Chiming garage blues-pop sung in Cantonese
“Beijing’s Gong Gong Gong make driving, stripped-down transnational blues, tapping into the spirit of Bo Diddley, the Monks, and psychedelic music from West Africa to Southeast Asia. “Phantom Rhythm” is the concept at the duo’s core: between Tom Ng’s percussive guitar and Joshua Frank’s melodic, charging bass, an aura of ghostly snare hits emerges over a thumping low-end pulse. Atop this framework, Ng recounts Cantonese tales of absurdity, love and lust with fragmented, wry vision.
On their first US release, "Siren 追逐劇" b/w " Something’s Happening 突發 " (out 11/9 on Wharf Cat) Gong Gong Gong brings to life a cinematic chase scene. Shot-by-shot, frame-by-frame, "Siren 追逐劇" is a story of galloping hooves and screeching tires—a horse and car racing each other through mountains and desert, charging into the city. The flip-side, instrumental "Something’s Happening 突發" is Gong Gong Gong at their most raw: locomotive jangle and fuzz-faced roar. Dust, sweat and engine oil, the landscape rushing by. Gong Gong Gong have dates lined up on both sides of the Atlantic with the likes of Parquet Courts, Bodega and Flasher.”
Feted producer/engineer Randall Dunn etches his name in the pantheon of doom with ‘Beloved’, his first solo vessel following over 400 credits on records by Sunn 0))), Earth, Tim Hecker, and Six Organs of Admittance, among so many others. Highly recommended if you're into Vangelis, 0PN, Scott Walker, Wolves In The Throne Room...
Active in the producer/engineer/mixing seat since 1996, Dunn’s tact with early analog and digital synthesisers and feel for instrumental integrity is key to a vast swathe of modern classics from the doom realm. On ‘Beloved’ he finally puts those prized skills at the service of his staggering debut album, poetically framing vocal and instrumental offerings from Zola Jesus, Shahzad Ismaily and Eyvind Kang, a.o., within vast, parallel, electro-acoustic dimensions shot thru with shocking emotive pathos.
Inspired by the wisdom of age and a period of psychic stress, ’Beloved’ truly renders the full, magnificent scope of Dunn’s 3rd eye. With a cinematic/psychedelic grasp of dramaturgy that perhaps only comes from subsuming one’s own vision at the service of others, his first solo side unfurls a billowing tapestry in seven parts, finely limning a sort of hellish opera a la latter Scott Walker or, indeed, his own work with skilful scene setters, Wolves In The Throne Room.
Shoring up in desolate synth space with opener ‘Amphidromic Point’, visually mirrored in O’Malley’s cover art of a warped beach scene, the album evolves purposefully into the ante-chamber music of ‘Lava Rock & Amber’, making stunning use of a string trio plus clarinet, Buchla easel and Minimoog, before delivering the stone cold blow of Frank Fisher’s pre-dawn blues vocal and Carpenter-esque synth strokes on ‘Something About That Night’. In terms of sheer scale of space and haunting potential, however, the keening chorales of ‘Theoria/Aleph’ strongly resonate with classic ventures by Phurpa and John Avery, and Zola Jesus proves the perfect candidate to close out with her soaring vocal on ‘True Home’.
Expanded reissue of ’Snakedressed’ , by Klink’s legendary Dirk Ivens as Dive, backed with choice cuts from the same era, including collaborations with Kirlian Camera and Controlled Bleeding
Salvaged from the wastelands of late ‘90s EBM/Industrial, ’Snakedressed’ speaks to a time when this style was out in the woods compared to its earlier golden phase. All the hallmarks of Dirk’s sound are in place - snarling vox, lugubrious drums, dank atmospheres - but to be honest it sounds dated by this point.
However, the bonus disc is well worth checking, highlighting four cuts from his ‘Obsession’ collaboration with Kirlian Camera, including the titular EBM-pop song, plus two pulsing zingers from the ‘2/3’ compilation on Germany’s Hands Productions, and the Carter Tutti-esque 20 minutes of ‘Glow In The Dark’, an obscure Portuguese split release with Controlled Bleeding.
Continuing a home run of zingers on Jai and Anup Paul’s Paul Institute, Rutheven lets his soul flow on the memorably infectious ‘Hypothalamus’...
The kind of tune that will call to mind a dozen others that you can’t place a finger on, ‘Hypothalamus’ is an instant anthem of the kind that should be A-listed on commercial radio in a perfect world, and makes up for so much overblown, too-many-cooks soul currently in circulation.
‘Hypothalamus’ will forever remind us of the long, hot summer of 2018, when climate change became ever more apparent, and all we could do was hum its hook for days on end.
Holy grail German post-punk zingers reissued via Stefan Schneider’s TAL, following on the heels of their killer Konrad Kraft reissue
Originally issued as one disc on Klar! 80’s 3LP ‘Massa’ set in 1981, Roter Stern Belgrad’s 3 tracks are an amazing example of Afro inspirations worked into early industrial frameworks.
Right up there with unruly classics by CH-BB, Din A Testbild and Liaisons Dangereuses from the same era, these tracks perhaps even more feral and far out, but properly anchored in amazing rhythms, as you’ll hear between the snaking minimalism and stressed metal sounds of ‘Afars & Issas’, on the wickedly agitated drum programming and cranky electronics of ‘Wegwerfliebling’, and the transfixing mix of possessed hollers, gnashing drums and motorik bass in ‘Abend-Stern-Chant’.
2018 marks the 40th anniversary of Bauhaus. To celebrate, Beggars Arkive are reissuing six records from the band’s catalogue on special edition coloured vinyl.
"Formed in 1978, The legendary and hugely influential quartet hailed from Northampton, England and is comprised of Peter Murphy, Daniel Ash, David J and Kevin Haskins. The dark, dramatic music that they made, possessed far more force, variety and playfulness than the ‘founding fathers of goth’ tag that is always attached to them.
‘Crackle’ is a best-of collection of songs. Contains the studio version of ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’. All Music described it as “an excellent single-disc overview of the group’s brief career, containing all of their essential songs, from ‘In The Flat Field’ and ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’ to ‘Ziggy Stardust’ and ‘Burning From The Inside’ …it’s nice that there’s finally a thorough retrospective of the groundbreaking goth quartet” and Pitchfork said it is “a fine retrospective of the material that both Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson claim was a ‘major influence’ of their music.”
Alex Zhang Hungtai frankly takes our breath away with Divine Weight; a sublime, spine-freezing suite of weightless, beat-less sax compositions uncannily resembling ambient synth and organ works. It was released on download formats earlier in the year, but is now finally given the vinyl pressing it so richly deserves - for us it stands out as one of the most emotionally complex and quietly devastating albums of the year.
From Taipei via Canada and now based in Portugal, Hungtai brings a worldly wealth of experience to Divine Weight, which unfolds at an opiated pace with some of the lushest smoke curl dynamics we’ve had the pleasure of huffing in years. Only his second solo outing under his own name, following an acclaimed stretch of Dirty Beaches releases and last year's incredible Love Theme set, as well as an appearance on David Lynch’s Twin Peaks (The Return), Divine Weight keens with a supernatural metaphysics that’s impossible to place.
Pierrot sets the scene in a perfectly elusive way; reminding us of Arve Henriksen with its mournful, pitched brass and breathless dynamics - completely devastating despite being utterly restrained. Matrimony unfurls jaw-dropping choral percolations, before really blinding us with the curdled dissonance of This Is Not My Country - proper lump-in-throat material - and a coruscating vignette Yasumatei, before committing the ultimate payload of the 20 minute long Divine Weight, where all those ideas rise to the occasion in a magisterial swell of affective harmonics that we’re not ashamed to say reduced us to tears.
Unending love for this one.
SOPHIE lights up 2018 with ‘Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-insides’, an exhilarating début album of upfront dance-pop, epic ballads and shocking electronic production that grasps the modern zeitgeist with jaws and both fists
Landing some 6 years since her ironically titled debut Nothing More To Say, over which time the artist has produced records for Madonna, Charli XCX and Vince Staples (among others), Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-insides renders a full frontal experience that’s set to define the scene for years to come.
SOPHIE’s understanding of the links between avant-garde and pop cultures is dramatically in force across the album, matching the hyperreal pop stun of PC Music chop for chop, but also pushing the prism farther in favour of her own, equally hyperreal image. The results are comparable with Autechre and EVOL records as much as Taylor Swift or The Pet Shop Boys, veering from warped pop perfection to brutalist electronics and breathtaking rhythmic energy often in the space of a single track, brilliantly embracing contradiction as a tool of expression in a way that feels bang on the money right now.
Her trifecta of lead singles, It’s Okay to Cry, Ponyboy, and Faceshopping gild the album’s entrance with some of the strongest pop sensations felt in recent years, before matters take a dramatic turn with a plunge into the beatless trance ballad Is It Cold In The Water?, and the subsequent chest-bursting R&B gospel of Infatuation, which both appear to massage the senses in preparation for the album’s shock-out 2nd half.
In Not Okay, she pairs knock-out electronics with the sheerest rave mentasms in delirious 3D, before utterly gobbling your swede in the breathtaking, atonal wormhole of Pretending, and promptly spiralling into the vacuum-packed banger Immaterial, then embracing the Whole New World/Pretend World in a kill-‘em-all 9 minutes of endorphin-rushing dance-pop genius that’s effectively the 2018 anthem we were all waiting for.
Issued for the first time on vinyl, the great poet of musique concrète Luc Ferrari limns a sensory immersion into the streets of Madrid on ‘L’escalier des aveugles’, a radio play commissioned for Spain’s national radio and broadcast in 1991 as part of the ‘European Day Of Music’ programme
As the 8th release on Mana, the label helmed by both Blowing Up The Workshop’s Matthew Kent and British Library curator Andrea Zarza, Ferrari’s rich evocation of a Madrilenian night keeps the label's remit nicely open-ended, following releases from the Japanese avant-garde and techno’s leftfield in 2018.
Ferrari methodically worked with the commissioner, José Iges, then director of Ars Sonora on Spanish National Radio, to select La “Cuesta de los Ciegos” (the Staircase of the Blind), a flight of 254 descending steps that join Calle Segovia and Calle de la Morería, as his locus of investigation. Historically named after the blind musicians who played and begged for alms on the steps, it provides a uniquely transitional space or platform for Ferrari to symbolically render his magick around the notion, “Radio, by nature, is blind… how do we enter the stairs of the blind?”
Together with a number of female voices sourced from theatrical backgrounds, Ferrari lead us up and down the stairs, with the sound of clacking heels and the tip-tap of a white cane providing a subtle leitmotif that winds between the voices, occupying multiple roles as guide, translator, commentator and actress. Layered with electronics and cut with sharp fades-to-black that connote the blind experience, the results are a feast for the senses, most nimbly treading the line between waking and dream life, and with a sensual subtlety akin to the memory-jogging quality of perfume, or the balmy fragrance of citrus fruits on a warm evening.
Features exclusive tracks from Pan Daijing, Lanark Artefax, Peder Mannerfelt, Tomoko Sauvage, Pye Corner Audio, Sophia Loizou, Abul Mogard, Par Grindvik, Roly Porter, Hodge, Gazelle Twin, Shapednoise, Batu, Yves De Mey, Kangding Ray, Ian William Craig, Christophe De Babalon (on vinyl only) and many others.
"Twenty six artists producing the cream of leftfield electronic music have been given a brief: to take the phrase “in Death's dream kingdom”, or the whole of TS Elliot's poem as inspiration. Vibrating with vivid sonic references, the poem is a feast for the ears, which makes it a ripe subject for musical interpretation.
Not an album in the traditional sense, it brings together a seriously diverse array of talents into a coherent whole with a vivid aesthetic reverberating through it. It occupies a similar space to the great home listening electronica acts of the 90s – FSOL, Global Communication, the Artificial Intelligence axis – but there are no throwbacks here: this is radical in sound and thought. Dark music for dark times."
Jai and Anup Paul pluck out this deep pop pearl from Hira, one of the newest recruits to their Paul Institute label...
Cut from similar, purple cloth as label CEO Jai Paul, ‘Red Light Drive’ finds yung Hira glowing in the middle of sparking Linn drums and cruising cyber-bass strokes, working a proper classic yet futuristic pivot that puts a lot of contemporary boogie into stark relief.
Having lived with this song for 6 months now, we can confirm it’s one 2018’s strongest ohrwurms. As in addictively strong.
Hypnotic, stripped down techno from Bryce Hackford, joining Andrew Lyster’s Youth label for a 3-track session after their incendiary FUMU release
The A-side is a proper, unassuming slow burner in the model of Levon Vincent, with tinfoil hi-hats tapped in over a booming kick and webbed with spidery electronics sure to induce some eyes shut moments in the club.
On the flip he channels that momentum somewhere shoreside with claggy, smoky atmosphere and distaced field recordings lending a fine depth perception, before the final cuts dawn a deep, rolling, tribal house trance replete with chants and a rising chord sequence from the Carl Craig playbook.
‘80s shoegaze indie jangle meets murky ‘90s grunge, primed for long nights on the road, getting strung out in motel montages, and teenage ennui. RIYL Slowdive, MBV, True Widow, Hum
“Emerging like an ornate relic of disenchanted youth, Austin-based power trio Grivo unleashes their ominously trudging sound with the debut full length Elude out November 16, 2018. Combining slow, methodical hooks and warm tube amplifiers, Grivo’s massive tones artfully re-establish the link between heavy guitars and downtempo pop to yield a potently encompassing experience. Utilizing effects as an active compositional element, Elude’s infectious riffs are brilliantly crafted and paced to allow the saturated guitars and bruising low-end to fully bloom. Within the tidal sound waves and bleak timbre, Grivo forges a distinctive personal connection that challenges the modern definitions of doom metal and shoegaze.
Born and raised in small-town Michigan, Grivo is led by guitarist/vocalist Timothy Heck who founded the band with his brother and drummer Matthew. The Heck brothers have shared a life-long musical partnership, starting as jazz-obsessed teenagers before diving into the punk and hardcore scenes of the Midwest in their early twenties. After years of intensive touring, they sought new inspiration and slower tempos, opting to relocate to Austin in 2015. Timothy adopted a reserved and accessible approach to songwriting, evoking empathy through minor key signatures while constructing intricate walls of auditory mass. Towing a thin line between genres, Grivo is careful never to fully commit to any style or tradition, allowing for broad crossover appeal.
Elude’s lyrics portray the harsh recognition of the distance between longing and embrace. Candid songs such as “C.A.” and “Burnout” eloquently articulate the pain of unrequited desire and derive sympathy from chorus-laden guitar flourishes. On songs like “Cave,” Timothy’s vocals and guitar leads form a unified voice, often singing into and out of one another to gracefully embellish the melody. Grivo’s chord progressions are composed at the perfect emotional pitch, allowing energy and tension to naturally build and melt into an intoxicating release. The dense fuzz tones on “Room” and “Opia” are brutal, searing the guitar stops into piercing feedback and grinding the edges off the bass lines. This multi-layered use of effects is an essential part of Grivo’s arrangement and identity, orchestrating an expansive variety of color and expression. The cohesive mood enveloping the nine dirges of Elude creeps along at a hypnotic tempo, luring the listener into the addictive malaise and subtle complexities of Grivo.
As the greater music world attempts to anticipate and define the next wave, Grivo has re-emphasized the core of loud guitar-based music. The high level of musicianship and songwriting shine through their rich tonal indulgence making Elude an unforgettable and distinguished debut.”
Very canny pop pomp from Reinen, a new character on the Paul Institute, produced by label CEO, Jai Paul
Orchestral synth strings and squashed drum machine underline a magnificent mix of percolated chorales and elegant verses, like Annie and Kate Bush performing at a grand ball, with the incidental sound of captains of industry and wankered toffs cropping up in the background.
Just try dislodging that chord sequence from your head after ingestion. At the very least you’ll get your money’s worth.
Released two years after their debut album, This Mortal Coil’s Filigree & Shadow (1986) was no less ornate than its predecessor; a double album with each of its four sides a self-contained unit. New faces joined the cast for this record, including a variety of singers Ivo handpicked like Alison Limerick, Jeanette, Dominic Appleton (Breathless), sisters Deirdre and Louise Rutkowski (Sunset Gun), and Richenel.
This Mortal Coil's second album is arguably their best, a sprawling double-LP expanding on the gothic intrigue of It'll End In Tears with even more widescreen production and symphonic grandeur; vocals are handled largely by Breathe's Dominic Appleton and the wonderful Rutkowski Sisters. This is tender, emotional music - sometimes cloyingly so - but by god, is it good, and unlike pretty much anything else out there thesee days. As before, and after, 4AD and TMC mastermind Ivo Watts-Russell delves into the songbook of West Cost American folk-rock - which, lest we forget, wasn't as well-documented and canonised in '86 as it is now - and comes up with gold.
A sepulchral version of Tom Rapp's 'The Jeweller' opens the album, Appleton turns Gene Clark's cocaine-strained love song 'Strength Of Strings' into a fire and brimstone epic, and Deirdre Rutkowski gives one of the finest vocal performances of the 1980s or any other decade for a soaring dub-pop take on Gary Ogan's 'I Want To Live'. Tim Buckley ('Morning Glory'), Judy Collins, Colin Newman, Talking Heads ('Drugs') and Van Morrison ('Come Here My Love') are also covered, but remarkably one of the album's most classic-sounding and resonant songs, 'Tarantula', was originally by 4AD's own Colour Box, whose own Martyn Young fronts a transformative, celestial chamber-pop arrangement by Watts-Russell.
And of course there's no shortage ncredible instrumentals like 'Ivy and Neet', featuring the unmistakably laconic saxophone of Dif Juz's Richard Thomas, the title track, and the incredibly grave 'The Horizon Bleeds & Sucks It Thumb'. The influence of this album, at once mournful and ecstatic, can be heard in everything from Massive Attack through to The xx and even the likes of The Haxan Cloak and Raime - and though not without its cloying moments, it remains an out and out classic, bound together by John Fryar's engineering and Watts-Russell's visionary gusto.
Well-rounded, trim, discoid house and minimal Italo flavours from Martin Enke’s Lake People
Worth checking for the warm, subs-driven Larry Heard vibes on ‘You Make It Look Sexy’, and the hypnotic swirl of smeared synth brass and rolling, Italinate acid bass on the cantering beauty, ‘Final Conflation’.
King Creosote's Kenny and Beth's Musakal Boat Rides takes its musical cues from lo-fi folktronica and its orthographical cues from Slade. If only it was the other way around.
Regardless, you can expect a wealth of charming alt. pop on this 2003 album, on the one hand delving into classic acoustic songwriting (accordion and all) whilst on the other getting friendly with a sampler. Part of Kenny Anderson's success is that even in these very low-grade productions there are some ambitious ideas floating around, whether that be on the building loop structures of 'So Forlorn' or the beautiful, unplugged chantey sounds of 'Pulling Up Creels'. This re-release manages to simultaneously chart how far King Creosote's moved on as an artist in the past five years or so, and remind you that he's been putting out top quality records all the while.
2008 album making extensive use of digital guitar effects.
Regardless of how highly you might regard his lyrical, deeply melodic playing style, the very fact that everything is so comprehensively caked outmoded, often rather thin sounding production treatments can be something of a turn off. Still, it's very much Reilly's sound, and you could never fail to pick it out of a crowd.
In addition to the excellent guitar instrumentals, you'll encounter emotive beautifully dusky piano pieces ('Amanda') and most curiously, the like of 'Never Known Version', which sounds like it's taken a beat from a Sean Paul record, whilst heavily chorused and delayed guitars fill up the stereo field. Two of the album's standout tracks crop up towards the very end, and both are largely unadorned acoustic solos, recorded in very different ways: the skilful, widescreen flamenco of 'Cup a soup Romance' is a far more enticing prospect than its title would have you believe, whereas 'demo For Gathering Dust' benefits from the sheer rawness of its rendering, sounding all the better for being unburdened by excessive post-production.
Some of you probably will already be familiar with this album, some of you will no doubt be familiar with its creators - Cluster's Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Neu!'s Michael Rother, but if you haven't heard 'Deluxe' (and its equally as essential partner album 'Musik Von Harmonia') then you need to get acquainted.
"There's a live drummer on the set – Mani Neumeier of Guru Guru – and although he still plays with a spare, circular mode that recalls the Harmonia rhythms of before, there's also a slight bit of propulsion here too – one that pushes the keyboards and guitars alongside nicely. There's also some spacey vocals at times, which when coupled with these other elements, gives the record a sound that's a bit like early Neu – although still a bit more electronic overall."