Another haul of obscure German synth wave goodies from Hamburg’s Bureau B and Damaged Goods club night, looking specifically to one-off ‘80s DIY acts whose music has rarely if ever made it from tape to vinyl
Digging deeper than the next pointy elbowed wave dancer and crate dredger into the annals of German dance music, ‘Sowas von egal 2’ rakes up some especially spiky and spicy nuggets in the likes of Conrad & Gregor Schnitzler’s slow-banging ’Shark Eats Ice’ - sounding like an offcut of their previous classic ‘Conrad & Sohn’ - along with Rolf Jungklaus’ very John Bender-esque ‘New Wave (Pseudo)’, a real peach in ‘Alles oder nichts’ by Mark Montan, and the unmissable reverze-looped kosmiche drive of Mittageisen’s ‘Unverständnis’, which may well be known to the hardiest collectors, but all excitingly new to our ears at least.
"It was clear from the outset that “Sowas von egal 2” would need to scale similar heights of excellence as its predecessor, featuring carefully selected, sought-after, danceable tunes.
In contrast to the first volume, most of the acts here were only active in the early 1980s and have not released any records since then. The tape artists were particularly invested in the DIY ethic – as is often apparent in their sound aesthetics and the unbridled energy which has lost none of its intensity today. Their art was seldom – if ever – tempered by commercial considerations or sales strategies."
Max Richter’s score for Waltz with Bashir (2008) is provocative and intense.
"It earned him the European Film Award (2008) for Best Composer and contributed significantly to his stellar rise on the contemporary scene as well as gaining world-wide exposure and acclaim. Ari Folman’s animated anti-war documentary Waltz with Bashir was premiered at the 61. Cannes Film Festival and praised by critics globally.
As C418, composer and producer Daniel Rosenfeld designs sounds to resonate in both physical and pixelated realms. Best known for his original soundtracks to Minecraft, the single best-selling video game of all time, he’s developed a discography of instrumental music over the last decade that traverses electronic pop patterns, neo-classical dreamscapes, and sparse ambient motifs.
"The latter element has broken from the “8-bit” pigeonholing of game music and earned him accolades that reference artists like Erik Satie (The Guardian) and Brian Eno (VICE). In 2015, after quietly self-releasing Minecraft Volume Alpha and Minecraft Volume Beta, Rosenfeld partnered with Ghostly International to reissue Minecraft Volume Alpha on vinyl and CD. The release garnered attention from proper music critics and the gaming community alike, becoming one of the most sought after records in the Ghostly catalog. Now, following several restocks of Alpha to fervent fan response, it is time for the soundtrack’s second installment to shine. For the legion of listeners and players to, at long last, have Minecraft Volume Beta in tangible formats.
Originally self-released in 2013, Minecraft Volume Beta was C418’s longest batch of music to date at nearly 140 minutes. The collection features tracks that were “silently” added to Minecraft during its music updates and a few that never officially entered the game. The run time is now adapted to fit the double LP format, while digital downloads include the full set. Rosenfeld’s unmistakable abilities are on display; he creates a sweeping variety of musical ideas that mirror the limitless universe of Minecraft. Ghostly International is thrilled to give this unique collaboration its due treatment and hopes to see the creative inspiration which drives Minecraft and Rosenfeld continue to disperse by virtue of this unexpectedly universal music."
Synth-pop soul queen Jessy Lanza once again teams up with Jeremy Greenspan (Junior Boys) for a delicious 3rd album of melodic ohrwurms and gilded grooves.
After writing 2016's "Oh No", Jessy Lanza relocated to New York City, leaving her creative partner Jeremy Greenspan (of Junior Boys) in Hamilton Ontario. This latest album is the first she has worked on long distance, firing ideas and sketches back and forth and allowing the personal diary of new experiences to inform her writing. Like its predecessor, "All The Time" is a bubbly, poppy selection of bubblegum funk, blessed with Lanza's charming 'Holiday'-era Madonna tones. Tracks like 'Lick In Heaven' and 'Like Fire' are heart-racing, emotional pop belters, while 'Face' sounds like a footwork-aware take on 'My Boo'-wave electro. The album is unlikely to surprise fans of "Oh No", but the uneasy, melancholy air of anxiety adds an extra layer to Lanza's songwriting as she continues to mature and gleefully manipulate pop formula.
'Words and Music by Saint Etienne' was the bands eighth studio album released on 18 May 2012 by Heavenly Recordings. The record features collaborations from longtime Saint Etienne associate Ian Catt, as well as Richard X and former Xenomania members Tim Powell and Nick Coler.
"The title was provided by Lawrence of the bands Felt, Denim and Go-Kart Mozart. According to Bob Stanley the record deals with "how music affects your life. How it defines the way you see the world as a child, how it can get you through bad times in unexpected ways, and how songs you've known all your life can suddenly develop a new attachment, and hurt every time you hear them. More than how it affects and reflects your life though, the album is about believing in music, living your life by its rules.”
The album opens with "Over the Border", a semi-spoken memoir that narrates a first-person coming-of-age tale that is defined by musical milestones. It was the last song recorded for the album, and includes references to the likes of Peter Gabriel, Genesis, Modern English, New Order, Marc Bolan, Top of the Pops, Smash Hits, the NME, Factory Records and Postcard Records. The second track "I've Got Your Music" blends "pristine dance-pop keyboards" and "driving electro beats" with Cracknell's "smooth, cool coos”, while referencing Donna Summer's 1977 song "I Feel Love". According to lead singer Sarah Cracknell, the song is about "that personal moment of having your own favourite song on your headphones and that feeling of being separate to everything that's going on around you."
"Heading for the Fair", the album's third track, was compared to "the kind of Balearic dance track Boys' Own Records put out in the early 90s", and its lyrics, according to Cracknell, revolve around "[a] girl [who] goes to the fair and meets a guy who spins her round and promises many things and says 'I'll come back next year and we'll run off together' and, of course, next year he just ignores her." Words and Music's fourth track is "Last Days of Disco", a downbeat R&B song featuring symphonic string sections and a "lovely mellifluous" chorus. "Tonight", the fifth track, describes the excitement of attending a gig from a favourite band, incorporating "atmospheric" strings, "butterflies-in-your-stomach" synths and "stuttering" beats.
The sixth track, "Answer Song", was referred to as "a waltzing ballad of epically soulful proportions",and is followed by "Record Doctor", an a cappella song that pays tribute to "a friend blessed with the uncanny ability to find the right song to fit your mood". "Popular", the eighth track, refers to the homonymous music blog run by Pitchforkcontributor Tom Ewing, dedicated to reviewing all the UK number-one singles since 1952, with the lyrics namechecking several UK chart-topping titles, including Slade's "Skweeze Me, Pleeze Me", The KLF's "3 a.m. Eternal" and Pussycat's "Mississippi". The track combines "radio-friendly electronics" and Cracknell's "sweet pop-soulvocals”. "Twenty Five Years" and "I Threw It All Away"—the album's ninth and twelfth tracks, respectively—are both about bad choices; the latter carries "a hint of baroque pop in its waltz-time and woodwind”. Following "Twenty Five Years" is "DJ", which "starts out on the High Street but ends up in the underground club, mixing posh sounding effects and an adrenaline rush of techno synths to play out the song's conceit." It was described as a "nice callback" to the melody of the band's 1994 song "Like a Motorway".
The eleventh track "When I Was Seventeen" is a 1980s rock-inspired number, and its lyrics find Cracknell reminiscing about the time she was living on the King's Road in London at age 17, after having just left home: "I was just having a ball but had no money at all." "Haunted Jukebox" is the album's thirteenth track. Sporting a "mid-'60s soul groove" and "lushly lovely backing vocals", the song's melody and vocal arrangement were perceived by critics as a homage to The Carpenters. Lyrically, the song describes "a blossoming teenage romance built upon a mutual love of records", while noting "how the memories evoked by old music hit harder as you age". Regarding the inspiration behind "Haunted Jukebox", Cracknell said, "There was this bloke I went out with when I was 14, 15. In fact I started my first band with him. And he was really into Adam and the Ants. He once showed me a picture of himself that his sister had taken. And it was him in his bedroom and he'd put a white stripe across his nose. I look back and think, what on earth did I see in him.""
Girls Can Tell, The third studio album from Spoon, originally released in 2001.
"Girls Can Tell is released as part of the Slay On Cue series, which will see the reissue of the band’s first eight records in original editions - Telephono (1996), Soft Effects EP (1996), A Series Of Sneaks (1998), Girls Can Tell (2001), Kill The Moonlight (2002), Gimme Fiction (2005), Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007) and Transference (2010)."
“Some of these albums haven’t been available on vinyl or CD in years, and in some places they never actually came out,” says frontman Britt Daniel.
A Series of Sneaks, Spoon's second studio album, released in 1998.
"A Series of Sneaks is released as part of the Slay On Cue series, which will see the reissue of the band’s first eight records in original editions - Telephono (1996), Soft Effects EP (1996), A Series Of Sneaks (1998), Girls Can Tell (2001), Kill The Moonlight (2002), Gimme Fiction (2005), Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007) and Transference (2010)."
“Some of these albums haven’t been available on vinyl or CD in years, and in some places they never actually came out,” says frontman Britt Daniel.
Kill The Moonlight, Spoon’s fourth studio album originally released in 2002 and featuring the hit single ’The Way We Get By’.
"Kill The Moonlight is released as part of the Slay On Cue series, which will see the reissue of the band’s first eight records in original editions - Telephono (1996), Soft Effects EP (1996), A Series Of Sneaks (1998), Girls Can Tell (2001), Kill The Moonlight (2002), Gimme Fiction (2005), Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007) and Transference (2010)."
“Some of these albums haven’t been available on vinyl or CD in years, and in some places they never actually came out,” says frontman Britt Daniel.
Soft Effects, the legendary EP, available on vinyl for the first time since 1997.
"Soft Effects is released as part of the Slay On Cue series, which will see the reissue of the band’s first eight records in original editions - Telephono (1996), Soft Effects EP (1996), A Series Of Sneaks (1998), Girls Can Tell (2001), Kill The Moonlight (2002), Gimme Fiction (2005), Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007) and Transference (2010)."
“Some of these albums haven’t been available on vinyl or CD in years, and in some places they never actually came out,” says frontman Britt Daniel.
The intriguingly titled ‘Push Barman To Open Old Wounds’ is a chronological double CD / triple LP collection of all 25 songs from Belle and Sebastian’s Jeepster EP and single releases compiled onto one album.
"The songs included on the album date back to the early days of the band’s career in 1997 when they released 3 four track EPs (‘Dog On Wheels’, ‘Lazy Line Painter Jane’ and ‘3..6..9 Seconds of Light’) to bridge the time between the release of their albums ‘If You’re Feeling Sinister’ (1996) and ‘The Boy With The Arab Strap’ (1998). Also included is the band’s most successful single ‘Legal Man’ which reached number 15 in the UK chart in May 2000. The set concludes with the band’s last Jeepster single release ‘I’m Waking Up To Us’ providing an attractive access point to the band’s catalogue for new fans who may have only heard their later work.
None of these songs feature on Belle & Sebastian’s albums and as individual singles they are increasingly rare.
The album is named for a piece of graffiti seen in some toilets in a bar in Glasgow."
Telephono, the debut album, available on vinyl for the first time since 1996.
"Telephono is released as part of the Slay On Cue series, which will see the reissue of the band’s first eight records in original editions - Telephono (1996), Soft Effects EP (1996), A Series Of Sneaks (1998), Girls Can Tell (2001), Kill The Moonlight (2002), Gimme Fiction (2005), Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007) and Transference (2010)."
“Some of these albums haven’t been available on vinyl or CD in years, and in some places they never actually came out,” says frontman Britt Daniel.
A burst of trance arps and nervous electronics from Russia’s Regular Citizen on Lorenzo Senni’s Presto!? label.
Refracting shards of Senni’s sound and more cinematic cues a la 0PN, plus the post-rave experiments of The Automatics Group and Russian formulas of Gost Zvuk, Ivan Olegovich treads around the icy, treacherous edges of computer music and post-club composition where sharply puckered, hard-bitten EDM sounds give way to a curious and jagged range of emotions.
Drily delirious dance trax like ‘Hoggish Trot’ and the warbling Todd Edwards-on-FFWD vignette ‘Sparkling Ultramarine’ tile in a mazy mosaic with clear nods to Senni at his most effervescent in ‘Next Gen Barocco’, whereas ‘Beyond Indigo’ recalls Keith Fullerton Whitman’s recent-ish modular escapades, and also shares a certain piquant lushness with the 0PNisms of ‘Noble Cops Siren’ which sounds like it spiralled off the ‘Good Times’ score. ‘Think Less’ scoots off at more blunted angles of uon and Moscow’s noisy ambient dance sound into 22 minutes of bittersweet digital bubble-bathing with ’Nostalgic Melancholy, Pt. 2’.
Unflinching recording of Wah Wah Wino's Morgan Buckley and Ben Donohue aka Little Movies improvising a modular + computer madness at Cafe Oto.
With WWW’s Morgan Buckley and Ben Donohue behind the machines, Little Movies sound out a virtual barnyard full of globular honks and sputtering giblets where notional species erupt with hardcore punk and jazz tourettes before reeling off into hall of knives and mirrors modular craziness without warning. Perhaps imagine something like Autechre and Haswell soundtracking a mental Beckett play or Pita having a squabble with KFW via modular banks and you kinda get the idea - it’s daftly futuristic and poetically brilliant all at once.
"“Live At Cafe Oto” is the duo’s second release, a crystal clear and direct recording of their performance from when the Winowagon rolled into town for a showcase back in 2018. A 27-minute stream of razor sharp synthesised tones, burnt out drum samples and strange computer processed sound poetry presented in a relentless jump cut style – nothing repeats a single time. Add to the mix some deep mastering by Wino’s in-house engineer “The Bastard”, faint OTO audience ambience and you have an ideal night on the tiles for ALTER HQ. I can practically taste the Kernals from here."
Washed Out is Atlanta-based producer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Ernest Greene. Over three enchanting, critically-lauded albums and an EP, his music has proved both transportive and visual, each release inviting listeners into immersive, self-contained universes. With Purple Noon, his fourth album, and his return to Sub Pop, he delivers the most accessible Washed Out creation to date.
"Life of Leisure, Washed Out’s 2009 debut EP, set the bar for the Chillwave era, shimmering in a warm haze of off-the-cuff Polaroids and pre-IG filters. Within and Without, his 2011 full-length debut on Sub Pop, morphed into nocturnal, icy synth-pop and embraced provocative imagery. 2013’s Paracosm was Greene’s take on psychedelia, with a full live band and kaleidoscopic light show, and saw him playing to the largest audiences of his career. The sample-heavy Mister Mellow (2017, Stone’s Throw) delivered a 360 audio/visual experience, with cut-n-paste and hand-drawn animation to match the hip-hop influences throughout the album. With each release, Greene has approached his evolving project with meticulous detail and a steadfast vision.
For Purple Noon, Greene again wrote, recorded, and produced the entirety of the album, with mixing handled by frequent collaborator Ben H. Allen (Paracosm, Within and Without). Production of the album followed a brief stint of writing for other artists (most notably Sudan Archives) which enabled Greene to explore genres like R&B and modern pop. These brighter, more robust sounds made their way into the songs of Purple Noon and mark a new chapter for Greene as a producer and songwriter. The vocals are front and center, tempos are slower, beats bolder, and there’s a more comprehensive depth of dynamics. One can hear the luxuriousness of Sade, the sonic bombast of Phil Collins, and the lush atmosphere of the great Balearic beat classics. Mediterranean coastlines inspired Purple Noon, and Greene pays tribute to the region’s distinct island culture - all rugged elegance and old-world charm - and uses it as a backdrop to tell stories of passion, love, and loss (Purple Noon’s title comes from the 1960 film directed by Rene Clement and based on the novel The Talented Mister Ripley by Patricia Highsmith). Much like romantic Hollywood epics, the melodrama throughout is strong: a serendipitous first meeting in “Too Late”; a passionate love affair in “Paralyzed”; disintegration of a relationship in “Time to Walk Away”; a reunion with a lost love in “Game of Chance.” Purple Noon adds a layer of emotional intensity to the escapism of Washed Out’s oeuvre, taking the music to dazzling new heights."
Intimate, skeletal compositions here from Eliane Radigue collaborator Silvia Tarozzi.
"Mi specchio e rifletto" was inspired by poet Alda Merini and is an attempt to unveil "the mystery hidden behind the curtain of everyday life". This theme feels even more vital now in a time where everyday life is increasingly more complex and unpredictable, and Tarozzi's haunting tracks that fuse eerie free jazz abstraction with gorgeous Italian vocals remind of the fading beauty of the mundane. There's a cinematic flair to "Mi specchio e rifletto" that reminds of the prog rock's weirder offshoots, and that's no bad thing. Magical stuff.
Having completed his military service as a naval radio operator, Gunther Wüsthoff was in the midst of his German and fine art studies when he encountered Rudolf Sosna und Jean-Hervé Peron. It was May 1969 and each of them had a guitar so they decided to make music together.
"Polydor International headhunter Uwe Nettelbeck tracked them down on 23rd February 1971, prompting them to form the legendary krautrock band Faust with three other Hamburg musicians a few days later. Wüsthoff stayed with the band for five albums and three tours through France and Great Britain before leaving in 1974.
In subsequent decades, Wüsthoff had various technical jobs at Studio Hamburg and Filmhaus Hamburg and also studied technical editing so he could work as a freelancer. He continued to play music, introducing electronic instruments and computers into his work at an early stage. This collection spanning the years 1979-2007 offers a clear insight into how he consciously integrated these means of production into the recording process."
ODESZA and Sydney producer GOLDEN FEATURES unite as BRONSON. Have u noticed, label onesheets are very fond of UPPERCASE.
"BRONSON was formed when ODESZA members Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight met Golden Features’ Tom Stell at an Australian music festival in 2014. The trio shared a mutual admiration for their respective acts and stayed in touch by sharing music across time zones and continents through Dropbox files and FaceTime calls. Things culminated in 2018 when the three artists spent a week in the remote region of Berry, Australia, recording what would later become their debut BRONSON album.
As indicated by the two first singles, elements of light versus dark run throughout the 10-track album with the theme reflecting the light and dark inherent in human beings. The record combines both melodic vocal songs and moodier, deeper electronica with guest features from lau.ra (part of experimental rock band Ultraísta alongside Radiohead’s Nigel Godrich), acclaimed US R&B singer Gallant and British producer Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs."
Billy Nomates, the fierce, funny, outspoken force of nature who hails from Melton Mowbray and now flits between Bournemouth and Bristol, has arrived to rattle cages.
"The songs on her debut album all come from a place of defiance. Rebellion against Brexit. Against soul-sapping, dead-end jobs and zero-hours contracts. Against gender inequality, sexual harassment and festivals with obligatory female acts hidden in the small print. Billy’s songs lampoon the same bleak reality satirised by her beloved Scarfolk website and explored so abrasively in the fringe theatre she finds solace in.
Musically, there are snatches of Nick Cave’s rumbling sprechgesang; the “off-the-wall-ness of musicians like Captain Beefheart”; Sleaford Mods’ febrile post-punk; the groovesome lofi art-rock of Sonic Youth; and the brassy Americana of Emmylou Harris. What dominates, though, is a feeling of release. Of letting it all out.
The track ‘Supermarket Sweep’ features guest vocals by Jason Williamson of Sleaford Mods."
Sometime in 2006 or 2007, Jason Molina moved from the midwest to London. Separated from his bandmates and friends and never one for idleness, Molina explored his new home with fervor.
"Sometimes he’d head out on foot, often with no destination in mind. Other times, he’d pick a random tube stop and find his way back home. He’d pick up on arcane trivia about London’s rich history, and if the historical factoids weren’t available — or weren’t quite to his liking — Molina was quite comfortable conjuring his own history. His adoration of The Great American Tall Tales like John Henry and Paul Bunyan’s blue ox Babe stretched across the Atlantic, where he created his own personal Tall Tales. And when he learned of the London Wall’s seven gates (itself a misconception), Molina went ahead and called it eight, carving out a gate just for himself. The eighth gate was Molina’s way into London, a gate only passable in the mind.
Fast forward to 2008, Molina set off on an experimental solo tour through Europe. While in Northern Italy, Molina claimed to have been bitten by a rare, poisonous spider. A debilitating bout of illness ensued. “I was in the hospital here in London,” Molina wrote in a letter. “Saw six doctors and a Dr. House-type guy. They are all mystified by it, but I am allowed to be at home, where I am taking a dozen scary Hantavirus type pills a day that are all to supposedly help — but they make me feel like shit.” There is no record of a single doctor visit, not any prescription record for these medications. It is entirely plausible there was no spider and that whatever was keeping him indoors during this time was entirely self-induced. While at home, he of course wrote songs. Molina also claimed that during this time, he fed several bright green parrots that would gather in his yard. While often associated with a greyscale sensibility, Molina was oft-clad in a Hawaiian shirt and had, at least in part, selected the name Songs: Ohia for his first project as a nod to Hawaii’s ‘Ohi’a lehua flower. Which is all to say, the tropical element the parakeets brought to those sick days delighted Molina. He made short, crude field recordings of them with his trusty four-track. Only once Molina was officially on the mend and re-exploring the streets of London would he learn that those parrots had their own fabled tale. Back in the 60s, Jimi Hendrix — in a moment of psychedelic clarity — released his pair of lime green ring-necked parakeets from their cage, setting them free into the London sky. Now, their decendents are spotted regularly around certain parts of the city. Or so we’re told.
Eight Gates is the last collection of solo studio recordings Molina made before he passed from complications related to alcoholism in 2013. Recorded in London around the time of the supposed spider bite and Jimi’s supposed parakeets, some of the songs (“Whispered Away,” “Thistle Blue”) are fully-realized — dark, moody textures that call to mind his earlier work on The Lioness. Knowing what we know about those parakeets and their peppered presence on the recordings, one can’t help but think of that colorful tree of birds on Talk Talk’s classic Laughing Stock, certainly a spiritual guide for much of the set. Other songs (“She Says,” “The Crossroads and The Emptiness”) lay in a more unfinished states, acoustic takes that call to mind Molina’s Let Me Go Let Me Go Let Me Go, and still tethered to Molina’s humorous studio banter. You remember how young Molina was, and how weighty this art was for such a young man. On the closer, “The Crossroads and The Emptiness,” Molina snaps at the engineer before tearing into a song in which he sings of his birthday (December 30), a palm reading and the great emptiness with which he always wrestled. It is a perfect closer and, in many ways, the eighth gate incarnate: mythical, passable only in the mind, built for himself and partway imaginary but shared, thankfully, with us."
‘Con’ aka ‘Ballet Statique’ is a totally classic peak in the singular canon of Conrad Schnitzler, the godfather of kosmiche and legendary pioneer of independent DIY electronics.
Resurfacing for the first time in a decade, 1978’s evergreen ‘Con’ is still future-proofed by its steely minimalism and spacey mind-drift pull. It stands out as a definitive number in the near endless reels of pulsating proto-techno that Schnitzler specialised in and brought to the likes of Tangerine Dream and Kluster from the late ‘60s, and its really not hard here to register how his music would pave the way for everyone from Mika Vainio to Plastikman and Buttechno.
While there was certainly no shortage of artists making pulsing electronic music in the ‘70s, as proved by the groundswell of reissues in the past 10 years, the crisp lines and sleek melodies of ‘Con’ stand out from the crowd thanks to Schnitzler’s crisply minimalist and eloquent articulation of electronic music which betrayed a familiarity with his machines that most artists can only aspire to. In interplanetary steps the album takes us from gyring deep space to the eternal Kraftwerkian elegance of ‘Ballet Statique’, and the celestial tracking of ‘Zug’ to the kind of scorched earth atmospheres in ‘Black Nails’ that would also make this work, and the likes of 1988’s ‘Conditions of A Gas Giant’ a key touchstone for black metal, techno, noise and all sorts of music we all hold dear.
Influential jazz collective Idris Ackamoor and The Pyramids return withShaman!’, featuring a new line-up including original 1970s Pyramids member Dr. Margaux Simmons on flute, Bobby Cobb on guitar, long-term associate Sandra Poindexter on violin, Ruben Ramos on bass, Gioele Pagliaccia on drums and Jack Yglesias on percussion.
"The band transitions from the political and social commentaries of 2018’s acclaimed ‘An Angel Fell’ into more introspective themes. “I wanted to use this album to touch on some of the issues that we all face as individuals in the inner space of our souls and our conscience,” explains Ackamoor. “The album unfolds over four Acts with personal musical statements about love and loss, mortality, the afterlife, family and salvation.”
Evolving around Ackamoor’s intricate compositions, the album takes us effortlessly across moods and emotions through a series of expansive, extended pieces. Starting with ritual, soul-searching, and masculine vulnerability on the title track, the band explores timeless existence on ‘Eternity’ and mourns the sudden loss of loved ones in the prescient ‘When Will I See You Again?’, a track which gains new relevance amidst the current COVID-19 crisis. Ackamoor pays tribute to his mentor Cecil Taylor on the angular ‘Theme For Cecil’ and renders homage to the ancestors on ‘Salvation’ and ‘The Last Slave Ship’, recalling the last ship to bring slaves to the US from Africa, the Clotilda. The superb ‘Virgin’ is an anthem of forgiveness, new beginnings and self-healing."
Jaga Jazzist return with new album “Pyramid”, where the legendary Norwegian eight-piece takes a deep dive into post-rock, jazz and psychedelia influences. It’s their first album since 2015’s “Starfire”, their ninth album in a career now spanning four decades, but it marks the group’s debut on Brainfeeder, the LA-based imprint curated by Flying Lotus.
"On “Pyramid”, Jaga Jazzist have crafted a suitably cosmic sound to match their new label home, all the while nodding to forebears spanning from 80s jazz band Out To Lunch and Norwegian synth guru Ståle Storløkken, to contemporaries Tame Impala, Todd Terje and Jon Hopkins. Each of the album’s four longform entries evolves over carefully plotted movements, the tracks’ technicolour threads dreamily unspooling.
The band, led by Lars Horntveth and his compositions, took a direct approach to the creation of “Pyramid”. Whereas “Starfire” saw them take the idea of a traditional studio record to extremity, with different members dipping in and out of the booth to write, record and experiment over two years, the process behind “Pyramid” was almost the polar opposite: it took just two weeks. Both records were driven by the same curious, experimental spirit, but the processes were very different. Retreating to a secluded woodland studio in neighbouring Sweden, they bunkered into the studio for 12 hour days. “The most important thing is that we didn’t want to over-analyze every musical idea” says co-founder and drummer Martin Horntveth. “We wanted to follow the first and original idea and keep the freshness.” For a band which has never settled on any one sound or style, the continuity lies in their constant willingness to evolve, experiment and improvise.
“Pyramid” is Jaga Jazzist’s first self-produced album (most of their records being produced by close collaborator Jørgen Træen) and it meant a change in the way they operate. On the one hand, there were lots of different voices jostling to be heard. On the other, they didn’t have an independent figure to make a call on whether something was a good idea. “It was hard but felt natural to do ourselves, as five of us are producers and make records for a living,” Martin says. The result is an album that feels more collaborative than ever."
On their first album together since Maze of Woods (2015), Matthew Robert Cooper (Eluvium) and Mark T. Smith (Explosions in the Sky) further their creative curiosities as Inventions.
"Beginning with a trace of uncontrollable laughter that shifts into the driving atmosphere and unfolding elation of opening track “Hint and Omens,” Continuous Portrait is an album of strange hypnosis, punctuated by songs that venture quite far from the respective oeuvres of Cooper and Smith. The spry, playful layers of “Calico” bounce against a steady thrum of rhythms and samples from everyday noises, while the dancing lightness of “Outlook for the Future” is met with a storm of emotional resonance. Both tracks emerge as distinctively different directions for Inventions, and it is that very sense of exploration, pleasure, and ceremonial melancholia which informs the entire album from front to back.
Inventions has always been the product of two friends who find comfort and inspiration in the genuine surprise of creating and combining sounds. Continuous Portrait whirls and hums like Cooper and Smith want us to invoke our inner playfulness and welcome a greater joy into our lives, if only for a moment. The result is a portrait that continuously embraces the completely foreign and familiar, and evolves with each successive listen."
In 2018, the idea was introduced by Jeff Mills to address the lack of artistic collaborations within and from the city of Detroit/USA. The city had always been an engine of new innovative ideas related to music, art, dance, poetry and all other arts. It was thought of as a way to demonstrate the commonality people possess from various art forms and that by mixing ideas visions and perspectives together are might produce unexpected and often provocative results.
"The project started when Mills reached out to one of Detroit Techno's founder and legendary DJ/Producer Eddie Folkwes. Though the two are known and connected to Detroit Techno and knew each other for decades, they never worked together so the first few meetings and conversations were marked with finding all the common links that have built both of their careers. During this time, Mills wanted to find a third person for the project, one that was from Detroit, but not a musician. His idea and theory was that by engaging two other creative thinkers would most likely produce something unique as emotions would become linked together to find that common, but higher level. While browsing the web, Mills discovered a post that featured the Detroit-born poet Jessica Care Moore. Struck by her words and the energy she mastered to say them, Mills knew immediately that she would be the perfect artist to approach for this creative venture. As with most artists that grew up in Detroit, they immediately opened up the links in their past, present and future outlook. He presented the case and explained to her how he thought it might work. She liked the idea and agree to join."
Pierre Guerineau untethers bandmate and partner Marie Davidson to flash his considerable sound designer chops along noirish sci-fi synth and cinematic-classical vectors, premiering his Feu St-Antoine project as the debut release on the promising new Éditions Appærent label - a stunningly varied and layered masterclass in wordless storytelling.
Notably featuring Alex Zhang Hungtai’s smeared blue sax on board, ‘L'eau par la soif’ is inspired by the outbreak of mass hallucinations in French villages after which the project is named. Guerineau intended the music to “reflect the subjectivity of reality, both as a personal and socio-political construct”, and uses his sensitive but sharp grasp of hardware and software modelling last heard in Essaie Pas to articulate and convey a sweep of melodramatic scenes and feels.
From nods to Jean Michel Jarre in the vocoder and skyward promise of ‘The Appærence’ to the brooding Deckardian atmosphere conjured by Zhang Hungtai’s smeared brass and light pollutant pads of ‘Blue pour papa’, to proper ‘90s industrial sci-fi stylings on ’Spazio Libero’ he holds a fine line of personalised sound design held firmly at the service of gripping story telling. By the time his mix of gallic-KLF pads with Terre Thaemlitz-like keys and sheep bleats come around in ‘Printemps’, it’s fair to say Feu St-Antoine has us baffled and beguiled as the ergot eating villagers of his moniker.
Well worth spending some time with this one.
Kankyō Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980-1990 is an unprecedented overview of the country’s vital minimal, ambient, avant-garde, and New Age music – what can collectively be described as kankyō ongaku, or environmental music. The collection features internationally acclaimed artists such as Haruomi Hosono, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Joe Hisaishi, as well as other pioneers like Hiroshi Yoshimura, Yoshio Ojima and Satoshi Ashikawa, who deserve a place alongside the indisputable giants of these genres.
Holding dozens of rare gems from Japan, ‘Kankyō Ongaku’ feeds the ambient zeitgeist with a sublime survey of hard-to-find works by Ryuichi Sakamoto, Haruomi Hosono, Joe Hisaishi and many others, all compiled by Visible Cloaks’ Spencer Doran and released for the first time outside Japan - including two tracks on vinyl not found on the CD.
Extending an unprecedented overview of Japan’s intersecting minimal, avant-garde, and New Age music realms, Spencer Doran expertly sequences work by titans of the Japanese scene along with beautiful pieces by artists little known beyond the country’s borders. While many of us may be acquainted with the likes of Ryuichi Sakamoto, Haruomi Hosono and Joe Hisaishi via their major label releases and work on Anime and Hollywood film soundtracks, the rest have largely remained obscure partly due to the notorious difficulty of licensing Japanese music in the west. Now, thanks to the work of YouTube algorithms in generating great interest in this area, and thru the dedication of obsessives such as Spencer Doran, this compilation is a very welcome part of the groundswell in official reissues from this unique, dreamlike time and space in the history of electronic music.
Scanning the years after digital synths began to flood the market, and the ideas of ambient music (Eno), and furniture music (Satie) had taken hold in Tokyo, the music on ‘Kankyō Ongaku’ is design-driven to inhabit personal spaces, to meld into the background and subtly frame everyday life. Oozing connotations of sophistication and luxury, the music can be heard as a result of Japan’s bubble economy in the 1980s, when it become a common currency for corporations as much as record labels, ending up on vinyl and CD as well as public installations, adverts for Sanyo air-con unit, and in-store soundtracks for the likes of Muji - all of which are contained within this collection.
It’s all so lovely that’s it’s a real struggle to pick highlights from the rest, and it would also miss the point - all the music shares the same ideal and executes its function exactingly, to linger in the air. It’s pretty much flawless stuff, awaiting the embrace of romantic sophisticates and Japan-o-philes everywhere.
Modern classical maestro Max Richter takes his turn at easing the world’s woes, or at least provide space for reflection on them, by setting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to music in with the ambitious Voices project
Inspired by the 1948 UN document which takes on a particular poignance in the times, ’Voices’ is offered as a “musical message of hope” that uses readings of the historic agreement in myriad languages. From initial submissions of 100s of reading recordings in over 70 languages, Richter’s final selection are blended with an “upside-down orchestra”, whatever the chuff that is, to create a perhaps predictably elegiac but hopeful atmosphere. Results are divided into vocal mixes and their instrumentals over corresponding discs, featuring the range of voices set to sweeping keys, strings and choral backdrops in Richter’s surefire, tear-jerking style.
Max Richter explains, “I like the idea of a piece of music as a place to think, and it is clear we all have some thinking to do at the moment. We live in a hugely challenging time and, looking around at the world we have made, it’s easy to feel hopeless or angry. But, just as the problems we face are of our own making, so their solutions are within our reach, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is something that offers us a way forward. Although it isn’t a perfect document, the declaration does represent an inspiring vision for the possibility of better and kinder world.”
Uwe Schmidt runs sly and dry commentary on modern electro-dance-pop, recalling a ruder take on his seminal Pop Artificielle project with nods to Rian Treanor, PC Music and Grimes.
Full of upfront, processed vocals and precision tuned, up-to-the-moment drum programming, ‘<3’ is the sharpest thing we’ve heard in years from the artist with more monikers than we can count. Following 2013’s ‘HD’ album for Raster, he recalibrates the rhythmic mechanics from techno to a slick mix of electro, EBM and electro-pop that strongly recalls his seminal Lassigue Bendthaus productions, but with puckish vocals that possibly side-eye PC Music and mega pop from Grimes or Charli XCX.
Neatly encircled by two parts of icy gynoid vox and hyperventilating pulses in ‘0-9 (Almost A Unit)’, the album’s charmingly blithe and cutting vocals intersect hi-tech filter gauntlets and needling footwork patterns in ‘Hashtag’ and the droll but hyper daftness of ‘Tech Talk’, whereas ’Simplicity’ could almost be an Art of Noise oddity, and the brilliant ‘R3V’ looks to a more utopian future with classic but fast-FWD electro-pop suss and a footworking update of the nano-scopic EBM programming Schmidt once defined in the late ‘80s. Factor in what sounds like an IDM origami remix of Grimes in ‘Time 2 Kill’, and ‘<3’ is properly an album for the times, from someone who’s seen trends come and go but always holds his own.
Raster's Frank Bretschneider is latest to be let loose on Conrad Schnitzler’s lego box of archival samples, extruding them into modular playdough and more eccentric electronic structures after examples from Pole, Pyrolator, Schneider TM and more
Bretschneider is a fan of Schnitzler’s work with Tangerine Dream and Kluster and in organising the first Berlin synth scene, but not that much into his mechanic aesthetics. On his re-composition of original components, Bretschneider animates those parts into more fantastical and playful arrangements than you’d find in a typical Schnitzler piece, more prone to veering off at a multitude in angles rather than locked to a linear pulse, and perhaps more comparable to the early electronics from Princeton or Stockhausen’s studio than the kosmiche vectors taken by the Berlin school.
Frank Bretschneider on his "Con-Structions": "I read the name Conrad Schnitzler for the first time in the article about Tangerine Dream in the Rowohlt Rock Lexicon from 1973. The first time I heard his music was only in 1980, when his wave track 'Auf dem Schwarzen Kanal' was played on the radio . . . It wasn't until 1988 that I heard from Schnitzler again, a tape on Jörg Thomasius's East Berlin Kröten Kassetten label. And again almost ten years later his Plate Lunch CDs Rot and 00/106 (1997). But it was all too rough and raw for me, both in terms of sound and organization, kind of mechanically and not really cool. Only after I heard Wolfgang Seidel at the NBI around 2002 with one of his tape concerts, I came slowly closer. Schnitzler's early role as cofounder of two influential bands is one reason for the ongoing reception. Another is his consequence as an artist. 'I'm not interested in having publicity or a public feedback' he declared in an 1996 interview. It remains an open question whether one has to completely refuse to do so. But I was always fascinated by this almost extinct way of being an artist in its full independence. Just as I feel connected, as a self-taught person and as someone who prefers to look forward instead of looking back: 'I don't want nostalgia.' After all it was Jens Strüver who inspired me to work with Conrad Schnitzer's material. I had the idea of flowing music in which patterns develop, shift, dissolve and finally reorganize. A modular system seemed the most suitable to connect Schnitzler's world with my own by triggering and modulating his sounds via a sampling module and supplementing them with my own."
‘Planet’s Mad’. Never were truer words written. Mind you, the title of the sophomore album from Baauer isn’t really in reference to planet Earth - rather, it’s a loose concept record that revolves around a new world appearing within sight of ours.
"After some cinematic synth work, opening cut ‘PLANCK’ snaps into the kind of ground-shaking hip hop beat that has brought Baauer so many comparisons to TNGHT and Rustie down the years. ‘GROUP’ and ‘PIZZAWALA’ both do something similar, the latter while running at a skittering halftime.
However, while a commitment to maximalist dance sounds is the guiding principle for Baauer once again here, this aesthetic proves to be pretty elastic in terms of genres and beat patterns. ‘YEHOO’, for instance, has the drive of hard drum and possibly also Batida and these styles are also in the mix on ‘REACHUPDONTSTOP’. Meanwhile Baauer goes harder than ever on the mid-section one-two of ‘HOT 44’ and ‘AETHER’ - while the former features some juddering techno rhythms sampling Headstrong Records producer Randomer, the latter’s monstrous bass and crashing breakbeats sound like a long lost joint from The Prodigy’s golden age.
‘HOME’, towards the end of the record, also features vocals from Manchester’s Bipolar Sunshine as well as co-production from Hudson Mohawke."
Romare returns with his third studio album via Ninja Tune, ‘Home’ one for u if u like Bonobo.
"Romare’s music has always sat comfortably in both the dancefloor world and a more relaxed environment, ‘Home’ being no exception. With euphoric, uplifting moments on ‘Sunshine’ and ‘Heaven’ through to more meditative and melancholy moments on ‘Deliverance’.
“For me, the sweet point in music is when happy and sad come together,” comments Fairhurst. “When they meet in the middle, that’s what I try to create”. Both previous albums have received impressive press pick up across the board."
On&On is a consolidation of the deconstructed song aesthetic he has developed, operating at the intersection between conventional song structures and free improvisation. Now he takes this further, incorporating recurring, shape-shifting motifs and at times dissolving the boundaries between songs altogether.
"Born out of live sessions with the same core group of players as Minus: Daniel Blumberg (vocals, guitar, harmonica), Ute Kanngiesser (cello), Billy Steiger (violin), Tom Wheatley (double bass) and Jim White (drums), with the addition of electronic maverick Elvin Brandhi (vocals). As such it represents a deepening of relationships and distillation of techniques for this tight-knit group of free-playing musicians, who are loosely based around Café OTO.
The album is recorded by Peter Walsh (Scott Walker), who has captured the group’s extraordinary performances - encompassing the full expressive range of their instruments from softly-bowed melodies and tender vocal harmonies to rough-hewn scrapes, plucks and rattles - while the sound of the room and the outside world spill naturally into the sound field."
Following a four-year silence, enigmatic LA-outsider Alex Izenberg presents his sophomore album ‘Caravan Château’ via Weird World / Domino.
"Recorded largely at Tropico Beauty with Greg Hartunian (Young Jesus) and Derek Korat, and with the help of a handful of collaborators including Chris Taylor (Grizzly Bear), Jonathan Rado (Foxygen, Whitney, Lemon Twigs), Ari Balouzian (Tobias Jesso Jr) and others, Izenberg creates songs that are easy to adore but hard to define. Izenberg’s sharp songs are the bait that first brings you into ‘Caravan Château’ but that deliberate ambiguity is what brings you back repeatedly, hoping to tease out the riddles of being inside these stunning tunes."
The composition Radio Music Extended, performed by Opening Performance Orchestra, draws upon the concept John Cage brought to bear in his piece Radio Music from 1956.
"In collaboration with the Tesla Museum in Trest, whose collections include unique exhibits of radio electronic and audio-visual devices, the 72-minute piece Radio Music Extended came into being during a private live performance in July 2018. The seven members of Opening Performance Orchestra and two alternating guests operated 13 historical radio sets, dating from between 1935 and 1961. Over the past 60 years or so, the content of the broadcast band of the airwaves has significantly changed, yet the acoustic environment has remained highly variegated, providing a novel quality of sound."
Prime, unreleased bounty of concrète experiments by Belgian autodidact Joris De Laet, recalling the unleashed AI imagineering of Roland Kayn and action from the legendary IPEM Studio.
Born in 1947 in Belgium, Joris De Laet is a self-taught practitioner of avant-garde electronic music, or what he terms ‘Parametric music’. After interning with IPEM (Institute poor Psychoakoestiek en Elektronishe Muziek) in the early ‘70s under likes of Karel Goeyvaerts and Lucien Goethals, he set up the SEM Ensemble for performances of experimental music and live electronics in 1973. His work with SEM Ensemble was highlighted on an ace compilation released by Timo Van Luijk and co’s Metaphon in 2014, and now ‘Experimental & Parametric Music 1976-2017’ forms the 2nd in-depth survey of his work at the peripheries of concrète music, which ranges from ‘70s work typical of the sheer abstraction from the Euro avant garden back then, and thru to engaging contemporary works made in this century, all of which appear remarkably future-proofed by his playfully expressive touch and dynamic.
With SEM Ensemble De Laet travelled Europe and Canada performing live electronics in a tradition started by Cage and Stockhausen and carried on by likes of David Behrman and Paul Demarinis. In that vein, De Laet generates a remarkable disarray of haphazard, frazzled electronics that lead listeners into Ur electronic spaces. The CD’s accompanying 20-page text will give you a more thorough technical breakdown to his conception and definition of ‘Parametric Electronics’, and we direct you to highlights in the the buckled, jagged rhythms of ’Signalisations’ (1976) and the wildly unpredictable ‘Madmatics’ (2002) for a good indication of what you’re getting into.
Carsten Nicolai’s Noton present a masterclass in minimalist electronic discipline with Mika Vainio, Ryoji Ikeda + Alva Noto’s powerfully future-proofed Live 2002 performance, recorded at Newcastle’s Baltic arts centre.
The only known recording of the trio, as far as we’re aware, Live 2002 documents three visionary artists in seamless, indivisible collaboration segueing from sublime drone darkness (Movements 1) thru what sounds like a massive computer server centre playing dancehall (Movements 2 + 4), to fiercely dense electro dynamics (Movements 6) and passages of purest, rolling techno pressure (Movements 8), intercut with bodiless, beatless electronic frequency massages.
Being familiar with each artist’s respective, individual catalogues, we’re pretty astonished at the level of democratic control between the three singular producers. While it’s maybe possible (or pedantic) to pick out who’s doing what, and where and when, ultimately the 45 minute performance is a lesson in subtlety and restraint at the service of generating powerful, coolly organised pressure systems, without recourse to convention/cliché (delete as applicable), offering electronic sounds at the purest and perhaps even egoless. Definitely no grandstanding doofus in front of a massive IPhone screen filtering dull as fuck doofs here.
Carsten Nicolai concludes Alva Noto’s UNI-prefixed release cycle with UNIEQAV, the 3rd and most dancefloor-focussed instalment of the series. The follow-up to Unitxt  and Univrs  pairs pendulous minimal techno and electro rhythms with wide, sheer electronic drones in a way that strongly recalls recent Monolake output as well as Ilpo Väisänen in full swang. Comparisons aside, though, it’s unmistakably Alva Noto.
Pursuing the project’s roots in the dancefloor of Tokyo’s UNIT club to a satisfyingly logical endpoint, Nicolai rolls out 12 typically mercurial yet gripping sound designs defined by their fluid dynamics and seemingly fathomless dimensions intended to render the club or your head underwater, thanks to a still remarkable grasp of purified tonal minimalism/maximalism and studied sensitivity to proprioception.
The results are filigree yet robust, firmed up for deployment on the sickest sound system you can lay your hands on, but also highly pleasurable in a headphone or sofa-inclined context, keeping us rapt and twitching from the dubwise plong and looming pads of Uni Sub and the Robert Henke-esque pressure systems of Uni Mia.
The nervous skeleton of Uni Version flows into singular Alva Noto sounds in the jabbing pointillism of Uni Clip and the staggering scale of Uni Normal, with major highlights in the widescreen drama of Uni Blue, and footwork-like rapid movement join Uni Edit, while Anne-James Chaton’s vocal lend a sharp contrast in Uni Dna.
Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto share recordings of their show at Sydney Opera House in 2018, yielding 80 minutes of sublime, glassy electronics; minimal but full of that light-handed emotive brilliance Sakamoto seems to always supply so generously, and with such little effort. Gorgeous, moving music.
“Last year the duo undertook a series of live events entitled ‘TWO’ at Berlin’s Funkhaus, Barcelona’s Theatre Grec (closing Sonar Festival’s 25th Anniversary), London’s Barbican Centre and Melbourne’s Hammer Hall, before culminating at Sydney Opera House, where their two hour set was recorded and edited down, forming this album.
“’TWO’’s pulsing, immersive live performance melded electronic and analogue instrumentation with striking visuals to create one of the most precise, beautiful and challengingly magnetic pieces we have ever had the privilege of staging. That Sakamoto and Noto are pleased enough with the recorded result to share its continuously unfolding, sinuous, questioning music with others is as singular an honour as it was for Sydney Opera House to host them." Ben Marshall - Head of Contemporary Music, Sydney Opera House.
Sharing a deep simpatico synergy, Alva Noto’s abstract electronic formalism contrasts and compliments Sakamoto’s exquisitely elegant piano finesse, which incorporates an individualistic take on classical, contemporary, minimalism and even a touch of jazz. At points melodic, atmospheric, gently rhythmic, textural and spatial, audio headspaces range from intimate and serene womb-like flotation, infinite fathoms of dark metaphysical expanse and moments of devastatingly poignant beauty.
The sparing, subtle use of parts populating the mix belies a deceptively effective whole, which indicates two masters’ skill and confidence in being able to say something profound with an intentionally restricted sonic vocabulary. At all times the album maintains a calm poise, and despite its improvised nature withholds an innate harmony and graceful order. Like two aural architects free-drawing, this is sound design for better living.”
Proper, um, conceptronica from Alva Noto + Anne-James Chaton, bridging Middle Ages texts and modern electronic minimalism to reflect on how we perceive ourselves in the digital world
“ALPHABET takes its inspiration from the Etymologies of Isidore of Seville – a gargantuan encyclopaedia from the seventh century and the most widely-used textbook of the Middle Ages. TakingEtymologies as its starting point, ALPHABET explores the strategies man devised to represent the world and applies them to the digital age. It’s a piece that invites the spectator to immerse themselves in the multiple relationships between, language, its digital translations and our understanding of the world.
It’s the latest in many collaborations between the pair. Their various projects blend machinery and language, creating a dense electronic sound structure. With ALPHABET – also being released as a record – they speak a new language generated by the fusion of objective poetry and minimal music.”
Wu Hen is the second album from Peckham's Kamaal Williams.
"Bringing groove back to the forefront, Wu Hen oscillates between celestial jazz, funk, rap and r&b reinforced with the rugged beat-heavy attitude of grime, jungle, house and garage – a self-styled fusion Kamaal describes as Wu Funk.
New players on this record include LA’s Greg Paul on drums (of Kalayst Collective), Rick Leon James on bass, Quinn Mason on saxophone alongside a vocal feature from Kaytranada collaborator Lauren Faith. Multi-talented renaissance musician Miguel Atwood-Ferguson (who has worked with Ray Charles, Flying Lotus, Dr. Dre, Mary J. Blige, and Seu Jorge) contributes signature strings, which add vivid colour and rich depth, evoking vintage David Axelrod.
Kamaal rose to prominence with the hugely acclaimed Yussef Kamaal alongside drummer Yussef Dayes and a catalogue of 12”s for imprints such as MCDE, Eglo, and Rhythm Section as Henry Wu that became essential DJ tools. In 2018 he launched Black Focus Records with the Kamaal Williams debut The Return, which charted in the UK and saw sold out shows and festival appearances across Europe, North America and Asia."
"The music on Prophecy was made during an intense period of climate-related disasters in my home of Australia last summer that seemed to represent the beginning of a strange new way of existing on Earth.
The pieces were developed in the space of four weeks at my home, and then captured in a single day of studio performances. As a result, the music is as much an assemblage of moments from the days leading up to the recording (stepping into my garden to be greeted by a dark pink sun against a brown sky, and ash gently raining on me) as it is a reflection of how I felt in the moment playing them live in the studio.
In the short time since, we’ve gone from staying inside and wearing face masks because the city was completely surrounded by fire, and the air filled with acrid smoke, to staying indoors to stop the spread of a global pandemic.
Prophecies often foretell of the end of the world, and it wouldn’t be unreasonable to say things have felt a little apocalyptic down here for the last several months. Yet, despite decades old studies predicting catastrophic bushfire seasons in Australia, we’ve been living in an era where science seems be have become an ideological choice for those elected to represent our best interests.
Put simply, I believe recent events are all part of the broader theme of sustainability. In the face of this, it’s inevitable to question the very purpose of making music, and how it can contribute to the discourse at a time like this. I’m not a scientist, nor a policy maker. I don’t even consider myself to be an activist. I’m a musician. Music has been the prism of my existence as long as I can remember, and I think at its heart music should be a form of storytelling.
It seems to me that humans are inherently dynamic in nature, and that our current culture in many ways has stalled in its dynamism. We’re searching for a narrative to direct us in the face of an uncertain future. For some this means retreating to the past, turning inward, and for others, it means looking forward, opening up. I’ve come to realise that the pursuit of performing solo over the last few years has been my unconscious response to the feeling of cultural stasis that’s pervaded the world as a result.
I often think of something that the great saxophonist/composer Wayne Shorter said: “Play and write music the way you want the world to be”. If nothing else, I’d like my music to present the possibility of a way a being; a space that is dynamic in its intent – drawing on the language of the past, yet responsive to the moment, interpreted with tools of the present, and open to the narrative of the future being one that has yet to be told.
Despite the seismic shifts that society is currently experiencing, I sense an exciting opportunity for progress rather than retreat, and as an artist, I can only contribute the best way I know how; to make music in the way I want the world to be."
- Laurence Pike
First Lady of English folk, Shirley Collins meets Cyclobe again on a welcome follow-up to the octogenarian’s 2016 album ‘Lodestar’ then her first in nearly 40 years. Ossian Brown of Cyclobe (and Coil, big Shirley fans) lends exquisite atmospheric touches that help bridge her old world charms into 2020.
“Heart's Ease follows 2016's Lodestar ; which on its arrival, seemed like a musical miracle — an enthralling new album from a woman who is widely recognized as England's greatest female folk singer, but who had not recorded an album for 38 years.
With Heart's Ease , Shirley delivers a record even stronger than Lodestar , having completely regained her confidence, and singing so well that you can't believe she was away for so long. As Shirley put it, “ Lodestar wasn't too bad, was it? But when I listen to it, it does sometimes sound rather attempt. I had to record it at home because I was just too nervous to sing in front of somebody I didn't know. This time I was far more relaxed - even though I went into a studio. ”
Recorded at Metway in Brighton, Heart's Ease is as compelling and original as Shirley's great albums from the '60s and' 70s. There are traditional songs, of course, from England and the US, but there are also more new songs than in the past (four non-traditional tracks). There's even a burst of experimentation that hints at possible new directions to come.
In her second comeback album, Heart's Ease . Collins' intriguing choice of songs includes two with lyrics by her first husband Austin John Marshall , a graphic artist and poet who produced several of her albums; he also had the inspired idea of getting Shirley to work with blues / jazz / world music guitarist Davy Graham on the extraordinary album Folk Roots, New Routes in 1964. There are more family memories with “Locked In Ice”, written by Dolly's son, the late Buz Collins . The most startling new piece is the finale, “Crowlink”, named after a pathway on the South Downs overlooking the English Channel “where I love to be,” in which Shirley sings against a moody, atmospheric fusion of Ossian Brown ’s hurdy-gurdy, with electronica and field recordings of waves and sea birds from Matthew Shaw .
Heart's Ease is a glorious reminder that Shirley Collins is still in a class of her own, both as a folk singer with a distinctive no-nonsense style that is all her own, and as an innovator. And she certainly doesn't intend this album to be her last. “I have such a huge memory of songs, so many of which I still want to sing. And I wasted all those years not singing, so now I've got to catch up a bit! ”
Dunno why but Amazon are currently selling this cd for £45 lol. Anyway, properly tripped out to this - if yr into Guqin recordings - this is really, really good. Historical recordings made between 1956 and 1989 – Notes by Georges Goormaghtigh.
"Mrs Tsar Teh-yun (1905-2007) was not only a poet and calligrapher, but a fervent musician and eminent teacher. She devoted much of her long life to teaching the qin, the antique seven stringed zither, at a time when the heritage of the ancient culture was threatened with extinction in China. This refined, demanding music, seen by the literati as a path to self-awareness, has here been recorded by her pupils in the very place where it was taught, the Yinyin Study, “The room of the unfathomable virtue of the qin.”
2006 recordings made by Renaud Millet-Lacombe. Notes by Georges Goormaghtigh.
"Sou Si-tai, whose playing style is pure and serene, started out by learning to play the end-blown xiao flute and the side-blown di flute with Wang Quan. In the early 1980s, he started learning the qin with Mrs Tsar The-yun, master of the Fanchuan school, disciple of Shen Caonong, an especially gifted and highly talented musician who was initiated into the arts of poetry and calligraphy at an exceptionally young age. Sou Si-tai is also a qin maker. He teaches and gives concerts in many places in the world."
Originally released in 2007 this was Thurston's first solo outing since 1995's Psychic Hearts.
“Thurston recorded primarily on acoustic guitar and bass, laying down the core of the tunes with drummer compatriot Sonic Youth's Steve Shelly and violinist Samara Lubelski, a noted player from MV/EE and The Golden Road, Hall of Fame and other awesome gatherings as well as solo artiste. Thurston grabbed John Agnello to record and mix the sucker after having a helluva good time with the bro from working on Sonic Youth's 2006 killer Rather Ripped. They decided to work in Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis' Bisquiteen studio (the top floor in J's Amherst house actually) where Dino did their Beyond album. This worked out very nicely as it allowed Thurston to yell down the stairs every time he needed a shredding guitar solo and J would trundle up, plug in and BURN.
Other guests on "trees outside..." are Christina Carter, she of Charalambides, and she of the most beatific, beautific voice on land, sea and air. One track called Honest James has Thurston and Christina singing duet against a single acoustic guitar and it is a naked groove. The otherworldly Canadian musician Andrew Macgregor aka "Gown" plays some spectacularly understated and incredible guitar and Sunburned Hand of The Man's John Moloney takes over the drum stool to absolutely flail on the pit snarling Wonderful Witches. And then there's the 20 seconds or so of primal noise wave courtesy of American noise underground genius Leslie Keffer on Off Work. Most of the tunes are lyric driven but there are a couple of majestic instrumentals like Trees Outside The Academy, which brings the album to a musical and breathless close. There's also some weird cassette tape that Thurston found at his mom's of him at 13 years old in the early 70s making some kind of sound-theatre.”
John Foxx And The Maths return with a new line-up. Former Ultravox guitarist Robin Simon joins Foxx, Benge (Ben Edwards) and Hannah Peel after previously guesting with The Maths.
"The Maths have created an album of dark, writhing glamour. Opener ‘My Ghost’ sounds like haunted static in a cold wind, the title track is a twisted glam-punk celebration of ‘the outsider’ who leaves the fringes to make himself visible, while Foxx switches to a sinister Ferry-esque croon on ‘Tarzan And Jane Regained’.‘New York Times’ is a report back from the city of the 1970s, with Foxx’s vocals gently coaxing out the vulnerability of its street characters and Factory stars, while ‘Last Time I Saw You’ revels in an ice-cool narrative illuminated by neon-lit transformations and flickering revelations - this song is built for streets and strobes. The album ends with ‘Strange Beauty’, where Foxx sounds like an echo from the 1950s - a voice that is still searching across all these years for something just out of reach."
Soul Jazz Records’ new album ‘Kaleidoscope – New Spirits Known and Unknown’ brings together many of the ground-breaking artists involved in the new jazz scene that has developed in the UK over the last few years. Featured artists include Matthew Halsall, Yazmin Lacey, Ill Considered, Tenderlonious, Theon Cross, Emma-Jean Thackray and many, many more in this ground-breaking release.
"As well as sharing a pioneering spirit in these new artists’ approach to frontier-crossing musical boundaries, a further theme of this album is that many also share a determination to independent practices – and most of these artists’ recordings featured here are either self-published or released on independent labels. While the attention of this new wave of jazz artists up until now has been London-based, this album shows how this movement is spread across the whole of Britain (and indeed beyond).
‘Kaleidoscope – New Spirits Known and Unknown’ shows that while there is commonality in these artists’ approach to music, there is a wide variety of styles – from deep spiritual jazz, electronic experimentalisation, punk-edged funk, uplifting modal righteousness, deep soulful vocals and much more."
“Listen as if you were being told a secret” - Federico Fellini
"A companion piece to 2018’s Listening To Pictures, this second volume in the pentimento series presents eight new tracks by the music visionary, continuing his lifelong exploration of the possibilities of recombination and musical gene-splicing. Pentimento is defined as the “reappearance in a painting of earlier images, forms, or strokes that have been changed and painted over” and this is evident in the innovative production style that ‘paints with sound’ using overlapping nuances to create an undefinable and intoxicating new palette.
In classic Hassell fashion, the title can be interpreted in a myriad of ways, but perhaps the most pertinent at the moment is the human instinct to sing and play through a rain of difficulties. A future blues of indeterminate and ever-shifting shape. The album is buffered by two 8-minute plus epics at the beginning and the end - the hypnotic “Fearless” with it’s metronomic, almost Can-like rhythm, and blurry, noir-ish texture of sound emerging like car headlights from the fog; mirrored at the end of the record by the beautiful sci-fi lullaby of “Timeless”, a track with a gaseous, billowing quality as electronic clicks and bubbles float over a landscape of shimmering, glacially paced complexity. The bridge between those two worlds is no less compelling, from the frantic, spidery IDM sketch of “Reykjavik” to the collapsed-time ballad of “Unknown Wish”. Whilst containing seeds of classic ‘fourth world’ fusion, this record finds the artist still questing to create new forms and mutations of music, a thrilling window into what music could sound like in a world to come."
11 track collection of demos of all songs from the debut studio album Dry by PJ Harvey, available for the first time since 1992, and previously unreleased as a standalone album. Features brand new artwork with previously unseen photos by Maria Mochnacz.
Oh My Lover (Demo)
O Stella (Demo)
Happy And Bleeding (Demo)
Plants And Rags (Demo)