Analogue synth wizard Martin Jenkins returns to Ghost Box with a glorious vision of retro-futurist electronics in ‘Hollow Earth’, the sequel to ‘Stasis’ 
At just under 1 hour long, ‘Hollow Earth’ weighs in as one of PCA’s most significant, broadest artist albums (as opposed to compilations). It finds the widely beloved project reeling inwards after the extrospective exploits of his ‘Stasis’ LP to reflect on themes of “subterranean exploration and submerged psychologies.”
Gassed on the spirits of Berlin skool synth improvisation and the new age chuff-on that informed early ‘90s house music, the album unfurls as a nightflight over undulating internal topography, roaming from signature slow techno wonders to weightless, vocodered waltz in ‘Descent’ and furtive, ghostly shapes in ‘Claustrophobe’, before raising the energy level with strident dance tracks such as ‘Mindshaft’ and ‘Core sample’. But it’s int he later quarters that we find some of the most precious material, such as the deliciously moody atmosphere and sylvan slink of ‘Dancing Shadows’, the mind-bending noise sculpture of ‘Quad Tape Substrate’, and his Carpenter-on-quaaludes emulation, ‘Buried Memories’.
Portishead's Beth Gibbons is joined by the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra for this remarkable album conducted by Krzysztof Penderecki.
Gibbons really doesn’t do things by halves, here committing to singing Górecki’s ‘Symphony No. 3 (Symphony of Sorrowful Songs)’ in Polish - a language she doesn’t speak - after an intense period of preparation in which she not only learnt the lyrics, but also their emotional provenance. Conducted by Krzystof Penderecki, the piece proves a perfect platform for Beth’s lesser heard gift for operatic gymnastics, which, once heard, will beg the question why she hasn't made this kind of recording before.
Most poignantly, we’re left on tenterhooks for the opening 12 minutes of the first movement, until the strings usher in her towering, if fleeting vocal to astonishing effect, before she tempers that drama to a much slower, etheric appeal throughout the 2nd movement, and then with a fine grasp of the nuances of Polish enunciation in the 3rd and final movement, without losing her aching cadence.
Muggy mutant downstrokes from Apulati Bien ov Paris/Brussels crew Outreglot, doing lo-fi alien rap, juke and spannered, noisy audness in their own style for the excellent Promesses
Working shades away from styles also explored by Slikback and his Hakuna Kulala crew outta Central/East Africa or the PRR! PRR! lot in Belgium, Apulati Bien restlessly shifts patterns on ‘OO:NÉ’ from the insectoid scuttle and budge of ‘EPOC’ to munted rap on ‘HUMID’ with Zouccrashbaby, taking in the polytemporal G-Force of his killer ‘RIZ-VASTOS’ ft. Lord Cham, mutant Footwork in ’TARIF’ and ‘HARAMARA’, grimy cut-ups in ‘OPTON AÏZ’, and freaky gamelan in ‘LIL ALEX 2930’ ft. Santini.
A big look for anyone investigating mutant fringes of the modern dance.
Jaw-dropping 2nd album by Logos, follow-up to his UK classic ‘Cold Mission’, full of clinical sci-fi sound design and stylized noir narrative riddled with club zingers, checking the electric blue pulse of UK Hardcore Musicks.
Setting a new high-water mark for UK dance-related albums, ‘Imperial Flood’ stakes a claim for Logos as a key dramaturgist of all things darkside, techy and skooled in the hardcore ‘nuum. Where his debut album highlighted links between ‘90s Metalheadz D&B, Wiley’s Devil mixes, and contemporary sci-fi cinema on its deliciously noirish soundstage, with ‘Imperial Flood’ he expands that aesthetic to widescreen HD. Pulling in broader influence from acid and dub techno, experimental computer music, D&B minimalism and the speculative literature of Jeff VanderMeer, Christopher Priest, Lando and JG Ballard, the results vividly speak to the idea of a UK sound as a product of its brutalist, paranoid environment.
Arriving 10 years since his debut 12”, and five after his seminal debut album, ‘Imperial Flood comes after a significant period of creativity for Logos. Over the latter half of this decade he’s been instrumental in new grime movements, co-running London’s acclaimed club night, Boxed, whilst also diversifying his bonds with Mumdance and Shapednoise as part of improvising noise trio, The Sprawl, and most importantly with Different Circles; a label/clubnight catalyst responsible for boundary-pushing dances and a number of cult releases from Airhead, Rabit, Szare and Raime, not to mention his own, standout EPs with Mumdance such as ‘2015’s ‘Proto’.
It’s not difficult to hear how this activity has fed deep forward in ‘Imperial Flood’. From the bullet-time Matrix-style into of ‘Arrival (T2 Mix)’ thru the hair-kissing weightless rave sensation of ‘Weather System Over Plaistow’, he sucks listeners into an utterly convincing soundworld made all the more visceral, “real” thru his exacting production, morphing from the sentinel-bot growls of ‘Marsh Lantern’ to lush viscous/arid acid ambience in ‘Flash Forward (Ambi Mix)’, and Dynamo-style dub on ‘Lighthouse Dub’, before tagging in Mumdance on the Stingray-meets-Autechre styles of ‘Zoned In’, and freezing the dance with commanding force on ‘Stentorian’.
Ultimately there’s no shortage of imitators for this style, but Logos’ combination of dedication to his craft, a classically forward stylistic nous, and unique grasp of narrative places ‘Imperial Flood’ in a rare echelon of UK music really shared only by the likes of Burial and Raime.
One of two killer Tarraxho thrown-downs by the sound’s Lisbon-raised, London-based pioneer, plucked out by the Paris-hailing Promesses label
Tarraxho is effectively the slower cousin to Angolan Kuduro and Tarraxhina. DJ Bebedera is a pioneer of the Lisboan sub-genre working with similar melodies and drum patterns, but screwed to a dancehall or reggaeton-style 90BPM pace.
‘Tarraxo Funguiça Das Negras’ feels super slow, even by Tarraxo standards, working sloshing drums and militant brass and flute to sound like an aggy UKF killer on 33 not 45rpm, while ‘Tarraxo Reboleixon Au Rubro hits haaaard with clipped, swaggering syncopation a shade away from dancehall, layered up with zimmering bleeps and dissonant stabs for rudest effect.
Extra strong vibes for Príncipe disciples!
Shapednoise reduces Mumdance & Logos, his bandmates in The Sprawl, to Ur, elemental noise for Tectonic
In both parts Nino Pedone aka Shapednoise extracts and intensifies the industrial spirits lurking in Mumdance & Logos’s rave machinery. On the A-side, the harpy divas and bashy drums of their reticulated beast ‘Chaos Engine’ are filtered thru a gauntlet of reverbs and metallurgic magick to form the demonic convulsions and gurning screech of his ‘Shatter Remix’, while the B-side sees him dissolve the skeletal bones of ‘Cold’ into a brittle lattice of icy particulates and Arctic cavern bass in the ‘Crystalline Remix’.
For fans of Shapednoise’s solo output or his work with Mumdance & Logos in improv n0!ze trio The Sprawl, this plate is tasty...
Doukkala exemplify the range and quality of Paris-based Promesses label with a wild ride between outernational ghetto rhythms, salty noise and industrial tekkers
Primed for the rave hours when it gets nasty, ‘Outrance’ pushes the vibe into the red in seven parts, starting out ambient but getting radge with cranky takes on dabble techno (‘Quartier Arabe’), slamming industrial techno (‘L’Âne de Zaouïa’), with a beatless wormhole passing into the snarling mid-range synth lash and rotted drums of ‘Dialectique du Maître et de l’Esclave’, and the saving Logobi rammer ‘Champion du Monde’.
Stunning debut by L.A.-based violinist Zachary Paul, of Touch’s mentorship scheme, yielding an elemental, time-bending suite of studies exploring the paradox of stasis/movement, and working in a rich vein of minimalism that reaches back thru Pauline Oliveros, Tony Conrad, and La Monte Young
In three durational parts ‘A Meditation On Discord’ introduces a promising and timeless new musical voice, showcasing an expressive range and style porous to nature and the elements. The opening, 30 minute live recording ‘Premonition’ starts anxiously jagged but beautifully warms up as he channels the sun beating down on the Desert Daze festival stage, opening out into the kind of curdled tunings that make our heads fizz, and which we imagine must have sounded incredible in open space. Another live piece ‘Slow Ascent’ follows, glacially coning from wide, lo lying into a peak of looped voice and strings, before the album’s single studio recording ‘A Person With Feelings’ plays to his full range, segueing from luxuriant to atonal with discernibly electronic designs cut to purpose as the soundtrack to a short film by Tamer Smith. Trust we’ll hear more from this bright star in future.
“"'Premonition' (October 12, 2018) was recorded on the first day of Desert Daze music festival. For this performance I tuned my violin in open G (G-D-G-D) for the very first time. The afternoon was warm and bright, but storm clouds, yet to be seen at the time of this recording, loomed on the horizon. My improvisation began in the present moment, reflecting the vibrations of the sun. Once locked in with these higher frequencies, the instrument took control and painted the evening. This performance was both a premonition of night and an astral projection towards the clouds crawling towards the festival grounds, catalyzed by an instrument resonating with the frequencies of the earth. 'Slow Ascent' (February 23, 2018) was recorded at Human Resources, Los Angeles, for an event celebrating the release of Yann Novak's second album. This performance was an inverted guided group meditation. In front of my biggest audience to date, I was extremely anxious. Rather than letting my nerves lead the way, I fed off of the energies of the audience, letting their patience, calm and warmth guide the instrument. 'A Person With Feelings' is a score for a short abstract film to be released in 2019. A modern trance film, the piece follows a young actor's internal journey. The soundscape reflects the arc of the film and showcases the textural range of my instrument." --Zachary Paul
Yes ayyye! Paris-based Promesses come into their own with an infectious batch of Kwaito styles coaxed from Limpopo, South Africa’s DJ Call Me, and so titled after the WhatsApp number they used to find him
After getting hooked on DJ Call Me’s neon-coloured melodies and elastic electro-bass via YouTube, where his tracks posted by fans have millions of views, Promesses’ Samos & Härdee managed to track him down for this release and the good of the dance via WhatsApp number ‘+27 73 121 5626’.
All recorded 2009-2010, the tunes are pure fire, full of limb-bending, belly-twysting synth funk shackled by UKF-compatible clap/snare patterns and good times melodies, at best between the burning sensation ‘Celebration’, the virulent leads and lush pads of ‘Face To face’, the darker blue vibes of ‘Return of DJ Call Me’ and ‘Say Goodbye’, and the Calypso-esque heat of ‘Mama I’m Sorry’.
A big RIYL Errorsmith, S.A. Bubblegum, and the more electro-tinged ends of UKF
Straight outta Eastern Congo, Will’Stone aka the “Lion of Goma” delivers dread heavy rap on Slikback & Nyege Nyege Tapes’ Hakuna Kulala label
Hailing from the Eastern Congo city of Goma, Will’Stone’s barking, stentorian style has come to define the sound of his city’s war torn youth. On ‘Mbv5’ he’s joined by Kampala-based Congolese MC, Le Bon to spray fire over a crushingly heavy groove built from drop forge drums and sweltering, even panicked patina of field recordings, and in a way that wouldn’t sound outta place on JPEGMAFIA’s ‘Veteran’. Cutthroat, hardcore business.
Not to be missed!
Broshuda warps the new age meditation/self-help tape template to taste for Ossia and co’s No Corner
“A meditation on cyberspace self-help, using text-to-speech conversions from a self-help Twitter bot, his work takes a look at a darker aspect of a very imminent social future for us humans.
But rather than an obvious criticism, ‘You’ll Always Stay Beautiful’ lets the listener indulge in which ever way they feel. Placing the all familiar, and ultimately still very human commentary in a light-headed tangle of computerised harmony, melody and abstract rhythm…
‘Spend Time With Your Parents, Treat Them Well… Because One Day, When You Look Up From Your Phone – They Won’t Be There Anymore’.
You’ll Always Stay Beautiful points out the absurdities of such automated emotional help facilities in our social internet age, but also remembers the beautiful fragilities that make up the human mind, which is always in search of strength and reassurance, and ultimately – love.”
Optimo grips your hips with three slinky bits by Bruno Deodato’s Internal N.Y. Rhythms, leading on from his 12”s for Innervisions
The EP sashays from the shakers, snaky bass and psychedelic electronics of ‘Poli-Ritmo I’ to emphasise the clipped clave patterns in ‘Poli-Ritmo II’, and then follow a rugged tribal hunch into the crunchy drums nd nagging drone of ‘Futurismo’.
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”
Deep heat from Paris-based Mad Rey, following up their house outings with D.KO Rercords and REKIDS with a first album of exclusively computer-based productions landing somewhere near DJ Python or Anthony Naples’ kinked depths
Adding another stripe of individual colour to the Promesses label, ‘U.M.A.’ covers a fine spectrum of tempos and feels under Mad Rey’s banner, and linked up by an overarching reference to Quentin Tarantino (in the way he samples movies, Rey samples music) and Kill Bill.
They from thizzing, cinematic pads and rugged dream sequence motion in ‘Hanzō’ (a reference to Uma Thurman’s Japanese made sword ((say it like RZA swaard)) in Kill Bill), to the melancholic house of ‘U’, before pushing the vibe into dreamily ecstatic Detroit techno with ‘I’ll Never Forget You’, and rollin the rhythm off the bone with classy swerve in ‘Quantum Lag’.
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.
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.
‘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”
Hypnotic, offbeat, earthy dance music from Stefan Schwander’s Harmonious Thelonious
Leading on from turns with Kontra-Musik, Disk, The Trilogy Tapes and Versatile in the last year alone, ‘Petrolia’ keeps up the quality levels with a six choice new cuts roving between the almost New Beat styled chug and fiery pipes of ‘Disko Marak’ to the spiralling stereo helix of ‘Just Play’, and the effortlessly mesmerising swag roof ‘Petrolia’, along with the Dembow-like bump of ‘Nous n’Avons Jamais’ and the fractal synth noise mosaic, ‘Tig Tig Tig’.
Icy grime/drill badness from the OG Terror Danjah
Upfront and up-to-the-moment, the ‘Red Fag EP’ wins big with the title cut’s frozen glitches and pointillist drill/grime rhythm diction, before he bruks out the brass on the nasty/nutty ‘Snapper’, gets spaced-out in a drill style on ‘Ozark’, and comes with signature, fwd R&G flavour in ‘Light Years’.
Downbeat free jazz verging on 4th world terrain, from bass player Joshua Abrams and his Natural Information Society. Mastered by Helge Sten (Deathprod) at Audio Virus, Oslo
“mandatory reality, the new album by joshua abrams & natural information society, is here. setting aside (for the moment) the electric instrumentation of simultonality (2017) & magnetoception (2015), joshua abrams conceived mandatory reality for an eight-piece acoustic manifestation of NIS, consisting of himself on guimbri, lisa alvarado - harmonium & gongs, mikel avery - tam-tam & gongs, ben boye - autoharp & piano, hamid drake - tabla & tar, ben lamar gay - cornet, nick mazzarella - alto saxophone, & jason stein - bass clarinet. a 2 LP set, the album is comprised largely of two performances, both joshua abrams compositions, 24 & 40 minutes in length. while new to the band’s records, long duration pieces are familiar to those who’ve heard JA&NIS in concert in recent years, where elaboration on a single composition for an hour or more is not unusual.
gradual tempos dominate mandatory reality. recorded two months before the 2017 solar eclipse, mandatory reality is the sound of joshua abrams & NIS taking its time. merging methodical compositions with sonically voluptuous orchestration, abrams heightens the immersive & hypnotic qualities JA&NIS music is known for, taking the band & the listener deep into a collective meditative space. a grand realization of long-form psychedelic music, mandatory reality is a dispatch from a sound world that is increasingly unique to itself.
all performances on mandatory reality are full takes recorded live to tape by the full ensemble, magnificently captured by greg norman at electrical audio, chicago—the first true ‘audiophile’ recording of joshua abrams & natural information society. mastered by helge sten at audio virus, oslo.”
Dresden’s Sneaker helms a strong pair of New Beat-y/haunted house jams with RVDS, Katrina Fairlee and Joshua Cordova for Fit Detroit
Alongside the Golden Püdel’s RVDS, he cooks up the nagging latin swerve and spooked-out electronics of ‘Inside Me’ in a style heavily recalling La Rolls’ Belgian classique ‘Sure Is’ and stacks of raw Chi-jackers, whereas ‘Geist Bahn’ catches him with Fairlee and Cordova pushing a similar groove into more fetid niches of inquiry with druggy dark room results.
Destroyed beyond recognition, 200bpm edits of mainstream 2018 dance trax, plus a trio of ace digital bonus remixes from numèric, PLOU PLIM, dj))water)) on the reliably bonkers Fluf label
“Recording documenting the soundtrack of PLOM's sporadic performance at La Capella (BCN) during the exhibition 'Les escenes. 25 anys després. Escena 2 '. An exaltation of the peripheral.
Made between December and February during his daily trips to work using the regional train network, PLOM uses as a base material, the songs contained in the last Top 51 of 2018 on the Maxima FM radio station.
At full throttle and under the eyes of the rest of passengers, uses his laptop to square Trance EDM, Big Room House and Pop and homogenize them to 200 bpm, accelerated mixes that then silenced using French audio signal tracking techniques. It ends up filling and superimposing a string of noises and nervous modified rhythms from his own sake that lead the crew towards their cathartic final destination.
An appropriationist massacre of the best 51 dance anthems of late 2018 on Máxima FM, whose visual equivalent would be a 4K HD film on a 50-inch screen that would explode over and over again and be rebuilt in 3D graphics made from tiny fragments of glass and plastic.””
Big Tarraxho bullets from London-based Portuguese producer DJ Bebedera, jointly launched by Paris’ Promesses and Bazzerk - the label who brought Kuduro to the EU masses a decade ago
Tarraxho is effectively the slower cousin to Angolan Kuduro and Tarraxhina. DJ Bebedera is a pioneer of the Lisboan sub-genre working with similar melodies and drum patterns, but screwed to a dancehall or reggaeton-style 90BPM pace.
DJ Bebedera’s ‘Tarraxho Bandido Organização Criminal’ follows a wickedly hypnotic hunch for wonky flute licks on electro-stung drums, lit up with furtive cop samples and well timed vocal stabs. ‘Fodência Rijo Rijo Rasgo De Cuecas’ is ruder, highlighting a woozy, sexed up side of the Angolan/Portuguese sound that’s usually neglected for its more boisterous flex.
Strong vibes for Príncipe disciples!
Sonic postcards from warmer places, ranging from lush field recordings to solo piano meditations and computer music, courtesy of Belgian sound cartographer Lieven Martens Moana and his Dolphins Into the Future alias
“Songs Of Gold are nine small portraits, culled from compilations, limited run cassette releases, choreographies, and singles. Some pieces were worked on for a length of time, others materialized in just about one take. All the songs are derived by an encounter with an object, a place or a person. Or by a combination of these. The events are translated into the work through the intermediary of symbolic sounds and notes. There is no thematic link between the compositions.”
‘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”
Athens-based Pi catch Jk Flesh in a wickedly rotten, up-for-it mood on their 4th release, backed with a lean Silent Servant remix and now available to download
The big man comes out gnashing and brawling with ‘PI04 1’, then grouchy and sozzled with the loose blows of ‘PI04 2’, and with thunderous depth charge gabber kicks offset with UK rave regime in ‘PI04 3’, leaving Juan Mendez to lend a fine contrast with his wiry groove and spacious atmosphere in the remix of ‘PI04 2’.
L-Vis 1990 does freaki Chi styles as Dance System for Modeselektor’s label
Check ‘Wind ‘Em Up’ for a bucking, bumpty Sneak style; ‘Heeez Baaad’ for a heavily infectious cut-up disco house jig; some loosey goosey saxy shiiiit in ‘That’s That Sh**’; and a hard-to-resist spin on Gherkin jerk styles in ‘Body’.
More Gqom-styled bangers from UK grime donny Scratcha DVA, including a tuff but warped link-up with Nan Kolé
Trim back from DVA’s more colourfully warped UKF and instrumental grime productions, he goes dark, minimal and heavy with the martial, staccato attack of ‘FOH’, before welding UK-style grime strings on the clipped, Durbvan-style drum diction of ‘Influencer’.
Nan Kolé jumps in to loosen and light up ‘Influenza’ with cartoonish boings and bleeps on its warped garage ballast, while DVA wickedly marries UK and SA sensibilities in the wigged-out and uptempo pressure of ‘Scorpio’.
‘Aurobindo: involution’ is a series of encrypted, hallucinatory visions realised by Daren Seymour (Seefeel) and Mark Van Hoen (Locust) for CM Von Hausswolff’s Ash International
Perhaps the starkest, strangest release in Mark or Daren’s catalogues, the album offers clues to its reasoning through the track titles, which suggest, as one discogs user points out, that they all relate to the birth and death dates of important, gnostic figures and important events such as the Indian mystic Sri Aurobindo of the title, Herman Hesse of ‘Glass Bead Gamne’ fame, Brian Eno, Andrei Tarkovsky, and the launch of the Voyager 2 probe. Recommended to listen at night for optimal scares.
Neon-glowing deep house and R&B swerve from L.A.’s Bludwork and Canada’s AFK
Intriguingly detached, acoustic/offline ambient-pop from 2 Mothers, recorded as the title suggests, ‘Live In Brixton’ for Kamixlo and Uli K’s Bala Club
Recalling shades of Natalie’s doodly sketches for Lynn, the strung-out psychogeographic reportage of Burial, and even Loren Connors chiaroscuro air etchings, ‘Live In Brixton’ is the sort of surreal beauty one might not typically expect from Bala Club, but it’s totally welcome all the same. The voyeuristic feeling of eavesdropping on a precious, private bedroom recording session is strong on this one.
Ontal’s 2017 EP of hard-nosed techno for Athens-based Pi Recordings available digitally
It’s elbows out for the galloping scrum of ‘PI02 1’, before they properly put some back into it on the bruxist charge of ‘PI02 2’, and flash their teeth on the murderous pelt of ‘PI02 3’.
Industrial techno legends Orphyx dial in reinforcements for an armour-plated retread of ‘PI02 1’ primed for dancefloor war-faring.
Paris-bassed label Promesses joins these pages with Mobbs’ scuzzy, soundtrack-like blend of ghetto-tech, rap and gritty ambient caulk in ‘OneLord’
As a resident of London’s NTS, Mobbs’ monthly radio shows follow a similarly mazy, mosaic style of tiling found here in his first album. Formed of 22 fractured vignettes, the album unfurls like a modern noir thriller set between the Banlieues and the Bits, full of tense synths and interludes recalling late ‘90s style D&B intros and breakdowns as much as immersive computer game tropes, but pulled by rhythms from ghetto-tech, reggaeton, dungeon rap and modern, roadwise African styles.
Highlights come in the likes of his murky stepper ‘Bees’, the teasingly short Arabesque ‘Khat Lip’, the cold and brittle sound design of ‘Belly’, and the parting rap shot ‘TBS’ starring L.A.’s Kane Grocerys, Marcy Mane and SickboyRari. But, as suggested by the fades between cuts, and the album’s undulating flow, it’s best consumed in one go, on headphones, on the bus or on the mooch.
Back on her Noise Manifesto label, Paula Temple hammers out two cavernous bits of techno drama
‘Raging Earth’ goes on hard and gloomy with powerful kicks and sky-searching pads, before breaking down and doubling down on the darkside bassline.
‘Raging Noise’ is even nastier, developing 4 minutes of distorted drone-noise designed to bring crowds to their knees, before pushing into the red for a severely atonal climax.
The gods at Stroom deliver another peachy double-header, facing off Kyoto’s classy 1984 synth-pop with the steamy blush of Zoë Sinatra’s 1990 gem.
Kyoto’s ‘Venetian Blinds’ fines the tightest line between flash funk and in-the-pocket cool, with Belinda De Bruyn glyding icy over blinding FM synth stabs and puckered bass hustle to jog a precious part of collective memory - it nails a vibe so well you think you know it, even if you never heard it before.
Zoë Sinatra’s ‘Mais Qu’Est-Ce Que Tu Fumes?’ hugs the B-side like a velvet bodysuit. Produced by legendary New Beat guy, Gery François (Teknokrat’s), it’s much slower and sexier than his club gear, destined for the after-party and quite possibly directing you to the cold shower Zoë mentions in the song.
Deluxe 3xCD box set edition of Obey the Time, the eighth studio album by Manchester ensemble The Durutti Column. Originally released by Factory Records in December 1990, the original 10 tracks have now been expanded to no less than 43.
The Durutti Column’s overlooked foray into early ‘90s acid house, techno and Balearic dance resurfaces, expanded with bonus discs of related material, and packaged with notes by Tony Wilson. In 1990, gassed on ecstasy fumes and weed pills, Reilly pulled influence from Acid House, rave and Balearic dance music into his singular style of lolling, latinate guitar playing with lovely and commonly overlooked results.
Aware of what could be done with a sampler - where one chord could trigger myriad more at the push of a button - Vini mostly self-produced ‘Obey The Time’, with some help from local studio whizzes such as Bruce Mitchell and Keir Stewart. The resulting album revolved natty acid house aces such as ‘Contra-Indications’ with Vini sailing over its rude machine groove, along with the balmier. dubbed-out ‘Fridays’, plus the utopian bliss of choral synth voices and Afro-Latin groove in ‘Neon’, while this reissue also includes ‘The Together Mix’ by local rave heroes Together (of ‘Hardcore Uproar’ fame), as well as Keir’s schism jungle mix ‘Kiss Of Def’, and the shimmering synth voices of ‘Zinni III’ exclusive to this boxset.
On the 2nd disc is a stack of ‘Related Works’ including a Select Magazine megamix of the album, plus compilation tracks ‘Dry’  and ‘Red Shoes’ , plus songs from unreleased albums, while the 3rd disc documents The Durutti Column’s concert at Manchester Uni’s Whitworth Hall, 23rd June 1990, aka ‘The Acid Guitar’.
Summer’s coming and this boxset could hardily be handier.
Imagine a J-Pop loving BoC doing a computer game soundtrack and you have the beautiful ‘Oneknowing’ by Lena Raine; composer of award-winning indie platform game ‘Celeste’, who recently collaborated with Hans Zimmer on the opening theme for The Game Awards 2018 (the Oscars of the gamer world)
A sterling addition to Local Action’s optimist-futurist aesthetic, Lena’s first solo LP proper (if we discount her soundtrack works) finds her putting a finely honed emotive and narrative sensibilities at the service of her own music. Separated from the need to accompany hopping pixels, she emotes a classically modernist melancholy that crisply but gently resonates with ‘90s trip hop, shoegaze and IDM/electronica prisms as much as the sort of Japanese new age ambient styles currently explored by Visible Cloaks.
Considering that the last computer game I played was probably Abe’s Odyssey, as a nipper, around 20 years ago, our knowledge of contemporary game soundtracks is limited to say the least. But no knowledge of that arena is required to enjoy ‘Oneknowing’, which is simply a beautiful album for home listening, utterly flush with ear-worming melodies and and a glowing pleasantness that’s just hard to shake, especially if you like anything from Tenniscoats to Ulrich Schnauss, Boards of Canada or 0PN.
Rude dub-funk experiments from 1986 Canada - think ‘My Life in the Bush Of Ghosts’ Eno at Tubby’s studio, overseen by Bill Laswell’s Material. Remastered from original tapes. 2nd hand copies aren’t cheap!
“Politico dub-collage practitioners Guerrilla Welfare came from Edmonton, Alberta, coincidentally the birthplace of prophetic media sage Marshall McLuhan. Armed with vanguard ideas taken from Steve Reich, Fela Kuti, Robert Fripp and Material, the duo of Curtis Ruptash and Brian Schultze adopted the “studio as instrument” mindset of Eno and King Tubby creating complex textural and polyrhythmic sonic insurgencies. They overdubbed drum computers, guitar, bass, noise-makers, mallet percussion, sitars, often accompanied by sampled vocals and found sound taken from TV.
Their pan-global, multi-media palette supported zeitgeist commentary — often, with a healthy dose of gallows humour — on gender, power structures, and sexual and geopolitical tensions in the late 80s. Their DIY bunker studio experimentations align them with genre defying dub-infused outfits like African Head Charge, Dome, Lifetones, Naffi, Woo, Negativeland and The Residents. The Nature of Human Nature captures Guerilla Welfare’s most formidable output, compiling tracks selected from their entire discography (two LPs and a cassette collaboration with poet Mary Howes), all originally self-released from 1986 to 1991. Remastered from the original tapes.”
Anne Briggs’ eponymous 1971 debut album, largely unavailable for 48 years, is widely regarded as a pillar of any folk collection. Re-issued here as part of the Topic Treasures series – the label’s classic and notable albums expanded in deluxe format with rare images, new liner notes (by folk aficionado/ journalist, Ken Hunt).
This 1971 release was Anne Briggs' first full-length album, arriving a long time after she'd become an established figure in the folk revival of the '60s. The material here is split between traditionals and original compositions, some pieces furnished with instrumental backing while others are delivered acappella.
The end result is an album that might pose quite a challenge to the casual listener, particularly when it comes to eleven-minute vocal-only narrative 'Little Tambling', which is beautifully sung, but ultimately requires your close attention. When unaccompanied, Briggs' voice takes on a truly haunting quality, sounding quite unlike the earthier intonations of contemporary Shirley Collins, and the fact that for much of the time she's singing incredibly old, hand-me-down laments only heightens the ghostly quality.
Arvo Pärt has become something of a yardstick by which so much contemporary classical music has been measured, and 'Alina' is arguably his most understated and beautiful piece of work.
Für Alina was first performed in Tallinn in 1976, and has become one of Pärt’s most-loved and widely appreciated works - regarded by many as an early, defining example of his signature tintinnabuli style. In the years since its release, Pärt has become the most performed living composer in the world, his approach to religious music seeping deep into our cultural landscape, from the avant garde to the mainstream.
Rendered with nothing more than piano and violin, this definitive ECM version from 1999 features Vladimir Spivakov, Sergej Bezrodny, Dietmar Schwalke and Alexander Malter providing alternate versions, handpicked by Pärt himself from recordings that were originally several hours long. It’s a masterclass in simplicity; an almost painfully beautiful rendering of emotional landscapes that, in the wrong hands, could have (and has, on many occasions, by so many) turned to schmaltz.
For better or for worse, 'Spiegel Im Spiegel' and 'Fur Alina' have both come to be seen as blueprints for a specific strain of solo piano and classical minimalism designed to manipulate and heighten emotive states, as seen in so many films, adverts and idents. In that respect, one could argue that these pieces are indirectly responsible for numerous heavy-handed, emotionally empty, easy-on-the-ear abominations over the decades. And yet, if you listen carefully, Pärt's ability to distil so much emotion and spirituality into his work from so little is ultimately impossible to emulate; regardless of how many times you've heard them, these pieces never cease to transport you elsewhere.
If you're new to Arvo Pärt, Alina is perhaps the perfect entry point for exploring his monumental, peerless canon.
Scuzzy EBM/darkwave boppers and a sludgy beat off, by Marseille’s Cardinal & Nun
"Injecting energy into the dead, channeling chaos and turmoil into his music, he rips through four tracks with a rough yet somehow elegant approach...raw to the bone yet flawlessly arranged.
Synths that sound like guitars, guitars that sound like synths, metallic drum machines with a human touch and deranged vocals fuel this record til the end. Think Screamers meet Chrome meet Liasions with a healthy dose of southern california gutter punks on meth and you're in the right place. Marseille is where it is all happening right now and this is a documented confirmation of it!"
Andy Votel and Sean Canty of Demdike Stare reunite for one of their occasional mixtape specials, a proper pearl riddled with unidentifiable shots of avant-garde, jazz, mechanical music and dream sequence sonics, recorded at exhibitions of Votel's' “fake lore” paintings/collages in Leeds and Gothenburg.
The latest in a long and highly collectable line of collaborations released sporadically over the last decade, alongside their work together as NeoTantrik and Slant Azymuth, these two solo mixes, while recorded 1000 miles apart, share a mutually restless spirit and are both riddled with a whole world of cut-up fragments of unknown provenance.
Canty’s side was captured in Leeds, 1/2/2019 and is the more oblique, full of insectoid percussions and off key discord, while Votel’s was recorded at Folkteatern, Gothenburg, and invokes a more highly cinematic, worldly feel that most acutely evokes his “fake lore” aesthetic, reducing influences of European science-fiction art, scholastic illustration, post-pop-art, Plakatstil and mid-century graphic design - the same influences that can be seen through his visual work.
If you’ve ever picked up any of the mixtapes these two have been involved with over the years, or indeed if you’re a Finders Keepers/Demdike head - you’ll know that this stuff is gold. Don’t miss!
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."
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.
‘Panopticon Specularities’ is an ambitious and complex feat of avant-classical chamber architecting rooted in Turkish politics and cultural identity, effectively thawing the “frozen music” of the Hagia Sofia’s 1500 year old architecture. It is the bold debut proper by Berlin-based composer Turgut Erçetin for the ever-searching Edition RZ
Istanbul native, Turgut Erçetin (1983) studied composition and completed his doctorate studies at Stanford University. His work engages with sound as sonic entities that interact with time and space, with an inherent focus on acoustics and psychoacoustics. He uses computer-aided compositional processes to realise unique impositions of space and place that question notions of physicality and metaphysics: employing a highly technical approach to stage practically impossible soundscapes, bringing the meridian sounds of Istanbul - seagulls, ships horns, street noise, the muezzins’ call-to-prayer - and the uniquely purposed Byzantine architecture of the Hagia Sofia, once a venue for singing, then an Ottoman mosque, and now a museum where music is banned, via the CCRMA facility at Stanford, and into the performance space of a Berlin church.
Unable to actually use the Sofia Hagia for recording, Erçetin did the next best thing and modelled its architecture with a computer after gauging its space with sine waves and balloon pops. In the recordings they found the Hagia’s acoustics created specular reflections, localised echoes that highlight specific places, particularly int he 56-metre high dome, which gave the impression of sound descending from above, or from heaven itself. Applying this ancient crafty way of manipulating audience perceptions to the relatively modern idea of F-prisons, smaller cells introduced in Turkey in 2000, as a way of disrupting, segregating prisoners, stymieing their communications, he arrived at the belief that “one could be resilient and free form the solitude to which one is condemned inside and outside, as long as one can move.”
The four works in ‘Panopticon Specularities’ bring this idea of freedom of movement within space - and spaces within spaces - to light in remarkable ways that will have ears and eyes wandering across the whole soundsphere, bewildered and rapt. In effect he’s reverse engineering Goethe’s notion of architecture as “frozen music” by using the reaches of technology to “thaw” and make the building’s music liquid again. Directing four spatialized chamber ensembles in the same space, together with pre-recordings in anechoic chambers, to create a complex space of interaction between gendered voices, both human and instrumental, to wonderfully conflate the ideas of the Panopticon - an 18th century British prison design whereby all points are visible from the centre - and public squares where people of all social strata would see and be seen, establishing their identities and social status in the process, in turn revealing the power of freedom of movement.
Phill Niblock's Music For Cello collects three pieces from the 70's and early 80's, performed by cellist David Gibson. Since the late sixties Phill Niblock has been composing long-form acoustic drones with a focus on the rhythms and overtones that rise from closely tuned instruments. His highly original and influential music is an exploration of timbre, microtonality, stability, duration and psychoacoustic phenomenon.
"3 to 7 - 196 is very direct, aggressive, and gritty. The overtone patterns that are produced by the proximal pitches become more prominent with louder volume. So please, play this piece very loud. This was the first piece of mine in which the musician was precisely tuned, in which I chose exact pitches in hertz. We used a sine wave oscillator and frequency counter for the tuning.
Descent Plus has four cello tones descending one octave over twenty-two minutes, from 300 hertz to 150 hertz. David Gibson played these tones without lifting his bow from the strings, constantly retuning. I made four different scores, manually changing an oscillator to which he was tuning, for each track's recording. For the revision, we added six more tracks, with David playing long tones which were not descending. The second part of the recording was made nearly twenty years later.
Summing II (one of four parts) is mellow and sonorous. David plays two strings simultaneously, one of which is retuned for each successive recording of that pair of tones. This is a mix of an eight track tape. It's better played loud also." - Phill Niblock from liner notes
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.