Graceful, barely-there, and enchantingly serene, Voice with Harp was written by German composer, keyboardist, musicologist and educator Eva-Maria Houben, and is performed by Tatiana Kuzina (soprano), and Christine Kazarian (harp).
A patient exercise in time dilation, Voice With Harp unfolds in five movements starting with the longest single piece, a sublime 15 minute instrumental Aeolian Harp, which appears to be an attempt at recreating the classical instrument’s wind-played elemental unpredictability under controlled conditions. We’d re commend listening to this one with the window open for best effect.
The other works are relatively shorter, generally between 3 and 5 minutes in length, and feature Tatiana Kuzina reciting texts by Eva-Maria and Felix Timmermans; three works opening with a sparse harp notes followed by vocal in Adagio, then in longing duet on Hatid, and two also accompanied by piano, before culminating with the five-part Songs For The Island - a sorta sublime inversion of The Vengaboys We’re Going To Ibiza .
Fred Welton Walmsley III (Lee Bannon) completes his esoteric ambient metamorphosis with Dedekind Cut’s melancholic Tahoe album for arch American electronic drifters, Kranky Records - home to some of the some of the finest atmospheric ambient works of recent decades by Stars of The Lid, Loscil, Tim Hecker.
In key with Kranky’s heritage, Dedekind Cut very neatly plays to the label aesthetic on Tahoe with a widescreen suite of slow, windswept synths layered into expansive harmonics evoking cinematic and psychedelic sensations. They range from pop-ambient pockets of bittersweetness to more brooding tracts of durational immersion, with each connected by an overarching feeling of sadness or unresolved strife.
It’s all very much what you’d expect from a Kranky release, until you start paying closer attention. Where Kranky’s chorus of ambient angels have often spent decades on their craft, developing personalised timbral sensitivities and sound identities, the shapeshifting Dedekind Cut’s newness to this particular field is betrayed by the more elusive reach of his soundsphere, but the artist makes up for a lack of tonal richness by conveying his intent more directly thru the arrangement and overall feeling, or soul connoted by his compositions.
Seven years ago, Max Tundra sent Daphne and Celeste a tweet, asking if he could write and produce their comeback single. Four years later their song You & I Alone ripped through the internet. Today they announce the forthcoming release of the most unlikely comeback album of 2018.
"Three years after their comeback song, ‘BB’ arrives online as their new album’s appetiser, an uncompromising takedown of the anodyne and anonymous. “BB stands for Basic Busker,” explains Max, “any one of countless identikit instigators of mundane melodies that have brought the mood down in recent years. Pop music should lift the spirits - so why are the airwaves full of these mundane strummers?”
The world has changed a hell of a lot since Daphne & Celeste stormed up the charts with their effervescent earworms U.G.L.Y. and Ooh Stick You, back near the birth of the 21st century. So you’d be forgiven for failing to predict the fruitful union of D&C with a maverick electronic producer known for his records on Warp and Domino Records. But Max Tundra has long held an ambition to become a pop producer, and this new album is an addictive combination of the eccentric, creative and melodic.
After an initial sharing of tracks and ideas around the release of that first single in 2015, Max Tundra set about writing an album’s worth of material, inspired by the unique kinship, born of shared experience, between Daphne and Celeste, and his own unexpected part in their story. Last year, Tundra brought his suitcase full of songs to a desert retreat near Joshua Tree, where he joined D&C for the ‘working holiday’ that produced Daphne & Celeste Save The World.
A full-length album of giddy, ridiculous, genre-bursting pop, ‘Daphne & Celeste Save The World’ finds our friends in fine, soaring, melodic voice, with Tundra's restlessly inventive production a toothsome, chordy, maximalist feast. These 13 songs touch on subjects as varied as time travel, succulents, pipelines under the ocean, cabins in the wood, unadventurous guitarists and different regions of the brain, but above all the sweet, enduring friendship of those two people who, long ago, told us all to Ooh Stick You."
Frankly, Lisbon’s Príncipe are just showing off with this fever-inducing 23-track showcase of their full crew in heaviest effect; including stacks of label debuts and strong showings from their core players.
Mambos Levis D’Outro Mundo is accompanied by a quote from Guinea-Bissauan and Cape Verdean liberationist Amílcar Cabral, which points to the label’s social-democratic ideals and is worth reposting here:
“As to strategy, we learned in the struggle; some people think that we adopted a foreign method, or something like this. Our principle is that each people have to create its own struggle. Naturally, we have something to learn from the experience that can be adapted to the real situation of the country. But we bettered our struggle in the culture of our people, in the realities of our country, historical, economical, cultural, etc, and we developed the struggle, supported by our people which is the first and main condition: the support of the people.”
Within that spirit of independence and celebrating the reality of cultural struggle, the set approaches the ‘floor - an unparalleled site for cataylsing cultural expression - from myriad angles, flipping from wild-eyed, raving futurism in DJ Lycox’s Dor Do Koto to the aerobic mysticism of Swaramgami from the scene’s pivotal producer DJ Marfox, to whacked-out techno by Niagara, whilst also making enchanting introductions to the breezed out roll of Dadifox or the Gqom-like darkside hustle of DJ Safari’s Tempo Do Xakazulu, and the romantic flex of DJ Ninoo & DJ Wayne.
Basically there’s loads of reasons you need this lot in your life. Highly recommended!
Sub Rosa’s vital Early Electronic Series yields a fascinating and unprecedented collection of Indonesian Electronic Music 1979-1992 with the 1st survey of work by Otto Sidharta; a graduate of music composition at Jakarta Institute of Arts, electronic music composition at Sweelinck Conservatorium Amsterdam, and recently a doctorate from Institute Seni Indonesia Surakarta.
A pioneering figure within Indonesian Electronic Music since his début composition Ngendau , Sidharta has operated amid a small network of prism pushers in relative seclusion from the power centres of electronic music for nigh on 40 years. Since the start of his oeuvre, Sidharta’s work has been concerned with environmental sounds, integrating natural and electronic sources in a way that could be said to reflect the sound ecology of his home land as much as his personal imagination.
As the first collection to reveal Sidharta’s work beyond his home country, this set serves an increasingly rare encounter by revealing a hitherto un or little-known, yet fully formed and genuinely new, perspective on electronic music ranging from deliquescent gong works to dense blocks of gamelan abstraction, computerised chimes and totally unearthly oddities.
Make no mistake though, this isn’t some sort of Hassell-esque 4th world simulation or recreation of traditional music with plugged-in means. Rather, it’s better regarded as a fine mix of academic rigour and methodical electronic music techniques realised at the service of romantic, esoteric notions of space and place; vividly conveying sensations of heat, psychedelia, violence - both natural and political - with an immersively dreamlike effect from both within and post Soeharto’s brutal dictatorship.
Simply, if 4th world music is too fluffy for ya, but you like its Eastern-oriented ideas of new tunings, rhythms, imaginary spaces, this one is strongly recommended, especially to fans of Coil, Rashad Becker, Gottfried Michael Koenig, Pauline Oliveros.
Beautify Junkyards effortlessly blend their love of English Acid Folk and Brazilian Tropicalia in a collection of songs that conjure up a warm and verdant faerie world.
"Delicate acoustic guitars evoke an autumnal England suffused with Iberian heat by other-worldly voices; the ethereal lilt of João Branco Kyron and the warm languor of Rita Vian. The production is tempered with a haunted electronic palette that anchors the band squarely in the world of Ghost Box.
Their sound is further enhanced by newest member Helena Espvall ( formerly of Espers) on guitar and cello. With João Moreira on acoustic guitar and synth, Sergue Ra on bass and Antonio Watts on drums they are altogether an astonishingly talented group of people.
The Invisible World… will be the band’s third album and their first for Ghost Box, following on from their Other Voices single in 2016.”
Mark Pritchard makes great use of an original vocal by The Space Lady and a Gregory Whitehead sample on The Four Worlds, his sweetly concise LP follow-up to Under The Sun .
Save for its extensive opening track, there’s a glaringly notable lack of drums on The Four Worlds, which is a big part of its strength. As the first Mark Pritchard album in memory not made for or even bothered by the ‘floor, it reveals a whole other, intriguing side to his oeuvre, taking the listener from the magic carpet glide of of its lush opener Glasspops, which feels something like like a Morphosis meets John Carpenter piece, to the jazzy new age pool of Circle Of Fear, and much farther onwards far onwards.
Gregory Whitehead’s stop-you-dead-in-your-tracks vocal from Ziggurat (as previously used on DJ/Rupture’s incredible Minesweeper Suite mix) is framed by a lushly brooding synth backdrop, initiating listeners to a remarkable B-side run that takes in spiralling kosmiche à la Eno & Roedelius on The Arched Window, beside the intergalactic lilt of S.O.S., featuring The Space Lady at her charming best, and onto resonant meditation of The Four Worlds in a thoroughly satisfying style.
The 20th volume of Numero's Eccentric Soul series has all the boxes checked: Gun-toting, skip-tracing record producers, child stars, rip-offs, the “World’s Greatest Bail Bondsman,” swindles, soaring falsettos, and a dwindling rust-belt cityscape offering mere glimpses of hope before the record industry escaped for the coasts.
"Helmed by the O’Jays Bobby Massey, Saru was a creative vortex that pulled Cuyahoga County’s greatest talent in, making a strong case for Cleveland to contend with Detroit, Philly, and Memphis as America’s soul music’s capital. Includes obscure and unknown sides from the Out of Sights, the Elements, Pandella Kelly, David Peoples, Sir Stanley, the Ponderosa Twins + 1, Ba-Roz, Bobby Dukes, and of course, the O’Jays."
A Certain Ratio return with the next phase of reissues on Mute, part of the ongoing collaboration with Mute that started with ‘The Graveyard And The Ballroom’, and ‘To Each’ and ‘Force’.
"A Certain Ratio embraced the ethic and culture of the late Seventies post punk explosion but sounded like nothing else around them and refused to fit in. Formed in 1978, the band had various members throughout their career and a core line up of Jez Kerr, Martin Moscrop and Donald Johnson.
Hailed universally as pioneers of what became known as ‘punk funk’ thanks to the success of ‘Shack Up’ on both sides of the Atlantic, their sound is not easily pigeonholed and their influence can never be understated."
Erased Tapes reissue the glitching classical experimentation of Hatis Noit’s Illogical Dance [Purre Goohn, 2015] outside Japan for the 1st time. Avant classical for Holly Herndon and Matmos fans
“Japanese vocal performer Hatis Noit releases her enigmatic EP Illogical Dance via Erased Tapes. The arresting 4-track record creates unique song-worlds with transcendent vocal interpretations that at once deconstruct and recombine Western Classical, Japanese folk and nature’s own ambience atmosphere. Illogical Dance also features Björk-collaborators Matmos, who were so impressed with Hatis Noit’s recordings, they volunteered to edit the lead track Illogical Lullaby.
Hailing from the distant Shiretoko, a small town in Hokkaido, which is the largest island in north Japan, Hatis Noit’s accomplished range is astonishingly self-taught, inspired by everything she could find from Gagaku — Japanese classical music — and operatic styles, Bulgarian and Gregorian chanting, to avant-garde and pop vocalists. The sounds she created on Illogical Dance, co-produced by Haruhisa Tanaka and Matmos, bring to mind the experimental vocal patterns of Meredith Monk with the attentive production of Holly Herndon.
It was at the age of 16, during a trek in Nepal to the Buddha’s birthplace, when she realised singing was her calling. While staying at a women’s temple in Lumbini, one morning on a walk Hatis Noit heard someone singing. On further investigation it was a female monk singing Buddhist chants, alone. The sound moved her so intensely she was instantly aware of the visceral power of the human voice; a primal and instinctive instrument that connects us to the very essence of humanity, nature and our universe.
The name Hatis Noit itself is taken from Japanese folklore, meaning the stem of the lotus flower. The lotus represents the living world, while its root the spirit world, therefore Hatis Noit is what connects the two. For Hatis Noit, music represents the same netherworld with its ability to move and transport us to the other side; the past, a memory, our subconscious. It is the same for Illogical Dance, a set of transformative songs that taps into our most primal instincts.
“The human voice is our oldest, most primal yet most powerful instrument. I use it to describe nature’s many sounds, a language that isn’t logical. Yet it forms a beautiful conversation that isn’t restricted to words like the human language is. I want my music to remind us of that.” — Hatis Noit
Wanting to interpret and mimic the sounds Hatis Noit hears in nature, Illogical Dance is as unpredictable, beautiful and mysterious as the world around us. Each track is made up from multi layers of vocals, all improvised and without words, before being carefully pieced together. Astonishingly no samples are used throughout, even the sound of crushing leaves came from Hatis Noit’s own vocal chords. The result is a stunning array of sound sculptures that see her switching between multiple styles with great ease. From the sweet operatics on Illogical Lullaby, the manipulated vocal loops duplicating electronic production on Anagram c.i.y. to the primordial chanting call to arms of Angelus Novus, a 10-minute odyssey that features whispering and leaves crunching, it showcases Hatis Noit’s full range and introduces a truly original artist.
The widely-adored post-Stereolab unit of Tim Gane, Joe Dilworth and their pal Holger Zapf take their krautrock/psych buggy for another long player jag
Following from recent reissue of their debut LP Blood Drums and a new album, Void Beats/Invocation Trex, both released in 2016, on Hormone Lemonade they refuel the tank with gallons of liquid LSD and, presumably decked in best rollnecks and comfy cords for a highly stylised and charmingly archaic trip back to ‘70s psych vibes.
The long awaited Remix album, featuring reworks from Andy Stott, Oneohtrix Point Never, Electric Youth, Alva Noto, Arca, Motion Graphics, Fennesz, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Yves Tumor, S U R V I V E and Cornelius...
We shouldn’t have to be writing this, but naturally the Jóhann Jóhannsson remix of Solari takes on a much darker shade of blue in light of his recent, untimely passing, yet it equally stands out as the LP’s most uncannily suggestive highlight. R.I.P..
Elsewhere, Yves Tumor can be trusted to handle Zure with a sensitively suspenseful sort of R&B/quasi-ambient breakbeat flip, while Andy Stott feathers Life, Life into an elegiac airborne waltz, Alva Noto catches Disintegration in a sublime, quiescent state, and Arca lends his own, original, tortured torch song vocal and windswept beat to a rework of Async with utterly heart-breaking impact. Yelp, this one really gets us.
Your eyes do not deceive you! Ten years since leaving us all hanging with Two/Three, Tadd Mullinx a.k.a. Dabrye gives up Three/Three, loaded with guest spots from Guilty Simpson, Doom, Ghostface Killah, Jon Wayne, Shigeto, and many mo.
As one of the original architects of the instrumental “beat scene” which emerged from late ‘90s hip hop and morphed into more electronic-based structures during the ’00s, Dabrye forged a rugged, warped new sound which would predate the lurch of half-time dubstep and influence a stack of producers such as Hud Mo and Machinedrum who’ve become key, influential producers in their own right in the years since.
After leaving the Dabrye alias c. Two/Three in 2006 to focus on his JTC and Charels Manier aliases - which, in their own way, also triggered or predated sea changes in the wider dance/electronic scenes - Tadd Mullinx picks up like he never left us with Three/Three, reprising a natty, wonky style that pretty much ignores contemporary trap/drill trends in favour of super bass-heavy and psychedelically detailed productions that match the classic steez of his vocalists.
From first listens we’re most impressed by the woozy nudge of Dr. Shroomen feat G&D, and it’s hard not to get snagged on Doom’s hooks in Lil Mufukuz, definitely Ghostface Killah’s delivery on Emancipated, which sounds like a sharp update of some Dilla/Raymond Scott flex, and easily The Appetite feat. Roc Marciano, Quelle Chris & Danny Brown on some Clipse meets Kraftwerk vibe.
"The music in this box set does indeed demonstrate masterful arrangements of sounds and sources, movement and melody, humour and seriousness, that can well be described as magical. It is also a set of unpredictable keys and ciphers, revealing a unique worldview where high artistic rigour meets continual openness to chance and serendipity. In this, Holger not only cut and pasted music but time, place and mindsets, when such things in popular culture were not only technically near impossible but virtually unprecedented.” - Ian Harrison (Mojo)
"Krieg der Töne’ (‘War Of The Sounds’) was produced for the most experimental late night program on German public television network ARD, ‘Das kleine Fernsehspiel’ (‘The Small Teleplay’) in 1989. In the Eighties the department co-produced international independent films like Charlie Ahearn’s early hip hop film ‘Wild Style’ (1983) and Jim Jarmusch’s sophomore feature ‘Stranger Than Paradise’ (1984). Michael Meert’s ‘Krieg der Töne’ is emphatically called “a Video-Musical.” Meert was part of a movement of video activists in the early eighties, who wanted to create faster, more spontaneous pictures through video productions and hoped for a new, political and artistic public sphere of moving images through video. Holger Czukay plays a session musician, who is also named Holger Czukay but is not completely identical with the real Czukay.
He is a bass player for the all-powerful music corporation Super Sound, who has to earn extra money by tuning pianos. One of his customers is an ambitious upper class mother, who desperately wants her 12 year old daughter Ino to win the Super Sound talent show. She hires Professor Czukay as a piano teacher but mainly hopes he can put a word in for her daughter at the upcoming event. Czukay is a grumpy but original teacher who opens the world of everyday sounds for Ino, smashing her mother’s precious china along the way. Ino embarks on a magical journey through Cologne, where everyday sounds transform to music on Czukay’s wonderful soundtrack. People blowing into beer bottles sound like electronically distorted trumpets, rhythms of footsteps, trains and ships form a hypnotic groove. Finally she enters the high altar of German avant-garde pop: Holger Czukay’s real life studio, with his tape machines and a short wave radio receiver at the core. ‘Krieg der Töne’ is a musical slapstick comedy and a poetic film about discovering your own ‘swing’ and the magic of sounds.
VinylVideo recordings contain video (moving images and sound) stored in a special analogue stereophonic video signal format specifically developed for recording on vinyl records. The signal can be reproduced by connecting a special decoder unit to any ordinary HiFi turntable and standard television."
Widely regarded as the 20th century’s most important singer of English traditional song, Shirley Collins is someone who was born to invoke the old songs. Alongside her sister Dolly, she stood at the epicenter of the folk music revival during the 1960s and ‘70s.
"In 1980 she developed a disorder of the vocal chords known as dysphonia, which robbed her of her unique singing voice and forced her into early retirement. The Ballad Of Shirley Collins – which premiered at last year’s London Film Festival – tells this story, though to reduce it to that single aspect does everyone (not least of all Shirley!) something of a disservice.
The story proves itself to be something of a time-travelling Transatlantic road-movie of sorts, utilising a motherlode of archive audio to recount the tale of her seminal 1959 song-collecting trip around America’s Deep South alongside her then-lover (and legendary ethnomusicologist) Alan Lomax. As well as these songs (notably Alabama Sacred Harp Convention, Texas Gladden and Sidney Hemphill-Carter) there are more recent offerings, a home recording of Shirley’s sister Dolly Collins, and a BBC session from 1958, “Eight Five Spiritual” which gets its first release, some 60 years after it was recorded. Shirley Collins spent her life in song. Even during her time without her performing voice she was telling the stories of others’ music. Not once has she dropped the baton in keeping these songs, these stories, these people alive.
The soundtrack to ‘The Ballad Of Shirley Collins’ – though diverse – showcases just a fraction of the facets that make up an extraordinary career by anyone’s standards. Deliberately eschewing a straightforward biopic approach, Rob Curry and Tim Plester’s follow-up to their award-winning documentary WAY OF THE MORRIS, is a lyrical response to the life-and-times of this totemic musical figure. Granted intimate access to recording sessions for Shirley’s first album of new recordings in almost four decades, and featuring contributions from the comedian Stewart Lee and David Tibet of Current 93, what emerges is a meditative and carefully textured piece of portraiture.
A timely delve into the arterial blood, loam and tears of our haunted island nation. The film was released in October and has played more than 50 venues to date. December brings the last few screenings, before a major new wave of activity in January. January 9th is the date to look out for, with the film showing at around 30 venues across the country."
The Blue Sleep is a brand new studio album by Blaine L. Reininger, the Colorado-born composer and founder member of avant-garde music group Tuxedomoon.
"Written and recorded by Blaine in 2017, the album was mixed in his adopted hometown of Athens by noted electronic music producer Coti K. Like most of his previous solo projects, The Blue Sleep combines vocal songs with atmospheric instrumental tracks, three of which (Lost Ballroom, Jacob’s Ladder and Odi et Amo) were written for Caligula, a theatre production.
"These days the music plays me," explains Blaine. “The unifying principle behind the songs on Blue Sleep is the method of composition. I apply fine old aleatory techniques – John Cage, William Burroughs, Tristan Tzara – and filter these through my instinctive knowledge of melody and harmony. Lyrics are generated algorithmically (I work with programs which assemble phrases according to mathematical rules) and then edited by me, with phrases suggested by the random output. That’s pretty much my modus operandi in the 21st century.”
Sister collection to “The Flesh Creeping Gonzoid & Other Imaginary Creatures.” Studio out-takes, deleted obscurities, compilation appearances and vinyl and download releases.
The DVD included is an extended version of the very limited DVDR of “Life Is An Empty Place”. (N.B: DVD may not play in all territories – it is REGION 2). All discs are over 75 minutes in length and feature a wealth of previously unreleased material. The discs are housed in individual card sleeves. Box includes a 4 page insert with the track-listing. Limited to 500.
Very sadly, this is the posthumous pressing of a long-awaited reissue for Jóhann Jóhannsson’s world-taking début album, Englabörn, which is now packaged with an extra side of reworks by peers including A Winged Victory for the Sullen, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Hildur Guðnadóttir, Paul Corley, and Jóhannsson himself with Francesco Donadello.
Born in 1969 in Reykjavik, Iceland, Jóhann Jóhannsson passed this mortal coil on 9th February 2018 in Berlin, Germany. An esteemed regular on these pages since this release of his first album, Jóhannsson recorded for practically every notable modern classical label in circulation, and also worked extensively beyond those parameters alongside everyone from Marc Almond and Barry Adamson to avant garde maestros such as BJ Nilsen and Pan Sonic, including most recently recording a number of soundtracks to high profile Hollywood movies.
Opening with the instantly recognisable processed vocals of Odi et Amo, Jóhannsson’s first album recorded under his own name has long held an uncannily nostalgic appeal, one which takes on a new poignancy in light of his passing. For anyone yet to encounter Englabörn it will remain an unusually absorbing experience, while anyone familiar with its tremulous strings, fleeting plays of light and shivering electronics will surely hear it imbued with a new levity.
Of the Englabörn Variations, we’re most attracted to Jóhannsson’s revisions of his own work, alongside Francesco Donadello. The practically chopped & screwed version of Odi et Amo is highly likely to induce tears in susceptible listeners - also appearing as a more glacial bis rework - while Ryuichi Sakamoto also plays the heartstrings like an aeolian harp in his breathtaking rework of Jói & Karen, and cellist Hildur Guðnadóttir takes Sálfræðingur Deyr to its deepest point, before Paul Hilliard’s other vocal ensemble Theatre Of Voices leave us shivering with a final version of Odi Et Amo.
R.I.P. one the 21st century’s first, great composers.
Hide is a collaboration between visual artist Heather Gabel and percussionist Seth Sher, this is their debut album.
"Those familiar with HIDE’s provocative live performances will already be accustomed to the hypnotic low-end and sinister vocal delivery that has become the band’s signature. The opening track, Fall Down, sets an eerie tone that permeates Castration Anxiety until the end. Throbbing pulses swirling around Gabel’s death laden mantras succumb to themes harvesting power from desperation and hopelessness."
Our latest examination of Esoteric, Modal & Progressive Jazz of the 20th Century has taken us to Japan.
"The liberating force of jazz has been created and felt all around the world, but few nations on earth embraced the jazz message with the passion and intensity of Japan. From the dawn of the jazz age to the present day, Japanese audiences have been renowned tastemakers, enthusiasts and champions of the music – in the 1980s, Japan was the biggest per capita market in the world for jazz records, and it has even been said that Japanese jazz fans kept the jazz record industry alive through the lean years of the 1970s, when the music fell from commercial favour in the land of its birth.
But while the jazz aficionados of Japan are celebrated as sophisticated fans and consumers of the music, comparatively little is known outside Japan of the remarkable and abundant music produced by generations of Japanese jazz musicians. Numerous Japanese jazzers have found enormous success on the international stage – Toshiko Akiyoshi, Sadao Watanabe, Teramasu Hino, and many others are household names among jazz listeners all over the world, and with good reason. But if such global figures are put aside, the stunning heritage of Japanese jazz remains poorly understood outside Japan. As a result, the work of many celebrated Japanese jazumen has remained largely unknown to international audiences, and the extraordinary scope and depth of Japanese jazz has not been widely recognised.
Compiled for the Spiritual Jazz series in collaboration with the celebrated collector and DJ Yusuke Ogawa (Deep Jazz Reality, Tokyo), this 2CD/twin set of double LPs aims to correct that omission by uncovering the uniquely deep sound of esoteric, modal and progressive jazz from Japan – music of the heart, soul and Japanese spirit!"
Première release of a pivotal piece by important American composer, Julius Eastman.
After more than 40 years, Julius Eastman’s Femenine - a euphoric, colourful, and inventive work by the brilliant but criminally overlooked composer with the S.E.M. Ensemble - finally sees the light of day thanks to Finland’s Frozen Reeds, bringing to life a wondrous iteration of the highly fertile 1970s north american minimalist/modern classical nexus for a whole new generation of ears.
Notable not least as the only known recording of Femenine, recorded live in 1974 at Composers Forum in Albany, New York - which makes it only the 2nd CD with Eastman’s name at the top - this release also documents the composer on piano (whilst wearing a dress, as it goes) and features his unique innovation, a set of mechanised sleigh bells, rattling throughout the 72 minute performance, which, in a way, neatly characterises the artist’s wide-open, pioneering idiosyncrasies and dichotomies for anyone new to his work.
Un/fortunately, depending your perspective, far too many folk will be new to his work or even unaware of Eastman’s involvement in some true totems of the time; whether that’s as lead vocalist on Peter Maxwell Davies’ Eight Songs For A Mad King (1971), playing keys on Dinosaur L’s disco-not-disco classic 24→24 Music (1981), or conducting Arthur Russell’s Tower of Meaning (1983). And we say too many folk, because, all considered, until quite recently, Eastman has been long overdue the shine afforded to many of his peers and contemporaries.
As a Gay, Afro-American new music composer, pianist and vocalist in the ‘70s, Eastman’s work was innately politicised and exceptional by the nature of its provenance, not to mention the music itself, which pulled from his personal history as much as wider social movements to represent a uniquely fluid perspective on minimalist music’s rigid process and presentation right up to his untimely death, aged 50 in 1990.
With that in mind, Feminine stands at a crossroads between Eastman’s earlier chamber work Stay On It, and later pieces such as his iconic, majestic Evil Nigger and the ambiguous flux of emotions in Gay Guerilla; sounding quite unlike any of them thanks to its sense of communal joy (there were somewhere between 12 and 15 players) and the polymetric meter of his mechanised sleigh bells, coupled with a display of massed, pitching tonal colour that moves with the kind of deliquescent, flighty optimism that’s hard not to be wowed by.
Ultimately, it genuinely lives up to the mantle of “new music” and presents its ideas in a deeply refreshing, insistent, yet never-cloying manner.
A huge recommendation.
Music freed of volume requirements associated with most modes of listening. Taken as a palette cleanser or listening exercise, the barely perceptible near-stasis of ‘Breath For Music’ serves its purpose beautifully well.
“Second Editions present a new work by composer/organist/musicologist Eva-Maria Houben. Breath For Organ is many things. A composition as contemplation. A study on listening, on deliberation. An approach to modesty. At times, it even feels like an ode to the whole history of organ music. But most importantly, at its core, it is an appreciation for an instrument as an organism. In this case, the (now displaced) pipe organ of the late St. Franziskus church in Krefeld, Germany. It is Houben's most compelling piece to date. Bold, sparse, abstract, yet vibrant and hypnotic. Determined in concept and execution. Musical existentialism.”
This thirty-minute album from pianist Nils Frahm was originally intended as a Christmas present for his friends and family, but as a marker of just how commercialised Christmas has become it's again being sold for cash money, this time via Erased Tapes.
Frahm's piano playing inevitably bringing to mind the likes of Peter Broderick and Max Richter. With the inclusion of some tastefully deployed celeste and reed organ you might also find yourself thinking of Yann Tiersen soundtracks or Hauschka's chiming piano preparations, but looking beyond merely making aesthetic comparisons and you'll find an enormously impressive compositional quality at the root of Frahm's music.
There are just three pieces here, but each one is underpinned by strong themes and a style of writing that far transcends the often too-pastoral-for-its-own good genre. While shorter compositions 'Ambre' and 'Nue' are comparatively concise and florid (with the former of the two exhibiting something approaching a modern classical version of pop hooks) the album's centre-piece, 'Tristana' is a more contemplative outing, entrenched in rich atmospherics and the haunting timbres of the celeste. This is an achingly beautiful album from Frahm - enough so to have you craving Christmas in the middle of July. Very highly recommended.
Recorded in Liverpool back in 2003, this improvised performance unites two of the UK's foremost improv exponents (Tony Bevan and Paul Hession) with two pioneers of modern free music, the multi-talented guitarist, turntablist and noise artist Otomo Yoshihide and the late, great Derek Bailey.
The performance shuffles into first gear during the speculative, tentative first throes of 'No Hiding Place / Softly Softly', establishing a ruthlessly abstract sound world from the outset, only to tighten up slightly for 'Morse', which welcomes a far more full-blooded, often swing-influenced approach to percussion, accompanying Bailey's lightly overdriven, spidering guitar lines.
The remainder of the set introduces some charged-up, visceral reed work, sounding surly and untethered on 'Good Cop, Bad Cop' while Bailey playfully plots a more welcoming path.
Yo La Tengo return with their first proper full-length since 2013’s ‘Fade’.
"There’s a Riot Going On is an expression of freedom and sanity and emotional expansion, a declaration of common humanity as liberating as it is soft-spoken. While there’s a riot going on, Yo La Tengo will remind you what it’s like to dream. The sound burbles and washes and flows and billows. If records were dedicated to the cardinal elements, this one would be water. There are shimmery hazes, spectral rumbles, a flash of backward masking, ghostly flamingos calling “shoo-bop shoo-bop.” Even if your mind is not unclouded - shaken, misdirected, out of words and out of time - you can still float, ride the waves of an ocean deeper than your worries and above the sound.
For Yo La Tengo this is a slow-motion action painting and Georgia Hubley, Ira Kaplan and James McNew did it all themselves, in their rehearsal studio, with no outside engineer (John McEntire later did the mix). They did not rehearse or jam together beforehand; they turned on the recorder and let things coalesce. Songs came together over long stretches, sometimes as much as a year going by between parts. You’d never guess this, since the layers are finessed with such a liquid brush. You’d imagine most of the songs had sprung forth whole, since they will enter your head that way. Within two listens you will be powerless to resist the magnetic draw of ‘Shades of Blue’, will involuntarily hear ‘She May, She Might’ on your internal jukebox first thing in the morning and ‘Let’s Do It Wrong’ late at night. While there’s a riot going on you will feel capable of bobbing through like a cork.
In 1971, when the nation appeared to be on the brink of violently coming apart, Sly And The Family Stone released ‘There’s a Riot Goin’ On’, an album of dark, brooding energy. Now, under similar circumstances, Yo La Tengo have issued a record with the same name but with a different force, an album that proposes an alternative to anger and despair."
Brainfeeder present a special ‘chopped not slopped’ mix of Thundercat’s ‘Drunk’ album (2017) by DJ Candlestick and OG Ron C of Houston DJ collective The Chopstars. Slowed down and chopped up , the mix has been appropriately re-titled ‘Drank’. “If you got ‘Drunk’ it’s only right that you get ‘Drank’. I feel like they go together,” declares Thundercat.
For fans of Flying Lotus, BADBADNOTGOOD, Kendrick Lamar, DJ Screw.
Geir Jenssen a.k.a. Biosphere yields the results of a field recording project on a Dutch farm, commissioned by Incubate festival.
Imperceptibly melded with Biosphere’s signature synthetic palette, the field recordings are effectively reanimated as dreamlike sequences, variously incorporating the sounds of a distant helicopter with shepherd’s calls and windswept choral synth voices in t’Schop, focussing in on insectoid minutiae with Pipistrellus, or indivisibly meshing the real and the unreal in lush pieces such as Audax and the pastoral bliss of Icoon.
Marie Davidson & Pierre Guerineau’s Essaie Pas duo pay tribute to PKD’s classic sci fi novel A Scanner Darkly with a dark, suspenseful cinematic and driving suite of electro and synthscapes for DFA.
New Path finds the duo mirroring the book’s themes of mass surveillance, voyeuristic technology and drug culture thru a range of evocative strategies, both literal and oblique.
From insectoid rhythms emulating the effect of narcotic psychosis in Les Aphides to the record’s titular reference to the New-Path rehab clinics, the results are riddled with inference and explicit nods to the book, resulting in some superb highlights in the duo’s nerve-riding hot-stepper Les Agents Des Stupas, where they make great use of the Ensoniq ESQ-1’s sharp tones, and also the pendulous, shadow-strafing killer Substance M, with the cinematic depth of New Path providing neat closure to their short story.
Four cracking Sun Ra pieces, roving from the possessed tongues and earthy hustle of Island In The Sun, thru more astral, free vectors in New Dawn, to the wonky big band vibes and growled vox on Unmask The Batman, and amazing Afro-Astro hustle in I’ll Wait For You.
"Strut and Art Yard present another exclusive from the vast catalogue of cosmic jazz pioneer Sun Ra: a previously unreleased radio session most likely recorded at the WXPN FM radio studios in Philadelphia, 1974-5.
This newly discovered session features a new version of Ra’s earlier ‘Island In The Sun’, a romping, raucous rendition of ‘Unmask The Batman’ and the first studio recording of ‘I’ll Wait For You’ There is no bass player on the sessions and Ra’s left hand beats out a rhythmic bass pattern on the piano. All tracks are remastered directly from the original tapes. The album package features a newly commissioned painting by legendary Bristol urban artist Guy Denning and new sleeve notes by Paul Griffiths.
Recently discovered in the Sun Ra archive, the recording forms part of a series of sessions that Ra and the Arkestra recorded for WXPN-FM between 1974 and 1980. The ‘Antique Blacks’ album was recorded there in ’74. Based on the campus of The University of Pennsylvania, WXPN’s station manager Jules Epstein and music director Russ Woessner were instrumental in the exposure and recording of The Arkestra in their broadcast production studios. Geno Barnhart, founder of The Empty Foxhole concert collective, Jules and Russ broadcast an on-going series of jazz concerts covering a wide spectrum. The Arkestra performed at The Foxhole in Philly many times from 1974.
Personnel: Sun Ra: Piano John Gilmore: Tenor Saxophone Marshall Allen: Flute, Alto Saxophone Danny Ray Thompson: Baritone Saxophone, Percussion Atakatune: Oboe, Congas Eddie Thomas: Drums Elo Omoe: Bass Clarinet, Hand Claps Akh Tal Ebah: Trumpet, Vocal James Jacson: Congas, Vocal"
Pivotal techno pioneer Susanne Kirchmayr a.k.a Electric Indigo presents a filigree detailed début album of high-end techno electronica with 5 1 1 5 9 3 for Robert Henke’s Imbalance Computer Music label.
Mainstay of the Berlin scene since she moved there from Vienna and took a job at Hardwax in the early ‘90s, Electric Indigo’s name and output is synonymous with the city’s leading edge of clubs and sound art thanks to her uncompromising aesthetics and vital work with the Female:Pressure group, which she established in 1998.
After some dozen 12”s with her name at the top, including a recent turn on the Berghain 08 EP, Electric Indigo now offers a definitive cross-section of her sound in 5 1 1 5 9 3, combining her praxes in the ostensibly opposing but often interrelated spheres of academic sound art and club music, in 10 uniquely twisted permutations of computer music, electro-techno and electro-acoustic styles.
While unremittingly greyscale in tone and minimalist in structure, 5 1 1 5 9 3 still possesses a depth of colour and striking variation of pattern within those parameters. The result is Berlin techno music at its probing, icy best, especially in the rhythm-driven highlights such as the recursive electro-noise vortex of Excursion, the purist pressure of 4.31Hz and quite strikingly in the Anne-James Chaton-esque rhythmic vocal cut-up of Trois, and to neck-cricking degrees with the immense spatial proprioceptions of The Landing.
"The golden record was a gift from humanity to the cosmos. But it is also a gift to humanity. It’s a reminder of what we can achieve when we are at our best-and that our future really is up to all of us..."
"In 1977, NASA launched two spacecraft, Voyager 1 and 2, on a grand tour of the solar system and into the mysteries of interstellar space. Attached to each of these probes is a beautiful golden phonograph record containing a message for any extraterrestrial intelligence that might encounter it, perhaps billions of years from now. This enchanting artifact, known as the Voyager Golden Record, may be the last vestige of our civilization after we are gone forever. Curated by a visionary committee led by Carl Sagan, the golden record tells a story of our planet expressed in music, sounds, images, and science. Etched on the record’s gold-plated aluminum jacket is a diagram explaining where it came from and how to play it."
This 6-part overview of work by legendary Greek composer Jani Christou (1926-1970) is one of the greatest highlights of the practically peerless Edition RZ catalogue. Documenting distinct periods in the fascinating composer’s oeuvre, before he died in a car crash on, or just before his 44th birthday, the set provides a totally compelling introduction to Christou’s inseparable mix of music and philosophy, and his exploration of their metaphysical binds, and has become a real favourite of ours in the process.
The collected six works feel like discrete wormholes or windows onto parallel, proto- or post- dimensions in a way that we’ve rarely heard before. Taking cues from myriad sources such as his studies of logic and philosophy under Ludwig Wittgenstein and Bertrand Russell, through to his private musical tuition with H.F. Redlich, and orchestration with Angelo Francesco Lavagnino, and, perhaps most unavoidably, his obsessions with death and the afterlife inspired by his upbringing in Alexandria, Egypt, where he was surrounded relics of ancient civilisation, Christou’s music feels to genuinely touch on other worlds, and bring them into our own reality.
We don’t want to delve too far into the philosophy for fear of misinterpretation - we’ll leave that for you to wrestle with in the excellent liner notes - but sonically we can assure of the music’s nonpareil grip, especially in the chaotic flux and cataclysmic orchestral resolution of Enantiodromia, as well as the remarkably open-ended Epicycle, whose score calls for high levels of improvisation in a fixed situation, resulting a proper proto-techno abstraction, or in the spellbinding recording of Mysterion, with its whispered Danish vocal and stygian pulse, which was somewhat uncannily the last of his works to be recorded before his tragic death.
It all begs the question as to what Christou may have made had he lived longer, with access to new technologies - judging by the trajectory of these works, our guess is some of the most incredible music imaginable - but also leaves us with some beautiful, hugely distinguished music which acknowledges “an awareness of how remorseless, varied, infinitely complex, fleeting, but sometimes also infinitely simple is the world-wide phenomenon of pattern recognition” in a way which most beautifully highlights it’s magical logic via its purposed application.
David Byrne teams with a squad of lads to make American Utopia
Featuring Rodaidh McDonald, Happa, Airhead, Bullion, Koreless, Daniel Lopatin (0PN), Ariel Rechtshaid, Jaako Savoleinen, Joe Williams, Jack Peñate and Brian Eno - literally enough for a football team with Byrne as Wenger (get out, lol).
Pivotal member of the Montréalais musical fraternity, Eric Chenaux gets right under the skin and in your head with the intoxicating, jazz-wise chops and strikingly classic-sounding vocals of Slowly Paradise; an instant modern classic if we’ve never heard one! Chenaux generates a genuinely bewildering sound which lives up to easy comparison with Arthur Russell and even Thom Yorke, balancing sweetness with a more off-kilter style that also gets to the point, yet from beguiling, perpendicular angles maybe better compared with Richard Youngs' approach to folk and post-punk/pop paradigms.
“Eric Chenaux makes conceptual music that’s not meant to sound conceptual. He operates among various 'traditions' but perhaps most broadly, Chenaux's records grapple with the relationship between improvisation and structure in very particular, unique, idiosyncratic ways – and quite without irony or cynicism, through love.
Because fundamentally, Chenaux writes love songs, which he sings in a voice honeyed and clear, while his guitar gently bends, frazzes, chortles, diverges and decomposes. This juxtaposition of his mellow, dexterous crooning and his highly experimental (and equally dexterous) guitar explorations, explodes even unconventional notions of singing and accompaniment, of tonal and timbral interplay between guitar and voice.
As a solo artist, Chenaux's improvisation methods are in certain literal ways solipsistic: as a singer-songwriter, he plays his guitar around and against his voice, challenging easy notions of harmony/harmoniousness, improvising 'with himself' in pursuit of surprising himself (and his listeners) as he unfurls ribbons of voice and instrument often to the point of seeming independence, all the better to capture – and be captured by – unforeseen, intimate moments of interdependence: a definition of freedom, as a profoundly intentional state of openness, presence and play.
Even within avant-garde currents of folk and jazz balladry, Eric Chenaux feels like an outlier. Yet his music remains wonderfully warm, generous and fundamentally accessible in spite of its irrefutable iconoclasm. While the constitutive elements of Chenaux’s solo work in recent years might suggest some underlying devotion to asceticism, the opposite is much more true: his musical reveries resist, critique and counteract austerity (in all its forms) in a joyful abandonment to the improvised space where playfulness and light-heartedness are taken seriously, and where love is invoked and expressed, without reductive or facile sentimentalism, in a full, nuanced, clear-eyed suspension/rejection of the cynical life.
Slowly Paradise is Eric Chenaux’s new solo record – a lovely collection of mostly long songs guided by soothing, buttery singing and bent, fried fretwork. It is arguably Chenaux’s most assured and essential solo work, expanding upon the critical acclaim his previous releases Guitar & Voice and Skullsplitter have rightly garnered.”
“Answer Code Request’s 2014 debut LP Code was an exciting moment for electronic music in Berlin – one that offered a break from the eternal hall and monolithic 4/4 kicks that ruled the city’s club landscape. As a hybrid gesture, the album’s spirit recalled an especially fruitful era in the German capital from the mid-90s to early 2000s, when dub and pad-driven Detroit techno cross-pollinated with Berlin’s industrial aesthetic to create one of the city’s most exciting musical chapters.
Today the musical vision offered by Berghain resident Answer Code Request, real name Patrick Gräser, has proved far-sighted. While at first glance electronic music in 2018 seems increasingly balkanized, borders between genres have once again become fuzzier. Now, on his follow up LP Gens, Gräser looks beyond the bass euphoria of Code toward darker horizons and a desolate atmosphere befitting of current global circumstances.
In a sense, Gens (Latin for tribe or lineage) reverses the notion of the hardcore continuum as proposed by music journalist Simon Reynolds: embedded in a tradition of US and continental European techno, Gräser seeks its disruption through hardcore outgrowths, from ambient jungle to later variations of British bass music and IDM. It’s an interesting twist when seen in the larger biographical context of Gräser who, born and raised outside of Berlin in early 1980s, jumped from East German youth radio DT64 to American hip-hop, acid and early UK hardcore – a radical shift of musical interest born of a radical shift in political circumstances.
On Gens, the unsettling atmosphere is established early on with the fading rave opener of the album’s synonymous title track, and continues through the scrambled military communications and post dubstep rhythms of “Sphera”. From there, sci-fi pads, heavy phasing and alien syncopation lead explorative third track “Ab Intus” out into space. A glimmer of otherworldly positivity arrives with the warm, distorted breakbeats and interwoven synth melodies of album standout “knbn2”, while Gräser’s most dancefloor- oriented melds jungle and techno, Amen and 4/4 kicks, on “Cicadae”.”
The John Cage disciples at Edition Wandelweiser Records present their take on Cage’s Cartridge Music  - the pioneering composer’s concerted effort in presenting a genuinely “live” form of electronic music performance, involving a number of players scraping, striking and “playing” a record turntable’s cartridge (the bit that picks up and transforms vibrations from the needle, or stylus).
Many performances of Cartridge Music - one of Cage’s “indeterminate” works, meaning the piece’s length and structure is up to the performers - have been undertaken over the intervening years, but this 1 hour long piece is the longest and most captivating iteration that we’ve heard.
Undertaken by ensemble daswirdas - who had prior taken on Cage’s Child of Tree work in the Branches CD - the sextet coax out a sequence of small sounds ranging from barely perceptible to almost familiar, including snatches of shortwave radio nestling amid the scrabble and low key scree.
The composition is arguably a somewhat primitive form of electronic music performance by today’s standards, but listening to it now, as the ensemble take it to its quiet limits, it still feels radically incomprehensible and porous to the performer and listener’s perceptions.
One of the leading lights of Ethiopian music presents his first new material in an age on Lala Belu for Awesome Tapes From Africa - the label who were instrumental in showcasing his work to wider audiences with the compilation Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument: Shemonmuanaye in 2013, and later a reissue of reissue of his Tche Belew  album.
Comprising the virtuoso accordionist and keys player’s first new material since those reissues triggered a worthy career resurgence, Lala Belu catches fire in all six parts with a vitally tough and expressive sound that feels like Mergia has thrown off the more genteel jazz vibes of early releases in favour of a fierce, freer jazz and funk flex to proceedings.
The guy’s gotta be knocking into his 70s now yet shows no sign of letting up here, sounding utterly alive and full of feels from the opening cut’s switch from mellow sway to bustling jazz and blazing electric keys, thru the head-down funk chops of Addis Nat, to the swingeing organ lines and percolated percussion of Anchihoye Lene.
He chills out beautifully well on the sublime solo piano piece Yefikir Engurguro, which sweetly recalls the magic of Emahoy Tsegue-Mariam Guebru, while Gum Gum sounds perhaps closest to his debonaire early recordings.
Superb selection of Bubblegum Soul & Synth-Boogie dialled in from 1980s South Africa by Miles Cleret and DJ Okapi for Soundway, who cannily survey the roots of what would become Pantsula, Kwaito, and Gqom. You can take it on trust this is an all killer no filler set, but then again you could just use your ears and feel the heat on Stimela’s rude boogie play ‘Mind Games’, Joshiba’s brimming ‘Gloria’, or the super woozy strut of Zasha’s ’Arrow Dub’.
“In 1980s black South Africa a local form of pop music evolved as the disco boom died down and slowly mutated. It was often ubiquitously described as Bubblegum - usually stripped-down and lo-fi with a predominance of synths, keyboards and drum-machines and overlaid with the kind of deeply soulful trademark vocals and harmonies that South African music is famous for.
Compilers Miles Cleret (Soundway) and DJ Okapi (Afrosynth Records) present a selection of 16 rare, handpicked 1980s cuts that highlight the period that nestles in between the ‘70s (where American-influenced jazz, funk and soul bumped shoulders with local Mbaqanga) and the ‘90s when Kwaito and eventually house-music ruled the dancefloors of urban South Africa.
Alongside French-Caribbean Zouk this kind of music has slowly been making its way into the DJ sets of many of the most open minded selectors around the world. This compilation is in many ways a sister release to the hugely popular compilation of Nigerian boogie and disco that Soundway released in late 2016 : “Doing it In Lagos: Boogie, Pop & Disco in 1980s Nigeria”.
The album takes its name from the band Ashiko’s track of the same name Gumba Fire that features on the compilation. The term is derived from gumba gumba, the term given to the booming speakers of the old spacegram radios that broadcast music into South Africa’s townships and villages. The phrase later evolved into Gumba Fire to refer to a hot party.”
This Gottfried Michel Koenig collection is a definitive document of his pioneering innovations in electro-acoustic composition: spanning his Zwei Klavierstücke  and other works created at the WDR, Cologne; thru his years at the Utrecht Institute For Sonology, and right up to his 60 Blätter for Streichtrio . If you’re into anything from Roland Kayn to Dave NYZ, Ligeti, Haswell or Æ, Koenig’s oeuvre is essential listening!
A key mind in the realisation and theoretical underpinnings of electro-acoustic music, Koenig came thru the Darmstadt summer schools as a student, and later a lecturer, where he met Stockhausen, Kagel, Evangelisti, and Ligeti, whom he would later assist at the famous WDR (Westdeutschen Rundfunk) studio in Cologne - where he also worked in the radio drama department, before moving to Utrecht as director and chair of the Institute of Sonology during its most fecund period until 1986.
The work he assisted on or created himself during this period was crucial to the development of electro-acoustic and computer music paradigms, and since the ‘60s he’s placed ever greater focus on realising a form of computer composition - both writing programs that generate unique scores for instrumentalists to play, and recordings of pure computer music.
For us, and we’ll safely assume many others, it’s the latter part of Koenig’s catalogue - the purely electronic works - that demand attention. Utterly raw, complex and alien, Koenig’s pieces such as Terminus X , and the colour-coded Funktion series from the same era, are some of the most captivating, visceral recordings of electronic music that we’ve ever heard, presenting sounds at their very most abstract, and with no concession to replicating instrumental timbres and dynamics.
We highly recommend getting to grips with the works in this collection, which is pretty much the only place you’ll find a reliable high quality versions of each piece.
Your SA dance collection is set to swell with Pantsula! (The Rise Of Electronic Dance Music In South Africa, 1988-1990), a crucial survey of the much talked about - but little known - scene that sprang from bubblegum and Shangaan Disco, and laid the roots for those Kwaito and Gqom aces which would penetrate scenes and light up dancefloors far beyond the southern hemisphere.
As the excellent liner notes describe in much more detail, Pantsula music (think of Pantsula as a style, attitude rather than fixed descriptor) in 1988-90 was the soundtrack to a difficult, fractious time in SA society and politics, which was still under Apartheid and its people subject to all the shit came with it, which meant that nightclubs and shebeens (blues/after-hours joints/taverns/you know the ones) were constantly under threat of being shut down by the dibble and the authorities, even in places like Johannesburg, where black and white folk mixed more freely.
Still, where there’s a will… and all, meant that the low key shebeens acted as an incubator for Pantsula, where DJs in the backrooms of houses-cum-bars absorbed American and European influences into their own, deeply rich dance culture, resulting a sound that rudely mirrored the hard electronic jack of Chi-house, new beat or eurobeat and the sleek swing of US and Canadian garage, and even traces of Jamaican digi-dancehall, but with natty melodies and vocals familiar to Zulu culture and SA’s wealth of ethnic minorities.
Basically 4/4 house in all its variations was the common currency of Black Atlantic dancefloors, and few places mores than South Africa, which, outside of the USA, was evidently one of the Black Atlantic’s most important hotspots during the late ‘80s international house phenomenon. With that in mind, the 12 tracks on Pantsula! form a vital historic document of Afro-Futurism, catching a uniquely funked up brace of innovative, ingenious and down right infectious dance music which, with the benefit of hindsight, we’d identity among the strongest of its era. Just, it’s taken us all this long to realise.
And the tunes? 100% gold, pal, especially if you’ve a thing for the directness of new beat or the less jazzy sides of Chicago house, as it takes in absolute peaches such as Ayobayo Band’s Sorry Bra, the inimitably tangled bassline of Chaka’s Via Tembisa, the reggae-inflected lope of Go Siami from La Viva, along with pure, brimming soul aces such as The Equals New Lover, the lusty Chi-NYC-Antwerp-esque beauty of Ushelakanjani by Jazino, or the jagged sequencer funk of Scotch Band’s Watsotsama.
For anyone who enjoys dancing, or pissing off the po-po, this one's for you.
Like a cold mojito splashed direct to the ears, Atlas’s Breeze serves a piquant dash of Balearic new age fusion feels from Japan, 1986, on its first vinyl reissue as part of Mule Musiq’s Japanese disco reissue series. Trust it’s a total dream for fans of late ‘80s FM synths and slicked-out fusion, this one
Studio Mule says: “we are proud to announce the vinyl reissue of one of the best and most complex japanese jazz fusion albums, 1987’s breeze by hiroyuki namba, eiji kawamura, and toshiro imaizumi’s band atlas. hiroyuki namba is one of the most important japanese keyboardist of the ’80s with a legacy that includes japanese cosmic classic “who done it?” and “tropical explosion,” a sought-after gem by diggers. in addition to his work with his progressive rock band sense of wonder, he’s also known as a member of tatsuro yamashita’s band. eiji kawamura is a highly respected arranger who has worked on projects by major recording artists like kyoko koizumi and hideaki tokunaga, and atlas’ third member toshiro imaizumi is a skilled studio musician who’s also worked on major projects. the album opens with the soothing sounds of ocean waves that turn into the melancholic fusion number that is “mediterranean breeze,” setting the balearic mood for the whole album.
“simpatia” is an album highlight with a euphoric feel that could be tokyo’s answer to the sounds of ibiza―an obscure japanese gem. 'after brunch with you” is a sunny samba fusion with a playful, bright piano melody, followed by “summer breeze,” an electric fusion jam that sound like holger czukay could have wrote it. a track that was so ahead of its time, i wouldn’t be surprised if international feel picked it up and released it as is. breezy mellow tune “never come into your eyes” reminds you of the sentimental feeling one gets around the time summer’s about to be over. another album highlight, “indige,” is one of japan’s most unique dance tracks of the time, an electric disco stomper that sound like it could’ve been produced by todd terje. “breeze for siesta“ features toshiro imaizumi’s beautiful piano paying, a relaxing song that wouldn’t sound out of place on ecm. “love beach” blends prog influences with fusion in a way only hiroyuki namba can. the album ends with “madrigl,” a magical song with dramatic and melancholic moments, full of quintessentially japanese sense of beauty."