gaze - while layering herself in choral cadence on a spellbinding cover of Faltiquera’s Galician folk song ’Sum Sum’ over unusual tablas and drones.
But while the finer details of Clara!’s pointed but humorous lyrics may be lost on non-Spanish speakers, her co-productions with Mauopa are bound to resonate regardless of tongue, with strong, dare-to-be-different highlights in the hard and psychedelic drive of ‘Gaviléan’ and the bolshy bashment grind of ‘Virgo’, along with straight up freaky gear such as ‘Baja Y Suda’, plus their cold fusion of reggaeton and Mahraganat influences in ‘Secreto Ritual’, and warped hypermodernism in ‘Clarividencia.’ No matter what angle or language it’s approached from, ‘Luna Nueva’ cycles fresh and luminous with a steadfast yet experimental call to the ‘floor while the world collapses around them.
If you ever imagined what shoegaze/industrial dream pop from ‘90s Russia might sound like, ‘Самцы Дронта’ is a must-check shocker steeply skooled in the arts of Cocteau Twins, Coil and Lynchian tones and suitably soused in sheets of white hot guitar distortion while drum machines toil the rhythm
“Самцы Дронта (Samtsi Dronta / Male of Dronts in russian) was a Shoegaze / Dream pop / Experimental band formed in the late 80's in Izhevsk - USSR.
The first rehearsals were about noises made on detuned guitars and cheap soviet synths while listening to cassettes of Clan Of Xymox, Cocteau Twins, Coil, Psychic Tv and Dead Can Dance in the cinema booth where worked Konstantin Bagaev (from Стук Бамбука в XI часов, another cult soviet experimental band).
In 1990 the line-up consisted of Maxim Fedoseev and Anna Lebedeva. Concerts happened infrequently and the band recorded some tracks in 1992 ("Cassandra" and "Croquet") and 1993( "Wild Child"). Also a music video called "Сумерки" (Twilight).
During early 90s various musicians joined and left the band (Vasily Agafonof (ex Стук Бамбука в XI часов),Alexandr Merzlyakov) and finally was left a duo of core members Maxim Fedoseev and Anna Lebedeva. In late 90s they disbanded. Maxim Fedoseev started other projects and Anna Lebedeva started a media career.”
Performed by eminent chamber ensemble Apartment House, ‘Žiadba’ is the debut bounty by Spanish-based Slovak composer Adrián Demoč for Another Timbre.
Mostly recorded over the course of summer 2019 in Huddersfield and Derbyshire, along with one piece recorded in the Czech Republic, ‘Žiadba’ is a patiently paced and calming introduction to Demoč’s style of composition, which has previously appeared nearly 10 years ago on digital releases with Entr’acte and the and/OAR label, but with little to speak of in between.
Taking cues from the slowburn music of Feldman and Pärt, as well as Slovak folk and Italian Renaissance composer Luca Marenzio (for whom the album’s 2nd work is composed), Demoč’s first solo outing proper reveals an unhurried and meticulous mind at work between the florid, omnidirectional growth of strings and woodwind in ‘Kvarteto’ (2015/17), and the austere solo violin strings of its partner piece ‘Žiadba’, which were both written from the same base elements and contrastingly bookend the set.
In between we find Apartment House’s Philip Thomas (following his beautiful boxset rendering of Morton Feldman) on piano alongside Anton Lukoszevieze (cello) and Chloë Abbott (trumpet) in the crepuscular late renaissance tribute ‘A Luca Marenzio’, and Thomas again with Lukoszevieze and Heather Roche (clarinet) in the tremulous exploration of folksy dissonance and softly smeared microtones in ‘Modré Kvety’ (2018), saving a tense, dreamlike sequence of ‘Septett’ with its “hidden” triads and detuned evolution at the album’s core.
Properly evocative and unsettling field recordings made with bits of the Berlin Wall during the summer following its breakdown. Previously unreleased and out in time to commemorate 30 years since Berlin was reunited.
“Berlin, August 1990, first post-wall Summer. Two friends, the locals Günter Schickert and gallerist Peter Unsicker perform a spectacular yet symbolically intimate interpretation of those epochal changing days by building a sound installation with a damaged piece of the Berlin Wall. They persuade the patrol "Feliks Dzierzynski" of the DDR army to transport and relocate a piece outside Peter's Wall Street Gallery on the Zimmer Strasse, in the borough of Mitte, where only a few months back the intact structure actually passed through. Once the wall was positioned, they bend down the bars of the iron structure that crop out the concrete, bind piano chords to them, stretch the strings down to the bodom base of the construct and connect guitar amplifiers to the set up. The Berlin Wall is ready to be played as a harp.
Günter Schickert's Mauerharfe are executed between August and October 1990, resulting into three long field recordings. "Aufnahme bei Mauerblüten, Sommer 1990" features a 19-minute long piece. The tape-induced background noise lays down a carpet of haunting atmospheres and introduces the experiment. Günter starts to test the chords by pulling out, with his fingers, dry and acid timbers. The warm-up evolves by investigating wider sinusoidal waves and dilated metallic riffs. The track takes the form of a more conventional music narration, as the artist bangs the harp with a sort of rudimental violin bow creating marching percussive patterns. On "Zwei Spuren nacheinander aufgenommen, Herbst 1990", a similarly long take opens up with ferocious urge, like being catapulted into a warfare between iron and cement. As the strings get hit and pulled, the metal seems to crash into thousands of pieces, dissolving into merciless distortions. The third piece (CD-only), "Mauerharfe 3", is a 30-minute long performance dated August the 13th, 1990. As Schickert recalls, 29 years before exactly on that same date, the construction of the Berlin wall was accomplished. The recording is cleaner than the previous two, giving more width and definition to the sounds resulting in discrete and meditative, deep, gong-like percussive timbers. Includes exclusive pictures, liner notes, a prose poem by Peter Unsicker and some draft writings by the artists with reflections on the project.”
Detroit house & techno’s Dutch ambassador is subject of a necessary 2-part set collecting his classic output c. 1993-2003 under myriad aliases
Since the age of 12, when he won the DMC mixing championship in 1986, thru his reams of techno, house and electro output for the US and Europe’s finest techno labels, Orlando Voorn has long been a key bridge for Detroit techno’s Afrofuturist aesthetics and purposes in mainland EU. Whatever style he turned his hand to, one could easily mistake it for a Detroit production, and ‘Dilligence Pt.1’ rounds up eight strong examples of his work in bringing proper, hard-working hi-tek funk and soul to Dutch and European electronic dance music.
To play favourites, we direct you straight to the iridescent intricacies of his 2003 zinger ‘Diligent’, and the gloriously psychedelic wormhole funk of his 1995 spanker ‘Alistair’s Theme’ as Mute on the first disc, and then to the lush, driving mechanics of his Baruka joints ‘Technision’ (1994) and ‘Melancholic Strings’ (1993) on disc 2.
Happa and 96 Back rep the future sound of Yorkshire on the former’s PT/5 Records
Leeds vs Leeds, who will win?! Leeds, Leeds, Leeds (∞) that’s who. Happa’s ‘LS14 Battler’ 2-steps into the arena like a hotshot trotting out of Harvey Nic’s with two armfuls of TWOC’d Gucci, ready to dazzle his fellow fraggles on the ‘floor with hiccuping garage funk moves and bozing deep guy chords.
Fresh from a string of ace singles on CPU - including an zinging Happa remix - on '36th Chamberlain' 96 Back dances on the halfstep with a devilish slow/fast electro pinger working tickled cowbells, wicked reverse edits and nasty bass in a singular style that’s ruffer than a £3 fry-up from Kirkgate market.
Kassem Mosse, Mix Mup and Tapes = Zigtrax on their seductively woozy debut LP for Workshop
Vibing out on hardware in a deliciously red-eyed style, the trio’s intimate studio familiarity bleeds thru in eight slompy and horizontally-inclined moves smartly informed by jazz and ambient and connected by deft dub sensibilities. The LP follows very much in the vein of Zigtrax’ ‘Live in Zig’ (as in Leipzig) tape for Kassem Mosse’s Ominira label, exploring a low lit and low key, conversational trade of ideas unloaded from drum machines, synths and samplers, all executed live and in-the-moment with seemingly little edits.
Although there are strong dance cuts tucked away in the B-side’s grubby, rub-a-dub chuggers, the overall feel is set to be consumed in a single sitting in domestic situation or wherever the mood takes you, stretching from gorgeous BoC-like pads to supremely blunted, bong-bubble dynamics and bumbling drums a la Theo Parrish’s ‘Dance of the Drunken Drums’ in a deeply charming style primed for rolling on the carpet in luxury sportswear.
Celebrating ten years of the label, featuring tracks from Lucy, Rrose, Zeitgeber, The Lotus Eaters, Shifted, Efdemin, L.B. Dub Corp, James Ruskin, Denise Rabe, Adriana Lopez, Chevel, Alessandro Adriani and Serena Butler.
"On ‘X – Ten Years Of Artefacts’, Mortellaro features solo as Lucy, in collaboration with Rrose as Lotus Eater and together with Speedy J as Zeitgeber. (Rrose also appears alone with “The Myth of Purity.”) Shifted, Efdemin, L.B. Dub Corp (Luke Slater), James Ruskin, Denise Rabe, Adriana Lopez, Chevel, Alessandro Adriani and Serena Butler each feature, representing a group of singular artists whose relationships with the label range from years to months—Stroboscopic Artefacts’ past, present and future must exist simultaneously.
Back in September 2009, Lucy released “Why Don’t You Change / Dub Man Walking,” the first record from Stroboscopic Artefacts, which began a discography that, ten years later, is almost unparalleled in its ambition and vision. Put simply, Mortellaro wanted to create something that didn’t exist. Stroboscopic Artefacts would be respectful of, and indebted to, the great techno and electronic music artists of the past but would develop new paths forward for the label and the genre. The label refused to perpetuate the established dichotomies of electronic music—between the dance floor and home listening, between club music and experimental music, between the past and the future. It took risks knowing it wouldn’t always work. But within a year or so of the label’s inception, it was obvious Stroboscopic Artefacts’ approach had captured imaginations far beyond its Berlin base, showing us that the boundaries of techno are often constructs of limited imagination.
The label pursued constantly evolving methods of releasing music. It created concept-driven series like Monad, Stellate and Totem, establishing frameworks that would give freedom in limitation. Standout albums by Lucy, Xhin, Dadub, Zeitgeber, Chevel, Kangding Ray, Lotus Eater and Alessandro Adriani were deeply considered longform presentations."
Sigha and Kangding Ray wriggle together as Neon Chambers in a debut EP of deft electro and IDM compatible with Barker, Gábor Lázár, Second Woman, Lee Gamble
Arguably the best we’ve heard by either producer in years, the ‘One’ EP metes out very classy measures of mutable IDM headiness and proper, body-guiding club torque in five parts.
In ‘Apollo’ they swing around steel-tipped UKF/garage patterns with trilling choral voices, before ‘Cascade’ really starts to show off their advanced tekkers with brilliantly stumbling drums and keening widescreen trance arrangements executed in lushest style. ‘What It Takes’ follows on a jaw-trembling neb-hardcore flex, all strobing motifs and achingly well placed vocal stabs flushed thru with serotonin-trigger pads, and ‘Your Touch’ expands on that vibe in a very Lee Gamble-styled sort of electro ‘ardcore that bleeds into the scudding, windswept 2-step dub chord dynamic of ‘Helles’.
Favourites of Lena Willikens, Japan’s Kopy/Tentenko (feat. members of J-pop’s Bis and noise legends Hijokaidan) do dance music in a wickedly schizzy style, veering from lip-bitingly slinky Latin shuffle to monotonic industrial, downtempo romance and nagging minimalism at each turn...
“This split release unites two female underground acts, both of whom have recently become pivotal parts of the contemporary electronic musical landscape in Japan. Hot on the heels of the acclaimed Paredo EP compilation (TAL 012EP), which was been released in May 2019 (and also includes contributions from Lena Willikens and Miki Yui), the Super Mild split album is the second outing by Kopy and Tentenko on TAL. Their newest works punctuate their highly individual approaches to contemporary experimental dance music. Tentenko is a Tokyo-based electronic music producer. Her career began in 2013 when she joined the mainstream idol group BiS. Immediately after her departure from BiS in 2014 she commenced work on her solo project under her artist name Tentenko.
Since then she has radically reinvented her music away from glossy J-pop towards weird and industrial rooted dancefloor. Tentenko first made a name for herself on the alternative Japanese music scene with a steady flow of live performances as well as collaborations with members of the legendary Japanese noise band Hijokaidan. For a few years now, Kopy has been an unpredictable and charismatic part of the vital electronic music scene of Osaka. She has quickly garnered a reputation for creating her live sets exclusively with borrowed electronic equipment. Her name Kopy very much originates from this "concept". Apart from a few performances at Düsseldorf's famous nightspot Salon Des Amateurs, she has been invited by Lena Willikens to her showcase at the Meakusma Festival in 2018. Her sinister dancefloor mystique is heavily steeped in the free-spirited noise and rhythm cultures of her hometown.”
Kali Malone and Maria W. Horn’s XKatedral label release the debut album by Sweden’s David Granström - a majestic, slow-burning exercise in algorithmic synthesis influenced by medieval and 20th century minimal composition, highly recommended if yr into Phill Niblock, Earth, Catherine Christer Hennix, Autechre.
Granström’s first full-length release firmly establishes him in a field of progressive artists known for generating beguiling new music from a rigorous mixture of algorithmic synthesis, 20th Century minimalism and medieval composition techniques. On ’A distant color, secluded’ he yields a technically complex yet emotively direct demonstration of his compositional style during four works ranging from a pulsating prologue vignette to a side-long epic, each built from the ground up with Supercollider software which provides him with an extremely fine level of control over the timbre of his sounds, cyclically layered into vast topological complexities and worlds within worlds that gradually emerge from reiteration and slight real-time shifts.
Working within isometric and just intonation systems that connect ancient Indian classical traditions to medieval composition and late 20th century expressions of modernity by Cage and Catherine Christer Hennix, Granström’s music strives to collapse distinctions of time and place with absorbing harmonic transitions that highlight an uncanny valley between the sonic laws of the “real”, or manifested world, and his resoundingly immersive spaces of minimalist, pure non-dimensionality.
Between the concise flutter of illusive harmonic flux in ‘The Other Side’, the brazenly coruscating cadence of ‘Approaching The Infinity’, and what sounds like Autechre remixing Earth on the A-side’s ‘Plane At Infinity’, and the swelling gulf of ostensibly still (yet unfathomably deep) waves that crash over the B-side’s ‘Waning Moon’, Granström lucidly questions the listener’s spatio-textural sense of tone and timbre in a way that results in rich instinctive responses and encourages users to listen deeply to, and inhabit, the dissolution of perceptive boundaries.
Preeminent avant-gardiste and Recital founder, Sean McCann gently melts our heads with ‘Puck’ his significant new solo side following from 2016’s ‘Music For Public Ensemble’. It strongly feels like inhabiting someone else’s dream. Totally spellbinding, life-affirming music from one of contemporary composition’s pivotal artists.
“Puck is both public and private in nature. A smear of chamber works from Stockholm, Moscow, New York, and Kansas. Three aged personal recordings from 2008, 2009, and 2010 are also poured in the batter: a bedroom violin trio, ambient music, and a sad plucked guitar piece. A marbled blend of new chamber works and older, boisterous recordings from the late-2000s.
The first side is subtitled “Folded Portraits” – a three part suite: Nightfall, Broth, and Damals: German for “back then…” (or Remember When: the lowest form of conversation). The spine of it is an informal rehearsal session of Portraits of Friars (2018). Recorded at the fabled Fylkingen in Stockholm, the 10-person text and chamber piece grows and shrinks. False starts and stops and tests are outlined with the black ink of editing. Little moments become big moments. Nailed above that spine is Folded Rose (2018), a piece for piano and humming. A dainty march out of context, immersed in recordings of me gagging and yowling in my car.
Sound artist Lia Mazzari shared the titular spoken piece with me. “Puck,” a duet for dialogue about eggs and jewelry, premiered at Café OTO in 2018. I recorded my text in a dark bathtub in Toronto on my 30th birthday last year. The text is a mold growing on top of a quintet I wrote called Vilon (2017), sweetly performed by the Russian Kymatic Ensemble. Jackson Graham, skilled American percussionist, is a rod bolted through the album. He commissioned a work by me called Violet Fat (2017), which is spliced across both sides, hammered and bent to fit in place.
A fusion of jubilation and gut clenching, Puck balances on the rooftop, tipping side to side in the fog.
by Sean McCann, September 2019”
Maverick cellist Lori Goldstone takes a bow on Second Editions with a rare solo album of unadorned acoustic recordings resonating with both baroque and blues styles.
Arriving 25 years after she played live with Nirvana (with dozens of recordings for everyone from David Byrne to Earth and Fith in between), ‘Things Opening’ catches Goldston’s naturally aching style in action on eight tracks that evince descriptions of her playing as “Classically trained and rigorously de-trained”. As her takes on works by herself, plus Jessica Kenney, Satchel Henneman, and Julio Lopezhiler unfold, Goldston proves to be one of those far-flung composers who has gone so far into their instrument and practice that they have a license to genuinely fuck with its conventions and give voice to its lesser heard inner dialogue.
Like tuning into the cello’s subvocalisations or private conversations, ‘Things Opening’ appears to explore and reveal the instrument’s uncanny parallels with the range of the human voice. In Goldston’s hands it speaks to a history of expression both pained and beautiful, diving a raw but precise dissonance that may well set your teeth on edge, but also make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.
$&$ gets back to noisy rock basics with added glitch upon return to the hairy bosom of Riot Season
Fifteen years and forty releases into their “career”, $&$ still give it some mucky welly on ‘Doing Drugs, Selling Drugs’ with a calamitous session of white hot guitar riffs, slaved drum machines and razed vocals fed thru and spat out of a sampler.
It’s their balls-to-the-wall and pedal-to-the-meckle takes on grindcore and whatever subgenera of prefix-core you care to harbour in your leathery pedant’s book - exactly the sort of shit to annoy the neighbours or your rents.
Disco from JD Twitch, backed with a beatless piece on the flip.
“Back in 2017, Basso delved into his micro-press cassette collection to treat us to the first retrospective of kosmische wizard Trance. Spanning both the bucolic and galactic, 'Tapes' (GBR010) suspended time and space, enveloping us in the nebulous beauty of Jürgen Petersen's misty ambience. Among the appreciative audience for this mind expanding release was one JD Twitch aka Keith McIvor, one half of the mighty Optimo. Keith's vision of remixing Jurgen's 'Purification' for the club was embraced by both the artist and the label guy with glowing eyes. Charting a course through progressive house, ambient techno and the weirder bits of the solar system, McIvor combines the celestial synthesis of the original with some tough and tracky drum programming, turning the intensity up to 11 in pursuit of early morning ascension.
A sensitive arrangement allows space for Peterson's waveforms to work their magic, while laser fire and additional fx abuse unlock evolutionary abilities buried deep in your unconscious mind. The previously unreleased, largely unheard 'Contemplation' was originally intended to feature on the 'Tapes' compilation, but fell off the edge of that flat Earth thanks to its maximal runtime. Too good to remain a secret, this crepuscular creation enjoys the entirety of the B-side, drifting through the eons via meditative electronics, delicate sitar and a touch of tapey flutter. Embrace the almost 40 year old tape's flaws and imperfections that could not be restorated and dive into the immersive and unparalleled.”
‘Dial 45-21-95’ is Ryoko Akama’s series of quiet, tip-of-tongue works commissioned by Another Timbre for the Apartment House ensemble and made following time spent researching the archive of Polish film director Krzysztof Kieslowski in his childhood town of Sokołowsko.
This research manifested as the nine scores for Apartment House which would become ‘Dial 45-21-95’, plus a sculptural work ‘The Way They Are’, which was presented at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, June, 2019. Performed by the ensemble of Anton Lukoszevieze (cello), Mira Benjamin (violin), Simon Limbrick (vibraphone & percussion), Heather Roche (clarinet), Kathryn Williams (alto flute), Lucio Tasca & Cristian Alvear (guitar), Philip Thomas & Kerry Yong (piano), the results are all precisely delicate and ephemerally gaseous in nature in a way that calls to mind the gently subversive mix of documentarian realism and world weary dramaturgy in Kieslowski’s craft in an austere but poignant way that resonates with his worldview and where it came from, in communist Poland, mostly before the dissolution of the U.S.S.R.
Kranky veteran Benoît Pioulard (né Thomas Meluch) returns with his first full-length for Morr Music. The music on Sylva bears the beauty and strange shapes of nature: desert rock formations and colorful leaves, restless waters and peculiar plants. Meluch’s dreamy ambient drones and saturated lo-fi pop embody the impressionist sensation of his visual aesthetic – with this collection sound and vision are merged into an affectionate study of the organic.
"Sylva is the result of one of the most productive periods in Meluch’s life. During a 9-month hiatus from his day job he embarked on daily recording sessions amid trips to the American southwest, Montana, Hawai’i and his native Michigan. Back home in Seattle, he developed his recordings and wrote the album’s two mesmerizing vocal tracks, which call to mind early Fleetwood Mac or peak pop-era Brian Eno. “Keep” is based on a tiny flower called Draba mentioned in the book A Sand County Almanac, about which “no one ever wrote a poem”; considering all the little plants he had inadvertently crushed throughout a lifetime of hikes, he wrote it for them. The piano-driven “Meristem” features a striking violin contribution from Freya Creech (London, UK), and is dedicated to Meluch’s brother, who died suddenly two years ago. Sylva’s other collaboration is the soaring vocal arrangement created for “Raze II” by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer/singer Caroline Shaw (New York, USA), a former touring mate who resided at the Banff Centre (Alberta, CAN) during the same period in which Meluch completed his recordings there.
The album’s ten songs are divided into four movements: Solum (soil/solitude), Ignis (fire), Coeptum (seed) and Vireo (thrive), with each group embodying a slightly different environ. When paring down the photo collection Meluch abided three guidelines: no man-made objects, no redundant textures, and a color palette as diverse as his vintage camera allowed. From more than six hundred images, 102 were selected and arranged in diptychs with a preface from the artist. Book and album work well on their own, but by experiencing them together one finds a fundamental connection as well as a three-dimensional view into their creator’s perception of the cosmos."
First vinyl edition of Alan Marks’ 1987 performance for Erik Satie’s ‘Vexations’ (1893) - possibly the best-known avant-classical work in existence beyond ‘4’ 33’ by John Cage, who coincidentally presented the first performance of Satie’s classic in 1963.
“The extraordinary score for Vexations is just three lines long, yet a complete performance (840 repetitions) may last for anything between 14 and 28 hours. First performed under the supervision of John Cage in 1963, this radical, enigmatic, proto-Surrealist work is now recognised as a significant milestone in the avant-garde canon.
Some credit Vexations with occult numerical meaning; others discern Satie's greatest musical prank, or a "poor man's Ring of the Nibelung". Curiously, despite the almost infinitely repetitive nature of the piece, the central 18 note motif is notoriously hard to remember. Few solo pianists have been able to negotiate a complete performance of all 840 repetitions, although in 2012 a non-stop performance lasting 35 hours was undertaken in Tokyo.
This meditative 70 minute recording features 40 repetitions of the motif, performed by Alan Marks on piano. The recording was produced by Thomas Wilbrandt. Both the CD and vinyl versions include detailed liner notes by Marks and musicologist Stephen Whittington.”
Wheezing, light-heading krautrock flights from Seoul, S. Korea’s Tengger, arriving on their native Extra Noir a year since the label’s ace, eponymous comp which starred a peach by Cucina Povera
Tengger’s track on the ‘Extra Noir Vol.1’ set, ‘Breathe In, Breathe Out’ gives a good indication of the mediative yet physical effect they pursue with the soaring designs of ’Spiritual’, coaxing an unidentified array of analog electronics and seemingly acoustic sounding drones (possibly a harmonium, shruti box?) , as well as vocals, into sustained drones and pulsing rhythms that seem to fly between the mountaintops of the Hindu Kush and original longhair retreats in the Alps.
Modern standard bearer for hip hop proper, Detroit’s Danny Brown is underlined by production from Q-Tip, Jpegmafia, Paul White, Flying Lotus and Thundercats on his keenly anticipated 5th solo LP.
"In the ten years since Danny Brown’s magnum opus XXX was released, he has permeated both underground and mainstream music culture with an authentic and ever-evolving persona and a sound wholly his own, transcending genres and any parameters the world around him might impose. He set the blueprint for many of today’s critical darlings and opened doors for so many following his personally audacious start.
Executive production is from the iconic rapper and producer Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest. Q-Tip’s involvement in uknowhatimsayin¿ marks the first time the legendary artist has executive produced an album since Mobb Deep’s The Infamous. Brown’s lyrics balance earnest storytelling with laugh-out-loud one-liners, especially apparent on “Dirty Laundry” as Danny raps about his sexual exploits and reminisces on his rocky path to stardom. Brown’s star turn as an artist and individual are both clearly demonstrated on uknowhatimsayin¿, the next stop on Brown’s journey and one that solidifies his reputation as an innovator and hip-hop’s favorite curiosity. In the truest sense, it is a modern classic that defies genre and reimagines what a hip-hop album can and should be in 2019."
Variegated techno explorations, from slow to IDM-y and grey area chuggers
Marking up the Bologna, Italy label’s first multi-artist vinyl, ‘Palindrome’ stretches out from the furtive slow techno mission ignition of ‘Tripla’ by BXP to Carcass Identity’s slippery, serpentine, Plaid-like piece ‘Helical Filament’ on the front, before harbouring the dark and slow acid slosh of ‘Orange Lifejacket’ by Wang Inc. and the whirring grey area swagger of ‘Hyojin’ by UVB76 (no relation to their namesake, although they admittedly do sound like a UVB-76 track on 33-not-45).
The last remaining unpublished tracks from the repertoire of the world-famous North Korea concerts in 2015, immortalized in the documentary "Liberation Day", directed by Morten Traavik and Uģis Olte.
"‘Honourable, Dead or Alive, When Following the Revolutionary Road’ is based on an aria from the classic North Korean revolutionary opera "Tell, O Forest"(1972), written and produced under the guidance of the Dear Leader Kim Jong Il. ‘Arirang’ is all-Korean folk song that is often considered the unofficial national anthem of both Koreas.‘We Will Go to Mount Paektu’ is a 2015 massive “light music” (read: pop) hit in North Korea, originally performed by the all-female Moranbong band, supposedly under the creative guidance of Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un."
Morphing deeper into the cyber-techno vortex, NYC’s Hiro Kone gives animus to wrecking ball kick drums, body-scanning synths and atavistic choral pads in a thrilling new album for Dais.
With ‘A Fossil Begins to Bray’ Hiro leads farther into a void between modular synthesis, field recordings and noise following 2018’s cultishly prized ‘Pure Expenditure’ LP and her roiling collab with Drew McDowell (Coil). As the title suggests, Hiro’s new album is intently focussed on the idea of giving a primal, anthropomorphic voice to ancient, even pre-historic, spirits and creatures. This idea provides a thoroughly compelling lense thru which to frame her music, which is at once contemporary and futuristic in its technical make-up, while speaking to instinctive sixth senses, muscle memories and notions of the uncanny valley.
Flooding the synapses with serotonin-lush pads and unheimlich, crawling rhythms in opener ‘A Desire, Nameless’, Hiro’s technical chicanery leads into pensile megastructures with ‘fabrication of Silence’ and shiveringly dark, primordial space stretched out between waning subbass and her creaking violin strings on the title track. ’Shatter The Gangue Of Piety’ follows, carving an elemental techno truth from syncopated drums and surging pad, and the cinematic themes of ’Submerged Dragon’ and ‘Iahklu’ divine a timeless dread that resolves in the action of muscle memory in her restless techno impulses on ‘Feed My Ancestors.’
Italian house/disco/electro figurehead Marco Passarani buffs up his dancing clogs for a debonaire night on the tiles as F.F.O.M.
Launched as the 2nd release on his Unrelatable label, the ’New Farmland’ EP gets into gear with the balance of deeply powerful electro bass and svelte, noirish Bladerunner synth pads in ‘Philadelphia 2099’, next to the classy, deep electro-house sashay of ‘Tharsis Montes’, before ‘Echoes From The Red Valley’ catch him on a divine electro workout joining the dots between Italo disco and Detroit house, and ‘Seeds’ finishes with a kinky flourish.
Detroit house & techno’s Dutch ambassador is subject of a necessary 2-part set collecting his classic output c. 1993-2003 under myriad aliases
Since the age of 12, when he won the DMC mixing championship in 1986, thru his reams of techno, house and electro output for the US and Europe’s finest techno labels, Orlando Voorn has long been a key bridge for Detroit techno’s Afrofuturist aesthetics and purposes in mainland EU. Whatever style he turned his hand to, one could easily mistake it for a Detroit production, and ‘Dilligence Pt.2’ rounds up eight strong examples of his work in bringing proper, hard-working hi-tek funk and soul to Dutch and European electronic dance music.
Headed up by his eternal essential Juan Atkins collab ‘Game One’, part 2 collects classic mutations of Detroit/Dutch techno between the slamming, freaky torque and twanging lead of ’Complications’ (1993), the raw-ass bangs of Mute’s ‘Raw’ (1995), and thru to Mad Mike-like funk along with Blake Baxter on The Ghetto Brothers’ ‘Back In Business’ (1993) and their disco-looping ace ‘From The Ghetto’, plus the deep combo of electrified reverse edits and elegant keys on ’Frases’ (1995) as Mute.
First time available on vinyl. Glistening, glittering collection from Cologne's mighty Kompakt family, featuring tracks from Wolfgang Voigt, Olaf Dettinger, Jorg Burger and many more.
12" releases on the label have seen the trademark 4/4 killers backed up with some of the most spiritual, deeply melodic and plain moving, soulful down beat cuts. Make no mistakes, these are not static, tone drifts, but highly evolved, progressing and progressive music, fully developed compositions reaching almost symphonic levels of euphoria.
Long-awaited vinyl edition of Ben Frost’s impendingly gloomy soundtrack to Fortitude. The Icelandic-based Australian composer is clearly the right man for this job, offering up a swell of emotive string arrangements shrouded in cold, wide electronic tones that convey the feel of the TV series thru a combination of incidental dialogue, cues and themes. Fans of contemporary sci-fi soundtracks and the expansive electro-acoustic designs of the Subtext label, Jóhann Jóhannsson or indeed Ben Frost will be totally in their element here.
"From 2015 to 2018 electronic musician and composer Ben Frost sound tracked Sky Atlantic's 'Fortitude'. Over three seasons, his glacial compositions accompanied the drama that takes place on the Arctic Circle and features Christopher Eccleston, Stanley Tucci, Michael Gambon, and Sofie Gråbøl. The Icelandic-based Australian composer is clearly the right man for this job, offering up a swell of emotive string arrangements shrouded in cold, wide electronic tones that convey the feel of the TV series thru a combination of incidental dialogue, cues and themes.
Fans of contemporary sci-fi soundtracks and the expansive electro-acoustic designs of the Subtext label, Jóhann Jóhannsson or indeed Ben Frost will be totally in their element here."
Slamming hi-tek funk in signature Dutch/Detroit style from Voorn, backed with Lozano’s nervy Detroit and breakbeat cuts
Coinciding with release of Voorn’s retrospective volumes via Above Board, the Amsterdam/Detroit guy reps a classic sound with the P-funky synth vamps and bucking groove of ‘Pull Up’, whereas his remix of Lozanio’s ‘Peopelk Person’ cuts deeper with martian melodies and padded bass pressure. Lozano helms the flipside with the bustling percussion and tweaky riffs recalling The Connection Machine in ‘People Person’, beside a simmering remix of ‘Pull Up’ spiced with added breaks.
Pye Corner Audio, Don’t DJ and President Bongo (Gusgus) rework Craven Faults shirey kosmiche flights
Analogue synth master Pye Corner Audio proves an ideal candidate with his dreamily sluggish version of ‘Intakes’, and Don’t DJ impresses with the pendulous 9’ build of his ‘Foddergang’ rework, and President Bongo brings some more direct dancefloor flavour with the thrumming, giddy spin of ‘Eller Ghyll.’
MMM and Berghain’s Fiedel mints his Super Sound Tool series for the DJs and dancers with a pair of ripping techno trax cut loud and proper for club use
Up top, Mode_1 follows a cut on the ‘Appendix Double Mixpack EP’ with the driving kicks, hi-hat spray and panic-raising lead of ‘Return’, set to light a rocket up the club’s bum bum bum.
Down below, Duncan Macdonald sets a grid of grinding bass, and cold, donking kicks to hold a mind-mangling purist 303 line that will chew thru any club with a decent soundsystem (and hopefully some properly maintained turntables!).
Empire of Signs present the premiere compilation of dreamy work by Masahiro Sugaya, an unsung mainstay of Japan’s ambient environmental music or kankyō ongaku scene in the ‘80s.
A big influence on the likes of Visible Cloaks, Masahiro Sugaya’s music is part responsible for a wave of exquisitely serene Japanese ambient inspirations that have taken hold of contemporary ambient trends thanks to the YT algorithms being very fond of his classic 1982 template ‘Music For Nine Post Cards’. Now following from Empire of Signs’ 2017 premiere international edition of that classic suite their ‘Horizon, Vol.1’ set delves deeper into his catalogue to pluck out a further eight works for their first release outside of Japan.
“Almost completely unknown in the west, Masahiro Sugaya has been composing and producing music since the 1980s in an exceptionally wide range of fields and practices. From arrangements for musical acts like the acoustic guitar duo Gontiti to acousmatic diffusion at spaces like Paris’s Groupe de Recherches Musicales (GRM), Sugaya's reach is almost exhaustive in its breadth, but it was in the 80s bubble-era kankyō ongaku scene that he first found his musical voice. Horizon, Volume 1 presents a window into these works, culled from Sugaya’s early scores for experimental Tokyo theatre group Pappa Tarahumura.
As a teenager, Sugaya would visit the avant garde hub of record/book shop Art Vivant run by Satoshi Ashikawa of Sound Process, guided by Ashikawa’s recommendations into the worlds of experimental composition, jazz and ethnographic music. It was there he also met musician Yoshio Ojima—the two would become close friends and contemporaries, working within a circle of Tokyo musicians that also included Midori Takada, Hiroshi Yoshimura and Satsuki Shibano. Ojima, an early adopter of new musical technology, would introduce Sugaya to the possibilities of composing with computers, synthesizers and samplers, which would become a trademark in Sugaya's early works. Surprisingly, the sound sources on Horizon are entirely digital, showcasing Sugaya’s ability to organically recreate complex musicianship approaches via keyboard using hyper-realistic samples. Much like Ojima and Yoshimura’s work, the results eschew electronic music’s usual coldness for something more warm and inviting, the feeling of a human in deep conversation with technology.
Flourishing within the boom of experimental theatre subsidized by corporations during the bubble economy, Pappa Tarahumura forged a unique dream-like style that merged performance art, modern dance and fantastical installation-like stage sets. Sugaya fashioned multiple soundtracks for their productions in collaboration with director Hiroshi Koike, the first two of which, The Pocket Of Fever (熱の風景) and Music From Alejo (アレッホ - 風を讃えるために), he self-released in 1987 on cassette, handing them out at Tarahumara performances. The third, The Long Living Things (Zoo Of The Sea) (海の動物園) followed in 1988 as a CD on Yukio Kojima’s ALM records. Aside from his brief inclusion on Light in the Attic’s Kankyō Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980-1990 (compiled by Empire of Signs’ Spencer Doran), Horizon presents this work outside of Japan for the first time.”
The hounds of Hamburg’s Golden Püdel give it up for the legendary Conrad Schnitzler with a great compilation starring club regulars and pals: Felix Kubin, Phuong Dan, Lena Willikens & Sarah Szczesny, Wolfgang Seidel & Ken Montgomery & Crystal Penalosa, Asmus Tietchens, RVDS ++
Mostly recorded over the course of a 2-day festival at the Püdel in 2018, and compiled by Nika Son, ‘Eruption’ speaks to the endless, unbounded creative energy and focus of Berlin Skool pioneer and Zodiac Free Arts Lab co-founder Conrad Schnitzler, whose reams and reels of synth recordings paved the way for thousands of DIY, non-institution-affiliated explorers of the electronic realm to come.
Perhaps of most note is the 7” featuring Schnitzler’s exclusive, unreleased Gencon Productions collaboration with Ken Montgomery ’27.8.1987’, which falls squarely into a category of spiked, militant steppers also found on his ‘Conditions of the Gas Giant’ (1988) LP, and comes here backed with Asmus Tietchens’ story about his father and Schnitzler, who unwittingly crossed the Atlantic together on the steamboat Bornhofen in the late 1950s; one as an engineer, the other as a heater (all regaled in German).
On the LP Schnitzler’s influence is clear to hear between the black hole sonics of Felix Kubin’s light-to-sound synthesis experiments, Tintin Patrone’s scathing drones, a killer electro-dub from Phuong Dan set to a rant by Schnitzler, and RVDS’ hypnagogic sound poem ‘Conrad tanzt im Regen’, plus a passage of eerie theatricality from Willikens & Szczesny. Trust it’s the kind of record that could only from the Püdel, a trü Püdel Produkte.
Deep Afrobeat disco funk holy grail from the fantastically named Henry Turner’s Crystal Band
Recorded in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1980, the A-side’s ‘Music’ turns it on with buzzing synths, strutting guitars and hot horns while Henry begs you to “get up and dance”, while the B-side’s ‘Forever Us’ works out a slick 1984 style gilded with zipping synths and slab-bass funk.
Beautiful, ephemeral ectronica from Berlin’s OCA, presented by the ace Metrón label behind Meitei’s japanese ghost stories and a deep ambient dive by Georgia.
Lucidly influenced by Japanese environmental ambient styles, OCA’s ‘Aging’ follows from the duo’s 2018 tape ‘Preset Music’ for Constellation Tatsu with a longing exploration of decaying melodies and blushing harmonics structures sure to light up the pleasure centres of anyone following new, Jap-inspired ambient innovations from the likes of Nozomu Matsumoto or Kenji Yamamoto to Visible Cloaks and Yamaneko, or even the breezy dimensions of Gas.
Thru 10 vignette-like prisms OCA radiate pure light and good vibes from every pore, treading the finest line between introspection and nostalgic reverie in a way that acknowledges a sort of shared dream or waking life experience common to many listeners. Hailing from Bavaria, the duo’s Yo van Lenz and Florian T M Zeisig operate at a strolling pace and state of mind that almost feels like a lighter take on Wolfgang Voigt’s Gas or Love Inc. creations, had he had a headful of inspiration from anime soundtracks and japanese ambient rather than Wagner and the likes of Prefab Sprout’s soft rock.
As the album title implies, this is maybe a central issue of ‘Aging’, as where Voigt looks to the romantic pop and classical inspiration of his youth, OCA take theirs from a shared but slightly different pool of ‘80s cues; clear to hear between the languorous swoon of ‘I Believe In You’, the piquant strings and grin-inducing choral percolations of ‘Time With Your Dog’ (what a title!), the spirit-easing relief of ‘Making The last Train’, and shared-memory-jogging beauties such as ‘Baby’s First Blade of Grass’.