Optimo Music ally Julienne Dessagne aka Fantastic Twins commits three highlights of her live show to wax for the righteous Against Fascism Trax
Inspired by the fundamental right to dance, Fantastic Twins plays out three infectiously pulsating workouts that say their piece in no uncertain terms. ‘Why Are You Here?’ is a stealthily powerful Italo disco roller gassed on layered arps and head-high melodies; ‘Wrong Place Wrogn Time Wrong People’ is more locked-in, latinate, and primed for dancing in altered states; and ‘Stunden Lang (Lost In Germany)’ offers a dreamy kosmiche utopianism, beautifully sung in German, then pushed with happy clapping rhythms.
“Why are we here if we can’t dance? That reminds me of the words of Pina Bausch “Dance, dance or we are lost”. Lost in our internal struggles as individuals (or imaginary twins). Lost in a society where our relation to the other is often marked by fear, power or violence. We feel the need to resist. Yet nowadays, taking a political stance as an artist is too often being instrumentalised as another tactics or accessory to gather more popularity, reducing the political message to nothing else but a branding attempt. Isn’t it anyway the power of capitalism to assimilate everything, even contradictory or once-upon-a-time subversive voices? All to end up on a “Rave” or “Feminist” H&M t-shirt. Slogans that have been emptied of their initial force and substance, now replaced by their commercial value. I strongly doubt that more empty words poured in vain on social media will help us much. But, like Pina Bausch, like JD Twitch, I have always firmly believed in dancing as a physical, social and fundamental act that leads us to share a common space with others and embrace otherness. Standing together, dancing together when everything else forces us to divide. May the music on this EP be, I hope, a possible answer to its own title. - Fantastic Twins”
Heady, impressionistic ambient scenery from Matthew Sage, limning a windows-open summer vibe as heard from a crumbling old apartment in Chicago. Transmuting the intangible into a fizzing, warm sound, there’s a beautifully nostalgic, heavy-lidded drift and waft to proceedings that recalls everyone from Roberto Carlos Lange to Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Hood and Bibio, all heard thru a smudged kaleidoscope...
Recorded "over a summer in a tiny room on the second floor of a 120-year-old apartment in Chicago” 'Catch a Blessing’ falls into the quietly grand tradition of instrumental albums steeped in nostalgia without becoming too cloying. It’s there on the opening "Avondale Primer Gray” - perhaps the first piece of music we’ve heard in over a decade that pushes the same care-free, doe-eyed, 1980’s buttons as Max Tundra’s evergreen 'Chimes Corner’, and taken further on "Michigan Turquoise”, casting a more solemn hue the label astutely compare to Sparklehorse, with its slightly detuned guitar fed through an aged super 8.
As the label explain, Sage approached the album from an impressionistic perspective, painting sound in broad strokes conveying the ecstatic warmth you only really feel when you look at the sun with closed eyes. "The moods and modes are constantly, entirely at odds with themselves: private vs. public, abject vs. profound, rural vs. urban(e), and so on. Where other players of experimental studio music take a more high-minded, often stuffy approach, 'Catch a Blessing' floats in airier, more refreshing modes.. endlessly lush but sincerely marked by decay..."
An effortlessly lovely offering from the same label that gave us Félicia Atkinson’s sublime ‘Coyotes’ last year.
Following his ambient atmospheric project, ‘Phantom Brickworks’, Stephen Wilkinson returns to the path of structured songwriting last explored on 2016’s ‘A Mineral Love’.
"Ribbons yields folkloric charm with an organic palette, incorporating a mostly acoustic-led approach exploring ‘60s and ‘70s psychedelia, soul, ambient, electronic and field recordings. The title ‘Ribbons’ is extracted from the most electronic-leaning track on the album, ‘Pretty Ribbons And Lovely Flowers’. On the track, haunting, processed female vocals illuminate a route through dark ambience and a repeating earthy distorted chord sequence. Referencing the endless ribbons of analogue tape and film used in his music, photography and cinematic work, the album artwork is designed by Wilkinson, where his portrait offers a window onto an English woodland scene with spring bluebells adorned with ribbons.
Wilkinson’s folk influences span ‘60s and ‘70s styles from Britain, Ireland and America; he mixes influences of homegrown acid folk with the dreamy harmonies of its Californian counterpart. He also pays homage to his past J Dilla and Madlib-inspired works, this time drawing influence from the eras and records those producers sampled - such as ‘60s and ‘70s Dionne Warwick, Dee Dee Sharp and other soul artists - but rather than relying on sampling records, Wilkinson creates his homages from scratch with appropriate instrumentation."
Following the release of 2018’s pair of albums ‘Staccato Signals’ and ‘Drone Signals’, Ben Chatwin returns in with ‘Altered Signals’, featuring reworkings by Sevendeaths, Visionist Remix, Steve Hauschildt, Ital Tek, Konx-om-Pax Remix, Paul Corley, Vessels, From The Mouth Of The Sun and Pye Corner Audio.
"Highlights include Planet Mu stalwart Ital Tek’s remix of ‘Silver Pit’, which seizes the slow-burning cataclysmic energy of the original and reforms it with the bold, cinematic crescendos that characterised his 2018 album ‘Bodied’. Steve Hauschildt, who also released a new album last year, ‘Dissolvi’, repurposes the alien yet organic synth sounds from ‘Helix’ into a multi-dimensional blissful ambient techno workout.
Strictly speaking, this is the second ‘remix’ album of the ‘Signals’ project - with ‘Drone Signals’, Ben already took the material in one direction by feeding string parts into an array of modular and analogue synthesisers. With this new album, he once again relinquishes control - a central conceptual underpinning of the project - by working with some of his favourite producers working in the electronic world. Though the music ranges from ambient to acid techno, this is nevertheless a dynamic and cohesive work that’s sure to excite fans of both of ‘Staccato Signals’ and ‘Drone Signals."
‘Contrée’ is Recollection GRM’s first survey of work by Régis Renouard Larivière, three pieces variously exploring granular evolutions (‘Contrée’), hacked strings (‘Allégeance volatile’), and a rapid, chattering avian flux (‘Esquive’). This is one of the harder nosed GRM issues, but those with attentive ears and patience will be rewarded in multiples...
“Allégeance volatile and Esquive each tackle the same issue in their own way. Overcoming time: whether it be successive, additional, enumerative, or repetitive. However, there is nothing here about the ensuing nature of so-called "repetitive" music. These are types of high-end music. And it is more about insistence, the obstinacy of an individual who keeps knocking on a door that will never open.
Allégeance's rustic drumming, talkative, acidulous, colourful and overarticulated, with almost clownish desinences, eventually dies out in this very respite. The iterative and puffy shimmering of Esquive with its dull, thin and precise sounds, shifts and is engulfed into another sonic world — which appears as a gaping and collapsed response to this prime insistency.
This is, indeed, a ‘volatile allegiance’ and ‘avoidance’ from the sonic to the musical elements: the musical phenomenon anticipated and pursued as the non-sound of sound — or, in other words, the void of sound. This seems to be the lesson of the concrete attitude in music. Such is the kind of questioning that stirs the composer. He returns with another title: Contrée, which, once again, speaks of a counter-event. Here, the movement is broader, more generous, more confident. Time spreads and stretches out. What seems to be a landscape of entanglements, trajectories, influx, masses and points emerges. “Something” rises and presents itself out of the sounds - these escaping beings, these "relatively short combustion flames " (Schaeffer).
The piece consists of five consecutive and uninterrupted parts: Entrée and Stance I — Véhémence de l’air and Stance II — Grande Allure. It is the central section of an electroacoustic triptych with Sables (2011) as the first and Nil (2017) as the last. Contrée is dedicated to Philippe Mion, whose friendly ears have been entrusted with my music for so many years.
- Régis Renouard Larivière”
‘Erwartung 1 und 2’ is an in-depth exploration of a single chord, encouraging the user to inhabit the spaces between and around the notes, played on piano and organ. It is about savouring time and being aware of perspective
“Eva-Maria Houben's music has somehow always been about perspective. These two new pieces, one for piano and one for organ, are once again prime examples. The title is borrowed from Arnold Schönberg's one-act monodrama Erwartung Op.17, in which a woman wanders through the night in search of her (dead) lover. According to Schönberg, his work aims "to represent in slow motion everything that occurs during a single second of maximum spiritual excitement, stretching it out to half an hour". And this, in a certain way, is very descriptive of Houben's calm, patient recordings as well.
As she disassembles a piercing twelve-tone chord of the said Schönberg piece, rendering it unrecognizable and making it fully her own. Changing the perspective. Once for piano, and once for pipe organ. Her respective protagonists.”
Hard-nosed breakbeat rave styles from Mark, Unterton’s resident rave mutant
‘Fuckign Sick Of Myself Since Day One (Hot Desk Mix)’ starts out promising with a brooding payload of darkside rave pressure, but quickly gets a bit dodgy with splashing big beat breaks that take us right back to early ‘00s raves we’d rather forget.
‘Hats Off To Herr F.’ is much more successful, working whirring breaks and grumbling Reese into an IDM tizzy, before the title track rolls out like a Krust or Digital c. 2000.
This pair of masterpieces by the pivotal 20th century pioneer and poet of musique concrète were previously only available on his ‘L’Œuvre Électronique’ boxset. ‘Music Promenade’ is an absorbing study of peacetime late ‘60s Europe, with chattering ladies and brass pomp intersected by fireworks/artillery and atonal blasts of serialist music, whereas ‘Unheimlich Schön’ effectively explores the inverse, with nothing more than whispered syllables wisping across the stereo field in utterly hypnagogic style. It’s a perfect example of Ferrari’s fascination with observing daily life, and finding poetry in the prosaic.
"Music Promenade', composed in 1969, has been realized from a certain number of recording I have done on journeys in different European countries. The first purpose of this realization was an acoustic installation based on four independent tape machines unfolding the tapes in loops. Thus this sound events scattered to the four corners of the hall met one another permanently in an aleatoric (generated by random means) encounter. The duration of the piece was indefinite. So the issue on CD is an immovable version of a possible stabilized mix version.
Each of the four tapes was about twenty minutes long (each tape has a different duration so that the cycles can never encounter in the same manner). The structure of each tape consists of a succession of short characteristic an dynamic sequences alternating with blurred and slight, sometimes nearly silent sounds. When one characteristic sequence encounters by chance a slight sound, this one colors that one. On the other hand, when an event sequence encounters another one, they perturb each other, for their good or for their evil. Such is life.When I consider this piece now, I notice that I am still working on the same principles of random variations that create encounters and superimpositions of cycles that combine themselves by alteration. This concept I called « tautology » in the 1960s is still present in my recent compositions.
- Luc Ferrari”
Almighty sophomore album by industrial overload Kris Lapke aka Alberich - Hospital Productions’ mastering engineer, scene-defining producer, and right hand man to Dominick Fernow (Prurient, Vatican Shadow, RSE).
Where Alberich’s infamous, 3 hour long ‘NATO Uniformen’  series can be heard as a cornerstone for this decade’s tilt into noise techno experimentation, its follow-up is a bitterly refined and exquisitely crafted single disc bedevilled by increasingly excoriating detail via bombed-out rhythms and eschaton-limning atmospheres. Lapke distills and pokes his most potent ideas into their most succinct, brutalist forms, but also makes room for one durational pulverizer that is on its own worthy of the cost of admission.
A master of calibrating maximalist and minimalist scopes, Lapke has a gift for getting right in-the-mix and pulling sounds to the biting point or allow them to glisten in the periphery; emphasising their grotesqueness, stark beauty and visceral nature in the process. It’s an approach which has elevated him to the vanguard of modern industrial music, evidenced in production work and mastering for Prurient, The Haxan Cloak and Nothing, as well as audio restoration for COUM Transmissions and Shizuka, but rarely felt as strongly or as nuanced as in his solo work.
Between opener ‘Upper Mountains’, casting some of the gloomiest synth pads this side of Silent Servant’s ‘Negative Fascination’, to the entrenched techno of ‘Unity House’ with its asphyxiating, buried-by-mud effect buoyed only by drily resigned vocals, and the aching synth poignancy of ‘No Reference to The Absence of Allegory’ at the album’s charred heart, Lapke's sounds adopt a frightening meaning thru their manacled grip of reality.
But its the B-side that will really see off any half-hearted types, as he sucks us down the title track’s rabbit hole of collapsing techno and lo-NRG vox into the reverberating negative space of ‘Freeze’, and the masterfully dense yet wide open paradox of his closing ‘Radio Op’ transmission.
Laidback, cinematic soul, jazz and hip hop flair from 2x Grammy-nominated drummer/producer Clever Austin, making his solo debut outside of Hiatus Koyote, and joined by luminaries such as Georgia Anne Muldrow, Jon Bap, Cazeaux O.S.L.O. + Laneous
"Born near the Blue Mountains in Australia and originally a hip-hop producer, Moss counts some of the world’s most acclaimed drummers and producers as his fans (Questlove, Pharrell Williams, Erykah Badu, Chris Daddy Dave, Flying Lotus).
Much like his Grammy-nominated work for HK, Pareidolia is a genre-bending sonic and emotive pilgrimage with virtuosic, percussive groove at its core. Conceived via countless nights in his home studio, it dreamily roams across 16 tracks which slowly unravel with the cinematic feel of a movie; all mixed and self-produced over a period of two years.
Guest appearances are spontaneous, late night drop-ins, cross town musical crossovers and moments of respect paid to established and emerging innovators. Touching Bass are proud to be the first UK label to introduce the mesmeric talents of Texas native, Jon Bap on first single “Blue Tongue”. Elsewhere, fresh from her well-received 2018 release on Brainfeeder, Georgia Anne Muldrow blesses “You Are All You Need” with her mercurial voice. Closer to home, Cazeusx O.S.L.O’s baritone spoken word grounds “Mothership Strip” and Brisbane-born multidisciplinary artist, Laneous (aka Lachlan Mitchell) croons on “Catapult”.
Pareidolia further cements a trans-global cultural exchange between the soulful sounds emanating from Melbourne and London.”
The Necks 18th album Vertigo is an eventful, kaleidoscopic tone poem set against a darkly shimmering background. Slowly but inexorably moving forward, it crosses many frontiers yet remains true to the mission and mood established in the opening stanzas of this cinematic 44 minute journey. A work able to be viewed either as a whole, or two symmetrical halves, Vertigo sees The Necks once again offer an excursion in sound that reflects both the light and darkness of some preternatural world.
Vertigo follows their acclaimed 2013 album Open, described by SPIN as ‘the most beautiful album of the year’.
In contrast to the sustained improvisations that are their live performances, The Necks’ studio albums take shape by way of intricate crafting brought to bear throughout the entire recording and mixing process. “The discussion this time really began in earnest in the session itself, where we started to pursue the idea of having a drone running from start to finish, off which we could hang ideas,” said bassist Lloyd Swanton “But like all Necks albums we ended up in a very different place from whatever our initial notion of it had been.”
Maintaining a teetering tension between suspension and collapse, Vertigo draws on a diverse palette of sounds created in the studio by Tony Buck (drums/percussion/guitar), Lloyd Swanton (bass) and Chris Abrahams (piano/keyboards), featuring everything from homemade instruments, extended instrumental techniques and marathon explorations of sonic textures.
One piece, at the same time two. Monochrome, yet multicoloured. Dark, yet incandescent. Expansive and still. Melancholic and exhilarating. The Necks. Vertigo."
Nicholas Britell’s score to Barry Jenkins’ award winning ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’.
"Britell’s score is a sonic landscape filled with brass and strings, a yearning and romantic yet understated and melancholy, warm composition which deeply resonates with the story."
Dekmantel grip Australia’s Roza Terenzi for a fine showcase of her balmy, “quasi-cosmic” take on electro, ambient house and early rave nostalgia
Since emerging to acclaim with the ‘Planet Euphorique’ 12”, over the last year she’s dished up at least another 5 releases, leading to this, her highest profile release.
‘3.I.Y.’ gives a a nervy, range-finding start with clipped, squirrelly electro and breakbeat rhythms establishing cosmic coordinates, while ‘Bricks’ dips on the downstroke with pendulous ambient house groove and piquant nods to Arpanet. ‘Freak n Tweak’ then brings some late ‘80s hip hop swagger and floating bleeps recalling early B12, while ‘Open Me’ follows thru in a dreamy Detroit-via-UK style.
Including the albums: 'Affenstunde' (1970), 'Hosianna Mantra' (1972), 'Einsjäger & Siebenjäger' (1974), 'Aguirre' (1976), 'Nosferatu' (1978) 2LP.
The music of Popol Vuh is inextricable from the Werner Herzog films it soundtracks. Scoring Herzog's 'Aguirre', Popol Vuh, lead by Florian Fricke, established a longstanding relationship with the director, providing him with a milestone of electronic music which is now commonly acknowledged as a masterpiece. Fricke's innately moving compositions presaged the electronic ambient and new age genres, incorporating avant-garde classical, religious music, prog and krautrock themes into a substantial, harmonically rich sound. A
As fellow krautrock pioneer Klaus Schulze "...he went on to create a new world, which Werner Herzog loves so much, transforming the thought pattern of electronic music into the language of acoustic ethno music" perfectly reflecting the films inherent themes of humanity, religion and nature. Over the next fifteen years Fricke's musical evolution was charted by his work for Herzog, weaving increasingly elaborate instrumentation into the electronic fabric of his compositions.
This box set of remastered LP's offers some of those albums for Herzog on new vinyl editions for the first time in years, alongside some of Popul Vuh's other best known work.
Issued posthumously, ‘Petra (1991) For Two Pianos’ is the first ever vinyl pressing of music by Maryanne Amacher (1938-2009), one of the early “gurus” of electronic music, who is revered for her explorations of “otoacoustic emissions” - acoustic phenomena where the listener’s ears produce audible sound.
One of a handful of Maryanne’s works for tape, ‘Petra (1991) For Two Pianos’ joins her seminal Tzadik CD releases ‘Sound Characters (Making The Third Ear)’  and ‘Sound Characters 2 (Making Sonic Space)’  as only the 3rd official release of Maryanne Amacher’s remarkably unique music. However, where her first two albums were crucially created with electronic sources, this one aims to generate the same effect with two acoustic instruments simultaneously presenting pure tones, and in a way links her otoacoustic exploitations back to the phenomenon’s discovery by 18th century Italian violinist, Giuseppe Tartini.
This much anticpated Blank Forms release of ‘Petra’ is a recording of its American premiere on May 4th, 2017, at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church on West 20th Street, NYC, performed by Marianne Schroeder, a Swiss pianist specialising in New Music, and Stefan Tcherepnin - great-grandson of the legendary Serge.
Originally commissioned for the ISCM World Music Days in Switzerland, and written for two pianos, ’Petra’ forms a unique extension of Amacher’s electronic working methods, requiring a poised precision and patience from the players who segue from glacially reverberant serenity to passages of ragged dissonance, taking the music into realms shared by Amacher’s inspirations, Giancinto Scelsi and Galina Ustvolskaya, while also subtly manifesting the piece’s literary influence from sci-fi writer Greg Bears’s short story of the same title, where the gargoyles of Notre Dame come to life and breed with humans in an apocalyptic future.
The first part is ashen solemn, but struck thru with flashes of exhilarating high register colour, with lots of spooky action found in between the notes, where one can practically feel the church’s architecture impressed in-ear like a watermark. The 2nd part is much more dynamic, riddled with surprises and shadowplay, turning dread-heavy and rhythmically forceful before Schroeder and Tcherepnin gently bring the notes down like leaves on a slow-spiralling autumnal descent, conversely amplifying an uncanny space between the keys and leaving listeners utterly enchanted, aware of their space and presence in a deeply unique manner.
A mix of modern noise makers and experts in ancient music put the Italian Futurists’ original Intonarumori instrument thru its paces, while Einstürzende Neubauten’s Blixa barged provides spoken word commentary and history of the instrument and noise
“This album contains seven compositions, created by the Opening Performance Orchestra, Blixa Bargeld, Luciano Chessa and Fred Möpert. All the pieces relate to the theme of Futurism and employ intonarumori, instruments invented and used more than a century ago by the Italian Futurists in their noise compositions.
The Art of Noises, pertained to the entire 20th century. Published in 1913, in response to Francesco Balilla Pratella's Manifesto of Futurist Musicians, Russolo's text encompassed the fundamental ideas for the new music of the modern age. Radical ideas required original compositional approaches, as well as new types of instruments - hence the Futurists opted for the intonarumori.
The two quotations prompted us to give thought to creating compositions in which we would return to the early 20th century, when noises as means of musical expression emerged for the very first time. The typical instruments used by our ensemble, the Opening Performance Orchestra, are laptops, by means of which we conceive our fraction music, which can be briefly characterised by the slogan no melody no rhythm no harmony. Constructing three intonarumori, writing our own pieces for these instruments and performing works by other contemporary composers - Blixa Bargeld, Luciano Chessa and Fred Möpert, represented for us getting into close contact with the beginnings of the musical avant-garde, as well as returning to the historical roots of the music that had served as the basis of noise in art.”
Silent Servant injects Alessandro Adriani’s ‘Fuoco’ with potent EBM Funk
Mannequin boss Adriani unfurls an extended mix of his murky EBM trek across the front, riddled with virulent, searching arps and pinned into place by hard working snares.
But the real gear is in the remix by EBM expert Silent Servant, who adds cracking snare reinforcements, retuned arps and shearing metallic noise to the mix with a more strapping, stroppy effect for the muscle Marys and pencil-necked geeks with slick-down side partings.
Mutant Beat Dance’s Jason Letkiewicz (Steve Summers) tells a grimy EBM story under his Opposing Currents guise for Interstellar Funk’s Artificial Dance label
“Throughout, Letkiewicz smothers off-kilter drum machine rhythms and throbbing, body-jacking synthesizer basslines in untold layers of hazy audio detail, creating a dystopian sound soup out of which alien electronic melodies, psychedelic acid lines and barely audible vocals emerge. At times, such as on angry opener “Lying Awake”, the extra-terrestrial “Dissolve” and foreboding “Shallow Grave”, we’re invited to dance in the darkness in celebration of impending doom. On other occasions, such as the poignant and melancholic closing cut “It Awaits”, Letkiewicz simply seems exasperated at the chaos that is life in the 21st century. It makes for a genuinely arresting and thought-provoking listen.”
Joakim revives his Jimi Bazooka edit series with four earthy disco and cosmic EBM tramples
It’s most valuable for the canny edit of The Force Dimension’s 1989 anthem ‘200 FA’ which was big across UK, Belgian and Goan dancefloors at the time, and appears here with emphasis on extended drum edits. Elsewhere he joins the dots between tribal styles via the Burundi Black meets digierdoo styles on the front, and a sloth-like boogie screw.
Variously described as “hyperactive, maximalist and alien,” “sharp and craggly,” “effervescent and menacing” and “poppy and industrial.”
"For fans of Flying Lotus, Machinedrum, SOPHIE, Squarepusher."
'Secrets of the Beehive' is one of David Sylvian's most acclaimed solo works. It was here that he refined his creative relationship with Ryuichi Sakamoto, who contributed string arrangements and piano to the album, and the two came up with a sound quite magical in it's ambience and warmth.
Out of print for over 30 years, David Sylvian’s 4th album ‘Secrets of the Beehive’ is another masterclass in sophisticated songwriting by the artist once claimed as “the most handsome man in the world”
‘Secrets of the Beehive’ was first released in 1987 and finds Sylvian growing ever more graceful in his artform,. Again, he’s joined by Ryuichi Sakamoto in some form on practically every song, but this time the jazz-funk swerve is more suppressed (definitely no Mick Karn bass on this one) in favour of a more theatrical, modern classical air to proceedings, woven with threads of latin acoustic guitar, rich brass, and cinematic strings to opulent effect.
Keiji Haino, one of the foremost exponents of the Japanese avant-garde, always provides a masterclass in constantly shifting improvisation. John Butcher is a saxophonist of rare grace and power, who has expanded the vocabulary of the saxophone far beyond the conventions of jazz and other musics, to encompass a staggering range of multiphonics, overtones, percussive sounds, and electronic feedback.
"Haino and Butcher met when Butcher opened for Fushitsusha at the show Cafe Oto arranged at St. John, Hackney - 5 years ago. In 2016 they were invited to play two duo concerts – at The Empty Gallery in Hong Kong and at Cafe Oto in London.
Otoroku is proud to present the audio documentation of their first UK meeting. Recorded live at Cafe Oto in July 2016 the results are an uncompromising milieu of swirling sound played out as a total union of these two legendary performers. Haino’s blues drenched guitar entices skittering notes from Butcher."
Tempo Dischi is an italian label created on a mission to discover and repress classics and rare gems of the italo disco, afro and cosmic scene.
"With the support from all the main players who has made that era magic, we work to put back on records stores shelves a piece of art that may have been lost but it’s still timeless. The first release is one of the key projects of the underground Italo Disco scene, probably not the most famous one, but surely it is among the most loved one by DJs and connoisseurs: Steel Mind.
‘It was the end of the '70s and at that time Disco Music was very popular. I was in a band called Caelestium, and we were playing in the most important clubs in Italyâ€¦Around the beginning of the 80s, I started to feel the desire to make a different kind of sound and I decided to start my solo project creating songs like 'Boss Man' and 'Lionel' that were closer to the Krautrock style’ recalls Piero Torsani, the producer behind this project.
These songs have become a cult for many djs, including Daniele Baldelli, Beppe Loda and Alexander Robotnick and they still sound contemporary. The Tempo Dischi collective is responsible of a club friendly edit of ‘Boss Man’. And after a deeper search into Pietro Torsani’s original music archive, an unreleased track has surfaced we could not resist to give to the world: 'Summer in The City’ featuring the voice of Marisa LucÃ , at that time singer of Caelestium."
Drummer for Animal Collective and Lifted, Baltimore’s Jeremy Hyman combines his percussive skills and painterly electronics in a lush trio of rhythm trips for Max D’s Future Times
Last spotted on a sorely overlooked split 12” with fellow B’more artist Co La (Matthew Papich, also ov Lifted), Hyman is in good company again on Future Times, following the mazy lines of his ‘Couch’ 12” into colourful new niches between the sloshing dreamscape of ‘Slide’, the hair-kissing, in-the-pocket parry and dub of ‘Madness’, and a relatively straighter deep house number recalling DJ Sprinkles’ styles in ‘Tinted Mirror’.
St. Petersburg, Russia’s Flaty runs ghetto-dub-tech and lacquer-bubbling acid and glitch for Moscow’s Gost Zvuk powerhouse
The A-side’s ‘Graf Ruin’ is a recombinant zinger imagining Berlin techno rerouted thru Detroit jit and smeared with skittish compression artefacts to enhance your wormhole glyde. Think ‘Octagon / Octaedre’ jacked up by Stingray and dialled in on a cranky modem.
On the B-side ‘Hornets’ gets zanier with animated acid figures whisked over a pounding 150bpm grid, and ‘Rn’ recalls the sparky glitch quarks of Mortal & Chemist for Skam.
Visionary south London bass music producer Parris scries his most convincing simulations of weightless grime-techno futurism with the Your Kiss Is Sour EP for Untold’s label following a smart 12” and corresponding remixes for Ancient Monarchy and an excellent mixtape on Keysound.
Defined by a liquid production style that recalls the pensile designs of Actress or Lee Gamble’s ambient memory extractions, the EP cycles three immersively detailed zones of inverted pressure, flickering the gauge needle between a flux of dry/plasmic modular tones and vocals that dart across the stereo field in Your Kiss Is Sour, before coolly drifting into something resembling a dancefloor formation with the deliquescent bleeps and knotted subbass shifts that buoy the dazed sagger of Flowering In Threes, before sounding out like Daphne Oram clashing King Tubby in the smoky echo chamber of My Beautiful Fantasy.
Singapore’s Midnight Shift get the best out of Stefan Schwander’s Harmonious Thelonious with three patented, bristling, Afro-centred grooves destined for house and electro ‘floors
Almost cultishly beloved by those in the know, Harmonious Thelonious is master of minimalist subtlety and totally great at doing proper, off-beat African patterns with more typical techno palettes.
All of them are winners this time; first getting into a right scuffle with the swingeing, distorted permutations of ‘Kabriman’, then with a slippery, hypnotic guile recalling Zomby doing bleep house in ‘Tom Tom’, while ‘Polyrhythmic Monster’ polishes off your bones dry with nine minutes of lip-bitingly tight and slinky swerve.
One of Björk’s lesser-known yet definitive studio albums, her soundtrack for ex-partner, visual artist Matthew Barney’s art film ‘Drawing Restraint 9’, is reissued in its original single LP edition
First released in 2005, the soundtrack to ‘Restraint 9’ - one of 19 separate parts in a series - accompanies an unconventional love story set in Japan. The narrative revolves themes such as the Shinto religion, the tea ceremony, the history of whaling, and the supplantation of blubber with refined petroleum for oil, all rendered in Barney’s peerless imagery and attention to detail.
Björk was famously partnered to Matthew Barney between 2000-2013, and her ‘Vulnicura’  album is about their breakup. Long before that, however, she supplied the enchanted music for ‘Restraint 9’, which is notable for the major absence of her own vocals, save for three songs. Rather, she was heavily involved with the production and performance, roping in figures such as Akira Rabelais, Bedroom Community-Founder Valgeir Sigurdsson, Mark Bell aka LFO, Leila, Zeena Parkins, Nico Muhly and and a Japanese children’s choir to help her accentuate the film’s striking look.
Untold takes the deconstructed club music thing to a logical next stage with the tattered dynamics of HEK029, his first new release since Doff , and a fine follow-up to Parris’ Your Kiss Is Sour for Hemlock.
With the fractious, febrile dynamics of Tear Up The Club it sounds like he’s been dream-stealing from Lee Gamble and BLOOM, resulting a cloud of dissected jungle and ambient tropes diffused into a delirious, elusive polymetric designs suggesting myriad options for the DJs and dancers and a remarkable headful of madness for the home or headphone listener.
Watton Res feels to invert that effect, conducting his rhythmic itchiness at the perimeter of the piece around a languid core of balearic, new age strums and convulsive bass in a sore but lush flux of ballistics and proprioception-challenging dimensions.
Keiji Haino, Jim O'Rourke and Oren Ambarchi present their 5th annual collaboration, as always recorded at SuperDeluxe, Tokyo.
While the previous session was a proper face melter, this one, made in March 2013, is a far more subtle and diverse session. It starts up with a beautifully delicate duet between Keiji's vocals and Finnish Kantele and O'Rourke's lyrical 12-string haunted by Ambarchi's wine glass tones (rubbing not drinking), before letting Jim take the lead with nimbly fluid improvisation and scaling up into twsted electronic noise and globular subbass pulses by the mid-way point.
The three climax naturally as the noise energy dissipates to leave them seemingly enervated, Haino's post-tristesse wail cutting through the room like a wounded animal and baiting a 2nd wind of modular freakery and tribal ecstasies.
Mesmerising mix of kosmiche synths and slunky drum machines, and one unyielding slug of EBM techno on LA’s prolific ESP Institute
Leading on from his turns on Diagonal and Whities, Sweden’s Koehler plays out contrasting cuts that share a mutual urge to move.
In ’Melencolia V’ he coaxes bustling Afro-latin breaks, swole acid bass and gently spiralling arps into floating, weightless superstructure surely bound for a lot of play in summer 2019, and much the same could be said of his powerful B-side ‘Invidiosa’, whose tautly deferred disco-techno gratification is sure to get the cowie jaws going at peak time.
Airhead ups the ante with his Shaded techno dagger and the pendulous Antipolo for Untold’s Hemlock after 12”s with Different Circles and his PS Records.
Like his recent, crafty Cristobal edit of street drummers, Shaded finds him squaring up to the ‘floor, modulating the pressure between passages of pelvic tick-tock hi-hats and breezy electronics, then body-gripping subs and nagging dub chords in dance-melting style. Antipolo on the other hand is defter, looser, with sprayer coordinates for the limbs and gluten to find their own path thru the dewy haze of electronics.
Oosh! African Vibration’s heavy Kenyan boogie funk zinger ‘Hinde’, back with Julien Dyne remix and reissued for the good of the dance and your pocket - 2nd-hand copies of the OG trade for hundreds!
First dispatched in 1987, ‘Hinde’ is an infectiously laid back groover built from simmering drum machine and twanging bass sequence, and layered up with African Vibrations’s harmonised vocals and whistles to spacious, dawning fresh effect.
It runs the A-side while funk and soul guy Julien Dyne smudges it for a slower, fragrant effect spiced up with flutes and dub FX on the flip.
Nyege Nyege Tapes deliver an unmissable volley of hyper-fast, breathless Singeli from Tanzania, this time the vinyl debut of Duke showcasing the sound of Pamoja Records, following multiple zingers from the scene’s core Sisso Studios.
Yet again making practically all other dance music seem pedestrian and tepid by contrast, Duke’s take on Dar Es Salaam’s Singeli style is ruthlessly fast and rugged, crammed with colourful samples and, quite crucially, loaded with a pair of blistering vocal tracks starring MCZO & Don Tach, and Dogo Lizzi, respectively.
In ‘Uingizaji Hewa’ the tempos thrillingly tilt over the 200bpm mark, but they’re held in check with a clutch of slower instrumentals written in Duke’s newer Hip Hop Singeli style. When he goes fast, dancers will know about it in the likes of ’Naona Laaah’ featuring machine gun rapid rhythms somehow matched for pace by MCZO & Don Tach, and again in the pedal-to-the-meckle recklessness of ‘M Lap’ starring Dogo Lizzi switching up from dancehall bark to fasssst-chat styles that put Daddy Freddy to bed.
But those hi-NRG bombs are only half the story. The rest of the LP shows off Duke’s wicked way with a hook and the diversity of his drum programming in highlights ranging from the PC Music-compatible bounce of ‘Sing4444444’, to the cascading chromatic licks and slow/fast suss of ‘Duke 4’, the joyful dervish of ‘Duke Bit Puyo’, and two dizzying pieces with spiralling, Bollywood-style vocal samples that close the record with a blinding flourish.
A necessary and captivating survey of Greek Experimental Electronic Music, all bar one produced between the 1980’s and 2016. The wildly variegated abundance speaks to ideas of Greekness as a result of a unique, complex culture connected to Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Asia for thousands of years. Thru the cross-section of this compilation we hear that character bleed out in bewildering forms. Basically, if you have a taste for work by Iannis Xenakis, whose ‘Voyage absolute des unari vers andomède’ is included inside, you’re probably going to be fascinated by the rest on offer, too
“An Anthology of Greek Experimental Electronic Music 1966-2016 aspires to map the heterogenous landscape of Greek experimental electronic music in all its contextual, sociopolitical, geographical and aesthetic disparity. With a single exception: it zeroes in on post-80s music. It comprises works of very different kinds by composers of all sorts of backgrounds that, still, can be thought of, as both "Greeks" and "experimentalists". Experimental electronic music is generally expected to be highly variegated, especially when examined in a breadth of several decades, and with respect to all sorts of artistic, academic, subcultural, and other influences.
What is not so obvious, however, is that the very notion of Greekness, as well as its contextual and historical offshoots, are highly diversified, too. This anthology is an attempt to map the various kinds of experimental music that has been produced by Greeks over the last few decades. More, it is also an attempt to delineate different understandings of what "Greek" or "experimental" may stand for, by means of zeroing in on the numerous, often overlapping, realities and micro-scenes that are associated with the former.”
A stunning return from the deepest dub tech noise aquanauts...
Seventeen (count ‘em!) years since their split side with Techno Animal, Andy Mellwig and Thomas Köner’s legendary Porter Ricks shores up on Tresor with three cuts of brand new material as immersive as any of their ‘90s dub techno classics.
Since that last release in 1999, Mellwig has busied himself with Experimental Audio Research alongside Kevin Martin, Pete Kember and Kevin Shields, whilst Köner has continued to pursue a dark ambient zeitgeist deep below the surface, before the two remerged for a sublime remix of Ryo Murakami in 2014.
Shadow Boat dials in the duo’s first material since then, and they’ve patently not lost their lust for total dancefloor immersion. The title cut is a lushly visceral demonstration of techno at its most enigmatic, effective, diffracting beautifully elusive melodies and haunting harmonics thru silty black, subaquatic bass dynamics that leave us reeling, before the crushed, acidic chug of Bay Rouge stretches out on a more elastic sort of acidub grind punctuated with killer woodblock, and Harbour Chart comes up for air with a bad case of the bends emphasised by glitching rip-currents sure to mess with the dance.
At bleedin’ last, The Gag File retches up Aaron Dilloway’s long-awaited follow-up to the noise classic, Modern Jester , which has since taken on cult status with miscreants across the board from Demdike Stare to Happa and practically every other crank out there.
Fronted by an unnervingly coy ventriloquist’s dummy which indelibly mars the memory from first sight, The Gag File offers up Dilloway as a sort of psychopomp or vessel through which humanity’s ills are digested and distilled then regurgitated in the kind of day-later dog’s dinner that stains your clothes, teeth and mind. And yet you’ll find yourself chewing on its chunks over and again.
Considering that it’s five years since his last major LP, you can trust that he’s juicing as much sourness and pain in each minute to make that run time feel worthwhile, just in the same way that his captivating, improvised live shows can feel like a thoroughly satisfying ordeal; as though witnessing a car crash unfold in slow motion, or like the soundtrack to a compelling snuff flick which only reveals its reality or nature after the reel has stopped running and you start pondering wtf just happened.
Dilloway’s torment is revealed for our pleasure and disgust in eight parts across the album, following well-trained hunches from the crudely lo-fi budget basement horrors of Ghost and the barbiturate party crank of Karaoke With Cal before the madness really begins to get under the skin with the broken toothed loops and radgy holler of Inhuman Form Reflected, giving way to the heaving, collapsed industrial structure of Born In A Maze.
There’s a perfectly unnerving passage of muffled, mumbled croon at the album's epicentre, It’s Not Alright, setting up the listener for a fake left into the low key party ambience of No Eye Sockets (For Otto & Sindy), like you’ve just emerged from a basement bloodbath into a crowd of all-too-normals who don’t know your secret. Scene cuts sharply to what sounds like $&$ trapped in a P-funk K-Hole, with Switch, and the hysteric resolution of Shot Nerves.
From the blown-out motherboard of West Philadelphia’s Master Control Programmers, Charles Grossman broke off to explore his own personal outer space experience.
"With just a DW-8000 to keep him company, University City’s loneliest cyborg issued this eight song electro-mellow statement in 1989. Spectral synths, pulsating programming, and yes—a keytar—set the soundtrack to your next game of Spy Hunter. Jam on to a sound more sophisticated."
'Space Is Only Noise' is the first album by Nicolas Jaar.
By anyones estimations his arrival into the electronic music sphere has been unavoidable, receiving comparisons to Villalobos and AFX from The Guardian, providing one of Resident Advisor's most adventurous mixes to date and practically having Panorama Bar, Fabric and Bar25 eating out of his hands - all before he'd turned 20! His string of releases for the like-minded Wolf+Lamb Music and his own Clown & Sunset label besides remixes for Matthew Dear and Ellen Allien have defined his sound as purposefully slow, sensuous, and with a graceful maturity way beyond his years, all equally informed by HipHop and his Chilean heritage as he is House music and the furthest reaches of electronica.
Like the relatively recent pop/dance phenomena of Drag/Witch House, electronic Cumbias and Dubstep, his music signifies a sea change towards exaggerated energy efficiency, dropping the tempo to up the groove and deftly filling the space left behind with supremely sophisticated musical decisions drawing further comparisons to everyone from his beloved Satie and Mulatu Astatke to DJ Shadow. 'Space Is Only Noise' is far from being your conventional House music album and should be filed in your 'promising debut' stack.
La Casa Tropical keep the kwait-o-meter simmering with P.V.P.’s infectious South African house burners. Both full of balmy, swaying vox and nagging early house riffs and cut at 45rpm for optimal pressure
“Patience, Violet ,and Pinky recorded their first Album in 1992. Knowing each other from the music scene, the back up singers turned friends teamed up with Emmanuel Diale and signed with Mob Music to embark on their music career as their own act. The first two albums were straight African Disco, A leftover sound of the 80's that some had still hoped to capitalize on. By the time they released their third album Why O Nketsa so Baby, loosely translated to "Why are you doing this to me Baby", Kwaito was still called either Disco or International House, and it was new sound that was taking over. The third album was influenced by the Shangaan sound made largely popular by artists like Penny Penny and Peta Teanet. Looking back now, at the time Mob Music was really leading the pack with this new sound. Being one of the last labels to have official releases with artwork and a group of young talented producers given full creative freedom they pushed the sound in a way only few other labels of that time can be given the same credit.
For their fourth and final album on Mob Music they worked with legendary producer/songwriter Malcom "X" Makume. With three years of songwriting experience and stellar talent behind the desk the result was the LP Malende. Eight tracks that would combine the early kwaito sound with the more uptempo International House topped off with productions heavily inspired by what had been slowly making its way from Chicago over the last 10 years. At the time they had some success and to this day are well known amongst the real heads.
The girls would go on to record one final album once their contract with Mob was up and then after a 5 album catalog would hang up their matching outfits for work a in a newly free South Africa. They remain friends to this day.”
Listening to this latest album from Liz Harris’ Grouper project it’s easy to forget how much of a hard sell her music was back when 'Way Their Crept’ landed with us back in 2005.
Her eerie, layered mix of bare vocals, guitar and tape delay didn't quite fit in with what anyone else was really doing on the scene back then - and it completely knocked us out even if no one was buying it. By the time her breakthrough ‘Dragging a Dead Deer…’ arrived on Type three years later she was more or less playing to a baying mob hungry for any little morsel she cared to throw their way, her (by now) more fleshed out shoegaze variants marking her out as a natural outsider who had managed to tap into some kind of collective melancholy, her songs both hugely affecting and yet somehow emotionally opaque. Last year’s 'The Man Who Died In His Boat’ collected previously unreleased material from the ‘Dead Deer’ era and, despite it essentially being an assembly of offcuts, still managed to sound as coherent and bewitching as any of her ardent followers might have imagined. ‘Ruins’ is Harris' first new album proper in several years and - to no one’s surprise - is just utterly sublime.
The opening and closing tracks excepted, Harris’ instrument of choice here is the upright Piano, delivering a sequence of songs that feel utterly bereft and lonely, intended by Harris as “...a document. A nod to that daily walk. Failed structures. Living in the remains of love.” There are also found sounds (you can here a microwave switching itself back on after a powercut in the background), and the room recordings lend an effervescent quality to the recordings that somehow magnify the sense of timelessness. ‘Ruins' is book-ended by two instrumental pieces, the pulsating field recorded opener ‘Made of Metal’ and the 11 minute closer ‘Made of Air’, an instrumental, ambient piece recorded at her mother's house way back in 2004. Together, these tracks make for another sublime 40 minutes spent in Liz Harris’ company, a precious distraction from the clutter and noise of the outside world.
Following a series of impossible-to-obtain releases for her own Yellowelectric imprint and a CD compilation of her gorgeous 'A I A' set, Liz Harris seems to have settled with Kranky who are re-releasing her classic Type album 'Dragging a Dead Deer..' and this new album of previously unreleased material drawn from the same period: 'The Man Who Died In His Boat'.
It's not so hard to believe but we'll say this straight away - the material on this new set is just jaw-dropping, a worthy companion piece to 'Dragging a Dead Deer' - once again finding Harris delivering material edging ever so slightly towards more traditional 'songs' but executed with so much introspection and mystery that she really sounds unlike anyone, or anything, you'll have ever heard before. The record has an interesting backstory, as Harris explains - "When I was a teenager the wreckage of a sailboat washed up on the shore of Agate Beach.
The remains of the vessel weren't removed for several days. I walked down with my father to peer inside the boat cabin. Maps, coffee cups and clothing were strewn around inside. "I remember looking only briefly, wilted by the feeling that I was violating some remnant of this man's presence by witnessing the evidence of its failure. Later I read a story about him in the paper. It was impossible to know what had happened. The boat had never crashed or capsized. He had simply slipped off somehow, and the boat, like a riderless horse, eventually came back home." The narrative somehow enhances the songs - an achingly beautiful combination of forlorn, reverb-drenched lullabies draped in a veil of isolation reminding us of a more damaged Mark Kozelek, and indeed the classic 4AD sound with which Grouper has been compared so many times in the past.
By the time you reach the closing track 'Living Room', however, you come to the realisation that despite her best efforts to obscure her songs, Harris might just be one of the most gifted songwriters of her generation. An incredible album - possibly her finest yet.
Another pearl from Freedom To Spend, reissuing the sole, solo side by Japan’s June Chikuma, originally released in 1986, a decade before she wrote the legendary D&B soundtrack for Nintendo’s ‘Bomberman’!
Leading on from some of 2018’s finest reissues (by Rimarimba, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Michele Mercure), FTS kicks off 2019 with another insta-favourite in ‘Les Archives’, which repackages June Chikuma’s 1986 LP as Atsushi Chikuma, ’Divertimento’, with bonus material relating to her later work as a composer of classic computer game soundtracks. While there’s seemingly no shortage of material from this era and region in circulation right now, ‘Les Archives’ is more rugged, whacked-out, and singular than most of what the Japanese reissue machine has churned out over the last couple of years.
Wielding sampler banks full of YMO and Art of Noise-like percussion, along with glassy syn-flutes, animated synth voices, and the mysterious Michio Toda String Quartet, there’s a singular funk and verve to June’s music that transcends its roots in Tokyo’s City Pop and fusion movements, and hints at the digitised future she would help to literally and subliminally shape via consoles in myriad bedrooms and living rooms across the world.
Where Chikuma's computer game soundtracks were necessarily limited by bitrates, here June plays to the full spectrum of mid ’80s hi-fi music, marrying melodic whimsy with a taste for the tang of experimental electronics and a deadly nose for rhythm programming that really sets her apart. We hear those playfully animated rhythms in beguiling effect on the iridescent, polyrhythmic cadence of ‘Broadcast Profanity Delay’, and with lip-bitingly tight fonk swaaang on ‘Pataphysique’ - an excellent word to sum up her approach - whereas ‘Divertimento’ sounds like Art of Noise doing neoclassical, and outta nowhere, ‘Climb-Down’ unfurls as an elegant piece for string quartet.
So far, so amazing. But then we factor in the bonus cuts; firstly the charming vignette ‘Mujo to Ifukoto’, a mad little congregation of chamber-esque string sweeps, drums and swannee whistles, while the 7” throws down two angular boogie gems in the drily dubbed-out swerve ‘Oddman Hypotheses’, and pointillist prangs of ‘Dual Use’, which only make this invaluable record even more indispensible.
Following a sold out run of Salm Vol.1, Arc Light Editions closes the year with a second volume of Gaelic psalm singing. The recordings documented here are from the same psalm singing sessions as the first, and both together represent a complete collection.
"This is music that is transcendent and together, about the individual and the earth, movingly spiritual with or without belief. The sound comes in great waves, swells of sound that break and roll around the space. The texture relies on the individuals: this is group singing where the individual is preserved, elevated, but together.
The recordings of Gaelic Psalm singing presented in the release are among the best ever captured. They document a living tradition, a form of religious singing from the Hebrides in Scotland, which is still practiced in Lewis. In Gaelic psalm singing, a precentor leads, and from here voices follow, moving together in great swells like the murmurations of birds.
These recordings of Gaelic Psalm singing were originally made over two evenings in the Back Free Church on the Isle of Lewis in October 2003. The singing was spontaneous and totally unrehearsed. The recordings are now presented on vinyl for the first time by Arc Light Editions. A precentor leads off with the first lines of a psalm, and the congregation follows, some faster than others, and each one remains discernible. In his notes to the original release, Calum Martin writes that the form, called precenting (where one person puts out the line and the congregation responds) while not exclusive to Gaelic free church traditions, is in Lewis particularly influenced by the pibroch style of free ornamentation. It’s through this, he says, that the distinctive emotional swell of sound emerges. The sound relies on the congregation’s individual responses to the melody and the individual precentor’s leading. The musical term is free heterophony.
Arc Light Editions has worked directly with DR Macdonald at the Bethesda Hospice and Calum Martin on this release, and we thank them for their time. A portion of the profits from this release go directly to Bethesda Hospice, in accordance with the original release."
Kolida Babo is the collaboration between two Greek woodwind musicians from separate regions - Socratis Votskos is from Pella, and Harris P is from Athens. This, their debut album, was recorded in improvised live-take sessions beginning on the night of the “Kolida Babo” folk rituals of music and dance in northern Greece in winter 2013.
"The sessions proceeded over three years, exploring the ancient music of Armenia and the folk traditions of northern Greece’s Epirus and Thrace regions alongside abstract electronics and free jazz.
As musicians of modern Greece, the sonic palette is developed in part as a means of processing the country’s immediate actualities: its relation to its regional traditions, its urban centres and its humanitarian and economic crises. In this, the music is at once clearly located in traditional sounds and disjointed from them, at times contrasting or harmonious in both concept and sound.
The Armenian Duduk that anchors the project is a double-reeded woodwind instrument made of apricot wood with thousands of years of history and generations of venerable masters - the duo cite Djivan Gasparyan as a main influence, and Harris studied with Vahan Galstyan. Traditionally its music is played in duet: a melody on one duduk, a low drone accompaniment (“the dum”) on another. Kolida Babo preserves and extends the dual nature of duduk music in many ways, replacing the dum at times with the tones of a moog synthesizer to allow the two players to weave harmonies together in duet. And there is a persistent duality in the braid of Kolido Babo’s sonic associations - modern and ancient, local and global - sometimes underpinning one another, sometimes undermining. “Sometimes we mock modern times and sometimes the other way around”, they say - it’s a collision, or an engagement, romantic or pugilistic, and the sense is of an experiment without expectation, without preciousness or exoticism of folk culture.
The elements challenge each other and the listener - while the music is very much about texture and tone, the sounds aren’t clearly modern or ancient: it’s futile to identify, we’re reminded, and instead we experience the immediate presence and power of the combination. Influences include Armenian Folk music, Greek Rebetiko, German Kosmiche, Spiritual Jazz, the Fourth World Music of Brian Eno and John Hassell, British Trip Hop, Electrified West African Funk. But where these can be identified they are as sidelong journeymakers through the borderless idiolect belonging to the dialogue between the two players and enabling its free and full execution, subtle markers used to co-ordinate the collaboration.”
Acid-edged deep house treks by Nathan Melja, using his full name here after a handful of 12”s for Mister Saturday Night, Black Opal, Technicolor and Dream Real
‘Diadems’ comms with crispy congas and lush pads on roving, acidic bassline in classic style, while ‘Angels’ wriggles on an electro pivot with lovely harmonic synth hues, and ‘Candy’ dims the lights for a lean and deep sort of UK steppers groove.
One of Muslimgauze’s most sought-after albums is given a proper vinyl cut, rendering ‘Azzazin’ over 2 discs, replete with 2 unreleased tracks
Back in 1996 ‘Azzazin’ was released on CD and a 10” of remixes, with the latter since becoming an expensive collector’s item, making this new pressing a steal at twice the price. Ultimately arriving in the latter phase of Bryn Jones (1961-1999) aka Muslimgauze’s oeuvre, ‘Azzazin’ contains some of the project’s most minimal, concentrated gear with he original CD pressed on disc 1 and the corresponding remixes reserved to disc 2.
The music is utterly menacing in its stare-down conviction and absolute refusal of practically anything beyond puristic, twisted tones for the first half of the record, with raw, buzzing, and amorphous results perhaps best compared to Mika Vainio at his most intently focussed. Meanwhile the 2nd half of the album sees him keen into more conventional Muslimgauze styles via longer tracts of viscous bass drone and middle eastern percussion flux that give way to gristly distortion and sampled Palestinian voices, nestling - if we’re not mistaken - two spellbinding bonus beats in the vortex that closes side C and a barely-there vignette on side D.
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...
Burial’s sophomore LP, originally issued in 2007 only a year after his pivotal debut, is another masterpiece of urban UK composition and innovative imagineering whose sense of melancholic space, pop-wise dexterity and dancefloor yearn has rarely been explored or surpassed since its release.
Where its predecessor was starkly paranoid, mostly instrumental, Untrue was gilded with gorgeous, cut-up R&B and UKG vox, and interspersed with segments of nocturnal reverie that played out like the OST for a yung UK romance that replaced posh, gurning actors with real life road characters and focussed on the spaces between - between the club and home; between night and day; masculine and feminine; waking life and dream life; Maccy D’s and alley doorways; being high AF and coming down.
It was and still is Burial’s love note to UKG and R&G, and by turns gave context and validated those genres for a lot of listeners who arguably wouldn’t have touched that sound, or at least dismissed it as pop pap or with some snide, racist undertone before Burial’s revivalist instincts hybridised it with trip hop and snarling D&B memes.
More positively, however, depending on which way you look at it, this album also opened the endorphin floodgates for a whole raft of f****e garage producers to get in touch with their feminine side, especially in contrast to prevailing, laddish dubstep rave trends, and, since that sound has faded away, it’s not hard to hear this album’s influence in the vocal processing of Mssingno, in the uneven, off-kilter swing and parry of Zomby, the patch-worked constructions of Jamie xx or Evian Christ, or in Deadboy and Murlo’s more boundary-pushing creations.
As with any album that gets a lot of attention beyond its putative scene, Untrue was an unintended red rag to the cynics and rockists - and even garage purists - but for almost anyone who recognises and appreciates that more modest, aching sort of electronic, UK street rave soul, it remains a really transcendent album that still grips like few others.
Wolfgang Voigt’s ambient techno evergreen mercifully reissued as a standalone release for the first time since 1997, and its inclusion in the sumptuous Gas ‘Box’ set, now remastered.
Right up there with ambient techno’s greatest slabs, ‘Zauberberg’ is a classic balm for overworked minds and stressed bodies. As the 2nd Gas album, following the project’s eponymous debut, it pressed deeper into a uniquely dense yet diaphanous mixture of ambient and modern classical themes, exploring a breathtakingly lush, Black Forested adjunct to the sort of ambient/dub/techno austerities explored by other contemporary German producers such as Basic Channel, Monolake and the rest of the Berlin cabal surrounding Chain Reaction/Hardwax.
As with all GAS releases, It’s possibly difficult to provide any definitive description of ‘Zauberburg’, as we’ve usually fallen under its spell and towards the pillow, or at least drift off into a half-lidded reverie before it finishes. In that sense, we can only limn it from sub- or unconscious recollections, but the two effectively merge into one, as Voigt’s patented, distanced kicks mirror the soft throb of arteries heard muffled in a pillow, and the strings feel to descend with the inevitability of nightfall, all leading to the same conclusion - your head caressed by the sandman.
For obsessives fiending a fresh copy, or those lucky noobs about to pop their Gas cherry, this album is 100% essential.