Trance pop from the festival specialist and his new vocal muse, Kelly Lee Owens
Up top, ‘Luminous Spaces’ feels out a reverberating imaginary dimensions with twinkling arps and KLO’s breathy peal, leading up to a drop and feeling like you’re being advertised life insurance or inhabiting an IG influencer’s dreamlife. On the other side, ‘Luminous Beings’ pushed the smugness with a display of grungier bass textures and piquant, bittersweet arps wrapped up in that fudgy sort of groove that Hopkins has made his name on.
Animal Collective co-founder Avey Tare chases up ‘Cows on Hourglass Pond’ with a new suite of distinct sides revolving studio recordings of live fan favourites he debuted during solo tours
Side A sees him fondle reverse loops and clouds of multitrack vocal harmonies in his patented, psychedelic neofolk style between he keening pop of ‘Midnight Special’, the washed out invocation of ‘Red Light Water Show’, and the lounge strokes of ‘Disc One’. Side B then dials down the dreamy optimism in the more urgent, cranky and frazzled expression of ‘Enjoy The Change’ and the Suicide-esque drive of ‘Uncle Donut’.
Keenly awaited follow-up to Russell Haswell’s groundbreaking n0!ze-tekno classic of 2014 '37 Minute Workout’, a spontaneously combusting mix of analog/digital synths and modular systems edited on a computer and inspired by a visit to CERN, The European Organisation for Nuclear Research. Highly recommended if yr into Xenakis, The Latin Rascals, Incapacitants, Jeff Mills, UR, Yasunao Tone...
There are few artists who can genuinely make music that sounds like your needle and/or record is melting, but Russell Haswell is one of them. His 2nd volume of extremely kinky calisthenics is a potent example of daring to be different in a world where exponentially increasing production options are leading producers of all stripes to the exact same conclusions. But, with thanks to Russell’s iconoclastic intent, restless nature and ascetic aesthetics, he still sounds quite like nobody else, and, even better yet, doesn’t give a shit if you like it or not.
Crowbarring cues ranging from the Latin Rascals to Incapacitants and Jeff Mills into 7 wickedly awkward designs, Haswell keeps his avant aerobics radically irregular as he hops from the tendon-twitching angularity of ‘The Wild Horses of the Revolution have arrived Without Knight’ to steel-hoofed clatter in ‘Central Crisis Management Cell’ and the lacquer-eating dynamics of ‘Painful Memories From The Past Need To Be Acknowledged’, before toning a proper nasty acid special in the UR inversion ‘Dancing on the Head of an Eagle’, and seemingly sucking your brain out thru a straw with ‘Starting Something You’re Not Able To Finish’, with the dry witted, skeletal jazz-funk squirm of ‘Diplomatic Cocktail Circuit’ closing the party down in style.
D.K. racks up mean EBM, electro and trance styles on final part of an ace 2019 trilogy for Antinote
Fully tooled for the club he properly hauls ass in each part, spanking out the cantering EBM horsepower of ‘Storm Of Steel’ alongside body-trap electro drums in the roll cage of ‘Frozen Sword’, plus some early Goa trance flair in ‘Code Breaker’, and killer, whirring drum syncopation stacked up with cinematic choral pads in ‘Rising’.
Forest Swords makes a natural transition to composing for moving image with his evocative suite of aerial electronics and sweeping strings mixed with tart, dissonant themes that surely befit the themes of wonder and dread associated with flying drones. All exactingly mastered by Denis Blackham (Coil, Cabaret Voltaire, Eurhythmics)
“Part art film, part performance piece, ‘The Machine Air’ is a fever dream visual poem and the first film to be both about – and recorded by – flying drones. Created by speculative architect and director Liam Young, it jams together Youtube and Liveleak rips with specially filmed, astonishing aerial shots of Indian textile factories and Bolivian lithium mines – the first time ever captured on camera. Premiered in its original form at BFI London Film Festival, it’s since been screened at the likes of Sonar Festival and Eindhoven Bienniale.
Barnes’ score, presented here sculpted and edited into 14 individual tracks, echoes the film’s cyberpunk claustrophobia: smeared sci-fi synth and distorted melodies rattle alongside metronomic rhythms and stretched samples, rewiring the hums of flying vehicles into warped and contorted sound design. Intimate piano melody weaves with sub bass, while woozy electronics and strings mirror the fluttering of the machines as they hover skywards, powering up and down.
‘The Machine Air’s soundtrack navigates the tension of this tech in our lives: drones simultaneously used as autonomous killing machines or aid delivery vehicles; surveillance robots or Amazon shopping tools. While Barnes’ previous work has retooled organic and human sounds into modern electronic worlds, here he pushes and pulls the music into beautiful, more dystopian shapes, combining with Young’s visuals to give a chilly glimpse into the near future.”
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.