Tim Hecker's 'Haunt Me, Haunt Me Do It Again' was the Montreal artist's first album under his own name (he'd previously released under the moniker, Jetone) and very much sets the blueprint for what was to come over ensuing full-lengths.
In the early days of his career, Hecker was often compared with Fennesz, with both artists mining a similarly beautiful line in fizzy, glitch-laden digital soundscapes.
'Music For Tundra' would certainly seem to share the same vernacular as Fennesz's Endless Summer, but Hecker's sound is less song-like in essence, placing greater emphasis on subtle drone variations. Towards the album's centre, 'The Work Of Art In The Age Of Cultural Overproduction' stands as arguably the album's most impressive entry, intertwining a snarling distortion with granular melodic fragments and vicious, wind-like currents of noise; a sonic conceit that's been refined and expanded by Hecker over the years, but which has seldom sounded better than it does here.
A remarkably enduring piece of work, Haunt Me, Haunt Me, Do It Again has aged well, contemporary electroacoustic drone enthusiasts unfamiliar with it should dive in.
Wen hypnotises with the pendulous, crystalline designs of EPHEM:ERA, a sophomore album study on the mercurial warp and weft of modern UK dance music. Like Actress and Zomby before him, Wen also has a vital vision of what dance music can and should sound like. Taking the most forward elements of techno, jungle, garage and grime, he salvages what’s good and bends their time-tested functions into ear-snagging yet elusive new designs that express a pivotal sense of an eternally out-of-reach future.
Tessellating style and pattern at oblique angles, Wen teases their common binds and frictional differentials in a way that feels fresh yet familiar to anyone who has been participating with UK dance music cultures over the past generation.
In Silhouette he retro-fits sino grime with spiritual jazz in weightless pirouettes, while Time II Think rewires garage with slinky techno. Previous single Blips is a sterling example of where hardcore has become distilled/inverted into weightlessness without losing that lip-biting section of hardcore proper, and the uncentred axes of Grit and Off-Kilter catch him rendering garage-techno prisms with ambient abstraction, modulating the tension between raving urges and a certain sort of UK discipline that’s key to his sound.
Two-disc set featuring new artwork and a bonus disc of remixes and alternate versions, including a previously unreleased remix of Anymore from the band’s Will Gregory, a new version of 'Ocean' with new vocals from Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan and more.
Goldfrapp’s 7th studio album is arguably among their most potent, poignant to date, and that’s no mean feat for a band approaching their 20th anniversary. This may be due to the input of fresh new hands such as Bobby Krlic (The Haxan Cloak) and Leo Abrahams on a number of tracks, or simply down to Goldfrapp assuming their mantle as one of the world’s best-loved and persistent synth-pop units, but either way they’ve cooked up a goodun with Silver Eye.
Where their previous outing Tale Of Us  dabbled with pastoral indie pop alongside the usual smoky, noirish themes, they’ve returned to what they do best here; slickly glam and sensual synth pop proper, illustrated in glossy, sweeping DX7 synth contours and gilded with Alison Goldfrapp’s timeless grasp of impeccable, romantic songwriting.
The mingling of fresh young blood with Goldfrapp’s anachronisms makes for a record that could have been released at almost any point in their catalogue but somehow sounds very now, in a sort of ‘90s-referencing way - which we’d largely put down to the input of Bobby Krlic on four tracks in particular; on the glam stomp of opener Anymore, suggesting NIN meets Taylor Swift, in the sublime DX7 strokes and shoegaze guitar burn of Tigerman, and thru to the biting point crunch and detached vocal processing of Become The One, or the way how Moon In Your Mouth somehow sounds like a beautifully hyper-stylised version of Dido - and we mean that most respectfully.
The rest is sterling, too; highlights also to found in the lip-biting darkroom greazer, Systemagic; the perfectly curdled chords and Alison’s dry ice poise in Faux Suede Drifter; the Fever Ray-like techno-pop thump of Zodiac Black; or the misty-eyed beauty of Beast That Never Was, featuring Slip associate and Brian Eno collaborator Leo Abrahams.
Grand, sweeping neo-classical statement by Polish cellist Karolina Rec, a.k.a. Resina
“Two years on from her critically acclaimed, self-titled debut, Polish cellist Resina (aka Karolina Rec) returns with her sophomore album for FatCat's influential 130701 imprint. A less fragile, far more immediate album, 'Traces' sees the Warsaw-based artist working a sound which moves closer towards the listener, with increased viscerality and weight. It's a bold, dynamic and assured step forward and an album fully deserving of your attention.
Looped, processed and layered with increased dynamism, on 'Traces', the cello moves from discrete chamber intimacy to shimmering ambient miasmas and more urgent, full-blooded tracks that reach out and grab you. There are points of delicate beauty and moments where everything seems about to melt into chaos. Whilst Karolina's voice appeared only briefly (to stunning effect) on her debut's final track, this time around it assumes much greater prominence, featuring on almost half the album's tracks. Non-verbal, her vocals function as a beautiful, haunting textural layer, conjuring a sense of near sacred purity and longing. Besides the looped and layered sounds/ rhythms coaxed from cello and voice, 'Traces' expands her palette with contributions from drummer / percussionist Mateusz Rychlicki adding body and drive on a number of tracks.
'Traces' was recorded in December 2017 at renowned Polish producer/ musician Maciej Cieslak's studio in the Wola district of Warsaw. One of the city's uglier areas, Wola was massively devastated during the last war, being the site of both the Jewish ghetto and Warsaw Uprising. During the album's production, the pair often discussed palpably feeling some heavy, dark energy of the place, something of which has doubtless leaked into the album. Drawing upon some dark and timely themes and finding grounding in the worrying / unstable era in which we find ourselves, its title refers to the observing of memories; to remnants surviving violence or the ravages of time; to parts missing or disfigured.”
Footwork OG, RP Boo keeps the style mutably rude and forward with I’ll Tell You What!, a début album declaration of dancefloor war arriving nearly 30 years into a DJ/production curve that started with him handling the decks for original Chicago dance crew, the House-O-Matics, and has seen him release music for Dance Mania before leading Footwork’s global expansion via Planet Mu.
I’ll Tell You What!, is Kavain Space a.k.a. RP Boo’s first collection of new material to be released shortly after it was written. In other words it’s his first album, proper, if we consider that his pivotal Legacy and Fingers, Bank Pads & Shoe Prints releases were compiled from archival material. But pedantry aside, I’ll Tell You What! is simply another thrilling RP Boo record crammed with unique rhythmelodic arrangements.
Born in the resistance of Chicago’s streets to its endemic violence, but also heavily inspired by Boo’s incessant touring schedule over the last five years (if you haven’t witnessed him DJing, you’re missing out) the album is as much about the Chi as his hard-won experience of how to translate Windy City funk to foreign feet, and finds him stripping back the samples to locate leaner, more rugged beat structures and hardcore basslines that marks the difference compared to his earlier work.
If we’re playing favourites, the rhythmic crossfire of At War is definitive RP Boo, while Cloudy Back Yard’s percolated chorales and dark B-line are just mad abstract and inexorably funky, and that mutual, underlying connection with the nuttiness of UK hardcore really comes thru strongly in the cranky prang of Bounty and the breathless flow of U Belong 2 Me. But fuck any more chat about this one, you’re only ever going to understand it properly with your ears and feet.
Infectious hot-steppers meshing belting vocals to pointillist polyrhythms by fuji master drummers on talking drums, trap drums and electronic percussion. Recorded in modern day Lagos, Nigeria
“‘Synchro Sound System & Power’ features the music of Nigeria Fuji Machine, which includes some of Nigeria's finest ‘Fuji’ master drummers and singers, and is newly recorded by Soul Jazz Records in Lagos.
Fuji is the heavily percussive and improvisational style of Nigerian popular music, at once modern and yet deeply rooted in the traditional Islamic Yoruba culture of Nigeria.
Here on this album Nigeria Fuji Machine’s striking and powerful lead vocalist Taofik Yemi Fagbenro soars above a wild and energetic backdrop of polyrhythms played on traditional talking drums, trap drums, electronic and street percussion to create a powerful wall of intense sound.
Fuji is hi-energy street music, heavily percussive which evolved out of the Islamic celebration of Ramadan, which became a major event in mid-20th century Lagos. Groups of young men walked through Muslim neighbourhoods at night singing improvised ‘wéré’ music to the accompaniment of pots, pans, drums, bells and anything else available, waking believers for the early morning prayer. By the early 1970s this music had crossed-over into popular Nigerian culture where it came to be known as Fuji, first made popular by the artist Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, as the music began to be performed commonly at parties and social events.
In the 1970s and 1980s three Nigerian artists – King Sunny Adé, Chief Ebonezer Obey and Fela Kuti – all secured international major record deals bringing popularity to the Nigerian musical styles of Juju (Adé and Obey) and Afro-Beat (Fela Kuti’s unique mixture of highlife, funk and jazz) abroad, but in the process ignoring much of Nigeria’s rich musical landscape. Fuji is, alongside Highlife, Juju, Afro-Beat, Sakara, Afro-Reggae, Waka, Igbo rap, Apala and numerous others – one of these central styles of Nigerian music.
The singer Barrister described the music as follows: ‘Fuji music is a combination of music consisting of Sakara, Apala, Juju, Aro, Afro, Gudugudu, and possibly Highlife.’ Juju performer King Sunny Adé described the difference between the two styles of Fuji and Juju somewhat competitively thus: ‘Fuji music is more or less like my music without guitars. It’s like I’m singing in a major key and they are singing in a minor. The music itself is the music of Juju music.’
Today Fuji remains a powerful popular music with deep and powerful Islamic roots which continues to modernise and attract new generations of young Nigerians and Nigeria Fuji Machine’s ‘Syncho Sound System & Power’ is a powerful and intense musical experience.”
Cinematic neo-classical orchestrations meet heavily textured electronics in a way recalling Ben Frost and Jon Hopkins
"Ben Chatwin’s 'Staccato Signals' is the South Queensferry-based composer's second album with Village Green, following 2015's ‘The Sleeper Awakes’.
Ben initially set out to make a purely electronic record, using analogue and modular synthesisers, harnessing the unpredictability of hardware sequencers to write melodic lines rather than by hand with a keyboard. This was about giving up control to the machines – leaving them to their own devices, allowing chance and random elements to decide the direction of the music, ultimately making them more of a collaborator than a tool.
However, towards the end of its writing, not satisfied with the results, Ben was overcome with the feeling that he needed to push what he had created further into new territory, in order to invent entirely new sounds and textures. He decided to work with a string quartet, exploring innovative ways to fold, bury and combine both strings and brass into his industrial, noisy and chaotic electronic template. Again, this was about giving up control – working with other musicians, allowing them to improvise and arrange parts in order to find those special moments where something unexpected happens. The writing process became a search for those moments, the short, sharp flashes of inspiration – the staccato signals.
Throughout the album mournful strings are engulfed by harsh, all-encompassing synths, while disorienting climaxes of blazing electronics recall the deafening loudness of an inferno. Yet while the jagged, synthesized textures that needle the album together might call to mind such devastating imagery, the acoustic instruments that feature throughout the album continuously provide a more human counterbalance.
Following ‘The Sleeper Awakes’ (2015) and ‘Heat & Entropy’ (2016), ‘Staccato Signals’ is Ben’s third album under his own name. It’s a bolder and more ambitious record than anything he has written before, largely the result of relinquishing different levels of control over the musical process. It’s an album which smoulders with an almost aggressive darkness, yet one that is laced with melodic glimmers of light.”
Filigree electro-acoustic blend of modern classical strings, jazz-fusion wind, and razor sharp electronics, landing somewhere between Alva-Noto and Golden Retriever
““Elusive Balance” explores the relationship between humans and nature, as well as the search for balance between these two great entities.
The theme of equilibrium and its precariousness, and its natural tendency to achieve relative stability connects all living things. Equilibrium is also a junction point and evolutionary engine – unstable and elusive, ready to deteriorate and to start a new reaction mechanism bringing organisms to a new harmony.
Beauty is a rare and fleeting thing; it often corresponds to those phases where we can grasp that unstable equilibrium which exists between us and the world at large.
Musically the album seeks resolution of sound contrasts, in a continuous search for an emotional component that gives simultaneously a feeling of tension and stillness. There is a duality between the ‘organic’ components (represented by soprano sax and percussion) and their interaction with machines and computers.
In “Elusive Balance”, OZMOTIC investigate the essence of their sound to expand its emotional and compositional potential. Each track contains a search for a synthesis between sound elements apparently distant from each other, but in reality create a new balance – as poetic as it is musical.
The album’s seven tracks draw a sonic flow in which the melodic aspects are countered by glitches and angular sounds, and the ambient passages are subjected to heavy rains of rhythm, leaving space for dreamlike moments.”
In 1978 Japan released their debut album Adolescent Sex and embarked on a career that would span decades. With Steve Jansen on drums the band enjoyed huge success whilst simultaneously creating a back catalogue of music that still inspires today.
"Fast forward to 2007 and after many years working and collaborating with artists such as Richard Barbieri, Yukihiro Takahashi, Ryuichi Sakamoto & Bernd Friedmann, Steve released his debut, solo album Slope. Steve Jansen’s second solo album ‘Tender Extinction’ was an evocative blend of songs and instrumentals enlisting some of the singer/songwriters that appeared on Jansen’s previous solo work ‘Slope’.
’Corridor’ was composed as a sound installation first aired at Cape Breton University art gallery, Canada to accompany a selection of photographic images by Steve Jansen, 2018. All titles written, performed, produced & mixed by Steve Jansen. Additional sound recording by Charlie Storm. Artwork by Anna Malina Zemlianski."
Acknowledged as an influence by many: founder of the classic eighties label Sleeping Bag, home to Mantronix, T La Rock, Joyce Sims amongst many others: - vocalist and cellist, buddhist - almost joined Talking Heads, instead making two of the biggest Paradise / Loft tunes of all: Loose Joints' "Is It All Over My Face" and Dinosaur L's "Go Bang", as well as a wealth of experimental but still uncannily accessible music.
Arthur heard disco as one of the most potent musics, ripe for experimentation and proceeded to do exactly that. Enlisting mixers from the a-list - Walter Gibbons, Larry Levan, Francois Kevorkian - Arthur's tunes have passed into musical foklore - with all 13 minutes of the awesome "In The Light Of The Miracle" present here, there's really no further need for discussion...involve yourself immediately with this wonderful music.
In print once again in all its glory - little introduction needed here, Skam number 008 repressed several times and still a collectors item, 6 tracks wide, every one a classic...
This 35 minute EP from BoC is arguably their most complete outing, having landed a couple of years before ‘Music Has The Right…’ album and including some of their best material - the brooding Detroit inversion ‘See Ya Later’, the Colonel Abrams inspired ‘Nlogax’, the career-defining “Everything You Do Is A Balloon’ and ‘Turquoise Hexagon Sun’ which would later appear on ‘Music Has The Right’.
Unlike so many of their peers from the era, this stuff has aged well. Perhaps it’s the inherent nostalgia built into these productions, but for our money ‘Hi Scores’ is still the finest half hour of music ever produced by Sandison and Eoin, now bolstered by a remaster and repackage job which feels a bit like dusting off your favourite old jacket and taking it for a whirl.
Haunting mix of modern minimalism and early music from German composer, keyboardist and musicologist, Eva-Maria Houben, her latest in over a dozen solo transmissions for Edition Wandelweiser Records.
A sublime study in tempered precision and space unfolds in three movements performed by Irene Kurka (soprano) and Eva-Maria (piano), each revolving around a respective text by Felix Timmermans, Hilde Domin and Eva-Maria herself.
In the three part Adagio we’re introduced to Eva-Maria’s unique sense of temporality with singular, decaying keys lingering and preparing the air for Irene’s lone phrases sung directly into the piano strings to spookily resonant effect, with each concise piece seeming to grow starker, imperative by the simplest of gestures.
At the centre of the set, despite its stoic sparsity, Lyrik feels almost dense by comparison to the preceding parts, as Eva-Maria moves to the lower registers of the keys, letting each note roundly ring out with poignant purpose.
Finally Songs For The Island wraps up the set with a suite of reggae covers in the style of The Venga Boys. We jest. It’s actually the longest section, set to german text by Eva-Maria, and forming an archipelago of fading notes and wilting overtones interspersed by longing lacunæ in a way that emphasises the spaces between as much as what’s being played, with each element reinforcing the other’s shape, presence and meaning in reflective negative relief.
Virtuoso percussionist Tom de Cock performs five works composed by Pierluigi Billone, issued as the first recordings on the Contra Naturem series, a collaboration between Sub Rosa and the adventurous, Brussels-based Ictus Ensemble. Their ‘Mani.Mono  - For Springdrum’ could almost be Harry Bertoia pinged around by Demdike at the GRM, and their ‘Mani.Dike  - For 2 Tibetan Singing Bowls, Chinese Opera Gong, Low Thai Gong’ deploys the instruments as rarely heard, from aggressive clang to barely touched presence...
“The 'magic of the record' befits contemporary music, which starts by adhering to an open, flexible sonic space where magnetic bolts of lightning shoot through. In that respect, at least, it has always been pop. The record lifts the curtain on a virtual stage; it creates its own space time; it reports on a listening project. And home computing has changed the game: the digital kitchen doesn't intimidate anyone anymore: editing and mixing are now part of the performer's daily routine.
The composer: Pierluigi Billone (1960) Italian composer known for works which often 'reinvent' the performance techniques of the instruments involved. He studied under Salvatore Sciarrino and Helmut Lachenmann. He focuses on the nature of sound. He also draws on free jazz and non-European music for his research on sound matter. After a brief return to Italy in 2000, he decided to move to Vienna. His music has privileged performers such as the Klangforum Wien. It is broadcast by German and Austrian radio, is regularly scheduled in international festivals such as Donaueschingen.
The performer: Tom De Cock (1982) received his masters degree in percussion at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels, as well as a masters degree in contemporary music at the HFMDK Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Next to his position as percussion soloist at the Brussels Philharmonic orchestra, Tom has been working as a freelance musician in Europe, he played with Ensemble Modern, MusikFabrik, Radio Kamer Philharmonie, among others and is a fixed member of Ictus, Tom has collaborated with Pierre Boulez, Peter Eötvös, Philippe Hurel, Bruno Mantovani, Philippe Manoury, Georges Aperghis and many other prominent figures of international contemporary music.”
Electronics whizz, studio producer and Punkt co-director Jan Bang teams-up with vocalist Sidsel Endresen on Hum, an album released as part of Confront Recordings’ Core Series, a cycle of releases which has previously featured contributions from David Sylvian, Julie Tippetts and Derek Bailey.
"Recorded live in Oslo in 2016, Hum focuses on atomised gestures quarried from mutant combinations of voice and corrupted circuitry. Sidsel Endresen: voice Jan Bang: sampler, Dictaphone Composed by Sidsel Endresen and Jan Bang. Copyright control (TONO). Recorded by Asle Karstad at Victoria Nasjonal Jazzscene, Oslo, December 1st 2016. Mastered by Helge Sten at Audio Virus Lab. Mixed and produced by Jan Bang at Punkt Studio, Kristiansand."
Gatefold slipcase in resealable poly wallet...
Sun Araw’s ‘Guarda In Alto OST’ is the oddest, most enigmatic thing we’ve heard from Cameron Stallones in a decade of singularly psychedelic output since his ‘The Phynx’ album back in 2008.
Touching down ahead of two new Sun Ark releases starring Maxwell Sterling, the avant-jazz minimalism, new age dub and early computer music nods of the Guarda In Alto OST were conceived to fit the imagery of Fulvio Risuleo’s film about “a baker who has access to a parallel universe on the roofs of the city”. Fair to say that without even seeing the flick, the sounds are faithfully and suitably dreamlike when taken in context of the film’s themes.
While made up of myriad inter-related micro-cells, the album’s macro effect is one of utopian psychedelic optimism, whose nature implies rather than forces a sense of the other thru its finely realised aesthetic. The results are comparable in parts to Sun Araw’s fellow psychedelic journeymen, James Ferraro and Spencer Clark, as much as Maggi Payne’s enchanted computer music, but distinguished by Stallones’ unique style of cosmic jazz dub.
Pairing two contrasting sets of ‘Works For Violin Duo’ composed respectively by Jürg Frey and Luigi Nono in two different periods, highlighting the paradoxes of players’ natural similarities, and by turns, their differences, at a level of ascetic minimalist luxury
“Ohne Titel (Zwei Violinen) is emblematic for much of Jürg Frey‘s work, because here, as elsewhere, the idea of two runs very deep.
A piece begins with something - some group of similar sounds, or some manner of performance; and then, without warning, reason, or justification, simply changes to something else. These are moments in which all lies open, where the imminent need to decide threatens to become almost a kind of panic.
In Ohne Titel (Zwei Violinen) ‚two‘ means not just two moments in time (i.e., before and after), but two persons. Throughout most of the piece the players play the same part, exactly the same notes. And here there is an interesting principle: the more similar the musicians actually sound, the more one senses their separation. This implies that, in this work, two is most visible at the border of one, where an infinite proximity reveals a fundamental difference.
How strange and interesting that this kind of music would be ‚paired‘ with Nono‘s duo "Hay que caminar" sognando ! Every thing in this piece seems to move from one extreme to the other: by leaps or sudden contrasts. In each case the physical limit of the instrument is approached in way that suggests that the music would continue, beyond the realm of the physical and audible.
With the emphasis on boundaries, we are strongly directed towards a metaphorical kind of space, enclosed not with walls but with windows, which allow us a view to the horizon. And still, this music is a song. But this song either speaks with gestures of great intensity or hardly at all. There is just the slightest echo of melody: Verdi‘s ‚scala enigmatica‘, itself an echo of melody. In this piece we hear song as pure longing, reaching for something that will forever remain just out of our grasp. - Michael Pisaro
One of the more ‘extreme’ Edition Wandelweiser releases is Michael Pisaro’s ‘Sometimes’ as performed by Colectivo maDam, who feature a lone solo female voice flanked by three musicians on electronics. The score only allows for occasional sustained vocal and electronic tones of varying, but mostly short length, each separated by contemplative lacunæ where we presume you’re intended to imagine or fill out the harmonies implied by the sparse stems yourself. This near-silence forms the bulk of the work and leave the listener largely in a state of suspense, anticipation.
“this piece was, as the title indicates, the first of the 34 pieces that would eventually become the harmony series. in this and all the other pieces in the series, i attempted to create the conditions for a harmonic situation without giving any actual notes. the main stimulus for this was swell piece (for alison knowles) (1967) by james tenney (one of the postal pieces). i had reason to perform that piece several times in 2003/4 and marveled at how any group we assembled would find the "right" harmony without anything being said. so sometimes was the first piece i made that tried to do that: by specifying only numbers and durations of tones and the pauses between them. it is dedicated to tenney."
Edition Wandelweiser co-founder Jürg Frey presents the starkly beautiful minimalism of ’24 Wörter’, a song cycle based around the album’s evocative song titles, and performed by the trio of Regula Konrad (soprano), Andrew Nathaniel McIntosh (violin), and Dante Boon (piano). They’re mostly very succinct works with no detectable fat to trim, forming a gorgeous, dreamlike archipelago of experimental contemporary classical compositions...
“Jürg Frey in conversation with Thomas Adank:
JF: The 24 words are the titles of the individual pieces, and they are at the same time the entire text. They are also a list that shows how the piece gets from a beginning to an end. It is, in a sense, a cycle not simply a collection of pieces - a cycle which begins, makes a journey and ends at a different place.
TA: If I had to categorize this list of words, it seems to me they are addressed to quite different areas. Herzeleid (Heartbreak) for example, sounds old-fashioned, Einsamkeitsmangel (Lack of Loneliness) almost sounds like a neologism, as do Halbschlafphantasie, (Half-Sleep Fantasy) Sehnsuchtslandschaft (Landscape of Longing), Vergessenheitsvogel (Bird of Oblivion). Others, such as Tod (Death), Schlaf (Sleep), Glück (Happiness), Wind (Wind), are very often used in everyday life. Did you, as you compiled this list, consider these categories? Or did you tell yourself a story that made these words necessary?
JF: I was thinking in categories. At first I really wanted to make an even more rigid sequence. As it now stands, with the long words at the end and the short words in the middle, you can still feel a little of this structure; also at the beginning, which has many words with "e" and "ei". However, now it is not so strict. The words developed lives of their own, and this displaced some of the original structure. Some are everyday words, others are made by combining words, and some words found individual paths into the piece, including some very personal things. L'oiseau d'oubli ("Vergessenheitsvogel",Bird of Oblivion) comes from Edmond Jabès and is a tribute to this author I adore. But I also think that here Jabès has given me the perfect word.
TA: This piece consists of 27 parts, two of them being instrumental. The 24 words were set to music in pieces that are between 30 seconds and four minutes, and the words appear at most twice each in each piece. Again a fairly rigid structure?”
Silent Servant - former Tropic Of Cancer and Sandwell District producer, Juan Mendez - makes his stunning album debut with the poised fusion of epic techno, primitive post punk, and industrial electronics on 'Negative Fascination' for Dominick Fernow's Hospital Productions.
Since he stopped recording with Sandwell District, Mendez has explored his divergent yet compatible tastes to their fullest, recognising and reconciling their congruent rhythms, atmospheres and intentions with alchemical ability. If you're familiar with his previous trajectories you'll no doubt be seriously impressed with his balance and contrast of time-honoured elements, from the bellicose sci-fi romance of 'Process (Introduction)' to the full flight techno escapism of 'Utopian Disaster (End)', and if you're new to his sound - whether you're a noise freak wondering what the f*ck Hospital Productions are doing releasing a techno album, or a techno head who's baffled by the raspy drums - you should be quickly realising that this stuff is the way forward.
From the wave-scanning intro he spins a bleakly noirish narrative, slowly building tension with 'Invocation Of Lust''s acid hypnosis and the stoic deployment of drones and agitated drum machine slaves on 'Moral Divide (Endless)' that resolves with gritted techno determination on 'The Strange Attractor'. Yet perhaps our favourite moment is 'Temptation & Desire', sounding like the converged darkroom visions of Front 242 and Stephen Morris, but if any cut shocks us the most, it's 'A Path Eternal', revealing SS at his most unreservedly sublime and vulnerable without his usual, armour-plated chassis of beats.
It all surely adds up to one of the most impressive examples of modern industrial techno you'll hear this year, one which doesn't merely pay deference to its roots, but nourishes and augments them with the kind of vision that imparts the strong feeling that he's really been biding his time, 'til now...
Ephemeral Constructions is an intently focussed study on the fleeting nature of sounds and our perception of them when removed from the safety of conventional structures and arrangements
The most recent release in a twenty year catalogue of recordings by Swiss pianist and composer Jürg Frey for Edition Wandelweiser Records, it almost imperceptibly shifts from small sound klangs and clicks before peeling off strings with a glacial pacing that’s familiar to many releases on this label.
The University of South Carolina Experimental Music Workshop, directed by Greg Stuart, patiently perform the 40 minute piece, followed by two pieces of Frey’s Circular Music; a tangibly denser yet succinct and still barely there work for Violin, Clarinet and Vibraphone/Percussion, and a very slightly more fleshed out adjunct to Ephemeral Constructions in the palette and performers of the 23 minute work, Circular Music #6.
David Sylvian’s ASMR-like recital of Bernard-Marie Koltès ‘In The Solitude of Cotton Fields’, underlined by filigree minimalist music from Rhodri Davies (lap harp, table harp, vibraphone, radio) along with Mark Wastell (tam tam, cracked ride cymbal, chime, indian temple bells), and later combined with Toshimaru Nakamura’s no-input mixer contributions. Mixed by Rupert Clervaux (CVX)
“"The 30-minute piece is likely to cause plenty of contrasting opinions, which seems to be the destiny of every outing featuring Sylvian in the company of members of the EAI / lowercase area. For starters we have the trademark difficulty connected to the acceptation of music merging spoken word and rarefied movement. On average, a listener is inclined to mentally separate the vocalization and the relative verbal contents from the surrounding milieu, perhaps looking for the concealed meanings – if there are any – of the text rather than focusing on the resonant aspects of the unity (where resonance is intended as “something that strikes a chord within”). In this field of artistic expression many people are often ready to glorify absolutely insignificant materials just because they were conceived by a “name” – I have had my fair share of private vilification following a destruction of Robert Ashley’s Concrete way back when – but struggle to annex apparently minor, yet deeper statements to the reign of their suppositional knowledge.
From the very first time this record sucked me in to the point of not wanting to listen to anything else, as if other musics were a polluting threat to the strange interior serenity conveyed by these three gentlemen. Even more peculiarly – given the nonattendance of superficially “comforting” words and ritualistic hypocrisy, and considering the splendidly aging timbre of Sylvian’s voice – this writer instantly thought about Eliane Radigue’s Songs Of Milarepa (which, quite ironically, famously features the aforementioned Ashley’s recitation). The soothing consequence is practically identical in spite of entirely different origins, sonic tensions and creative purposes. There’s no necessity to emphasize how sensibly Davies and Wastell alternate shade and phosphorescence: breaking quietness for mere instants only to drown in their own vibrating essence, they construct the perfect environment for the progressive loss of significance of a logic that ultimately is nothing but a phantom. What remains is a chain of wavering suggestions: exactly what one needs to be delivered from the perennial interference of groundless assumption." Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes”
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 .
Slow-moving, glorious and kosmische-toned, Otto Johannsson’s 2nd Echolog album explores perennial themes of endless summers in a way that perfectly coincides with the UK’s longest stretch of sun in living memory
Iridescent shoegaze guitars smear in the heat haze of Otto’s compositions with gauzily distanced drums, drowsy electronics and arcing harmonies in an easily appealing and classic style soaked in the precedents of Schulze, Moebius & Roedelius, Fennesz, Mogard.
Spellbinding soul-jazz salvo from Sudan ’92, sung in Arabic and english, and played with pronounced American and Ethiopian influences to strikingly unique effect. A real beauty. Hard to believe it was made in the ‘90s. Sounds like an unreleased ‘60s or ’70s peach! If you copped ‘Habibi Funk (An Eclectic Selection of Music From The Arab World)’, you need this one, too…
“Songs about the unity of Sudan, peace between Muslims and Christians and the fate of war orphans, backed by grooves equally taking influence from Arabic sounds, American funk as well as neighbouring Ethiopia.
Kamal Keila was among the first artist we met in Sudan during our two trips to Khartoum and Omdurman last year. He is one of the key figures of the Sudanese jazz scene that was a vital part of the musical culture in Sudan from the mid 1960s until the islamist revolution in the late 1980s. When we meet Kamal he luckily presented us with two mold covered studio reels.
Each tape included five tracks. One with English lyrics and another with Arabic ones. Musically you can hear the influence of neighboring Ethiopia much more than on other Sudanese recordings of the time, as well as references to Fela and American funk and soul. His lyrics, at least when he sings in English which gave him more freedom from censorship, are very political. A brave statement in the political climate of Sudan of the last decades, preaching for the unity of Sudan, peace between Muslims and Christians and singing the blues about the fate of war orphans called Shmasha.
A note inside one of the boxes specified the track titles, durations and the fact that the sessions were recorded on the 12th of august 1992. Both sessions stand as a hearable testament how Kamal Keila stuck to a sound aesthetic from decades ago, while incorporating current events into his lyrics.
Kamal Keila's album is the first in a series of releases covering the Sudanese jazz scene on Habibi Funk. Be on the lookout for albums by The Scorpions and Sharhabeel coming soon.”
More archival Bailey...we ain't complaining!
"This recording is more than just a document of a musical performance, it is a time capsule which allows the listener to travel back in time and space. But this is not simply a question of a date on a calendar or a point on a map; Klinker gives us a second chance (or for some, a first chance) to luxuriate in an atmosphere, a performance environment and a specific combination of musicians which we will never be able to experience again.
The most obvious and immediate thing that this recording brings back is the living, human presence of Derek and Will. In publishing the entire performance from start to finish, this Confront release allows us to experience these much-missed artists at work with a degree of intimacy and familiarity absent from (for example) prestigious festival performances.
Of course, any new addition to the Bailey discography is an exciting development, but I feel I must also mention just how well Will Gaines plays (and yes, I use that term deliberately) on this gig. For those who might be unsure why Derek was always so happy to play with Will, listen to how Will uses his strongly idiosyncratic technique with invention, flexibility and imperturbability in the Company context. Similarly, hearing Bailey and Gaines exchange one-liners reminds me just how strongly Derek’s early career in light entertainment imprinted his ideas about musical practice and performance ethics; with his combination of show business schmaltz and improvisational acuity Will was a marvellous foil for Derek. Listen to Will, having dangerously skirted raconteur territory in his solo introduction to WG / MW, suddenly getting serious and creative when Mark decides to join him. But most of all, listen to the constantly re-inventing interaction between these four relaxed performers, one distant Thursday night in De Beauvoir Town. For this recording is also a tribute to the London Improvised Music Club scene of the late 20th century. During the 1990s I played extremely regularly in clubs such as The Klinker, sometimes as often as three or four times a week; the idea of playing frequently in low-pressure situations, with an ever-changing roster of colleagues, was the very essence of improvised music for many musicians of my generation.
For all kinds of reasons, Improvised Music in London no longer has the luxury of a seemingly never-ending supply of informal musician-run clubs. So, enjoy this marvellous opportunity to join us in the hot, sweaty, noisy, beery atmosphere of The Klinker Club in August 2000. But perhaps you were actually there at the time….." (Simon H. Fell - January 2018)
Midori Takada’s highly sought-after early recordings come to light in WRWTFWW’s reissue of her sublime début of chiming, minimalist percussion with Mkwaju Ensemble, ‘Ki-Motion’
Readily availed outside of the Japanese domestic market for the first time, Ki-Motion captures the essence of Takada’s music coming into being alongside Yoji Sadanari’s vibraphone and marimba, drums by Shuichi “Ponta” Murakami, and synthesiser gilding by Shuichi Chino.
Inspired by the myriad applications of the tamarind, or Mkwaju as it’s known in Swahili, which ranges from use a staple food, to craft the earliest marimbas and mallets, and a symbol of life in the dry Central African grasslands, Midori and co explore a synthesis of African and Far Eastern percussive traditions coupled with influences from American minimalism and emergent ambient styles in a way that creates timeless connections between far-flung cultures.
The result is a uniquely immersive environment meshed from swaying, moire patterns that evoke both Japanese and Central African traditions. However, they are often more rugged than you may have come to expect after being snagged on Takada’s Through The Looking Glass classic. In Wood Dance they catch a turbulent roil of proto-techno pulses prime for adventurous ‘floors, while Angora Steps is almost No Wave punkish in its dissonant drive, and Zindo Zindo trades in proper, raw, scratchy and buzzing rhythms in a way you won’t find her latest work. Of course, there are sweeter bits, too; Maximum could be an early pre-echo of the Ghost In The Shell soundtrack, and Ki-Motion and Hot Air are just melt-on-the-mind- beautiful.
Don’t sleep on this. A must have for all Japan-o-philes and ambient lovers!
The first authoritative compilation of American dream pop artist Happy Rhodes, whose singular songwriting and four-octave vocal range emanated from the pastoral confines of upstate New York in the 1980s.
"Her melding of classical music influences with synthesizer and acoustic guitar, and her enchanting and idiosyncratic singing, are favorably compared to heralded English chanteuse Kate Bush. Fans of such artistic pop music would be remiss to overlook Rhodes’s similarly remarkable and otherworldly sonic transmissions, traversing tales of dreamers, outsiders, lovers and other lovely and terrifying creatures born of a wellspring of wild creativity and bold imagination.
Affectionately remastered from the original tapes, Ectotrophia gathers essential songs from Rhodes’s mid-’80s salad days, many written when she was just a teenager—wildly ahead of her time and unafraid to bare her soul to regional audiences, the ectophiles who’d eventually coin an entire subgenre of pop music in her honor. Dive deep into ecto, with the woman who started it all."
80-page book with audio CD. Housed in vacuum and heat sealed poly wallet. Edition of 150
““I brought the happy jug home the day I found out about a grant, which would eventually lead me to write this novel. The grant is a Paul Auster-style narrative device, in that it makes me unanswerable to material demands, and projects my life into a boundedlessness vertigo … the happy jug a concrete marker of my vulnerable but precise re-emergence into the world of matteringlessness: theory.”
At this time, Nina has migraines. She goes for an MRI scan but we hear nothing, her exhaustion apparently just an example of the general pressure of living under austerity. This austerity is due to be relieved when a left-leaning coalition gain control of government. A year later, I smash the jug. The MRI scan is transformed. Nina now has a brain tumour which has been growing for more than fifteen years. The result of the general election is also rewritten.
Presented here as novel and CD audio work, The Happy Jug uses a combination of verbatim text, fiction, granular synthesis and speculative philosophy to interrelate these formally distinct events in a weird causal relationship, reflecting on the palpable emotional and physical suffering connected to austerity politics — in particular the UK 2015 general election and its aftermath.The audio CD, produced by Kepla, features this narrative spoken by the author, Nathan Jones with his wife Nina. The book acts as a libretto for the audio, but deviates from it at times, and adds an experimental text
dimension to the glitchy textures of the sound and voice.
Nathan Jones is a writer and artist. His work often reflects on the relationship between the textual and temporal, the irregular measurethat a text’s progression keeps, and the ruptures of time into eras, contemporanaeties, histories and speculations that writing inaugurates. Nathan is co-editor of mind-language-technology publisher Torque, director of new media and performance agency Mercy, and Lecturer in Fine Art at Lancaster University. He has curated various projects such as The Act of Reading (2015), Syndrome (2014–15), and Electronic Voice Phenomena (2009–13). His solo work includes commissions for Cape Farewell, Abandon Normal Devices, and Liverpool Biennial/
Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art.
Kepla is the musical works of UK-based artist Jon Davies since 2015. His compositions comprise of sculpting salvaged audio from various secondary sources to create psychogeographic and speculative environments, embedding the listener into otherworldly, and all-too-worldly spaces. His practice aims to conceptualise the capitalocene and how people and things are organised, mined and exploited. Over the past three years Kepla has produced a self-released EP; co-created Absent Personae with media theorist DeForrest Brown, Jr. and video artist Chris Boyd and composed the soundtrack for The Happy Jug.”
Something special from DDS - the long awaited album debut of avant-Dancehall mutations from Jamaica’s Equiknoxx, already tipped by everyone from Jon K to Mark Ernestus, featuring productions dating between 2009-2016, mastered and cut by Matt Colton, all on vinyl for the first time ever...
Equiknoxx are one of the weirdest, most innovative dancehall squads from Jamaica right now; Bird Sound Power is their debut collective show of strength, packing 12 avant, crooked riddims by core members Gavsborg and Time Cow, plus Bobby Blackbird and Kofi Knoxx, with vocals by Kemikal, Shanique Marie and J.O.E. (R.I.P).
The set was parsed and pieced together by Jon K & Demdike Stare , and now thanks to link ups via Swing Ting’s Balraj Samrai (a longtime livicated supporter), it’s issued on Demdike’s DDS imprint, replete with Jon K’s sleeve design.
Easily identified by the squawking bird idents peppering their cuts, Equiknoxx productions have been big in the dance since Gavin Blair a.k.a. Gavsborg produced Busy Signal’s billboard hit Step Out in 2005, followed by key instrumentals for Beenie Man, Aidonia, Masicka, and T.O.K.
Bird Sound Power is weighted with the potential to open up perceptions of current dancehall thanks to the mad character and broad reference points of its producers, encompassing King Jammy’s foundational digi-dub and Dave Kelly’s Mad House sound as much as rugged New York hip hop and the wigged-out, feminine pressure of Virginia Beach’s Timbaland or The Neptunes.
The oldest tune inside dates to 2009, but the rest are recent dancehall mutations, including a number of exclusives produced in the last 12 months. Each one reps for Equiknoxx’s unique aspects, such as Jordan Chung a.k.a. Time Cow’s brilliantly bizarre, layered arrangements of sawn-off hooks and digi-tight beats, also a result of their distinguished family vibe.
Bird Sound Power exists in a paradox, utterly fwd but classic, and with as much potential to turn new heads onto current JA sounds as Mowax’s Now Thing set back in 2001, which remains a key touchstone for so many contemporary producers. It’s one of the sharpest, most crucial DDS issues yet, check the clips and get sweaty...
Leyland Kirby's The Caretaker returns with a long-in-the-making soundtrack to acclaimed filmmaker Grant Gee's documentary about German writer WG Sebald.
'Patience (After Sebald)' is a multi-layered film essay on landscape, art, history, life and loss - an exploration of the work and influence of German writer WG Sebald (1944-2001), told via a long walk through coastal East Anglia tracking his most famous book 'The Rings Of Saturn'. Much like The Caretaker's oeuvre, Sebald's works are particularly focused on themes of memory, both personal and collective, making Kirby the ideal candidate for this score.
Grant tasked him with soundtracking responsibilities, but rather than thrift shop shellac, the source material for 'Patience' was sourced from Franz Schubert's 1827 piece 'Winterreise' and subjected to his perplexing processes, smudging and rubbing isolated fragments into a dust-caked haze of plangent keys, strangely resolved loops and de-pitched vocals which recede from view as eerily as they appear. Mastered by Lupo at D&M, the album is adorned with another specially commissioned painting by Ivan Seal.
James Kirby's work as The Caretaker has always dealt with the suggestion of haunted memory and the obscuring of temporal motion, and this - perhaps his most iconic album - made that more explicit than ever, with titles that reference amnesia, Alzheimer's, past life regression and other such memory misfires and short circuits.
Musically, this album might be compared to Philip Jeck's manipulated vinyl tracts, featuring similarly oceanic swells of crackle and dust, with faded pianos or big band sounds wafting wraith-like across the mix. After conjuring the sinister atmospherics of The Shining with his debut album Selected Memories From The Haunted Ballroom, The Caretaker has been chasing this idea of sound leaving its indelible mark on a space and time, so consequently these creepy, semi-dissolved musical passages sound no more tangible than shadows, and the album for the most part comes across as some sort of séance held via wax cylinder.
C L A S S I C.
Compiling the first 3 albums in the 'Everywhere At The End Of Time' series - two and a half hours long, each album reveals new points of progression, loss and disintegration, progressively falling further and further towards the abyss of complete memory loss and nothingness...
Embarking on the Caretaker’s final journey with the familiar vernacular of abraded shellac 78s and their ghostly waltzes to emulate the entropic effect of a mind becoming detached from everyone else’s sense of reality and coming to terms with their own, altered, and ever more elusive sense of ontology.
The series aims to enlighten our understanding of dementia by breaking it down into a series of stages that provide a haunting guide to its progression, deterioration and disintegration and the way that people experience it according to a range of impending factors.
In other words, Everywhere At The End of Time probes some of the most important questions about modern music’s place in a world that’s increasingly haunted or even choked by the tightening noose of feedback loops of influence; perceptibly questioning the value of old memories as opposed to the creation of new ones, and, likewise the fidelity of those musical memories which remain, and whether we can properly recollect them from the mire of our faulty memory banks without the luxury of choice
Glass offers the sublime results of a collaboration between Ryuichi Sakamoto and Carsten Nicolai (Alva Noto), as performed and recorded at Philip Johnson’s Glass House in Connecticut during the private opening to Yayoi Kusama’s installation marking the 110th anniversary of Johnson’s birth.
Making sterling use of the landmark architectural work’s pellucid dimensions, the pair fixed contact mics to its glass walls, which they effectively played as an “instrument”, rubbing it with rubber gong mallets to generate delicate tones which they combined with a sympathetic palette of singing glass bowls, crotales, keyboards and mixers.
The seamless performance of floating, weightless tones and exquisitely quivering timbres is without doubt one of their finest. For the duration we’re held static and spellbound by the pair’s interplay of microtonal shifts and plasmic chronics, keening the listener thru hazes of digital dust and vortices of angelic harmonics to locate, alchemise and resolve a rarified, deeply mysterious spirit before the piece closes.
As the follow-up to their OST for The Revenant  and the warbling keys of Summvs  before that, the achingly lush tension of Glass is perhaps the purest testament to the clarity of vision and endless minimalist mutability of this highly revered duo.
A unique, prickly flora in the garden of Edition RZ, ’Klangregionen 1951-2007’ offers an unparalleled and riveting overview of Josef Anton Riedl’s pioneering concrète and electronic noise music; ranging from his time at the GRM c. 1950’s thru his later years, when he made important contributions, alongside Nikos Mamangakis, to the soundtrack for Edgar Reitz's incredible Die Zweite Heimat series.
Of proper historic pedigree, Klangregionen 1951-2007 renders a fascinating cross-section of Riedl’s oeuvre, collecting material previously released on vinyl, along with a number of premieres, which all make their first and only appearance on CD here thanks to the great Edition RZ. Frankly, it’s a treasure trove for adventurous listeners who hold an interest in any aspect of electronic and noise music, and where it came from.
As the set reveals, Josef Anton Riedl (1929-2016) was way ahead-of-his-time. After early studies in Münich, he began in earnest with electronic and concrète composition in 1952, charting a course that would take him to the GRM in 1953, to Köln’s NWDR studio in 1955, and Gravesano with the legendary Hermann Scherchen in ’59, before a spell as director of Siemans Studio for electronic music between 1959-66, and subsequently turning toward multi-media events, both in production and organisation, with the Musik/Film/Dia/Licht galerie in Munich, and the Kultur Forums in Bonn (1974-82), and since 1987 with the Bonner Tage Neuer Musik festival and Musica viva festival Munich.
The work he produced over this period is some of the most striking concrète and electronic noise we’ve ever heard. From the outset of this set, the shearing angularity of Paper Music I, 1961/70 sound remarkably fresh and distinctly prescient of music made 60 years later, while his later take on Cage’s Fontana Mix, here as Mix Fontana Mix, 1974/76/79 is one of the best, freakiest, we’ve heard - clearly pre-echoing the mad fuss of Russell Haswell and reams of Japanese noise music. Factor in breathtaking percussive workouts such as Silphium, 1969/70, the totally alien vocal diffusion of Leonce Und Lena, 1963/64, or the Roland Kayn-esque tonal warp of Studie 62 II, 1962 and you’ve got a truly astonishing, diverse body of work which requires much closer attention.
An added bonus for us is the revelation that Riedl was responsible for much of the experimental music in Edgar Reitz’s incredible second series of Heimat : Chronicle of a Generation, which we are only now realising was strongly related, or possibly even loosely based upon, Riedl’s own life; as the series follows a young composer who moves to Munich in the 1950s, undertaking classical piano studies which expand into experimental music as he looks to find a new musical voice and language for the generation of German youth who grew up in the shadow of WWII. The parallels are arguably striking and unmistakeable, and serves to render this collection in a fascinating new light.
For fans of anything from Daphne Oram’s alien abstractions to Gottfried Michael König’s harshness, thru their modern antecedents in Russell Haswell, Autechre or Emptyset - or indeed Heimat - this collection is utterly essential!
ZANTi are Anni Hogan and Derek Forbes. Anni has worked with Nick Cave, Paul Weller, Barry Adamson, Gavin Friday. If the midnight cowboy went electro…
"After a momentous magical meeting at SCI-FI LONDON film festival, Anni Hogan and Derek Forbes realised they had a lot more in common than their favourite sci-fi The Zanti Misfits!
A compelling combined musical history, Hogan’s success as Marc Almond‘s MD and key collaborator throughout the 80’s culminating with a UK no 1 with Almond and Gene Pitney plus Derek Forbes success with Propaganda and Simple Minds (resulting in a recent prestigious Ivor Novello award) inspired the sonic pair to create ZANTi..."
Johnny Jewel unfurls a breathtaking hour of ‘Themes For Television’, including his ‘Windswept’ piece from ’Twin Peaks: The Return’, as well as alternate versions of the Chromatics songs performed in the series’ Roadhouse scenes and other unreleased cuts.
No hype: Themes For Television may well be Jewel’s finest moment in a catalogue already studded with gems. As is now well known, Jewel created some 20 hours of music for Twin Peaks: The Return, but only a small fraction of that amount made it to the final cut. The best of those, and some of the “employed” parts, are now collected to make up this superb suite of themes, each blessed with Jewel’s rarely paralleled knack for creating haunting situations that stay with the listener long after the music has stopped.
The spirit of Lynch and Badalamenti’s classic soundtracks perhaps unavoidably loom large over all 21 pieces, beautifully rendering a sort of twilight uncertainty and mystery native to Lynch’s imagery on one level, but also scoping the last 40 years of TV and Hollywood soundtrack history in the broadest sense; weaving electronic experimentation hinting at sci-fi and thrillers, with a command of melodic hooks and haunting harmony that could feasibly colour and accentuate the most palpable or pulpy scenes of romance or heroism in any number of ways.
We highly recommend copping this album and drawing up your own script to fit its fleeting play of emotive signposts, and maybe post the results to YouTube, then wait for the producers to come knocking.
In a handful of improvised albums circumnavigating the troubled waters of the contemporary Mediterranean - Greece, Turkey, Sicily and Lebanon Oiseaux-Tempetes has stretched its electric arc over musical genres and borders, imposing itself in a river of tours and releases within the hexagonal indie scene.
"Tarab (in literary arabic - euphoria, secular exaltation, ecstasy) is the result of live recordings captured during the Al-An! tour which led the group, after a preliminary residency at l'Autre Canal in Nancy, to cross Europe and into Canada, performing at the prestigious festival Le Guess Who? in Utrecht, opening for Suuns & Jerusalem In My Heart in Montreal and Toronto, through France then from Brussels to Berlin, and finally closing the loop at the Irtijal festival in Beirut.
A record, rooted in the soil, hypnotic in pulsation, Tarab is a meeting of the Parisian founding members and the Lebanese musicians Charbel Haber, Abed Kobeissy and Ali El Hout (aka Two Or The Dragon). The studio pieces are stretched, deconstructed and rearranged while new works from the road, poems 'Grasse Matinée' by Jacques Prévert and "Tuesday And The Weather Is Clear "by Mahmoud Darwish, find unique musical settings, weaved, twisted and reimagined.
It is in symbiosis, in the fever and visceral experimentation of the concert, that the musicians seek rapture. Arranged in a semicircle, they invoke the elements and attempt the catharsis, inviting the spectator to spiral with them, entwined in the sonic explosions, finding beauty and peace in the spaces of improvisation and elaboration. Marrying free-rock, organic electronics, traditional instruments and unbridled electricity, Tarab, far beyond the vibrant testimony, is a generous invitation to experience, to meditate and to share."
Remastered by engineer Josh Bonati and supervised by Coil's Drew McDowall, the double LP vinyl release is packaged in a beautiful matte 24pt stock gatefold jacket.
"During the transitional period in which Coil’s primary leadership (Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson and John Balance) reorganized their creative direction by taking on new membership in the group through their inclusion of Drew McDowall, Coil took a drastic turn towards the metaphysical unknown. Employing the subtle handiwork of Coil’s “real life” members, as well as the cleverly guised aliases and spiritual collaborators, the band chose to filter their identity through a the nome de guerre, Black Light District, setting the precedent of Coil’s future exploration of otherworldly influence.
Recorded during the Winter of 1995/96, Black Light District reflects more on their formal avant-garde pursuits and academic interests rather than their industrial pedigree resume. Starting off with an obvious nod to John Cage with their introductory “Unprepared Piano”, the tone is prepared in exactly the same way… unpredictable. Conceptually abstract, Black Light District shows Coil’s old guard disregarding the pop rhythms found on previous albums, such as Love's Secret Domain, and fully embracing their experimental electronic trajectory.
Subtle patterns of looping melancholy and malaise are placed delicately underneath ghostly electronic timbre. Approaching their creative method as something from the beyond, another realm in which sounds blur and performers seemingly appear from the ether."
First part in an unmissable survey of hard-to-find Caribbean zingers from Guadeloupe and Martinique released on the important Disques Debs International label...
“Strut present the first ever compilation series to access the archives of one of the greatest of all French Caribbean labels, Disques Debs out of Guadeloupe. Set up by the late Henri Debs during the late ‘50s, the label and studio has continued for over 50 years, releasing over 300 7” singles and 200 LPs, covering styles varying from early biguine and bolero to zouk and reggae. Debs played a pivotal role in bringing the créole music of Guadeloupe and Martinique to a wider international audience.
Volume 1 of this series marks the first decade of the label’s existence and takes in big band orchestras, home-grown stars, touring bands and a new generation that would emerge at the end of the ‘60s. Early releases were recorded in the back of Henri’s shop in Pointe-a- Pitre, from his own sextet playing percussive biguines to young saxophonist Edouard Benoit, leader of Les Maxels and regular arranger for Debs bands. Other artists ranged from big bands like Orchestre Esperanza and Orchestre Caribbean Jazz to poet and radio personality Casimir “Caso” Létang and folkloric gwo ka artist Sydney Leremon. Debs also capitalised on recording foreign touring artists visiting Guadeloupe during the early ‘60s including Haitian trumpeter Raymond Cicault and Trinidadian bandleader Cyril Diaz.
Compiled by Hugo Mendez (Sofrito) and Emile Omar (Radio Nova), ‘Disques Debs International’ is released in conjunction with Henri Debs Et Fils and Air Caraibes. The package features a host of rare and unseen photos from the Debs archive with both formats featuring extensive sleeve notes and interviews with Philippe Debs and Max “Maxo” Severin of Les Vikings. Volumes 2 and 3 follow in 2019.”
Maike Zazie is a composer influenced by her passion for both music and literature, performing unconventional piano compositions. She operates at the crossroads of these two art forms, her medium being a type of sonic literature in both form and content: she composes pieces of music as she puts stories down on paper; she chooses notes as carefully as she chooses words.
"For Maike, sound is a language which enable storytelling. Her music is to be received as an experimental radio play or voice theatre or as a sonic essay. Only 50 cassette copies were originally distributed when Fragmente was first released a year and a half ago.
Fragmente is sophisticated, original and dreamy, the album is the first stage in a collaboration between Berliner Maike Zazie and 7K!, the label created as part of !K7, that is focused around avantgarde music and modern composition."
Coil’s cultishly acclaimed Worship The Glitch features the group in dialogue with the ghost in the machine, an element they named ELpH and considered as much a part of the group as any physical member. Aye, you’d probably be right in assuming they were taking a lot of drugs during the creation of Worship The Glitch, and consequently the results stand out among their trippiest releases, comparable with the rugged space of early Pan Sonic and slightly later Mika Vainio releases as much as Philip Jeck’s ambient enigmas or a digital update of David Lynch’s Eraserhead OST. If you like this stuff, we highly recommend tracking down ELpH’s pHILM#1 10”, too!
“"Unexplainable" may well be the best explanation for the members of the UK based electronic outfit COIL. Making a radical shift from intentional accessibility, by means of traditional pop songwriting, to abstract happenstance, Coil had entered into a new phase in their career…uncharted waters utilizing what was then the newest computer technology, digital and analog synthesis and the newly formed ideas that something outside of themselves was steering the ship.
During the studio sessions that developed into what would become “Worship the Glitch”, Coil became aware of random compositions emitting from their gear, and were at odds with constant “accidents” that were perpetually plaguing the recordings. The band called these unintentional emissions "ELpH": a conceptual being that is one part physical equipment, one part celestial being… constantly playing the role of trickster, throwing a wrench into Coil’s methodology. Eventually, these accidents and mistakes were embraced by the band, and the process of misusing audio software to create intentional "errors" was adopted as a musical technique. The acceptance of the "mistake", and the use of discovered mistakes as intentional elements slowly became the drive and concept behind the album, thus birthing the title “Worship the Glitch.”
Originally released in 1995 on Coil’s in-house imprint Eskaton, Worship the Glitch was Coil’s first proper album-length attempt at conceptual ambient composition, with a radical focus on chance. Seamless vignettes of shattered electronics (though ebbing softly and in delicate balance with each other) provide an underlying uncertainty and discomfort to the listener.”
Legendary ethnomusicologist and field-recording pioneer, Hugh Tracey founded the International Library of African Music (ILAM) in 1954. Today, ILAM preserves thousands of historical recordings and has become the greatest repository of African music in the world. Dust-to-Digital have partnered with ILAM to present “Listen All Around” – a compilation of newly-transferred and remastered recordings that Hugh Tracey made between 1950-1958.
"The recordings presented here were made in central and eastern Africa -- specifically, the Belgian Congo (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), Kenya, Tanganyika and Zanzibar (now Tanzania). The genre of music Tracey documented, and the focus of this double album and book is rumba and its variations -- Congolese rumba, dansi and benga. The recordings, photographs and detailed liner notes included in this set provide a rich point of immersion into the mid-20th-century music of eastern and central Africa."
C93’s David Tibet confesses his recent night traumas in a deeply absorbing tapestry of serene chorales, spectralist classicism and half-heard oneiric narrations in ‘The Stars on Their Horsies’; a seamless, single 39 minute piece he describes as “Textually based around two NightMares I nightmared recently..."
Tibet also informs that this CD version will differ from the LP, which was issued at his Stockholm ‘Channelling’ in April, 2018, although we’re not sure how, other than that the CD is logically better to experience the work as an unbroken spell, and let the alchemy of his tonal juxtapositions and hallucinatory mixing work its magick, only occasionally revealing glimpses of Tibet’s dream from below the surface,
Waking dream-like poetry, smoky ambience and concrète ‘tronics from Open Corner, a collaboration between Asha Sheshadri (Isolde Touch) and Christian Mirande for Sean McCann’s wonderful Recital Program; warmly tipped to fans of Félicia Atkinson, Robert Ashley, Teresa Winter or Pinkcourtesyphone...
Riffing on themes of suburban ennui and human despondency to a mix of richly textured “musical” and “non-musical” backdrops, Open Corner’s Empty Pool For No One connotes a curious shade of day-to-day surreality underlined by a palpable melancholia and dissociative timbres.
Its hypnagogic air and textural juxtapositions of ASMR-esque vocals low in the mix with oblique scenery naturally recalls Asha work on the PVC Burn album as Isolde Touch for Entr’acte, but it’s Christian Mirande’s input that really separates the projects with his absorbingly fractured and porous instrumentals serving to diffract and reframe Asha in fascinating, abstract ways.
“Emotionally and sonically claustrophobic. A unique take on voice and sound: in-between an audiobook and a sound-map. Exhausted and hungover, the frequencies and intense proximity really fit the digital CD format. Here is your chance to revitalize the ? Records weapon of choice…”
Raw, fuzzily intimate recitals of John Cage works, made in an attempt to bring Cage’s ‘Harmonies From Apartment House 1776’ closer to the artist’s intentions thru the “destruction of privileged musical space”, blurring distinctions between performance and non-performance in a way which Cage would surely approve of
Cop Tears write: “Thirteen Harmonies is a selection from John Cage’s 44 Harmonies From Apartment House 1776, written for the American bicentennial, which itself is a selection of pieces in the colonial and early American choral canon. Arranged for double bass, electric guitar, and flute, from the arrangement for keyboard and violin, from the original four-part chorale, Thirteen Harmonies is an arrangement of a reduction of an arrangement of a reduction. The choral composers whose works were the material for Cage’s Apartment House were considered the avant-garde of choral music of the 18th century, and their music became the seed of Sacred Harp music, a radical lay tradition of the rural American south. John Cage composed the harmonies by way of erasure of the Protestant chorales and set them in an “apartment house” among other American voices: Native American ritual music, slave spirituals, and Sephardic incantations. What binds the lay experimentalism of William Billings and his contemporaries (all white American men) to the ‘multiplicity of centers’ of the Apartment House of John Cage (a white American man) is the destruction of a privileged musical space, the making-permeable of the division between the music of the piece and the sound of the people coming together to make the music of the piece. A positive destabilizing from within. Thirteen Harmonies was recorded live on two consecutive mornings in 2016 to a faulty 4-track on bled-through tape in Cameron’s apartment house in Queens, New York.”
Four beautiful, exceptional ambient nocturnes bloom again on a very welcome 30th anniversary reissue, newly packaged together by Grönland for the benefit of your health...
David Sylvian and Holger Czukay’s Plight + Premonition  & Flux + Mutability  bouquets remain some of the most enigmatic ambient recordings of the ‘80s since their conception at Czukay’s converted cinema studio in Köln, 1986. But, while Sylvian was ostensibly coming to record vocals for the last track on Czukay’s Rome Remains Rome LP, the legendary Can figure ended up surreptitiously recording Sylvian improvising on whatever was at hand, only stopping the recording when the results started to become too “structured”, in effect capturing moments of less conscious, more freeform expression, and preserving them for what would become some of the most spellbinding and transportive recordings in either artist’s catalogue.
Recorded during their fateful first meeting just as glasnost was beginning to thaw the cold war, the two parts of Plight + Premonition tentatively mirror this transition from the shadow of nuclear war towards open windows of possibility in the dawning mists and gently windswept synths of Plight (The Spiralling of Winter Ghosts), and the again with a genteel flush of harmonic colour perfusing shortwave radio signals and glimmering keys hinting at the promise of seductively warmer uplands in Premonition (Giant Empty Iron Vessel). On the follow-up side, Flux (A Big, Bright, Colourful World) that horizon comes clearer into view with the earthy percussion of Jaki Liebzeit joining Czukay and Sylvian to beckon the light along with Can’s Michael Karoli and woozy, Hassell-ian Flugelhorn by Markus Stockhausen, son of Karlheinz, before the lead pair calibrate a mutual vision of reserved but quietly optimistic lushness in Mutability (A New Beginning is in the Offing).
Kamasi Washington clearly doesn’t do half measures, as his sprawling 2.5 hour follow-up to The Epic proves in no uncertain terms. Prepare to immerse in a worldly but highly personalized bebop and jazz fusion style, brilliantly lit up by the main man’s searchingly expressive tenor sax for Young Turks
“Heaven and Earth is a double album containing 2.5 hours of new music. The Earth side represents the world Kamasi sees outwardly, the world that he is a part of. The Heaven side represents the world he sees inwardly, the world that is a part of him. “The world that my mind lives in, lives in my mind.””
Martyn comes ruff, rugged, and emotional on ‘Voids’, his first album in four years, underlined with a signature knack for tactile bass and restlessly syncopated percussion
Voids is the first fruit of Matyn’s labour following a heart attack and recovery period which pushed the artist to rethink his music. During that time, the first album he properly paid attention to when out of hospital was Max Roach’s M’Boom , an album of heavily percussion-focussed arrangements whose space and production instantly struck a chord with the producer and seemed to resonate with his personal sonic ontology.
We can only imagine that whatever strife he was going thru was only compounded by the untimely 2017 death of Marcus Intalex, the D&B legend behind Soul:r and Revolve:r, who issued the earliest Martyn records c. 2005. After a surreal intro collage, Voids, he deals with those issues in the best way on Manchester, which reprises the swing and dubby depth of his early Broken/Shadowcasting as a fine tribute to the man and city before rolling thru some solid classic business in the acidic stepper Mind Rain and the tabla coda of Why, saving a melancholy moment of reflection for the dark blue modal jazz of Try To Love You, and ultimately resolving to a mix of raved-up feeling between the bolshy torque of Cutting Tone and the drizzly jazz abstraction of Dreamers.
Kazuashita – the first record by Gang Gang Dance since the acclaimed Eye Contact in 2011
"It's an intoxicating mix of shoegaze and electronic ambience, all held together by Lizzi Bougatsos and her otherworldly vocal. Bougatsos, alongside founding members Brian DeGraw and Josh Diamond, formed the group as an improvisational outfit in the early 2000s, and have consistently worked to blur the boundaries between music and art; as comfortable today performing at the Whitney Biennial as they are at Coachella, and count Dash Snow & Nate Lowman, Tinchy Stryder and the Boredoms as previous collaborators.
Kazuashita was produced by DeGraw after recording sessions across several New York studios and art spaces, the band worked with drummer Ryan Sawyer (who met the band through the Boredoms’ BOADRUM project) and Jorge Elbrecht (who worked on additional production and mixing duties).”