Krautrock revivalists Phantom Horse come correct with their fourth album, bringing the cosmic experimentation of Cluster, Tangerine Dream's glassy soundtrack work and JD Emmanuel's DIY minimalism into the same sonic space.
Over their last three full-lengths, Ulf Schuette and Niklas Dommaschk have proved more than capable of crafting the kind of astral-traveling Krautrock that barely exists any more. Sure, there are plenty of bands nabbing the motorik beat and calling it a day, but Phantom Horse do things differently, reanimating a similar mind-altered mood as "Zuckerzeit"-era Cluster, all rolling beatbox rhythms and sweaty synth cycles.
"Mehr Null" continues this tradition, exploring the limits of their sound and pushing into similar territory as Texan new age synth don JD Emmanuel or even Klaus Schulze at his most kosmische. Most of the tracks here are extended jams, allowing loops and melodies to rise and fall with the efficiency of trance but the glassy, euphoric mood of Tangerine Dream's soundtrack work. It's expertly crafted stuff, harking back to simpler times without relying completely on empty nostalgic tropes.
Knockout punch of computer music noise and hardcore techno razz from Ewa Justka, a catalytic figure on the live algorithmic coding circuit.
Like the gleefully evil sister of EVOL, instrument builder and producer Ewa Justka has brilliantly and belligerently pushed the saltiest brand of sound and rhetoric for half a decade since releasing one of the earliest numbers on Calum Gunn’s Conditional in 216. Now based in Glasgow while completing her PhD at Edinburgh College of Art (after years in London), the Polish artist mounts her definitive album opus with ‘Upside Down Smile’, whose title serves as a strong motto for her style of nutty negative ecstasy and hooligan rave energy.
‘Upside Down Smile’ was recorded in Ewa’s flat in Govanhill and pays testament to the freestyling hardcore rave sound she’s made her own. Across its 10 trax the formative sound of up-for-it youths across Europe is dismantled and wretched up in wayward arrangements that tilt from grungy slow knockers to a ruthless pelt, punctuated with passages that riff on classic and extreme rave stabs and tweaked with persistently amorphous FX envelopes.
The nuttiest ravers will be in their element with onslaughts such as ‘Mindless Cycles’, the fully dilated acid trance of ‘The House Covered in Grape Leaves’, and the bruxist special brew ‘As Simple As This’, while noise and computer music freaks will get strong kicks out of joints including the tempestuous swells of ‘Something Alive but Unevolvable’ and the pranging trance riffs of ‘Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe’.
One of PC Music’s OG avatars, Hannah Diamond does black mirror pop in her debut solo album; ‘Reflections’
Puckered with diamond-polished production by AG Cook (Charli XCX, GFOTY) and EASYFUN (Charli XCX, Rat Boy), ‘Reflections’ is an assuredly hook-riddled volley of pop “perfection” that arrives in time to offer a glossy kind of resolution to this decade and consolidate PC Music’s game-changing, or at least defining, aesthetic.
Enunciated in the primmest middle clarse vowels, syllable by syllable in nursery rhyme pop style, Hannah delivers “frank” thoughts on love and pop in the modern day, set to backdrops that variously draw on ‘90s trance and synth-pop as much as contemporary hardstyle, dancehall, and that sort of trash pop that Farrah Abraham built her name on and is guzzled up by tweeny types everywhere.
It’s difficult to say whether PC Music have reflected stylistic shifts or prompted them, but either way, and depending on your tolerance for upfront shininess, this album is either as welcome as a glitter bomb in your bed, or a U2 album in your iTunes. Are PC Music the new Stock, Aitken & Waterman? Is Hannah a wannabe Sonia?
The Freelancer’s Blues, the second full-length LP from Brooklyn’s country crooner Dougie Poole, captures its current moment like nothing else.
"Poole updates the storytelling backbone of country music for an audience that is young, urban, romantically alienated and financially precarious, using the same threads spun by Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson before him to write his own anthems for a new generation of country music fans.
With his debut album Wideass Highway Dougie Poole established himself as forerunner in a class of musicians who grew up in a post-genre ecosystem equally as likely to be influenced by Ariel Pink and Animal Collective as Dolly Parton and Dwight Yoakam. On The Freelancer’s Blues, Dougie graduates from drum machine and synthesizer bedroom country to a full band with honky-tonk harmonies, wailing pedal steel, and carefully constructed arrangements. Produced by Jonathan Schenke (PC Worship, Gong Gong Gong, Public Practice) The Freelancer’s Blues does the seemingly impossible of staying true to Poole’s heritage in the DIY scenes of New York and Providence, while simultaneously certifying him as a country music bonafide."
The BBC celebrated them, Jon Spencer produced them, records proliferated. And then in 2017, the honeymoon period passed; Cyril was alone. Within the same space-time, Cyril Bondi hit the road: Diatribes, La Tène, Insub Meta Orchestra, the most adventurous projects of the Geneva scene all included this percussionist in search of unheard beats
"Of all the Cyrils born in the city of Calvin (Geneva) at the dawn of the '80s, these two were bound to find each other. Two Cyrils like two dizygotic souls whose contingencies have brought their meeting forward. Cyril Cyril. A liberated hydra, born in this city of diplomats where Borges duplicated his rejuvenated ego in The Other (1972). A muezzin without borders, Cyril Yeterian came to the disheveled world through Mama Rosin, a three-piece that stirred the ghosts of the rogue bayou, the clammy Mardi Gras of some electric Louisiana. Soon, the world fell in love with their flair. The BBC celebrated them, Jon Spencer produced them, records proliferated. And then in 2017, the honeymoon period passed; Cyril was alone. Within the same space-time, Cyril Bondi hit the road: Diatribes, La Tène, Insub Meta Orchestra, the most adventurous projects of the Geneva scene all included this percussionist in search of unheard beats. He soon found an accomplice for musical prospecting, another Cyril in tune with his rebellious instinct. A guitarist and an accordionist, Cyril Y. took on the banjo, adding effect pedals to it to turn it into a puny bouzouki, an epic bağlama or a krar. Cyril B. cobbled some cannibal drum kit together, with massive jingle bells and tropical nut shells embedded in his marching bass drum.
For Cyril Cyril, music is a way of the world, a joyful decentration offering new keys to comprehend chaos. The point here has nothing to do with some globalized country excursion nor some gluten-free exoticism. Apart from tracing back the family pathway of some Lebanese dialect, Yeterian chants rhapsodies in French, the merciless terms of which say it all about coming insurrections. Certaines Ruines is thus a wordy lampoon of hoaxers, of neo-post-everything killjoys. Cyril Cyril know the superior power of suggestion, of temperance, of happy sobriety. A single word, a single cry can say a lot, as long as it is soulful. The sound of a duo reduced to its simplest expression: rhythm, a riff, a voice can bear within itself an infinitely luxuriant musical organism. Cyril Cyril, so real, so rich."
4AD outliers His Name Is Alive shed more light on their swelling archive for Disciples. RIYL Grouper, Spacemen 3, Manuel Göttsching
“Latest installment in the half-disciple deep dive into the magnetic tape memories of Warren Defever aka His Name Is Alive. Alongside the two vinyl LP compilations All The Mirrors In The House and Return To Never, this archival project has also encompassed companion cassettes 6Teen OK (a sound collage dialogue between Defever and the wandering AM dial of 1980s Michigan radio), and the recent double drop Return Versions and Versions Returned, in which drones from Return To Never were dubbed out and set to drum loops by Walking Trails and Model Home.
Ghost Tape EXP serves as a kind of trailer for the forthcoming third and final LP in the home recordings trilogy, Hope Is A Candle, scheduled for release in the new year. It uses the same degraded 4-track tape sources, but manipulating and remixing the sounds to produce something subtly different and a deeply transcendent listen for those that take the time to immerse themselves in these grainy tone poems. It explores various tantalising possible paths that His Name Is Alive might have gone down (or may do in future): the beatless floatation tank space rock of “Angel Waves” (with shades of Pete Kember’s more ambient Spacemen 3 tracks); the rumbling dub rhythm of “Keep The Moon On Time”; grayscale Grouper-esque winter ambience on “Slept Thru”; soaring Göttsching/Rother style guitar kosmische on “Sun Reflection”; or the occult dread of “Witch Marks” recalling the clammy sound design of third series Twin Peaks. These digressions combine to form a remarkably cohesive soundworld.”
Important, peaceful, percussive and idyllic new age from Japanese composer and student of gamelan music, Yas-Kaz.
"This album is a cornerstone of Japanese ambient and environmental movement. Yas-Kaz rose to musical prominence composing for the dance troupe led by one of the founders of Butoh, Tatsumi Hijikata. The album features a wide range of entirely acoustic instruments and field recordings and was made for stage performance by Sankai Juku Butoh Group at Theatre de la Ville, Paris. Yas-Kaz has influenced quite a few important artist (Ryuichi Sakamoto, Midori Takada, Geino Yamashiro-Gumi) over 4 decades. However, he remains somewhat "unsung": Glossy Mistakes unveils his art throughout this special edition.
His composition/music is not focused on any specific genre/style of music either. Especially in his work for dance theatre he often delivers bare abstract sound/resonance which might not be recognized as "musical" from the Western perspective. He lived in Bali, Indonesia in the 70s introducing the gamelan Balinese sounds and culture to Ryuichi Sakamoto (collaborated in the album "Esperanto), Midori Takada, Shoji Yamashiro (leader of Geino Yamashiro-gumi who later created the soundtrack for "Akira”) among others. A unique and unseen masterpiece unveiled again throughout a remastered edition."
Many hours were spent surfing the airwaves, with often surprising results...
"No synths were used during the making of this album. The mysteries of the ether continue to enthral and provide. venoztks is one of the original founders of The Tapeworm."
Maiden vinyl voyage for ZF’s spaced-out 1991 release, spliced from recordings made in Austria the year before, and originally issued on their Charrm label, now as part of Vinyl-On-Demand’s comprehensive reissue programme.
For the performances at Szene Wien, Austria, 9 and 10 November 1990 as part of the 'Ohrenschrauben' festival, Zoviet France were Andy Eardley with co-founders Ben Ponton and Robin Storey. The CD’s original 64’ piece has been cut in two to fit vinyl, and features elements of both shows woven into a deeply seductive, oneiric gauze, drifting from steepled reverbs and a sort of stately Viennese feel to stranger and disorienting cascades of pounding drum loops, etheric voices and psychedelic wheeze swept up in their singular, dub-like FX matrix.
First vinyl reissue of ZF’s elusive ambient noises, originally transmitted in 1990 on their Charrm label and including parts used for a Stan Brakhage soundtrack, now resurfacing as part of V-O-D’s ongoing archaeological survey of the Northumbrians’ seminal early years.
Far as we can make out, ‘Look Into Me’ marks one of the last Zoviet France appearances of Mark Spybey, who was a band member 1987-1989. Alongside founding members Ben Ponton and Robin Storey they conjure a rawer, coarsely hypnagogic sequence of events and textures that recalls a folk drone symphony played by wraiths on high moorlands and in the pits of derelict collierys.
A section of the 24’ opening side’s wizened strings loops and windswept ambient noise in ‘Cair Camouflet’ was used as part of the soundtrack to the film ‘Loud Visual Noises’ (1987) by Stan Brakhage, and the rest of the record follows in a fittingly enigmatic allegory of synaesthetic sound abstraction and experimental de/composition, to deeply psychedelic tracts of drone noise reminiscent of Two Daughters, mottled voices reminding of Delia Derbyshire’s Dreams records, and clangorous, feral ambient noise that could really only come from these epochal shaman and masters of their craft.
First vinyl pressing of ZF’s 1992 compilation of tracks for Mute’s Grey Area, spanning obscure cuts 1984-1991 ranging from signature, weathered ambient to grinding rhythmic noise and mindbending enigmas that affirm faith in music of the most mysterious sort
Original liner notes: “For many years we avoided participation in compilation projects, although opportunities were frequently presented to us. We have developed our music in such a way that it is most appropriately experienced in isolation. Therefore, allowing it to be presented in a form where it could be preceded and succeeded by other recordings, over which we would have no control, was alien to our intention. It also seemed (and in many cases still does) that compilation projects serve little purpose other than to fulfil the collector or editorial aspirations of the originator. In such circumstances the listener becomes little more than the end-user.
In 1984, following an approach from Jon Wozencroft of Touch seeking a contribution to Lands End, we revised our policy: we inverted the criticisms outlined above and sought to exaggerate them so that they became a positive technique in their own right. We encouraged the active and overt participation of the compiler so that the project would become more than the sum of its parts. In practice this required us to produce music akin to the incidental music produced for film and television soundtracks, music that could be cut up, manipulated and re-worked into new contexts, yet still retain its inherent characteristics. Now, with the general availability of sampling technology, the appropriation and translocation of music in this way is widespread, elevating the end user to a position of experiential collusion.
More recently, we have adopted a more closely defined stance, working only with those projects behind which we can perceive a unifying concept, either of form or purpose. Most of the recordings on this CD were created in this context and therefore represent a degree of creative input on the part of the labels concerned – Prometheans all!”
Bella Union have signed Laura Groves, who is for our money one of the most unique yet memorable singer-songwriters of our time, following a string of choice work with Bullion, and lending her voice to records by Sampha, The Paul Institute and Darkstar.
Sparkling with pop magic and spelt with a storyteller’s suss, ‘A Private Road’ is the definitive Laura Groves record. It’s mostly self-produced and performed by the West Yorkshire lass, and draws from her observations of life in her South London dream grounds, describing, as she says; “snapshots of late night journeys across the river, the sparks of love that transform us and keep us going, the dead ends that the mind can lead us down, the erotic, the visible and invisible places we pass through as they merge and are erased and overwritten.” It’s hard not to compare her chops here to her previous releases with Bullion, but that’s probably because they’re both besotted with classic pop, from Fleetwood Mac to Paddy McAloon and Sade, who all richly inform her crystalline, poetic distillations of daily doings and ephemeral atmospheres.
Anyone seeking highlights should run to her lead single ‘Infinite Wisdom’ for the kind of husky but effervescent vox heard on her Nautic releases, gilded with a melodic glyde, and likewise ’Sunset’ which channels Sade via Hype Williams in acres of fuzzy reverb, and allow yourself to melt into the blissed McAloonian turns of phrase on her velvet-coated centrepiece, ‘Red.’
If you purchased a snake plant, asparagus fern, peace lily, or what have you from Mother Earth on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles (or bought a Simmons mattress from Sears) in 1976, you also took home Plantasia, an album recorded especially for plants. Subtitled “warm earth music for plants...and the people that love them,” it was full of bucolic, charming, stoner-friendly, decidedly unscientific tunes enacted on the new-fangled device called the Moog.
"Before Brian Eno did it, MortGarson was making discreet music. Julliard-educated and active as a session player in the post-war era, Garson wrote lounge hits, scored the 1969 moon-landing and plush arrangements for Doris Day, and garlanded weeping countrypolitan strings around Glen Campbell’s “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.” But as his daughter Day Darmet recalls: “When my dad found the synthesizer, he realized he didn’t want to do pop music anymore.” Garson encountered Robert Moog and his new device at the Audio Engineering Society’s West Coast conven-tion in 1967 and immediately began tinkering with the device.
“My mom had a lot of plants,” Darmet says. “She didn’t believe in organized religion, she believed the earth was the best thing in the whole world. Whatever created us was incredible.” And she also knew when her husband had a good song. Novel as it might seem, Plantasia is simply full of good tunes.
This release marks the first official re-issue of the long sought-after cult classic.Hearing Plantasia in the 21st century, it seems less an ode to our photosynthesiz-ing friends by Garson and more an homage to his wife, the one with the green thumb that made everything flower around him. “My dad would be totally pleased to know that people are really interested in this music that had no popularity at the time,” Darmet says of Plantasia’s new renaissance. “He would be fascinated by the fact that people are finally understanding and appreciating this part of his musical career that he got no admiration for back then.” Garson seems to be everywhere again, even if he’s not really noticed, just like a houseplant."
“25th anniversary compilation. It’s a mid-price cd, a snapshot to show where we are at after 25 years of the label. A selection of our roster and what we’re releasing in 2020. There is one exclusive - Basic Rhythm’s remix of DJ Nate. And six tracks from forthcoming albums for 2021, the tracks by RP Boo, Ripatti (aka Vladislav Delay), Jana Rush, Bogdan Raczynski, Meemo Comma and Eomac.”
2020 Coloured vinyl edition!
"Five long years after Computer World, Kraftwerk finally resurfaced with another LP, Electric Cafe; the rest of the pop music industry having finally caught up with the group's vision, they no longer seem so innovative and inspired -- indeed, the record's brief running time (under 36 minutes) seems indicative of a lack of ideas and new directions, with the spartan opening tracks, "Technopop" and "Musique Non-Stop," virtually interchangeable and the remaining cuts surprisingly mainstream in both form and content." Jason Ankeny, All Music
After recent forays into haunted eldritch rave scenes, Moon Wiring Club follows a whim for slopped and screwed styles on ‘The Most Unusual Cat in the Village,’ each measuring up to 10mins square and seeing him reel off into far more opiated, twilight interzones recalling a natural analog to The Caretaker (who originally hails from relatively not far from Clinksell), as much as Spectre-style illbient, or even Neu!’s ’Neu! 2’ B-side and parts of Mark Leckey’s ‘Dream English Kid’ soundtrack.
’Spirit wave Communication’ starts it off on a dirty sprite tip with squashed country soul slowed to a crawl and rent with Philip Jeck-like reverb, and ‘The Phantom Of The Antique Shop’ follows with an extra layer of unsettling high register sferic tones that sound like a TV playing from rooms away, and peppered with samples in something like DJ Shadow doing chopped & screwed parlour music.
The intoxicating fumes of ‘Posthumous Self-Portrait’ feel like an expansion of sections to Mark Leckey’s nostalgia trips, with a really beautiful beatless section that we’ve not heard him do before, and ‘Occult Actress Folds Old Newspaper’ pushes further along that route with deeply hypnagogic effect.