Magisterial, psilocybic stuff from Windy City electro-acoustic explorer Olivia Block, returning to Room 40 with a filmic new album inspired by mushy trips during lockdown.
‘Innocent Passage in the Territorial Sea’ plots out a mental projection of pulsating Mellotron synth scapes that build on over 20 years of diverse practice involving composition for chamber instrumentation, field recording and explorative synthesis, as released by esteemed labels such as Sedimental, NNA Tapes, and Another Timbre. Reflecting on a process of listening “somatically”, as inspired by her “regular practice of listening with intention while on psychedelic mushrooms”, the results form an escape pod from lockdown, shaped into something like a sort of “speculative science fiction film” that now firmly lends themselves to use as your own shuttle to other dimensions.
Using the warped tonal colour of a broken Mellotron synth, Olivia was drawn to its low end possibilities which underline and propel the album from its elegant lift off ‘Axiolite’ across the oceanic ‘Laika’ to really take flight with heart-in-mouth sensation on the Alessandro Cortini-esque grandeur of ‘Great Northern, 34428’, and with Eleh-like thrum nagged by icicular patterns in ‘En Echelon’. The narrative takes a more blissed turn into keening new agey chamber styles like a frosty Laraaji with ‘Through Houses’ and ultimately leads up to the iridescent ice caves of the album’s 10 min climax ‘Rivers in Reverse’ where she acts as chilly fleshly conduit for the Mellotron’s off kilter voice to really sing out its strange dream.
Gritty post-punk outfit Low Life investigate the "disgust and shame" of white Australia and the gloomy reality of betrayed adulthood on their dense third album. Influenced by Michaelangelo, Iggy and the Stooges and the Sydney hardcore scene.
There's a curl of thick, black smoke that surrounds Low Life; their music isn't depressing, but it's filled with anger - the kind of anger that grows from dented dreams, unfathomable reality and fragmented relationships. The band raked in acclaim for their first two albums, 2014's "Dogging" and 2019's Alter-released "Downer Edn". "From Squats to Lots..." is closer to their sophomore album, a record the press release describes as having a "nuanced flavour".
With the grim atmosphere of "Unknown Pleasures"-era Joy Division and Bowie's "Low" (apparently producer Mickey Grossman has a statue of the star in the studio), Low Life conduct a riveting noise that lifts the darkest emotions into almost jubilance. Guitars jangle beneath rugged basslines and thrash-y chords, and vocals lurch from snotty sneers to melancholy cynicism. It's a record that brings to life another side of Australia, one far from what we're accustomed to witnessing in the media. As the band themselves say: it's not for kids.
Justin Cantrell's debut J album finds him skating into delicate locations, marrying faded piano and delicate electronics with gusty radio static and frozen pads. The CD edition features remixes from Laila Sakini, Fia Fell, mu tate, Nico Callaghan and Grace Ferguson.
Cantrell is better known for his recordings under the Ju Ca moniker, or his collaborations with mdo as picnic. As J, he reduces his sound to a whisper, gently manipulating environmental hums and crackles into a poetic wisp of harmony and microscopic sound. "my seat and week" is an album that requires close listening, and when you focus your attention, the details make themselves present. Like the lilting rhythm Cantrell extracts from piano on the title track, disturbing the natural pacing of the keys by digitally stuttering the sounds, or the faint sine chimes on 'you take each others breath away...' that beat quietly beneath an insectoid hum. Subtle spoken word from Angelina Nonaj elevate 'more room to breathe in', slipping between the gaps in Cantrells piano, while cello from Abby Sundborn gives a melancholy distance to 'a healing tear'.
But it doesn't quite end there, Cantrell has assembled an intriguing list of collaborators to re-interpret the album's songs. Experiences Ltd's mu tate refracts the electroid dub bliss of January's "let me put myself together" on his remix of 'yellow leaf flutters on a nail'. Laila Sakini doesn't disappoint either, pushing Sundborn's cello from 'a healing tear' into the foreground and allowing it to sink slowly into a bath of crackly field recordings and woozy analog synth. Pianist and composer Grace Ferguson's version of the album's title track is more restrained and allows the gossamer piano to crane itself out of the shadows.
All together it's a varied set, that highlights Cantrell's community approach to his craft - the warmth is palpable.
Can's live series continues with another pit-taped psychedelic sesh from 1975, following Spring's release of "Live in Stuttgart 1975". Unhinged music that captures the Krautrock pioneers at their most vital - outside of the studio, performing in front of a crowd of weirdos.
By 1975, Can's studio juice was running dry. That year's 'Landed' was a far cry from '71's "Tago Mago" - after losing idiosyncratic vocalist Damo Suzuki, their recorded music began to take on a more boxed-in sound. But as "Live in Stuttgart 1975" demonstrates, they were still just as ragged and rough around the edges. Like its predecessor, "Live in Brighton 1975" is another privately taped recording, remastered under the watchful eye of Can co-founder Irmin Schmidt.
It sounds exceptional given the covert nature of the recording, which is a testament to the equipment used to clean it up and producer Rene Tinner's keen ear. Split into seven sprawling sections, it features material that never made it to Can's recorded catalogue - we're guessing it may not have even been performed again - and most interesting for Can devotees, it features a rare (indistinct) vocal from guitarist Michael Karoli and an epic drum solo from Jaki Liebezeit.
With sleeve notes from Rob Young and journalist Kris Needs, it's a well assembled package that fleshes out the Can story into new dimensions.
A strong look for anyone snagged on Mihály Víg’s Bela Tarr OST side, Colin Stetson, or Goblin’s giallo scores; Swiss-Bosnian accordionist Mario Batkovic moves between cinematic choral works and swirling folk-jazz electronic fusions on a captivating 3rd solo side
Batkovic’s 2nd album with Geoff Barrow’s Invada powerhouse is a melodramatic tour de force of brooding east and central European themes handled with emotive vigour. The head of the BeBa Orchestra and a skilled accordionist, he brings a masterful flair for shifting cinematic moods and soundscaping to ‘Introspectio’, leading in with the hauntingly stark choral arrangement of ‘Sanatio’ and cutting sharp left into swingeing jazz breaks and quickstep, keening accordion with thrilling style on ‘Repertio’, intruding electronics to the mix with a carmine-stained Goblin-esque feel in the needling arps of ‘Chorea Duplex’.
The 10 minute centrepiece of widescreen drones glacially brings his various elements together in a pensive vision that feels like Colin Stetson scoring a sped up Bela Tarr scene, with pulsing tones bleeding over ‘Surrogatum’ into smartly tempered dissonance. An elegiac then rushing accordion coda in ‘Primordial Finale’ lends an ideal closing sequence that wraps up his narrative in a satisfyingly succinct manner that makes the whole thing ideal for colouring your commute with a brilliant sense of drama, or however one sees fit to use it.
Brooding forces lead Skelton’s bowed cello, woodwind, cymbals and piano on his latest stunner for hiw own Corbel Stone Press.
Richard Skelton offers a fine soundtrack to the current low pressure system hovering over the land with a rumbling chamber drone suite primed for watching the weather from more comfortable surroundings. By this point in his singular oeuvre you know what to expect from him and he doesn’t disappoint on ‘a guidonian hand’, allowing the elements to osmotically seep into the skin of his sound with beautifully sore and evocative results sprawling over its ten-part soundscape.
Skelton uses his instruments to paint widescreen sound images with a lush but bittered flourish between recordings made across 2020/21, vacillating into shorter, fleeting sketches with more immersive tracts in a haunting play of light and shadow, granite textures and moistened, rolling meadows. There’s a notable electronic accent and emphasis to proceedigns that place it in this century at least, with a stressed tone in its expansive centrepiece ‘In Ancient Fabricks’ that really hits home somewhere between the gentler, more romantic side of Yellow Swans and Gabe Midnel’s follow-up projects, all underpinned by that low-end rumble that's full of uneasy menace.
Manchester musicians Marconi Union return with their new album, Signals.
"Signals is the latest addition to Marconi Union's highly acclaimed discography. Despite having released twelve albums in the last eighteen years they continue to experiment and push boundaries.
'In some respects Signals is a more traditional songwriting album than anything we've done before, but it draws on the same techniques we've used on our previous albums' After their previous album, the largely beat-less Dead Air, one might think that Marconi Union would be primarily influenced by synth players or guitarists. However, it turns out that Signals was actually informed by the bands' admiration of a number of different drummers and this played a significant part in helping shape its sound.
'We were quite inspired by various players like Jaki Liebezeit, Clive Deamer and Tony Allen and tried to imagine what our music would sound like with them playing on it.'
Signals combines synthetic textures with organic sound, and merges the familiar with the unknown, transporting the listener deep into their imagination. The one-word title is both mysterious and evocative, suggesting a multitude of images that range from high-tech electronic messaging to ghostly abandoned radio stations and even that most basic level of human expression, body language.
It Is both ironic and yet somehow so right, that a group so regularly described as 'enigmatic' should make an album that alludes to communication. Although, long-term fans will be relieved to note that Marconi Union decline to enlighten us on what all this means."
15 years on from its original release, Studio One Groups remains one of the toughest of all Soul Jazz/Studio One releases and features some of the biggest groups in the history of Reggae including Bob Marley and The Wailers, Toots and the Maytals and The Heptones who all began their careers at 13 Brentford Road, under the guidance of the great producer and label owner Clement ‘Sir Coxsone’ Dodd.
"Featuring many, many classic and killer tunes from The Wailing Souls, Carlton and His Shoes, The Gladiators, The Ethiopians, The Mad Lads and more. Studio One Groups brings together numerous classic artists alongside a number of rarities and delves into Studio One’s musical output in its prime in the 1960s and 70s featuring Ska, Roots, Rocksteady, Dub and more. Clement Dodd’s role in launching and nurturing Reggae groups and singers is unsurpassed and Studio One’s success was due to Dodd’s ability to see talent, surround himself with it and nurture artists.
Launching Bob Marley and The Wailers career at Studio One also meant housing Marley in a flat in the studio compound, as well as employing Marley in an A&R role, checking out the latest American soul and jazz 45s that came out for Studio One artists to cover. In similar fashion Leroy Sibbles, lead vocalist with the Heptones, became the key in-house bass player after being taught from scratch by Jackie Mittoo.
Studio One Groups were at the heart of the label’s success. The sweet three-part harmonies, so close to the heart of Jamaican music, can be heard throughout every stylistic change of Reggae music – Ska, Rocksteady, Roots and beyond - all of which are featured here in all their vocalised glory.
The album comes with excellent informative sleevenotes by the author and Studio One discographer Rob Chapman, and exclusive photography including the stunning colour picture of Bob Marley and the Wailers on the front of the release."
The eternally evocative and enigmatic concept of black holes fuels the musical imagination of Dr. Valery Vermulen on his debut mission for CM Von Hauswolff’s Ash International - RIYL Roland Kayn, Heinrich Mueller, Thomas Köner, Mika Vainio
Just over 100 years since German physicist and astronomer Karl Schwarzchild theoretically discovered and proposed the idea of black holes - a region of spacetime where gravity is so strong that nothing — no particles or even electromagnetic radiation such as light — can escape from it - the mathematician-artist Dr. Valery Vermulen takes advantage of subsequent scientific research data to model and sonify a multidimensional sound experience akin to passing out in deep space. Cynics may say this stuff is up its own black hole, but lovers of free-floating, spatialized electronics will be in their element when following the music’s path into next level oblivion.
“Black holes were first theoretically discovered and proposed in 1916 by German physicist and astronomer Karl Schwarzchild. Their possible existence resulted from an exact solution Schwarzchild had found of Einstein's theory of General Relativity published a year earlier. Being a long-contested concept, the existence of the first black hole, Cygnus X, was confirmed in 1971. Four decades later, in February 2016, science made another huge leap as the first merger of two black holes was observed by the LIGO – VIRGO telescope. This discovery announced a new exciting era in observational astronomy based on gravitational wave detection.
Using the latest technology, Mikromedas AdS/CFT 001 connects these fascinating scientific evolutions to the realm of electronic music. Having worked on previous astrophysics related musical projects, Vermeulen had the first idea for the album in 2016. It was not until 2018 that these conceptual ideas became a reality when Concertgebouw Brugge (BE) commissioned a new musical piece and live show for their Cosmos Festival. This work ultimately resulted in the album Mikromedas AdS/CFT 001.
The six-track album is produced using data streams generated by various simulation models of astrophysical black holes and observational data of regions in space with extreme gravitational fields.
Data used for the realization of Mikromedas AdS/CFT 001 includes gravitational wave data, data generated by black branes (i.e. higher dimensional generalizations of black holes), neutron star data, data from white dwarfs and trajectory data of elementary particles near black holes.
As a mathematician and artist, Vermeulen effectively designed and programmed new innovative data sonification, i.e. the means to translate data into sound and music, systems and techniques. These were used to transform black hole data and their associated mathematical models into engaging, moving and multidimensional sound experiences.”
Powell flicks his coattails and takes to the synthetic piano stool for a suite of ribboning rhythmelodic and tonal scapes inspired by Conlon Nancarrow, David Behrman, Xenakis.
Precisely not what one might have been lead to expect from previous exploits, but also not beyond the realm of possibilities explored in his private label a ƒolder, ‘Piano Music 1-7’ takes a marked step further into non-dancefloor directions; it’s all melody and space, as opposed to driving drums and samples, unexpectedly unleashing a more “musical” side in seven works that craftily play with perceptions of consonance/dissonance and clearly relish the semi-real tone of the basic Grand Steinway sampler at its core.
The seven parts range from expansive to succinct, and progressively diverge from relatively untreated to highly processed abstractions where his meticulous detailing comes into its own. They conceptually lead on from his four albums inspired by a formalisation of music proposed by Xenakis and issued on a ƒolder, applying research into stochastic (random) functions to generate an oddly contemplative music that encourages minds to wander his, and his computer’s, lines of thoughts from the curdled optimism of the opener to the strange interplay of glassy/gloopy textures and helical elision of plangent notes and their surreal reflections in the last.
Marissa Nadler's first original solo album since 2018's 'For My Crimes' is a glittering high-point in her catalog, reflecting the dreamy prog-gaze of Air's 'Virgin Suicides' OST in an oily pool of Neil Young, Low, Mercury Rev and Cocteau Twins' underrated "Four-Calendar Café". We're in love.
'The Path of the Clouds' is a remarkably different album from the rest of Nadler's eight solo full-lengths. During lockdown she kept busy, escaping into writing and recording an album of covers (Spring's "Instead of Dreaming"), and learning to play piano with Mercury Rev's Jesse Chandler. This provided a new method of writing, and many of the songs here were penned on keys instead of guitar. Nadler also began experimenting with synthesis, so while 'The Path of the Clouds' feels furthest from the whimsical folk of her early catalog, it also sounds like her most complex, and most developed work so far.
Distracting herself from quarantine boredom with 'Unsolved Mysteries' reruns, Nadler decided to re-imagine the murder ballad as a form to promote female empowerment, focusing on the unsolved case of D.B. Cooper, the unidentified hijacker of a Boeing 727 plane flying from Portland to Seattle in 1971 as a focus for meditation on transformation and the mastery of fate. The idea of escape from authority looms across each song, lightened by Nadler's cosmic synths, mellotron drones and charming shoegaze-country riffs.
Bella Union boss and ex-Cocteau Twin Simon Raymonde adds bass to the album, and it's hard to know whether it's this that amplifies that Cocteaus sparkle or whether it's Nadler's inspired country-tinged songwriting. The spectral pop waftiness of late-Cocteaus tracks like 'Evangeline' and 'Know Who You Are At Every Age' are only a breath from 'Couldn't Have Done the Killing' and 'If I Could Breathe Underwater', and it's not unwelcome. The Scottish band's late period is still cruelly maligned, but Nadler's absorption of this sound is effective and smart. Smashed with the melancholy, doomer romance of Air's "Virgin Suicides" soundtrack, it lifts Nadler's songs into a surreal dreamworld she's only dipped into previously.
The trace elements of Neil Young and Townes Van Zandt are still there, but burned into coiled smoke that snakes around these delightful new forms. "The Path of the Clouds" is a dream pop album that's unafraid to lean into the genre's knottiest tendencies, it's able to be literary and comical, lavish and incisive, labyrinthine and visual. It's fair to say that Nadler had a more productive quarantine than most of us.
A selection of city pop, funk and modern soul from Japanese label Nippon Columbia, selected by DJ Notoya.
"Featuring cult classics and rarities by Hiroshi Sato, Hatsumi Shibata, Hitomi 'Penny' Tohyama & many more.
The selection on ‘Tokyo Glow’ starts with 'Kimugare' a relaxed mid-tempo track by Kumi Nakamura, actually a famous actress who only recorded one album in 1980 for Columbia. The set continues and flows effortlessly with the sunshine grooves of Miyuki Maki, Hatsumi Shibata and cult keyboard player Hiroshi Sato before the pace starts going faster and funkier with New Generation Company, Kengo Kurozumi - with his superb boogie, 'Juggler' - and one of the queens of the genre, Hitomi 'Penny' Tohyama with 'Tuxedo Connection'.
Another fine example on the set is the mid-tempo groove of "I Wander All Alone Part III" by New Generation Company, an aggregate group of some of the best Japanese session musicians led by arranger Katz Hoshi and including Hiroyuki Namba (key), Kazuo Shiina (gtr) and Yutaka Uehara (ds) who all played with Tatsuro Yamashita among many others.
There are many other excellent examples in 'Tokyo Glow', showcasing the diversity and specificity of Japanese City Pop during the late 70s and 80s.
Nippon Columbia opened their much-guarded vaults to curator DJ Natoya. Tracks were remastered in Tokyo and the result, ‘Tokyo Glow’, is a unique insight into a most creative period in Japanese music."
The fourth album by Popol Vuh, originally released on Kosmische Musik in 1973.
"Seligpreisung follows the religious theme of its predecessor and features the line up of Florian Fricke with Conny Veit on guitars, Daniel Fischelscher on guitars and drums (he was the drummer of Duul II), Robert Eliscu on oboe, Djong Yun on vocals and Klaus Wiesse on tamboura."
Legendary dub master Dennis ‘Blackbeard’ Bovell MBE does The Pop Group a dead solid version of their seminal ’79 side, ‘Y’ gutting and rendering their wiry post-punk in tightly rude but rambunctious form
Chasing up the band’s live rendition of 2020, the original 9 tracks appear here filleted for funk, with gristle tossed in the bin and Bovell effectively puppeteering their much younger limbs with specialist animist tekkers. In a proper livication, not dedication, to the band’s mutant avant dub-punk styles, Bovell bring out the studio duppies to play, finding and pronouncing the space in between the grooves in a way that totally reenergises his original work on the record while marking distance travelled from the 1979 studio sessions.
At its maddest on the likes of his GRM-style rendering of ‘Savage Sea’, the whole thing feels only just about tethered to reality, with no two bars left wanting for kinetic, corkscrewing details as Bovell’s deft hands flash across the desk. From the needlepoint step and razor cut parries of ‘Thief Of Dreams’ to the recoiling echo chamber abstraction and reggae disco thrum of ‘3:38’ this is no cursory “in dub” session, but a systemic overhaul of the album’s bones, muscle and sinew, with vocals like a possessed presence, dissected into shrieks, yelps that cut thru the smoke.
Expert-level dub punk business.
Popol Vuh regularly contributed soundtracks to the films of Werner Herzog that include classics like Aguirre, Nosferatu, Heart Of Glass and Cobra Verde. Agape-Agape was one of Florian Fricke’s favorites, at a point in his life where he was inspired by 13th century Persian poet Rumi.
"Still utilizing a choir for Gregorian chant-like ethereal intensity — though they sing in Byzantine scales – the band delves deeply into the drone world of Fricke’s sacred music muse. This is an album of many moods / feelings and is a worthy, devastatingly beautiful outing (both introspective and intense at the same time).
Born as Florian Fricke’s brainchild, Popol Vuh needs little introduction, the band stayed active between the late 1960s and late 1990s (until Florian’s passing in 2001). Regarded as pioneers in avant-garde German electronic music, their early works practically laid down the foundations for ‘Kosmische Muzik’ (Space Music) with the then new sounds of the Moog synthesizer joined with ethnic percussions. Later the group evolved to include all kinds of instruments (both electric and acoustic alike) shrouding their music in a spiritual and introspective mystical aura. Popol Vuh influenced many other European bands with their uniquely soft but elaborate instrumentation, which took inspiration from the music of Tibet, Africa and pre-Columbian America. With music sometimes described as “ethereal”, they created soundscapes through psychedelic walls of sound, and are regarded as precursors of contemporary ‘world music’, as well as of ‘new age’ and ‘ambient’."
Dizzying multi-instrument devotional jams based on Afro-Arab sufi trance music from Tunisian percussionist Houeida Hedfi, assisted by production from The Knife's Olof Dreijer.
When Hefdi picked up drumming for the first time, she was already an established academic, working in economics and mathematics. But her inquisitive interest in Afro-Arab sufi trance music led her towards percussion, and she began touring alongside teaching, reaching out to Tunisian violin player Radhi Chaouali and Palestinian bouzouk player Jalal Nader, for a nine years stretch touring back and forth across Europe and North Africa.
In 2011, Hefdi met Olof Dreijer when he visited Tunisia during the production of a compilation of music composed by local women, and he agreed to produce her album. The result is a work that's decidedly modern, but intrinsically linked to Tunisian folk traditions. Hefdi was insistent that the music should use Arabic quarter tones, but the compositions aren't an exercise in simply looking to the past - her music nods to classical minimalism, contemporary post-classical sounds and modern electronic music.
The first handful of tracks express her classical influence strongly - the lengthy 'Envol du Mékong' folds in Philip Glass-style organs into expressive piano playing and bowed strings before erupting into percussive Tunisian styles. In the album's second half, the lid is blown off as Hefdi allows herself to flex a little, experimenting with drums and electronics. 'Echos de Medjerda' is a clear highlight, balancing subtle processes with trance-inducing percussive loops, and 18-minute closer 'Cheminement du Tigre' is the record's most mind-bending moment, creating a singular mood with bells, electronics, drums and evocative pads.
Silvia Jiménez Alvarez finally follows up 2017's enigmatic nu-EBM tome 'Weightless' with a dumbfounding left-turn for Berghain's Ostgut-Ton imprint. "A World of Service" isn't techno or EBM, it illuminates Alvarez's staggering voice as it flirts with trip-hop, radio pop, grunge and industrial metal. Unexpected doesn't even come close.
Since the release of her acclaimed debut album for iDEAL, Alvarez has been touring constantly, building a reputation as a live performer and challenging, lithe DJ. So when lockdown hit, it provided her with the time she needed to finish an album that's been years in the making. 'A World of Service' is named after her now-defunct monthly radio show, and retains its sonic philosophy. The Spanish artist has never wanted to pigeonhole herself: she grew up with an obsessive interest in music that never began and certainly doesn't end with techno and electro. It doesn't even begin and end with dance music at all.
Her latest material is rooted in the pop forms that crystallized in the 1990s on alternative radio and MTV, and her dynamic voice is the glue that binds it together. Unlike so many of her peers, Alvarez's shift from electronic producer to enigmatic frontwoman sounds fated. Raw, unprocessed Spanish words lurch into view on 'Camelo', after 'Birds You Can Name' introduces the album on a curly instrumental electronic fake-out. 'Camelo' is the stylistic link to 'Weightless', and accompanies Alvarez's powerful vocals with grinding industrial noise and torched half-speed trap percussion. From here, we're funneled into the album's defining run, beginning with Autotuned lounge sizzler 'Luis' that sounds like a robotic re-interpretation of Sade via Kanye's peerless "808s & Heartbreak".
Title track 'A World of Service' might be the most improbable move for Alvarez. Described in the press release as "pandemic-era trip hop", it's a sultry, pristine slow burner that reminds of the moment where trip-hop started to poke into the mainstream with hybrid acts like Dubstar and Olive. And with clubs shuttered for the last couple of years, it makes sense that the genre's half-tempo crawl has began to resurface. But JASSS saves the best for last, teaming up with Berlin's Zíur on 'Wish', an industrial grunge anthem that sounds like Garbage's towering first couple of albums.
The Berlin underground's relationship with pop has been confused (and often antagonistic) over the years. Here, the union is flexible and candid - perfectly in tune with Alvarez's interests, obsessions and strengths. It sounds like the beginning of the next chapter of her creative story, and might be the most unlikely release on Ostgut-Ton thus far.
More than just a live session, this set of weighty, radiating interpretations features Anna Von Hausswolff on synth and vocals alongside the Sunn O))) touring band. Heavy-as-fuck ritual drone - you know it.
Recorded after their 2019 UK tour, 'Metta, Benevolence' is an impressive redevelopment of compositions from their two albums released that year - "Pyroclasts" and "Life Metal". After touring with the material for a few months, the band - featuring guest players Stephen Moore, Tim Midyett and Tos Nieuwenhuizen on top of core droners Stephen O'Malley and Greg Anderson - had worked on each composition to evolve them into their emotional final stages. Playing in front of an audience has the habit of shifting material, and O'Malley and Anderson embraced the change, looking to create an "all-inclusive radiation of O)))" that would support each player's interpretation of the themes.
Well, thankfully it sounds incredible. Anna Von Hausswolff's contribution on booming opener 'Pyroclasts F' is particularly noticeable, with her vocals pealing out ritualistically over the band's seismic rumble of saturated guitar and thick, modulated synth. It's Sunn O)))'s open-armed philosophy that's led to their work being so consistently engaging - It would have been easy for them to rest on their laurels years ago, but Anderson and O'Malley have continued to develop their sound and encourage the natural shifts in emphasis.
For many, a BBC session is just a formality, for Sunn O))) - it was an opportunity to basically dub a completely new album.
Warsaw-based cellist/composer Resina (Karolina Rec) returns with a first standalone album in three years.
""Speechless" takes a big step forward on a bold and brilliantly expansive record that explores ideas about language, the voice and the unpredictability of nature. Recorded by Resina and Michał Kupicz, with striking additional mixing & production work by Daniel Rejmer (Ben Frost, Björk, Foals, Girls Names), ‘Speechless’ is fluid and muscular, with wide dynamics and a dark and powerful dramatic weight. Across nine tracks, Resina’s cello, voice and electronics are set alongside drummer Mateusz Rychlicki, the 23-piece 441 Hz choir, with Magdalena Gajdzica playing flute (track 1) and Michał Fojcik adding field recording & sound design (track 4).
Removed from their regular, more refined classical contexts, cello and choir are subjected to electronic processing, expanded and deployed in a swirling, visceral sound-world, sometimes pushed into distortion and anchored alongside Rychlicki’s driving drumming. An amalgamation of noise, rock, ambient, choral and classical elements, ‘Speechless’ shifts from gossamer beauty to glowering threat; from pulsing minimalism to full-bore propulsive blow-outs. As well as moments of great beauty, it is shot through with shrieks and howls, cavernous bass drops, sirens and sudden pitch shifts. A bold and adventurous work that synthesises the very best of her previous two albums and packs a powerful punch."
Full throttle, 160bpm hardcore, jungle and footwork tekkers from the rave’s leading pied piper, for Fabric’s key mix series
In the space of a few short years, Sherelle has leapt from cult quantity to headline dynamo, largely with thanks to her incendiary and highly memed Boiler Room showcase in late 2019, when she generated nuclear energy levels via a jump up dub of ‘RIP Groove.’ She’s spent the intervening pandemic building a fearsome rep as the happiest and up-for-it DJ on road, ultimately leading to this, her 27-track razz between UK and Chicago rave styles, taking in upfront Black dance music from key hotspots of NYC and LDN with a breathless, party-ready flow that’s precisely what eager yung ravers want, and are getting, right now
As with her A&R actions on the HooverSound and Beautiful labels, the mix highlights Sherelle’s roots and branches thru cuts from a close but far flung coterie of producers ranging from old skool soldiers (Aphrodite, Cloud9, Q-Bass) to relatively new skool jungle players (Dub One, Tim Reaper, Dev/Null) and US catalysts (DJ Rashad, Kush Jones, DJ Phil, AceMo), each finding a mutual axis around the 160bpm thing. With a sense of drama and intensity that’s perhaps more UK rave than US, Sherelle defines the sound at its most disciplined and up for it, spraying from the hip with a lethal disregard for our safety that can’t be prized any more, especially after 18 months of brutal club lockdown.
No prisoners, we tell ya!
Richard Dawson & Circle collaborate on "Henki".
"Henki is the epic joint record from Richard Dawson, the diminutive Geordie troubadour, and Circle, the genre-straddling pioneers of The New Wave Of Finnish Heavy Metal. Unlike any metal album you have heard before, Henki’s seven tracks deal with special plants throughout history, making it the greatest flora-themed hypno-folk-metal record you’ll hear this year."
Instant life upgrade gear, starring guitar maestro Omar Khorshid showcasing one of the most important Arabic composers of the c.20th, who has written for legends including Umm Kalthum, Abdel Halim Hafez, Sabah, Warda, and many others
Packing opulent string orchestrations, intoxicating sitar work, sizzling drums and the psych-surf guitar fire of Omar Khorshid - a big fave around here - Baligh Hamdi’s ‘Instrumental Modal Pop of 1970s Egypt’ collects 19 relatively stripped back examples of the composer charting modernized directions for Arabic music during the open-minded ‘60s & ‘70s. Compiled and annotated by Sublime Frequencies don Hisham Mayet, the selection is deliberately shy of vocals, in order to best reveal Hamdi’s intricate weave of influences from subcontinental classical music to Afro-American jazz and west coast US surf and psych rock, all subtly and seamlessly incorporated into the lushest of psychedelic exotica.
Under Hamdi’s direction, the crack squad of Omar Khorshid on guitar, Magdi al-Husseini on organ, Samir Sourour on saxophone, and Faruq Salama on accordion, aka his legendary group “Diamond Orchestra”, articulate a new musical language porous to peripheral influence, yet firmly located in the sophistication of cosmopolitan Cairo during that specific era. Abundant with tonal colour and, crucially, driven by a suave swagger, it’s hard not to be charmed by the passion and patent intellect of this music, sweeping us up on a deadly cool but exhilarating trip for the ages that still surely conveys its urges to mingle myriad musics and make you dance better.
Just essential stuff, really.
Second studio album from Riki on Dais, "Gold".
West coast new romantic icon Riki returns with her 2nd simulacrum of pitch-perfect synth-pop, aptly titled for the precious substance it is: Gold. Inspired by notions of symbolic power, letting go, and transmutable realms of the heart, the album further refines her rare gift for making swooning melancholia as anthemic as it atmospheric. Working with Telefon Tel Aviv co-founder Josh Eustis at his Pasadena studio, the sessions unfolded fluidly and fruitfully, focusing on “quieter moments” and refining the record’s palette and voice. Occasional interruption from a nearby flock of wild parrots infused a mood of California dreaming, purple sunsets dissolving into deepening neon night.
Like all the most elusive pop, Riki’s songcraft is simultaneously direct and oblique, dynamic and detached, shifting from sparkling chorus to elliptical outro according to its own poetic logic. She characterizes her lyrical muse as “very much what’s going on in my life, things I wanted to say but didn’t have the platform.” This subcurrent of dream fulfillment animates the melodies with a specificity and immediacy that transcends her pantheon of 80’s influences: from Saâda Bonaire and Strawberry Switchblade to Bryan Ferry, Bananarama, and beyond. Gold skews less dance floor than her instant classic 2020 debut but taken as a collection it’s equally stirring, stylish, and exquisitely produced. Evocatively layered arrangements of drum machinery, sequencer, fretless bass, grey sky guitar, saxophone, and FX, anchored by Riki’s singular voice, alternately widescreen and wounded, yearning beyond time for ecstasies both fleeting and forever: “Thought I knew you, but you’ve gone far away / it’s not in your nature to stay / but the thought that I need you, grows stronger every day / the colors begin / to change.”
New album from coldwave duo The KVB, "Unity".
"The KVB are back with their most potent and immediate record yet. Produced and mixed by Andy Savours (Black Country New Road, My Bloody Valentine, The Horrors) ‘Unity’ represents an exciting development in the band’s sonic journey.
Across the album's ten songs, The KVB masterfully pull together their trademark components; radiant guitars, textural synths and an ear for a moody, brooding melody all presented here with with a renewed dynamism.
Throughout the album lyrical themes combine double meanings and a sleight of hand is present; Le Corbousier’s brutalist ‘Unité d’habitation’ informs the title track and via the French-to-English translation ‘Unité' becomes ‘Unity’ - a rallying cry to totality on the dancefloor. ‘Unbound’ is informed by the classic shoegaze stylings of Slowdive and Ride but also late-modern poet Keston Sutherland and the idea of recreating a special moment lost to the past."
Otto A Totland completes his trilogy of piano compositions, following 2014’s Pinô and 2017’s The Lost.
"As a self-taught pianist, Otto further determines himself as a timeless composer who follows nothing but his own gut and heart. The outcome is something so pure it’s hard to not be affected. The development of his pieces over the years has grown into something so himself that it’s almost immediately recognisable. With Companion he has matured in his own craft, and the various pieces here feel confident and absolutely beautiful in a way that sees the end of the trilogy as a warm, empathic document for the times.
As with the previous two albums, Companion was again recorded at Nils Frahm’s Berlin studio for optimal warmth and space, Pinô and The Lost at his previous Durton Studio while Companion at the historic Studio 3 at Funkhaus. All three records are released by Sonic Pieces in hand-crafted limited edition covers as a statement showing that craftmanship and humanity still exists in this world constantly moving towards the exact opposite.
This quote by Norwegian philosopher Guttorm Fløistad seems an appropriate connection to both Otto’s music and the way we are all heading : “The only thing for certain is that everything changes. The rate of change increases. If you want to hang on you better speed up. That is the message of today […] In order to master changes, we have to recover slowness, reflection and togetherness. There we will find real renewal.” With this in mind, Companion is exactly what it’s title sets out to be. A friend that can follow and comfort in both good or bad times."
Exquisite minimalist investigations into counting, repetitive processes and listening from London-based acoustician and composer Georgia Rodgers, performed by Apartment House, Zubin Kanga, and Rodgers herself.
For 2019's Rainy Days festival in Luxembourg, Rodgers was commissioned to write a new piece of music for Apartment House, which would be premiered at the festival. "September" was the result, and it's bundled here in three excerpts, with a selection of other pieces recorded between 2010 and 2021.
'September' finishes the album, and it's undoubtedly a highlight. Rodgers wanted the piece to reflect the counting methods used to track bars, or notes, and it does so by sticking to a discernible rhythm, with instruments taking the place of a metronome. This forces the listener to tune into the sounds of the acoustic instruments, and the space itself. The presentation is minimal, but Rodgers packs it with tiny details and no small amount of emotion. Fans of Jonny Greenwood's soundtrack work - like his collaboration with Paul Thomas Anderson on "There Will Be Blood - should investigate.
'Ringinglow' is the newest recording on the album, and possibly the most stark and evocative. Using a piano and ominous electronics, Rodgers evokes a mood that plays against traditional flourishes. 2010's 'Logistic', the earliest piece, demonstrates Rodgers' dedication to industrial soundscaping, with granulated glass sounds forming a nauseous atmosphere, while 'Base' is almost the polar opposite - warm and welcoming with oboe and strings. It's a varied spread of work that hangs together in harmony, joined by Rodgers' strong sense of space and musical philosophy.
CD release of the acclaimed soundtrack to "ZeroZeroZero" by Mogwai.
"To celebrate the UK transmission of the acclaimed eight-part cocaine crime drama, ZeroZeroZero, Rock Action are very pleased to release Mogwai's soundtrack to the series for the very first time."
Les Disques du Crepuscule releases a newly remastered and expanded CD box set edition of The Warp of Pure Fun, the 1985 album by Scottish songwriter Paul Haig, formerly of influential Postcard/post-punk group Josef K.
"Co-produced by Alan Rankine of The Associates, The Warp of Pure Fun followed a brief flirtation with mainstream dance-pop on the Island Records, and marked a return to warmer, more personal songs and arrangements, as well as live drums and ringing guitars, and also embracing emergent digital technology such as Akai sequencers and the Kurzweil sampling keyboard.
The album includes 4 singles in Big Blue World, Heaven Help You Now, Love Eternal and electro-funk stormer The Only Truth, the latter produced with Bernard Sumner of New Order and Donald Johnson (A Certain Ratio). As well as Alan Rankine on luxuriant keyboards, other stellar guests include drummers Steve Goulding, Toby and James Locke, bassist Michael McCann and Blaine L. Reininger of Tuxedomoon, who adds dramatic strings to epic closer Love and War.
The mammoth 64 track box set also includes a raft of extended 12” mixes, including rare US remixes by Man Parrish and Mantronik, and no less than 3 versions of The Executioner, a spooky electro collaboration with Cabaret Voltaire taped at their Western Works Studio in Sheffield. B-sides include Paul’s frantic rockabilly take on Ghost Rider by Suicide, featuring Malcolm Ross and David McClymont of Josef K/Orange Juice.
Disc 2 features a fascinating early album demo recorded at home on 4 track equipment, featuring several previously unheard songs, as well as all tracks from Paul’s legendary ‘lost’ second album from 1984, including sublime standout song Shining Hour. Disc 4 offers 9 tracks professionally recorded live in Japan in May 1985 (with accompanying radio interview), along with several more demo tracks recorded later that year. Again, several of these songs (Testimony, Wrapped, Bridges) have never heard or released on record before."
Erstwhile Cocteau Twin Robin Guthrie returns with 'Mockingbird Love', a new four track EP, the first in a short series of newly recorded instrumental releases.
"Guthrie, whose production and signature guitar sounds are said to have shaped multiple genres was the co-founder and producer of Cocteau Twins. Over forty years he has produced and remixed countless artists, recorded instrumental albums, movie soundtracks and collaborated with many outstanding artists. Mockingbird Love is a most welcome introduction to a series of releases which will be available for a limited amount of time exclusively on Soleil Après Minuit."
Juke-pop dreamer Jessy Lanza proves an ideal candidate for the DJ-Kicks series with a shimmering 26-track blend of vibes by the likes of Lolina, Gant Man, Grain, Mafia Boyz, Michael J. Blood, DJ Swisha and more
Beloved for her long players and renowned for party-starting live shows, Jessy Lanza here spells out her influences and current tastes with strong picks of US & UK dance music, peppered with slanted pop and low-key boogie hustles ++ bags of soul. It’s top marks for the flow and feel of her mix, coolly swerving between reference points proximal to her home city, Hamilton, Ontario — not so far from Toronto’s disco and jungle, and in raving distance of Detroit and Chicago with a bit of drive.
The strongest bits are by Jessy herself, who supplies a number of exclusives including the air-lock juke entry portal of ‘Guess What’, plus the percolated sweetness of ’Seven 55’ with Hyperdub labelmate Loraine James, and the feathered techno tump of ‘Wet x3’ and the electro-stepper ‘Heaving’ with Taraval. But that’s not to discount her other picks, spanning the gritty house slap of Michael J. Blood’s genius ‘Lip Biter’, to fleet-footed juke by CN and Mr. Ho, Chicago ghetto percolators by Dee Jay Nehpets, DJ Swisha, and DJ Spookie, with the likes of Lolina’s groggy ace ‘A Path of Weeds and Flowers’ tempering the flow.
Japanese-Korean classical minimalist Ryoko Akama collaborates with Apartment House again on this weightless set of deceptively complex pieces. Fans of Morton Feldman, Alvin Lucier or Eliane Radigue >> this one's pretty incredible.
An installation artist as well as a composer and performer, Huddersfield-based Akama writes music that's intentionally visual, or tangible. She creates sound that stretches across time and space, and uses silence like dead air - forcing us to consider our place as listeners.
'Songs for a shed' is series of six works for piano and instruments that was comissioned by Philip Thomas and Another Timbre. It isn't the first time Akama has worked with Apartment House - the collaborated on 2019's excellent "Dial 45-21-95" - and at this stage they feel perfectly in tune with each others' sonic philosophy. Simon Limbrick's vibraphone and marimba contributions are especially impressive, elevating the almost 20-minute 'proposal eleven' to scratch out a physical space in our minds eye.
Another expertly assembled set of avant-garde classical minimalism from Sheffield's Another Timbre label, this time highlighting Californian multi-instrumentalists and CalArts professor Andrew McIntosh.
McIntosh is among the most celebrated experimental string players in California, and here directs his talents to investigating the possibilities of his set of instruments, melting bowed harmonies from the violin and viola with field recordings made in the Californian pine woods.
The album opens on its darkest stretch, with hit piano strings used to punctuate elongated violin drones that reverberate into industrial strength textures. The 20-minute 'Middle' offers relief, a deep listening near-raga made from the microtonal harmonics that slowly emerge from a sustained string. 'Other Middle' is comparatively light-hearted, the instruments mimicking chirping sounds, before the record closes on 'Ending' - a contemplative weaving of environmental sizzle and low-register wobble.
Minimal clarinet compositions, fleshed out with subtle field recordings, vocals, double bass and cello.
There's something unsettling - in the best possible sense - about the clarinet. Reed instruments are tough to play, tougher to play well, with the clarinet perhaps the hardest to elevate. Thankfully, Heather Roche is an expert performer, and Martin Iddon's minimalist, textured piece was composed with her in mind. The sounds she manages to eke out of the instrument - especially on the album's 21 minute title track - are exceptional; turning from animalistic wails to a tender whisper in a heartbeat.
Placed alongside Iddon's recordings of birdsong makes the transition more stark; on 'Muses', Roche makes like a synthesizer next to Juliet Fraser's operatic vocal delivery, and on 'tu as navré', she turns the clarinet into rhythm and bass next to low, scraping strings from James Opstad and Anton Lukoszevieze.
Next-level hydrophonic fire from early electronic pioneer Michel Redolfi, best known for presenting the first underwater concert in history. It's mindboggling work that imagines deep-sea sound using the glassy tones of the Synclavier digital synthesizer.
Redolfi came up with the idea of his 'Sonic Waters' project in 1979, when he was working at UC San Diego in California. The university's Center For Music Experiment had funded his project "WET", or "Water Electronically Tuned", and he took his music across the USA to similar-minded centers where he was able to perform underwater, using specially-designed equipment. In the last four decades, Redolfi has shipped this concept across the world, performing in public pools in Sydney, Paris and Venice and also in various natural sites worldwide.
Redolfi splits the music into two fields, music for fresh water, which he composed in 1981, and music for salt water, which was put together concurrently, from 1979 to 1987. To call his music fluid would be to ignore its inherent thoughtfulness; Redolfi makes big brain sounds that pull influence from our cultural understanding of water's place in the history of soundmaking. He mixes the harps and shimmering electronics you might expect to see in a classic rendition of an underwater scene with sonorous synthesized sounds that harmonize with whale song or submerged gongs. Each element warbles and vibrates as Redolfi urges us to consider the historical resonance inherent in all the colors and textures refracted into our ears.
"..The songs of sirens, the bells of submerged cathedrals, the voices of lost mariners." Indeed.
Versatile cornet player and elecro-acoustic composer Ben Lamar Gay takes an assured step into ambitious territory with his second album, touching soul, funk, jazz, experimental electronics, ambient and psychedelic zones with help from Tomeka Reid, Angel Bat Dawid, Ayanna Woods, Ohmme and others.
Gay's debut album, 2018's "Downtown Castles Can Never Block The Sun", was assembled from material he'd produced over a seven year period. "Open Arms to Open Us" was a quicker process, and stands as a far more coherent work. Gay began writing the music in Spring 2020, as the world changed and we were all forced to reconsider our place in the world; "things have never been okay," he admits in an accompanying statement. What pulled him back from the brink was thinking about the future - his family, his young nieces and nephews - and Gay puts this into music by focusing on rhythm. "More than anything, I’d like my babies to always trust in rhythm," he explains. "It’s the one trueness that travels great distances and constantly survives the crumbling of facades."
Gay has put his finger on the pulse that travels through culture and history. Rhythm is a unifying force, and he uses it to pull together a wide cast of collaborators and a plethora of genres that all bend to his creative will. On opening track 'Sometimes I Forget How Summer Looks on You', Chicago duo Ohmme back up Gay's vulnerable vocals with ethereal choral wails, but it's the clattering drums - layered over shifting xylophone clonks - that make the song so memorable. 'Aunt Lola and the Quail' is less showy, but no less impressive, with bubbling oscillator gurgles over a loose, pulsing downtempo funk shuffle; the jazz pressure is palpable, but Gay never allows his cornet prowess to overshadow his general theme.
Dorothée Munyaneza sings on the magical 'Nyuzura', vocally pirouetting through skeletal drum skitters and ethereal dulcimer clangs. 'S'Phisticated Lady' meanwhile finds Chicago legend Angel Bat Dawid and Gira Dahnee trading rhymes, seemingly live in situ, over rattling tamborines and a struck tom. Each track feels stylistically different, but philosophically related - it's quite a feat.
9-track mini-album "Broken Hearts & Beauty Sleep" from Mykki Blanco.
"This body of work also marks their debut release as part of a recently signed deal with Transgressive Records in London (supported by PIAS worldwide). The music of this new mini-album introduces a more nuanced and genre- spanning set of work, suggesting the reflective wisdom of one who has experience and maturity on their side. Ushering in a fresh era for the artist, the songs take life and love into account, but also personal stakes that are higher than they've ever been. “I couldn’t continue on that same trajectory,” they say, calling up releases of old. "I can't call myself a serious musician if you can't go on a journey bumping a Mykki Blanco record from start to finish."
Mykki’s desire to elevate their artistry provided the lifeblood. They felt the approach of the early part of their career had long resembled that of a performance artist rather than a musician; and as much as they hungered for longevity, they wanted more to connect with the mechanics of how they created their own work. “I liked my life. I liked the life my career had given me. I loved songwriting, but I was afraid,” Blanco admits. “There was still a level of musicianship that I was relying too much on other people for, and I could feel that spiritual gap.” To that end, the unique partnership they formed with producer FaltyDL — one that has been continuous since they first found themselves collaborating in 2018 — was instrumental in its creative process.
When the two began working on music together in 2018, Blanco was fresh out of a serious relationship — Mykki’s actual first — that had spread out over three years. After a twenties that was characterized by “a lot of sexual trauma,” an actual committed relationship proved to be a balm. “It was healing. It was like God brought that man into my life to teach me how to love myself better. It was through his love of me that I was able to realize that I was worthy of love.” And though that relationship has ceased, the impact of it remains powerful in Blanco's mind as both a beautiful memory and an experience they sought to capture in composition. At its core, Broken Hearts & Beauty Sleep is a collection of songs about love that grew out of the end of this cherished romance. This mini album is further informed by Blanco’s childhood spent between California and North Carolina, listening to acts as disparate as Jamiroquai (their first concert) and Macy Gray (the first CD they paid for) to Riot Grrrl bands and the Neptunes. They’ve also been further influenced by being based primarily in Europe for the last few years and collaborating with a wide cross-section of artists in these years that have passed since their debut album. Mykki Blanco’s music and artistic career has long been an amalgamation of their broad tastes and continuous evolution; and with great intention, Broken Hearts & Beauty Sleep is the next step on this long road."
The 1987 film soundtrack to Werner Herzog’s Cobra Verde.
"Born as Florian Fricke’s brainchild, Popol Vuh needs little introduction, the band stayed active between the late 1960s and late 1990s (until Florian’s passing in 2001). Regarded as pioneers in avant-garde German electronic music, their early works practically laid down the foundations for ‘Kosmische Muzik’ (Space Music) with the then new sounds of the Moog synthesizer joined with ethnic percussions. Later the group evolved to include all kinds of instruments (both electric and acoustic alike) shrouding their music in a spiritual and introspective mystical aura. Popol Vuh influenced many other European bands with their uniquely soft but elaborate instrumentation, which took inspiration from the music of Tibet, Africa and pre-Columbian America. With music sometimes described as "ethereal", they created soundscapes through psychedelic walls of sound, and are regarded as precursors of contemporary ‘world music’, as well as of ‘new age’ and ‘ambient’.
The band regularly contributed soundtracks to the films of Werner Herzog that include classics like Aguirre, Nosferatu, Heart Of Glass of course Cobra Verde. Cobra Verde (featuring Klaus Kinski) was the final collaboration between Popol Vuh and director Werner Herzog. Regal chants accompanied by hand drums, guitars, piano and clavier in a sacred manner are alternated with synthesizer themes that have a tense / dramatic and haunting effect. African ceremonial music and the Choir of the Bavarian State Opera corner this as a landmark meditative and ambient piece of cosmic music. A necessary purchase for both Popol Vuh fans and Herzog collectors."
µ-Ziq and Mrs Jynx release a collaborative album on Planet Mu.
"In Spring 2021, Mike Paradinas (µ-Ziq and the owner of Planet Mu) spoke to long time friend and past label signing Hannah Davidson (Mrs Jynx) about the therapeutic power of writing music when times are tough. Both had recently been dealing with the loss of a parent due to cancer, and fresh from writing Scurlage, Paradinas suggested a collaboration. “I’ve always thought Hannah’s melodic sensibilities chime well with my own," says Paradinas, "and I've wanted to collaborate with her for a long time, since [her 2010 album] 'Shark Carousel' in fact, because she'd written some melodies that I wish I had.” In a matter of weeks the two collaborated online, sending stems back and forth, each encouraging the other and fitting perfectly together. “After about ten days we had ten tracks we were happy with." adds Davidson, "It was exciting to hear what Mike would do with the stems I sent, and equally exciting to see what he thought of my additions to his stems.” Overall the result is an opus of deeply personal moments of grief, depicted in a feeling of serene, misty tranquility that makes it easy to get lost in.
Davidson and Paradinas settled on the title 'Secret Garden' due to the melodic vista which unexpectedly opened up before them on the final track. The album truly is a melodic exploration that is so often missed in this genre. There are twists and turns in mood, from the pastoral loveliness of 'Jynxiq' and 'Unheard Melodies' which fall away to the dubby beats of 'Hi Jynx'; the sadness of 'Loss' leading into the beatless forlorn 'The Ballad of Darth Vader. The album ups the pace with the muffled kicks and warm atmosphere of 'Afternoon Sunshine', which sets the tone for the happier mood of the second half. This all leads up to the album's denoeument in final track 'Secret Garden' whose naïve meandering synth melodies, orchestral accompaniment and glockenspiel end the album in happy resolution."
Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra's Jessica Moss paints another evocative nighttime scene on her fourth album "Phosphenes". Using violin, vocals and electronics, she creates visceral, ghostly soundtracks that are certain to appeal to fans of Deaf Center, Stars of the Lid or Marcus Fjellström.
Jessica Moss has added her signature sound to so many essential artists it's almost pointless listing them all. Most memorably, she toured with Vic Chestnutt's band, co-founded Black Ox Orkestar, performed alongside Carla Bozulich, and experimented with electronics with Growing's Kevin Doria as Total Life, but that's only the half of it. On 'Phosphenes', however, the most striking aspect is Moss's ability to harness the power of restraint, allowing minuscule strokes and small touches do the heavy lifting.
Epic three-part composition 'Contemplation' makes up the bulk of the album's first half, showing off Moss's instrumental skill without any kind of fanfare. Her playing is the central focus, but her knowledge of production and electronics infuses her productions with subtle elements that never detract from the instrumental sounds. On 'Let Down' and 'Distortion Harbour', these elements begin to strangle the strings as if a transition is taking place; by the end of 'Distortion Harbour', light starts to crack through the fog. A child's voice burbles up from the silence: "don't be sad, I love you."
Coldcut curate an ambient compilation for Ninja Tune sub-label Ahead Of Our Time. "@0", the 29-track compilation album features new recordings by Ryuichi Sakamoto, Skee Mask, Helena Hauff, Juliana Barwick, Sigur Rós, Laraaji, Suzanne Ciani and Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, among others.
"Speaking on the compilation, Coldcut’s Matt Black said: “@0 refers to that liminal state experienced many times where my mental and emotional stability was not solid and it felt like teetering on a zero axis about to fall into depression, or more rarely, mania. I found that ambient music, by making no psychic demands, often opened some space and with its soft fascination, subtly raised the energy, helping to avoid that downward spiral and navigate slowly up and out. @0 is a balance point.”"
Collecting Eleh's three heavyweight drone albums on CD. Very precious, pure and meditative sounds strongly recommended to followers of Eliane Radigue, Pauline Oliveros, LaMonte Young.
"Retreat is a collection of exploratory sound assemblages put together during a cabin sojourn. New timbral richness, tonal expansion and deep synthesis make these pieces rather different from previous work. Return reflects on time away.Repose contains only one piece, the final recording of Circle Two: Coastal Rotation For Dune Loop which was debuted at 2010's Mutek festival in Montreal. This piece completes the Retreat/Return trilogy with Repose and is intended to stand very much on its own. Rain on your hood. Your heart beats. A beach break roaring in the distance. Isolated pines are played by the wind. A fine spot for repose. You turn around and head home. "Eleh demonstrates once again how a single amplified gesture delivered just so can reveal the inner workings of an entire cosmos." Tony Herrington/Wire"
Enveloping 38-minute piece from Eleh written for performance at the Cleveland Museum Of Contemporary Art.
'For Moussavi Atrium' marks the first new Eleh material since 2012, following an invaluable programme of reissues for their Important early releases during the 2013. It starts off in near silence before fleshing out a supple sinewave flux modulating at rapid intervals to a pulsing, brain-worming coda that'll hypnotise and control anyone susceptible to a good 'wave. This is one of those instances where the format plays some part - the clarity and duration afforded by the CD really holds us under without breaking the spell, and by the time we're 30 minutes in - the point you'd have to turn the wax - it really strikes serious depths of sub-harmonic intensity that feels like the world is geared in slow motion...
Fluxion's best album in years, the Greek dub techno veteran sculpts pristine dub-jazz moods that eschew the genre's usual foggy melancholy in favor of mind-expanding, horizontal landscapes. One for fans of Moritz Von Oswald Trio and Vladislav Delay's underrated "The Four Quarters".
There's an airy lightness to "Parallel Moves" that's unexpected in the dub techno canon. Fluxion's best work - his Chain Reaction two-parter "Vibrant Forms" - is rightly hailed as a genre milestone, and while "Parallel Moves" echoes that work's faded atmosphere, there's none of the eerie mystery. Instead, the Greek producer has augmented his production with a deep house-indebted jazziness, bringing in broken two-step rhythms, feather-lite electric guitar and warm electric piano. It's almost balearic.
Tracks like 'Passage' are as warm and bright as an acid sunrise, with aerated pads that cut through a supple kick and breezy horns that practically drag you to the sand dunes and frothing waves. 'In Limbo', a tight, uptempo deep house burner, sounds looped into Theo Parrish's sonic universe as it drifts around subtly plucked guitar and kinetic electric piano, and 'Spreads' sounds like waking up on a mountainside, watching the clouds part slowly. This is sunny, hopeful stuff, and breathes some happiness into a usually buttoned-up sound.
Compelling textural electronic experimentation in long form from Californian operative Robert Takahashi Crouch, who considers the relationship between abstract sound and personal resonance on "Jubilee", fizzing from luscious filigree drone to dense, crushing tonal destruction. RIYL Lawrence English, Tim Hecker or Jefre Cantu-Ledesma.
'Jubilee' is a major release for Crouch, arriving four years after his last full-length, the Touch-released 'Sublunar'. He admits in a soul-baring artist statement that it took him an unusually long time to complete; the recording evolved at a time when he was re-assessing his priorities.
So often, loud sound - from metal and noise to so-called power ambient - is used as a way of expressing frustration, or worse, repression. But Crouch uses his shifting dynamics to instead represent pain, anxiety, trauma and transgression. These feelings come from a similar place, but he treats them with sensitivity and bounded distance as he melts from liquid bass drones and glassy electronics in 'A Ritual I' to tectonic-shifting overdriven fuzz in the second part, before shifting into pensive, circling tones on the final act. 'I've been a part of evil doing' provides a breather between the album's two sides, evoking Steve Reich or Philip Glass, before Crouch shifts into more emotional territory for the two part 'Reconciliation'. Here, he hits a more jubilant tone - closer to My Bloody Valentine's noisy stompbox grind, or Jefre Cantu-Ledesma's romantic laptop crunch - and reaches into a ghostly, peaceful shimmer before fading into the aether.
Crouch has found a musical way to process world-defining emotions and experiences, and it shows. Maybe it's not just abstract sound, after all.
Important Records release this early piece by Eliane Radigue, pre-dating her use of synthesizers.
Consisting solely of tape feedback, Vice Versa, etc was conceived in 1970, and originally, the feedback piece was issued in an edition of ten signed and numbered copies containing a magnetic tape and a handwritten note, conveying that the listener is free to experiment with playing the tape back at a variety of different speeds, and in both forwards and backwards directions so as to explore the timbral properties and minutiae of the feedback tone.
In their issue of the piece, Important Records have selected four playback speeds (one disc with the tape going forwards, the other with the tape spooling backwards) corresponding to the settings on tape recorders of the era. These drones are even more minimal and steadied than the works Radigue would go on to record with her ARP 2500 and represent an early manifestation of the creative principles that would go on to govern her better known work.
Original score by Jónsi for Tom Clancy’s "Without Remorse".
"Jónsi releases his latest score, for the new Amazon Original movie Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse, starring Michael B. Jordan, Jodie Turner- Smith and Jamie Bell, directed by Stefano Sollima. The score is 23 tracks of pure action, adrenaline and anxiety."
Staggering, transcendent composition rescued from the dust of Eliane Radigue's archives by Important Records.
'Transamorem Transmortem' has been virtually unheard since it was first premiered on March 9th, 1974 at The Kitchen in NYC, at an event organised by the venue's music programmer, Rhys Chatham. Like the majority of Eliane's works, it was created with her favoured ARP Synthesizer, and would surely count as one of her most subtle and still pieces - which is quite something, considering her status as an almost peerless master of sonic stasis. Like the very best of her canonical works, she challenges, or heightens, our perceptions of temporal awareness, seemingly expanding carefully organised frequencies or even a single note, or moment, into a meditative stillness with only the slightest of timbral transformations to create a near-unparalleled effect of immersion. If you've ever submitted yourself to one of her compositions before, you'll know what we mean.
Because the piece was originally intended as an installation, it's organised with clearly spatialized high, mid, and low frequencies to be played on a quadrophonic speaker set-up. If you follow the instructions you may well experience the localised physicality of these frequencies quite differently, but we'd equally recommend simple, linear home listening on a stereo setup for enveloping results. Stunning.