Compiling the final three albums in the 'Everywhere At The End Of Time' series - 4 x CD's and almost 5 hours of material cataloguing the ultimate descent into dementia and oblivion, using a patented prism of sound to connote a final, irreversible transition into the haunted ballroom of the mind that The Caretaker first stepped into with 1999’s ‘Selected Memories From the Haunted Ballroom’.
Invoking Jack Nicolson’s caretaker character in Stanley Kubrick/Stephen King’s ‘The Shining’ as metaphor for issues revolving around mental health and a growing dissociation/dissatisfaction with the world, the project really took on new dimensions in 2005 with the 72-track, 6CD boxset ‘Theoretically Pure Anterograde Amnesia’, which was accompanied by an insightful unpacking of its ideas by cultural critic Mark Fisher aka K-Punk; a stalwart of the project who identified it (alongside music from Burial and Broadcast) among the most vital, emergent works of Hauntological art - a form of music often preoccupied with ideas about memory and nostalgia (but one distinct from pastiche), and the way that they possibly overwhelm, occlude, or even define our sense of being; ideas that resonate with Fisher’s own assertion that capitalism essentially undermines collective thought, distorts the individual, and has tragically lead to a worldwide increase or even ubiquity of mental health-related issues.
By using fusty samples from an obsolete analog format, and by doing so in the 2nd decade of the 2nd millennium, The Caretaker perfectly and perversely bent ideas of anticipation/expectation with his arrangements, playing with notions of convention and repetition with effect that would lead some listeners to wonder if the same record was being released over and again. When combined with Ivan Seal’s bespoke painting for each release from 2011’s ‘An Empty Bliss Beyond This World’ onwards, the project crystallised as a real gesamtkunstwerk for these times, and one arguably defined by a stubborn and intractably chronic drive against the grain of modern popular culture, or even a refusal of it.
And so to the project’s final goodbye. Drifting from the silty departure of ‘Confusion so thick you forget forgetting’, thru the smudged anaesthetisation of ‘A brutal bliss beyond this empty defeat’, and the abyssal, distant echoes of ‘Long decline is over’, to the increased pauses that punctuate the final side’s piece, ‘Place in the World fades away’, it eventually leads to a final coda that breaks the fourth wall.
Here, with the outside world muted and only the timbral residue remaining like smoke, everything moves as slow as a Lynchian dream sequence - until a conclusion so ineffably sublime occurs that we can’t mention it for fear of waking up.
Long out of print and much in demand, this classic NWW CD is now back. This time as a double CD set with a CD of a completely unreleased alternate mix.
In 2007 Steven Stapleton and Andrew Liles were invited to provide a live soundtrack to FW Murnau's Der Brennende Acker by the Friederich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation. The sounds the duo devised were to become the primordial constituents of The Surveillance Lounge. In the wake of the recent Huffin' Rag Blues, this long-player feels like a continuation of the older, darker Nurse With Wound material, with each of the four compositions delving into narrative rabbit-holes for quarter-hour-plus durations.
The dynamics are extreme and bathed in mystery, evolving from whispered electronic necromancy to stark metallic noise annunciations, all of which is peppered with scrambled unintelligible vocal contributions from a number of guest artists. One of the more curious aspects of this release is the crediting of David Tibet with voices (fine), Big Muff (a fuzz pedal, righto) and Hawtrey. What's that last one mean? My best guess would be that somewhere within the catacombic capillaries of this album the Current 93 frontman is doing his best impersonation of Carry On star Charles Hawtrey. I'm yet to find evidence of this but it's as good an excuse as any to keep replaying the album.
Much needed reissue of Porter Ricks’ 1997 follow-up to ‘Biokinetics’, plunging deep in the interzone between ambient, noise, and dub techno across its expanded and reshaped 2021 version
Re-floating an overlooked vessel from their 25 year voyage, ‘Same’ returns to the surface subtly resequenced to change its direction of flow, front-loading its rolling dub techno depths and pushing its mid-late ‘90s smoker-funk hip hop and D&B tracks to the back (to be fair they could have omitted them fully). Dodgy bits aside, what remains is a killer example of Porter Ricks’ patented subaquatic pressure in effect, oscillating waves of skanking and stepping groove with canny turns to funkier house and disco loop styles that acknowledge the era they were launched into.
Anyone smote by Porter Ricks’ preceding run of classics for Chain Reaction and Milel Plateaux will be in their element with this album’s dub techno dynamics, with wickedly offset grooves in the ‘Redundance’ parts at their skudgy best in the discoid grind of ‘Redundancy 3’, darker textural ambient scapes in ‘Redundance (Version)’, and a gorgeous scanner ‘Redundance 5’ surely laying the ground for Convextion’s album tracks. At its deepest point, ‘Scuba Lounge’ exerts 11 mins of menacing pressure, before the residual deep house throb of ‘Spoiled’ comes on like a rave heard from miles across dark sea, and ’Spoil’ cuts the filters to reveal a proper Chi-style disco-house loop in action.
Lo-fi house survivor Ross From Friends returns with an album of plasticky gauzetronica that takes the half-remembered essence UK garage, funky house, post dubstep and breakbeat and breathes it into tracks that make Four Tet and Bicep sound like Merzbow.
'Tread' isn't going to win any awards for originality. Every sound on the record, from opener 'The Daisy's slippery 2-step to 'Morning Sun In A Dusty Room's gossamer ambience feels as if it's been picked out by a music supervisor for the BBC's youth programming. It's impeccably produced music - aided by Ross From Friends' custom-made Max for Live patch - but in rooting itself so firmly in the past, says absolutely nothing about the present.
'Tread' is escapist music - and it's true we all wanna escape the post-Brexit rainy racist nightmare of modern Britain - but it runs away from its responsibility to be more than elevator music for bored middle management stooges.
Barmy and quite brilliant new album from Mira Calix, that cuts thru a ruff clutter of abstract ideas and wildly disparate elements with a digital hotknife, collaging elements from avant garde experimental music, rap, footwork, opera, industrial and dubstep. Somehow the result is coherent and utterly compelling - perhaps her best album yet.
It's easy to forget that Durban-born Chantal Passamonte was the first woman signed to the Warp label, and she's been hard at work doing her own thing since 1996's still-underrated "Ilanga" 12". She's managed to completely avoid classification too, working with experimental electronics and mutant dance forms initially, over the years she's made the transition into installation and theatre work without sacrificing the uniqueness of her voice. So "a̵b̵s̵e̵n̵t̵ origin" follows these decades of invention and reinvention, and is influenced by feminist artist Hannah Wilke's collage works.
Passamonte compares her studio process to a Scandi-noir detective's office as she assembles her inspirations and influences. Each track on the album is formed using a different collage process that reflects the output of a different visual artist, and yet somehow Passamonte manages to find a connection between each one, assembling a cast of 17 tracks that form a complex narrative.
There's a confident, theatrical quality to "a̵b̵s̵e̵n̵t̵ origin" that feels risky and modern. Passamonte has experience working with theater - she composed for the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2017 - and her stark, recognizable sound has never felt more lavishly displayed. It's a challenging, rewarding and bold work that grabs influence from throughout the artistic spectrum without cynicism or polite restraint - a rare thing.
Following their latest trifecta of EP releases, A Certain Ratio return with the remix album Loco Remezclada.
"The remix album takes all 10 tracks from 2020’s ACR Loco + ‘Down & Dirty’ from EPA and puts them in the hands of a sensational selection of producers and artists including Lou Hayter, LoneLady, Lounge Society, The Orielles, Maps, Sink Ya Teeth, Skream, Doctor Pieter, Chris Massey, Colleen Cosmo, Number and Muddy Feet. The album launches with the remix of ‘Down & Dirty’ from this year’s ACR:EPA by Speedy Wunderground mastermind Dan Carey."
Guitarist Ben Chasny (aka Six Organs of Admittance) whips up an emotive suite of psych-folk library music on "The Intimate Landscape". A sharp and lushly cinematic set of acoustic vignettes for fans of John Fahey, Robbie Basho et al.
Since the late 1990s, Chasny's name has been synonymous with the resurgence of American folk wyrdness that saw a grip of artists across the continent pick up where John Fahey and his contemporary accolytes left off. "The Intimate Landscape" is his umpteenth full length, but deserves special attention because it was original recorded for library music label KPM and was intended to be used as such. So we find Chasny in a particularly cinematic space, tying uncharacteristically positive acoustic guitar compositions around evocative riffs and ominous textural elements.
The album isn't simply a collection of loose studies, it feels like a selection of related themes - if we didn't know better we might mistake the album for being a complete soundtrack - and can easily be enjoyed from beginning to end. There's a cheerful positivity to these tracks that reminds of the mid-00s nu-folk boom and points to a future that just might be more hopeful than we think. Recommended.
West African drum and funk fiends, your time! Master Ghanaian percussionist Okyerema Asante ov Oneness of Juju returns for a 20 year follow-up to his part on ‘African Rhythms 1970-1982’, one of the earliest aces on Strut
Nose to tail, it’s 100% bad-to-the-bone grooves inside, shimmying around the square roots of the Afro-American dance dialogue during the years after Asante had cut his teeth playing with Ebo Taylor’s Blue Monks band, and gigging at Fela’s Shrine, which led to him touring with Hugh Masakela and Oneness of Juju alongside James Branch aka Plunky (Ndikho Xaba & The Natives).
Recorded during the golden years of disco and boogie, ‘Drum Message’ strongly bears their traces, but bent with a proper Ghanaian highlife suss and deadly jazz skill, exemplified in the likes of his classic ‘Asanate Sana’ and the bustling upness of his anthem ‘Sabi’, and its deeply concentrated ‘Sabi (Black Fire Mix)’, while ‘Never Fly Away From The Funk’ gets right on the funky nerve, ‘To The Ancestors’ pushes right out into proper rhythmic psychedelia, and oh my days, if you aren’t snagged on the cowbells and whistles of ‘Play a Sweet Rhythm on Them Drums’ you’re a lost cause, basically.
Salford psych rawk collective Gnod murder the meaning on their latest set, recorded through a period of confusion and turbulence. Grizzled, acidic sounds 'ere >> RIYL Melvins, Harvey Milk, Electric Wizard, Neurosis.
There's a disorientating boxed-in quality to "La Mort Du Sense", which makes sense given its recording history. The band laid down the demos back in 2019, but when COVID-19 hit Gnod rethought everything - this gave the tracks fresh motion, and noisy, post-punk mettle. In fact, the album sounds as urgent as Gnod have been in a while, harnessing the rhythmic throb of Joy Division and crossing it with the angular oddness of "Gluey Porch Treatments"-era Melvins.
'Regimental' is angry and charged, but ordered - almost dancefloor-ready with its chunky rhythm section, but 'Pink Champagne Blues' strikes a different chord, increasing the temperature (and the tempo) before burning into ten-ton overdriven riffs. The entire album feels as if it's a slow wind-up to the 12-minute finale, 'Giro Day', that seethes and hisses through noisy feedback, ritual drums, bells and cell-melting stoner drones.
Swans’ guitarist Kristof Hahn yields a full course of reverberating drone scapes to Room 40, relinquishing recordings made in the wake of the band’s final shows after reforming. Billowing feedback and amp worship gleaned from an artillery of lapsteel and electric guitars manipulated with loop pedals, at best in the absorbign sonorities of ‘Vogelfluhlinie’ and ghoulish silhouette of ‘My Bed is Spinning’
“Six Pieces, a record that is essentially born from the ashes of the final SWANS reformation line-up tour, uses various found elements, stored loops, thematic notes and other acoustic debris as a means for launching off a series of interrogation into solo guitar composition.
The pieces bare the marks of touring life, sometimes intensely claustrophobic, other moments languid and at times euphoric, each pieces creates a vista of sound that describes a kind of fluid landscape without relying on the perceptual land-marks we might fall back on.
Hahn’s music is one of repetition and unfolding variation, it is unsettled, but never rushed or careless. He knows that music is an art form of time and is not afraid to allow his compositions to build, evolve and finally arrive with a casual sense of hushed determination.”
Cuba: Music and Revolution: Culture Clash in Havana: Experiments in Latin Music 1975-85 Vol. 2 is the new album compiled by Gilles Peterson and Stuart Baker (Soul Jazz Records) that takes off in exactly the same vein as Vol. 1 - exploring the many styles that came out of Cuba in the 1970s as Latin and Salsa mixed with heavy doses of Jazz, Funk, and Disco.
"The music on this new album features a host of rarities from legendary Cuban artists such as Los Van Van, alongside Grupo De Experimentación, Farah Maria, Ricardo Eddy Martinez, Juan Pablo Torres, Grupo Sintesis and Orquesta Riverside, most of whose names remain largely unknown outside of Cuba but have long been favourite club tracks and secret-weapons in Gilles Peterson and Stuart Baker's record boxes!
The music on this album reflects the most cutting-edge of Cuban groups that were recording in Cuba in the 1970s and 1980s – all searching for a new Cuban identity and new musical forms reflecting both the Afro-Cuban cultural heritage of a nation that gave birth to Latin music - and its new position as a socialist state. Most of the music featured on this album have never been heard outside of Cuba."
Chicago composer and trumpeter Jaimie Branch serves a gripping live iteration of her ‘Fly Or Die’ sessions, recorded with her quintet in Switzerland on her early 2020 EU tour - RIYL Irreversible Entanglements and Moor Mother
Captured in full flight in Zurich, just weeks before the pandemic really hit, ‘Fly Or Die Live’ sees Jaimie lead her ensemble on proper no wave jazz manoeuvres, freely swaggering between agitprop bullets aimed at the dome of Trump (‘Prayer for Amerikkka pt. 1 & 2) to oodles of taut but supple stick work by Chad Taylor that clearly gets the cord going, and thru to woozy Morricone-eque western themes again lit up with incredible percussion, and one almighty passage of no wave doom jazz in ‘The Storm’.
Aye, it’s a lot, paying testament to the band’s punkish, dextrous drive and sparking energy for the full 90 minutes, with Jaimie front and centre switching between blazing trumpet and snarling vocals.
Originally released in 1977 on the Cobra label, 'Paradia' is the debut solo album from keyboardist Roland Bocquet who was best known for his work with cult French rawk outfit Catharsis. One for fans of 'Plantasia' mastermind Mort Garson and the Trunk catalogue of oddities, this quirky selection of oddbod Latin pop and wyrd library bossa is a proper find.
Whenever you think all the best library oddities have been flushed out from the basement, another one pops up and reminds us just how much there is out in the world that we're still yet to hear. The latest discovery to grace our desk is this explorative gem that initially emerged on the Cobra label who released French legends like Heldon, Lard Free and Magma side project Weidorje. It's real crate diggers' gold, that will certainly appeal to movie soundtrack obsessives: tracks like jaunty piano-led opener 'Fête' and the synthy, exotica-adjacent title track sound almost like Goblin after a sedative and a blunt.
Elsewhere, 'Djerba' taps into a jaunty Gallic funque mode, and 'La Marche Des Canards' is pure analog silliness that wouldn't sound out of place on the Ghost Box label. Each track feels completely different from the last: 'L'Abeiile' is cosmic bossa, 'Bee Flat' takes a sexy piano ragtime turn, and 'Exotique', arguably the album's high point, is a beatbox-led haunted electronic jammer.
Well this is a charm: solo pianist Fred Thomas leads an ineffably light and gorgeous transigurations of 24 organ chorale preludes, vocal cantata movements and orchestral sinfonias by JS Bach, accompanied by Aisha Orazbayeva and Lucy Railton.
Thru twenty four works transcribed by Fred Thomas for trio and his solo piano, and sequenced by ECM’s Manfred Eicher, ‘Three Or One’ offers a quietly joyful reading of the late Baroque master’s abundance of organ chorale preludes, vocal cantata movements and orchestral sinfonias and perhaps act as an inviting portal to fresher ears.
The set includes the famous chorale prelude ‘Ich Ruf Zu Dir, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 639’, here resplendent in its timeless simplicity thanks to the fresh character of Aisha and Lucy’s performance. Their effervescent touch counters the gravity of Fred Thomas’s lead where needed, but his own solo works are also gently luminous and inventively playful, speaking to a variegated background ranging from interests in rhythmic cultures of Africa and South America to improvised counterpoint that’s detectable in his rhythmelodic filigree. Trust this is a collection for the ages; accessible, enchanting, and beautiful in execution.
‘Only The End’ is the second LP by Ashley Shadow, with guest vocals from Bonnie “Prince” Billy and guest pedal steel guitar from Paul Rigby (Neko Case).
"Ashley Shadow winks at darkness, but she won’t lead you towards it. It’s easy to fall under the spell of Ashley’s haunting voice. The Vancouver, B.C. based songwriter forged her own identity as a songwriter with 2016’s eponymous self-titled debut. Her sophomore effort, Only the End, maintains the moody introspection that is ingrained in Pacific Northwest life, but now comes armed with a palpable hope complementing her signature melancholy. Ashley explains, “I wanted to make a more upbeat album, something you could play with some friends over. Some of the songs I wrote were initially bummers, but when we went to record them, we lightened them up.”
Balancing a couple of jobs and navigating life and love in increasingly unstable times, the album was written over two years by Ashley at her apartment. Her confident vibrato above lightly, distorted guitars mirrors the album’s theme of resilience, if not triumph, over adversity. There is comfort in these warm songs that endorse the realism of contented acceptance, rather than the naïve search for non-existent utopias. While the songs were conceived in contemplative solitude, Ashley invited some very capable collaborators for their journey into the studio. Ashley’s first album saw her take center stage after more than a decade of gracing friends’ projects in a supporting role. The move to the front was a cautious one. “First record was, can I do a solo album? This time, I know what I’m doing. It’s way more clear.” "Don’t Slow Me Down" reunites Ashley with Bonnie “Prince” Billy for the first time on record when she sang vocals on Bonnie's Lie Down In Light album in 2018. The album also includes contributions from Paul Rigby (Neko Case), Colin Cowan (Elastic Stars), Joshua Wells (Black Mountain, Lightning Dust) and Ryan Beattie (Himalayan Bear). It’s clear to anyone listening. It’s Only the End. If only all endings were so glorious."
Les Disques du Crepuscule present a new 76-minute CD edition of The Culling Is Coming by 23 Skidoo, originally released on vinyl by Crepuscule and sister imprint Operation Twilight in February 1983.
"The Culling Is Coming signposted two radical new directions for Skidoo following the success of their indie chart-topping debut Seven Songs the previous year. Drawing from two extraordinary live performances, Culling combines a collaboration with the Balinese Gamelan Orchestra recorded at Dartington College of Music in October 1982 (subtitled A Winter Ritual), together with extracts from a more extreme improvised set performed at the first WOMAD festival in July 1982, using scrap metal and tape loops (A Summer Rite).
The original vinyl album is expanded on CD by the inclusion of a complete (and equally extreme) 26 minute loop performance (An Autumn Journey) at Tielt in Belgium on 8 October 1982, recorded as part of Crepuscule’s short Move Back-Bite Harder tour with Cabaret Voltaire, Tuxedomoon, Antena and The Pale Fountains."
First vinyl edition of Scritti Politti’s hip hop-inspired 4th album, originally released in 1999 after a decade long hiatus, and to head-scratching reactions from longer term listeners.
After crafting some of the ‘80s most enduring classics, Scritti Politti’s Green Gartside ended that decade disillusioned with music, and retreated home to the Welsh Valleys where he spent years listening to US hip hop. By 1999 he returned with a hip hop-skooled album ‘Anomie & Bonhomie’ that boldly challenged the band’s legion fans, setting his unmistakably blue-eyed soul vocals to production that leaned almost into rap-metal and pop-punk, and even featured Mos Def guest spots, with one of its highlights ‘Tinseltown To The Boogietown’ being remixed by Pete Rock, Rob Swift and Ali Shaheed Muhammad.
First album in five years from Luke Slater’s Planetary Assault Systems, mainlining pure techno in the classic vein of Jeff Mills, Terrence Dixon, Steve Bicknell
Proper tackle built for all night sessions, loaded with hard working highlights in the effortless, pounding drive and glyde of ‘Bang Wap’, the palpitating Chi-style toms of ‘Say It Loud’, the funked up shuffle of ‘If I Die’, and the pulsating throbber ‘The Drag Train’, plus spacier cakes for the cosmic crew in ‘Nano Chameleon’ and ‘Abstract.’
"A figure who needs little introduction to fans of the genre, but whose consistency in the studio and on the road has repeatedly marked him out as true pioneer of sound design and performance with a singular vision, Slater first minted the PAS alias in '93. Since then, a slew of singles and LP's from the industrious artist have made sure Planetary Assault Systems has become a byword for hypnotic, funk-heavy Techno in a purist tradition. Toeing the line between heady, psychedelic material and all out main room fare - Slater's work as PAS captures the very best facets of the genre, with economically selected parts exquisitely arranged and engineered with a shrewd and uncompromising ear for what really makes people move.
On the new LP, Slater draws on studio material but also components recorded during the PAS live show - and he's keen to let fans know the focus is well and truly on the dance floor with this one: Sky Scraping is a loud and unabashed celebration of the formative and familiar environments so loved by the electronic music community, the dark clubs and festivals made special by their unique ability to bring like minded people together.
Sky Scraping kicks off in characteristically dense, psychedelic fashion with Labstract - a slice of classic PAS with cavernous low end and a tight, looping sequence doing the driving work while frenetic drum machine cuts and wide angle synth sirens shift the track onwards from one phase to the next. Follow up One For The Groove showcases the chunkier side of Slater's production as PAS with an infectious 909 pattern propelled on in the high mids by a squelching synth patch. Bang Wap revisits the artist's last outing on Token - a monstrous, unforgiving roller designed with peak time in mind. Say It Loud - the idiosyncratic proto-anthem that accompanied Bang Wap earlier in the year leads the LP onwards, before sequing into new recording Give In - a masterclass in dense, funky, face-melting Techno. Drums take centre stage on If I Die, as the artist returns to the 909 for a marginally slowed down cut that really highlights the artist's connection to and natural affinity with groove and drum machine cuts. Coal thrusts the listener straight back down the wormhole - an extraordinary, driving piece propelled by a guttural lead synth sequence and ghostly drums, before giving way to Run - a dry, pared back recording with plucked, staccato synths that makes for a good contrast to its fathoms deep predecessor. Though not without moments of hysteria in its closing quarter, The Drag Train, featuring a classic, more mono finish begins the wind down towards the LP's close. Nano Chameleon ties up Sky Scraping, a track as forceful as anything that has come earlier on the record - as it approaches its close, a warping lead powers the recording home with shuffling white noise percussion dipping in and out of the sonic main stage before giving way to a delicate, controlled chaos."
Piero Umiliani's mid-70's album "Polinesia", reissued on Dialogo.
"Piero Umiliani was capable of traveling not only in a physical sense but also with a long series of geographical-themed albums that have always been among his best productions, and his interests weren't just limited to distant Africa, to its percussive sounds and unexplored territories - especially with the Africa and Continente Nero releases.
In his vast and complex discography - including works recorded in his own name, in solo with groups and orchestras, but also under aliases such as Rovi, M. Zalla, The Soundwork Shoppers, Moggi, Catamo - there are excellent space-time excursions such as Genti e Paesi del Mondo, Paesi Balcanici, Il Mondo dei Romani, Storia e Preistoria, Medioevo & Rinascimento, Panorami Italiani and Paesaggi, where the musician could free an unstoppable creative vein that combined an artistic path intimately bound to Italy and to its traditions with the world's sounds (and even more, given the cosmic ventures of Tra Scienza e Fantascienza and L'Uomo nello Spazio).
Among his most adventurous efforts, Polinesia deserves a special mention, since it was fully recorded with glowing percussion and exotic suggestions that remind of Martin Denny, bringing to mind sunny white beaches, Oceania and the famous Bora Bora, defined by the well-known Italian writer and documentary maker Folco Quilici as the most beautiful island in the world. Prepare a colorful cocktail and enjoy the full moon, you already have the perfect soundtrack for that...""
Thirteen tracks from Piero Umiliani out on Dialogo, "L'Uomo E La Città".
"In the intricate panorama of Italian library music, the themes of city, factories, metropolis, work, urbanization and technology have always been among the most fascinating (and used), relying on dozens of fundamental records by composers such as Alessandro Alessandroni, Farlocco, Gerardo Iacoucci, A.R. Luciani, Narassa and many others. The attempt to provide a plausible soundtrack to a continuously and rapidly ever-changing world, especially in the hectic seventies, has often produced masterpieces that combined avant-garde techniques with sounds, risky experimentation with easy-listening songs, the traffic chaos and assembly lines with the silence of the night, the end of the work shift with Sunday's rest.
Piero Umiliani's L'Uomo e la Città perfectly fits into this rich and varied field, an album where our Man is accompanied by a jazz musicians sublime parade that includes celebrities like Bruno Tommaso, Oscar Valdambrini, Dino Piana and Nino Rapicavoli, here delivering the most of a sound that is highly based on the richness of the wind instruments and on the rhythm of the Umiliani-led ensemble.
L'Uomo e la Città is a less risky effort when compared to other releases by Piero Umiliani, but that's in favor of an extraordinary jazz tightness (Rete Urbana, Quartieri Alti, Città Frenetica), but the wish to amaze appears when least expected in the two excellent renditions of Centrale Termica and Suoni della Città, among the best tracks of the album."
Iconic Japanese experimentalist Phew returns to Mute for first time in 30 years with a haunted and strung out set of barely-there vox and submerged synths
“Rising to prominence with the art-punk group Aunt Sally before her first solo release in 1981, recorded at Conny Plank’s studio in Cologne with Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit, Phew isn’t about to go soft on us.
“I wanted to exclude sentimentality,” she says of New Decade. “With the situation at the moment, I’ve got it lucky. Last year, in particular, just being alive was kind of a lucky state of affairs. Being able to openly express how you’re feeling, in spite of all that, is a sort of privilege you have as a musician or artist, and I felt like I shouldn’t abuse it.”
This has been a guiding principle for Phew in recent years, as she has amassed a body of solo work that melds her signature vocals with febrile, droning synthesisers and drum machines. Already well accustomed to working in isolation at home, keeping her voice down in order not to annoy the neighbours, New Decade is a stark and haunted album, populated by voices that intone empty pleasantries in English and Japanese or manifest as wordless shrieks and groans, against a backdrop of fractured, dubbed-out electronics.
Phew explains that there’s a loose concept running through the album, relating to the perception of time. “During the ’80s, and up until the ’90s, things progressed along a line from past to present to future, but I think that’s changed, especially since the start of the 21st century. Personally speaking, I’ve stopped being able to see a future that extends from the present.”
This is reflected in the unplaceable character of her current work. It’s not deliberately retro in the manner of many analogue synth revivalists, nor does Phew waste time trying to catch up with the latest trends. It’s music out of time, resonating to its own peculiar frequency.
Debut full-length album from Lily Konigsberg.
"Lily We Need To Talk Now is a record Konigsberg has been slowly chipping away at since 2016, revising and re-record- ing the songs over the years. The eleven-track collection is her first proper full length, following her anthology of EPs and unreleased tracks, The Best of Lily Konigsberg Right Now, released in 2021 by Wharf Cat Records. The new record is catchy the whole way through, like much of her poppy and plainspoken indie rock output that’s made her a fixture of the NYC underground in recent years. Her voice twists and turns and dashes around her clever wordplay in new ways; there are hints of power-pop, pop-punk, and downtempo in- trospection, all dotted with easter eggs of winking humor.
True to its title, this collection of songs is like a check in with herself. “On “That’s The Way I Like It,” with backing vo- cals from longtime collaborator Paco Cathcart, she reflects on the feeling of “struggling with someone you love, and how you can get all evil about it, like a brat, like a baby.” On “Proud Home”, she sings one of the records boldest earworm hooks (“You’ve got a lot of fucking things to be proud of!”) and tries to comfort a friend who has a crush on her mom. “I really cracked myself up with the lyrics,” she says. “It’s kind of a Stacey’s Mom riff. I decided it’s a dedication to Adam Schlesinger [of Fountains of Wayne].” “Roses, Again” is a new take on a familiar Lily tune (origi- nally on Good Time Now) re-recorded at the request of her current live band, who have evolved the song on the road."
Whew! Montreal’s Light Conductor brings the epic space energy on a pulsating and then sublime 2nd album for Constellation, replete with all that label’s widescreen connotations
Picking up where the pre-pandemic vehicle ‘Sequence One’ left off in 2019, the 2nd mission manned by Stephen Ramsay and Jace Lasek aka Light Conductor continues their trajectory into unfettered psych-kraut-disco-rock zones and beyond into shoegazing synth ambience across a 4-part, 45 journey sure to get the longhairs bristling and reaching for their silver capes.
It’s really all about the opening number here, with ‘Splitting Light’ taking all the time it needs to warm the synth engines and ascend to orbit-breaking velocity, when outta fucking nowhere a holographic Jimmy Somerville bursts into full song, appearing to be overseen by 10CC and Sonic Boom at the mixing desk in a outrageous choral escalation for the ages. Unfortunately it’s a bit of sore thumb, as the rest of the EP never quite achieves those giddy heights again, preferring to terraform vast scenes of textured, off-world ambient and more cliched space music, but it’s all gravy after that flash opener.
The Moons Of Saturn is the second collaborative project from ASC & Inhmost.
"Picking up where Dimensional Space left off, The Moons Of Saturn goes even deeper than it's predecessor, whilst exploring similar subject matter. There's lots to be in awe of here, from the opening arps floating in the white noise of space debris on Symphony Of Rhea, right through to the expansive 14 min+ epic of Reflections From Enceladus. If you enjoyed Dimensional Space, you're going to be right at home orbiting The Moons Of Saturn with us."
Lone, presents his 8th album – and first in 5 years – ‘Always Inside Your Head’. It marks two major changes, with both a new label and new approach – featuring vocalists for the first time.
"This deeply textural and ethereal artwork is situated high above the clouds, amidst the heavens, occupying a stratospheric state where swathes of synthesized vapour and azure rays sound like a literal breath of fresh air.
A varied selection of music influenced the record, but two main influences were Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine. “I wanted to approach a range of different styles, but attack them from their angle in a way, so for example on 'Inlove2' I tried to imagine what a Balearic / acid house tune might sound like if it were produced by Kevin Shields”, comments Lone.
Another key example of Cutler’s strange but successful combination of elements is the halcyon bliss of ‘Echo Paths’, where his trademark fat drums and love for hip hop meet double-time pan pipes, dub effects and dream pop, mixed into a wonderfully lysergic concoction."
Liz Harris's 12th album is a heart-melting anthology of songs written over the last 15 years. A mixture of 'Dragging A Dead Deer...' emotional rawness and 'AIA' -style tape-dubbed sonic fog, it's a timely reminder of why she's one of the crucial underground voices of the era.
When Harris's early Grouper material began to emerge thru the cracks in the wall of wyrd folk CDRs and hand-made cassette tapes, we could already sense it was something different. There was a bare quality to it that set it out of time: this was music that sounded as harmonious with Slowdive's melancholy shimmer as it did with the Olympia and Washington DIY set. 'Shade' is a career-spanning set that accurately charts her evolution thru the years, running a course that broaches ambient music, Laurel Canyon folk, grunge, dream pop, and everything in-between.
Her music is unified by its unique spirit and personified by Harris's voice - a ubiquitous element that's sometimes an elasticated, ghostly whisper and at others a spiraling coo. On opening track 'Followed the ocean', it's an assured driving force, but her powerful tones are reduced to glowing cinder beneath the burn of overdriven, tape-distorted noise. Words are present, but indecipherable - it's like hearing a song taped from radio and endlessly re-duplicated for heightened ghosting. The fog dissipates on 'Unclean mind', harking back to 'Heavy Water' with a grunge-y strum and angelic moans.
'Shade' is a good title, because the interplay between openness and insularity lies at the heart of the album. From track to track is sounds as if Harris is revealing herself and then retreating under a blanket of tape hiss. 'The way her hair falls' is so clean you could hear a pin drop, making out every nuance in Harris's voice. The biggest surprise is the album's closing track 'Kelso (Blue sky)', where her vocals are finally given a grand treatment, drenched in reverb but completely tangible. The result is a glimmering slice of lingering acid folk that sounds divorced from time and space.
Collection of rare and unreleased tracks by the influential English experimental group Contrastate.
"This follows on from the sold-out compilation "False fangs For Old Werewolves" showcasing a dark ambient realm of spoken and sung soliloquies, driven machinery, evolving drones and electronic minimalism to create juxtaposing imagery and dreamlike landscapes. Active from the late 1980s through to the present day Contrastate provide a sonic soundtrack to a hypnotic world full of dynamic sounds and emotional shifts.
Their sound insinuates itself somewhere inside the dark ritual ambience of the electronic avant-garde shot through with a vein of experimental noise and sarcophetic vocals strewn amongst industrial surrealism. Includes a remix by Ralf Wehowsky. "Contrastate achieve an amazing equilibrium between organic sound and brooding electronics" (Heathen Harvest). Gatefold oversized mini-LP sleeve with a four-page booklet containing detailed (mis)information on the history of each of the tracks."
"M_Sessions" is offering some rare originals by Mania D., Malaria and Matador for the 40th anniversary, as well as contemporary versions performed by Monika Werkstatt.
"Monika Werkstatt seemed the perfect choice for new interpretations. Founded in 2015, comprising female electronic musicians and producers from the entourage of Monika Enterprise and Moabit Musik. The loose collective played dozens of improvised concerts around Europe and released a studio album and live recordings in everchanging artist constellations.
The M_Sessions involved Pilocka Krach, Beate Bartel, Midori Hirano, Mommo G, Lucrecia Dalt, Antye Greie-Ripatti, Natalie Beridze, Annika Henderson and myself. Here the form of interpretation is focussing on keeping the freedom of their improvised work and adapting it to the collective appropriation of songs. I cannot imagine a better reinterpretation of the material with its real life ups and downs and with its enthusiasm.
The original core team of Beate Bartel, Bettina Köster, Manon P. Duursma and myself selected "Rare Originals" from the repertoire of the 3 bands where we saw special relevance and beauty - these tracks are on LP2. We rediscovered live tracks, living room recordings and demo versions from our times long gone. (G.Gut)"
A special reissue of Terre Thaemlitz’s multi persona Fagjazz set from 2000, studded with over two hours of inventive, vintage diamonds replete with a masterful, hour long ’Superbonus’ piece on the 2nd disc that’s practically worth the cost of entry alone.
Among the most definitive, early examples of Thaemlitz work, ‘Fagjazz’ renders a palette of styles ranging from experimental deep house to ambient jazz at its most absorbing and effortlessly comprehensible. The nine pieces of ‘Fagjazz’ work as an ideal primer or briefing on Terre’s important work, spelling out the fine integers and incredible nuance of her style for those paying attention and keen to know more.
The first disc kisses the ears with ‘Pretty Mouth (He’s Got One),’ puckering a naturally rarified solo piano and keyboard rendition in an all too brief vignette, before exploring a formative passion for deep house at its most abstract in the full 13’ mix of ’Sloppy 42s (Terre’s Neu Wuss Fusion)’ - think Sun Ra meets Larry Heard on a disco break tip - while the flurried syncopation of ’Turtleneck’ showcases their most ravishing rhythmic instincts. Casting even further back, as Chugga they hail early inspiration from bass-heavy Memphis hip hop in a swaggering deep house fashion, and their prized, one-off alias Social Material crops up with 10 minutes of spirit-gripping piano house underlined by a sumptuous subbass movement.
Dancefloor aside, super early cut, ‘Thirty Shades of Grey’ harks back to their debut album ‘Tranquillizer,’ and the 2nd disc’s ‘Superbonus’ is a a properly incredible, hour-long slow burning piece of ‘Funk Shui’ unfurling double bass and signature keys to a dusky horizon, guided by brushed jazz drums and growing in tempered intensity with a sound sensitive approach that defines all Terre’s work, no matter if its party-starting house or double deep ambient experiments.
Taken in combination with the recently issued DJ Sprinkles 2CD set '"Gayest Tits & Greyest Shits” and the available-again 'Midtown 120 Blues’, that’s basically over 7 hours of no-filler, all killer from one of the greatest to ever do it.
Please remember that we support Terre and Comatonse Recordings' efforts to keep projects offline, minor, and acting queerly. When purchasing this item, we ask you to refrain from uploading and indiscriminate sharing in any form. <3
New music specialists Apartment House render the tremulous glory and ceaseless drive of Eastman’s 1974 classic on their captivating 2019 recording
Following Frozen Reeds’ 2016 release of S.E.M. Ensemble’s 1974 take, and preceding the more recent iteration by Belgium’s ensemble 0 & Aum Grand Ensemble; Apartment House’s ‘Femenine’ is one of the first modern performances and recordings of the seminal, but long overlooked slice of c.20th avant-classical genius. It lands in the wake of Mary Jane Leach’s concerted and longstanding work in tending to Eastman’s legacy, holding some of the most remarkable classical compositions of its epoch, which has necessarily renewed interest in Eastman's sorely overlooked, yet hugely distinctive, work.
As a gay, black composer in a field dominated by white men, Julius Eastman shattered conventions merely by his presence, and his music was daring and distinctive, offering a more fluidly unified and singularly thizzing adjunct to the kind of repetitious minimalism explored by downtown NYC composers such as Steve Reich and Philip Glass. Eastman was just as adept at working with Arthur Russell on Dinosaur L’s landmark ‘24→24 Music’ and ‘Another Thought’ set as he was working on Peter Maxwell Davies’ monodrama ‘Eight Songs for a Mad King’ or Meredith Monk’s ‘Dolmen Music’ - all revered in their sphere - yet his own, remarkable compositions went practically unnoticed for decades and he ultimately ended up destitute and unsng, living on the streets of Buffalo, New York State.
Only in recent years has ’Femenine’ become recognised for the towering piece of work that it is, and this recording by Anton Lukoszevieze’s Apartment House helps spread the good word. It renders the full piece in all its colourful majesty, driven by insistent sleigh bell percussion and coursing with the purpose of a great river from streams of cello, flute, keys, vibraphone and violin that entwine and lushly gather with a ravishing torrent of ecstasy by the end of its 67’ flow. In effect it does away with notions of beginning/middle/end in a more cyclical, endless form and style that takes on Reich’s African inspirations at a more fundamental level, yet hasn’t been afforded the same sort of critical ear until only relatively recently. Trust Apartment House to handle the material faithfully and with the hypnotic traction we imagine Eastman intended.
A collection of tracks from early out of print Jacques Greene 12”s spanning the first 10 years of his career.
"Featuring the classics that introduced him to the world - The Look and Another Girl - as well as collaborations with Koreless and How To Dress Well and two new exclusive “lost tracks from the era”.
Greene has been making music “about the club” for over a decade. His sound has developed into an emotional haze exemplified on his Feel Infinite and Dawn Chorus Albums. Outside of his own releases, Greene has explored his relationship with the club in a variety of contexts, from remixing Radiohead to producing for Katy B and Tinashe and touring with The xx."
Hungarian mystic Hortobágyi graces avant classical titan ECM in trio with his Hortogonals, György Kurtág Jr. and Miklós Lengyelfi for an exquisite elision of deep space and spectralist musicks with remarkable runs into dub techno, for all intents and purposes like some stray ~scape or MVO Trio wonder
Originally issued beyond our peripheral vision in 2009, the trio’s only release to date plugs a hole in our collections that we didn’t even realise existed until recently. Their ‘Kurtágonals’ form a lattice like bridge between disciplines and worlds, discretely weaving formerly exclusive bedfellows into a richly imaginative soundsphere fizzing with influence from Romanian spectralist traditions and Hortobágyi’s worldly research of alternate tunings and modes, as much as the deepest German dub techno abstractions. It’s a totally unexpected but entirely welcome direction of exploration to our ears, seemingly manifesting an idea that we’d wager many of us have longed for, but never heard executed quite so well.
‘Kurtágonals’ is released by Manfred Eicher’s legendary ECM label, highly regarded for their production values, and as such patently benefits from an opulent sound staging, with Hortobágyi assisted in the August 2008 recording and engineering by Ferenc Haász at the Guo Manor, Budapest. Between them they conjure an unfathomably wide and vertiginous soundfield strafed by acéphalic chorales and sliding electronic pitches, and arced with resonant string harmonics, but really given depth by its ultra subtle layers of distant dub chords and padded subbass ballast, both of which we never really expected to hear on an ECM recording, and especially in this sort of seamless, playthru arrangement resembling a dream mixtape.
We could offer any number of add n to x allegories for this sound, but they’d all fall short of the stylistically transcendent end product. It’s simply extraordinary stuff that needs to experienced in highest possible fidelity and with good speakers to reveal its spellbinding nuance.
Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds have produced a truly prodigious quantity of material in their 30-plus year recording career, a fact that is highlighted by this huge, 3CD collection of B-sides and rarities.
Spanning everything from the obligatory BBC sessions through to limited edition B-sides and previously unreleased studio material, this career straddling cross-section will act as a treasure trove to signed up members of the Cave fan club, yet will be just as accessible to those for whom the Bad Seeds have always been a peripheral musical entity. Exhibiting why they can headline the main stage at Glastonbury one week then put in a curate's egg performance at some back alley club the next, 'B-Sides and Rarities' shows that music can be esoteric and intelligent without sacrificing its listenability. With Cave's peerless recasting of 'What A Wonderful World' as an after hours, caliginous beast, you soon find yourself getting sucked in to Cave's strangely borderless realm. Gems include the fiercely polemical acoustic version of 'Jack the Ripper', the previously unreleased original casting of 'Where the Wild Roses Grow' featuring Herr Bargeld in the role Kylie would later assume and the full orchestral pomp of the (again unreleased) 'Red Right Hand', a song written for the soundtrack of Scream 3 (you read right...). Not even mentioning the studio out-takes of 'Sheep May Safely Graze' and the utterly heartbreaking piano-led melancholy of 'Little Ghost Song', 'B-sides and Rarities' is exactly what a collection of extra material should be; welcome, intriguing and utterly refreshing.
PART I CD1
1. Deanna (Acoustic Version)
2. The Mercy Seat (Acoustic Version)
3. City of Refuge (Acoustic Version)
4. The Moon Is in the Gutter
5. The Six Strings That Drew Blood
6. Rye Whiskey
7. Running Scared
8. Black Betty
10. The Girl at the Bottom of My Glass
11. The Train Song
12. Cocks 'n' Asses
13. Blue Bird
15. God's Hotel
16. (I'll Love You) Till the End of the World
17. Cassiel's Song
18. Tower of Song
19. What Can I Give You?
PART I CD2
1. What a Wonderful World
2. Rainy Night In Soho
3. Lucy (Version #2)
4. Jack the Ripper (Acoustic Version)
5. Sail Away
6. There's No Night Out in the Jail
7. That's What Jazz Is to Me
8. The Willow Garden
9. The Ballad of Robert Moore and Betty Coltrane
10. King Kong Kitchee Kitchee Ki-Mi-O
11. Knoxville Girl
12. Where the Wild Roses Grow (Original Guide Vocal Version)
13. O'Malley's Bar Pt. 1
14. O'Malley's Bar Pt. 2
15. O'Malley's Bar Pt. 3
16. Time Jesum Transeuntum Et Non Riverentum
17. O'Malley's Bar Reprise
18. Red Right Hand (Scream 3 Version)
PART I CD3
1. Little Empty Boat
2. Right Now I'm A-Roaming
3. Come Into My Sleep
4. Black Hair
5. Babe, I Got You Bad
6. Sheep May Safely Graze
7. Opium Tea
8. Grief Came Riding
9. Bless His Ever Loving Heart
10. Good Good Day
11. Little Janey's Gone
12. I Feel So Good
13. Shoot Me Down
14. Swing Low
15. Little Ghost Song
16. Everything Must Converge
18. She's Leaving You
19. Under This Moon
B-Side And Rarities Part II was compiled by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis and features 27 tracks from “Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!” in 2006 to 2019s “Ghosteen”. Also features 19 rare and unreleased tracks including first recordings of ‘Skeleton Tree’, ‘Girl in Amber’, ‘Bright Horses’ and ‘Waiting for You’."
A1. Hey Little Firing Squad
A2. Fleeting Love
A3. Accidents Will Happen
A4. Free To Walk (With Debbie Harry)
B1. Needle Boy
B2. Lightning Bolts
B3. Animal X
B4. Give Us a Kiss
B5. Push The Sky Away (Live with The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra)
A1. First Skeleton Tree
A2. King Sized Nick Cave Blues
A3. Opium Eyes
A4. Big Dream (With Sky)
A5. Instrumental #33
A6. Hell Villanelle
A8. Life Per Se
B1. Steve McQueen
B2. First Bright Horses
B3. First Girl in Amber
B5. Heart that Kills You
B6. First Waiting for You
B7. Sudden Song
Cornwall's Mildred Maude new album for Sonic Cathedral.
"Three seemingly disparate characters – Matt Ashdown (guitar), Lee Wade (bass) and Louie Newlands (drums) – Mildred Maude are named after one of their grandmas and play an improvised noise that always seems to be teetering on the edge of chaos, but something incredibly beautiful at the same time, like a cross between Sonic Youth and Slowdive. It is utterly thrilling.
Sleepover is their second album and bears the influence of Stereolab, Can, Butthole Surfers, Yo La Tengo and Sun Ra, among others, with three of its four tracks being over 10 minutes in length. ‘Trevena’ is the loping opener; ‘Elliott’s Floor’ initially turned into My Bloody Valentine’s ‘Only Shallow’ by mistake and on the vinyl version it never ends, thanks to a locked groove; ‘Glen Plays Moses’ crosses a Red Sea of sound and is just epic in every way.The odd one out is ‘Chemo Brain’ – just under three minutes of Fugazi-esque frenzy, named after a side-effect of bassist Lee’s cancer treatment. The album artwork is also inspired by this – it’s a molecular model of cyclophosphamide, one of the drugs he was given.Mildred Maude’s DIY approach has been the only way for them to get anywhere in Cornwall, where they say they feel more in tune with Aphex Twin, Luke Vibert and the Rephlex Records crowd from the 1990s than any current scene. They do, however, unintentionally have something in common with the medieval Miracle Plays that would take place in the Duchy. “They were notoriously noisy to attract people to them,” explains guitarist Matt, “but were also events that brought communities together, and we like our live shows to have a sense of togetherness.”
Matt says he is also inspired by historic places of worship. “There are some great places in Cornwall such as St Just Church and the open air Gwennap Pit in Redruth. It’s these beautiful spaces that I try to imagine we’re in when we’re playing live – so it’s fitting that we’re releasing this new album on Sonic Cathedral.”"
Roberto Carlos Lange’s beautifully beatific Latinx pop-soul warms the cockles on his debut Helado Negro album for 4AD; a slow burn celebration of his South American heritage and nostalgia for the ’80s club music he grew up with
In loving pursuit of the style he’s developed over handfuls of albums for Asthmatic Kitty and more recently RVNG Intl., ‘Far In’ sees Helado Negro further burnish his rose-tinted sound with a sense of intimacy that stems from spending lots of time at home and getting deeper into his sound during lockdown. Referencing a “youth growing up in South Florida listening to 80s club songs, and their return sampled in 90s hip hop”, his 15 songs wash over one with the wooziest daydreaming quality, knitting languorous Latin rhythms to shimmering melodies in a way that, to our ears at least, somehow feel like christmas in a warm place, everything soft focus and lilting with a perennial familiarity that’s seductively disarming and effortlessly comforting.
Typically sung in his bilingual mix of Spanish and english, no matter which language he chooses, Lange’s music conveys the feeling clearly. In key with the notable refinements of his songwriting style over the past decade, ‘Far In’ reaches a new high watermark of classicism as he enters his 3rd decade of releases, nesting a melange of nods to Tropicália, Fleetwood Mac and Beck in his butter smooth transition from the strolling strums of ‘Wake Up Tomorrow’ with its harmonious vox by Bon Iver and Kid Cudi collaborator, Kacy Hill, thru to the glyding yacht rock disco of ‘Aureole’ and the gently insistent dreambop of ‘Outside the Outside’, with bucolic semi-acoustic magic in ‘Wind Conversations’ and Mazzy Star-like tristesse of ‘Thank You Forever.’
‘-io’ is the sixth album by vocalist and composer Haley Fohr, best known as Circuit des Yeux.
"A celebrated figure in Chicago’s music community, she has released acclaimed albums via De Stijl, Thrill Jockey, and Drag City and toured throughout the world. However, '-io' is Circuit des Yeux’s most ornate and elaborate work to date – a set of compositions that nest Fohr’s otherworldly four-octave voice amid a 24-piece string, brass, and wind ensemble. The album was put to tape last fall by Cooper Crain at Chicago’s Electrical Audio studio and mixed by Marta Salogni (Bjork, Holly Herndon) with Fohr acting as arranger and producer. Written in the wake of personal loss and recorded in the midst of the pandemic, '-io' maps a geography of grief – a place where “everything is ending all the time.” While Fohr’s music has never been short on ambition, these songs are striking in their brilliance and strangeness. On '-io', Circuit des Yeux has delivered a work that is vivid, immense, and fully illuminated."
Perky but gauzy ‘80s new wave nostalgia by Chris Stewart’s Black Marble. Glistening with vantage-styled hooks and pulsing synths.
“On Fast Idol, LA-based Black Marble reaches back through time to connect with the forgotten bedroom kids of the analogue era, the halcyon days of icy hooks and warbly synths always on the edge of going out of tune. Harmonies are piped in across the expanse of space, and lyrics capture conversations that seem to come from another room, repeat an accusation overheard, or speak as if in sleep of interpersonal struggles distilled down to one subconscious phrase. At the same time, percussive elements feel forward and cut through the mix with toms counting off the measures like a lost tribe broadcasting through the bass and tops of a basement club soundsystem.
Fast Idol is Stewart's fourth full-length album and his second for Sacred Bones. His previous album Bigger than Life was written in the face of cultural shifts in the US, in experiencing these he realised he was not keyed into certain negative sentiments that were bubbling below the surface, which were breaking out into the open. “I chose to try and take the approach of a soothsayer writing from a macro level, trying to find strands of connection between us because it didn’t feel appropriate to create something self referential and gloomy at the time,” he says.
Now, Fast Idol sees him return to a sentiment and process that defined the earlier days of Black Marble, in a return to his intuitive song writing process where songs land as impressionistic snippets of daily conflicts, and people struggle with the challenge of trying to move through the world. “People don’t expect me to be responsible for altering their outlook or mood, they come to hear something that meets them where they are. I trusted on this record that if I stayed in that space and created things from that more mysterious place, it would connect with others.”
Elemental Antarctic field recordings layered and processed to model and evoke the regions’s weather dynamics with hyperreal attention to detail
“From Eugene Ughetti: As Philip was preparing to leave for his second Australian Antarctic Division residency, he invited me to lunch to discuss the possibility of collaborating on a new work. He recounted his first experience on the ice, where the surrounding landscapes seemed to articulate avant-garde percussion works of an epic scale. On this visit, he wanted his field work to explicitly shape the formation of a new performance work with a particular focus on katabatic winds in and around Casey Base station.
Intrigued, I accepted the challenge provided I could create a live performance utilising the same recorded materials of ice, air and water. We undertook an ambitious collaboration with sound, instrument, lighting and industrial designers, a dramaturg and percussionist.
For Polar Force we built an environment, a white inflatable structure reminiscent of a remote research station on the ice. Emanating from outside the space come the complex and foreboding sounds of the natural environment, inside, a live event akin to scientific research in sound occurs. This hour-long performance installation work gives rise to a hyper-realistic sensing of Antarctica, bursting with natural beauty, power and the audible evidence of human impact.”
Clinic's ninth studio album, "Fantasy Island".
"Referencing H.G. Wells’ Things to Come, Marshall McLuhan’s The Medium is the Massage and Sombrero Fallout by Richard Brautigan, the themes Clinic explore on Fantasy Island are time, music and entertainment. In a (coco) nutshell, Clinic have gone funky disco, broadening their sonic palette with the addition of several new gadgets including an electronic acid bass machine, a 1970s cocktail rhythm unit, a Casio digital horn and space drum."
East Coast minimal wave institution Xeno & Oaklander’s seventh full-length, Vi/deo.
""Vi/deo" further distills their iconic noir synth pop into a streamlined suite of gleaming, graceful retrofuturism. Inspired by ideas of synesthesia, scent, star worship, and obsolescent technologies, the duo of Liz Wendelbo and Sean McBride began conceiving the blueprint of Vi/deo while sequestered at their Southern Connecticut home studio during the pandemic. The context of isolation, streaming, and remote dreaming seeped into their chemistry, manifesting as both homage to and me ditation on a certain cinematic strain of technicolor fantasy: the screen as stage, distance disguised as intimacy, where tragedy and glamor crossfade into one.
Opening with the precision synthetic melancholy of “Infinite Sadness,” the album marks a peak fluidity between the pair’s fusion of analog electronics and poetic melody, both refined and oblique, classic but contemporary. Wendelbo modeled her singing on “a young boy in a choir,” alternately holding notes and whispering them, with the lyrics clear, the voice elevated. McBride’s synthesizers serve as the perfect counterpart, tiered and polished, threading fluorescent architectures of a lost audio-visual age. Theirs is a darkwave of reverie and flickering city lights, swooning and sleek, romantic anthe ms for concrete bohemia, cigarette smoke in rainy gardens, and sound as color (“blue is fast and red is slow”). Vi/deo captures the bittersweet beauty of youth and utopias, the wistful transformation from miracle to memory, where love turns unreal and music becomes myth: “Sounds of the underground / Will echo in future days / Feelings of misery / Will fade into the haze.”"
The dub dentist's deep blue 1974 reggae masterpiece bubbles up on a crucial remastered reissue, available for first time since the 2004 pressings on Mark Ernestus’ Basic Replay. Hudson's mood is tormented and dazed - making for a magnificently and deadly serious album that’s hauntingly unique, unmissable, unforgettable.
Renowned among the greatest roots reggae albums of all time, Hudson’s seminal side now sees a necessary, timely reissue. Still brimming with a dusky blues soul and intoxicating atmosphere, it followed a series of solid-gold productions for Ken Boothe, Delroy Wilson, John Holt, U-Roy and many others, and documents Hudson's removal from JA to London, New York studios and transatlantic audiences, inaugurating a sequence of albums - classics like Pick A Dub, Brand, Playing It Cool - which demonstrated his troubled experimentalism was so much better suited to the LP than the cardinal 7" reggae format.
Hailing from a musical family, Hudson trained as a dentist but found his calling in the studio, establishing his own label Imbidimts with a recording of Ken Boothe’s ‘Old Fashioned way’ before going on to work with legendary singers John Holt, Delroy Wilson and Alton Ellis, and toaster deejays U-Roy and Dennis Alcapone, who he produced in a trademark lean and mean, bad to the bone bass and drums style. ‘Flesh Of My Blood’ would come out on Brent Clarke’s Tottenham based Atra label, and marked an early highpoint of his work, melding strong soul influences with reggae proper in a supremely moody vibe that’s lost none of its late night pull.
We advise running straight to the flickering guitar licks and heads down bass of its definitive centrepiece ‘Darkest Night’, with its ohrwurming chorus for the strongest flavour, also found reduced to essentials on the dub with masterful touches of glaring synth, but anywhere you look, it’s pure gold. From the spectral electro-acoustics of ‘Hunting’ evoking midnight jungle atmospheres, to the lissom reggae soul of ‘Testing My Faith’ and the shimmering depths of his dubwise ’Nocturne (Talk Some Sense Version)’ it’s all cut of peerless cloth and holds treasures awaiting to be found.
NZ underground legend Roy Montgomery's third album this year is his darkest yet. 'Rhymes of Chance' is moody dream pop in the mode of Scott Walker or Talk Talk's Mark Hollis = gorgeous, singular music.
'Rhymes of Chance' is a minimalist pop monster, featuring some of Montgomery's most viscerally tear-jerking material. The first side is taken up with the six-part epic 'Rhymes of Chance'; the first two parts feature Montgomery on vocals, wailing over his patented shimmering guitar clouds. It's affecting, melancholy music that only takes on more character when regular collaborator Emma Johnston is brought into the fold on the fifth part.
Johnston's finest moment is on the flipside's 'Losers March' though, a loosely swung, organ-led dirge that sounds like folk music for the ferry ride down the river Styx. It's almost like Beach House on -8%. On closing track 'Aspiratory', a dedication to Mark Hollis, her voice is pulled to pieces by Autotune and frozen in time over bellowing, skyward drones. This is bizarre but unshakeable music from an underground original - if you enjoyed the last two installments "Island of Lost Souls" and "That Best Forgotten Work", you're gonna need this. Montgomery is still an underrated, overlooked treasure, we feel constantly blessed that he's gifting us with such a bounty of new material.
Wickedly crude but skilful no-input mixing board business from a boss of that discipline, Toshimaru Nakamura
‘Culvert - No Input Mixing Board 10’ is the umpteenth exposition of Nakamura’s improvised and eternally inventive practice since he switched to this style from guitar noise with 2000’s self-explanatory ‘No-Input Mixing Board’ CD. Its 8 parts see him reflect on the hidden waterways that underline his home region around west Tokyo, generating discrete burbling streams of mulched feedback that metaphorically resemble the culverted streams that nobody sees underfoot, yet necessarily course with energy, as in many built environments. In his home region these hidden streams are often topped with artificial brooks that overlay their route like a “double decker river.”
While sitting on a bench beside one of the artificial brooks, Nakamura was prompted to make music that reflects these secret veins. Each of the eight parts gushes with an allegorical brownian motion apt for the concept, and also recalling K2’s torrential forms of junk metal cut-up, but also perhaps implicitly speaking to the threat of rising sea levels which would surely seep up from the Pacific thru these coastal waterways with a destructive attrition akin to this music.
The debut album from Montreal’s Le Ren, released on Secretly Canadian.
"Leftovers stitches together a patchwork of personal songs about different relationships: those we share with mothers, lovers, and friends. Lauren Spear, the artist behind Le Ren, created a physical quilt to mirror the assemblage of stories that comprise her album: a coming-of-age collage that collects over four years of past experiences and finds their present meaning.
Leftovers was originally scheduled to be recorded in LA in early 2020, but the pandemic forced Le Ren to reconsider the kind of album she wanted to make, and how she wanted to make it. Taking the time to revamp old songs and bring the past to bear upon new ones, she distilled years of material into ten tightly executed tracks united by the swooning pluck of her guitar and the crystal clear timbre of her voice. The result is a timeless assemblage of love, heartache, celebration, and lessons hard-learned, written and performed by a musician who has honed the subtleties of her craft.
With its organic yet meticulous folk production and deeply felt lyrics, Leftovers exists outside of trend or time, finding a home among classic icons like Joni Mitchell, Vashti Bunyan, and Karen Dalton, as well as a new class of folk extraordinaires, such as Adrianne Lenker, Jessica Pratt, and Laura Marling. Le Ren writes with a bold clarity that lends her songs the immediate, enduring quality of good stories well-told that, like their album title-namesake, only get better with age. Leftovers is equal parts melancholy, deep love, and levity to lift up the mournful. Le Ren here weaves a rich musical tapestry addressed to loved ones lost, found, and kept that reveals new meanings within a lifetime of relationships."
Tetsuo Furudate's new album, "The Nocturne, The Nightmare and a Fruit" with Keiko Higuchi and Olga Magieres.
"Tetsuo Furudate has been working on projects including electronic music, films, videos creating time passages between old and new pieces, re-reading the past through re-appropriations. All his recent pieces can be watched or just listened to. it is also a cultural mix embracing all eastern and western cultures (from JS Bach to Merzbow).
Here he recreates a borderless and timeless universe, where voices and pianos reach emotional moments of great depth. The whole is driven by Tetsuo who, by a continuous mixing, conceives these different
pieces as an editor would a film made of borrowings images, archives material and unpublished fragments."
Come's 1994 album "Don't Ask Don't Tell" expanded and remastered.
"Come responded to the difficult-second-album stereotype with the hypnotic, intense and emotional masterpiece ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’. Featuring the original line-up of Thalia Zedek, Chris Brokaw, Sean O’ Brien and Arthur Johnson, the Boston band broadened their sound by slowing down the tempos and creating a dense urban stream of consciousness that mixes noise, city blues and… catharsis. The album hits you immediately as one of the greatest dissident records ever made.
Lovingly remastered, this expanded edition includes 'Wrong Sides', an additional albums worth of b-sides and unreleased tracks, including the band's very first single 'Car' and their last recorded song, 'Cimarron', featuring this core line-up. These gems showcase the rawness and incredible growth of a band completely in command of their songwriting and at the same time paying homage to some of their punk roots with beautiful renditions of Swell Maps 'Loin Of The Surf' and X's 'Adult Books'. Also Includes new artwork with unearthed photos and fresh liner notes by the band.
Dissident from traditional rock this is a band playing music that thematically and structurally seems to pull from old Europa, from Eastern folk and modernist classical music as much as US and UK rock. Dissident from traditional ideas about singing and songwriting Thalia’s (ex of Live Skull) presence on songs like ‘Yr Reign’ and the astonishing closer ‘Arrive’ isn’t the pushy self-aggrandizement of a lead singer but the internal voice of the eternal migrant, someone who knows about survival, hiding, how living between multiple worlds can become its own refuge of distance, its own sanctuary of unbelonging Don’t Ask Don’t Tell emerged from a period of cohesion, a break from the tight and hectic touring schedule Come had been plunged into after the acclaim accorded 11:11, and you can hear that increased focus in every moment the layers of guitars and feedback are even more precise, the structuring of songs takes on a new openness and ambition, and the whole narrative arc of the record from ‘Finish Line’ to ‘Arrive’ is more exquisitely realised and sequenced."
The Mankunku Quartet's 1968 album 'Yakhal' Inkomo' clocks in at just over 30 minutes of jazz perfection. This compact, and to-the-point, album would sit comfortably in amongst some of the best works in the catalogues of any of the quintessential jazz labels such as Blue Note, Prestige and Impulse.
"'Yakhal' Inkomo', however, was originally released on the South African record label World Record Co., which resulted in it becoming an elusive and sought-after piece for jazz collectors. First press copies sometimes fetch as much as £1,000 on the collectors' market. It has been long regarded as one of the finest South African jazz albums and DJ / broadcaster Gilles Peterson cemented this when he included it in his "best of genre" focussed radio show, 'The 20 - South African Jazz'.
On the sleeve notes, Ray Nkwe the producer and the President of the Jazz Appreciation Society of South Africa writes "This is the LP that every jazz fan has been waiting for" and Ray was not wrong, it's a stone-cold timeless jazz classic."
One of those releases that makes you feel like no other music exists for a hot minute, Dean Blunt returns with a second Black Metal album for Rough Trade, delving deeper into his unfathomable yet completely approachable and direct take on visceral x melancholic folk-pop. Spoiler: It’s really fucking good.
Aided on most of the songs here by Joanne Robertson’s vocal counterpoint and Giles Kwakeulati King-Ashong’s skittering drums, these songs once again connect to AR Kane’s distinct approach to the avant grade thru imperfection. In effect, it feels like Blunt manages to squeeze all the sterile sheen out of overly tasteful music, leaving a throbbing mass of flesh, blood vessels, nerve endings - exposed and beautiful. It’s what AR Kane called ‘Kaning’ (see Dhanveer Singh Brar’s excellent 'Beefy's Tune’ book for more on this) - and effectively provides a vital riposte to a world in which so much “art" is presented and consumed as a form of numbing.
And that riposte requires no explanation - a personal narative woven with little concession to anything - there’s not even a tracklisting or credits on the physical formats, instead Blunt’s ideas are wrapped up in a succession of first grade earworms, string sections here and there, billowing subs - all melancholy and ambiguous bliss.
"Flaws are discontinuities that act as tiny fissures, allowing the dim and distant, diffused gem light of pre-creation to slip thru - it is this that music existed for - a signpost, a reminder, a note.” Rudy Tambala / A.R. Kane
Black Metal 2 is as real as it gets.
Several years in the making, and marking 20 years of the cult minimalist project, the richly intoxicating ‘Living Space’ sees Eleh pull back from physical pressures to coax out a more natural cadence and way of arranging that reflects the slowness of plant life and discreet, painterly forms of ambient composition, underpinned by those pristine, deadly subs. And yeah, that second track basically sounds like one long extended Reese Bass - we ain't complaining.
“Following ‘Slow Fade for Hard Sync’ (2009) and Location Momentum (2010), Living Space is Eleh’s third physical release for Touch. Seven years in the making, this new release consolidates the artist’s parallel narrative between a series of vinyl and CD releases for Important Records – where the emphasis is on a minimalist aesthetic – to a visual counterpoint that hints at the cinematic and painterly qualities of the music.
Sound, as a healing force, is an idea as old as the medium itself. Inspired by the legacy and above all the spirit of John Coltrane, Living Space features 5 new compositions that seek to express the beauty of slow change, not only through the microtonal shifts in sound that Eleh navigates but moving with the atmospheric and shape–shifting conditions that the music creates as it interacts with the listening space, whether bedroom or concert hall, each one of them unique.
If the ambition of Living Space is to reflect both personal and collective growth cycles, the experience of its audition has the effect of stopping time. Melodic and harmonic progressions are implied and not stated obviously, to enable listeners to apply their own emotions and feelings to the music.
Using modular and analogue synthesisers, piano, organ, bass and symphonic chimes, Living Space stresses the promise of the CD’s final track – ‘Lighter Touch’ – forsaking the forceful hand for an approach that mirrors the slower and softer exposures of plant life and leaf formations, slow moving waters, not flash floods nor forest fires.”