Queen of Scandi disco romance, Sally Shapiro blesses Italians Do It Better with the sheer elan of her 4th album - her first in a decade - produced by Johann Agebjörn, as per.
Descending from disco heaven 15 years since her gorgeous debut, Sally & Johan leave us heart-in-mouth again with a richly gratifying new set that dilates their style to take in shine-eyed ’90s house and trance (aka Italo’s ungentrified sibling), and new jack swing influence beside typical cues from classic Italo, synth-pop and yacht disco. Very simply, it’s been worth the wait since 2013’s ‘Elsewhere’, reprising a flawless style of airspun production and immaculate songwriting brimming with memorable hooks - an ideally transportive antidote to the modern world’s gnawing anxieties.
Admirably maintaining her enigma since the start, thanks to an absolute embargo on interviews or live performance - perhaps even more impressive in an age of gurning narcissists - Sally only finds more nuance in her sound on ‘Sad Cities’, perhaps because she doesn’t waste time faffing on socials. Nah, in our mind she subsists on cotton candy and cocktails at a designer cabin in the woods, taking daily walks in the snow and writing dance-pop diamonds in the most hyggey comfort by night. Thus ‘Sad Cities’ feels like a cashmere hug of an album, perhaps not something you wear everyday but there for when you’re feeling melancholy and fancy.
We’re not sure if you had to be born in the ‘80s or earlier for this sound to really hit (this type of romance really got lost in translation by younger generations), but it’s bang on the money for the 30+ crew, including a divine soft-focus take on Madge’s ‘Holiday’, and the plushest piano house in ‘Million Ways’, while single cut ‘Forget About You’ is a potent peach, and we’re naturally smitten by her downbeat moments in the forested glow of ‘Christmas Escape’, the dreamlike glacial disco glyde of ‘Dulcinea’, and her sultry downstroke ‘Love in Slo Motion’.
Another uniquie release by Robin Guthrie, following the Mockingbird Love EP and album Pearldiving.
"Riviera stands on its own, as a release apart from the album, featuring Guthrie’s ever present signature sound and atmosphere, displaying a refinement and maturity only found in the work of an artist working largely unfettered from the constraints of the music industry. His approach to music is perhaps more akin to that of a painter or a photographer. The adept use of light and shade, melody and counter melody, the carefully and precisely arranged instrumentation, musical textures and colorings gives his music a depth and level of detail which marks a master craftsman."
Official soundtrack for "Spencer" written by Jonny Greenwood.
"Spencer is an upcoming biographical drama film directed by Pablo Larraín (No, Jackie) and written by Steven Knight, based on the later years of the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, and starring Kristen Stewart in the titular role. The score is written by Jonny Greenwood, the lead guitarist and keyboardist of the alternative rock band Radiohead, who has written a number of acclaimed film scores such as Phantom Thread, There Will Be Blood and Norwegian Wood."
Luaka Bop's tribute to gospel performer Pastor Wylie Champion and his wife Mother Champion is a touching experience - both died while their debut was being assembled, and are memorialized here with a striking set of soulful, DIY jams.
Luaka Bop stumbled across Pastor Champion when they were readying "The Time for Peace Is Now: Gospel Music About Us". The label had come across a set of YouTube videos recorded at Oakland's 37th Street Baptist Church put together by Bishop Dr. W.C. McClinton, and Champion was a stand-out performer. His raw blues-inflected songs - recorded mostly with electric guitar and vocals, and sometimes a larger ensemble - is hard not to fall for. Sadly, as this debut album was being sorted, Pastor Champion and his wife both died within months of each other, making the collection even more resonant.
The most memorable moments here are also the most intimate - 'I Know That You've Been Wounded (Church Hurt)' is an early highlight, and features little more than Champion's voice and a delicately strummed guitar. It's simple but effective, and Pastor Champion's assertive, characteristic vocals have enough personality to carry the emotion alone. But the larger group pieces, like 'Talk To God' and the deliriously funky 'Who Do Men Say I Am' are impressively interactive, with additional singers and church call-and-response action.
bdrmm release a new EP, featuring single ‘Port’, alongside remixes by Daniel Avery, Working Men’s Club, A Place To Bury Strangers and more.
"The EP is the Hull and Leeds-based band’s first major release since their debut album, Bedroom, which was hailed as a latter-day shoegaze classic when it came out in July 2020.
‘Port’ marked a major step forward for the band. Sounding not unlike the Low of Double Negative or Hey What deconstructing The Temptations’ ‘I Know I’m Losing You’, it’s a much darker sounding song; its distorted drones and beats burst into life with frenzied guitar and howls of anguish.
This new experimental and more electronic approach was expanded as the standalone single release grew, almost accidentally, into a full EP, which features radical reworkings by Daniel Avery (a fearless, all guns blazing techno stomper); Working Men’s Club (New Order’s ‘Sub-Culture’ meets a long-lost early Warp Records classic); A Place To Bury Strangers (a feedback frenzy of total sonic annihilation); Tom Sharkett from Manchester krautpoppers W.H. Lung (DFA Records goes down to the death disco); Jonathan Snipes from LA-based experimental hip-hop trio Clipping (glitchy beats imploding into a wall of white noise); and Jordan himself, as Mouth Company, who brings proceedings to a close with a slow-mo trip-hop treatment."
Unreleased I Start Counting tracks and demos recorded in 1985 and 1986 for their album Fused (1988).
‘Re-fused’ scans for demos and studio-floor ideas that never made the cut back in the heyday of David Baker & Simon Leonard’s duo, a forerunner to their acid/prog-house works as Fortran 5 and the Kratwerkian Komputer. Although produced by Daniel Miller, this salvo of demos remains pretty cruddy in fidelity, as one might expect from a demo, which possibly lends a new charm to old tricks well known by original wavers.
On-U Sound coax classic styles from living legend Horace Andy on a batch of mostly brand new songs, but also including a heavy duty version of his Massive Attack masterwork ’Safe From Harm’
Adrian Sherwood reprises his producer role in a similar mode to his work on Lee Scratch Perry’s late career recordings, here bringing the best out of one of Jamaica’s most prized vocalists with 10 cuts that place Andy’s mellifluous croon centerstage on upfront roots reggae grooves. The more forceful version of ‘Safe From Harm’ is a highlight and symptomatic of the album’s pretty straight-played style, going easy on the dub FX to sustain the spotlight on the vocals. It’s one of the reruns of classic Horace along with the dry take on ‘Mr. Bassie’, while the rest variously takes in sugar sweet roots in ‘Watch Over Them’ and the lilting lovers sway of ‘Materialist’, and backed by warm horn section on ‘Today Is Right Here’, a brooding acknowledgement of the times delivered with timeless pathos.
Mute releases I Start Counting’s Ejected on CD for the first time.
"Initially produced on the now sold out limited edition cassette for the 2021 Independent Label Market alongside Re-fused, these two albums contain unreleased I Start Counting tracks and demos recorded in 1985 and 1986 for their albums My Translucent Hands (1986) and Fused (1988).
The duo consisting of David Baker and Simon Leonard came together to form I Start Counting in 1982. Signing to Mute in 1984, the release of their first singles ‘Letters to a Friend’ and ‘Still Smiling’ were quick to follow, both produced by Daniel Miller. My Translucent Hands and Fused established a cult following for the duo, originating amongst American suburban teens who were discovering Depeche Mode and Kraftwerk for the first time. By the early 1990s, Baker and Leonard had evolved into Fortran 5, releasing three albums for the label before returning as Komputer in 1996. Their three incarnations finally met in 2011 through the release of Konnecting…, a record that showcased the duo's pure pop junctures."
A seminal Ra comet returns on reissue orbit, effectively overlapping their bopping ‘50s selves in 1983, joined by legendary Egyptian jazzman Salah Ragab in Cairo.
Sort of a sore thumb for this era of the band, ‘Sun Ra Arkestra Meets Salah Ragab In Egypt’ depicts the dual ensembles playing to a suave, vintage, throwback bop style in assorted assemblies ranging from big band to quintet. One can only imagine the vibes at the El Nahar Studio, Cairo/Heliopolis, where they threw down these supple recordings in between live shows. It’s become a real perennial favourite in the meantime, with Strut’s new edition prepped to charm a new wave of ears.
‘Egypt Strut’ lays it down super debonaire from the front, with Ra’s burning keyboard solo locked to a deeply swingeing groove, before ‘Dawn’ rises with joyful flute soloing by Marshall Allen and opening out into proper big band charms. At its core, the rousing choral intro and jagged horn attack of ‘Ramadan’ is a massive standout, especially when it really gets into its swagger, and the Egyptian influence is perhaps most pronounced in the flute dervish and percussion of ‘Oriental Mood’ - a really classy one primed for the DJs - with the band’s more dissonant, cosmic leaning coming into play on the finale ‘A Farewell Theme’.
Grizzly Bear's Daniel Rossen finally hits out alone on 'You Belong There', exploring the "uncharted territory of adulthood" via prog-folk compositions that highlight his confident vocals and knotty, multilayered guitars. RIYL Big Thief, Dirty Projectors, Fleet Foxes.
It's surprising that Rossen has taken this long to assemble his debut full-length. 'You Belong There' is an amply large-format album that picks up where 2017's "Painted Ruins" left off; Rossen's well-read fusion of US folk, heady prog and engineering nous is still at the center of his craft.
'You Belong There' is a more mature proposition though; the jangling guitars and earnest vocals are cut with a self-aware sense of impending doom. On the album's title track, ominous strings and jazzy percussion simmer beneath Rossen's questioning vocals; it's only a short interlude, but injects the album with dreamlike thematic weight. 'Unpeopled Space' and 'Shadow in the Frame' are more trad - almost classic rock jukebox soundalikes, elevated by smart lyrical touches and a musicality that sets Rossen apart from many of his contemporaries.
Amazing Bwiti harp music from Gabon, 1989, updating tradition with layered synths to gorgeous effect with its swaying call-and-response male/female vox.
“Kadi Yombo, published in 1989, is the most successful album in the quest for a fusion between tradition and modernity in Bwiti harp music of the Tsogho people of Gabon. Combining beating rattles with a layer of synthesizers, Papé Nziengui blends in a contrapuntal dialogue characteristic of harp playing: male song in appeal and female choir in response, male voice of the musical arc and rhythms of female worship.
But above all it’s Tsogho ritual music and modern studio orchestration. The result is an initiatory itinerary of 10 musical pieces which are all milestones likely to be simultaneously listened to, danced, meditated on, and soon acclaimed. In the years since, Nziengui has traveled he world from Lagos to Paris, from Tokyo to Cordoba, from Brussels to Mexico City to become a true icon, the emblem of Gabonese music.”
Remastered and finally available officially, 'Mother is the Milky Way' is Broadcast's rare-as-you-like final release, a spellbinding set of cut-n-paste Radiophonic bleeps, movie snippets, music box eccentrics, snatched vocals and overdriven drum machine loops.
Broadcast were on tour in Australia just before Christmas 2010, when Trish Keenan contracted the H1N1 virus and was hospitalized; she died shortly afterwards from pneumonia. This tragic incident was the end of Broadcast, by then a duo of Keenan and longtime bassist James Cargill, and while the soundtrack to Peter Strickland's "Berberian Sound Studio" emerged later, "Mother is the Milky Way" is the last release that Keenan fully oversaw. Unlike 2005's "Tender Buttons", "Mother is the Milky Way" leans wholeheartedly into spectral folk and occult weirdness - it has more stylistically in common with "Broadcast and the Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age", or Keenan's lesser-heard folk project Hayward Winters.
Here, Keenan's long held obsession with Czech New Wave movie soundtracks (think Luboš Fišer's spring-loaded accompaniment to "Valerie and her Week of Wonders", or the bizarre experimental collage of Vera Chytilova's "Daisies") bubbles to the forefront. On opening track 'Creation Day The Travel Flute Way', splattered electronics and childlike recorder bleats are paired with chirpy field recordings that ooze into the grotty machine folk of 'In Here The World Begins'. 'Elegant Elephant' is even more affecting, stripping away the layers to leave Keenan's reverberating voice, a gently twanging guitar, and plodding synthesizer that sounds as if it's been pinched from an Oliver Postgate show. There's a surreal nursery rhyme quality to all this material, sounding as if Keenan's surrealist obsessions are swirled in a vortex of Grimm fairy tales and Alice in Wonderland abstraction.
Voices trap in marbled reflecting pools on 'Milling Around the Village', stop-starting against cheap guitar loops and farmyard sounds; 'The Aphid Sleeps' washes out further, all ghostly soft vocal echoes over dissonant clarinet bursts and tape delay vortexes. From beginning to end, the mini-album sounds like a privileged peek into Keenan's sketchpad - it's a personal and moving set that's all the more resonant now as it stands as Broadcast's final release. Originally issued as a limited edition tour CD of only 750 copies, it's been remastered from the original tapes and sounds crisper than ever.
Nine-track compilation of Indonesian music recorded between 1979 and 1991, compiled by Munir Septiandry of the influential Indonesian DJ collective Midnight Runners.
"This time we make a pitstop in Jakarta, in the years between 1979 and 1991, the peak of the New Order. No, not the British electronic post-punk band that enjoyed great success during this same period (although synthpop is quite popular here) but the revolutionary government of President Suharto, which could be characterized as a “dictatorship”… along with all the political repressiveness that entails.
However, at the same time, Suharto’s full-throated advocacy of foreign trade resulted in a new economic buoyancy, an expansion of tourism and culture industries, and a flourishing of the entertainment sector. Suharto aggressively courted western corporations to do business in Indonesia, which led to the need for more and more entertainment to distract the expatriates after hours.
Jakarta became a wonderland of colorful discotheques, nightclubs and restaurants that merged traditional Indonesian ambience with the sexy ultramodern pulse of the disco beat. While imported disco records dominate playlists, a local music scene has developed in parallel, with indigenous artists like Chaseiro, Rafika Duri, The Rollies and Lydia Kandou embracing the use of synthesizers and drum machines, modern studio production and influences from western pop, rock, funk, boogie, disco, jazz, yacht rock as well as Japanese “City Pop.” And from all this they are forging a distinctive Indonesian dance-pop sound that will largely remain hidden from the rest of the world… until now.
Compiled by Munir Septiandry of the influential Indonesian DJ collective Midnight Runners, Tanamur City collects some of the high points of the latter part of this era, conjuring up a world of humid nights in packed discos, no-holds-barred genre blending, fun, fashion and funkiness of a kind never before seen in Southeast Asia… and seen rarely since."
Originally released in 2003 and 2005 as limited edition 3" CDs, Broadcast's "Microtronics" sets of squelchy library electronix and analog beat loops have been spliced together and remastered.
Broadcast's romantic fixation on the Radiophonic Workshop's soundtrack work, and the library music that accompanied so many of that era's B-movies and TV shows has provided a backbone to their music since the earliest twangs of their debut single 'Accidentals'. But it wasn't until 2003's "Microtronics Volume 01", cheekily subtitled "Stereo Recorded Music For Links And Bridges", that their passion unravelled fully. These tracks aren't just Broadcast tunes with library elements, they're Broadcast's attempt at assembling proper library jams - short, sharp interludes and themes assembled from sonic elements that wouldn't sound out of place on "Haha Sound" or "Tender Buttons".
The longest track runs just over two minutes - they aren't songs, they're spry strip-lit odes to a long-gone era. Crate diggers will have a field day - with clattering live drums and burned-out electronics, there's a similar blunted atmosphere to "Microtronics" as the masses of interchangeable oddities Madlib fills his sampler banks with. Influenced by Italian mad scientists like Piero Umiliani, Bruno Nicolai and Alessandro Alessandroni, the KPM label, and roguish British eccentrics like Basil Kirchin, John Baker, and even Delia Derbyshire, these vignettes vibrate with genuine glee. It's as if being cleaved from their duties as a proper band, Broadcast were able to run wild into atmospheres they might otherwise have left on the cutting room floor - but it also gives a prescient look into their later recordings, like their collaborations with The Focus Group, and their soundtrack to Peter Strickland's "Berberian Sound Studio".
It's a varied selection too: there's the shuffle of sci-fi dancefloor number 'Microtronics 02', the ruff 'n tumble stop-start tape saturated psychedelia of 'Microtronics 04', or 'Microtronics 05' with its post-"Haha Sound" spy movie dub-jazz drum edits. The second side pushes further into the red, with the jerky bass-led 'Microtronics 13', submerged exotica jammer 'Microtronics 14', and Cluster-esque 'Microtronics 15'. It's essential business that adds deeper shades of color to their immaculate catalogue.
Laibach present their brand new album Wir Sind Das Volk (Ein Musical aus Deutschland).
"This album consists of the music from the band’s political theatre production Wir Sind das Volk (We are the People), which premiered at HAU (Berlin) in 2020. The piece was based on the writings of Heiner Müller (1929-1995), who was observed as one of the most significant German-language playwrights and poets since Bertolt Brecht.
The artwork for the new album is by the acclaimed Austrian-Irish visual artist, Gottfried Helnwein, known for his narrative reflecting upon historical and political issues. The cover features his work Epiphany I: Adoration of the Magi, which reflects upon childhood and National Socialism."
K. Leimer and Marc Barreca's fourth album, "Drowning Guides".
"Marc Barreca and Kerry Leimer have worked on a nearly parallel musical course for more than forty years. Nearly parallel because their musical paths do occasionally cross. First in 1980 with Four Pages From An Unfinished Novel on K. Leimer’s first solo album Closed System Potentials. Again during the live performance of Music For Land And Water and for the massive loop piece “Heart Of Stillness” from The Neo-Realist (At Risk) by the virtual group Savant.
Beyond basic file sharing, their recordings resolve tensions between distinct extremes of restrictive rules, defined procedures, improvisation, conscientious editing, and an ear for expansive details and contrasts. Their collaborative process is intended to subvert traditional and accepted methods of composition, instrumental voicing, signal processing, recording, and mixing with the goal of generating music that lives on the boundaries between established practice and profound impracticalities.
The search for new compositional approaches continues with Drowning Guides. The album deliberately limits their collaborative exchange to re-voicing MIDI tracks. All audio was then returned to the originator to process, edit, mix and finalize the form. The music of Drowning Guides fixates on shifting textures and voices drawn through layers of processing and manipulation, emerging as a complete and distinct audio language."
Calexico's Joey Burns and John Convertino return with their 10th studio album, El Mirador; a hopeful, kaleidoscopic beacon of rock, bluesy ruminations and Latin American sounds.
"Convening at longtime bandmate Sergio Mendoza's home studio in Tucson, Arizona, the ensemble recorded throughout the summer of 2021, crafting one of their most riveting and whimsical productions to date. Convertino, who now resides in El Paso, and Burns, who relocated to Boise in 2020, channeled cherished memories of Southwestern landscapes and joyful barrio melting pots into an evocative love letter to the desert borderlands that nourished them for over 20 years.
“El Mirador” features gossamer vocals from Guatemalan singer-songwriter Gaby Moreno, while Spanish rocker Jairo Zavala brings his signature bravado to “Cumbia Peninsula.” By working with friends and recurring collaborators, Calexico also highlights the unique social and linguistic intersections at the US-Mexico border and the magnificent possibilities of a borderless world."
Signing to a major label - even one of the calibre of Real World - seems to have been a mixed blessing for Hannah Peel. On the one hand there’s no denying the epic sense of scale that seeps through the orchestration, arrangements, the recording, mixing, mastering - everything sounds incredible, flawless (the Paraorchestra - a unique ensemble of disabled and non-disabled musicians - are clearly top tier). But on the other hand, is flawless what you wanna hear? Add enough sheen and things start to feel a bit hollow.
So while 10 minute opener 'The Universe Before Matter’ taps into a similar spot as Arve Henriksen’s still entirely untouchable 'An Opening Image’ (swear down, is there a more low-key influential piece of music in all of contemporary classical / film music, Arvo Pärt excepted?), and ‘Passage’ is effortlessly moving with its Max Richter-esque alignment of fleet-footed brass and glacial strings, it doesnt take long for things to take an overworked turn, 'If After Weeks Of Early Sun’ is more or less indistinguishable from something you might hear on Strictly.
There are moments on this album that are just inarguably great, but - not gonna lie - that's a bit of a buzkill.
Restive hyper-garage from Steel City renegade 96 Back, conjuring his soundtrack for a 360º immersive experience by Sheffield’s digital design team Human Studio.
‘The Neon Pack’ website is down, so we can’t comment on how the music relates to its object, but we can tell you that this is 96 Back showing off his sound designer chops; testing out his mutable club styles in the recoiling 2-step and whipsmart chords of ‘Hopertrope’ before jettisoning the drum anchor and conducting the silty brownian motion and chattering bot voices of ‘Taxi Requiem’ and approaching a sort of moodier hyperbaric chamber music akin to 0PN in ‘Concrete Out-Gio’.
Gnod are back with their new album Hexen Valley, via Rocket Recordings.
"Birthed in the bohemian enclave and epicentre of strange vibrations that is Calderdale in West Yorkshire, Hexen Valley’s story began in summer 2021 when a new formation of Gnod came together in a co-op house at the 200-year-old Nutclough Tavern. As always, the line-up of the collective shifted and morphed to fit circumstances, and soon they embarked on intensive jamming that was eventually captured by Sam Greenwood in Hebden Bridge Underground studios.
Inspiration struck not only from the chemistry of the four musicians in this confined room but all around - the band’s Paddy Shine cites the likes of shop noticeboard messages and pub conversations in Hebden as lyrical sparks; channeling by his reckoning the ‘valley fever’ that exists somewhere in the chasms and contrasts between the amazing light and vivacity of the valley summit and the comparative darkness of the towns below.
Meanwhile, musical shapes were making themselves known seemingly of their own volition, from ‘Still Running’, which takes shape across a sonic hinterland between Daydream Nation-style kineticism and sludged-out aggression to ‘Bad Apple’ - an entirely spontaneous piece of potent and angular post-punk intensity. Perhaps most surprisingly of all, Lou Reed’s tour-bus favourite ‘Waves Of Fear’ is hammered out with fearsome gusto into a salvo of first-take catharsis and alchemy, fit to transcend all or any oppressive atmospheres that surround.Hexen Valley is the sound of a band whose fearsome intensity is only matched by their evolutionary drive.
It’s Gnod at full power, and it’s a haunted place you might struggle to leave."
Heat-seeking, puxa-style blends of semba, merengue, kompas, soukouss, coladeira from the two Portuguese-speaking islands of Sao Tomé & Príncipe in the Gulf of Guinea
Stemming from the lively ‘Léve Léve: Sao Tomé & Príncipe Sounds 70s-80s Vol.1’ of 2019, which was crucial listening for anyone checking the roots of current Lisbon Kuduro, made by the islands’ international diaspora, this set doubles down with a dozen more super infectious and needlepoint-intricate groovers.
Similar to, yet distinct from West African styles, Africa Negra’s tunes hustle hard but playful in a sweetspot between styles, as is so often found with respectvie island musics across the world. From the chiming top line guitar melodies and percolated dreams of ‘Carambola’ to the more languid charms of ‘Gina Me Mu Mole’ its brimming with good times vibes, with wickedly off-kilter tone to ‘Saozinha’ that’s really reminding us of DJ Nigga Fox’s more recent workouts, while ‘Zun Zon Pedlelu’ plays it down and lighter with effervescent appeal, and again it’s hard not to draw liens from he distinct rhythms of ‘Qua Na Bua Nega Fa’ to the modern day permutations of Lisbon’s amazing Príncipe label.
Producer Stuart Hyatt attempts to work out what the earth sounds like using scientists and complicated recording devices, roping in assists from Laraaji, Afrodeutsche, Nathan Fake, Alva Noto and Sophia Loizou.
Sometimes a concept is doomed to overshadow any attempt to realize it musically. When Hyatt asked what the earth sounds like, we're not sure the answer was polite new age music - but that's what we've got with "Stations". It's not bad by any means (some of it is pretty great), but it doesn't answer the question, we tell you.
Thankfully, Hyatt invited a bevy of artists to push his sounds into darker places; there's too many to list, but Afrodeutsche does a fab job of turning the Savath and Savalas-esque 'Station 4' into grim cyberdoom electro, and Penelope Trappes reforms 'Station 9' into eight minutes of doomed, Lynchian dread.
Oren Ambarchi's motorik-driven 2012 slab given the 10 year reissue treatment. Severely zonked material that's a few paces from Ambarchi's usual drone-heavy fare, sounding like Faust, Can or Neu! jamming with Mahavishnu Orchestra. Highly Recommended!
Recorded in just a single day in the studio with a three piece string section (Judith Hamann on cello, James Rushford on viola and Elizabeth Welsh on violin) 'Sagittarian Domain' is one of Ambarchi's most unexpected, and disarming full-lengths. The central component on show is energy - Ambarchi palpably relishes his time in the studio, paying tribute to a few of his '70s krautrock heroes, while materializing his influences into the present. Ten years after its original release, it still sounds like little else in his catalog.
In place of the bass guitar you'd expect to hear on a Faust or Can album, Ambarchi smartly uses Moog bass, nodding to acid house structures with a clipped squelch that shifts through the piece. Eventually it builds into more electrified guitar elements, before the track reaches its important third act, adding a psychedelic string section that ultimately cuts into Gavin Bryars-esque glacial melancholia.
Green Gartside and co’s addictively sugary turning point album crops up for a masterclass in blue-eyed soul styles.
Upon its release in 1985, ‘Cupid & Psyche 85’ marked a radical leap for the once squat dwelling communists from new wave dreamers to chart-worthy pop pucker. Prior to this record they had markedly political and philosophical leanings set to a mix of almost folksy whims, disco and reggae lite, as found on a handful of Rough Trade releases, but with ‘Cupid & Psyche 85’ they mounted a sly assault on the charts, drawing on Green Gartside’s love of Aretha Franklin’s aching soul for a far more polished sound that would parallel the likes of Prefab Sprout’s entry to the US billboard charts.
In many ways its not hard to draw lines between Gartside and the Sprout’s Paddy McAloon; both are reclusive genius types who saw the other side of the pop machine and disliked it, and both made some of the ‘80s greatest power moves, as Scritti Politti did with the likes of ‘Absolute,’ which now uncannily reminds us of trotting around Co-Op during early lockdown (it was on their in-store radio A-list), and the natty funk of ‘Wood Beez,’ their seminal prayer for Aretha Franklin, which is coincidentally co-produced by Arif Mardin.
Tinderstick's 30th anniversary release, and their first "best of" compilation, Past Imperfect: The Best of Tindersticks '92-'21.
‘Past Imperfect…’ showcases collected works throughout Tindersticks' rich history, with the addition of one new track. It is in chronological order and split in to 4 sections/2 halves – the first half being the original line up of the band with Al Macaulay (drums), Mark Colwill (bass) and Dickon Hinchliffe (violin, guitar, string arrangements). The second half is the present-day line up with Earl Harvin (drums) and Dan McKinna (Bass, piano, string arrangements). Stuart. A. Staples, Neil Fraser (guitar) and David Boulter (various instruments) are always present.
There are two songs from Claire Denis films – ‘Tiny tears’ from ‘Nanette et Boni’ (’96) and ‘Both Sides of the Blade’ from her latest film ‘Avec amour et acharnament’ (’21). There is also the version of ‘Willow’ sung by Stuart, rather than Robert Pattison who sang the version in ‘High life’ (’19).
“Nobody was between us and the records that we made,” says Tindersticks frontman Stuart Staples. Mavens of intimate and expansive mood-song, Tindersticks have forged paths of their own unobstructed making over three decades, avidly trend-averse in their dusky and far-reaching explorations of the heart. Released through City Slang on 25th March, Past Imperfect: The Best of Tindersticks ’92-’21 maps the band’s 30-year journey across a peerless 20-track chronology. “Each step a story,” as Staples said on “How He Entered”. And every song a fresh twist in a winding tale. It is the sound of an uncommonly ambitious band always seeking new ways to connect with their songs, rediscovering themselves as a unit at every turn so that everything familiar about their music sounds fresh again. Always, of course, by nobody’s measure but their own."
Manny horn player, bandleader, writer and activist Angus Fairbairn, aka Alabaster Deplume, digs deep on GOLD, a forking double-album of big-hearted jazz that unspools the past to root itself decidedly in the present. RIYL Angel Bat Dawit, Duval Timothy, Makaya McCraven or Sam Gendel.
Fairbairn doesn't hide behind his musical skill - he's completely open-hearted on GOLD, using anecdotes, good humor and witty poetry to ask listeners to love themselves and each other, without sounding completely crunchy Los Angeles. It's his Northern wit and soft accent that spikes his message with a self-deprecating honesty, so when he half-sings that he still remembers his dealer's phone number but forgets his own worth on 'Don't Forget You're Precious', you completely believe him.
Assisted by a large ensemble of vocalists, instrumentalists, synth wizards and percussionists, Fairbairn rattles through a library-referencing sound that straddles jazz history. It's neither heady improv nor skronky modernism, but slicked with references to big band, folk, gospel, blues and funk without descending into choppy eclecticism. The glue is Fairbairn's voice, that wisps through the luscious instrumental backdrops like fairy dust, stopping riffs short of being overfamiliar or dusty drums from falling into nostalgia. He's got charm in spades too, charging that open hearted spirit thru his collaborators.
Another wildly lush sounding record from the irrepressible International Anthem Recording Co.
Tirzah's second album is a fuzz'd-aut, narcotic dreamscape, all screwed trip-pop soulfulness and buzzing, chaotic layers of harmonic noize and hazy ambience. An even slower burn than her cult debut, "Colourgrade" is subtly surprising and calmly mindblowing - co-produced again with Mica Levi and Coby Sey plus an additional stealth production job from Kwake Bass & Dean Blunt. Yeah, Next level.
There's something about the way "Colourgrade" was recorded that makes each song sound like a memory, or a blast of familiar warmth from another room. But Tirzah hasn't doused her "Devotion" follow-up in cheap nostalgia or genre signalling. She uses memory as a creative tool, to sketch the outlines of songs and emotions in charcoal before she inks her evolving narrative. This time the songs are broadly structured around motherhood, being written after the birth of her first child and right before the arrival of her second. In her own words, they detail the process of "recovery, gratitude and new beginnings."
Since "Devotion" was released in 2018, we've witnessed a resurgence of interest in lo-glo trip-hop flutter, and since lockdown the home listening mood has been amplified. But Tirzah smartly swerves this obvious route, retaining the soulful downtempo loveliness of her debut but pepping it up with dissociated abstraction, pensive glaciality and smoove, slippery romanticism. In contemplating motherhood and the bond between parent and child, she creates musical swaddling that feels soothing but doesn't resort to cheap thrills.
The title track cracks open the record with timestretched words and rubbery synths melted over brassy bass sounds in arhythmic cacophony. Whistles take over completely and the expected beat never arrives; it's like a soulful acapella injected into a mercifully short psychedelic voyage. Advance single 'Tectonic' offers us the decelerated groove we may have been expecting, with icey cold vocals over downsampled funk that's half '96 Tricky and half '21 Taz & Meeks.
At its best, "Colourgrade" is unsettlingly simple. On its surface the Dean Blunt co-produced 'Recipe' is a stark vocal over a squashed half-speed beat, but repeat listens tear the seal off the tub, letting the prismatic warmth of complex emotionality haze into the atmosphere - it's just so good. The album's longest piece, 'Crepuscular Rays' is also its most uncompromisingly strange, with Tirzah's disembodied, mutated voice dripping like strawberry syrup over creamy phased waves of strummed electric guitar.
One of the most satisfying and consistently surprising records we've heard in 2021 so far, "Colourgrade" feels as sentient and unpredictable as the new lives that inspired it. It's gonna keep on growing.
Parlophone presents the Remixes album from Kraftwerk, an updated version of the 2020 digital compilation of the same name, now yours on vinyl for a mere £47 lol.
"Featuring mixes that were originally released between 1991 and 2021, by some of the worlds biggest DJs and Producers including François Kervorkian, Orbital, Underground Resistance, DJ Rolando, William Orbit and Hot Chip."
Deaf Center's Erik K Skodvin returns to his Svarte Greiner project with a “zen music for disturbed souls” recording made in the bunkers of a disused brewery.
Made up of two lengthy tracks, "Devolving Trust" is another voyage across the Styx guided by Skodvin's patient strings, groaning with conspiratorial anguish. Skodvin uses silence here more than ever before, leaving the fx and electronics of his earlier material completely by the wayside, and instead tearing at strings and utilizing the booming room's natural reverb to enhance to the pitch-black sound. It's music for the end of the world - angry and mournful simultaneously, simmering with anxiety.
June 2021 marked the tenth anniversary of the worldwide release of Bon Iver's sophomore release Bon Iver, Bon Iver.
"To commemorate the occasion, the band and 4AD will release a limited edition reissue of the influential album - Bon Iver, Bon Iver (10th Anniversary Edition) - on CD and LP on 14th January, 2022. This edition features five songs from Bon Iver’s beautiful AIR Studios session, which captures the grand spirit of Bon Iver, Bon Iver and distils it into sharper focus, as Justin Vernon and Sean Carey perform the songs as a duo, on grand pianos and vocals only.
Bon Iver, Bon Iver (10th Anniversary Edition) features a blind embossed version of the original cover art and an intimate personal essay from long-time fan Phoebe Bridgers recalling how the “massive, sprawling, unbelievably complex” album brings about both yearning for yesterday, contentment for the present, and collective hope for the future. The album’s iconic cover art has been reimagined to a minimal white-on-white, with a white LP to match."
Fifth studio album from Charli XCX on Atlantic, "CRASH".
"The iconic global pop star Charli XCX, releases, her highly-anticipated album Crash including 'New Shapes’ featuring Caroline Polachek and Christine and the Queens.
Producers and collaborators include A. G. Cook, George Daniel, Deaton Chris Anthony, Lotus IV, Caroline Polachek, Christine and the Queens, Oscar Holter, Digital Farm Animals, Rina Sawayama, Ian Kirkpatrik, Jason Evigan, Justin Raisen, Ariel Rechtshaid, Ilya, Oneohtrix Point Never, Jon Shave and Mike Wise."
Tight selections from Leon Vynehall on his omnidirectional Fabric mix, encompassing 33 cuts by everyone from NWAQ to A.k.a. Adrix and Ana Roxanne, plus a handful of his own
Arriving a few years since his DJ-Kicks mix, and his interim album ‘Rare, Forever’, Vynehall tends toward his Afro-Latin rhythmic and electronic music obsessions for this new set, joining the dots between beatdown, dancehall, deep house, Kuduro, dubstep, and post-punk experiments in his slick flow of transitions. Exclusive to the set are a pair of Vynehall’s own works, the new age ambient positivity of ‘Climb into the Cistern’ and sunny day UKG swang of ’Sugar Slip (The Lick)’.
Tellus is the quartet Action & Tension & Space's fourth album, and their debut on Rune Grammofon.
"The band describe themselves as a spaced out, instrumental loungerock outfit, with added vibes of folk music, jazzy surf, psychedelia, free improvised chill-out, jangly post-rock and travelling bass.
Being something of an allstar team from the fertile psychedelic spacedrone scene in Haugesund on the westcoast of Norway, the members also pay their dues in bands like Electric Eye, Lumen Drones (ECM), Undergrünnen and The Low Frequency in Stereo. On “Tellus” they are joined by Sigbjørn Apeland, a much esteemed musician largely operating in a landscape of folk music, church music and improvisation.
With “Tellus” ATS heads into the Hardangervidda (the big plains connecting the eastern and western parts of southern Norway) terrain of wide open spaces, spare vegetation and unruly weather conditions, especially during the winter. The album was recorded in a small studio in Haugesund during two days of heavy rain showers and stormy winds rumbling outside the windows."
Dusty, childlike and innocent near-hauntology that perches awkwardly between Panda Bear, Virginia Astley and an Oliver Postgate soundtrack.
Glasgow-based Turkish producer Isik Kural came up with the ides for "in february" in 2019, when he was visiting Istanbul. He stopped by the Babajim Recording Studio for a session and began to play a piano, and it inspired him to start looping the melodies that open the album on 'pillow of a thought'. Distorted through a haze of tape saturation and echo, it takes on a hazy characteristic, sounding as if it was recorded decades ago - like Virginia Astley's iconic 'In Gardens Where We Feel Secure' dubbed to reel-to-reel by William Basinski. It's across this base that Kural sings with a childlike hesitance, preventing the track from becoming too self-serious.
The balance between experimental touches and childish playfulness sits at the core of 'in february', from the stop-start Oliver Postgate string rattle of 'simdi iki' through the gentle hum of 'paperhat', to the church on a Sunday organ and musicbox fuzz of the memorable 'pineapples and lime'. Vocalist spefy spices up single 'coral gables' with her jazzy tones, and re-appears on the cascading 'yeniden' and 'berceuse', the album's most disarming track.
Western Vinyl presents Retreat To Bliss by Tom Rogerson.
"Listening to Retreat to Bliss feels almost like eavesdropping, as though you’re crouched in the belfry of a Suffolk church, bearing witness to a form of musical bloodletting. For the first time in his noteworthy career, Rogerson has combined masterful piano playing and subtle electronics with the texture of his own voice, an attempt to express deeply private emotions that were difficult to articulate using instrumental music alone.
“The last few years have brought some struggle, some joy, and a lot of change. My response has been to retreat to what I trust the most: the piano, my voice, and the landscape I grew up in. That’s how the album got its title, and how I came to be ready finally to release a solo record.”
The eleven tracks that make up Retreat to Bliss were recorded by Leo Abrahams (Brian Eno, David Byrne, Grace Jones) over the course of just a few days, a process that emphasized spontaneity and the artist’s own commitment to improvisation.
Secular yet devotional, intensely personal yet profound, the experience of listening to Retreat to Bliss seems to evade characterization. It’s physical and emotional, a glimpse into the mind of an artist who has chosen exposure over withdrawal, who uses his command of the piano to chart an unflinching path
forward, never looking back."
Aldous Harding's new studio album "Warm Chris", the follow-up to 2019’s "Designer".
"An artist of rare calibre, Aldous Harding does more than sing; she conjures a singular intensity. For Warm Chris, the Aotearoa New Zealand musician reunited with producer John Parish, continuing a professional partnership that began in 2017 and has forged pivotal bodies of work (2017’s Party and the aforementioned Designer). All ten tracks were recorded at Rockfield Studios in Wales, the album includes contributions from H. Hawkline, Seb Rochford, Gavin Fitzjohn, John and Hopey Parish and Jason Williamson (Sleaford Mods)."
Portland psych-rockers Eternal Tapestry might just have come up with their greatest offering to date with ‘Beyond the 4th Door’.
The core trio of brothers Nick and Jed Bindeman (Jed, you might recognize from Type Records’ Heavy Winged) and Dewey Mahood are joined here by horn/synth player Ryan Carlile and bassist Krag Likins who fill out the sludgy sound perfectly, giving ‘Beyond the 4th Door’ the unmistakable sound of the late 70s. Every inch of the recording sounds authentic, so much so that you can practically smell the incense – the tape-recorded saturation on the bass notes and drum hits is infectious and paralyzing, and the compositions only back up this surface fizz. While the band are associated with renowned free-rockers Jackie O’Motherfucker, I get the feeling that Eternal Tapestry retain a little more focus and a less prone to ‘freak out’ than their buddies at chez weirdo. Although these songs are, for the most part extended jams (one could even say the album is a complete track, chopped into smaller parts for our listening pleasure) it never loses the plot, never really noodles and never gets too cloyingly ‘druggy’ for its own good. This is a sterling effort, but easier to understand given the members’ pedigree. It’s been tough over the last few years to eke out the decent psych rock from the turgid piles of post Sunburned drivel, but Eternal Tapestry are, I’m happy to say, as good as it gets. Subscribe now and reserve yourself a few hours, a prayer rug and a jar of moonshine, you won’t be disappointed.
Completely genius material from lesser-known Belgian early electronic innovator Léo Kupper, who founded Brussels' Studio de Recherches et de Structurations Electroniques Auditives. This extended collection sweeps up his wide-ranging experimental electronic works, using hand-made synthesizers, hotwired loudspeakers, pickups and tape machines.
Léo Kupper's work has appeared occasionally over the years, but the Belgian composer's sky-scraping weirdness has never given him quite the same platform as his French GRM peers. This generous set aims to refine his appeal, and paints an impressive portrait of the virtuoso artist and inventor. Kupper initially studied musicology at the Liège Conservatory, becoming an assistant to Belgian serialist Henri Pousseur, who had recently founded the Apelac Studio in Brussels in 1958. In 1961, influenced by musique concrète and electro-vocal experiments, Kupper invented what he called the GAME machine: Générateur Automatique de Musique Electronique. Using a series of tape machines to record loops from loudspeakers and mic pickups, sounds were then fed to musicians who opened automatic channels, triggering elements to blare from speakers. This was in turn picked up by the same machines and replayed - it worked as a completely unique musical instrument, and was the central component of Kupper's method. A few years later, he started his own studio and set about recording a catalogue of over fourty works using his arsenal of hand-made instruments.
The set of eleven long compositions included on "Complete Electronic & Voices Works 1961-1987" showcases Kupper's GAME system, and sounds unlike anything else from the concrète/electro-acoustic canon. Kupper's innovative method gives him not just human control over his electronics, but a feeling of random serendipity, as if things were happening because the system let them happen. At times, the pieces sound like a duel between man and machine - a push and pull between the synthetic and the organic that Kupper accents with layers of vocal interventions.
The earliest piece 'Automatismes sonores', is a rare long-form work that focuses almost exclusively on squealing electronic modulations, but even here Kupper retains the texture and patterning of voices. On the aptly titled 'Electro-poème' from 1963-74, guttural sounds and syllables are chopped alongside similar electronic elements, while 1979's 'Kouros et Korê' contorts a woman's voice into elastic squeaks and burps, occasionally erupting into fully formed French dialect.
'Amkea' from 1983-85 brings song forms into the mix, and drifts from operatic phrasing to folk chants and nursery rhymes, in its surreal abstraction, the piece makes connections between musical forms while 1987's epic 'Litanea', delves into church music, processing chants into discomforting drones and awkward, dense phrases, juxtaposing virtual plainsong with frothing electronic punctuations.
The second disc focuses on Kupper's late '70s and '80s work, where he combined eerie FM synth sounds with operatic voices and unsettling radio chatter. It's brilliant stuff that sounds alien, transcendent and years ahead of its time even now. If you're into anything from Pierre Schaeffer and Dick Raaijmakers to Maja Ratkje and Keith Fullerton Whitman, this one's an essential listen.
Jazz ensemble Master Oogway >> Håvard Nordberg Funderud – guitar and 12-string guitar Lauritz Heitmann Skeidsvoll – saxophone, Martin Heggli Mellem – drums, Karl Erik Hornsdalsveen – double bass, Henriette Eilertsen – flute.
"Back in 2020, Kafé Hærverk, Oslo’s live hotspot for a wide range of jazz and experimental music invited Master Oogway to do monthly concerts from August to December, bringing along a guest for each occasion. Two had to be moved to 2021 due to Covid restrictions, but the other three were recorded for possible use later. Initially we thought about doing a “best of” from all of the recordings, but after further listening it soon dawned on us that the concert with Henriette was nothing less than magical.
To make room for the 45 minute vinyl edition, we had to drop one of the five pieces that were played on the night, and also make two minor edits. Other than that, this is what was played, there are no overdubs or cosmetic treatments. The album was brilliantly mixed in Athletic Sound by Dag Erik Johansen. Henriette Eilertsen (28) is part of the fertile and exciting environment around the Motvind label, and a member of Billy Meier and Andreas Røysum Ensemble. She released her solo debut “Poems For Flute” on Motvind in 2021.Håvard Nordberg Funderud (28) finished his bachelor at the Norwegian Academy of Music in 2018 and also studied in Gothenburg and Copenhagen. He is involved in several projects, Master Oogway being his priority.
Lauritz Lyster Skeidsvoll (28) and Karl Erik Horndalsveen (27) are both educated from the same academy in Oslo as Håvard, while Martin Heggli Mellem (25) is educated from the jazz program at NTNU in Trondheim.“Happy Village” is Master Oogway’s third album, their second on Rune Grammofon. The music on the previous outing two years ago (“Earth And Other Worlds”) was all written by Håvard, while the music on “Happy Village” is written by Karl Erik, one track co-written with Håvard. “Happy Village” finds the band in a more lyrical and exuberant mood than before, in no small part due to Henriette’s beautiful contributions. Tracks Heading Home, Happy Village, Speech!, Whispering TownsfolkHenriette Eilertsen is part of the fertile and exciting environment around the Motvind label, and a member of Billy Meier and Andreas Røysum Ensemble. She released her solo debut “Poems For Flute” on Motvind in 2021. Håvard Nordberg Funderud is involved in several projects, Master Oogway being his priority."
Our Lady Susanna of Norway yields a gorgeous, pastoral-toned dream sequence of songs and concrète scenery, aided by Delphine Dora and Stina Stjern, and co-produced by her creative/life partner Deathprod.
Marking just over 10 years of releases on her SusannaSonata label, ‘Elevation’ amplifies the oneiric nature of Susanna’s music after the more plaintive staging of her ‘Baudelaire & Piano’ suite and her ‘Live’ recordings of cover versions with sibling David Wallumrød, in recent years. Dreamy Susanna is our favourite Susanna, and ‘Elevation’ is just the ticket if you feel the same way, seeing her in a “time travelling” pursuit of more esoteric muses in what she terms “an intuitive and collective ceremony of the ethereal and mystical in life.” While there’s a direct connection to ‘Baudelaire & Piano’ in her use of the poet’s lyrics sometimes set to keys, there’s a much more impressionistic play of light/dark tones, textured mise-en-scene and nods to early choral music that place ‘Elevation’ in the top shelf of her work.
Locating a renewed strength in collaboration, the tracks are duly credited as such, with Susanna found solo on a quartet of way markers, from the opening torch song of ‘Alchemy of Suffering’, to the aching title song, and the curtain closing ‘Destruction’, with the rest best defined as duo works. It’s in those parts where the album really takes shape, handing over the performance of Baudelaire’s french writing to Delphine Dora in contrasting highlights such as the haunting, near sepulchral organ bedding and swaying duet of ‘Ciel Brouillé’, and vignette-like passages fringed by babbling brooks and birdsong, as with ‘L’aube Spirituelle’. Likewise Stina Stjern also lends a quietly vital touch of tape-recorded atmosphere following her work on the Hieronymus Bosch project ‘Garden of Earthly Delights’, most enchanting on the BoC-like play of flutes and aleatoric rustle in ‘Rose-Pale Dawn’ and the utterly captivating silhouette of ‘In Shared Ecstasy’.
A Compound Full of Bones, Translucent Thousands, by experimental trio Jan Bang, David Toop, and Mark Wastell.
"The trio’s music creates a strong sense of place, yet you can’t quite put your finger on the exact location. There are crescendos that remind me of the vibrant frenzy once experienced in the Amazonian rainforest. Jan Bang injects into the mix both snippets of his co-creators’ performances and samples collected over time for deployment in just the right context. We hear faint orchestral swells and then voices, both spoken and sung, the recordings degraded so far as to be barely recognisable. These add a strange authenticity to this imagined territory, the acoustic purity of Toop and Wastell’s instruments providing a counterpoint that expands the stage.
Deep listening reveals some beautiful passages where all else subsides but for the elegance of a simple motif. None is more perfect than the gentle melody that emerges to bring resolution in the final moments.
A Compound Full of Bones, Translucent Thousands has an eloquence that transcends both the circumstances of its creation in a small London studio and the finely-honed technique of each individual artist. Expressive, alluring: music with which to share your time and imagination. "
Japan’s Meitei reprises his cultish role as medium for a fading traditional culture with the 2nd of his ‘Kofu’ sessions, following from the ghost storytelling of his prized albums ‘Kwaidan’ & ‘Komachi’.
Meitei bequeaths a dozen further vignettes from the sessions behind the first ‘Kofū’ after raking back thru them and deciding the story wasn’t quite complete. Far from a leftovers album, ‘Kofū II’ feels like returning to a dream previously experienced. In a diffractive flow of fleeting passages and more richly realised (yet still spectrally elusive) parts, the album casts us back inbetween eras, conjuring a space that’s ghostly and melancholy, keeping listeners rapt like a good tale should.
Meitei’s knack for lyrical melody carries the story as much as his delicate yet rough hewn textural backdrops. It starts out tentatively optimistic with the whistling intro of ‘Megumi’ and immersively dusky plucks and cut-up vox of ‘Tōkaidō’, with his sort of frayed ‘90s backpacker hip hop chops coming into play on the looping whirligig ‘Happyaku-yachō’. Moments of reflective solitude in ‘Kaworu’ lend the album its dreamlike cadence, subliminally passing into groggy daydreams of ‘Yoshiwara’ in a way realign Christos Chondropoulos’ Athenian Primitive explorations, and peel off into the ambient flocking of ‘Shurayuki hime’, with elegant sashays such as ’Shinobi’ keeping the feeling featherlite and heady with it into the dedication to ‘Akira Kurosawa’ and the album’s warbling ancient Japanese blues on ‘Ji’.
Benge helms a cranky post-punk album with Lonelady and Stephen Mallinder, fizzy with detail and angular, chipping guitars
“'The project began a couple of years ago,' explains Julie. 'Benge had these great sketches that were beats and synth patterns, so those were the starting point. I really went to town adding lots of guitar layers and experimenting with different sounds. On some tracks the guitar is deft and rhythmic, as if mimicking sequencer patterns. On others it's a deconstructed noise-based approach - scratching strings, making fitful, heavy chunks, howls and scrapings of noise and texture.'
Due to competing solo commitments for all 3 members the tracks disappeared into hard drive exile for a couple of years. Julie continues: 'Last year we revisited the mixes and Stephen added his trademark mysterious and menacing vocals. Now we find ourselves with a finished piece of work. I thought of the name Clinker as I love its meaning: "stony residue from burnt coal". This seemed liked an apt description of both industrial and creative processes, and a nice nod to the industrial North of England.'
Stand-out tracks include Camouflage and Condition Collapsing. 'I'd forgotten how liberating it is to play bass guitar on something,' enthuses Mal. 'It compliments Julie's beautifully angular guitar, and Benge and me ripping up live percussion onto the sound of machines... As a collection of tracks these benefited from a lengthy gestation, as they follow no particular trend and were allowed to twist and turn to develop a life of their own. After successive cycles we suddenly drew it all together so the tracks have a sense of completion and identity.'
'The real fun for me was during the mixing process when Mal and I looked at each other as the rawness of the tracks hit us on the big studio monitors,' adds Benge. 'We knew we had something untameable, and wanted to preserve that feeling of edgy rawness in the mixes.’”
More than just an anthology for completists, Broadcast's bumper set of four Peel sessions is a crystalline celebration of the band's beloved discography, with a few crucial wildcards thrown in for good measure.
Anyone who managed to see Broadcast perform live will already know how just important the stage was to the sorely-missed band. From the very beginning, they managed to augment electronic music with a spiky live energy that eluded so many, and their exacting perfectionism - that resulted in delays and production woes in the early days - was honed on the touring circuit. Recorded between 1996 and 2003, "BBC Maida Vale Sessions" assembles a portrait of Broadcast's performances before they slimmed down to a duo for 2005's "Tender Buttons". Their first session came not long after the release of their first single - on the Wurlitzer Jukebox imprint, alongside fellow Brum space cadets Pram and Plone - and it was John Peel who helped oush the band to a wider audience.
Early on, the Broadcast sound was often confused with Stereolab's Gallic krautrock-cum-exotica, but there was always a hint of something more mystical or psychedelic about them. Their initial run of releases shimmered with the technicolor weirdness of 1970s TV soundtracks and the acid-eased surrealism of the US private press circuit. 'Message From Home', from 1996's "The Book Lovers EP", sounds like a cross between LA psych rock band The United States of America and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, a lysergic melting pot of Gen Z bedsit culture, juxtaposed with Trish Keenan's world-weary working class Midlands wisdom and the kind of eerie jangle you'd expect to accompany a Czech new wave movie. On the session version, the band sound as polished and effervescent as they do on the official release, but loosened up for their West London vacation.
'City In Progress' ended up on the band's 2000-released debut album proper "The Noise Made By People", but here four years before it was released, sounds closer to their "Work and Non Work" era. By the time "The Noise Made By People" came out, Broadcast had signed to Warp and cycled through recording methodologies, arriving on a raw, guitar-led focus that they came to rethink later, so hearing this version is a treat. 'Forget Every Time' is even more exciting, as the track never made it to another release; with woozy theremin-style synth and spy movie guitars, it could have easily slotted into any of their initial run of EPs.
Broadcast followed their first session with another in '97, recording fan favorites like 'Lights Out' and 'The Book Lovers'; the next time they appeared was three years later, finally promoting their debut album. When they recorded their last session in August 2003, they'd already released their jazzy second album "Haha Sound" and its stunning companion EP "Pendulum", and this material is fleshed out with a version of Nico's 'Sixty Forty' that Broadcast taped for 2009's "Warp20 (Unheard)". Together, it all makes for a remarkably cohesive listen, condensing the first few years of Broadcast's creative journey into 15 tracks.
A lushly metaphoric sort of travelogue from members of Chicago’s notoriously interrelated jazz scene, turning their trips into an etheric jazz suite - call it Baltic-not-Balearic.
With credits between them for a plethora of artists ranging from Angel Olsen to Beyoncé and Sam Prekop, Chiu & Honer call on their talents to coax a rich palette of pianos, organ, vintage synths and field recordings into swirling spiritual jazz/new age dream sequences that stem from their shared roots, playing Terry Riley’s ‘In C’ as much as their trips to the Åland Islands of the Baltic Sea. They carefully evince a feeling of the place - an archipelago of some 6,500 islands where it’s light all day in summer, dark all day during winter - as the album transitions from the late night synth wow and flutter of ‘In Åland Air’ to the library-like synth theme of ‘Under the Midnight Sun’ via gorgeous highlights of bucolic scenery in ’Snåcko’, the hazy play of ecclesiastic light in ‘Kumlinge Kyrka’, and tip-of-toe sensation to ‘By Foot By Sea’, with their nostalgic wheeze in balmiest effect on the panoramic ‘Archipelago’.
“In 2017 Jeremiah Chiu & Marta Sofia Honer traveled together to the Åland Islands (an archipelago that is host to around 6,500 islands) in the Baltic Sea between Sweden and Finland. They headed to the islands with the intention of helping two friends (mother/daughter duo Jannika/Sage Reed) barn raise a small inn named Hotel Svala in Kumlinge (a municipality consisting of a small group of islands and a population of about 320). The idea was that, once completed, Svala would host artist residencies and workshop programs, creating a direct link between the islands and the USA.
The concept of recording music there came about as Honer & Chiu learned more and more about the islands. They were taken by the serene and strange quality of the place. The sun doesn’t set in the summer (and barely rises in the winter). The network of miniature islands is traversed by ferry which, according to Chiu, “casts a surreal horizontal movement through space and time, with islands shifting into and out of periphery, totally still and calm, yet always in motion.”
In 2019 they were awarded a grant from the Department of Culture to return and perform a concert at the Kumlinge Kyrka, a 14th century medieval church adorned with incredible frescos. The concert was recorded and became source material – along with improvisations on viola and electronics, pipe organ, pump organ, piano, synthesizers, field recordings and voice memos, all captured across both their trips at various locations on the archipelago – from which they meticulously crafted a post-script in the form of 'Recordings from the Åland Islands’.”
Fearless avant garde anti-art action by key Fluxus member Milan Knízak, setting his canonical pedagogical text ‘Aktual University’ (1967) to a shattered noise backdrop, and resetting it according his “broken” methodology with mind-bending results
A deep dive into the Czech avant garde, ‘Actual Univerzita’ renders the work of illustrious Fluxus member (Director Fluxus East) and noted pedagogue Milan Knízak through his own voice and the “fraction music” action of Prague-based ensemble Opening Performance Orchestra - highly regarded for their exploration of paths ploughed by the c.20th avant garde and Japanese noise music.
Make no mistake it’s not an easy listen, but it is a fucking thrilling one, let me tell ya. The first piece features Knízak’s titular text written in 1967 - ten short lectures limning the character of the uni in terms of On Conflict, On Dreams, On Revolutions, On Love, On Belief, On Art, etc - given context and placed into fierce application by Opening Performance Orchestra at Movement-Sound-Space festival in Opava, 2019, where they bed his plaintive recital in industrial clangour, and bookend it with an introduction of nerve-shredding smashed glass (or crockery) and howling outro of demonic atonality.
On the other hand, ‘Broken Suite’ is a “studio remix” of the preceding madness, drawing on his “broken” method to realise a sweltering, omnidirectional mass of fragments and quotations from Knízak’s compositions, conceived over the past 50 years. The result will make NWW and Merzbow fiends weep with pleasure as its monstrous flux comes to resemble an orchestra tuning up in the depths of Beelzebub’s workshop. It takes on a very uncanny nature in 2022 when considering that Knízak’s work was a direct response to, and extension of, his political stance against the communist regime.
Life-affirming gear. Gird thy loins with history.
Startling unreleased work from Danish Fluxus member Henning Christiansen, who recorded this tribute to George Orwell in 1984, cutting together abstract percussion, levitational electronic fx, fluctuating drones, and abstract vocal snippets.
After visiting the USSR in 1977, Henning Christiansen - a Trotskyite - became deeply critical of Stalin. He reserved a similar judgement for the US, whose media he believed exerted a similar pressure on the populace. Christiansen also decided to paint his ear that year to remind himself to listen to nature, instead of the media and politicians - so the title "Goodday, Mr Orwell, Green Ear Year" is a reference to that. Christiansen is essentially crafting an audio answer to his thoughts on surveillance, control, and culture.
Musically, it's brilliantly evocative and understandably challenging. Christiansen is notable for having worked alongside Joseph Beuys, Nam June Paik, Bazon Brock and Wolf Vostell, and these experiences no doubt helped shape his process. Here, he shifts from atonal squealing into gruesome industrial noise and vocal manipulations, through an almost weightless drone passage into detuned piano. Apparently the piece was performed in 1984 with Christensen's son Esben, a fairly successful rock musician. The audience were so annoyed that Esben wasn't playing his usual set that they set fires and screamed at the duo, who continued to play regardless. Respect.
Danish Fluxus member Henning Christiansen's concert hall work from 1963-1988 is collected here on this bumper set assembled by the Henning Christiansen Archive. Challenging sounds for adventurous listeners.
For most of his life, Christiansen lived on the Danish island Møn, existing in relative isolation and writing music that positioned him alongside artists like German theorist and artist Joseph Beuys, and Korean-American video art pioneer Nam June Paik. Much of Christiansen's released work has concentrated on his tape experiments and soundtrack works, but "To Look Inside Music" reveals the scope of his compositions, focusing on music that was written for concert hall presentation.
A lengthy selection of work, ranging from the solemn long-form piano piece 'Op.33 Modular' and dramatic strings composition 'Op.185 Nach Wyschnegradksy', to 45-minute vocal experiment 'Op.25 To Play To Day' and near-silent set of percussive minimalism 'Op.44 Exertier', it's a revelatory experience.
Sparkling debut album of analogue synth strokes by London’s Hinako Omori, massaging Moog Matriarch and Prophet 08 into wafting arrangements inspired by forest bathing, and recorded partly at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios, circa her set for WOMAD At Home
“Bringing together therapeutic frequencies, forest bathing, and binaural sound, Hinako Omori's “a journey...” combines inner healing and natural landscapes into in an immersive cartography of the mind in ambient electronics. The album progresses not track by track but as a continuous journey; a stream of consciousness tracing hills and valleys with the warmth of analogue synthesis and Omori's voice always close at hand. It is an album with a spirit and awareness, that invites us to create a home within its sonic architectures, to find moments of peace amid our own cognitive distortions.
“a journey...” was recorded at Omori’s home studio and Real World Studios, when Omori was an invited to perform at the immersive online festival WOMAD At Home. Before the mixing session she headed out into the surrounding landscapes, capturing field recordings with a binaural head. These spatial, 3D recordings are woven throughout the album, and situate each track in different environments, from waterways to forests in and around the Mendip Hills. "I've been thinking a lot about shinrin-yoku – forest bathing," explains Omori. "Being in that environment reduces stress levels, it's good for well-being, improving our memory and concentration, boosting our immune system and lowering blood pressure, among many other benefits – I wanted to incorporate that into the album."
Omori is also fascinated by the physical and psychological effect of frequencies. "I’m very interested in sound therapy, brain entrainment and how certain frequencies can put our brain in certain states - alpha, beta, theta, delta," she explains. "Delta (0.5-4Hz) waves for example are said to contribute to deep restorative sleep and healing, and theta (4-7Hz) to creativity, intuition and emotional processing."
Omori detuned oscillators to create binaural beats, syncing to the Hz of our brainwaves so that listeners might further find themselves calmed by and immersed in these soundscapes, as a sort of sonic bathing and deep listening. Within this highly tuned and deeply relaxing sound world, Omori's vocals drift in and out, offering signposts and poetic lyrics that act as Rorschach-like motifs so that listeners might find their own narrative in the record.”
Composer and percussionist John Colpitts (aka Man Forever and Kid Millions) unpicks the events in his life following a car crash in 2018, using modular synthesizer and percussion to expose a tense, anxious period. Produced by Greg Fox.
When Colpitts was left with a severe back injury following the crash, he was unable to perform or work at all for months, instead channeling his creative energy into something new. 'Music From the Accident' documents a period of transformation for the drummer - who's collaborated with William Basinski, Laurie Anderson, Boredoms, and Jan St. Werner - and his usual complex drumming is completely absent from the album's first movement 'Bread'. Instead, modular pulses form euphoric, harmonic rhythms that buzz with life, using slight tonal variations to mark mood changes, before the piece slides into more psychedelic realms in the final third.
'Up and Down' was the result of sessions where Colpitts would play drums alongside overlapping synthesized pulses. After recording again and again, he eventually deleted the pulse leaving only the sprawling, spidery poly/arhythmic drums and wobbling modular tones.'Recovery', the album's most generous piece, Colpitts uses a full spectrum of instrumentation, blending microtonal viola from Jessica Pavone with complex interlocking rhythms and swirling synth patterns.
'Music from the Accident' isan album that rebuilds a sound from the ground up, working with the body as it regains the ability to feel again.