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.
Max Richter is at his brooding, majestic best on the soundtrack to ‘Never Look Away’, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s Academy Award-nominated 2018 German drama film
Now firmly established as a go-to guy for films in need of sensitive soundtracks, Richter here follows his work for period dramas and TV series with a theme closer to the German side of his dual German/British heritage, which he capably and carefully handles with signature class.
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.
One of Björk’s lesser-known yet definitive studio albums, her soundtrack for ex-partner, visual artist Matthew Barney’s art film ‘Drawing Restraint 9’, is reissued in its original single LP edition
First released in 2005, the soundtrack to ‘Restraint 9’ - one of 19 separate parts in a series - accompanies an unconventional love story set in Japan. The narrative revolves themes such as the Shinto religion, the tea ceremony, the history of whaling, and the supplantation of blubber with refined petroleum for oil, all rendered in Barney’s peerless imagery and attention to detail.
Björk was famously partnered to Matthew Barney between 2000-2013, and her ‘Vulnicura’  album is about their breakup. Long before that, however, she supplied the enchanted music for ‘Restraint 9’, which is notable for the major absence of her own vocals, save for three songs. Rather, she was heavily involved with the production and performance, roping in figures such as Akira Rabelais, Bedroom Community-Founder Valgeir Sigurdsson, Mark Bell aka LFO, Leila, Zeena Parkins, Nico Muhly and and a Japanese children’s choir to help her accentuate the film’s striking look.
American hardcore punk veterans plug in a drum machine and vent their worries about modernity. If you don’t like this check out Holly Herndon’s ‘Proto’ album, and vice-versa
“Technology was meant to be humanity’s tool to combat famine, disease, confusion, and to facilitate life, culture, and innovation. Instead, we’re mired in a digital labyrinth that few care to navigate or even solve. Perhaps it’s not a ruse and the matrices coded by keyboard maestros are a path to liberation, but without querying the constructs we cannot ruminate on their affectations on humanity.
VR SEX are audio/visual provocateurs who transpose the identifiers of death rock, synth punk, post-punk, ambient, and ethereal soundscapes into an audit on technology and its imprint on our collective psyche. Comprised of visionary mercenaries Noel Skum (Andrew Clinco of Drab Majesty), Z. Oro (Aaron Montaigne of Antioch Arrow/Heroin/DBC) on vocals and drums, and Mico Frost (Brian Tarney) on synths and electric bass.
Their debut tome, Human Traffic Jam, focuses on lyrical themes that probe the possibilities of loss of autonomy through social media, the decline of human interaction, and celebrity favoritism. Skum believes in the stabilization of society and preservation of our planet by reducing its amount of procreators.
Through PSRS or Procreation Simulation Reproduction Stimulation, humans can act on their hedonistic desires and not face the responsibilities and consequences that come with being an ill-prepared guardian. The future of our offspring will exist in virtual realms and population growth in turn will be stabilized. VR SEX is the cure to most societal ills.
Thematically condensed into an eight song album, Human Traffic Jam was written and demoed by Skum in a flat in Athens, Greece during the winter of 2017. During a rigorous week long session at Figure 8 studios with experimental and dimensional production extraordinaire Ben Greenberg (Uniform/The Men), Skum solely committed all the instrumentation present on Human Traffic Jam.
Rather than being emblematic of influences, each song on the LP infuses a dire tension that cuts shimmer with fetid frequencies, never establishing an aural hierarchy or urgency. Instead, we’re lead into punchy capsules of “dour pop”; the balance of saccharine and sour so emblematic of the VR SEX hive mind.”
‘Holy Water Whisper’ is one of those purist electronic peaches that bloom regularly on Antwerp’s excellent, ever searching Ent’racte label
It is Cologne-based artist Volker Hennes’ 3rd release for the label, after 2015’s ‘Emperor Ambassador’, and follows from his 2017 action with Anthony Moore in Therapeutische Hörgruppe Köln.
Technically the nine track album was entirely produced on a Nord Modular G1 - “One track, one patch; no additional effects or over-dubbing”, while the label more poetically describe it as “Fluids flood the entire audio spectrum (20 to 20k). A solid state which is simultaneously and continuously changing.”
Echoing the stripped down approach of Yves De Mey’s recent ace ‘Exit Strategies Part 1’, the results are all dead abstract, and range from what sounds like a protein-gargling alien vocaloid in his ‘Holy Whisper’ parts, thru to bouts of ultra iridescent, deliquescent, gurning lushness in the ‘Fluid Noise’ bits, and a couple of astringent, unsettling ‘Cleaning’ numbers.
Studio Mule’s rotating assembly, helmed by Kuniyuki, cover a clutch of their favourite ‘80s Japanese music from the likes of Yasuaki Shimizu, Dip In The Pool, and Yellow Magic Orchestra.
Sweetly on the money for a growing number of ears attuned to the gems of Japanese pop and electronics, ‘BGM’ is set to introduce a lot of listeners to some classics picks, strewn between the likes of ‘Face To Face’, Miyako Koda’s take on Yumi Murata’s ambient pop ace - a favourite of Visible Cloaks, too - along with a cover of a cover in Nanako Sato’s version of Yukuhiro Takahashi’s take on Burt Bacharach’s ‘The April Fools’, and Miyako Koda’s funked up spin on ‘Carnaval’, a Japanese dance classic by Taeko Ohnuki, produced by YMO.
Rolling down from the heavens with a total shockout intro, Basic Replay dig deep into the vaults for another selection guaranteed entry into the front of your dancehall pile.
Legendary keyboard whizz Jackie Mittoo is on fine tinkling form, riding the Ayatollah riddim with some hazy synthetic electronical embellishments atop a heavy heavy digital subbass rhythm. Mittoo version's the alltime classic 'Mash down Babylon' on the flip, installing a lush lick of African guitars and working the rhythm up with some driving organ chords in his inimitable style.
Carsten Nicolai concludes Alva Noto’s UNI-prefixed release cycle with UNIEQAV, the 3rd and most dancefloor-focussed instalment of the series. The follow-up to Unitxt  and Univrs  pairs pendulous minimal techno and electro rhythms with wide, sheer electronic drones in a way that strongly recalls recent Monolake output as well as Ilpo Väisänen in full swang. Comparisons aside, though, it’s unmistakably Alva Noto.
Pursuing the project’s roots in the dancefloor of Tokyo’s UNIT club to a satisfyingly logical endpoint, Nicolai rolls out 12 typically mercurial yet gripping sound designs defined by their fluid dynamics and seemingly fathomless dimensions intended to render the club or your head underwater, thanks to a still remarkable grasp of purified tonal minimalism/maximalism and studied sensitivity to proprioception.
The results are filigree yet robust, firmed up for deployment on the sickest sound system you can lay your hands on, but also highly pleasurable in a headphone or sofa-inclined context, keeping us rapt and twitching from the dubwise plong and looming pads of Uni Sub and the Robert Henke-esque pressure systems of Uni Mia.
The nervous skeleton of Uni Version flows into singular Alva Noto sounds in the jabbing pointillism of Uni Clip and the staggering scale of Uni Normal, with major highlights in the widescreen drama of Uni Blue, and footwork-like rapid movement join Uni Edit, while Anne-James Chaton’s vocal lend a sharp contrast in Uni Dna.
At long bleedin’ last Peacefrog cough up a repress of Moodymann’s sophomore LP, Mahogany Brown  for the legion house heads baying for an affordable mint copy.
A sort of sonic psychogeographic dispatch from late ‘90s Detroit, if you will, Mahogany Brown offers a unique, documentarian perspective on house music as it comes thru its teenaged years from a localised, Black, Latino and Gay club phenomenon to its currency as a soundtrack to dancefloors worldwide, and then back to root in one of the cities that first cradled it’s birth along with Chicago and New York.
Equal parts collage, club tools and headphone staples, it unfolds like a hot sticky day in the 313; traversing from the dial-scrolling Radio to the kiddies chorus percolating thru Sunshine, to the reportage of On The Run and M.E.A.N.D.N.J.B.’s gospel soul jazz burn starring longtime accomplice Norma Jean Bell, thru the sublime suspension system of Mahogany Brown, onto the distorted, faded Stonedenjoe (House) and his Black Sunday masterpiece melding gospel, soul and disco like no other at the album’s finale, this record is every inch a classic. No arguing.
A pivotal piece of the early Industrial musick jigsaw, 1983’s ’Viral Shedding’ is an arch example of weirdo machine music finding its feet on the ‘floor
Remastered and dished up on vinyl for first time in 36 years, Nocturnal Emissions’ 5th release knits the sensual swerve of disco and electro with the cruddy textures and slompy lean of early industrial music in 11 parts recorded mostly at their Emission Control centre in London,as well as one live recording made in Bonn, Germany.
Revolving mainman Nigel Ayers and Caroline K in this iteration of Nocturnal Emissions (only shortly before it became a one-man vehicle for Ayers), their sound is firmly lodged between what were then the arguably, mutually exclusive stylistic bedfellows of grotty electronics and swaggering grooves. Nowadays you can’t shake a shitty stick for fear of hitting this kind of music, but back then this sound was uncommon and offroad, and shared by a small pool of artists including SPK, Cabaret Voltaire, 23 Skidoo, Tackhead and Hula.
It’s perhaps testament to the tenacity and prescience of Nocturnal Emissions’ vision that these trax still sound so fresh, as it took the mainstream and everyone else a few years to catch up, but they’ve evidently still never quite gotten over it, as a large section of contemporary dancefloors still can’t shake the styles of highlights such as the fudge funk of ‘Suffering Stinks’, the alien budge of ‘Going Under’, and the salty swagger of ‘No Separation’.
‘The Royal Garden Covered In Ash’ is a ‘marish dream sequence of layered and mulched horror-style organs and synths concocted by ambient explorer Fabio Orsi and the maestro Brian Pyle of Ensemble Economique and Starving Weirdos. It's a goodun.
Seemingly crafted to soundtrack bouts of sleep paraylsis, or before you get there, the heavy-lidded hypnagogic jerk phase, ‘The Royal Garden Covered In Ash’ says its piece in gloaming tones with an overtone aura of meridian menace that never quite manifests but lurks liminally, gnawing at the subconscious.
‘Belief is a whisper’ helms the front with a subaquatic swell of nocturnal crimson/blue/black hues that give way to Pyle’s typical, Vangelis-like brass flares and ghostly synth figures that fleet out of view just as quickly as they appeared, while the narrative subtly lures us into really noirish mindspaces. ’You’re So Close, I Can Almost Hold You Again’ phosphoresces on the back, hovering in and out of view with a beautifully elusive quality - sometimes tangible and shimmering, at others smudged and just outta reach - in a proper aether dream style.
The first ever live performance and recording by Marc Moulin’s sought-after jazz-funk band Placebo, captured at Casino Kursaal during the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1971 and never released before.
"June 17th, 1971, the Montreux Riviera, its delightful microclimate and postcard scenery, its fabled music history and the luscious wines of the region. A dream setting for Marc Moulin to lead his ensemble on a 26 minutes+ jazz adventure - Nick Kletchkovsky on bass, Freddy Rottier on drums, Johnny Dover on bass clarinet, Alex Scorier on soprano saxophone, and Richard Rousselet on flugelhorn. The magic of that night is dripping through Placebo’s sumptuous "Showbiz Suite", a soulful piece in two parts in which every instrument gets enough room to shine, smoothly navigating between cozy cognac-by-the-fireplace funk and heartfelt grittiness, served with a pinch of Soft Machine vibes. It’s the night Placebo was born, when foundations were laid for three classic albums: Ball of Eyes (on which you can hear a shorter studio version of "Showbiz Suite"), 1973, and their final self-titled album.
Born in 1942 in Ixelles, the multifaceted Marc Moulin had one of the most fascinating careers in the history of Belgian music, from his jazz roots and Placebo to founding electronic disco pop band Telex ("Moskow Diskow", "Rock Around The Clock"…), producing a vast array of French and Belgian hits (notably for Philip Catherine and Lio), pioneering downtempo and electro jazz with three albums on Blue Note, and exploring other avenues of expression such a radio hosting and comedy. He sadly left us in 2008. His incredible legacy shall live on."
For anyone who knows these records already - you won't need much of a sermon from us about their stature and greatness. If you don't know them - you're in for a treat.
Rhythm & Sound was the project that Mark Ernestus and Moritz von Oswald turned to after their seminal series of recordings as Basic Channel came to an end. From 1997 until 2002 the label released seven 12" EP's which pretty much defined the direction so much electronic music would turn to in its wake - and it still continues to exert a colossal influence, for better or worse.
It's perhaps hard to remember over a decade later just how little these productions sounded like anything that preceded them - taking the essence of dub and breaking it down until all that was left was a vapour trail of melody and a colossal bass echo. We could spend an hour listing all the music that basically came along and copied this template in the intervening years but, the thing is, none of what followed comes anywhere near these productions in terms of substance, none of it has aged in the same way. "Carrier" was the fifth release on the label and offers another 20 minute trip into the depths of fractured dub.
You’d be forgiven for missing this hyper-limited release earlier this year (only 100 copies were made) - but thankfully we now have an exclusive clear vinyl edition, pressed up in a run of 250 copies as part of our ongoing celebration of the best of 2018.
Without a doubt one of the most daring artists out there right now, Klein makes music acutely symptomatic of its era. Naturally, recklessly combining formerly mutually exclusive styles such as gospel and noise, or ambient collage and R&B, she somehow keeps a distinct aesthetic amid these dense expressions of modernity, cannily reflecting the normalisation of intensifying socio-economic anxieties and the inexorable drive of urban life within her navigations of chaotic sonic environments.
Forging sounds and styles as wild as anything from Bob Ostertag’s ‘DJ Of The Month’, or with the decentred intensity of Aaron Dilloway, Klein’s music is better distinguished by the way she effortlessly bridges dimensions and conjures whole new sensations for the listener to deal with. I mean, if you’re on this site, you’re probably familiar with both Hype Williams and Prurient, but like us, you’d probably struggle to think of another artist who sounds like both of them at the same time, and in that sense Klein’s music is neologistic, syncretic and blessed with an intuitive physics in a way that language and musical perception is only catching up with.
Yet it’s best received and deciphered with a red 3rd eye and porous 6th sense, cos any attempt to limn it in concrete, literal terms will never fully grasp its emotive chicanery and might dull its aura of outright, alien oddness.
Cult Texan electro producer Cygnus at his intricate, funky best for Sheffield’s CPU
Arriving five years on from ‘Tesseracter’, Cygnus’s debut album for the label, ‘Deep Analysis’ continues in pursuit of an OG ‘80s into ‘90s sound into a 2020 clear vision of retro-futurist electro that’s steeped in the classics but equally full of Cygnus’ highly melodic character and meticulous sound craft.
The six track of ‘Deep Analysis’ showcase his talent at every angle, with a trio of vocodered highlights between the rolling swerve of ‘Ultraterrestrial’, the nifty sequencing of ‘Her Majesty (The Universe)’, and the Drexciya-meets-The Arabian Prince electro-rap styles of ‘Sheffield Bleep’, whereas the wickedly messed up title track yields one of his most chaotic, noisy workouts, reminding of Ultradyne, and the closing couplet of ‘Decent of Man’ and ‘Hallucinate Data’ neatly tend to the romantic electro-soul ends of his celebrated style.
Out of print for 34 years, this reissue of Nocturnal Emissions’ pivotal, politicised ‘Songs of Love and Revolution’ reveals the legendary band on the cusp of earlier, bleaker sounds and a ruddy form of electronic pop
Penned during a time when Thatcher was in power, the Miners were striking, and revolution was in the air, or so Nigel Ayers predicted, ‘Songs of Love and Revolution’ is the sound of pessimistic electro-punks girding their loins for what may come, but never really transpired as they imagined.
Instead Thatcher pacified the working classes by selling off Government owned housing stock and duly trampled on the miners, ripping away their livelihood. Today we have minors striking against the use of fossil fuel. What went around doesn’t necessarily come back around.
But the experience left Nocturnal Emissions with fuel for their fire. Applying hardware skill gleaned over the prior five years, they made music for rabble rousing that didn’t rely on the usual punk formulas, resulting massive tunes in the fast and frazzled gob of ‘No Sacrifice (In Love and Revolution)’ and the timeless, magisterial sashay of ’Never Give Up’ with its unmistakeable synth melody by Caroline K.
Nigel Ayers says: "The Miners’ Strike was on and there were riots down our street in Brixton. I was convinced there was going to be a revolution. But it would probably have been quite unpleasant. All these old punks and hippies preaching revolution, I don’t think we were really prepared to live with the consequences. If we actually had a revolution in this country, it would be like Iraq or something, or Syria. But we were having horrible times with Thatcher. All we could do in that sort of milieu was imagine what the alternative would be like."
French modern-classical quartet astrïd return with the first part of a new release entitled A Porthole.
"Conceptually the two records work in unison, focusing on portholes into the abyss, with part one delving into the depths of the deep sea. The tracks are named after various strains of seaweed, the artwork depicting dark waves and uncertainty. Part two will follow in a years time and will turn its attention to the night sky and constellations.
A Porthole continues astrïd’s signature style of billowing guitars, strings and woodwind. Each element intertwined with another, linked perfectly together through restrained jazz-tinged percussion. 2017’s highly-acclaimed release ‘Through the Sparkle’ with renowned pianist Rachel Grimes (of Rachels) set the bar extremely high for this release but astrïd have matched the depth, melody and quality of that record here.
Part one of this journey features some sublime compositions with Cyril Secq’s expressive and bold guitar playing carrying the pieces into chamber music territory, joined seamlessly by a variety of other instruments that swell and soar and fit perfectly into the story being told. Everything seems to have its place, nothing is overplayed or out of step here, there is an organic nature to the way this quartet plays and interacts with one another as melodies circle back and fade away in the same beautiful breath.
A Porthole is a deeply charming record, exercising glorious, nuanced refrain and offering a sort of hope rarely found in music these days.”
A Certain Ratio - who celebrate their 40th anniversary this year - a lavish box set, ‘acr:box’, via Mute, with all material remastered by Martin Moscrop at Abbey Road studios and featuring over 20 unreleased tracks from the archive.
"Following on from 2018’s compilation, ‘acr:set’, the box showcases the diversity of the singles, B-sides and alternative versions of tracks that A Certain Ratio have released but without repeating tracks recently made available. ‘acr:box’ collates everything that fans had been missing from the recent reissue campaign and compliments that with a selection found after a deep delve into the archive to find all the hidden gems that had been talked about over the years but never heard - even a few releases the band had forgotten about.
Looking to make the box set as comprehensive as possible, even the original tapes from the session they recorded for a collaboration with Grace Jones were uncovered and reworked. This session includes the cover version of Talking Heads’ ‘Houses In Motion’, using Jez Kerr’s guide vocals (pre to him becoming the band’s singer). Grace Jones never completed her vocal take after attending one of the recording sessions with the band.
The box set, which marks the 40th anniversary of A Certain Ratio’s debut release, the Martin Hannett produced ‘All Night Party’ (Factory Records’ first single release) was described recently by Record Collector as “a statement of future intentions: to set funk off against nervous angst.” They went on to be hailed universally as pioneers of what became known as ‘punk funk’ thanks to the success of their second single, ‘Shack Up’, represented here via a radio edit from Electronic, featuring Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr."
Killer art-skool avant-pop from 1981,sung in made-up languages and dished up for the first time by Concentric Circles - the personal imprint of Freedom To Spend’s Jed Bindeman, following his issue of Carola Baer’s home-brewed synth-pop masterpiece. Kudos to Bindeman for reaching the point, after just a couple of releases, where we're convinced beyond any doubt that everything on this label is gonna be gold.
IXNA is the name of Jay Cloidt and Marina LaPalma’s “imaginary band” who formed at Mills College while studying under David Behrman and Robert Ashley in 1978. Mills College is known for an irreverent approach to composition which has generated some amazing records, evidenced most strongly in playful classics by Behrman and Ashley. It’s not hard to hear how that influence and prism-opening aesthetic has informed ‘Knotpop’, whose confection of Marina’s skillfully pert and dippy vocals with Cloidt’s bubbling basslines, perpendicular FX and off-centre rhythms lend themselves to comparison with other, effortlessly envelope-pushing highlights of that era, from Breadwoman to General Strike and the rotating Eno/Bryne/Hassell axis, thru the hypnotic grooves of Leven Signs or Holger Czukay, and the minimalist tics of impLOG and Ike Yard, not to mention the work of their peers and tutors at Mills.
Using Mill’s all-analogue studio, IXNA minted a a delicious scuzzy, skeletal and wobbly sound that turned a colourful spectrum of styles inside out to find their own odd truth somewhere in the guts of avant-pop-funk-’n-soul. Two of the album’s strangest and most stripped down moments are taken from the duo’s sole release, a 7” in 1981, with ‘Ixna Ne Parolas’ coming off like Gray meets Breadwoman, and ‘Mi Ne Parolas’ tending to a nattier electronic vibe recalling Leven Signs slunky swerve. While they’re well known to diggers, the rest will be a true revelation, with ‘Fun Fun Fun’ clearly meriting the Ike Yard comparison (but jamming with the B-52s?!) while ‘Ridi Ridi’ and ‘Flashlight’ trade in mercurial fusions of quick-stepping percussion and freely expressive vox, and the dreamy peach ‘Galileo’ catches a warm breeze that takes them somewhere between A.C. Marias and General Strike’s balmy dub currents and into puckered noise-pop.
Surreal Euro oddity from double bass player Hannes d’Hoine’s Jon Doe One, joined by a quintet of guitar, flues, marimba, drums, clarinet and vacillating late night Lynchian feels with prog-jazzy turns of phrase and unexpected daubs of strange soul music. RIYL Rupert Clervaux, David Lynch, Jean-Michel Jarre, Kreng
“Jon Doe One is the alter ego of Hannes d’Hoine, a double-bass player and composer from Antwerp. His collaboration with guitarist Sjoerd Bruil and Magnum photographer Sohrab Hura, The lost head and the bird, has led to a series of live events in which the framework for Small Numbers was established. Together with a handful of guest musicians (Elko Blijweert, Michaël Brijs, Jeroen Stevens, Han Stubbe and Gert Wyninckx) the material was distilled and refined into the album’s eight tracks.”
Hypnagogic techno-house from Daniel Holt, debuting on L.I.E.S.following a clutch of well-received trax produced as Vault
The A-side’s ‘Demonic City’ sounds like a Legowelt joint just after the codeine has started to kick in, with everything potently dragged and smeared to druggy effect. B-side’s acid-electro wriggler ‘Disassembled Self’ follows farther into a murky middle distance, eventually locking into a proper slompy jak, and the entrenched trudger ‘Life Of Insubordination’ comes off like one of V/Vm’s later New Beat productions
See Through is a new collaboration between Aidan Baker (Nadja), Faith Coloccia (Mamiffer, Mara, Sige Records) and renowned percussionist Jon Mueller.
"The project was brought to life through Baker exploring textural rhythms created by sampling small, sharp and abrupt sounds on the electric guitar and then sequencing them in a drum machine to form the bedrock of the tracks. Mueller then added his particular, signature brand of intricate, hypnotic percussion to the mix and the compositions began to grow and take shape. The pair agreed that the pieces needed a more human touch and Coloccia was invited onboard, contributing processed vocals via looping, tape manipulation and microphone feedback.
The result is an other-worldly record that seamlessly flows from beginning to end, immersing the listener in waves of ambient movements and soporific beats. There is a trance-inducing aspect to this work, deserving to be consumed in one sitting and allowed to manifest itself for the duration. The trio have crafted a piece of work that stands up to the quality and integrity of their combined back catalogues and indeed adds something completely new for fans to discover and devour."
Contrasting licks of guitar fire, featuring Alan Bishop and co playing for the psychedelic long-game as Dwarfs of East Agouza, and Bill Orcutt driven by Chris Corsano to hack thru psych-blues styles
“Electric Smog, the next installment in Unrock's ongoing Saraswati series, will be the most rebellious and wildest to date. Again an intercontinental output, this is a dangerous, electric brew filled with exotic aroma from Cairo's sound guerilla, Alan Bishop (Sun City Girls), Maurice Louca (Karkhana), and Sam Shalabi (Land of Kush, Karkhana).
The always-changing face of Dwarfs Of East Agouza shows them in a feverish mode with an adrenalin rush; massive eruptions fight a genuine flow. Chris Corsano & Bill Orcutt manage to sound like a tonal cyclone consisting of 156 musicians, blowing heads and minds away. Out of the blue they suddenly manage to change mode and develop mild, calm, and elegant/fragile melodies. Interplay between early Baker and Clapton in Cream's looser frequencies seems sometimes just a stone's throw away. Electric Smog is meant to be a twin release to Sir Richard Bishop and David Oliphant/Karkhana with Nadah El Shazly's Carte Blanche."
Black Dice’s Eric Copeland refracts the “freakbeat 4/4” music of his ‘Trogg Modal’ EP thru the minds of other, psychedelically deft artists
Parris feeds muscle relaxants to Eric Copeland’s ‘Heads’, resetting it to a floppy limbed downstroke; RAMZi gives a more red-eyed look at the same cut; Lokier buffs up ‘321 Contact’ for contemporary EBM tastes; and Gerry Read extracts a rugged electro figure from the murk of ‘Electric Mud’.
FFT exert exacting, fresh spins on Heinrich Mueller electro styles for TTT after crafty introductions made in recent years on Uncertainty Principle and Super Hexagon Records
Taking cues from any number of Mueller-associated projects (Dopplereffket, Arpanet, Der Zyklus), but adding their own sliver of soul, FFT impress on both parts, smartly playing with anticipations via the icy intro and crisp jump-start into 2.1-stepping rhythms and wavy arp tendrils on ‘Regional’, while ‘Loss’ sets out a looser, mutable framework of synth-pop riffs and clinically cut rhythms recalling Monolake circa ‘Invisible Force’, only to calve away into something like a trace of Uwe Schmidt’s ‘Pop Artificelle’ album.
Deaf Center's second album Owl Splinters from 2011 gets a lavish re-packaging as a gatefold 2LP. It includes a Svarte Greiner re-interpretation album ‘Twin' as well as new cover-art with photos by cinematographer Joshua Zucker-Pluda.
Erik Skodvin and Otto Totland quietly honed their art via the nightmarish catharsis of the Svarte Greiner and Nest projects respectively, arriving at their 2nd album together ‘Owl Splinters’ back in 2011 in deeply solemn and contemplative mood. For this chapter of their story, mysterious imagery was rendered even sharper, as though someone on the inside wiped a palm on the window of their cabin in the woods.
This is largely attributable to the fact it was recorded at Nils Frahms' Durton studio, where the lo-fi graininess and techniques of their early work was brought to life with hi-end engineering and analogue equipment, allowing the duo to articulate their supernatural stories with more evocative detailing and widescreen atmospherics.
Opening to the bowed strings and seismic bass shudder of 'Divided', we're ushered straight to a world where Totland's piano adorns centrepiece 'The Day I Would Never Have' with ethereal pensiveness and Skodvin's cello expands like a dense, blackened cloud of smoke. Through the smaller vingettes like 'Fiction Dawn', this forested gloom colours the album through to the slow, vacuous pressure system of 'Close Forever Watching', its surge of cold black air almost brutally resolving the atmospheric tension.
The accompanying LP ‘Twin' is a 40 minute interpretation of Owl Splinters by Erik K Skodvin under his Svarte Greiner alias. The record takes the long-form, ghostly sections of it's parent album and expands them into crushing drone epics. The two parts are cut into four sections, pieced together by used and unused material from the recording session. It first appeared in form of an accompaniement CD that came with the initial 100 LPs of Owl Splinters. This is the first time ‘Twin' appears on vinyl.
Davy Kehoe fronts this mesmerising krautrock crawler for the cult Wah Wah Wino crew, flanked by fellow winos Brendan, B Man, and Morgan Buckley, who also mixed and edited the thing.
So yeh while it’s Davy’s name at the top, as with all Wah Wah Wino releases, it’s really a group effort and not hard it hear the influence of more than one cook up in the mix. Up top they saddle up for a long and meandering trek, high plains drifter style, with Davy manning drum machine, organ pedals, harmonica and dubbed-out vocals, along with B Man on percussion, guitar and organ by Brendan, and Morgan on fretless bass.
Together they mesh out a hazy, swaying grind that intersects haunted dancehall vibes with drone rock hypnosis, with a traction and time-slipping lilt that hits square between the 3rd eyes of Can, Tony Conrad and Black Zone Myth Chant. Allow the Roseanne style harmonica, though. The flipside is quite a different matter, effectively like a watery imprint of the A-side, with everything rubbed to a gauzy nub of scratchy rhythm and desiccated bass.
A wonderfully fine-feathered free jazz zinger from L.A., 1978, Horace Tapscott and the Pan Peoples Arkestra’s ‘The Call’ is reissued by DJ Harv’s Outernational Sounds for the first time
“Our Music is contributive, rather than competitive” - Horace Tapscott. Working under the right kinda steam, Tapscott and company play a blinder here, sending us reeling with the deliciously complex, rolling syncopation and flighty horns of ‘The Call’, then seducing with the mellifluous appearance of Adele Sebastian in ‘Quagmire Manor at Five A.M.’ before erupting into needlepoint bebop, and back out to Adele. Percussion fiends will then be in their element with the lithe, Afro-latinate swing and frenzied paso-doble vamps of ‘Nakatini Suite’, before they switch up and out again with the heady sway of strings and wind, hunched breaks and searching clarinet of ‘Peyote Song No. III.’
A proper Bobby Dazzler, this!
Abul Mogard's first new solo album since 2015’s ‘Circular Forms’, a staggering suite of widescreen landscapes painted in self-built modular synth strokes. Hugely recommended if you're into Alessandro Cortini, early OPN, Coil, Brian Eno...
Above All Dreams is Abul Mogard’s beautifully absorbing new album for Ecstatic, deploying six longform pieces for the most expansive solo release by Mogard to date. Taking into account its intangible divinity and cinematic quality - the result of no less than three years diligent work - it is arguably elevated to the level of his master opus; presenting a modular distillation of Mogard’s most intoxicating strain of hauntology.
Consistent with Mogard’s music since the sought-after VCO tapes c. 2012-2013, the allure to Above All Dreams lies in his ability to evoke and render feelings which are perhaps purposefully avoided in more academic echelons of drone music. Rather than a purist expression of physics thru maths and geometry, Mogard voices his soul, improvising on modular synth for hours, days, months and years in the same way a more conventional “band” develops group intuition.
While hands-on, the intuitive evolution of process locates a newfound freedom in his music that implies a recognition of the metaphysical or post-physical, while Mogard explicitly points to influence from the Brazilian music of Tom Zé, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Chico Buarque, whose approach to shape and density, or perceptions of light and delicacy, also go some way to explaining the ephemeral intangibility of Above All Dreams.
The results are best considered as the ephemera of non-verbal communications. From the gaseous bloom of Quiet Dreams to the opiated depth of Where Not Even to the starlit awn of Upon The Smallish Circulation, and through the B-side’s keeling, 16 minute+ panoramas of Above All Dreams and The Roof Falls, the power of Abul Mogard’s dreams above all transcends sound, feeling and physics in a truly remarkable way that evades words or concrete notation.
Akira Rabelais’ supremely moving eisoptrophobia album issued on vinyl for the first time, 17 years after it was first released on CD. Harnessing Akira’s own smudged recollections of childhood brought to life via treated solo piano pieces by Erik Satie and Bartok, it’s a haunting mutation of sound that comes hugely recommended if you grabbed his peerless Spellewauerynsherde reissue last year, or indeed any of his releases for David Sylvian’s Samadhisound label. Followers of The Caretaker’s work or Stephan Mathieu’s classic 'Radioland' album should also dive deep into these exquisite, bittersweet memories of secret histories lost in time.
First released in 2001 on CD by Ritornell, a sub-label of Mille Plateaux, ‘eisoptrophobia’ was an early iteration of Akira applying his Argeïphontes Lyre software to classical music, opening a fascinating schism between the original object and his modern, subjective perspective in the process. Made up of spellbinding, uniquely decayed renderings of solo piano pieces, it forms a poetic farewell to the 20th century and a reluctant embrace of new technological possibilities.
The original piano recordings of Satie and Bartók pieces were made at Wave Equation Studios in Hollywood, California, and subsequently transformed by Argeïphontes Lyre with beautifully elusive results. The recognisable melodies here ring out in myriad new ways, sometimes fractured and indented by patinas of crackle that echo the original contours, while, at othere, smudged into mind-bending obfuscation or spectral, timbral thizz. They have the uncanny capacity to resemble exhumed artefacts, dug up after decades of decay, and riddled with potently psychedelic mycelium ready to spore on the listener’s mind. But they also capture that elusive yearning for early life; the distant crackle of AM radio playing in another room, scratched records, a piano playing, somehere.
The title eisoptrophobia itself means ”fear of mirrors“, in an interview with L.A. weekly back in 2002, Rabelais explained that he picked it as a way of articulating his dread of limitation. ”I exist in a much larger space than what I am physically. But if I were to look into the mirror, I would suddenly pull back into my body.” A feeling not unlike the experience of sitting through this remarkable album before suddenly being snapped back to your surroundings.
Available on vinyl for the first time in 40 years, Outernational Sounds proudly presents a crucial document from the Los Angeles jazz underground - the Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra at their most together, stretching out on home turf in 1979, with the legendary Horace Tapscott at the helm.
"Horace Tapscott is one of the unsung giants of jazz music. A gifted composer and arranger, a boldly original pianist, and above all a visionary bandleader, Tapscott’s recorded footprint is small, but his legacy continues to vibrate through the Los Angeles music underground. From Freestyle Fellowship to Build An Ark, Kamasi Washington and Dwight Trible, it all traces back to Tapscott. The pianist was an organiser, and instead of chasing a successful recording career, he wanted to build a community band that would act as ‘a cultural safe house for the music.’ ‘I wanted to say, “This is your music. This is black music, and I want to present a panorama of the whole thing right here”’ said Tapscott in the late 1990s. ‘We would preserve the music on our ark, the mothership…’ That mothership was the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra – the Ark. As a culturally radical, communal big band with a visionary approach to American Black music, Tapscott’s group is second only to the other famous Arkestra, that of Sun Ra.
Tapscott had founded the group in 1961 as the Underground Musicians Association (UGMA). It changed its name to the Pan African Peoples Arkestra in 1971, and through the seventies the players lived, played and worked together. Community work and political consciousness were at the heart of the project, and for two decades they played in street, park and coffee house. With Tapscott as their guide and mentor, the Arkestra worked with theatre groups, poets and revolutionaries, ran music workshops and teaching sessions for children and adults, and played fundraisers, benefits and rallies for political and social causes both global and local.
From 1973 to 1981 their main rehearsal and concert space was the Immanuel United Church of Christ (I.U.C.C.) on 85th St and Holmes Ave. The Arkestra played there every second Sunday, developing their sound and hipping new audiences to their vision. Live At I.U.C.C., recorded in early 1979, was the only live recording the band released. In full flow, and at the height iof their powers, the group recorded here features original 1961 UGMA members Linda Hill, David Bryant and Alan Hines, alongside the powerful voices of a new generation including Jesse Sharps, Sabir Mateen, and Adele Sebastian.
Showcasing spiritualised classics from Arkestra’s songbook, including the heavy modal groovers ‘Desert Fairy Princess’ and ‘Macrame’, Live At I.U.C.C. is a rare chance to hear one of the most important, foundational bands in the music stretching out on their own thing. With the great Horace Tapscott at the piano, this is the rarely captured sound of the mothership in full flight!"
Vancouver lasses Minimal Violence are bang on the £$¥ with the EBM/rave/techno collisions of ‘InDreams’, their startling debut album for Technicolour
We were late to MV’s game, only clocking on with their ‘MVX/U41A’ bombs, but we’re full backing ‘InDreams’, one of the fiercest sets of hardcore techno in circulation this side of Live Adult Entertainment. In nine original productions plus a Cardopusher remix and a Powermoves megamix, they absolutely take the skin off it with a wild-eyed and ruthless barrage of hi-impact heavyweights.
They’re not necessarily remaking the wheel, but we haven’t heard this sound executed with so much gnashing energy and style in years. Trust it’s no piss-weak revivalism or slap-a-tinny-break-on-it dilettantism, but the real fucking thing, ravenous and ravishing, chomping at the bit, not hanging in the smoking area cos it’s actually shit inside, where everyone’s going thru the motions, waiting for a good tune.
‘InDreams’ is rave techno as punk music inspired by sci-fi literature and cinema. It’s highly visual stuff, connoting imagery of cenobites at Thunderdome, darkroom chase scenes and dancers pushing themselves to exhaustion between massive highlights in the hard acid trance peak of ‘InDreams’, the mentasmic gush of ‘L.A.P.’, and the lockjaw scally bounce of ‘June Anthem’ or the clattering skullduggery of ‘Persuasive Behaviour’.
Sometimes, it’s hard for us to reconcile first hand experience of older raves, when folk were far less self-conscious and more up-for-it, with many of rave’s current iterations, but ‘InDreams’ is the kind of record that could bring the joy of utter, unbuttoned abandonment back to the centre of the ‘floor. Just imagine a horde of fleggin’ Morley scallies invading your space. That sort of feeling.
Prolific cellist and composer Lucy Railton releases her long awaited solo debut for Modern Love; an intense and multi-layered opus that reminds us of everything from Alvin Lucier, Beatrice Dillon and Nate Young, to Valerio Tricoli and Popol Vuh.
A prolific performer who has appeared on countless recordings and collaborations with many important figures in contemporary music over the last few years, Paradise 94 is, remarkably, Railton's solo debut - featuring archival, location and studio recordings which serve as a time capsule of all the myriad disciplines and influences that have brought her to this point in time. It both plays up to and shatters expectations of her music, which harnesses a duality of energies - acoustic/electronic, real/imagined, iconic/iconoclastic, pissed-off/romantic; out of place and androgynous - resulting in a visceral emotional insight and rare narrative grasp.
Variegated, asymmetric, and located somewhere between her usual fields of exploration, Paradise 94 gives free reign to aspects of her creativity that have previously been subsumed into collaborative processes and interpretations of other composers’ work. Here, she’s free to probe, sculpt and layer her sounds through a much broader range of techniques and strategies, placing particular focus on non-linear structural arrangements and exploring the way her cello becomes perceptibly synthetic through collaging, rather than FX. At every turn Paradise 94 is bewilderingly unique.
The A-side unfolds an oneiric, inception-like sequence traversing temporalities, timbres and tones from what sounds like a spectral ensemble playing on a traffic island in Pinnevik, to bursts of rabbit-in-headlights trance arps emerging from meticulously dissected musique concrète in The Critical Rush, and a collision of masked vocals, string eruptions and a deeply moving, light-headed Bach rendition in For J.R.
On the other hand, Fortified Up on side B tests out a far rawer approach, sampling herself playing the same glissandi over and again, which she layers into a sort of perpetual, sickly motion, the Shepard Tone riffing on the listener’s psychoacoustic perceptions before calving off into a cathartic dissonant folk coda in its final throes.
In the most classic sense, you can only properly begin to f*ck with something from the inside once you truly know it. Railton’s dedicated years of service have more than equipped her with the nous and skill to do just that, gifting us with what will no doubt be looked back on as a raw, exposed and important solo debut in years to come.
Additional Note: The album features Beatrice Dillon on acetone drums on 'To The End', Gard Nilssen on cymbals and glass samples recorded and provided by Nicolas Becker on ‘The Critical Rush’. Organ extract on 'For J.R.' (Erbarm dich mein, o Herre Gott) is composed by J.S. Bach and performed by Kit Downes, drain pipe is performed by Koichi Makigami.
A tragically overlooked part of the ‘70s avant-classical canon finally appears on vinyl with Blume’s pressing of Julius Eastman’s ‘Crazy Nigger’ - the first part of his seminal ‘Nigger Series’ including ‘Gay Guerrilla’ and ‘Evil Nigger’, which were all previously only available on the sought-after ‘Unjust Malaise’ 3CD compilation
Julius Eastman (1940-1990) was a prodigious voice within the influential American avant-classical movement of the 1970s. As a composer, pianist, Grammy-nominated vocalist and dancer he brought unique qualities to the downtown minimalist movement most commonly associated with Philip Glass and Steve Reich. But where their music has received no shortage of accolades, by the early ‘80s Eastman’s staggering compositional contributions during the same era were practically unknown beyond tapes circulated between his peers. As Bradford Bailey explains “His place within the context of American classical music - an uncompromising artist of inconvenient identity, rising on the tide of an unavoidable talent, was a threat to the institution’s walls. It’s no surprise that his efforts were forced into the shadows…” With thanks to Mary Jane Leach, however, a wider reappraisal of Eastman’s work began with release of his ‘Nigger Series’ as part of the 3CD ‘Unjust Malaise’ [New World Records, 2005], and the trio of works now appear on vinyl for the first time.
‘Crazy Nigger’ is the first and longest part of the series’. Its provocative title was shocking then and is perhaps now more than ever. However, as the composer explains in an introduction given at Northwestern University found on ‘Unjust Malaise’, his use of the term is anything but derogatory, instead referring to the fundamental role of “field niggers” in the foundation of the American economy, as “not superficial, but elegant… at the ground of things”. From this perceptive base, Julius Eastman radically adapts the instrumental language of classical music to his own, expressive ends, to challenge the restrictions of romantic classical music with more fluid and organically open-ended musical structures.
Composed in 1978, ‘Crazy Nigger’ offers a muscular parallel to the more mannered minimalism of the era. His keys attack in powerful flurries right from the start, cascading complex harmonies that arguably feel more immediate, gloriously voluminous and, heck, “crazed” than work by almost any of his contemporaries. By the track’s hammering climax and lofted conclusion, first time listeners will be under little illusion as to the thrilling power of Eastman’s playing and vision.
It could be said that the difference in Eastman’s music stems from his personal experience as flamboyant, Gay, Black man in the ’70s. Like his contemporary Arthur Russell (he notably conducted Russell’s ‘Tower of Meaning’ and sang on Dinosaur L’s ‘24→24 Music’) and the efforts of Glass and Reich, Eastman’s music unavoidably mirrors the drive of disco and the sprawling fluidity of African music, bridging dimensions in dizzying flights of innovation. But where Reich and Glass are often hailed as forerunners of a certain type of mannered minimal techno, then by that logic, Eastman’s music is a kind of prototype for the breathtaking, headlong rush of Detroit or NYC techno and hardcore for discerning listeners.
And as for the title, perhaps Bradford Bailey puts it best: “You have to wonder, when titling his works - often deploying the vile language of racism and homophobia, if Julius Eastman was consciously forcing white, leftist music fans like myself to choke out words which we actively despise - to recognise polarising truths which are bound to his sounds and the context in which they reside - to see our complicity with unforgivable sin."
Recorded at Mills College in 1977, Robert Ashley’s iconic Private Parts has remarkably never been officially reissued on vinyl since its first pressing in 1978 - until now.
Ashley was a pioneer of the American avant-garde, member of the Sonic Arts Union (alongside David Behrman, Alvin Lucier, and Gordon Mumma), the director of the San Francisco Tape Music Center and eventually the Mills College for Contemporary Music where Private Parts was recorded. Despite his interest in experimental techniques, often modulating his voice beyond recognition, on Private Parts Ashley discovered that his own, untreated voice carried its own transfixing qualities. Split into two 20 minute pieces (one told from the perspective of a man, the other of a woman), Ashley narrates a philosophically rich, often absurd, mysteriously opaque quasi stream-of-consciousness, weaving around slowly unfurling keyboard and tabla ragas played by Krishna Bhatt and Gene Tyranny.
“This is not a record, this is a story…” he tells us not long into ‘The Park’, before referencing Alvin Lucier’s “I am sitting in a room”, recorded a decade earlier - a piece famously concerned with frequencies and resonance. Was Ashley dismissing his formative tape music life, or merely producing a new kind of acoustic sleight of hand? Hard to tell, but in any event, these recordings marked a distinct new phase in his recording career; from this point on he became best known for that uniquely meditative, untreated voice.
Ashley had previously worked at the University of Michigan's Speech Research Laboratories, so it’s not a stretch to assume that his focus on ‘Private Parts’ was as much about tonality as narrative, but in any event, the impact of Private Parts was substantial, eventually adapted for television by Channel 4 in the UK (as part of Ashley’s seven-part opera Perfect Lives), but also carrying through an obvious stylistic influence on everyone from Laurie Anderson to David Byrne’s Talking Heads.
Over 40 years on, Private Parts has lost none of its potency. It’s a record that operates on multiple levels; it opens a portal into a curious narrative wormhole, but also triggers dizzying, gradual hypnosis. It makes you think of the deep, mysterious but also absurd minutiae of life - something that’s now most commonly (and far too often) referred to as Lynchian - in a way you’re unlikely to experience with any other record. And you’re unlikely to experience it in quite the same way more than once.
Rotherham rave imp Rian Treanor kicks up to Planet Mu for ‘Ataxia’, his debut album following introductory EPs with The Death of Rave and Warp’s resuscitated Arcola sublabel.
Under the title ‘ATAXIA’, chosen literally for its meaning - “the loss of control of bodily movements” - as well as its figurative, asymmetric quality, Rian sequences ramped versions of his tracks for The Death of Rave along with shockingly forward new gear that plays into his love of Dadaist vocal cut-ups. The result is an immensely playful and beguiling album, cannily messing with listeners’ sense of rhythmic anticipation in a dare-to-be-different style that’s tripped up and put a big daft grin on dancefloors everywhere from Boiler Room in Helsinki to Uganda’s Nyege Nyege Tapes festival.
Where his earlier EPs were mostly improvised, Rian spent more time shaping the tracks for ‘ATAXIA’. Taking cues from his mentor and father, eminent sound artist Mark Fell, as well a rich SoYo rave heritage, he sticks to an economical palette, making each stab, drum and pad count in the democracy of the mix. From these relatively simple, if now more refined elements, Rian’s suss comes into play in the structuring, using his background as a visual artist to create disruptive patterns of angular yet fluid syncopation and irregular symmetries that both allow for and connote a sort of hyper-natural order of chaos.
While resembling the styles of speed garage, synth-pop, bleep techno and extreme computer music that he grew up with, Rian’s pointedly mischievous approach jumbles those styles, using the tactility of Max/MSP to rejig them with more unpredictable and playfully wrong-footing effect, embracing the dancefloor’s radical potential to reprogram minds and bodies.
Concepts aside, though, ‘ATAXIA’ is a lot of fun. Rian’s dry Yorkshire humour is in full effect in the cut-up vocals of the openings and closing numbers, while the recursive ballistics of ‘B1’ are bound to tie bodies in knots, ‘C2’ advances his absorbingly intricate melodic sequencing, and the rhymelodic chicanery of ‘D2’ ranks among the most stunning, inexorably funky cuts in his catalogue.