Electronic pop meets classical music...
“Anna Meredith presents Anno, a boundary pushing collaboration with the Scottish Ensemble, in which original pieces of work by the classical-electronic composer are intertwined with Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Released via Moshi Moshi, the project began as an immersive 360 degree live experience and is now available on double vinyl, CD and digitally. After a recording process using the unusual ‘binaural recording head’ the project will also be available in an exclusive binaural recording – allowing the listener to experience the unique spatial aspects of the piece through headphones.
Anno was conceived when Scottish Ensemble Artistic Director Jonathan Morton drew parallels between Anna’s writing style and that of Vivaldi. Already admiring her idiosyncratic writing in the pop/electronic world, Jonathan approached Anna about a new piece for strings and electronics. As one of the most recognisable pieces of classical music of all time, Four Seasons was the perfect piece for Anna to work with, crafting experimental and idiosyncratic partner pieces to sit alongside Vivaldi’s original compositions. The result is a continuous musical experience, blending old and new, ‘classical’ and ‘popular’ without distinction and Anna’s fascinating new pieces binding seamlessly with the original work.”
Smart, fresh, blue pop music from London’s David Gray & Guy Gormley, presenting the first vinyl edition of their debut tape via Jolly Discs and Low Company
Regaling a suite of bittersweet synth-pop vignettes and lop-sided house jams for refined East London listeners and beyond, ‘The Word’ is a charmingly well-tempered and dreamy set of eight songs about love, life, and the odd bits in between, expressed in a mixture of dusty analogue textures, mulky melodies and David Gray’s genteel vocal.
Its songs could just as easily cater a low key ‘floor as a box room apartment, woozily keening from lilting marimba and Zummo-esque brass blurs in ‘Save’, to sound like a slompy, lo-fi This Heat in standout number, ‘The Hours I Wait’, whereas the airborne waltz of ‘Paparazzi Stakeout’ feels to reclaim Kompakt Pop Ambient styles from OCD-clean coffee tables. It’s hard not to be seduced by the balmy boogie loucheness of their instrumental ‘Father Brown’, but they’re definitely at best when it all comes together, with Gormley’s melodies, Gray’s vocals, and Jon Aumann’s lyrics at their creamiest and curious in the closing title track.
John T. Gast completes his BTEC alchemy course with a 2nd platter of of high-grade, low-bit-rate bleeps and vibes from the archive c. 2013
On the ‘Club Version’ module he fuses zig-zagging, Zomby-esque grime arps and classic electronic soul pads on a rugged aerobic mystic exercise, while the flipped is given to a weightless night flight guided by electromagnetic pulses in ‘Jettison II’, and ‘NUN-001’ enacts a stereo warfare between militant grime artillery and robotic synth spirits, ultimately with no clear winner.
Big RIYL Zomby, Actress, Hype Williams!
Necessary reissue of Laraaji's Brian Eno-produced sophomore album, originally issued on Editions EG in 1980, two years after recording and releasing his gorgeous debut, 'Celestial Vibrations'.
With the boffin Eno at the desk, 'Days of Radiance' presents "an uncharted synthesis of resonating zither textures, hammered rhythms and 3-D sound treatments" rendering his fluid improvisations in a series of swirling, layered trips.
It's effectively new age in dub, inhabiting a unique space of complex, diffuse harmonic patterns and overtones mapping out hypnotic, oneiric terrain between the styles.
If, like us, you've run the grooves of 'Celestial Vibrations' thin, you really need this one, too.
Blazing début of hyper dance music from Tanzania by Bamba Pana, the first in a series of albums highlighting producers from the Sisso studio. Grimy hard dance from Dar Es Salaam deployed at 150bpm+, a huge recommendation if yr into Shangaan Electro, Príncipe, Nkisi - the most exhilirating dance music you’ll hear in 2018.
Jumanne Ramadhani Zegge a.k.a. Bamba Pana is one of the core producers, alongside Jay Mitta, of the Sisso studio - a central hub for MCs and producers in the Mburahati ghetto on the outskirts of Dar Es Salaam. Along with his peers, Bamba uses a laptop and software to update the local, usually acoustic and instrumental style of Singeli, computerizing its hyper rhythms and zinging melodies for the needs of younger crowds in an upfront, direct way that has translated far beyond its East African roots, as anyone who witnessed the Sounds of Sisso tour or heard the acclaimed compilation will surely attest.
As a début album statement, ’Poaa’ could hardly be more distinguished. Perhaps best compared with the urgent tempi and quicksilver syncopation of Shangaan Electro or Angolan Kuduro to outsiders, it’s effectively a form of Tanzanian grime or hard dance music, using rapid-fire, hypnotic rhythmelodies to drive crowds to dance in thrilling, new ways.
Bar one killer cut, ‘Linga Linga’ featuring the distinctive bark of Bamba Pana’s long-time vocal foil, MC Makavelli, the set is entirely instrumental with voices used only as strobing rhythmic filaments. The other eight tracks range from an “introduction to brand new dance from Africa” in ‘Agaba Kibati’, to what sounds like turbo speed Makina in ‘Biti Three’, whereas ‘Baria’ hops from shredding synths to hyper coloured percussion in wild style.
Meanwhile ‘Biti Six’ features some of the set’s giddiest harmonies, spiralling so fast they evoke weightlessness, while ‘Kusini’ is patently compatible with the ruffest P. Adrix riddims for Príncipe, and the incendiary ‘Pooa Bama Rmx’ provides a breathless 145bpm race to the finish that feels twice as fast, thanks to its inimitable, needlepoint percolations.
‘Janus’ features five superb Sun Ra pieces written and recorded c. 1970-71, collected together for the first time
It’s by far most notable for Sunny’s mind-blowing Moog performance and wildly distorted gongs, along with Marshall Allen’s astral winds on the A-side’s ‘The Invisible Shield’ and ‘Janus’, but that’s not to discount the balmy charms of his slow, mellow ‘Island In The Sun’, or the zig-zagging hard bop of ‘Velvet’ and the honking free squall of ‘Joy’ on the B-side, which both make their premiere appearance on vinyl here.
’35 S. Raymond 1976’ contains riveting, previously-unheard improv recordings made just before and after the historic first concert by Los Angeles Free Music Society, held on the 4th floor of their titular, run-down building in Pasadena, L.A.
Documenting an evening in late January, 1976, in the studio-turned performance and party space shared by Harold Schoreder and Tom Recchion, ’35 S. Raymond 1976’ was salvaged from two separate archival tapes, made before and after concerts by LAFMS bands, Le Forte Four, Doo-Dooettes, and Ace & Duce.
The recordings each consist of three “tracks”, if you want to call them so, of pre- and après-gig improvisations by the bands’ varying members in mutating configuration, feeding off a collective energy that would become an important locus of West Coast experimentation for decades to come.
On the first side we hear them earlier in the evening, twisting inspiration from Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa’s avant-rock, along with jazzy flights of fancy and a lysergic primitivism, into colours blatzes of splayed breaks, keening folk discord and quizzically quieter passages of woodwind that just reminded us of the recently uncovered Luc Ferrari improv side.
The 2nd side spies them later in the evening, perhaps a bit sozzled but more attuned to odder frequencies, as they rove from pranging organ and shards of guitar noise thru increasingly lysergic gestures to passages of swampy, head-melting oddness, culminating a soup of metallic clang.
Ultimately the results demonstrate an inherent connection with what Derek Bailey was doing with deconstructed blues, and what COUM Transmission were doing with psychedelic noise, some thousands of miles away in the UK at the same time, basically arriving at similarly bold new conclusions after the psychedelic scene had burned itself out in iffy riffs and pharmaceutical excess, and exploring a vitally transcendent, DIY alternative to scenes hemmed in by convention.
Lechuga Zafiro makes a shocking solo debut proper with the harsh textures and infectious, abstracted latin rhythms of ‘Testigo’ for Mexico City’s ace NAAFI label.
Like Bernard Parmegiani doing latin rave music, ‘Testigo’ demonstrates Zafiro’s precisely rugged style in five killer parts, flowing in gritty roil from the beat-less designs of ‘Ita’ thru the pranging drums and stumbling rhythmelody of ‘Pájarocámara’, to knock on the doors of perception with lysergic effect and mind-bending torsion in ‘Agua Y Puerta’, while ‘Sapo Diablo’ sloshes his dembow all over the grid, and ‘Corazón Negro del Río de la Plata’ lunges a wildly synched 16th note EBM arp and pendulous trills.
This EP is making a lot of forward-facing modern dance music seem stilted and and boring by comparison. Don’t sleep!
Bittersweet jungle D&B pearls from The Jaffa Kid on Rome’s La Beauté Du Négatif label
Rinsed and rinsable, ‘Start To End’ fires up one cranky downbeat alongside three high-velocity but moodily reflective jungle aces.
The downbeat piece recalls a lo-fi take on mid ‘90s AFX, whereas the thizzing clatter and haunted chorales of ‘Do The Job’ remind of Jega, and the brittle breaks and lush pads of ‘Place’ hearkens back to Plaid’s Balil output, before ‘Yyryrr’ cuts loose with flanging amens and lush rave pads in a way redolent of vintage Mark Pritchard jungle outings.
In 1996, Masaki Batoh, who’d spent the previous decade recording, playing and living in a hippie communal environment with the heavy chamber folk outfit Ghost, formed a new unit to play in a different manner.
"He’d just finished making an incredible new Ghost album - ‘Lama Rabi Rabi’ - but making music with Ghost was an intense and nspiritual endeavor; for a change, Batoh wanted simply to enjoy, with a free and open mind, the playing of the kind of music that he and his musical friends had grown up with; the 70s sounds of British, American and Japanese rock. ‘Help Your Satori Mind’ is a result of things they just naturally jammed on during a couple of sessions. It’s totally out of Ghost’s world. Along with Batoh were fellow Ghosts Fuji on congos and Michio Kurihara (a modern psychedelic rock guitar god previously in White Heaven and eventually joining with Damon and Naomi).
Also invited were notoriously crazy drummer virtuoso Futoshi Okano from Osaka’s heavy rock trio Subvert Blaze, bassist Chiyo Kamekawa from Yura Yura Teikoku and organist / pianist Jun Koto from Kakashi. Together, they were Cosmic Invention. The sound of Cosmic Invention was equal parts exploratory and explosive, accessing classical modes of psychedelic and progressive rock and roll music. These guys were so powerful when they played together, Batoh eventually recruited them to form most of the line up for Ghost’s second US tour, in 1997, after ‘Lama Rabi Rabi’ was released. As Ghost, from coast to coast, they pushed American audiences up against the wall with the enormity of their sound. That, though, was the end of their group partnership together; Cosmic Invention was a one-time excursion into this music. Today, The Silence combine elements of Ghost and Cosmic Invention into their eclectic ongoing experience.
Originally, ‘Help Your Satori Mind’ was released by The Now Sound, who’d previously issued two Batoh solo records, both of which became available on Drag City (as ‘Collected Works’) following the collapse of The Now Sound, not too terribly long after the Cosmic Invention release. So, this record has been kind of forgotten for some time, which isn’t the fate that was meant for it. It is the kind of item to be unearthed in a sarcophagus many years later - and at 20 years and counting, now is a good time. This marks ‘Help Your Satori Mind’s first appearance on LP, the vinyl giving new dimension to their multi-hued, raw rock performances. It’s the first appearance of the aptly-titled ‘Long Jamming’, which wasn’t included on the original release. It’s also the first appearance of images of the band, taken while deeply in the album making spirit."
‘Brilliant days’ is a lovely album of tender, glitching pop-ambient fuzz from Michiru Aoyama, a Japanese ambient artist residing in the ancient seaside city of Kamakura, south of Tokyo. Listeners susceptible to the lower case romance of the Cotton Goods label or the widescreen washes of Fennesz will find much to admire here
“Michiru Aoyama’s music was hand-chosen by legendary composer Ryuichi Sakamoto in 2006 for a Japanese radio audition and he later flew out to Berlin in 2008 to further his studies in electronic music production. Since then, Michiru has released projects on prominent ambient labels such as Organic Industries, taâlem, and Somehow Recordings.
Michiru Aoyama’s Brilliant Days LP comprises of two long tracks featuring untitled songs that weave in and out of each other. Michiru’s signature guitar harmonics are treated with serene electronic filters and met with youthful under-layers of electronic experimentations and glitchy backdrops.
Brilliant Days leaves the listener to their own narrative of nostalgic youth, love, and memories.”
‘Sido Not Dead’ is a super groggy drone rock killer from Clayton Noone’s CJA, arriving in the wake of his head-slapping turn with The Futurians, which is also newly dispensed by Alga Marghen’s awesome Planam sublabel
The kind of record that will drive some to the edge of madness, and others to peaks of distorted euphoria, ‘Sido Not Dead’ says its piece in the bluntest, unconsciously honest terms with some 40 minutes of detuned, monotone, droning guitar jangle that makes everything else seem posh and try hard by comparison. Think Tony Conrad and Sunn 0))) attempting to undergo each other, and you’ve nearly got the measure of this magnificent slab. Maaaan, this shit is strongggggg.
“As reported by Campbell Kneale (Birchville Cat Motel, Our Love Will Destroy The World, C-Psi-P): "I narrowly avoided an English-second-language tete-a-tete in Belgium once when I refused to believe in the face of all evidence that Sunn O)))'s newly released Flight Of The Behemoth (2012) was not CJA. I was wrong, but whatever... I was already ascending Lucifer's path to the stars not garbed in chic grim-robes but a pilling homespun jersey that stunk of wet dog. I confess and repent... for me, all 'this kinda music' was an exercise in deftly crafted slovenliness and anonymous surface texture, but in spending time with a tape simply labeled Sido Not Dead I was struck dumb with the burning religious fervor of real people who had truly forgotten to give a fuck and at that very moment unto me was bestowed a mighty vision of two-bar heaters, worn cream carpet, mooching about in slippers with cups of budget herbal tea. A long winter weekend that passed too close to a tape recorder and whose glacial momentum had accidentally combed the little magnetic thingies on the cassette into recognizable geometric shapes. This was my (unwashed) fork in the road: facile, nihilistic, too lazy to make it to the letterbox, yet enlightened, enlivened, ascended, eternal... blangblangblang... GRONGGRONG... blangblangblang... GRONGGRONG... Fellow pilgrims and travellers to furthest inner outposts... herein lies your scripture."
Inch-perfect indie-pop with an unmistakeable Arthur Russell-esque sound from Westerman, produced by the genius Bullion
A-side’s ‘Confirmation’ is a radio-friendly 3 and half minutes of warmly harmonised folk-soul pop vox ready for the Yacht (or your canal-side barge), while the B-side is bluer, forlorn and blessed with an aching simplicity comparable to Jose Gonzales.
After 25 years out of print, Julee Cruise’s 2nd album, produced by Angelo Badalamenti and David Lynch, is finally pressed to vinyl by Sacred Bones. In case you’ve never heard it before, the vibe is as languid and dreamy as you could hope for, with highlights in the carmine noir of ‘Up In Flames’ and the subtle industrial underpinnings of ‘Until The End of The World’. Just unmissable late night music…
“25 years after its initial release, Julee Cruise’s sophomore album The Voice of Love is being issued for the first time on vinyl as a deluxe 2xLP, and returning to print on CD. In 1992, after the release of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, David Lynch, Angelo Badalamenti, and Julee Cruise returned to the studio with new compositions as well as the intent to craft previously instrumental score-based material from Fire Walk With Me and Wild at Heart into Julee Cruise songs. The result was 1993’s final studio album The Voice of Love. “In the studio, David would always say ‘[sing] like an angel, like an angel…” Cruise remembers.”
Melodic indie-pop jangles, new from Mississippi
“After a slew of tape releases and years of playing shows around the Pacific Northwest here is the debut vinyl-release from Table Sugar, a band that could only be described by our team of underpaid writers as ‘very good’. Post-Punk/Genre Karaoke in the vein of other contemporaneous style-scramblers and re-thinkers such as LITHICS, HOUSEHOLD or perhaps even GEN POP (shared members??) A ditty about friendship and collective/subjective experience in the current Olympia moment—a city where simultaneously everything and nothing goes on. Think maybe of the music of TWELVE CUBIC FEET or the ethos of a band like MORBID OPERA or DELTA 5, or really just think whatever you want. The new wave of the O-Town sound. Look for a 12” version of their first keyboard-less tape from 2016 out later this year on Water Wing Records. “Thanks to each other.””
Jim O’Rourke returns with his first physical solo album since 2015’s Simple Songs, following a relatively steady supply of download-only releases via his Steamroom Bandcamp (over 20 of them since 2015) and collaborations with John Duncan, Keiji Haino, Oren Ambarchi, Peter Brötzmann, Merzbow, Fennesz and others in the interim. Anyone familiar with his exceptional Steamroom output will have an inkling of what to expect here; this is Jim O’Rourke at his most meditative, absorbing and quietly subversive, making use of little more than synthesizer, pedal steel, piano and shortwave radio for one extended 45 minute piece (punctuated by a few moments of silence) designed to mess with contemporary notions of “Ambient” music.
Sleep Like It's Winter took O’Rourke two years to construct after being approached by the fledgling Newhere label to submit an Ambient album. As he explained recently in an interview with ele-king: "I didn’t set out to make an ambient record but it’s sort of about making an ambient record more than it’s an ambient record (laughing) you know? Pretty much everything I do is about what it is as opposed to being it. Just making any record in terms of “make a record in this genre” is anathema to me, but I decided to do it because it was such a revolting idea! (Laughs) Not that I dislike ambient music – I don’t mean that. That’s just not the way I think when I make things, so it was such a bizarre proposal that I decided to do it.”
Citing Eno’s Discreet Music (as opposed to Eno’s work after the word Ambient had been adapted ) as well as Roland Kayn as influences, he goes on to explain "Roland Kayn was the biggest guy for me. Someone could call his music ambient but it’s way too aggressive for that. The idea of his music is you create the system and then you just let it go. The challenge is how can you create a system that still represents the ideas even though you’ve let it go. If you look at some of the last decade or so of Cage’s scores, like the number pieces, they create these systems. These later Number Pieces of his are really interesting because, if you do them correctly, they’re really constraining even though they don’t seem to be. Whereas someone like Kayn and what Brian Eno were doing, especially in the 70’s, they still want a result but they want to be hands off about it.”
The result is a layered and complex piece that takes multiple listens to fully get to grips with, revealing layers of detail deployed within a structure that seems to evaporate into its surroundings. In that respect, Sleep Like It's Winter subverts its brief with an incredible sleight of hand; a piece of music designed to actively, deeply engage but which camouflages itself into the background. It operates within the grid, however faint and hard to define.
"For me, in making this record, the most important thing was, “Where is a line where you decide to give up on formal structures completely?” and, “Where is a line where formal structures can still be perceived but they’re not being shouted at you? For me, in that way of thinking of music, which I’ve been moving towards my entire life slowly but surely (laughs)…"
Bonkers, delightfully daft free improv from inspirational West Coast refuseniks, Smegma, documenting Ju Suk Reet Meate and pals having a lark in L.A. c.1973-74 while their parents were out of the house
“New primitive-suburban-folk music from Temple City and Pasadena, CA, circa 1973-4. This new edition is culled from the original unissued Smegma tape vaults of Ju Suk Reet Meate and represents the most pure expression of the insular sound-world that was spontaneously discovered as a group. Unlike 2017's Look'n For Ya (TES 154LP) no song forms are ever used, instead fearless group improvisational vocals take you on a strange shape-shifting journey through operatic show tunes, spirit visions and visits to a delirium motel room.
The only exception is the title track "Abacus Incognito" that features poetry by Dennis Duck (Human Hands, Dream Syndicate, LAFMS...) with accompaniment by the family stereo console record player/radio unit and utilizing conventional instruments creating a strangely unique non-jamming sound. Except for the first track, all sounds were recorded casually in various band-members parents' houses while they were away... they would have been horrified! The final track is possibly one of the strangest concepts ever recorded, inspired by both the Lord Dunsany story The Three Infernal Jokes and the most popular record of 100 years ago, The O.K. Laughing Record (or OKeh), there is The Smegma: Laughing to Death Record.”
First ever official reissue of a synth-heavy Nigerian disco diamond, recorded and produced in 1979, known to trade 2nd hand for the price of return flights from UK to Lagos...
“Livingstone Studio present a reissue of Gboyega Adelaja's Colourful Environment, originally released in 1979. Fresh from touring with Hugh Masekela -- The Boy's Doin' It (1975) -- Gboyega Adelaja goes into the lab to drop heavy keyboard science on his Moog and Fender Rhodes. Its Joe Sample meets the Afro funk of BLO. With names like Jake Sollo on guitars, Mike Odumusu (BLO, Osibisa) on bass guitar, and Gasper Lawal on percussion, this is a top quality, Afro funk -- an all-stars affair that shines from the inspired interventions, masterly arrangements to the sublime production.
Adelaja on the period of recording: "I was already following Hugh Masekela when I met him, he was an outstanding musician and I knew of his collaboration with Hedzoleh, that band brought him nearer to many of us, because he was playing authentic African melodies with the Hedzoleh sound which was mostly percussion oriented. Yes I knew about Hugh's music before I met him. In fact when we started playing together, he insisted that I stay with him in our three bedroom apartment, other members of the band had their own apartments, but Hugh and myself shared the same three bedroom apartment".
"We were touring, under Casablanca owned by Neil Boggart, we toured as professional musicians, flying to our gigs. There was a time when we were touring with George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic we had two luxury buses deployed for our use. We made many friends where ever we went to play, we met many big and popular musicians who came to watch our shows, the Spinners came to see us in Detroit, we met Wayne Shorter of Weather Report, Freddie Hubbard, we played a gig with Herbie Hancock at the Carnegie Hall New York City, we toured almost all the 50 States of the US."
This Heat’s beguiling 1977 Peel Sessions, collected as ’Made Available’, is somewhat ironically their hardest to find vinyl release. Now remastered from original tapes and sanctioned for reissue by Charles Bullen and Charles Hayward, they are finally ‘Made Available’ for the first time in 20 years
In 1977, the year after punk’s revolutionary arrival in the UK, This Heat broadcast two sessions for John Peel’s legendary BBC programme. Recorded on March 28th and October 26th, with Tony Wilson and Malcolm Brown as producer, respectively, the sessions paid fascinating testament to a band who were unafraid to go against the grain, fusing mannered, proggy art school sensibilities with jazzy, outernational rhythms and punkish no wave dissonance in a way that effectively set the path for post punk’s explosion of experimental ideas.
This Heat’s two Peel sessions pre-dated their landmark, eponymous 1979 debut LP by a few years, and effectively document the band in gestation period, hatching a mannered yet mutant sound that would influence countless artists, from Hot Chip to Powell, over the years to come. And it’s not hard to why! From the taut angularity of ‘Horizontal Hold’ to an early iteration of ‘Not Waving’ and the funereal enchantment of ‘The Fall Of Saigon’ from he first session, thru the schizzy eruptions of ‘Rimp Romp Ramp’ to the clash of possessed outernational styles and boundary-pushing rock chops on ‘Makeshift’ in the 2nd session; this set is a properly outstanding record of its times, and a huge highlight of the inestimable These Records label.
Conspicuous by his absence over the last few years, Dorian Concept breaks his silence with a colourfully plumed and intricately woven batch of prog-jazz-fusion cuts showing off his virtuoso instrumentalist skills on both acoustic and electronic gear...
“Following the release of “Joined Ends” in 2014 - a deeply intimate and textured project he describes as his “chamber music” record - Dorian Concept performed everywhere from Glastonbury to Sonar to MoMA PS1’s Warm Up and then deliberately took himself off the radar. The time since has been spent meticulously un-learning his prodigious production process and developing a brand new sound that even the most clued-up won’t be expecting - showcased on ‘Promises’, in the most prominent use of his voice to date. The recording and processing of his vocals represent not only a more human expression of his highly technical sound, but also an inclination toward recursion - the challenge, ephemerality, and demand for attention of “unequal repetition” which shapes the build and deconstruction of energy throughout the record.
Taking inspiration from multi-generational eclecticism (‘60s jazz, ‘70s fusion, ‘80s neo prog-rock, ‘90s electronica), Dorian Concept sought to replicate “modern” music elements with old-fashioned methods, live-playing and hand-recording deceptively digital sounds in service of a tongue-in-cheek “parody of nostalgia”. Having produced the record largely in the years 2016 and 2017 - widely characterized as periods of a cultural reckoning throughout the democratic world - he ambitiously took timely themes of cumulative error, shortening attention spans and subjective experience and transposed them into his making. As is to be expected from him by now, for all the considered, high-concept musing, the result is refreshingly unpretentious: dizzying swells, cacophonous breakdowns and formidable rhythms are both expert and childlike, hyperactive and hyper-focused.”
Thumping psych-rock trance-outs between Chilean krautrock unit Föllakzoid and J. Spaceman (Spacemen 3, Spiritualized)
“It should come as no surprise to fans of the Chilean trio Föllakzoid that upon meeting the legendary Jason Pierce a.k.a. J. Spaceman (Spacemen 3, Spiritualized), they discovered they were kindred spirits. Föllakzoid and Spaceman’s projects share a restless drive to explore the outer limits of music, as well as an uncanny ability to lock into a groove until it infiltrates the deepest recesses of the listener’s psyche. When Föllakzoid met Spaceman backstage at a Wooden Shjips gig at London’s Electric Ballroom several years ago, they instantly became friends.
For London Sessions, the Chileans and Spaceman joined forces for new live renditions of “Electric” and “Earth,” two highlights from Föllakzoid’s III. The recordings were made in a private studio in London while Föllakzoid was on tour in Europe in June 2016, and Spaceman’s contributions breathe new life into the songs.
“Jason added a very different harmonic atmosphere to the songs,” guitarist Domingo Garcia-Huidobro explained. “It somehow rearticulated the space and metric that already existed in a way the band never could. These new versions have a different edge.”
Brilliantly cruddy sci-fi garage rock skuzz from Dunedin, NZ’s The Futurians - think Black Mecha meets MARS at The Dead C’s gaff
Following dozens of tapes, CDs, lathe-cut 7”s and a few LPs dispatched over the past 15 years, ’Programmed’ is the first time we, like many others, have encountered the raw might of The Futurians and their incendiary sound.
As true offspring of the notorious Dunedin sound forged by Michael Morley and his ends-of-the-earth cohorts, The Futurians are raw as heck and properly up for making an hypnotic racket. On the A-side they do it on a side-long jam of oil-sputtering, churning motorik groove and possessed vocals demonstrating a blend of athletic endurance and locked-in drunkenness, before dividing their energeis into six more succinct bits on the back ranging from raging walls of mentation electronics a la Black Mecha, to clattering death rock swagger, and hammering primitivism recalling MARS’ no wave blatz, and proper, The Dead C-style psych soreness.
A no brainer. Most satisfying.
Two This Heat masterworks surface on vinyl for 1st time in 20 years, pairing the funky, cut-up noise of ‘Repeat’  a reworking of their seminal ’24 Track Loop’, with the haunting, extended gamelan workout ‘Metal’ , which effectively made up their 3d album, and were last found together on vinyl in the ‘Health And Efficiency’  2LP
Still sounding like little else before or since, ‘Repeat’ and ‘Metal’ are held in almost cultish regard by myriad avant-garde and experimental music observers and lovers. Both pieces stand at a crossroads of ideas, twisting traces of krautrock and Afrobeat with production techniques borrowed from concrète cut-ups and dub reggae to open up a new space in the fabric of musical space-time that best reflected the world around their studios in Brixton, London.
The A-side is given to ‘Repeat’ in its 20 minute entirety, offering a remarkable, reticulated edit of their early masterpiece, ’24 Track Loop’ stripped down to dubbed-out drum breaks and burning organ drones that effectively bridges the difference between Gruppo D’Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza and Raime. On the B-side, they effectively invert that sound, recording a carillon of gamelan-inpsired metallic clangs outside their Cold Storage studios, resulting a windswept sort of electro-acoustic hypnosis that still patently works its magic nearly 40 years later.
Mutant trap maverick Suicideyear tees up his first album in five years with ‘Color The Weather’, a gauzily nostalgic collection named in reference to a local colouring competition for kids
The deep south trap sound is still integral to Suicideyear’s style, but less prominent this time, with more attention placed on melodic and harmonic development, ultimately bringing him closer to Clams Casino’s sound.
Make sure to check for highlights in the crystalline, hexagonal drum patterns and off-kilter sino tang of ‘Kept Design’ and the deep south Autechrian pressure of ‘Path’.
Ahead of their hugely promising new album, Low give reflects on 20 years of releases in this month’s lead interview.
They also shine a light on Tangerine Dream’s hugely pivotal synthesist Klaus Schulze. Oliver Coates is tested by The Invisible Jukebox; Northern Egypt is covered in the Global Ear; along with features on mental health in music; Scottish instrument maker Sarah Kenchington; Pan Asian duo Tengger, and all the usual news, reviews, and listings.
RAMZi’s smudged ‘Phobiza’ cycle culminates with Vol. 3 and the birth of her highly promising FATi Records label
Taking the artist’s impressionistic trilogy to a natural conclusion, ‘Phobiza Vol 3: Amor Fati’ seals the series with a warm kiss off in 11 parts featuring guest input from Asael, Regularfantasy and Hashman Deejay. It's a lush, blunted, tropical session.
Arriving five years after Phoebé Guillemot's debut, ‘Amor Fati’ is love letter to an imaginary island perhaps unrecognisable from the infamous Ibiza of ‘Uncovered’, and parallels the sensual spaces dreamt up and enacted by white isle dreamers such as Tony Pikes or N.O.W.
Still, even those dreamers stop short of RAMZi’s fantasias, rendering a series of head-melting scenes in flux between hallucinatory dub, early hours house and balearic vapours that work so well as a psychedelic, late night soundtrack for tripping romantics.
Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury have once again joined forces with writer and director Alex Garland for the filmmaker’s Paramount film ‘Annihilation’, starring Natalie Portman and produced by Scott Rudin and David Ellison.
“After our experience on ‘Ex Machina’, we obviously jumped at the chance to work on a new Alex Garland film. Right from the outset we could see we were going to have to use a wider musical pallet than we did on ‘Ex Machina’, and operate on a bigger and broader scale. So whilst synths and electronics do play a key role in one specific (and crucial) part of the film, 90% of the score is actually made up of acoustic instruments including voices, warped strings and the bass waterphone. Our main musical challenges were to be part of the world the scientists are travelling through, which is on the one hand terrifying, and on the other full of a strange psychedelic beauty.”
For Alex Garland, Geoff and Ben’s partnership “sets an incredibly high bar of creative skill and integrity, with music that is brilliant, unique and truly cinematic,” and their score for Garland’s Oscar nominated ‘Ex Machina’ gained two World Soundtrack Awards nominations and was the 2016 Ivor Novello Award winner for Best Original Score. Other recent co-written credits include Ben Wheatley’s ‘Free Fire’ (executively produced by Martin Scorsese) and Charlie Brooker’s ‘Black Mirror: Men Against Fire’."
180g vinyl. Includes download code
Well measured Americana dream-pop from London’s Still Corners duo, conjuring comparison with everyone from Mazzy Star to Julee Cruise
‘Slow Air’ is Still Corners self-produced 2nd album on Wrecking Light following a string of sides for Sub Pop.
Balearic boogie, reissued with bonus DJ Sotofett remix
The fructose overload of ‘The Boogie’ is exactly the kinda thing that would make us do a 180º on our heels and leave the room in so, so many Manchester party situations.
On the remix, Sotofett leaves it out in the sun to dry up, before dubbing it resplendent in psychedelic FX for a much freer boogie house turn.
1991's Worlds in Collision was the eighth studio album from Pere Ubu (with the live recording One Man Drives While The Other Man Screams immediately preceeding it) and saw the inclusion of replacement synth player Eric Drew Feldman (whose credits include Captain Beefheart, The Residents and post-Ubu, The Pixies) following the departure of founding member, Allen Ravenstine.
Drummer Chris Cutler also departed around the same time, further compounding the notion that this waws a band in flux. Gil Norton (who by this point had himself already worked with The Pixies) took the production reins and helped concoct a veritable alt-rock epic that stands as the band's closest run-in with outright pop music. This reissue of Worlds In Collision comes expanded with new liner notes and four bonus tracks.
One of the most important ambient releases of all time, Jon Hassell and Brian Eno's 'Fourth World Vol.1 - Possible Musics' deservedly receives the prime reissue treatment for the benefit of a new generation.
Originally issued in 1980 ℅ Editions EG, it converges the paths of two musical pioneers who were mutually searching for ways to consolidate world musics with the possibilities of tape, electronics and jazz-wise improvisation. Across five sweetly concise pieces and the 21-minute dreamscape of 'Charm (Over "Burundi Cloud")' Hassell expresses gorgeous, considered flights of fancy thru his heavily effected trumpet against a backdrop of Eno's rippling, rhythmelodic percussions and diaphanous synth tones as languid as they are subtly beautiful.
For us, from the spirited float of 'Delta Rain Dream' to the achingly lush peal of 'Ba-benzele' and aerial elevations of 'Charm ("Over Burundi Cloud")' it's the definition of timeless, enchanted music. Out of print for far too long, it's a must check for anyone with a taste for worldly dissonance and forward looking composition. RIYL Hieroglyphic Being, OPN, Tomuttontu, T C F.
Laurel Halo lands on Latency with a cinematic suite featuring Oliver Coates on cello and drums by Eli Keszler.
Making her first move since 2017’s remarkable ‘Dust’ album, Laurel takes inspiration from her score work for Metahaven and Ursula Le Guin’s translation of the ‘Tao Te Ching’ in pursuit of a quieter, more tactile and elusive sound, moving deeper into a sort of twilight avant jazz realm that calls to mind the recently uncovered Luc Ferrari salvo on Alga Marghen as much as flashes of Conlon Nancarrow and the diaphanous swirl of Wolfgang Voigt’s Gas.
It's immediately obvious that this is a special release in Laurel’s catalogue. Two 10 minute works bookend the release; the sublime title track with its oneiric mesh of woodwind, early electronic music gestures, and almost funeral organ; and at the opposite end, a stunning symphonic piece that unmistakably recalls Gas, but also unlocks that sound’s potential from the grid thanks to Keszler’s free meter and an embrace of kaotic harmony deeply rooted in Derrick May and Carl Craig’s Detroit classics.
But that’s not to discount the bits in between; they’re also brilliant. From her pairing of Keszler’s inimitable snare rushes with dark blue keys and smudged, plasmic electronics in ‘Mercury’, to something like Mark Fell commanding an underwater gamelan orchestra in ‘Quietude’, and the rapid flux of keys in ‘The Sick Mind’, this one has us rapt from every angle.
Wonderful suite of archival gamelan minimalism from Bay Area practitioner Daniel Schmidt.
Recital dip into the personal archives of Daniel Schmidt, an integral scholar in the development of American Gamelan. After studying Javanese gamelan at California Institute of the Arts in the early ‘70s, Schmidt set about creating a West Coast movement based around an aluminium version of the instrument – the Berkeley Gamelan - forged of his own design. He’s since gone on to build numerous gamelan instruments, theorise on it’s compositional qualities, collaborate with Lou Harrison, Jody Diamond, and Paul Dresher, and currently teaches at Mills College San Francisco.
‘In My Arms, Many Flowers’ captures the American Gamelan movement in its nascent state, the result of a personal invitation for Recital boss Sean McCann to rifle through three boxes of Schmidt’s studio and live recordings committed to cassette between the late ’70s and early ‘80s. What’s immediately striking here is how Schmidt deviates from the traditional Javanese style of gamelan composition, instead seeking out the minimalist movement of North America for guidance.
Making use of a primitive sampler borrowed from Pauline Oliveros (RIP), lead track And the Darkest Hour is Just Before Dawn pairs a sumptuous looped string arrangement with Schmidt’s delicate caresses of the Berkeley Gamelan which build with quiet melodic complexity into something quite wonderful. The title track sees Schmidt augmenting the mysticism of his Berkeley with the bowed strings of a rebab, another traditional Indonesian instrument, deployed to signify a bird that “calls from far away.”
Ghosts is one of two compositions done solely with the gamelan, Schmidt leading a procession of players using traditional techniques on a detailed 14-minute recording of percussive dexterity and intricacy that highlights the spiritual powers of the instrument. Faint Impressions offers a sombre finale, the ringing melodicism of the Berkeley gamelan set to a backdrop of an understandably captivated audience.
Another long-since deleted entry into Pere Ubu's 1980s back-catalogue, this album featured the final appearance of Allen Ravenstine's incendiary synth playing.
After 1989's Cloudland, Ravenstine moved on to pursue a career as an airline pilot of all things. He left them as they entered the most mainstream-compatible phase of their career to date, with 'Waiting For Mary' winning the band some MTV airtime. The song sounds very much in keeping with the alt-rock revolution that was reshaping America the time. In fact the album in general sounds braced with a kind of spiky optimism that manifests itself in the inflated productions and grander, often downright jubilant choruses. As with the other Pere Ubu reissues listed this week, Cloudland features new liner notes and a number of bonus tracks (five in this case), including the Van Dyke Parks-inspired 'Wine Dark Sparks'.
Remastered first vinyl edition of This Heat’s seminal live LP, compiled from Euro gigs in Tilburg, Nijmegen, Ärhus, Apeldoorn, Vienna and Rheims between 1980-81, right between their classic debut LP and its follow-up ‘Deceit’
Officially sanctioned by original band members Charles Bullen and Charles Hayward, this is the vinyl edition of the CD release, ‘Live 80/81’ . It was all recorded on cassette using a stereo microphone placed near the sound desk, capturing the performance and incidental sounds with an unflinchingly raw quality.
For the shows, This Heat comprised Charles Bullen (guitar, clarinet, voice, tapes), Charles Hayward (drums, kazoo, melodica, voice, tapes), and Gareth Williams (organ, tapes, guitar, bass guitar, voice) running through the entire track-listing of their tour in the Netherlands.
Material from both ‘This Heat’ and ‘Deceit’ appears in the set, which opens with the twisted metal screech and stop-start drums of ‘Horizontal Hold’, and takes in a high tension rendition of ’S.P.Q.R.’, along with the throttled No Wave tribal jangle of ‘Makeshift Swahili’ and ‘Twilight Furniture’, plus a mighty parting shot with their raucous version of ‘Health and Efficiency’.
B12’s Steven Rutter synchs with John Shima on four tracks of dreamy, rolling sci-fi electrot o follow Shima’s ‘Elements Unknown’  EP for FireScope
The vibe is pure, classic-sounding IDM-electronica, floating in with the chiming synths and sprung electro suspension of ‘Broken Spell’ before inducing headier, weightless sensations with the cirrus harmonics and precipitous percussion of ‘Skywards’.
‘A New Day’ follows with the strongest dancefloor highlight, powered by purring techno bass and hi-tech jazz pads in a time-honoured Juan Atkins style, while ‘Disjointed Route’ locates them in slower, distant electro territory recalling earliest B12 chill out room modes.
2nd pair of inch-perfect pop bewts from London’s Westerman, produced by the genius Bullion
Following the bluer feels of ‘Confirmation/I Turned Away’, this exceedingly cute plate finds Western upbeat and with a sunnier disposition in the gentle psych-soul-pop of ‘Edison’, and at a more laid-back angle with the hazy grained shimmers of ‘Easy Money’.
Proper ohrwurms, both of them.
Vital new electro and techno trax from the one and only Dopplereffekt, and Berlin's Objekt.
Once again, Leisure System bring out the best from Dopplereffekt, following the excellent 'Tetrahymena' 12" with some of their sharpest rhythms and inimitably romantic synth arrangements in 'Delta Wave' - the kind that only adventurous DJs will spin out, and the best crowds will appreciate. Objekt, meanwhile, keeps face with a strong effort called 'Ganzfeld' that sounds something like DJ Stingray in a step-off with Optical, all angular geometrics and moody blue pads...
Debut dread declarations from Nazamba, a fire and brimstone dub poet out of Kingston, JA, produced by G36 for The Bug’s Pressure label...
Heralding Nazamba’s forthcoming full album with France’s O.B.F. sound system, ‘Vex’ sounds the alarm with apocalyptically gruff vocals set to pulverising production from Nagasaki’s anarcho-dub collective, G36.
“The spirit of Prince Far I reincarnated, riding a sci-fi steppa that relentlessly aims to flatten all floors. Nazamba's angry rant against the global epidemic of morally bankrupt, indelibly corrupt politicians, is a straight shot to Babylon's head…”