Nottingham-based composer and multi-instrumentalist Thomas William Hill returns to Village Green with ‘Grains Of Space’, his second album for the label following 2017’s multi-textured ‘Asylum For Eve’.
"‘Grains Of Space’ started life as a series of minimal loops, recorded using a viola da gamba - a stringed instrument most popular in the Renaissance and Baroque eras - and aloop pedal. Using the negative space within each loop as the primary drive for composing, Thomas began a process of ‘joining the dots’, allowing the silence to dictate the next layer, informing the length, pitch and timbre of notes.
Using those recordings as the foundation, Thomas began incorporating a wide variety of other instruments into his palette, including bowed metallophones, gongs, Tibetan singing bowls, African kalimbas and metal tongue drums, as well as drum machines and analogue synthesisers. From the tense, opening drones of ‘Carriages’ to sparser, more lyrical works such as ‘Curvature’ and ‘Refract’, Thomas again demonstrates profound compositional insight, crafting highly poignant moments rich with harmony and texture. Complementing this, a more developed sense of pulse and rhythm characterises much of the album, such as the propulsive undertow of ‘Willow’ and the tactile, modernist polyrhythms of ‘Furnace’ and ‘Tongue’.
‘Grains Of Space’ also sees Tom collaborating and cowriting with a number of other musicians, bringing trumpet, violin, double bass and harp together to provide a broad and varied form to each piece."
Benjy Keating brings his Palmistry sound into sharper focus with more confident songwriting and full-bodied production in ‘Afterlife’, but at no expense to the careful, puckered minimalism that defines his style.
Notably featuring production from SOPHIE on single track ‘Water’, and Mechatok on ‘Rovin’, plus beats from Equiknoxx, Benny Blanco and Cashmere Cat, ‘Afterlife’ also finds Palmistry delegating vocal duties to Miami’s Toian and Ghanaian artist Klu, who all fall neatly into his gossamer fine and precise reggaeton/dancehall/R&B sound without messing up the balance.
The SOPHIE-produced, Afrobeats-like pressure of ‘Water’ is an obvious highlight, but the biggest surprise is saved for the titular closing shot, a skeletal but sweetly rugged 2-step garage style that we’d love to hear him explore more, while his minimalist aesthetics are pushed to their most tender and effective in the fluttering marimba and blushing pads of ‘Sway’ and the gorgeous use of choral synth harmonics and Burial-esque atmospheres in ‘Vexed’.
Quite simply, ‘Afterlife’ is a subtle but huge step on from ‘Pagan’, primed to play over and again.
Killer, ’93-94-spirited hardcore jungle from Luke Blair (Lukid) in Refreshers mode
Dewy-red-eyed for the original rush of the early ‘90s, at that point when ragga clashed tekno and breakbeat hardcore and everyone was f**king happy, the 2nd Refreshers volley catches the vibe in its frenetic flux, running from the ragga chat and clattering breaks of ‘Pork Pie’ to the thizzing peaks of ‘Got Me Weak’ on the front, then with a summery gangsta roll recalling early AGCG in ‘Double Dip’, before wickedly playing out the cheap kids sweets/party drugs nostalgianalogy in the unyielding, jaw-trembling come-up of ‘Whizz’.
Robert Hood’s minimal techno masterpiece enters orbit again for first time since 2001
Originally found on the ‘Internal Empire’ album and also released as a 12” in 1995, the lead cut is an all-too-short piece of whirring Detroit mechanics flecked with icy trills and slinky gear shifts as only he can do. Handily, the 12” offers a slightly extended version with ‘Master Builder (Sandman Option)’ giving it a highly effective nip ’n tuck that gets right under the skin of the dance, while ‘Quartz’ strides out with filtered organ motifs on a whipsmart groove.
Toulouse Low Trax, Benoit B, K100 Signal and Bartosz Kruczynski remix the new age ambient dance charms found on Into The Light’s 2017 Akis compilation
With 1990’s ‘Into The Light’, which lent its name to Akis’ debut LP and this label, Tolouse Low Trax isolates its rhythmic spine and subtly teases out a reticulated groove in his super minimal but gripping style. The Aegean breeze of ‘Ecological Awareness’ is given a glowing, silky remix by Berlin’s Benoit B, and spun muggier by Greek project K100 Signal, while Bartosz Kruczynski gently handles the nostalgic analog bubblebath of ‘Christmas’.
Co-habitant treads on most sensitive melodic nerves in their exquisite debut and sole release for Chained Library
The eponymous Co-habitant release trades in a distinct style of filigree, pealing, high-register electronic minimalism that uses sparse ingredients to absorbingly meditative effect.
The A-side’s swaying figure in ‘a.003’ is a particular highlight that we could easily listen to on loop for hours, while the B-side has us utterly rapt with the transition from mechanical rhythmelody and fascinating reverberant overtones in ‘b.002’ thru the isolationist SAW II tingles of ‘b.003’ and the sallow ripples of ‘b.004’.
A real gem, this one. Don’t sleep!
Anonymous members of UVB-76 weigh in a 2nd 12” of dark ambient/noise/D&B as 4 6 2 5
On ‘Sedition’ they dance with the ghosts of late ‘90s warehouses, where shuddering dancehall bass hits and swarming grey noise set the scene for rolling breakss to fade in, flex out, and drop back into the murk. ‘Crown Of Nails’ follows with a more bolshy attitude, arriving from sheets of ambient noise with a barrelling, turgid bass recalling styles from Pessimist’s Blackest Ever Black album, but heard from the engine room of a hulking great freight liner awaiting demolition.
Carl Craig follows Stacey Pullen’s lead to mix the 2nd volume of ‘Detroit Love’, starring a slick and funky selection of cuts Kevin Sanderson, DJ Minx, Mr. G, Derrick May, Ectomorph, The Dirtbombs, and many more
The 1hr 37 min mix appears alongside its components, turning up highlights in Gay Marvine’s kinky bathhouse remix of ‘Credit Card’ by Interdimensional Transmissions’ BMG & Sal P; the twisted jazz-techno of ‘Boss’ by Brain; Floorpan’s gospel techno rework of Sophie Lloyd’s ‘Calling Out’; Derrick May’s all-time classic ‘ is It What It Is’; and the rude electro swivel of ‘Satori’ from Ectomorph.
‘Morphic Dreams’ is the sophomore LP by Alessandro Adriani, including guest input from Simon Crab (Bourbonese Qualk) and Shawn O’Sullivan (Led Er Est, Civil Duty)
A crucial cog in the wave machine with his Mannequin Records, and a gatekeeper to one of Berlin’s most feted clubs in his role as programmer of Säule in the guts of Berghain, Alessandro Adriani is by many measures a key player at the intersection of retro-futurist Industrial, EBM, post-punk and techno. Leading on from the cinematic vision of his debut LP, 2016’s ‘Montagne Trasparenti’, his follow-up is defined by its dancefloor-ready stance and is full of dead-on jak beats extracting what he needs from Italo, Industrial and EBM, to galvanise 11 tracky trax of bare bones rhythms and fanged, fleshly arps in his dry style.
Falty DL leans on a proper brukbeat flex, channelling varying degrees of 4Hero/Dego and jazz/hardcore/Footwork-related rhythmic madness for UTTU
Straight out of the gates he runs needlepoint drum programming and helter skelter jazz keys at 150bpm with dizzying flair in ‘Untitled 111vgr’, before ‘Beast’ trims back to a 125bpm electro ride with vacuum sealed production for freshness.
On the other side his hardcore darkside electro urges come into play on ‘One For UTTU’ in a way recalling classic Octagon Man/J Saul Kane, before turning on a 2-step pivot, just like they did in the late ‘90s, and ‘Piano 4_9_18 feux master Erie 25%’ session off on a downstroke recalling Roza Terenzi/D. Tiffany’s ambient electro gems for Euphorique.
FatCat’s up-for-it sibling, FCR serve another warped acid dose, this time from Brighton’s Matthew Hodson aka Matths
Rolled out in the chromatic wake of Ali Berger’s 303 session, Matths builds up a head of cosmic techno steam akin to a harder edged Border Community cut with the astral trajectory of ‘Loop’, then brings it down to a low flying night-flight with ‘Velocet’.
Moscow’s Ol draws a warm, multi-dimensional ambient bath for L.A.’s Motion Ward following from their ace 12”s by uon and Ultrafog
Over the course of seven parts ‘Dismeteo’ maintains a silty, suspended flux between spectral ambient and dub-hollowed rhythm structures that push the skeletal designs of his recent EP for Gost Zvuk into more smudged, amorphous shapes.
Up top he glydes from burnished ambient dub in ‘Purant Chaos Voices’ into the gloomily physical emulation of new age alien sound ecologies in ‘Realm’, and a billowing dub-stepper named ‘Morph 21’. On the flip he swivels the underwater drums of ‘Mt Sonix’ in fathomless layers of subbass, and the keeling heft of ‘Hive Mind’ leads into a sort of splayed, seasick 2-step dub somewhere between Jay Glass Dubs and Pendant to leave you satisfyingly reeling but likely wanting to do it again.
2nd part of a rhythm section 1-2 from The Necks’ drummer Tony Buck and roving bass player Massimo Pupillo (Becoming Animal, Zu ++)
“Italian composer and bass-player Massimo Pupillo (ZU) and Australian drummer Tony Buck (The Necks) collaborate in a beautifully haunting, absorbing ambient set, taking in electronic abstraction and free improvisation. Pupillo and Buck are well known for their work with their long-running bands, as well as for their collaborations with musicians of the current international avantgarde scene; Pupillo released for instance with Cindytalk, FM Einheit, Oren Ambarchi, Chris Corsano; Buck with Fennesz, Branford Marsalis, and Magda Mayas. On Time Being/Unseen, you'll experience floating uncanny percussion sounds underlined with heaving subs, sealed in deep and noisy atmospheres. Personnel: Tony Buck - drums, percussion, vibraphone; Massimo Pupillo - bass, electronics.”
Ras G returns to his Ghetto Sci-Fi Music label with ‘Down 2 Earth, Vol. 3’ a decade since his debut, and following in the wake of ‘Dance Of The Cosmos’
The master of smudged hip hop loops is at his woozy, blasted best throughout this episode, sending us horizontal with 12 tracks of bass-heavy booty cushioning and frayed samples baked into a gooey boom bap cake.
While Madlib continues to be conspicuous by his absence for the release schedule, Ras G is effectively left to uphold the old skool boom bap values in his own style here, conjuring a slow and heavy trip that quickly draws us into his soulful, dubbed-out vibe and keeps us smudged down there. Sounds best with a zoot and ginger beer.
Istanbul’s master of haunting spectral pop alchemically weaves a collection of unfinished odds and ends into precious material on ‘Koma’, allowing her sounds to drape, almost unstructured, with an effortless intangibility that’s drawing us in much closer than her more maudlin, crafted song-writing style, with results comparable to Deathprod and, unavoidably, Grouper
“Istanbul based Ekin Fil (real name Ekin Uzeltuzenci) has been making her unique style of haunting drone-pop since 2007 and "KOMA" is her first release on Stockholm based imprint Possible Motive. "KOMA" and its 8 tracks slowly drifts through nocturnal scenery and tape saturated shadowy vocals. Sounds of dark, eerie soundscapes. A production that seems to exist somewhere in a twilight zone.
"KOMA is an album which is based on the combination of separate songs made in various times in the last two years. Songs that sometimes include unwanted noises caused by my broken sound card, songs that I left unfinished with the intention of finishing later. The sleepy and still mood that's all over the 8 tracks may be the response to the hard times that I was not able to react sober to until recently."
Ekin has been releasing albums on LP/digital and cassette formats on American and European labels under her moniker Ekin Fil since 2007. She was awarded "Best Original Film Music" for her first Soundtrack "Kaygi" at SIYAD, 2017 and "Best Film Music" for the Soundtrack of "Korfez - The Gulf" at Turkisches Film Festival in Frankfurt, 2018.
"The hypnotic quality of Ekin Fil's music is buttressed by her haunting voice, but the effect is much more complex than that description might suggest. Her sounds keep a careful, beguiling distance, as if the original source of each note is less important than the echoing trail it leaves behind." — Pitchfork”
Reinhold Friedl’s zeitkratzer perform the tense and often violent ‘Agitation / Starvation’ from an original, electronic score by Polish-French composer Kaspar T. Toeplitz, also included on the 2nd disc
Marking 20 years of releases under his own name, during which he’s worked extensively at the GRM and notably collaborated with the likes of Eliane Radigue and Phill Niblock, ‘Agitation / Starvation’ forms both an objective and subjective rendering of Kaspar’s latest work, with his original electronic score included for reference against zeitkratzer’s instrumental interpretation. The two pieces are meant to be stand alone, but the CD cover does ate that they can be played simultaneously.
On the original electronic score, Toeplitz presents a harsh, abstract gully of free-moving atonalities that erupt with a n often violent nature. There’s almost no respite apart from the relatively poignant breakdowns in the latter half that offer some contrast to the transfixing, spectrum-saturating nastiness. So, then, it becomes all the more fascinating to hear how zeitkratzer’s interpretation makes the instrumental leap into acoustic dimensions. Revolving 11 personnel, including Toeplitz as conductor, Hild Sofie Tafjord on french horn, and Reinhold Friedl at the piano stool, the reset ‘Agitation | Starvation’ in a vaster sound stage, sustaining and diffusing the tension with often petrifying, even alarming results that resemble a warzone or the rendering of a nightmare in sound.
Second Circle pull Vancouver’s Yu Su into their fold with a tender, downbeat follow-up to her split tape with CS + Kreme and 12”s for Arcane and PPU
A snug fit for Second Circle, ‘Roll With The Punches’ operates at a woozy slow tempo that’s sweetly buoyant enough to keep dancers on their feet (just about), but also keep ‘em happy on their hiny in a 2nd room sorta way.
The first two songs are collaborations, firstly with Michelle Helene Mackenzie providing dreamily outta earshot vocals in the new age shimmy of ‘Little Birds, Moonbath’, before Pender Street Steppers chime into the sanguine, dusky balm of ‘Tipu’s Tiger’.
Left to her own devices, Yu Su drifts off to paddle in slow running waters in ‘Of Yesterday’ with lovely percussion and burbling, ‘The Ultimate Which Manages The World’ tests out a delicious sort of satinet ambient pop recalling that ace Frank Harris & Maria Marquez album, and ‘Words Without Sound’ feels like a Don’t DJ piece wilting under the sun.
Youth keep up a killer run of form with the first album proper by Tokyo’s Hoshina Anniversary; a steeply immersive fusion of traditional Japanese instruments with gunky acid and coruscating, psychoactive electronics.
Arriving hot on the heels of Youth’s widely-praised ‘Sports’ comp, Hoshina Anniversary’s ‘Nihon No Ongaku’ extends an invitation into a singular sound world as mazy and enigmatic as the label’s previous solo artist album by FUMU, but informed by a whole other set of reference points.
Comprising over an hour of material, ‘Nihon No Ongaku’ showcases Hoshina Anniversary’s full but particular range, spreading out from the heavy-lidded acid noise hypnagogia to experiments with processed instrumentation and pulsating electronics that recall Sote’s ontological explorations of traditional Iranian music, but woven with curious threads of pinched, minimalist, fluid rhythmelody.
If you’re after highlights, run check for the Don’t DJ-alike percussive cadence of ‘Maai’ - somehow reminding us of both Photek's 'Ni Ten Ichi Ryu' and Ryuichi Sakamoto's 'Left Handed Dream' album, the grubbing electro-dub elegance of ‘Makuranage’, or the oddly sidewinding, darkly jazzy hustle of ‘Saga’ and ’Shindeiru’.
A big tip to fans of owt from Peder Mannerfelt to Foodman, Sote or Don’t DJ!
Garland’s Phillip Jondo and Simon Weis get under the skin with a sublime 2nd batch of plasmic analog/digital dubs spectrally animated in-the-mix by Gordon Pohl’s mastering. One for fans of Bellows, Pole, Jan Jelinek.
Following Lena Willikens’ inclusion of their ‘Sepses’ in the ‘Selectors 005’ 2LP, Colone/Glasgow duo Garland return to their paradoxical states of visceral/spacious, gritty/mercurial with an amorphous body of nine tracks where they intersect sample-based music and electronic minimalism with dub tradition.
The results are immersively abstract yet tactile, swimming from sun-dried strings and surface crackle in ’S.am’ to underwater electro-dub in ‘Gar.Ske’ and the shallow slosh of ‘Eps.Ans’, while they remain porous to more uneven, acousmatic texturhythms in ’Tom.Pt’ and the B-side’s descent into depth-charge electro tremors and druggy, strung-out voices to haunt your bedsit with ‘Fa.de’ and ‘E.ijyh’.
Leila Hassan and Francesco Cavaliere’s Sea Urchin blow new age kisses and woozy thought bubbles about Egyptian martial arts in a Arabic and Italian over crimped cubist computer dub and ambient styles.
“Tahtib is food for your mystical post-exotica musical landscape - hand drums played by computers fall with a squelch into the swamp, horses neigh at dub bassists, there’s water everywhere full of urchins and tarot cards and just when you think you need to breathe this record breathes for you. Tahtib’s future ambient glyphs are matched with the rapid-fire staccato "taks” of imaginary tahtib sticks (tahtib is an Upper Egyptian martial art which was enjoyed and practiced by Leila's grandfather Baba Aly). Leila Hassan sings seamlessly between Arabic and Italian (and possibly more) breathing pure soundart alchemy across Francesco Cavaliere’s library of sound effects and textures.
You remember Sea Urchin? They added their signature aquatics to Osaka-native 7FO’s 7” for Bokeh back in 2017. The duo of Leila Hassan and Francesco Cavaliere debuted a totally unique expression of ‘library music as future music’ on a series of small run cassettes before their proper debut LP Yaqaza was released on legendary Belgian imprint Kraak (Pan American, Limpe Fuchs, Typhonian Highlife). This caught the ear of Bokeh designer svengali Patrick Savile, who adds his vision to the LP cover. Francesco has also released solo explorations on Hundebiss (Kelman Duran, Lil Ugly Mane) and Edições Cn (Dolphins Into The Future).”
A youngish Mark E Smith is interviewed about all things Fall and Manchester whilst answering by often avoiding the interviewer’s questions in some of Mark’s favourite surroundings- outside on a Manchester slag heap- most answers are preceded by a pause whilst he inhales another draw on his cigarette...
Nate Young hocks up a sticky gob of trip metal ‘tronics in the 3rd volume of his ongoing solo series
With each successive instalment he appears to better get to grips with his current hardware system set-up, and ‘Dance of the Weeping Babe’ serves some of his most satisfying material, lodged somewhere between snotty basement rocker snarl and lumpy dancehall porridge on ‘Human Pond’, while ‘What People Do’ explores distended, gurning acid psychedelia, and some proper wrong ‘un lurch in ‘People Lose’. Allow the i’m-weird-me Ekoplekz styles on ‘Human Food’ and ‘People Food’, though.
Absorbingly otherworldly and brilliant debut of noirish ambient electronics from Joanna John, who steps out of the shadows as a graphic designer for Biosphere and Bocian releases to present her first musical recordings - a big tip to fans of Teresa Winter and Felicia Atkinson
Over the course of six songs Joanna limns the illusive feeling of altered states of consciousness, using half-heard vocals, treacly pulses, and a mix of spacious synths and floating organ tones to connote the para-dimensional logic of heavy-lidded, intoxicated mindframes.
Introducing herself with the quicksand base and barely buoyant whispers of ‘I can’t Remember How I Got Here’, the album continues to induce a deliciously woozy state with amorphous, intimate synth sculpture of ‘Imagined Truth’, while ‘First Morning Out’ dawns suspended organ tones and pitter patter rhythms recalling Felicia Atkinson works. And just as you think you’ve grasped her sound, ‘The Deepest Instinct Is Expressed In Running’ flips the script with a tarry streak of slo-mo darkwave dance music where you almost expect ToC’s Camella Lobo to join in, and fittingly comes followed by the dark post-punk bassline, steepled vocal and creepy chamber atmosphere of ‘Here Warmth Is Transmitted’, with the viscous curdle of her Chris & Cosey-like finale, ‘Nothing Is Changed But Everything Will Alter’ serving to close the first chapter in Joanna John’s quietly promising story.
‘Birmingham Frequencies’ is Biosphere and Bobby Bird’s atmospheric reading of the Brummy pulse at the turn of the millennium
Recorded in 1999 and released in 2000, the CD album explores intersections of location recordings with filigree ambient tones between dual poles of rugged, range-finding dub and exquisitely burnished, Lynch/ Badalamenti soundtrack styles to present a portrait of Birmingham that’s much more romantic and dreamy than you may imagine, especially if you know the place.
20 years later, the album effectively marks a midway point between original, late ‘70s/early ‘80s ambient pioneers and the modern field. It trades in a mixture of crisply polished, well established, classical ambient notions that reflect foundational forms by Eno and Hassell, and a strain of more technoid investigation that’s perhaps prescient of producers such as uon or Pendant.
Luke Slater’s late ‘90s evergreen ‘Love’ remixed by Burial, Silent Servant, Planetary Assault Systems, Marcel Dettmann, and Lucy
The 1998 original’s lump-in-throat pads and MDMA bairn naivety of ‘Love’ provide sublime source material to a clutch of producers who’ve mostly emerged since the song was first written.
Following his and Kode 9’s use of Slater’s ‘I Can Complete You’ on Fabriclive 100, Burial proves a natural selection to rekindle ‘Love’ with his patented, smudged palette of crackling embers and nite cafe ambience, while Slater himself takes its essence out into orbit with a 16 minute long, The 7th Plain Collage remix, and the stealthily decreed gratification of his PAS version, and Silent Servant’s samba-styled overhaul recalls the OG, 1998 remix by Salarymanned.
Ruggedly diverse dance pressure toggling the meter between deft downstrokes, tribalist percolators, and 4th world cyber vibes compatible with Tolouse Low Trax, Low Jack, Ramzi
“Panagiotis Melidis is a singer-songwriter also known as Larry Gus on DFA Records, and Stathis Kalatzis is a techno mainstay formerly known as Mr. Statik. Together they are Territroy, and this spring they release their debut album, Skulls & Plants, on Dekmantel’s UFO label.
The duo has a very specific starting point for their music, and that is the AGET Heracles Cement Factory Plant in Volos, Magnisia, Greece: You’re climbing the Goritsa Hill and the moment you get to the top, you look over to the sea view, but the cement factory dominates the landscape. It lays there almost like a window into the future, where nature, corporate ethos, plant and stone based materials and biochemical extensions all exist as one. The factory is a metaphor that processes the land itself, ignites it in a cancerous way then dumps it into the sea and the atmosphere. It’s a combination of all possible scenarios of optimism and negativity, the essence of trying to do the best for everyone, but accidentally killing everyone in the process.
That contrasting duality is mirrored in Territroy. Each half comes from two separate worlds: graphic novels vs illustration, literature vs empty pages, the functionality and the sheer craft of sculpting sound into feeling vs taking that feeling and analysing it until it no longer exists. More simply put, it is a sports field that is a basketball court at one side and a football pitch at the other, but somehow everyone finds a way to play the same sport, even though one uses his hands and the other his feet.
When one half of Territroy starts a phrase, the other one finishes it, but they speak different languages, and will never be sure if the finished sentence is technically correct, even though they can be certain that it’s definitely finished. What ties them is a constant rhythmic element that is persistent and comes from growing up in Greece and absorbing the rhythmic specificities of Southern Europe and unique Mediterranean attitudes. Importantly, there is also a lot that separates the pair. The result is music that brings together two very different personalities and perspectives but allows them both to coexist, intertwine and unfold in untold new ways.”
Polish visual artist Wojciech Puś crosses a line into sound with the elemental electronic invocations of ‘Endless: Music For Performers’ for native stable, Bocian Records.
Recorded 2016-2018, the six improvisations of ‘Endless: Music For Performers’ are a development of Puś’ piece ‘Endless’, which Bocian describe as “a sensual architecture of images, light, and sound that serves as a base structure for a poetic essay, a dream about identities in process.”
We can’t really comment on how the music relates to the visuals, but the music stands on its own right as a fine, immersive experience full of illusive spectral apparitions and riddled with a midnight logic. They’re really not giving much away about who does what, however we can tell you that there are some string highlights to be found in the opening draft of icy air-con tones and numbly smudged wind instruments on ‘improvisation 1 (Simon & Josef)’, and particularly ‘improvisation 4 (Anton & Jorge)’, which feels like the docking sequence to an alien mothership coming to land at an Eric Prydz show, but slowed 1000%.
Meitei follows the ghostly beauty found on the sublime Kwaidan tape with a second album of minimalist and fragrant ambient scenery for Séance Centre’s outlet for Japanese music, Métron.
Doubling the label’s tally after 7FO’s ‘Moment’ 2LP, ‘Komachi’ yields a more serene angle to Meitei’s music in 12 instrumental parts rippling with fleeting melodies, fringed by delicate location recordings, and arranged in a naturally time-slipping ebb and flow. While super pretty and functional as ambient scenery to immerse in, the music’s careful pruned structuring specifically speaks to the artist’s preoccupation with Japanese cultures, traditions and atmospheres that have become lost in translation with age, and particularly with the loss of his 99-year old grandmother, whom he believed was among the last Japanese people to take with her the true experience and understanding of traditional Japanese ambience.
‘Komachi’ is therefore dedicated to Meitei’s grandmother, and draws from classical Japanese artform of Gagaku, as well as environmental sounds of water, bird calls, and white noise as air, in a way that reflects the work of Japan’s ’80s ambient pioneers, and their ‘90s antecedents such as Susumu Yokota and Nobukazu Takemura, and how they synthesised electronic music to reflect Japanese tradition and its intangible ambience. Each of the album’s tracks limn a specific scene with the lightest brushstrokes and tonal shading, conjuring a series of dreamlike situations connected by a flickering narrative thread that comes out in style of jazz-wise freedom also shared by the likes of Foodman and Visible Cloaks, both artists who share Meitei’s skill for making the invisible almost real, and for exquisitely rendering and preserving Japan’s enigmatic soul in sound.
Studiously retro psychedelic soul from Sa-Ra’s Shafiq Husayn, alongside a dazzling supporting cast including; Erykah Badu, Thundercat, Flying Lotus, Hiatus Kaiyote, Bilal, Robert Glasper, Coultrain, Chris 'Daddy' Dave, I-Ced, Anderson Park, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Jimetta Rose, Fatima, Computer Jay, Medlodious Fly, Kamasi Washington,
“The Loop' is the new LP by Los Angeles based polymath Shafiq Husayn, an epic project which saw its inception in 2012 through a series of studio sessions at Shafiq’s home, including collaborations with the likes of Thundercat, Erykah Badu, Flying Lotus, Bilal and Anderson Paak. Amongst a close knit circle of friends and family the golden tones of The Loop were created, deeply rooted in ideas of song, story, history, guidance and spirituality. The album bumps, jumps and jangles through progressions in jazz, hip hop, soul and funk, following on from his debut album ‘Shafiq En’ A-Free-Ka’ and adding further to his rich history of timeless, unique music. On The Loop past, present and future are brought together through a psychedelic concoction of time traveling drum machines, celestial string sections and trails of synthesizer vapour. Inflections of Sly Stone, Pharaoh Sanders and Earth Wind And Fire traverse with Marley Marl and Dilla-esqe drums making for an organic yet LA-trifying experience.
Shafiq has brought together an impressive array of LA's musical royalty, enlisting the likes of Thundercat, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Kamasi Washington, Chris ‘Daddy’ Dave, Eric Rico, Coultrain, Computer Jay, Jimetta Rose, Om'Mas Keith, Kelsey Gonzalez, I-Ced and more to provide the backbone to his recording sessions. Drawing in features from an international cast of performers and artists like Erykah Badu, Robert Glasper, Hiatus Kaiyote, Fatima and Karen Be amongst others. Now complete and finally ready for release in 2019 The Loop is truly something to behold. The records is accompanied by a series of paintings by acclaimed Japanese visual artist Tokio Aoyama, who worked in tandem with Shafiq to create a painting for each song on the record.”
Amsterdam’s Knekelhuis survey the enigmatic mystic electronics of Germany’s Wolfgang Reffert aka Dark Star at the cusp of the ‘90s.
Compiled from tapes and a CD self-released by the artist 1989-1992, the music feels torn between ages, cold-fusing cosmic disco synth thrust Carpenter-style electro motifs and colder EBM/industrial impulses for a timelessly slow, cinematic and moody appeal.
“Deep-frozen for many decades, something is on the verge of being released from obscurity. Dark Star is the project of Wolfgang Reffert (Ger). In the late '80s through the early '90s he released a couple of albums that invoke the darkness of infinite space. Clearly influenced by '60s and '70s sci-fi, the mechanical grooves and spiraling synths bring to mind the worlds of Alien, The Forbidden Planet and Solaris.
Utilizing a less is more aesthetic, Dark Star breathtakingly soundtracked space travel to far away galaxies like no other. Rhythmic postpunk drums lay the foundation for slow, down-tuned spacerock that goes deep into industrial proto-techno-like territory, while always maintaining a sense of groove.
Resurrected from the days of yesteryear, Dark Star once again re-imagines the eternal harshness and emptiness surrounding spaceship Earth. Cyborgs, extraterrestrials and genetically modified creatures rejoice on the dancefloor!”
The exquisitely sparing ’Giraffe’ contains Swedish composer Johan Lindvall’s super minimalist works for acoustic steel string guitar and voice, performed by Fredrik Rasten.
‘Giraffe’ is a hugely sparing testament to this mature-beyond-his years and quiet mind’s time-lapsed style of composition. It unfurls in 5 multi-segmented parts, firstly establishing his airy meter with the 14’ piece of plucked, trembling strings in ’21 Nocturnes’, and a series of shorter probing pieces, before those spaced out notes appear to gather closer harmonic relationships with ‘As Though It Had Shut Its Eyes’, all seemingly preparing he stage for ‘Five Songs for Voice and Guitar’. Here, words by Marianne Moore are sung by Fredrik fasten in an unaffected, plaintive style, with space between the notes taken up by the breathing and leathery creaks, while the songs take elegant form recalling the spectres of Hisato Higuchi or a Nico folk song taken to extreme lengths.
A must check!
Rediscovery of Klaus Schulze’s “long lost” soundtrack for Aussie Gothic classic ‘Next of Kin’ finally surfacing on The Roundtable, newly restored and remastered from original tapes
“Praised by Quentin Tarantino as one of the greatest films from Australian New Wave cinema, Next Of Kin (1982) was a highly stylised psychological thriller in the bloody tradition of European art-Horror. Scored by none other than ex-Tangerine Dream/Ash Ra Tempel drummer and German electronic music pioneer Klaus Schulze, the music featured in the film was a unique hybrid of pulsing Giallo-moods and hypnotic Berlin-School electronica.
Due to the limited availability of the film over the years, rumours have long circulated amongst horror film fans as well as ‘Krautrock’ enthusiasts alike that a lost Klaus Schulze soundtrack existed. Commissioned to write the score, it is true that Schulze composed an original full-length soundtrack for Next Of Kin, although for editorial reasons the complete score was rejected at the last moment by the filmmakers in favour of using pre-existing tracks from Schulze’s studio albums. The final soundtrack consisted of partial elements of this rejected score together with various pieces of early 80s Schulze recordings edited and re-contextualized. Finally rediscovered, the music has been assembled and presented here exactly as featured in the film, documenting a previously lost entry of German Kosmische Musik soundtracking a forgotten piece of Australian Gothic.”
Cyberpunk jak trax from Tel Aviv’s TV.OUT in hot pursuit of 2018’s steamy ‘Further’ 12”
In four parts they perfectly nail that an early ‘90s Euro/Goa techno-trance-EBM élan, gearing up with the sleek 100HP drive and tensile gurn control of ‘XTC’, before taking the vibe into slow, pounding industrial darkroom vibes with Blackout’, and sealing the deal with a recursive wormhole of titanium-tipped 808s and warped electro-trance leads in ‘Safe House’.
Cellist Charles Curtis searches for phantom sonorities in ‘Orpheus Variations’, a work for solo cello and seven wind instruments played by the SEM Ensemble - one of eight large scale compositions expressly written for him by Alvin Lucier - and specifically based on a particular sonority, or de-tuned chord, from Stravinsky’s ‘Orpheus’ that Lucier can’t shake since he first heard it, decades ago
“Lucier speaks first of a sonority, and only then of a chord. He discusses the chord, its notes and their disposition, but what haunts him is a “particular sonority.” A sonority is the product of physical action on physical materials: the instruments, the registers in which they are activated, the breath of the musicians, the waveforms thus produced, their merging and interfering, and finally the moment and place of these actions. An energy field, certain to vanish completely once the musicians put down their instruments. However concrete and real the actions and materials, the sonority they produce is a phantom.”
John Cage acolytes, Edition Wandelweiser Records, collect Guy Vandromme’s performance of three ‘Number’ pieces for piano from a body of late Cage works composed c.1987-1992
All entitled ‘One’, as the pieces were so named to denote how many players, and which variation they’d play, each piece is structured around Cage’s time bracket technique; providing only short fragments of score (often a single note, with or without dynamics) and indications, in minutes and seconds, during which the fragment can start andy what time it should end. The brackets can be fixed (e.g. from 1.15 to 2.00) or flexible (e.g. from anywhere between 1.15 and 1.45, and to anywhere between 2.00 and 2.30), allowing form myriad subtle variations on the same themes.
In the case of ‘One’ there are 10 time brackets, all flexible except for the ninth./ Each contains music written onto staves, but the content of one staff can be played in any relation with that of the other staff. Guy Vandromme offers two calmly spare 10 minute versions of ‘One’, which, if we’re honest, sound pretty much identical, but do actually differ from each other. There’s also a 20 minute version of ‘One5’ (his fifth work for one player) which has a more complex set of instructions including 21 time brackets for the left hand and 24 for the right. Each contains a single chord or a single note, and the performer is instructed to either hold the pedal throughout, or make as many overlappings as possible (again, using the pedal if necessary). The final piece is very quiet, often tending to the lowest registers of the keyboard and allowing the notes to spread out, smeared into a gently undulating late night panorama.
Low Jack hustles a clutch of mutant industrial dancehall edits for Hospital Productions following his role on a pair of killer Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement releases
‘Breizh’ on the most immediate level is a heavyweight bag of riddims bending industrial sounds into the dancehall template - airhorns and vibes replete - while on another level it’s posited as a comment on the “sociapolitical contradictions and passions” of his home region, the Celtic region of Brittany in North West France, which is reflected thru the cryptic cover art of Celtic glyphs and, perhaps more subtly, in the music’s short-circuiting of cultural dogma.
All cut from live recordings, the five tracks serve ammo to the discerning DJ, ranging from stormy dancehall dread in ‘Robert (Le Bourg Version)’ and woozy reversed loops in ‘They Rule (Cap-Sizun Remix)’, thru to absolute dancefloor wreckers in the cyborg bogle of ‘Plogo (Live Edit)’, a bombed out flip of Richard Brown’s late ‘90s ace ‘Baddis Riddim’, and a mental, recklessly sped-up ‘Tempo Riddim’.
Killer compilation from Honest Jon's focussing on the dancehall vocal and dubs that the Unity Sounds label and sound system dropped to mad effect in the mid eighties. Recorded by a cast of talented amateurs on a Casio keyboard and four-track recorder before being tested on the Unity soundsystem...
The album was recorded by the Unity Sound label workers after the introduction of the early digital sound system, later supplemented by vocals and overdubs in the studio.
Genius throughout with spot-on mastering from Moritz von Oswald at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin. Informative liner notes, lush high quality sleeve makes this as essential a comp as 'Darker Than Blue'.
Legendary material, reissued with love.
A total must-have for sound-oriented cinephiles! This is the first ever pressing of David Shire’s OST for ‘The Conversation’, a Francis Ford Coppola classic about a wire-tapper in 1970’s NYC, brilliantly played by Gene Hackman, and featuring sound design by the living legend Walter Murch. Trust Jonny Trunk to execute the job with typically covetable results.
Like Jonny Trunk, we distinctly remember seeing this flick for the first time in the ‘90s (probably late on a schoolnight on Channel 4 in my case) and becoming utterly sucked into the film’s innovative shots and sound design, which uniquely told the story of a wire-tapper, brusquely portrayed as a Mac-wearing and neurotic loner by Gene Hackman, who memorably unravels when, on his latest job, he uncovers a murder.
Even to our naif ‘90s ears, the by-then-vintage movie soundtrack and its subtly innovative sound design felt uncannily sparse and refreshing, especially for a major studio production, and it’s not hard to understand how it’s been referenced as a genre classic countless times since then. With hindsight, we can hear how it dovetails very neatly with the minimalist and avant-garde movements of the ‘70s, arguably in the process becoming a sterling example of the way avant-garde and mainstream ideas fluidly informed each other in that decade.
The music is mostly played on piano by David Shire, who was enlisted for his first ever soundtrack job by his brother-in-law, Francis Ford Coppola. The main theme is a sort of slow ragtime jazz piece which filters thru the whole soundtrack, returning in increasingly tense and prangingly dissonant avant-garde situations that mirror the narrative’s flow of intrigue and tension. It’s not until the 5th track, ‘To The Office/The Elevator’ when this element arrives in the soundtrack, and it only really happens again in a small handful of other instances, but the contrast is so stealthy and subtle that it gets us every time, and works beautifully in balance with the airy, pensive, isolated economy of David Shire’s other pieces in the soundtrack.
Excellent, slow and powerful dancefloor traction from Belgrade’s long-serving Tapan duo for Tel Aviv’s Malka Tuti, who delivered that ace side by Toresch’s Viktoria Wehrmeister aka Decha
Working at a devilish, c.100bpm bounce highly compatible with the DJ style of Belgrade-born Vladimir Ivkovic, the ‘Ghana’ EP is primed for swaggering nights on the tiles with the title track’s undulating tribal charge and the grubbing, slow acid swill of ‘The Beast’ feat. Jan Nemeček and reminding of Black Merlin productions.
Rome/Brussels-based Front De Cadeaux back up the original ‘Ghana’ with a crankier remix full of gloomy space and rockier drums, and Odopt tames ‘The Beast’ with hypnotic percussion and glyding synth drones.
Very classy stuff.
4Hero’s Marc Mac delivers 17 summery golden-era style hiphop instrumentals raw and direct from his MPC
One of two LPs alongside the ‘Blue’ side, they contain some 38 beats between them, including many which have previously starred vocals, but all available as instrumentals for the first time.
The vibe recalls classic killer Madlib and J Dilla beat tapes from over a decade ago, with tracks seamlessly segued (there are no individual track markers) and primed for listeners to drop the needle, sit back, and spark up.
4Hero’s Marc Mac delivers 17 summery golden-era style hiphop instrumentals raw and direct from his MPC
One of two LPs alongside the ‘Red’ side, they contain some 38 beats between them, including many which have previously starred vocals, but all available as instrumentals for the first time.
The vibe recalls classic killer Madlib and J Dilla beat tapes from over a decade ago, with tracks seamlessly segued (there are no individual track markers) and primed for listeners to drop the needle, sit back, and spark up.
Argentinian saxophonist Sergia Merce appears to flicker in and out of consciousness in ‘Three Dimensions of the Spirit,’ a spellbinding deep dive into microtonal and prepared Tenor saxophones.
Conservatory trained Merce plays with the Berlin-Buenos Aires Quintet and Haiti groups, and has previously collaborated on record with another master of spittle-inflected microtones, Lucio Capece. This is his 2nd recording for Edition Wandelweiser Records after 2016’s ‘Be Nothing.’
Until we got used to his steez by the end of titular opener, ’One Dimensional’, we genuinely weren’t sure if the CD was cutting out or if he suffered from a form of Narcolepsy or self-induced hypoxia (shortage of oxygen to the brain) from his concentrated tekkers. But, no, the piece actually makes use of those lacunæ as ear-palate cleansers in between his strangely harmonised musical sections, each returning similar to the previous part, but always different, beckoning the ear to make out the difference. ‘The Same Morning’ follows at a similarly slow pace, this time stressing queered overtones and beating frequencies after each fade out and in, until he’s hitting some really tweaky nerves, before ‘Ondular De La Espera’ completes the suite with a real test of physical endurance, as Merce somehow sustains his beating frequencies and tremulous overtones for 27 minutes.
This Is Not This Heat drummer Charles Hayward is agog on the cover and gives a career-spanning interview inside.
Equiknoxx chat about an imminent new album release, Alexander Von Schlippenbach does the Invisible Jukebox, and there’s features on Pessimist and co’s UVB-76 Music, and much-talked-about synthesist, Caterina Barbieri. Includes all the usual news, reviews, listings.
Lush and woozy new age ambient dub referencing the classics thru a gauzier lense of enchanted Moogs and lysergic electronics...
“Deep Nalström takes you on a trip to a space where New Age meets Nuova Neapolitan Funk. Crashing landing somewhere familiar, yet alien. The environment, lush, unspoiled. A musical terrain not dissimilar to Vakula`s Arcturus. His Naive Melodies accompanying your slow careful first steps through a forest that time forgot. Wondering at the colours, breathing with the birds, as digital palms creak in the breeze. Navigating Eno & Byrne`s Bush Of Ghosts, while he fuses the ethnological with the technological, as if he were on holiday in Hassell`s Fourth World. Machine interference buzzes like animal chatter.
Gurus impart words of wisdom. Indigenous hominids gather, and drum circle ceremony mixes with Ambient Techno atmospheres. Percussion hits resonate. Bongos are bashed in delay. Tougher beats kicking like Detroit beatdown. Organically grooving like The Seahawks partying with Nu Guinea. Shimmying through Mushrooms Project`s Psychedelic swamp. Cutting a path through Cosmic Handshakes` In The Mist. The ritual, opening temple gates. Portal to a void of calm. A journey through a virtual Eden, from sunrise to twilight.”
Niente' is the mind-blowing document of Ennio Morricone and the legendary Gruppo D''Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza' at the peak of their freeform prowess. It was originally recorded in 1971 as the followup to their near-mythical 'Feed-back' session of 1970 - copies of which change hands for over $1000 - and is actually considered its superior by those in the know...
That dream team comprised the then in-demand soundtrack composer Morricone, plus an experienced, attuned line-up of Battisti D'Amario, Egisto Macchi, Franco Evangelista, Mario Bertoncini, and Walter Branchi, who between them were responsible for a wealth of work, from classic Italian soundtracks to more academic pursuits in sound theory and experimental electronics. T
hey draw deeply and instinctively upon those varied disciplines across 'Niente', from the brain-teasing stereo separation cleft to their ultra-cool consideration of atmosphere and groove, and taste for "new consonance" influenced by the studies of Luigi Nono or Giacinto Scelsi. Powered by dry, motorik breaks, the album spans 16 segments ranging from a six minute introductory piece to short but killer cues, almost always with a sophisticated reserve, but also with a psychedelic funk and avant edge perilously threatening to boil over.
In summation, it's about as definitive as you could imagine, and an essential purchase for fans of anything from Aethenor to Demdike Stare or Cut Hands...
Reactivated UK label Treader continue their vinyl run with Spring Heel Jack and Waddada Leo Smith’s smoky interplay of guitar and trumpet, ‘The Sweetness of Water’, as originally issued by Thirsty Ear in 2004
“The Sweetness of the Water is Spring Heel Jack's fourth contribution to Thirsty Ear's Blue Series. It is their most unabashedly beautiful album yet, showcasing the elegant phrasing of Wadada Leo Smith on trumpet and Evan Parker on Saxophone, accompanied by John Edwards' meaty and textural bass playing and the sensitive drumming of Mark Sanders.
The album clearly reveals the evolution that resulted from Spring Heel Jack's 2003 UK tour, which allowed them to realize their electroacoustic free jazz vision in a more spontaneous setting. Not only does The Sweetness of the Water sound more live and intimate, it also displays a fully developed compositional sensibility, with a muted, meditative atmosphere that results from the masterful Spring Heel Jack production touch. John Coxon's guitar figures heavily, providing a rough juxtaposition to the delicate playing of Smith and Parker. Slow, delicate chord progressions provide the backbone for focused, introspective improvisation. The Sweetness of the Water is another confident step forward for one of the most thought provoking and innovative groups working in music.”
Sähkö are keeping schtum about this ace enigma from “an experimental artist willing to stay anonymous on this project”, although they do mention a likeness to Nurse With Wound, Hafler Trio, Zoviet*France…
Presented under the low key moniker, …, ‘No Title’ sounds like a night in an abandoned wooden cabin in the arctic circle with CM Von Hausswolff, and only a reel to reel and a broken radio for company. Left to your devices and each other, the result is séance-like and utterly captivating, metaphorically leaving listeners in the dark surrounded by spirits that speak like the wind thru cracked windowpanes.
In the first part, any dilettantes will be scared off by the introductory 6 minutes of crackling static and looming low register tones, but those who see it thru will be subsequently immersed in doom sonic worth of Helge Sten’s Deathprod, CMvH, or Mika Vainio at his bleakest, before the piece peels away into puristic sines recalling Eleh or Eliane Radigue’s fluctuating partials as much as The Conet project.
Ultimately, the trip ends with the respite of human voices, although we’re not sure whether we were hiding from them in the first place or are welcome to hear them, as they remain at a distance, intangibly muffled and outta reach.
Our money’s on Kevin Drumm, but your guess is as good as ours.
Nourishing the zeitgeist, ‘Dancing In Darkness’ collects 14 EBM and industrial zingers from the ‘80s by Throbbing Gristle, D.A.F., Front 242, Nitzer Ebb, The Weathermen, Cabaret Voltaire and more
A primer for the budding darkroom fiend, the set runs the gamut from TG’s sewer-creeping ‘Dead On Arrival’ thru to DAF’s strident anthem ‘Der Mussolini’, Chris & Cosey’s eternal gem ‘Exotica’, the puckered EBM of ‘Control I’m Here (S.D.I. Mix)’ by Front 242, Borghesia’s moody nightlight ‘Ni Upanja, Ni Strahu’, and Meat Beat Manifesto’s proto-darkside hardcore ace ‘Radio Babylon’.
No nonsense hardcore flex from Paul Wollford’s Special Request on Houndstooth
Ditching the concepts and going for the jugular, ‘Vortex’ sees Special Request getting back to basics in two parts of driving, headstrong rufige.
A-side ‘Vortex 135bpm’ is one of his most direct, ‘floor-bending zingers since Bobby Peru’s ‘Erotic Discourse’, essentially applying that track’s OTT metallic delays and flange to a rolling, gnashing breakbeat with wormholing effect. B-side he does the same, but faster with ‘Vortex 150bpm’ pushing the pace to proper, wild-eyed, energy-escalating levels.