After closing out Smalltown Superjazzz’ run in 2015, Mats Gustafson fires up its new iteration - Actions For Free Jazz - in the lacquer crackling, spittle-riddled investigations of ‘Link’ with avant-turntablist Christian Marclay
Both known for charting paths less travelled, here they point to strange, liminal zones of perception on their first collaboration, with Gustafsson’s electronically processed tenor and baritone sax channelling an ecology of wee beastie insect sounds against the the signature unpredictability of Marclay’s palette of turntables and noise.
The first cut is a proper ripper featuring both in a dual to unpick the maddest variety of fractured sounds in rapid flux, before they gel in grittier, viscous roil on ‘Nacre’ only to erupt with destructive noise force,and resolve with the melodic whirligig of ‘Superbad’.
Trust the other side is equally cracked up, running from playful scree recalling some alarm of Smegma and Sun Ra in ‘Old Rose’, while the rudimentary drones and hacked clatter of ‘Long Distance’ and the could almost be compared with Wolf Eyes’ sludgy trip metal smudges, and their title track attempts to invade your ears like a troupe of determined ants as Gustafsson’s sax acts like anteater slurping them up thru your other ear.
Party-ready double-header by The Juan MacLean and Zombies in Miami for Fort Romeau’s Cin Cin
NYC’s The Juan MacLean take the lead with subtle synth-pop references tucked into the sparkling jack of ‘Time Out of Joint’, and on a sultry mix of Freestyle, New Age house and New Beat acid nods in the chufty optimism of ‘Everywhere At Once’.
Mexico’s Zombies In Miami duo hold down the flipside with a serpentine Italo sidewinder ‘Lotus’ primed to hypnotise Cómeme freaks, and then like early Psychick Warriors of Gaia on a peyote trip with the locked in pressure of ‘Dance of Gopis’.
Alex Zhang Hungtai takes his instrumental work to ever more personal and moving levels on his soundtrack to a semi-autobiographical film meditating on the meaning of home in which Hungtai himself plays the main protagonist, returning to Hawaii to trace his roots. It arrives in the wake of some of his most significant artistic achievements; the stunning ‘Divine Weight’ album which knocked us off our feet in 2018, that incredible Love Theme album for Alter, and his appearance under the spotlights of The Roadhouse stage in Twin Peaks Season 3 as one half of house band Trouble alongside David Lynch’s son Riley.
Hungtai has captivated us since he emerged from Montreal’s burgeoning music scene at the early 2010’s as Dirty Beaches, and his movements since have taken turns that have been both unexpected and entirely in keeping with his unique aesthetic approach, pushing ever further into the rawly expressive style that has earned him cult-like status over the course of the past decade.
August At Akiko’s is in some respects his most unvarnished and personal work to date - infused with location recordings made in Hawaii, the music reflects the serene, introspective ambience of the film itself. Opening with the short, naked field recording of ‘Temple Bell’, and resolving with the harmonious glow and dissonant shards of keys in ‘Ocean Boy’, the soundtrack is dominated by two contrasting tracts featuring Hungtai on his favoured sax.
The first, ‘Sky Burial’ is a starkly brooding piece opening with a menacing rumble and clatter of ceremonial Buddhist music where he joins in, tentatively at first, but growing into a ripping display of wounded beast bleats and whirling shreds as febrile and roving as the background drums. In sharp contrast, the flipside is free of drums, leaving Hungtai blowing beautifully blue whims to himself. Unadorned and as vulnerable as could be, the side ends with a meditative solo piano piece which acts as a perfect distillation of the stillness and inner peace the film manages to capture so well, living in the seams between dreams, reality, and memory, with a temporality all of its own.
Itinerant Dubs return after 4 years MIA with a wood-burning acid banger backed with a wicked electro one-two
Up top they shackle a virulent, acidic/Italo arp with big, booming kicks and cracking snares, allowing loads of air in the mix in a way that will properly ricochet around the warehouse. Think Actress meets I-F.
Down under, they catch the zeitgeist in two sizzling electro numbers, working up one piece of biting point breakbeat electro tackle replete with Drexciyan hydro-licks, then with a darker echo old skool Bonesbreaks style.
From the underside of ‘90s ambient music, O Yuki Conjugate’s eerie meditation ‘Insect-Talk’ reappears, backed with slunky remix from Tolouse Low Trax, a Howes reduction, and the band’s own 2018 update
Hailing from Nottingham during the first waves of post-punk in the early ‘80s, Roger Horberry and Andrew Hulme’s O Yuki Conjugate issued a healthy handful of 4th world, or what they call “dirty ambient” releases and compilation cuts alongside the likes of Pump, Muslimgauze and other members of the UK post-punk/industrial/experimental firmament, with the best of their early phase appearing on Vinyl-on-Demand’s ‘Ambiguism 1983-1987’ compilation.
Fast forward a few year into the ‘90s, and ’Insect-Talk’ was a highlight of OYC’s ‘Equator’ LP in 1994. The track also appeared in a lesser known ‘Dry’ form on the ‘Twilight Earth’ compilation, and now 25 years later on this 12”, serving a slow mesh of brittle drums, wide bass and mantric gasps that Tolouse Low Trax makes even slower, smeared into all corners of the mix with woozy style, before Howes drives it out further for something like a knackered Dynamo groove, and, best of all, OYC revise with slippery reverse loops to sound like a lost Coil gem.
Australian selector Lauren Hansom wafts a slow soul and funk mixtape from the tropical lagoons of Amsterdam for Berlin’s Altered Soul Experiment
Richly playing into an idea of the ‘Dam as a tropical archipelago hosting myriad, worldly voices both organic, classic, and synthetic, modern, Lauren’s mix comes on in warm waves of skronky, downtempo soul-jazz, dubbed-out hustle, Japanese synth-pop and balmy Afro-Caribbean seduction, just the sort of gear you’d expect to hear on her Red Light Radio shows.
“Flowing through the multiple aesthetic veins she keeps delving in with equal poise and panache, life itself speaks out - and the many changes that accompanied her change of landscape, from Sydney to Amsterdam - "moving home, people leaving, new people, adventures, uncertainty, surprise", et al. Imagine staring at the slo-scudding clouds and the abstract drawings of long-haul planes' vapour trails listening to this, trying to map the distance that cuts trajectories apart and joins seemingly splitting lanes together again. "It is the journey of life and my life as it seems; it is through music and through this tape that I can share with you some of those moments that have gone by. I hope with this, you can step into my mind, my world and take the journey with me."
Vibrant Malawian “Banjo Music” from Madalitso Band, making their international debut with Switzerland’s Bongo Joe. Stripped down and direct songs about orphans, patriotism, and the woman you can’t live without
“Madalitso Band have walked the streets of Lilongwe (Malawi) their whole lives, playing songs about life, love, hardship and beauty, which they compose together in a kind of trance, with words never being written on paper. But here they are, eight songs on record for a first international release. Songs like the title track Wasalala, about the orphan girl who glows, Nambe, the woman you just can't live without, and Vina Vina Malawi, the celebration of a country. Some call it traditional, some call it trance, in Malawi it's called Banjo Music, but no matter what, it'll make you dance, and more than that, though you don't know the language, you'll be singing along like you did. The home-made one-string slide bass, known locally as Babatone, four string guitar, cow-skin foot drum and two lush voices in harmony are what we want to present, undiluted and in their natural state.”
Orchestra Of Constant Distress are Joachim Nordwall (The Skull Defekts, iDEAL Recordings), Anders Bryngelsson (Brainbombs, No Balls), Henrik Rylander (The Skull Defekts, Union Carbide Productions) and Henrik Andersson.
"One core dynamism within the field of music is the relationship between performer and spectator. The audience listen and watch the musicians enjoying themselves and through that they get an experience of joy. This requires a system of believing where organized sound can be recognized, and is therefore music as such. Upon listening to Orchestra of Constant Distress´ third album you might want to question this meaning of tonality.
Through catatonic riffs and uncanny sounds we are as listeners left with a situation where we do not know how to distinguish bad and good, pleasure from displeasure. OoCD seems to be moving beyond their decent from such bands as Brainbombs, The Skull Defekts and Union Carbide Productions towards a tension of disbelief."
An impossible-to-find, ’95 Memphis rap tape surfaces on vinyl for 1st time via Gyptology, a new "Egyptian Archaology" styled re-issue label
Leading on from Shawty Pimp’s ‘Comin’ Real Wit It’  - which was dished up by Delroy Edwards’ L.A. Club Resource and sold out within days back in 2014 - its sequel, ‘Still Comin Real’ reprises that woozy slow drawl on 11 slurps of syrupy goodness.
As to be expected, noise artefacts carry over from the original, short-run tape edition, but it wouldn’t be a proper, OG Memphis rap session without that haze of tape grit. Safe to say that Gyptology know this, too, and see vinyl as the most faithful, sympathetic form of preservation.
Thus, you can trust the sound is raw as; a distinct adjunct to the prevailing NYC and LA hip hop styles of 1995’s golden era, working with rude, stripped down production values and vibes that have significantly withstood the test of time, and since laid the roots for a lot of contemporary southern rap, hip hop and R&B.
Furtive EBM explorations from New Mexico/New York’s Santiago Leyba, stomping from sludgy cranks to puckered machine funk and bitter noise
Marking the first full length LP on LA’s Private Selection, ‘Western Vices’ is also Santiago’s 2nd solo LP, after a 2017 album and EP spent getting to grips with this sound for Unknown Precept.
Intended to be played loud, the album stakes the out darkest ginnels and junctions of the contemporary, retro-futurist EBM sound, exploring the fetid gooch where OG ‘80s industrial, ‘90s fetish dungeon styles and millennial noise instincts intersect and infect like something venereal.
Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, controversial occultist and iconic founding member of COUM Transmissions, Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV, brings to a close a series of collaborations with Carl Abrahamsson which now spans three decades and which finds P-Orridge narrating over immaculate ambient tapestries, delivered at time-dilating pace.
Electing to use their own names, ’Loyalty Does Not End With Death’ is the final part of a spoken word trilogy initiated in 1990 with the Psychick TV & White Stains side ’At Stockholm’, and proceeded by their ‘Wordship’  album as Thee Majesty & Cotton Ferox, and is the first appearance the pair have had together on vinyl. It’s the sound of two cosmically-travelled minds crossing paths again after a long absence in which they’ve been able to chew over the bare essentials - love and magick - via vibrant poetry and beautifully charged forms of ambient music.
In nine parts they conjure a warmly meditative space, where Abrahamsson’s characteristic tones, cut-up electronics and gentle rhythms comfortably lay the bed for Genesis, who inhabits and enlivens the pristine scenes like an observant dark interpreter, translating the incomprehensible and revealing the divine through their psychedelic prism.
The spellbinding results were recorded in New York and Stockholm 2017/18 and could feasibly have occurred at any point between 1990 and now. They are blessed with a pacing, intuition and timelessness that pays testament to an enduring creative friendship, taking the form of writing, interviews, photographs and film for nearly 35 years, bringing to resolution an almost life-long arc.
John Beltran revives his much-loved Placid Angles alias for a new album on Lone’s label, Magicwire
Last heard over 20 years ago on ‘The Cry’ LP with Peacefrog, and before that on a classic 12” with Open House, ‘Aquatic’ and a seminal Buzz compilation, Placid Angles has since become the preserve of the deepest Detroit heads and fans of intricate, jazzy, melodic techno everywhere.
It’s really not hard to hear how the Placid Angles sound has informed Lone’s nostalgic, gauzy style of breakbeats and techno, especially after ingesting ‘First Blue Sky’. From the aerial breaks and plush sophistication of ‘the title track, thru the twilight garage-techno of ‘Angel’, to the romantic sweep of ‘Vent’, via wild breakbeats and ecstatic divas in ‘Earth and Everything’, in the sub-blushed chords of ‘Bad Minds’, and the stressed ambient tone of ‘1700’, the spiritual kinship twixt Lone and Placid Angels is laid bare for everyone to revel in.
Levon Vincent keeps up the stride of his ‘Dance Music’ series with signature suss on Pt. 3
The mighty A-side hearkens back to his 10 year old classics with swingeing interplay of massive, heavy subs, jagged chords and spitting hi-hats all tweaked with hands on the desk for club-enveloping effect.
B-side he turns the lights lower for a stripe of sleek, velvet-cloaked kicks and tense midnight pads recalling Carl Craig’s ‘Darkness’, before stepping up with a super minimal deep house swinger hingeing around phasing, Reichian marimba motif.
Ukranian/Japanese duo Tamayugé hex the trippy headz at Paris’ Akuphone with a ‘marishly cute but f**ked up invocation of ‘Baba Yaga’, the witch-like Slavic folklore figure. Check for strangest feels in the murky Finnish psych styles of ‘Chornei, what sounds like Phew duelling Elvin Brandhi on ’Tamago’, or a Breadwoman baked from infected rye in ‘Herbert Song’
“After Ko Shin Moon, The Dwarfs of East Agouza and Praed, Akuphone continues its sonic exploration of freaky electronic music with Tamayugé!
Blend of experimental music, creepiness melancholia and kitschy tones, this surprising collaboration release his first album Baba Yaga.
At the head of: Maya Kuroki and Tamara Filyavich, a Japanese and a Ukrainian now based in Montreal. Maya Kuroki's phantasmagoric vocals and dreamy guitar added to Tamara Filyavich's team of electronic ghosts fresh out of her nightmares and invite is to a strange ritual, between tormented performance and feminist ceremony. Like Baba Yaga, an ambivalent character of the Slav Mythology, both part of Japanese and Ukrainian cultures, Tamayugé’s music brings scary and exciting shivers and open to an enigmatic imaginary.
The mysterious and unsettling Tamayugé’s universe is somewhere between Phew, Laurie Anderson and The Residents!”
Anna Homler presents a new album of quietly inquisitive collaborations following that acclaimed RVNG Intl reissue of her eponymous 1982 debut, which famously depicts her Breadwoman character (imagine John Merrick channelling an ancient babushka) providing a combination of inimitable gauzy electronics and vocal abstractions. On this new album she hands co-production over to PAN-affiliate Steven Warwick aka Heatsick, Gang of Ducks’ Alessio Capovilla, Mark Davies alias The Pylon King and the late Steve Moshier, who produced the original Breadwoman tape.
In opener ‘O’sa Va’ya’, Capovilla buoys Anna’s starkly impassioned cry with floating organ passages to utterly transportive effect, a kind of detached mirror image of This Mortal Coil / Liz Fraser’s take on 'Song To The Siren’, while Steven Warwick lends a more retro-futuristic melody to ‘Nepenthe’, named after the ancient Greek drug of forgetfulness, but ironically working as the most memorable piece on the album, framing Homler against a divine choir of herself and undulating, iridescent arps.
Steve Moshier appears posthumously on the album’s standout title track, underlining Homler's prelinguistic vocal with 15 minutes of whirling ambient passages that do much to highlight her instinct for inescapably formless shapes; a genuinely alien, multi-faceted and uncompromising exercise in sound art that we still can’t fully get the measure of several listens later.
Gassed on nature, BXP unfurls his more sensitive, elemental ambient side, then stretches out with two slow treks working shades away from Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement
“An ecstatic recon through the meaning of isolation where field recording unfolds the ambient/techno sides of BXP’s production. Born from nature, crafted in studio: techno meant for wide landscapes.
"Islands" is the result of a long search spent seeking sounds on various islands during his journey through south-east asia with a Tascam recorder and several directional microphones. He captured natural sounds from jungles, dunes, beaches and wild urban landscapes, not to mention the deep sounds of the Earth’s elements: the sea, the wind, the interaction between man and nature.”
By turns lysergic, wistful and doomy, Jim Williams' soundtrack for Ben Wheatley's baffling period piece, 'A Field In England' neatly reflects the films psychedelic feel.
"Ben Wheatley’s black-and-white chamber horror, set amidst the strange margins of the English Civil War, is a puzzling, inexplicable nightmare, made all the more disturbing by Williams’ spare, brooding score of early music textures that gradually morph into electro-psychedelic overload, aided by Martin Pavey’s sound design and, in one terrifying sequence, the use of Blanck Mass’s ‘Chernobyl’."
Classy 1st release of sleek Italo-electro, deep minimal techno and rugged ambient styles from Finland’s Émotsiya label
Sansibar follows up a recent outing for Natural Sciences with the effortlessly dreamy Italo-electro flow of ‘Vaseline’, while Ann Hiko (Noah Kin) appears to scan the skies for an incoming chopper that hovers overhead raining night-flight melodies.
Helsinki local Denzel brings the vibe more intimate with the swanging hustle of ‘Distractions 01’ recalling DJ Richard or Galcher Lustwerk vibes, and Estonia’s Endamisi Salamisi keeps it low key but insistent with the wide open, pendulous electro shift of ‘Rentzel’ in a way recalling vintage Metamatics.
USA’s heaviest D&B producer Homemade Weapons goes on hard and tech with ‘Gravity’, his 2nd album following 2016’s ‘Negative Space’
Operating on the opposite side of the planet to D&B’s power centres hasn’t held back Homemade Weapons from developing his own, tightly coiled style, as displayed with cutthroat intensity throughout ‘Gravity’.
Taking what he needs from gnashing late ‘90s styles and modern halfstep pressures, the Seattle-based producer hits heavy with hardship brawlers such as ‘Red Tide’, or like a skittish Source Direct on ‘Lingchi’ with Artilect, while ‘Heretics’ and the cyclonic dynamics of ‘Virga’ show off his most spacious, pensive drum programming, and the likes of ‘Constants’ and the swollen halfstep ballast of Lamia’ should find favour with Pessimist types.
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.
Plaintive, eerily plangent pop dirges from Carla Dal Forno, making good on her newly minted Kallista label after her immaculate run for Blackest Ever Black.
On ‘So Much Better’ she saddles up a shuffling lament, poised like a lighter Nico with introspective lyrics about the romantic and the mundane laid over a spacewalk waltz groove.
The instrumental ’Fever Walk’ is more lugubrious, with leaden drums and burnt-out bass underlining ghostly synth notes and the faintest glimmers of her voice.
Proper peach, this one.
An amazing slab from Glasgow’s fecund subterrain, ‘The Funnel’ is Wojciech Rusin’s debut razz of field recordings and choral composition riddled with rug-pulling edits and keeling turns of phrases - arguably a spiritual parallel to László Hortobágyi, Black Zone Myth Chant, Jani Christou, Él-G
A big clue to the cryptic chicanery of ‘The Funnel’ is the fact that Wojciech Rusin builds his own instruments, which accounts for some degree of the odd tonalities at work. But when you factor in the field recordings of Port Talbot Steelworks, and his patent knowledge of renaissance polyphony, it all just becomes more brilliantly complicated and unfathomably idiosyncratic.
Across seamlessly segued sides, they weave strategies and logic from the GRM to soil dynamics and avant-classical skools in a remarkable diffusion and collection of energies, swaying in viscous grit one second, then waltzing with Richard Youngs-like folk vocals that bifurcate into dramatic polyphony the next minute, before stranding you in a lift with beelzebub chatting shite in tongues about the weather the next, only to expectorate your head and anticipations in scenes of gunky pastoralism and Noz-like feedback loops of choral vocals and windswept bleeps.
We could run ourselves circles trying o describe it any further, but save for your amusement, we’d rather just get back to listening to this one, and leave the freaks to grapple with it all in their own time.
Don’t sleep on this one, it looks stunning, too.
Houston meets Bristol at the hands of Sam Binga...
...linking with Paul Wall on the brooding low rider ‘All Cap’, then with Bristol MC Redders again for the dutty dancehall of ‘Vandilero’, and Rider Shafique for the cold bogle of ‘Organic’, plus a Zomby-esque instrumental ‘I’m An Adult’ with Halogenix, and a canny beatless roller with Om Unit, ‘Find A Way’.
‘Echoes’ is a sultry beauty from Synclavier whiz Frank Harris and Venezuelan vocalist Maria Marquez, collected and issued together for 1st time by New Zealand’s Strangelove Music. Joining the dots between Sade, MFM’s sublime ‘Outro Tempo’ comps, and Decha’s ‘Hielo Boca’ ace, you do not want to overlook this one!
Really, this one’s pretty immaculate, a marriage of devilish drum and synth programming oiled with classically dreamy, seductive vocals, wrapped up in the future/primitive spirit of the mid ‘80s, when early synth adopters such as Harris were remodelling pop with avant, electronic soul alchemy.
It’s practically worth it for the sublime opening couplet of cumbia rhythms and aching vox in ‘Canto Del Pilón’ and ‘Campesino’ alone, which are nigh on impossible to find on original 7”, but when they add in the likes of his rippling arabesque ‘Ethnicity’, alongside the captivating sashay of ‘Tonada De Ordeño’ beside the diamond-cut adult soul of ‘Loveroom’ form their ‘In A Minor Mode’ LP, plus the full wingspan swing of instrumental ‘Tenderloin’, and experimental cumbia innovations on ‘Field Trips’, and the pastoral sweetness of ‘Bein’ Green’, you looking at an absolute no dusty, no question.
Lieven Martens (Dolphins Into The Future) proves an ideal candidate for Longform Editions with ‘Deo Gratias Triginta Sex’, a 30 minute work of processed choral polyphony, turning 18 singers into an orgy of harmonics and writhing, withering rhythms with stop-in-your-tracks effect
“Johannes Ockeghem (1410 – 1497), born in Saint Gislain - Hainaut, Belgium - and for a while living in Antwerp, wrote one of our nation’s greatest hits. Deo Gratias is a canon for 36 singers and apparently he wrote this particular song as kind of a joke or game; quickly “between the soup and the potatoes” as we would say in Dutch. Some say Ockeghem had in mind that a much larger number of people should perform this piece, but it was considered too complicated to find enough experienced singers, to make the piece correct measure-wise, et al.
Let’s open Logic X Pro and try and see if we could help Ockeghem to make this vision a (simulated…) reality.
Since this is a creation for deep and / or extended listening I selected a sligthly longer version of the song rendered by Paul Van Nevel and the Huelgas Ensemble, and layered and sequenced this 36 times in row. Every new sequence starts more or less according to Ockeghem’s original transcript. Small detail… in the version of the Huelgas Ensemble no more than 18 voices are singing contemporarily. As soon as the first voice of the fourth (bass) chorus reaches its final note every voice "freezes" at its current line in melody…
The layering of these sounds in the computer let the overtones shine and the human breathing and whistling create pretty rhytmic parents. The project shows that Ockeghems original idea is kinda genious since however you layer this music, the final result, be it a bit dense and somewhat conjested drone, is still very harmonic. Inspiring.
At first i started cutting, trimming and pitch correcting parts, making the piece a more correct rendition of the original four canon idea. But then i realized that the best manner to execute this version is to keep it simple and short, between the forementioned “soup and potatoes”. So here goes with all the gentle flaws…
At certain points you hear 11 times the same part overlaid. Thus 11 x 18 singers = 198 singers! Here’s to making Ockeghem’s grand vision come to (a simulated…) life.”
Longform Editions coax out a magnificent, hour-long ambient banner from Robert Cox’s revitalised Rimarimba project. Ideal for taking a stroll and letting your head unravel
“I live on the coast. The inspiration came from daily walks by the sea. The background ever changing drone is the restless sea, the cellos are the breaking waves, their 'gritty' sound quality is the pebbles washing back down the beach and the higher pitched twiddly things are the circling sea gulls. Although 'real' waves have a frequency of 7–8 per minute and, yes, approximately the seventh one is often the biggest I have slowed mine down as they sounded too fast at 7–8/m. Think of these as long Pacific rollers breaking on a distant shore.
Unlike most of my compositions this one has no percussion.
The whole beast was made from acoustic and electric guitar parts recorded onto a Tascam DP32. Many had their initial attack removed and some were looped on an Electro-Harmonix 45000 looper. The 'strings' were produced by feeding some parts through an Electro-Harmonix Mellotron pedal. A Yamaha SPX 2000 processed many of the parts in various unspeakable ways until they 'felt' about right. A Lexicon Reverb worked its magic as only Lexicon can. About half of the parts play in reverse at various points. The guitars used were a Furch SJV 121 Lux acoustic 12 string, hand made in the Czech Republic in 1997, and a Gibson ES335 electric, made in Nashville, USA in 1987. Both were tuned in open C – CGCGCE.
This is an age of ever shortening attention spans driven by the constructs of our online world. News is delivered as headlines to skim across with little in the way of in depth explanation or examination. The so called 'long read' pieces in online news sites are no more than the first two columns of a four page article in the Sunday newspapers from a few years ago. Ebooks do not convey the same experience as print on paper. Without the physical presence and weight of a book digital information can feel as ephemeral as television advertising. Wikipedia, good though it is, does not allow for the chance discoveries that come from turning the page in a reference book or encyclopedia. Saving a link in order to return to an online article is not the same as remembering the piece about electrons is about one third of the way through the volume E–G a few pages after the picture of the Egyptian statue. Whilst static art is still, well, static and you can gaze upon and contemplate a painting or a sculpture for as long as time permits how many do so when we are conditioned by the predominance of moving images.
Slow cooking is a healthy reaction to fast, commercialised, food. Likewise both walking and cycling (slow travel) rather than driving make for a deeper experience of the journey.
A long piece of music be it a symphony, an ambient work or a jazz suite creates a mindscape in which the listener can lose and find themselves as their attention wanders and returns. It can trigger a memory in that moment at 37 minutes which is different the next time they hear it because they almost inevitably arrive at that moment having taken a different path through the piece. Today the bass line, tomorrow the percussion figures, the day after the unfolding harmonies. This takes time to achieve, time that is not available in a three minute pop song. The listener who allocates enough of their time will find an hour immersed in a piece of music is at least as beneficial as a long soak in a warm bath.”
A highly evocative, smudged take on shoegaze drone from Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, a release that marked a radical rethink of the classic dream-pop template when it was released in 2010, taking an impressionist's brush to established ambient traits.
Love Is A Stream joins the dots between My Bloody Valentine and drone-pop figureheads like Tim Hecker and Grouper, sculpting noise and feedback around gauzy vocal shimmers that expand the horizon far into the unknown.
Although its component parts spring from the fiery embers of molten synthesizers and tape saturated guitar tones, the album derives its luxurious textural presence from submerged vocals supplied by the likes of Type boss John 'Xela' Twells, Lisa McGee and Maxwell August Croy.
You can just about make out those lost voices roaming around the pulverised mix of 'Stained Glass Body' and the billowing 'River Like Spine’ - though it's impossible to make any single element out given how melted and fluid the mixing is, bringing a frail human element to an album that otherwise sounds entirely not of this Earth.
We’re f*cking buzzing to tick Mappa Mundi’s enigmatic 1990 ambient album ‘Musaics’ off the vinyl wishlist, with thanks to Brian Not Brian’s Midnight Drive reissue schedule, who’ve necessarily expanded it from single LP to a 2xLP primed to play loud
A rugged outlier on the cusp of ambient sea change ‘80s into ‘90s, ‘Musaics’ presents 6 soundscapes realised by Jan Van De Bergh and Pieter Kuyl in “spontaneous sessions” with a sampler, drum machines and a computer circa 1990. The results are absolutely choice examples of that era, ranging from tuff but deep breakbeats to dead sexy proto-Goa styles including the lusting ‘Sexafari’ and languorous classic ‘Trance Fusion’, as recently hailed by Hunee and also reissued in the ‘Antwerp Bio Techno 1989-94’ EP.
So yeh, a favourite of ours for a good few years now, ‘Musaics’ is a little world unto itself, folding in all stripes of environmental sounds, acidic synths and lithe rhythms to terraform a psychedelic rave dream just prior to it all tipping into “hardcore”. As they state int he liner notes, the duo arrived art this style serendipitously via simply mixing two records together with a mixer. That might sound easy and obvious, but remember this was the start of Europeans pissing around on two turntables, finding that mythical 3rd track, and attempting to recreate its imaginary clash of textures, tones and grooves.
Like UK producers who were also applying the same Hip Hop-based ideas with a twisted lip and at faster tempos, Mappa Mundi did it slower, psychedelic, but still with a rugged appeal. It’s there everywhere from the very Bristolian parallels of opener ‘Urbi Et Mori’ with its depth charge subs, to the aforementioned beauty ‘Sexafari’ and its writhing 808s, to the mix of didgeridoo and rap knocks in ‘Serendipity (Take 1)’, and thru to full swing break in ‘The Oracle’ or the New Jack Swang of ‘Wölfli’, but hardly better than on ‘Trance Fusion’, one of the sexiest, enchating 11 minutes of slow dance music produced in 1990.
Finnish psych sorceress Laura Naukkarinen aka Lau Nau weaves a cats cradle of crystalline electronics recorded at EMS Stockholm across her half hour-long work ‘Amphipoda’ for Longform Editions
“Lau Nau (Laura Naukkarinen) composes music for films, theatre and albums, makes workshops and sound installations and travels around the world performing. In her work she combines electroacoustic approaches, found objects, field recordings, folk instruments, classical instruments, analogue synthesisers and her own voice. Her music is imbued with a cinematic breadth of vision and her idiosyncratic, finely honed sound world builds on fragile, spectral otherness. She has been nominated for various prestigious prizes in her home country Finland and won the main Femma prize 2018 with her fifth album Poseidon, released in Europe, USA and Japan.
Lau Nau says: “The piece is recorded at Elektronmusikstudion EMS in Stockholm with their big Buchla 200 system in 2018. I was there for a short residency studying how to compose the changes in the Baltic Sea into music. This composition is inspired by how the biomass of plankton vary in the Baltic depending, for example, on the entering saline pulses from the North Sea, the oxygen levels and the temperature of the water. The work has been supported by The Arts Promotion Centre Finland, Taike.”
Elegantly transportive and deeply dreamy, ‘Malam Minggu: A Saturday Night in Sunda’ is the first vinyl and download reissue of a 1991 compilation CD of traditional Indonesian gamelan and folk songs recorded between 1978-1985. Don’t miss Group Gentra Madya’s haunting ‘Gupay Pileuleuyan’ or the exquisite precision of their ‘Sambal Lada’, and the swingeing, Senyawa-esque syncopation of flutes, drums and vox in ‘Kulu Kulu Gancang’ by Mang Memed Group
“Akuphone resumes its reissue operations with its latest compilation, Malam Minggu: A Saturday Night in Sunda. This release brings us once again to Southeast Asia, with a stopover in the Indonesian archipelago – to the region of Sunda in western Java. As its name suggests, this collection immerses us in the vibes of Sundanese nights at the turn of the 1980s.
During the post-independence climate of the 1960s, Presidents Sukarno and Suharto encouraged artists to renew and innovate traditional Indonesian art forms in an attempt to limit and control the spread of Western music - which was banned from broadcasting in 1961. This policy saw a revival of traditional musical styles like gamelan degung, and the emergence of Indonesian singing genres: jaipong and pop sunda.
Recorded between 1978 and 1985, this unique and surprising selection presents some of the most popular artists of the time, such as Nano S. and Tati Saleh. It is richly documented by Southeast Asia music specialist Édouard Degay Delpeuch.”
Experimental field recording artist Kate Carr joins the finely programmed Longform Editions with a minimalist, lower case 36 minute session...
Traversing hydrophonic sounds to filigree textured electronics, following a fine line between elemental, natural forms and more menacing, looming, aleatoric sources
Mutant R&B starlet Lafawndah places her vocals front and centre over bashy, technoid backdrops produced by Aaron David Ross (Gatekeeper/ADR) and others on her debut album ‘Ancestor Boy’, following up her recent link-up with Midori Takada.
“The debut full- length album from Lafawndah, ANCESTOR BOY, released via her own label imprint CONCORDIA, is a bracing statement of intent, heralding an artist unbound in scope, scale, and intensity. She opens 2019 with bold single DADDY, plotting new territory onto her own highly personalized map of influence – a map drawing the club, composition, and pop into thrillingly unresolved, ultramodern erotics.
Lafawndah’s 2018 was filled with myriad musical highlights and successes - including a celebrated performance featuring peers Tirzah, Kelsey Lu and more at London’s South Bank in December, growing from her acclaimed HONEY COLONY mixtapes. Meanwhile her heart-stopping inter-generational music & film collaboration with japanese ambient legend Midori Takada in Le Renard Bleu (with KENZO and Partel Oliva) continues to echo into new forms, with a full production performance titled ‘Ceremonial Blue’ premiering at the Barbican, London in April. And streaming now, her achingly beautiful self-directed video for JOSEPH - a lullaby and an ode to newborn life co-written with Jamie Woon and also featuring on ANCESTOR BOY - has set Lafawndah apart as an independent director with a singular vision spanning multiple media and artforms.
Having in her prior self-titled and TAN EPs upturned geography, in ANCESTOR BOY Lafawndah digs deep to unravel geology, mining emotions of the deep past and future. The album’s physicality is elemental; its memory, mineral. It is a becoming- of- age story for a people yet to come, created out of a need to find the others. In the middle of the album’s sonic and lyrical onslaught is the desire to share the uncertainties of growing up when you don’t belong anywhere. Crafted with the aid of fellow travelers Nick Weiss, Aaron David Ross, and James Connolly,
ANCESTOR BOY’s maximalism- it’s overflow of detail, of feeling, of ideas- serves to amplify a frequent lyrical motif: the sensation that one body, one lifetime, isn’t big enough for what you’re feeling. The record is pregnant with memories shared across more than one mind, recalling the storytelling antagonisms of Nina Simone at her most strident and unpredictable. In response, the rhythmic aggressions of her music have grown even more determined and psychedelic, drawing a line in fire between Jimmy Jam’s turnt industrialism on Control and the furious unease of Red Mecca- era Cabaret Voltaire.
With a palate equal parts chrome and dirt, ice and depth, Lafawndah’s finesse with song architecture imbues the LP with an uncanny addictiveness: anthems loaded with trap doors.
ANCESTOR BOY imagines a pop music that is neither imperial nor local, but a freedom of movement; a residue, perhaps, from the album’s nomadic creation between Los Angeles, Mexico City, New York, London, and Paris.”
Straight-up knockers from Chicago hit squad Traxmen aka Gant-man, Paul Johnson, Robert Armani and Eric Martin
Robert Armani puts in a serious shift with the distorted wallop of ‘Caution’, next to the all-time Chi anthem ‘Let Me See You Butterfly’ with classic vocal and skipping’ flow conducted by Paul Johnson.
Paul Johnson puts his potty mouf to dutty use again on the naughty nursery rhyme melody of ‘F___ N Sucking’, before slinging the piano house power-up ‘Outta My way’.
Nice new age ambient synth vibes with a tropical humidity offset by breezy slow grooves, from Vancouver, CA’s Khotin for the summer romantics and smokers...
“Beautiful You needs little framing. “No distinct storylines or themes. It’s really just a collection of songs as rudimentary as that sounds,” Khotin-Foote explains. But the title of the album arrives with some lore: in high school, Khotin-Foote found a handwritten note on his windshield that read “Beautiful you, thanks for the smile.” Whoever left the note, they gifted the producer with this anonymous phrase that perfectly suits the work now, here, years later. Paired with the record’s cover, an ASCII-rendered photo of his mother and her parents living temporarily in Italy as refugees in the '80s, the information graphs a malleable outline for listeners to shape into their own experience. A sensation akin to déjà vu, of misremembered hospitable climes, broadcast via ambiguous transmissions, birdsongs, melody and static.
Songs drift at a leisure; environments and voices pass by, some distinguishable, others pitched down or truncated to single words. In the case of “Vacation,” the message comes into focus over time, beginning in fragments, assembling above a suspended note to sublime effect. On “Merged Host,” a cycle of melodic phrases becomes punctuated by a clipped half-time beat and injected with a sample’s reoccurring comic relief (“I am so happy / how great I am”). On album closer “Planet B,” nostalgia is encountered head-on, with coiling and smooth synth lines twisted and spiraling around a nodding and assured percussion pattern.”
The latest in a series of remastered archive releases on Fonolith from Neil Scrivin (aka Phono Ghosts and Meatbingo).
"Recorded during the winter nights of late 2004, ‘Stars and Rumours of Stars’ explores the duality of inner and outer space by way of digital soundscapes, reverb-heavy textures and crunchy percussive elements. From the chilly, wind-swept ambience of ‘Skywatch’ to the interstellar rush of ‘Omni Voyager’ and cyclical hypnotic groove of ‘The Power of the Spiral’, SAROS illustrates a moonlit meandering into darkened woods for encounters at the interstices between worlds."
Aggressively charged mutations of IDM, EBM, and EDM
“‘Calibrate’ proffers the highest of fidelity, with blockbuster sci fi levels of production value and bombast. Donoso channels sonic spirits across fluro pointillism, futuristic industrial tribalism and more serene moments of synthetic reflection.
Having never courted accessibility, Donoso remains as unbending as ever in his approach and unwavering in commitment to his craft. Calibrate takes Donoso’s polymetric abuse and sound design to all new extremes. Conflicting rhythms and swathes of electronic debris move in tandem, to create pieces that expand and contract in on themselves.
A journey through Calibrate is an exercise in instability and failure; its aggressiveness serves as a warning against the urge to seek safety on common ground, and its entire approach seems to display a hostility towards the increasingly homogenized nature of new electronic music.”
Astral Industries serve the equivalent of a warm cup of camomile while two thumbs gently massage your temples with Sonmi451’s ‘Nachtmuziek’ suite of drifting modern classical ambient.
“Belgian artist Bernard Zwijzen, aka Sonmi451, has for over a decade now been quietly making some of the most luscious ambient we’ve heard here at AI-HQ. We are delighted to announce him as part of the Astral family with this six-track EP - Nachtmuziek - sit back, tune in and drift away.”
We're onto volume 3 of Shackleton's Deliverance series and his rhythmelodic magick is in full flow.
Shack's new modular palette appears to remain unchanged from the last few releases, but it feels like he's more in control and able to follow the line of his 3rd eye. 'Headcleaner' unfurls nearly 12 minutes of chiming drum patter synched with globular subs in mutating patterns, seeming to move one way whilst the slow-arcing pads rove at another tempo entirely, making the whole piece move like some backa spoon inversion of Cut Hands that takes a Balearic trip half way thru.
With 'In Norwegen ganz verwegen' he locks into a fluidly psychedelic pulse pursuing quicksilver likembe thru a zig-zagging maze of sloshing water sounds, distant siren calls and sparring toms like the hieroglyphic soundtrack to some ancient Greek myth.
This stunning first outing on Yves Tumor’s Grooming label was released this summer in a run of just 100 copies and is already selling for sillies second hand. For us it's easily one of the most overlooked and vital releases of the year - this new edition comes with new artwork in a run of 200 copies, an essential cop for those of you yet to experience its wildly original mix of choral aggression and cavernous percussion sounding quite unlike anything else we heard in 2018.
Sepulchral, majestic, Kill is John Bence’s sophomore release following a début for Nico Jaar’s Other People in 2015. Since then Bence has also appeared as part of Ashley Paul’s new ensemble on her striking LP, Lost In Shadows for Slip, as well as playing in support of Grouper earlier this year.
Where Bence’s first record, Disquiet was a sort of palimpsest of re-scored composition, Kill finds him unfurl a shocking three part movement for vocals, cello and bellicose drums that should leave no one uncertain of his talents. And in that sense it’s really not hard to hear why his music has been snapped up for release by Yves Tumor’s label, as the pair patently share a feel for music both fuelled by and navigating overwhelming emotion.
In the first part, he shapeshifts from something like prime, latter day Coil in a section of reverberant cello and ghostly keening, to erupt in Prurient like howls and psychotomimetic scat like a possessed, Welsh mining choir.
By contrast, the 2nd part is pure entropy, vocals layered and decaying into extremes of the soundfield, leading to a passage recalling Aíne O’Dwyer’s haunted situations, before a real denouement comes with the sublime closing coda of vaulted vocals into noirish strings and recursive industrial percussion.
Keep a very close eye on this one...
Properly seminal deep house dubs from Moritz Von Oswald and Mark Ernestus with Tikiman (Paul St. Hilaire), originally issued in 1996 and now repressed for 20th anniversary edition.
The strident but plasmic nine minute groove of Acting Crazy (Club Vocal) is just about the most perfect, immersive balance of NYC deep house, Jamaican roots reggae and Berlin minimalism that you’ll ever encounter - a rare slice of shut-your-eyes and dance magic that never fails in the right situations. There’s also a shorter Instrumental which is pretty much an alternate mix of Maurizio’s M6, and a nipped edit of the vocal mix, all demanding that DJs buy two copies to really get the most out of it.
Basically every home needs a copy of this and every other plate on Main Street Records, but depending on who you ask, this one more than any other.
As Round One for the Main Street label, Mark Ernestus and Moritz Von Oswald made one of house music’s most enduring 12”s; I’m Your Brother.
The club and edit versions are a masterclass in appropriating Chicago house with your own style, whilst Ron Trent and Chez Damier’s Chicago’s Twisted Mix brings it right home.
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.
Devendra Barnhart presents a compilation of demos pestered from the archives of Vashti Bunyan, Arthur Russell, Nils Frahm, Helado Negro and many more in ‘Fragments Du Monde Flottant’ - this is the only place to get that previously unreleased Arthur Russell peach on vinyl...
"Devendra Banhart presents a very unique & precious compilation featuring his best friends never heard before demos. Among them some of the yesterday and today’s most talented musicians and singers of the folk-pop-experimental scene. This handprinted album comes randomly in six different colored cardboard featuring one of six of Devendra’s drawings.
"I’ve always loved demos, often much more than the final version, in fact. My favorite John Lennon song is a demo , its called Friend of Dorothy , it’s a masterpiece...
Please enjoy this anthology of intimacy before everyone on it freaks out and doesn’t want you to hear their demos (on the bright side , at least 5 of them will show up at your house and pay you the big bucks to get this back!) This comp has taken years and years to put together, wow, has it been that long? Yep.
Love Above All,
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.
"Mango Walk / Mango Drive" was the second release on the label and, for many, remains its finest moment. The a-side features an original production from the Wackies vaults by Azul & Bullwackie recorded in 1979, with an incredible 9 minute revision from Mark and Moritz on the flip. The version that appeared on the Rhythm & Sound 'Compilation' is over two minutes shorter.
A late pinnacle of the Drexciyan oeuvre, Storm 2 aka Transllusion's 'The Opening of the Cerebral Gate' is availed as an expanded 3LP pressing to include (almost) all the tracks on the CD version, compared to the original 2LP
It's all remarkably bass-heavy, even saturated, compared with a lot of other Drexciyan workouts, resulting some of their most ruggedly stripped down electro-techno functions ranging from the pounding might of 'Transmission Of Life' to the militant march of 'War Of The Clones' and the funked come-on, 'Do You Want To Get Down'. On the other hand, it also features stacks of gorgeous Drexciyan melodies in the aquatic flux of 'Cluben In Guyana' and the twinkling keys of 'Unordinary Reality', and to darkest effect on 'Crossing into the Mental Astroplane'.
Highly recommended to all aquanauts.
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.
A Late 80’s slow digital dancehall killer; malevolent, sick and paranoid - prob the most essential and sought-after selection of dubs you'll ever have the pleasure of copping.
Replay Version is basically like a JA variant of Ramelzee & K Rob's Beat Bop, Once Bitten is a deadly variant featuring more detuned-synths on top of a pure skank, while "Senci Pipe" on the flip is just out and out minimal digital sorcery.
"Sides like these announced a new era in reggae... Replay Version sets the mood - malevolent, sick and paranoid, but haunting, and funky like a train, with cruelly brilliant effects..."
Northern UK-based artist Rian Treanor re-imagines the intersection of club culture, experimental art and computer music with a super smart debut for The Death of Rave.
Galvanising and accelerating garage and techno with cuttingly crisp tonal diction and pointillist percussive palette, ‘A Rational Tangle’ demonstrates Treanor’s adroit and finely-nurtured rhythmelodic instincts through a quicksilver syntax of kerned, polychromatic 2-step patterns and whipsmart, emotive jit music.
The EP’s four tracks vacillate ping-pong ballistics and recursive melodic motifs constructed in Max/MSP, dancing from pendulous, aerobic minimalism to taut, synthetic tabla grooves with grid melting nous, whilst also taking in gamelan-esque hypeR&B through wormholes of smeared and curdled harmonics, plus one dead lush section of Detroit-via-Yorkshire styled hi-tech funk.
The production is stainlessly dry and future-proof whilst Rian’s arrangements are considerately efficient, yet it’s all blessed with a pop or ’floor-ready turn of phrase that reveals new kinks, fills and twysts with each return listen.
Whichever angle you view it from ‘A Rational Tangle’ forms a rewarding introduction to the work of a very promising and distinct new voice in electronic music.
Shed wears his bruk-up garage/techno hat for 6 tracks of deep ’n rude Head High action.
Weaving cues from classic ‘90s UK, US and Euro rave styles into gritty textured yet richly emotive grooves, Head High plays up to his deepest, ruggedest instincts in six parts.
He comes Head High but eyes down with the vertiginous pads and scuffling breaks and bass of ‘Higher The Break’ recalling a bird’s eye scale of Shed’s classic ‘ITHAW’ (ye ye we’re obsessed with that LP and what?!), before Virtual Girl’ steers the vibe into free-floating Detroit soul and ‘Depth’ takes it right into early Urban Tribe or Detroit Escalator Company styles. He’s back on a full wingspan breakbeat house tip with ‘What You Want’, again making cracking use of puckered Diva vocals, while ‘Set Me Free’ goes on like a fantasy collab between Carl Craig and 4Hero, and the sublime rufige of ‘Hardcore’ is a perfectly sweaty, body-gurny kiss-off.
Beautifully by-passing our expectations, performance artist/musician Pan Daijing’s first major work Lack yields a spellbinding demonstration, or “purgative finale”, to her improvised live performances over the past two years; offering a far more nuanced and probing suite of electronic gestures than her gnarled handful of slamming, salty tapes and 12”s for Bedouin Records, Power Vacuum or Noisekölln Tapes since 2015.
Extracted and edited from field recordings and live documentation of her concerts made in Europe, China, and Canada, Daijing aptly describes the album as “an opera piece”, from the soaring soprano and flustered strings of Phenomenon thru the convulsive industrial throb of Act of The Empress, to the possessed folk energies condensed in The Nerve Eater and the closing trance induction of Lucid Morto with an effect recalling something like Diamond Galas conducting a court ritual with Black Mecha and Jani Christou.
Daijing’s process is multi-disciplinary, featuring improvised sound and movement that feed off one another in a painstaking mental and physical practice that draws energy from the moment. The reduction and selection of the recordings which make up the album felt “more like a psychoanalytical process” explains Daijing, feeling like “this absurd, mad person ‘acting’ out the sounds… All things naturally came out of me”, and in the edit she effectively detaches and controls the listener’s gaze, offering what could be viewed as an almost voyeuristic document of those intimate, private energies.
Scandinavian isolationists Deaf Center draw a beautiful pall over this decade with ‘Low Distance’, their first album since 2011’s ‘Owl Splinter’, arriving nearly 15 years since their debut couplet of modern classical/ambient masterpieces; the ‘Neon City EP’ and ‘Pale Ravine’.
Low Distance’ returns Erik Skodvin and Otto A. Totland to the shadowy, wintry depths of their early sound, seemingly sequestered in a loft or creaking wooden house in a place where the sun doesn’t rise for 6 months of the year. Their signature palette of ghostly piano gestures, glacial but knife-edge strings and electronics is employed to expectedly beautiful effect, but it’s perhaps the final mixing treatment, uncannily rendered along vertical and horizontal axes at EMS Stockholm, that really brings this record to life, just as integrally as lighting is to a slow burn film noir.
Endearingly working on low batteries throughout the album, their sense of melancholy is patently apparent and deeply intoxicating with it, diffused through the synaesthetic connotations of rain in ‘A Scent’, and through the clammy skin stroking strings of ‘Entity Voice’ before sublimely relieving tension with ‘Undone’. They then broach more textured, abstract electro-acoustic space in the spectral flocking of ‘Gathering’, the album’s extended centrepiece, before touching on midnight jazz notes, sumptuous subs and extended techniques in ‘Red Glow’ like some meeting of Deathprod and Bohren Und Der Club of Gore, and the barely there yet heartbreaking strings of ‘Faded Earth’ attest to their preternatural skill in getting the most from the barest components.
The last section is just immensely powerful in its stark vulnerability and impending tension, holding its emotive line thru the needling hi-register keys and heavy-breathing strings of ‘Movements/The Ascent’, thru the lingering romance of ‘Far Between’, until the quietly jaw-dropping, beautiful solo piano resolution of ‘Yet To Come’, where the hallucinatory nature dissipates and we’re left with starkly vivid, waking realism implied by the track’s title.
Basic Channel heads Mark Ernestus and Moritz von Oswald keep the burial mix series going with its most ambitious release to date - a collection of one-rhythm tracks featuring vocal contributions from Basic Channel collaborators old and new.
"See Mi Yah" is a classic collection of one-rhythm tracks, typical format and production approach in Reggae, featuring ten vocal versions and one instrumental of the See Mi Yah rhythm (an additional 3 are only available on the 7" collection), strictly roots!
After Paul St. Hilaire (formerly known as Tikiman) had lent his voice to quite a few Rhythm & Sound releases over the years, the starting point for this project was to work with him once again and also with his brother Ras Perez, their fellow Berlin based Dominicans Koki and Ras Donovan (also known from his collaboration with Mapstation), the Berlin based Jamaicans Freddy Mellow, Walda Gabriel, Bobbo Shanti, Lance Clarke as Rod Of Iron and Joseph Cotton aka Jah Walton.
With a toasting style heavily influenced by the legendary U-Roy, Cotton was a central figure in the jamaican DJ scene of the 70s and 80s. To cap it all off, on a visit to Berlin, the great Sugar Minott and Willi Williams (famous for Studio 1 classic Armagideon Time) did their versions in the Rhythm & Sound studio!
For each tune the rhythm is arranged and mixed differently. The legacy and genius of Basic Channel and all its myriad offshoots seems more relevant and important now than ever before, they have a knack of creating music that lives on in the listener's head long after voices, rhythm and sound have long gone. Highly recommended!!
After a blazing succession of Sound System heaters, Dug Out offers a spiritual session of seminal nyabinghi grounation from Dadawah circa 1974, perhaps the most mind-expanding, important spiritual dub reissue we've heard this last decade.
It's most likely a large influence upon the work of label head Mark Ernestus in his Rhythm & Sound guise, recalling the magical spirituality of classics like 'Making History' among others in the hypntoic, shuffling pace and intangibly smoky aura that seems to evaporate from the grooves with each listen. The group is led by Ras Michael, guiding a traditional set up of nyabinghi (ceremonial Rasta drums), bass, guitar, brass and Piano organ in four extended excursions over sublime, psychedelic terrain without a worry in the world.
As with much of the best reggae, much of the magic was elicited and embellished in post production, with Lloyd Charmers and Federal engineer George Raymond apparently staying up all night after the session to mix the recording, imbuing the tracks with a dazed, wide-open and echoing personal space. Keeping the standards impeccably high, the album was lovingly restored at Abbey Road and looks every bit the classic that it is. Big up Dug Out, this going to be on rotation round here for years to come.
'Versions' leaves out the vocal accompaniment and exposes the production as it drifts off into instrumental effervescence...
This second breathtaking CD leaves out the vocal accompaniment and exposes the terryfingly deep Basic Channel production as it drifts off into instrumental effervescance. The hallmarks are all there; Mark Ernestus and Moritz Von Oswald have already set the world ablaze once, twice, three, four times with their work as Basic Channel and the splintering into microscopic, heavyweight offshoots by way of the M series, Main Street, Chain Reaction, Rhythm and Sound and, of course, Burial Mix. It's hard to over-emphasise just how important their music has been to us over the last two decades and, for that matter, just how substantial their impact has had on everything that has taken place in electronic music since.
Following convention, each of these labels has offered a catalogue up on record (in this case 10" releases) before compiling the music. This is, in fact, the second Burial Mix compilation, the first "showcase" concentrating on the label's collaborations with Paul St Hilaire, aka Tikiman, for its opening set of releases. This second installment divides itself into Vocal and Instrumental "Versions" (the Vocal tracks are collected seperately on a second release), displaying the last seven releases in their entirety, plus "Mash Down Babylon" (a new take on "March Down Babylon"), and features a by-now totally classic collection of tracks that in their time have all been singles of the week for us here.
Just thinking of the majestic exuberance of "King in My Empire", or the breathtaking space of "Making Histroy" makes it hard to fathom how this material hasn't really aged a day in all these years...
Manny and Istanbul’s finest jazz players go hard but cool af the Mill, channelling strong Miles Davis and Sun Ra vibes. Recorded by Sam Weaver.
“Backwards proudly presents a new KONSTRUKT vinyl release! “Live at Islington Mill” finds Konstrukt working with 2 amazing guest artists Graham Massey (of 808 State) and David McLean (of the Tombed Visions label). This live recording from last year finds the Turkish group and their guests filtering free jazz through a 70’s era-Miles approach.
Konstrukt has been making a name for themselves for a quite a while now with an incredibly impressive discograpy of LP’s featuring a who’s who list of guests such as Joe McPhee, Marshall Allen, Peter Brotzmann, William Parker and so many more. “Live at Islington Mill” recorded in Salford England and gives us two sides of blistering avant-funk, cosmic space sounds, and pure inspired playing throughout. Konstrukt never ceases to amaze at how well they can incorporate guest players into their own sound, “Part II” finds them coming straight out of the gate with a heavy groove and some powerful saxophone screams before it calms down into a more open section that still maintains a steady pulse. Think Agharta or On The Corner or even the more grooving era of the Sun Ra Arkestra but with an added layer of cosmic sounds via drum machines, synths and exotic reed instruments…not many groups can pull this sound off without falling into an unflattering repetition of their forebearers, Konstrukt here with Massey & McLean pull it off handily.”
The second instalment from Basic Channel's offshoot, Basic Replay, a reissue label convened to showcase prime influences and lesser known inspirations, the men from Berlin have selected and remastered a truly shocking follow up to Keith Hudson's 'Playing It Cool..' album reissued last year.
'Call me rambo' was originally recorded in 1986 and released on the Heavyweight label, an imprint formed by the Heavyweight soundsystem, based in the Wood Green and Tottenham areas of north London. Featuring Chester Roots at the controls and his nephew Ackie at the microphone, this is raw and dangerous english dancehall. Hailing from that blissful period in the middle eighties, when clubs could play Marley Marl next to Super Cat, or Half Pint next to early Trax records, 'Call Me Rambo' opens with a bang, racked with strafing machine gun fire and the helicopter sounds free with a Commodore 64, natty dread a go scientific an' ballistic.
Stylistically speaking, Ackie's voice is reminiscent of the great Barrington Levy, and the simply enormous, rampant rhythm sends shockwaves through any musical system - all b-boys and hardcore addicts would do well to sweep a copy of this and ask questions later. Flip the script, and Chesse retains Ackie's winning 'Don't push me' refrain, and much of the sonic elements but works the board hard, 'Rambo Gun Salute' as a part two is simply perfection, dubwise and anywise. 'Rambo Salute' takes the dub even further out, as Ackie drifts further into the mix, and Chester works it on out in true ragamuffin style. "Ramming dancehall is the priority", so the man say. This has shattered the office record for rewinds this week and is utterly essential for ALL self-respecting music fans.
‘Electrucs’ is a previously unpublished LP of works by former INA-GRM chief François Bayle, recorded 1974-1995, and now finally issued on the 60th anniversary of the world-renowned facility he managed between 1966-1997.
Comprising four distinct sections of acousmatic study ranging from playful AKS Synthi “hand games” to the blooming ‘Rosaces’, a test-piece for the Acousmonium, and a dedication to his peer, Bernard Parmegiani; ‘Electrucs’ follows Recollection GRM’s series of Bayle reissues to offer a diverse and spellbinding survey of his pioneering work spanning the past half century.
The A-side is taken by 10 oozing, viscously shapeshifting ‘Electrucs’ that give the LP its title, rendering a series of highly dynamic pieces made on the Synthi AKS between 1974-2018, and veering from chaotic polymetrics to pulsating, almost melodic vignettes, and many moments of tense, atonal abstraction that wouldn’t sound out of place on a good hour or thriller soundtrack.
The other side breaks down to three distinct sections. ‘Cinq dessins en rosace’  is a five part study of increasingly complex geometries, transiting from sharp, simple oscillations to filigree, spatialized arrangements of electronics and keys. ‘Foliphonie’ [1974-2011] follows with a beautifully alien scene of chirruping voices and whirled woodwind originally hatched for use on the GRM’s Acousmonium speaker/diffusion system, and ’Marpège’ [1995-2007] finds him dissolving a trace of Bernard Parmegiani’s ‘Sonare’ into sonic delirium.
Two of the great unsung protagonists binding Manchester’s DIY scene unite for this limited edition release taking in some of the many multidisciplinary interests the pair have been involved with as sound and visual artists.
John Powell-Jones is perhaps best known for his work in the creative arts and as a visual designer and printer for projects as diverse as Mogwai, Jamal Moss, Delroy Edwards, Raime, Moon Duo and Demdike Stare, as well as a technical demonstrator in printmaking and Risograph techniques at the University of Salford. Alongside his most recent work in sculpture, Powell-Jones has also had a number of music releases for the Sacred Tapes label since 2014.
Craig Tattersall needs little introduction round these parts, having been involved in numerous projects close to our orbit since the late 90’s as part of Hood, The Remote Viewer and The Boats, as well as running the much loved (and missed) Cotton Goods label.
This release emerged as the result of a sound art and print workshop the duo ran together at the University of Salford, based on a premise of capturing sounds during the process of printing. The resulting prints would act as both 'sketches' of the workshop, but also as gestural marks that would replicate those sounds, like a visual score.
Making use of contact mics, tape loops, manipulated radios/cassettes and an altered turntable to make the sound, the pair then used different mono printing and dry point etching techniques, as well as an old typewriter to make the images.
The A-side starts off baring the hallmarks of classic location recording; all clicks and whirrs, it slowly develops into a mesmerising, whirling drone piece. But it’s the b-side that envelopes in warmth, a sublime study in stillness and beauty that’s quite the contrast to the rattling, microscopic chaos of that opener. Over the space of almost 20 minutes, Tattersall and Powell-Jones bridge between celestial and personal dimensions with ease, creating a kind of barely-there rendering of the sublime that recalls everything from William Basinski to the quiet music of Jürg Frey, an effect heightened by the ferric quality of the recording...
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.
Infectious Greensleeves dub reggae aces from 1979
The A-side is Barrington Levy & Trinity’s rootsy blue cry ‘Lose Respect’, while Roman Stewart & Trinity play it down, cool and rocksteady and the same riddim as The Upsetters’ ‘Soulful’.
Unspeakably beautiful dub from Mark Ernestus and Moritz Von Oswald’s Round Five, starring Tikiman, on the Main Street Records series.
Na Fe Throw It was the final instalment of the series, which ran concurrently to their Rhythm & Sound project, and presents brought Main Street Records to a sublime finish with nearly ten minutes of utterly blissed-out, magnetically attractive dub bass and lamenting vocals, also included as a starker dub.
Evergreen music. Every home should own the full set!
Basic Channel present a full 14 minute version of 'Q-Loop' backed with first ever vinyl cuts of 'Q 1.2' and 'Mutism' - previously found on the 'BCD' (1995) and Scion's 'Arrange And Process Basic Channel Tracks' releases.
Need we say any more?
Slick, spaced-out boogie heat from 1980, previously only available on a hen’s teef TP, now dished up by Australia’s Crown Ruler
The easy-rolling original rides out on the A-side, with a rawer Demo version on the back.