Carsten Nicolai concludes Alva Noto’s UNI-prefixed release cycle with UNIEQAV, the 3rd and most dancefloor-focussed instalment of the series. The follow-up to Unitxt  and Univrs  pairs pendulous minimal techno and electro rhythms with wide, sheer electronic drones in a way that strongly recalls recent Monolake output as well as Ilpo Väisänen in full swang. Comparisons aside, though, it’s unmistakably Alva Noto.
Pursuing the project’s roots in the dancefloor of Tokyo’s UNIT club to a satisfyingly logical endpoint, Nicolai rolls out 12 typically mercurial yet gripping sound designs defined by their fluid dynamics and seemingly fathomless dimensions intended to render the club or your head underwater, thanks to a still remarkable grasp of purified tonal minimalism/maximalism and studied sensitivity to proprioception.
The results are filigree yet robust, firmed up for deployment on the sickest sound system you can lay your hands on, but also highly pleasurable in a headphone or sofa-inclined context, keeping us rapt and twitching from the dubwise plong and looming pads of Uni Sub and the Robert Henke-esque pressure systems of Uni Mia.
The nervous skeleton of Uni Version flows into singular Alva Noto sounds in the jabbing pointillism of Uni Clip and the staggering scale of Uni Normal, with major highlights in the widescreen drama of Uni Blue, and footwork-like rapid movement join Uni Edit, while Anne-James Chaton’s vocal lend a sharp contrast in Uni Dna.
SHXCXCHCXSH go hammer and tongs on an outstanding 3rd volley for their Rösten label
In a masterful example of saying it without saying it, the Swedish pair skillfully swarm around techno’s 4/4 framework without ever landing on a rote kick/hi-hat pattern in all eight tracks.
Moving uncannily close to the rufige of Demdike Stare or the restless disruptions of Rian Treanor, the plough a singular path thru angular, stop-start loops and harsh textures with a cool tolerance for the kind of psychotomimetic repetitions that may drive some minds to despair, and others to utter wildstyle ecstasy.
If you’re game, these tracks have the potential to turn dancers and clubs inside out. Chow down and find your own madness in there somewhere. Best we’ve heard from SHXCXCHCXSH in their 6 years of ruffneck productions.
One of the most influential, insular and multi-layered albums of the last three decades, created through endless hours of improvisation - involving almost fifty musicians and recorded in complete darkness, 'Spirit Of Eden' was a radical departure for Talk Talk, ' an album that has attained almost mythical status since its release in 1988.
Following the commercial success of their singles "It's My Life", "Life's What You Make It” and album "The Colour of Spring”, Talk Talk retreated back into the shadows and produced an album that defied categorisation. Mark Hollis is said to have demanded they record in almost complete darkness, improvising for hours to produce individual parts without hearing any backing tracks or surrounding material.
"Spirit Of Eden" is surely one of the most daring departures for a commercially successful bands ever, and continues to be one of the most singular and influential albums of our era.
“Substance” fills in the missing pieces of the band’s history with four non-album singles (‘Transmission’, ‘Komakino’, ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ and ‘Atmosphere’), plus their B-sides. It has been expanded with two additional songs (“As You Said” and the Pennine version of “Love Will Tear Us Apart”).
Analogue synth wizard Martin Jenkins returns to Ghost Box with a glorious vision of retro-futurist electronics in ‘Hollow Earth’, the sequel to ‘Stasis’ 
At just under 1 hour long, ‘Hollow Earth’ weighs in as one of PCA’s most significant, broadest artist albums (as opposed to compilations). It finds the widely beloved project reeling inwards after the extrospective exploits of his ‘Stasis’ LP to reflect on themes of “subterranean exploration and submerged psychologies.”
Gassed on the spirits of Berlin skool synth improvisation and the new age chuff-on that informed early ‘90s house music, the album unfurls as a nightflight over undulating internal topography, roaming from signature slow techno wonders to weightless, vocodered waltz in ‘Descent’ and furtive, ghostly shapes in ‘Claustrophobe’, before raising the energy level with strident dance tracks such as ‘Mindshaft’ and ‘Core sample’. But it’s int he later quarters that we find some of the most precious material, such as the deliciously moody atmosphere and sylvan slink of ‘Dancing Shadows’, the mind-bending noise sculpture of ‘Quad Tape Substrate’, and his Carpenter-on-quaaludes emulation, ‘Buried Memories’.
Oake really find their gothic muse in debut album, 'Auferstehung' for Downwards.
Firmly building on the foundations of two shadowy 12"s released in 2013, the duo distill and transcend their influences across eleven stations of unrepentant gothic histrionics and industrial techno prostration. The production is now right up there with the detailed, excoriating levels of The Haxan Cloak, and also matching the rhythmic heft of label-mate Samuel Kerridge (with whom they recently formed the UF collusion), but with a kohl-eyed romanticism all of their own creation.
From the swooning black metal/shoegaze signatures and blast beats of entrance, 'Vorwort: Umiha Sien' we're manipulated with the near-religiose levels of mysticism, vacillating between shorter, doomy 'Kapital' invocations and the blasted sound of bellicose/ecstatic congregation in 'Erstes Buch: Desterieh l'Remm' to the eulogistic sludge metal drones of 'Fuenftes buch: Dreloi Wechd' and the stygian trudge of 'Sechstes Buch: Rehmin Sicht', departing with the widescreen epic, 'Siebstes Buch: Drestan Sened'. RIYL Scott Walker & Sunn 0))), Sam Kerridge, Swans.
*180g vinyl edition featuring fully remastered audio available on the format for the first time - Includes digital download voucher redeemable from the label* “Still” was a compilation consisting of then unreleased studio & live recordings. Comes packaged in a deluxe sleeve featuring matt card with foil printing.
FFT exert exacting, fresh spins on Heinrich Mueller electro styles for TTT after crafty introductions made in recent years on Uncertainty Principle and Super Hexagon Records
Taking cues from any number of Mueller-associated projects (Dopplereffket, Arpanet, Der Zyklus), but adding their own sliver of soul, FFT impress on both parts, smartly playing with anticipations via the icy intro and crisp jump-start into 2.1-stepping rhythms and wavy arp tendrils on ‘Regional’, while ‘Loss’ sets out a looser, mutable framework of synth-pop riffs and clinically cut rhythms recalling Monolake circa ‘Invisible Force’, only to calve away into something like a trace of Uwe Schmidt’s ‘Pop Artificelle’ album.
Recital at their very best here with an unmissably gorgeous 1st vinyl issue of music by Rip Hayman; - a pioneering forerunner of ambient music, and pivotal member of NYC’s downtown music community since the ‘70s, beloved for his holistic embrace of sound in its myriad forms
Working at the point where avant ambient imagination meets the raw beauty of nature, ‘Dreams of India and China’ is a collage of Rip Hayman’s archival field recordings and hard-to-find tape releases dreamily layered and sequenced by Recital boss Sean McCann. Overseen in production by Hayman and his longtime foil Charlie Morrow (himself a subject of previous Recitals), the results speak to a sublime, un/consciously utopian conception of sound as environmental, borderless and timeless, and most of all a rich source of happiness and pleasure.
From an itinerant family background in the military which took him to all corners of the globe, it was the music and philosophy of India and far East Asia which really prompted Hayman to make music. He joined Columbia University in the late ‘60s but was soon put off by the restrictions of Serialism, favouring to solder electronics and make music at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Centre. Then the Fluxus movement hit, radically expanding the notion of what is art, leading him to the downtown lofts and galleries alongside John Cage, Phil Corner, Petr Kotik, Yoshi Wada, and in 1975 he set up both EAR magazine, and the EAR bar, which would host early performances by Arthur Russell, Peter Zummo and even Queen Latifah.
Immersed in the truly avant culture of the NYC in the ‘70s, Hayman’s own music understandably formed its own, wide-reaching logic, incorporating performance, events, and deep listening with a “tangible spirit based on the awareness of sound, mingling meditation, mystery, humor, and human response.” In Sean McCann’s sensitive layered collage of Hayman’s recordings, we hear his intentions clearly manifest in dreamlike form, drifting from recording of Indian nose flute and Tibetan monk thigh bone trumpet, to snatches Bach’s Goldberg Variations played at half speed during his Dreamsound events for sleeping audiences, and his Bell Roll performance - rolling down a hill wearing a suit of bells - together with intoxicating field recordings of the Ganges and temple drums in Rajasthan.
Quite simply ‘Dreams of India and China’ is one of the most enchanting records we’ve heard in some time, a slab that bears many repeat listens, where listeners will discover new layers and life with each return. It’s hugely recommended.
Basses Terres make incursions on rugged psychedelic dance terrain for Brothers From Different Mothers, with results landing somewhere between the 3rd eyes of Black Zone Myth Chant, Ramzi and Low Jack
The 6-track ‘Naked Light’ EP is a salty appetiser for Basses Terres’ follow-up to the well received ‘Counting Pulsations’  album. In low-key, slunky style it snakes from the grotty but jazzy sweat lodge bends of ‘Wilfred Doricent’ at the front, thru the windswept electronics of ‘665 Moths’, and the pensive, pendulous electro of ‘Hewbi No Tori’, into a sort of sludgy dancehall crouch with ‘Deliæ’, before the wind meditation ‘Yoru No Satori’ featuring Mika Oki cleanses the palette for the spirit-refreshing splash and head-kissing pads of ‘Sentiment Océanique’.
First ever reissue of a zinger-packed disco album from 1980. Check ‘Disco Thing’. If you’re aren’t dancing by the end of the clip, go see a doctor.
“Killer private modern soul / disco funk LP from San Diego released in 1980 on Aidqueen Records.
No fillers on this one! It contains dancefloor winner “Disco Thing”, the crazed ode to debauchery “Get Down Party “, mellow soul ballad “Oooh, Your Love”, the wicked instrumental with magic flute “Seaquence” and the brilliant jazz-funk flavored modern soul tracks “Loving” and “Life”.
The rest of the record is made up of high-level soulful funk movers.
Amazing LP from the beginning to end, no wonder it became hard to find and so highly sought after.
Finally available again, fully licensed and remastered, with original artwork.”
A little less than two years on from 2016’s Plum, Californian scrap polymorphs Wand return with their fifth long playing record, Laughing Matter.
"By now, Wand is the shifting but unmistakable collaboration between Sofia Arreguin (keys, vocals), Cory Hanson (guitar, vocals), Robert Cody (guitar), Lee Landey (bass) and Evan Burrows (drums). Laughing Matter is marked by the confidence and exuberance of a band that has lived, feuded, thrived and grown together through years of dedicated jamming, touring and recording, across western and eastern states, continents and mind-sets. In this world that insists we must increasingly rely upon ourselves, Wand listen to each other, and this is the sound.
Largely recorded on the infamous southern border of broken, decadent America, Laughing Matter belongs to the after-life. After the dull flood. As rock n roll lurched sideways and fell away, drunkenly lost in a funhouse mirror of…recycled Funhouses. With no major label funding, no management or lawyers, no corporate distribution, near zero social media presence and no commercial dealings whatsoever (with only poor, pitiful Drag City to help them carry the flag!), Wand have toured the world a bajillion times in five years and made four varied and compelling records while accumulating a devoted following. There may be a future in rock music beyond slapping rote regurgitations onto a lifeless syntactic grid. Wand are proof you don’t have to be an industry toy to sell records – that, with devotion and time, the seeds you plant with intention and care will grow back into the world.
Swerving between out-of-focus parable, travel diary, pep talk, polemic, love song, and lullabye, Laughing Matter is a tough and tender album, its eyes on a lot of prizes. Where Plum held the tension of its five band members getting on their feet, the songs on Laughing Matter are concentrated and relaxed, even as they search for the right accusations to hurl at cynics and megalomaniacs. The music is distilled and sculpted from an ash heap of collected improvisations, riven with audio-verite; the methods and instrumentation are traditional handmade rock ‘n’ roll. Yet the unorthodox arrangements of “Scarecrow”, the joyous embrace of pastiche and disruption on “Walkie Talkie”, the radical eclecticism of shapes and approaches on “Thin Air”, the ascendant choruses of “Wonder” are all decidedly contemporary.
This music is not revivalism or throwback; Wand are a precision instrument, a band that probes and teases style, genre, trope and anachronism into material, according to a law of motion that is aimed directly toward an uncertain future. Laughing Matter is a record about love in a time of terror, about making the best use of the surveillance technology available today. It calls you down from panic room labyrinths, to work the deep tissue of unravelling trauma we all carry so dear. The 15 songs on this record face their energy outward, to take with you through a common world that can’t suffer its human abusers much longer. Laughing Matter encourages you to shake hands with your old demons, to lay your pathologies to rest, to hold your spirit close, and let your body do what’s next."
Luke Younger's Alter label limns the underground zeitgeist in ‘Alert!’, a compilation starring gems from Teresa Winter, Anna Peaker, Moin (Raime), Mumdance, Space Afrika, The Modern Institute and many more beside.
Entirely sourced from the UK, ‘Alert!’ could be heard as a reading of pre-Brexit or Brexit-limbo mindsets, if you’re that way inclined, or more simply as a cross-section of the UK corpus at the end of a strange decade. Either way, you’re going to get a lot of canny, unexpected gear, ranging from cold bedsit blooz thru to freeform techno, twitchy post-punk and modular n0!ze gristle.
We’re naturally drawn to highlights in Teresa Winter’s unpredicted techno pounder ‘A free woman in an unfree society would be a monster’, and also to a sterling example of Teresa’s sometime collaborator and Leeeds peer Anna Peaker on the elegiac organ etude ‘Helicidae’, while Space Afrika nest the tactile ambient fragility of ‘Yuly’, and Mumdance impresses with nerve-chewing modular freakout ‘Path of the Seer’ - big tip for fans of The Sprawl.
Elsewhere the quality doesn’t let up: Raime’s Moin and their drummer, Valentina Magaletti’s Tomaga, both turn out tuff, jagged post-punk steppers; Acolytes catch a properly febrile vibe in the blown-out gabber kicks and writhing electronics of ‘Feelings’; Helena Celle drops a playful stripe of computerised EBM; and Glasgow represents with a barrage of saltiness ranging from The Modern Institute’s scally techno banger to an apoplectic Apostille in ‘It’s Not Right’, and an absorbing oddity by sound artist and radio producer Mark Vernon.
Egyptian electro chaabi powerhouse Islam Chipsy and Eek hit 6 deadly ways with Cairo’s 100 Copies, following on from the ravenous reception to their incendiary live LP and ‘Kahraba’ side for Nashazphone
One of the fiercest live acts on the circuit right now, Eek and their flamboyant, synth-wielding frontman Chipsy Islam place the experience of years of rowdy shows at the service of their strongest studio recordings in ‘Kahraman’. The six songs firmly spell out the range of dual drummers Mahmoud Refat and Khaled Mando and their electronic component, touching on techno-folk psychedelia in the anticipatory ‘Day1’, before cutting loose like the wildest house band in Arabia with ‘El Daynasour’, and bringing it down to their slowest hustle ’n grind in ‘Fast Track’.
They’re on peak form in the rattling stepper ‘El Zantor’, and at best in the swingeing groove and veering microtonal flux of ‘Saba Zamzam’ and the sparring closer, ‘Zardana’ with Chipsy twirling some of his hottest vamps.
Tuff and moody dance trax from Mexcio City’s Wasted Fates, drawing on his experience volunteering during the 2017 Earthquake, as well as his country’s ongoing Narco War, with tense yet diffuse drum programming and shifty atmospheres in his debut LP for the NAAFI powerhouse
Joining the likes of Debit, Paul Marmota and Lechuga Zafiro on the keenly watched label, Wasted Fates follows the more playful styles of his football-themed ‘Mundialero’ EP with a increased sense of purpose and barely-restrained aggression in ‘Turbio’, gradually escalating the seething tension from the slow start of ‘Clinica’.
The glaring darkside bass of ‘La Excavación’ follows, before really cutting loose and uptempo with the fierce drums of ‘Voltaic’ and toggling the tension between noisy jabs in ‘Odalisca’, a proper grimy scudder named ‘Implosión’, and a fusion of balletic rhythms and dramatic synth arrangement in ‘Mortifero’ feat. NAAFI label boss Lao, then burning darkly until the end with cinematic synth strokes in ‘Trastorno’, and the bolshy energy of ‘Bestia’.
Heather is Sharon Van Etten’s longtime collaborator and band member. Since the release of her last album Heather has toured with Alela Diane and Lisa Hannigan, and has opened twice for The War On Drugs. Invitation features vocals and synth contributions from Peter Broderick. RIYL: Sharon Van Etten, Weyes Blood, Marissa Nadler, Julianna Barwick, Julia Holter.
"Invitation was conceived on the Oregon coast, an outlier among American landscapes, where vast stretches of empty beach are decorated with silver driftwood and towering pines. It is here among the dunes, tide pools and colossal rock formations that Heather spent her childhood summer day-trips. And it is here that she returned as an adult to construct her newest LP, an album of dreamy baroque-pop that swells and whispers with grand string arrangements, intimately descriptive lyrics, and impassioned songcraft built around earnest piano melodies, painting a lifelike picture of the locale in which it was written.
In the years between her early youth and the creation of Invitation, Heather has played in Efterklang, Horse Feathers, the live bands of Laura Gibson, Lisa Hannigan, and Damien Jurado, and has also been a longtime collaborator and bandmate to Sharon Van Etten. But while this list may seem enviable for an aspiring young musician, any experienced player will know that the life of a touring musician comes with its own sacrifices. Lasting relationships and financial certainty can be tenuous, as can mental stability itself. Feeling this first hand, Heather traded her usual launchpad of Brooklyn for the sleepy town of Pacific City where she would quietly take a job cleaning houses for a cast of local eccentrics, sitting down at the piano in the off-hours to unpack the personal tragedies and triumphs of the intervening decades since her first trips there.
Throughout Invitation, floral tendrils of sound design and dynamic strings decorate the edges of each track, propelling the album beyond mere singer-songwriter fare into something altogether more grand and immersive in scope. And somehow still, the album maintains a humble quality throughout. It’s not about the epic and beautiful physical features of the Pacific northwest seaside that first stirred Heather Woods Broderick as a child. It’s about how the stillness of such settings can unearth the disquiet often buried by the infinite distractions of a life without pause."
‘Fog Horns’ is a much rawer, almost aggressive, panic-raising answer to Marshall Ingram’s seminal ‘Fog Horn Requiem’. The artist really uses the sound as dense blocks to be intersected, conjuring an anxious state that makes us feel as though on a collision course between massive objects in low visibility...
“French sound artist Félix Blume keeps pushing the boundaries of field recordings for our enjoyment. “Fog Horns” captures the sounds of boat horns in Piraeus, Athens, Greece, the port city that serves some of the most important ferry routes in Greece nowadays. Yes, boat horns are annoying, sometimes disturbing and even absurdly disrupting if you live in a port city or one that is blessed with the arrival of cruises. We all know that. But we also knew that recordings of funerals could be tricky, and Félix Blume pulled a gem out of last year’s “Death In Haiti - Funeral Brass Band & Sounds Of Port Au Prince (CREP51)”.
And he has done it again. The A side reveals a long track recorded during a fog horn concert whilst side B features three 'remixes' of the same recordings, paying respect to what Ingram Marshall did in “Fog Tropes” in three different 'movements'. In a way, B side sounds like the perfect soundtrack for the recent remake of “Suspiria”. But Thom Yorke got in the way.
Jokes aside, there’s something magical about these horns. In the eighteen minutes of the first side, Félix Blume explores the concept of a concert played by those horns. The horns dominate but sounds of the surroundings create a perfect balance to the drone hysteria. The surrounding sounds are the heartbeat of this track. The horns are the metal section of an orchestra, while the rest works like the strings. Hidden melodies are revealed when you listen to this with your full attention, and the more you do it, the horns become less present, vivid. It’s one of the many crafts of Félix Blume, the more you live with his music, the more you focus outside the plot.
If those eighteen minutes sound tremendously real, the three tracks on the other side feel like a horror film. The warmth disappears to become cold ambiance, beautifully textured and enigmatic sounds take over. Horns are still heard, but they’re a different kind of horns. It seems that Félix Blume is playing with our perception, from bliss to horror. A honk will never be the same again.”
Sleazy, night-stalking house trax from Romania’s Khidja for NYC’s DFA
Opener ‘Don’t Feed the Animals (Hiding In Your Room)’ channels John Carpenter into the club; ‘Devil Dance’ massages muscular modular tones into a clipped and trippy swing; ‘I Can Never Relax’ weaves EBM inspirations into a throbbing electro-house chassis; and ‘I’m So Bored’ works splashy, fluid percussion into a sizzling darkroom frolic.
“Having established themselves with previous releases on labels like Hivern Discs and Malka Tuti, Khidja get darker, dubbier, and more twisted on In The Middle Of The Night. We find the record in the witching hour, and the tracks represent the cycle of nighttime mentalities, revealing the various directions the mind can wander in the place between consciousness and unconsciousness – mania, paranoia, even boredom. It all makes for a raucous dancefloor experience, with the duo bringing something new and heavy to the DFA roster.”
Former Engineers songwriter Mark Peters pays a final visit to his debut solo album ‘Innerland’ with a collection of reworkings from Ulrich Schnauss, Moon Gangs, Odd Nosdam, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma and many others.
"‘Innerland’ was one of last year’s most surprising sleeper successes. An intentionally low-key album of windswept instrumentals inspired by Mark’s move back to his native northwest, it gave musical nods to Eno, Talk Talk, Vini Reilly and Richard Thompson, and first appeared as a limited-edition cassette before being expanded to a full vinyl, CD and digital release last April. Something about its beautiful simplicity struck a chord and slowly but surely – thanks to word of mouth, as well as the support of the likes of Lauren Laverne on BBC Radio 6 Music and positive reviews everywhere from Uncut to The Times – it worked its way into people’s hearts.
By the end of the year it had also worked its way into Rough Trade’s top 10 albums of 2018 and, to celebrate, another limited edition vinyl only version called ‘Ambient Innerland’ was released, an even more introspective iteration that stripped away all of the percussion.This new version, however, is completely different. It finds Mark looking outwards, away from the bleak, post-industrial landscapes of Wigan, and inviting eight different artists from around the world to interpret and translate the instrumentals of ‘Innerland’ into their own musical and geographical languages. German sound artist Andi Otto takes ‘Twenty Bridges’ and turns it into a weird world music groove, the cello recalling Arthur Russell, the rhythm Holger Czukay circa ‘Movies’; Polish composer Olga Wojciechowska sprinkles stardust all over ‘Mann Island’, morphing it into a slice of febrile, filmic techno; former Disappears and now FACS frontman Brian Case wrangles ‘Windy Arbour’ into a dark, dystopian drone; as previously heard last year on a limited edition lathe-cut 7” single, Ulrich Schnauss subtly re-frames ‘May Mill’ as elegiac electronica, the kind of oddity that could have graced a Tears For Fears B-side circa ‘Songs From The Big Chair’; Moon Gangs, aka Will Young from BEAK>, climbs ‘Gabriel’s Ladder’ and finds some delicate drone’n’bass; American producer and DJ Odd Nosdam takes his experience of working with Boards Of Canada and turns ‘Shaley Brow’ into a sinister tape collage, entirely in keeping with the murky history of the locale; E Ruscha V, the erstwhile Medicine guitarist also known as Secret Circuit, converts ‘Cabin Hill’ into Balearic Blue Nile;
finally Jefre Cantu-Ledesma lights up ‘Ashurst’s Beacon’ as an inferno of deliciously distorted shoegaze.
All eight are so disparate and yet they hang together perfectly, resulting in an exciting musical journey to somewhere completely new."
Composed by director Slava Tsukerman himself using an array of early analog synthesisers and samplers, he mixes original compositions with electronic versions of symphonic classics to striking effect.
"The score is dizzying, hallucinatory and off kilter. Completely wild and free from the trappings of both traditional film and score Tsukerman lets loose with a score that is at times terrifying, at others soothing but always interesting and like nothing you have ever heard before. The score peaks with “Me & My Rhythm Box” featuring a performance by Paula E. Sheppard that has become a staple DJ’s the world over. Far ahead of its time, both the film and the score have had lasting influence on todays culture. Everyone from Larry Tee, Fischerspooner, Lady Gaga & SIA have borrowed something from it."
Mondkopf yields the lushest, cinematic iteration of his current style with ‘How Deep Is Our Love?’
“For more than a decade now the prolific Parisian producer hasn’t ceased to surprise us with his compositions, constantly treading new ground with artistic bravery and curiosity. At times extreme, at other times méditative and always complex, his music is never easy-access. In recent years his work has taken a clear turn towards a more ambient, intimate, less abrasive style.
Based on minimalist instrumental improvisations, ’How Deep Is Our Love?’ will become the soundtrack for the new film adaptation by Diana Vidrascu of the Kafkan play, 'The Silence of the Sirens'. Composed of four long, bright, poetic, contemplative pieces, which grab you by the heart strings and keep a tight grip until the very last note.
It’s an epic, grandiose album, which rings out with an unfathomable but extremely touching language.”
20 years since his Planet Mu debut, Leafcutter John brings his ecstatic prog-electronica virtues to Border Community for a bright and spacious album of driving krautrock rhythms and intricate melodic fancy wrought around field recordings of the Norfolk coastline and the North Sea
“During the summer of 2017 exiled Yorkshireman Leafcutter John returned to his one-time home of Norfolk (having graduated in Painting from Norwich’s School of Art and Design back in 1998) and set out on foot along the sixty mile section of Norfolk Coast Path which runs from Hunstanton to Overstrand, trusty audio recording device in his pocket. “And very soon the physical act of walking began to make me think about music,” he explains. “My footsteps dictated the tempo and imagined melodies accompanied me as I slowly moved along the increasingly wild and magical stretch of coastline. Stresses of the city were replaced by the fall and rise of the North Sea and endless salt flats. Sounds from the environment filtered in and I would stop often to record what I was hearing around me.”
Back home in London, the hours of amassed field recordings would form the backbone and inspiration for a whole album worth of outpourings from John’s six-years-in-the-making modular synth. From the evocative sound of sea birds on Pillar and Stepper Motor to the colourful conversation from a country pub in This Way Out, the apposite selection of samples which made the final edit provide the perfect jumping-off point for John’s synths to soar with abandon, at times uplifting, frenetic, haunting, hypnotic or meditative, but always atmospheric and with unstoppable propulsion.
“Above all else, I wanted the album to exude a sense of constant forward motion but at a very human scale,” says John. Thus drummer friends Tom Skinner (Hello Skinny) and Sebastian Rochford (long-time collaborator in the twice Mercury Prize-nominated band Polar Bear) were roped in to lend their suitably clattering human momentum, on Doing The Beeston Bump and Dunes respectively. Working in tempos to match his walking speed throughout - “whether trudging along a rainy shingle beach or running up wildflowering clifftop paths” - Yes! Come Parade With Us is perfect traveling music, and once unleashed upon the world is sure to provide the soundtrack to plenty more journeys to come.”
Japan’s Takashi Wada & Cologne’s Roland Kaiser Wilhelm yield an ace, minimalist electro live set recorded in Kraftwerk’s Kling Klang studio
We’re not made privy to how or why the pair got access to one of the most famous electronic music studios of all time, but they did, and the results are class, rolling out 54 minutes of pendulous rhythm machine permutation that start out spare, frayed and decimated with white noise, but eventually resolving in a ruggedly deep electro-techno coda.
Proper Bristolian dub mutations from Kinlaw on Heith’s Haunter Records, mulching at pushing the style’s envelope into crushed, stressed-out trip hop noise (‘Agglestone’), Rabit-like Screw (‘MG 1666 DD)’, salinated 4th world styles (‘Rake’), and grimacing industrial swagger (’Trtipt’)
“Hamish Trevis AKA Kinlaw hails from the Bristolian underground. The same scene that, in recent years, has given the most vital contribution to the freshness and vitality of a fringe sound suspended between the many clashes, deconstructions and reconstructions of dub and UK club music, radicalized through a diffuse interest in noise-tinged punkish grit. It should come as no surprise, then, that Kinlaw’s own music sounds both menacing and playful, weighing in with relentless slow beats and cranky lo-fi textures. on “Drax”,—his first Haunter Records release and second part of the label’s limited 10” dubplate series—the always cavernous, hyper-saturated bass seem to engulf everything, sticking to every other sound like some nasty form of sonic mud. The hypnotic percussions and sparse, hazy bits of melody make for an overall atmosphere of industrialized narcosis. Franco Franco’s vocal intervention in the first track only adds to the dankness of it all, with its confused deadpan delivering a dose of true lowbrow nihilism in Italian.”
Detroit and Berlin souls enmesh as Terri McQueen aka Whodat meets Berlin’s Viola Klein on a deeply playful Workshop session
Coming from Detroit’s YDR313 2.0 record shop and with an Uzuri 12” in her back pocket, Whodat brings a rooted Motor City soul to Klein’s rugged flavours op-enly indebted to the likes of Theo Parrish and Marcellus Pittman.
On ‘Funeral Song’ they catch a melancholy breeze with blue but celebratory chords on a wickedly swung groove offset with hiccuping vocal to get the ‘floor in a lather. With ‘Reprise’ they cut a few shades deeper, wriggling right inside the groove with crafty bassline dancing all around and off the beat, underlining and charging choice vocal samples about strength in unity. One for the allday sunday crew!