Martin Brandlmayr is an Austrian percussionist, composer and electronic artist, known as a solo artist and for his work in groups such as Radian and Trapist. ‘Vive Les Fantômes’, his first step into radio art, originally aired on SWR (German National Radio) and earned him the Karl Sczuka Prize for Works of Radio Art 2018, the highest achievement for works of radio art in Germany.
"Martin Brandlmayr on Vive Les Fantômes: “The work is based on snippets of interviews, rehearsals and performances by people whose work had an influence on my artistic path: Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Billie Holiday, Jacques Derrida, Chris Marker and many more. The process involved searching, discovering and creating connections among the material and resulted in a network of sound-objects that appear repeatedly changing their shape throughout the piece. Communication is constructed across different rooms and times, beyond the borders of language and music. ‘Vive Les Fantômes’ is not only a piece of music, it’s rather acoustic cinema with a non-linear narrative layer organized by scenes.”
Avant-garde composer and student of La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela and Jung Hee Choi, Ellen Arkbro renders sustained and harmonically opaque chords on her stunning second solo album for Subtext. More minimal and extended than her 2017 debut ‘For Organ and Brass’, 'Chords’ is a focussed study in a gradual manipulation of acoustic timbres, using subtle synthesis of organ and guitar through two extended pieces bound to generate uncanny sensations to anyone familiar with the conventional tone of her chosen instruments.
Although underpinned by mathematical rigour, Arkbro draws direct connections to sacred music through a strict method of reduction, stripping away elements in a process she likens to a sculptor chipping away at stone. What’s left is primed for a kind of mind-altering osmosis, where the listener gradually fills in the gaps, or as she tells the most recent issue of The Wire “…what you pay attention to will change what you hear”.
Influenced by her teachers and the spirit of New York’s 1960’s Downtown scene, Arkbro is meticulous in her process and use of unusual tunings to reveal strange, sustained sounds that seem to continuously change shape. This pursuit of a kind of sonic “emptiness” belies the often unearthly spatial dimensions she manages to conjur, making highly perception-based sounds that have an almost supernatural quality.
The results sit somewhere between sacred and industrial music, a listening experience with highly meditative, spiritual, sometimes disturbing qualities - quite a remarkable achievement.
Will Long aka Celer is at his patient, stately, ambient best on ‘Xièxie’, a subtly poetic suite melding locations recordings made in Shanghai with diaphanous, layered synths that elusively yet beautifully bring his subject to life
“A week before leaving, I bought a dictionary and phrasebook. Covered in rain, during the days and even the nights, Shanghai was lit in a glow, a mist turning to a constant grey fog. Buildings lined with neon and lcd screens flashed, and from around corners and behind buildings, the night was illuminated much the same as the day. Cars separated the classes, their horns voices punctuating the streets, as pedestrians in groups loosely scattered the streets, talking and walking on speakerphone.
Standing by the metro escalators, there in the square with the overhanging trees of a park, there is construction all around. The buildings seem to be climbing into the darkness at this very moment. Leaving behind and moving forward. We seem to know everything already, our illusion of experience. I imagine taking your hand, I imagined taking your hand, and the lights in the subway flicker as we go deeper. Transit bookmarks each experience, every daydream, and in the end they're interchangeable and indistinguishable between reality and imagination. Try to remember which is real.
To Hangzhou the maglev reached 303 km/h, the towering apartment buildings hunch under construction, passing by in blurs on the flat farmland landscape. I fell asleep, as you were dancing but to no music. The lilies on the lake nodded in the rain, dipping into the water. There was a Wal-Mart near the hotel where I won a pink bunny from a claw machine. I remember the beauty of the architecture of Hangzhou station, birds swirling around the pillars near the top, the echoes of the deep station interior, and the laughing at being lost. There at least we have each other, that memory, or that daydream.
Everything moves faster than we can control. Days are just flashes, moments are mixed up but burned on film, and all of the places and times are out of order. If it could only be us, only ours. If it was ours, if it was us. Sometimes everything goes faster than you can control and you can't stop, much less understand where you are. I bought a dictionary and phrasebook, but "xièxie" was the only word I ever got to use.
- Will Long, January 2019”
Sarah Davachi’s ‘Pale Bloom’ sees the preternaturally gifted composer return to her first instrument, the piano, with ineffably graceful results that incorporate vocals to spine-chilling effect.
Served in the wake of a series of albums where Sarah tested her improv mettle on everything from pipe and reed organs to analog synths - garnering a cult following in the process - her first album of 2019 confirms a versatile and bountifully prolific artist at work.
Recorded at the famed Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA, the first side is a three part suite ‘Perfumes I-III’, with the title a perfect allegory for the way her music diffuses and intoxicates with the quality of warm skin radiating gentle energy. She spends the first part coaxing keys into solemn figures and willowing overtones, seemingly in duet with her parallel, ghostly self or perhaps the spirit of Bach, setting the scene for one of most quietly devastating vocal appearances in recent memory when her (?) rich countertenor appears from nowhere in part II, channelling a richness and dreamy strangeness that transcends early choral music, torchlit blues-jazz and the kind of apparitions conjured by Akira Rabelais. The final part III of pealing drones and ultra sparse keys feels like a cats cradle to rest your head and reflect on the exquisite beauty of what just happened.
The B-side’s 21 minute piece ‘If It Pleased Me To Appear To You Wrapped In This Drapery’ provides a fine contrast and counterpoint to the sublime nature of the A-side. Here Sarah uses slowly descending and softly vibrating string pitches to conjure a more visceral, even dissonant sound that achieves something like the keening wow and flutter of a detuned analogue synth, gripping our attention like a master narrator regaling the saddest story of their life.
Don’t hesitate with this one. An essential for late night romanticists.
Fire! Orchestra, mnow a 14 piece group, still feature the core trio of Fire! (Mats Gustafsson, Johan Berthling and Andreas Werliin) and the two singers Mariam Wallentin and Sofia Jernberg - between them the only constant members of Fire! Orchestra since their inception.
"Apart from this reduction, the main line-up difference is the introduction of a string quartet. This "cleanup" has worked wonders, keeping the rhythm and horn sections to their bare necessities, with the string quartet expanding the canvas and bringing a new, exciting dimension to the table. And on top of their game; the two powerful and sublime singers, quite different, but still blending perfectly.
We also have to mention drummer and producer Andreas Werliin for his work in the audio department; rarely have we heard such a detailed, warm, deep and dynamic mix from a relatively complex combination of instruments. While their three previous albums can be considered as uniform works, if not conceptual, Arrival is a collection of more individual compositions and songs, including two stunning cover versions. Blue Crystal Fire by visionary guitarist Robbie Basho was first heard on his 1978 album Visions of the Country. At Last I Am Free is today probably best known from Robert Wyatt´s version, but originally written by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rogers of Chic.
Although the rest of the tracks are credited to Berthling, Gustafsson, Werliin and Wallentin, it´s important to stress that this time the orchestra members have had considerable creative input throughout the process. Arrival is light and shade, joy and despair, structure and improvisation, performed by an ensemble of excellent musicians."
Nearly 30 years since their debut, Plaid remain supple in their exploration of crafty syncopation and off-key IDM harmonics on their 10th studio album
Yielding their first new material since 2016, ’Polymer’ sees Ed Handley and Andy Turner locate ever more playful electroid angles to their sound while getting further under the skin of its mechanics and making it writhe and pucker from the inside out.
The preceding single tracks ‘Maru’ and ‘Recall’ account for two of the LP’s biggest highlights, along with the tendon-twang funk of ‘Drowned Sea’, and a signature piece of fluffy melancholy in ‘Dancers’.
Geir Jenssen yields a most Biosphere of Biosphere recordings with this new album recorded on a Norwegian island within the arctic circle
Leading on from recent years’ ‘Departed Glories’ and ‘Petrified Forest’, the 66 minute long and 17-track wide suite of ‘The Senja Recordings’ arguably amounts to the most significant Biosphere outing of this decade. Taking its title from Norway’s 2nd largest island, where it was conceived, the album features outdoor sounds and improvisations made during Jenssen’s stays between 2015-2018 and finds the artist more porous than ever to distorted, granular textures along with his trademark palette of elemental electronics. It’s essentially the artist getting closer than ever to his surroundings and cutting down the space between there and your ears.
From the sounds of it, one can only imagine Jenssen had a quietly blissful time making this record. There’s the expected darkness for sure, but it always resolves with strong pangs of isolationist melody, cropping up Conet Project-like in ’Strandby’; glowing like a dawn aurora behind a granite cliff in ‘Berg’; or harmonising with the birds and air in ‘Fjølhøgget’ and the Aeolian harp-like tones of his ‘Bergsbotn’ trio, so named after the small village facing out to harsh North Atlantic. factor in the natural yet unearthly sounds picked up by his hydrophone in ’Skålbrekka’, and the gloaming solitude of his sublime closer ‘Hå’, and you have a top class Biosphere album, if you like this sort of thing.
Akira Rabelais has long been in our list of the most interesting, overlooked producers in electronic music. His early material for Mille Plateaux offshoot Ritornell was nothing short of revelatory, a mysterious, complex maze of elaborate layering that genuinely sounded unlike any of his contemporaries, or anything we've heard since. He was then picked up by David Sylvian's Samadhisound imprint and released an incredible, career-defining head-scratcher of an album in 2004 called "Spellewauerynsherde' - one of the most spectacularly odd and brilliant electronic records of any description you'll likely hear - seriously - seek it out.
Anyhow, that preamble is just to set out the extent to which we're all Rabelais fanboys here - so this new double album, the first disc in collaboration with Harold Budd no less, has arrived here with much excitement, offering his first new recordings in over five years.
The Little Glass breaks down clearly over two discs; the first containing four plaintive solo piano parts by Budd and Rabelais, followed by a 2nd disc presenting Rabelais’ hour long, inharmonic, electronic transformation of the preceding material.
Rabelais has collaborated with Budd before, he provided his own incredible side-long second CD to Budd's majestic Avalon Sutra album, and while the piano pieces that make up the first CD here are bloody lovely and all, pardon us if we do hurry on to the second disc, because, well, you know this is going to be special.
With a deliquescence touch perhaps best compared to William Basinski, the L.A.-based artist renders the original improvisations as a breathtaking hour of glistening tone clusters and mid-air melting partials growing in complexly yet naturally as fractals experienced under the lens of DMT, or a time-lapse image of ice crystals forming at the edge of moving water.
To be quite honest, we haven’t the foggiest as to what process that he’s using to achieve these results - it may well be his trusted Argeïphontes Lyre software but, we can’t confirm this - however that matter only ratchets the sensation’s enigmatic appeal - if ever there was a more acute application of the word.
It’s the sort of music that gives us involuntary rapid eye movements, as though we’re in sleep mode while awake, making time feel plasmic and space almost tangible in a sense that you could almost huff up his starlight and recline in his hyaline webs.
The Little Glass is evidently, achingly, beautiful but, don’t take our word for it; drink deeply and ye shall see, pal.
4CD / 80 track set exploring the independent side of the UK’s post-punk synth-pop boom.
"The year – 1978. The mood – revolution. The latest addition to the musician’s sound palette – the synthesiser. And so a new sound was born, and one which would free pop music from its guitar dominated tradition into something with a bright new future which would write itself. Almost overnight, via a handful of key single releases, the big bang of punk produced something the kids called ‘synth-pop’.
The clue was very much in the name. A broad church from the outset, this synth-pop movement wasted no time in embracing players from all corners of the musical dressing up box. From guitar groups drafting in a keyboard playing friend and the progressive rockers using their expensive banks of electronics in new ways to the modernists and the Thatcherists, full of unabashed aspiration, and the punks – arguably the purest punks of them all – who discarded the guitar and the drum kit overnight in their pursuit of something fresh that their generation could truly call their own. All were welcome, and all contributed to the many different directions synth-pop would mutate in over the coming five or six years. ‘Electrical Language’ captures this time and place in microscopic
1. WINDPOWER – Thomas Dolby
2. SCIENCE FICTION – Alan Burnham
3. WARM LEATHERETTE – The Normal
4. STAY WITH ME TONIGHT - Alex Fergusson
5. TARANTULA – Colourbox
6. FANTASY - 100% Manmade Fibre
7. BANDWAGON TANGO – Testcard F
8. ELECTRICAL LANGUAGE – Be-Bop Deluxe
9. THE WORLD - Dalek I
10. HONOUR AMONG THIEVES
- Chain Of Command
11. RED FRAME/WHITE LIGHT -
Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark
12. RED CASTLES - The Legendary Pink Dots
13. LIFES ILLUSION - Ice The Falling Rain
14. THE HUMAN FACTOR - Music For Pleasure
15. SHE'S AN IMAGE - Poeme Electronique
16. I’M THINKING OF YOU NOW – Box Of Toys
17. THE PLANET DOESN'T MIND – New Musik
18. HOPE DEEP INSIDE - Schleimer K
19. THE DISTANCE FROM KÖLN
– Native Europe
20. TECHNICAL MIRACLE - Voice Of Authority
1. CIRCUS OF DEATH – The Human League
2. XOYO – The Passage
3. CROWDS - A Popular History Of Signs
4. OCTOBER (LOVE SONG) - Chris And Cosey
5. FEEL SO YOUNG - Laugh Clown Laugh
6. CROATIA - Basking Sharks
7. MR NOBODY – Thomas Leer
8. RICKY'S HAND – Fad Gadget
9. HYPNOTIC RHYTHM
- Local Boy Makes Good
10. DROWNING IN BERLIN – The Mobiles
11. EVEN NOW - Edward Ka-Spel
12. LYING NEXT TO YOU – Passion Polka
13. RABIES – Naked Lunch
14. DO IT – The Limit
15. WORK SONG - Robert Calvert
16. BABY WON'T PHONE – Quadrascope
17. IT HAPPENED THEN - Electronic Ensemble
18. IN THE MORNING – Jeanette
19. NIGHTLIFE - Those Attractive Magnets
20. MY COO CA CHOO – Beasts In Cages
1. YOUR LOVE IS LIKE A SLUG
- The Bodhi-Beat Poets
2. VEIL LIKE CALM - Eyeless In Gaza
3. DESTITUTION - Camera Obscura
4. GOOD TIMES - Drinking Electricity
5. HAPPY FAMILIES - Zoo Boutique
6. FEELS LIKE WINTER AGAIN – Fiat Lux
7. FALLING DOWNSTAIRS – Colin Potter
8. OUR LITTLE GIRL – David Harrow
9. IT NEVER RAINS IN OUTER SPACE
10. ZENNOR – Goat
11. VIDEOMATIC – Final Program
12. TADDY UP – Pink Industry
13. YOU DON'T LOOK THE SAME – Play
14. CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION
– The Fast Set
15. TRACE OF RED – Two
16. LYING HERE – Shox
17. DAYTIME ASSASSINS – The Builders
18. BEATING HEART (12" VERSION)
– Section 25
19. ABSENT FRIENDS – Joe Crow
20. JAMAICA DAY – Faction
1. GENERATOR (LASERBEAM) – Tim Blake
2. TOUCH - Lori And The Chameleons
3. THE SECRET AFFAIR – Jupiter Red
4. I'M YOUR MAN – Blue Zoo
5. EVEN ROSES HAVE THORNS
- Jesus Couldn't Drum
6. PAINT IT BLACK – Techno Pop
7. CHASE THE DRAGON - Kevin Harrison
8. OTHER PASSENGERS - Thirteen At Midnight
9. YOUR VOICE - Freeze Frame
10. STAY WITH YOU - Time In Motion
11. LIVE WIRES KILL – The Toy Shop
12. SURFACE TENSION – Analysis
13. TIME – Paul Haig
14. CONTEMPLATION – Solid Space
15. COMMITTED TO VINYL - Martin O'Cuthbert
16. LOOK DON'T TOUCH – Science
17. THE WISHING TREE (MEGATREE MIX) –
18. WORKING MODEL – The Quarks
19. THERE'S SOMEONE FOLLOWING ME
– Eddie & Sunshine
20. HAPPY XMAS (WAR IS OVER) – Hybrid Kids
Letra Rec is a promising new label from The Boats’ Andrew Hargreaves and Craig Tattersall, who start off with a tenderly meditative suite of soundscapes and mantras by Iceland’s Kristín Björk Kristjánsdóttir, improvised with friends under her Kira-Kira moniker. Highly recommended if yr into Julee Cruise, Arve Henriksen, Múm, Sigur Rós...
The co-founder of the Kitchen Motors label with Jóhann Jóhannsson (R.I.P.) and Hilmar Jensson, a onetime collaborator with múm, and an artist behind four solo albums, Kristin brings a fine set of disciplines and a friendly disposition toward collaboration to ‘UNA’, which she offers as a contribution to music as a form of healing, sanctuary or meditation.
Improvised at home over the course of a year with friends and lovers, the album is a cycle of soundscapes and mantras based on words from The Foundation for Inner Peace book “A Course in Miracles” (A Miracle is A Shift In Perception From Fear To Love) and the Sanskrit mantra “Samgacchadvam” (Together is A Place), as well as new written text designed as “medicine for the mind.”
The combination of music and words relates directly to Kristin’s longstanding practice of yoga and meditation techniques, as she says: “I’ve practiced Yoga and meditation avidly for about 10 years now and so I am well familiar with the practice of using mantras as medicine for the mind and spirit. But finding words outside the traditional arsenal of healing mantras that resonate with me personally was something else and has taken things to a new level.”
Guided by intuition, on ‘UNA’ Kira unfurls 6 purposeful mantras for positive imaginations, using little more than vocals, tape loops and space echo to render radiant webs of spectral sound and space that caress the listener in her cat’s cradle.
Moon Wiring Club picks up on a latent oddness and hauntological nostalgia associated with ‘Ghastly Garden Centres’ for the latest Gecophonic release from The Blank Workshop.
Originally intended for release alongside ‘Psychedelic Spirit Show’ in MWC’s usual end of year release spot, you’d be forgiven for double checking today’s date (as we just did) and wondering if xmas just came scarily early this year. But to be fair, for many, a new MWC release means it’s xmas anyway.
On ‘Ghastly Garden Centres’ MWC acts as medium for a blooming variegation of spirits, riddling 22 tracks and 70 minutes of clumpy, dubbed-out trip hop and wyrd soul musick with prim voices-in-your-head and ghostly sales assistants trying to flog you shatterproof greenhouses and ‘Ghostrogen.’
While there are clear highlights to check for in the punnet of balmy lo-fi soul and disco between ‘Attractive Suntraps’, his ‘Out Of Body Garden Party’, and the BoC-on-a-bank-holiday vibes of ‘Owl Rot & Canker’, and likewise the squashed acid ‘ardcore of ‘Lady Greenfingers’ and the creepy Ballardian drowned world feel of ‘Old Water Garden World’, for example, it’s all best absorbed in one sitting, or even better, while strolling around your nearest B&Q or local Garden Centre full of terracotta trays and seed packs. Here’s to hoping for a future edition set in a Hydroponics shop.
Limited edition 6CD set of "audio verite" recordings of Suicide playing live from September 1977 to August 1978 mastered by Denis Blackham.
These recordings cover most of their early shows at CBGB's & Max's plus their first ever tour across Europe & the UK. As you will hear, a crucial year in Suicide's development as both musicians and performers and their mission to stretch the label of Punk Rock to the very limit. The package includes a 40 page booklet of Suicide & Red Star Records memorabilia (including very rare Red Star Press Releases) from the personal archives of Howard Thompson, the A&R man that signed Suicide to UK label Bronze Records, Only the infamous "23 Minutes Over Brussels" has been legally released before.
From the sleeve notes: "This set of recordings are not the faint hearted, nor is it the ideal place to start to those first time listeners seeking an easy entry into the dark and decidedly queasy world of Alan Vega & Marty Rev's proto-futuristic, low tech sci-fi musical that they launched on a mostly uncaring world as music group Suicide. ....Howard Thompson's archive was originally made purely for his personal reference based on a joyess recognition that he was right there seeing history in the making. We've presented the gigs in the order they happened, all the better to hear how the Suicide live experience develops...."
Smalltown Supersound look to early Norwegian ambient music with Erik Wøllo’s ‘Sources (Early Works 1986-1992)’, taken from previously unheard tapes and remastered by Helge Sten (Deathprod). Made using a Roland MSQ700 sequencer in real time with multiple MIDI synths and modules, Wøllo’s music inside ‘Sources (Early Works 1986-1992)’ was written off the cuff and never really intended for release. Now 27 years later, it will surely appeal to a generation nurtured on synth music, taking in 10 magnificent, icy vistas that sound like pre-echoes of music to come from Biosphere and Arve Henriksen.
"Wøllo, who has been a professional artist since 1980, has covered a wide range of styles, from rock and jazz to experimental electronic and classical music. He was one of the first Norwegian composers who adapted a minimalistic style, building a bridge between grand symphonic realms and gentle, serene sounds. His musical statements range from slowly-drifting kaleidoscopic passages to epic soaring guitar melancholy, to upbeat ever-changing sequences and compelling melodies. Possessing a sense of drama and storytelling, Wøllo has been composing and performing music for films, theatre, ballets, and art exhibitions. As well as music for string quartets and large orchestras.
He has collaborated with some of the most respected artists in the ambient music world: Steve Roach, Ian Boddy, Byron Metcalf, Bernhard Wöstheinrich, amongst others. Sources joins Wøllo’s nearly 40-album catalogue.
Comprised of 10 previously unreleased tracks, Sources was originally recorded surrounding the album sessions that spun Dreams Of Pyramids(1984), Traces (1985), and Silver Beach (1986). This was the start of a very fruitful and inspired period for Wøllo, thanks to modernized technology like MIDI and inspiration from music from all over the globe.
“There was lots of new equipment coming out during these years, and this reflects the music I made at the time.” Wøllo says. “There was also a lot of great electronic music released. I was inspired by artists like Hassell, Eno and Budd. Also a big influence was Klaus Schulze after seeing him at the legendary Oslo club, Club 7 in 1984.”
The spacey sounds on Sources show a clear line of cosmic excursions between Wøllo’s early releases to modern day fellow Norwegian travellers Lindstrøm, Bjørn Torske, and Prins Thomas. Sources remained untouched, transferred from tapes that Wøllo had made years ago, before Helge Sten (Deathprod) mastered the material in his Audio Virus Lab. The collection was mostly created with a Roland MSQ 700 sequencer, in real time with several MIDI synths/modules recorded directly to either a 2-track stereo recorder or 4-track Tascam Portastudio."
In the beginning there was John Coltrane. Teodross Avery experienced an epiphany at 13 when he first heard Trane’s “Giant Steps.” He emerged in the mid-1990s with two critically hailed releases for GRP/Impulse! Avery’s long and productive journey has taken him down many musical paths, from gigs with jazz legends and hip hop stars to sessions with NEA Jazz Masters and platinum pop albums. With his Tompkins Square label debut After The Rain: A Night for Coltrane, Avery has found his way back home, reasserting himself as a supremely eloquent exponent of the post-Trane jazz continuum.
"Taking up the tenor saxophone, he emerged in the mid-1990s as one of the most powerful young voices on the scene, with two critically hailed releases for GRP/Impulse! Avery’s long and productive journey has taken him down many musical paths, from gigs with jazz legends and hip hop stars to sessions with NEA Jazz Masters and platinum pop albums. With his Tompkins Square label debut After The Rain: A Night for Coltrane, Avery has found his way back home, reasserting himself as a supremely eloquent exponent of the post-Trane jazz continuum.
“It is a return to my roots,” says Avery, 45, who possesses a huge, brawny tone and a capacious harmonic imagination. “Listening to Trane’s music was my foundation, and this album is definitely a reintroduction to this area of my career. I’ve been busy with a lot of other stuff, but I was always playing acoustic jazz with top level cats. I wasn’t putting out albums. I was on record dates, but not my own albums. This was the perfect opportunity to make my own statement."
He found an ideal outlet with Tompkins Square. Over its 13 years, the label has released new and reissued recordings by renowned jazz masters such as Calvin Keys, Charles Gayle, Ran Blake, Terry Waldo, Bern Nix, and Giuseppi Logan. The label recently releasedThe 1960 Time Sessions by the Sonny Clark Trio featuring George Duvivier and Max Roach (2LP/2CD set), which received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Album Notes (Ben Ratliff). It was Tompkins Square’s eighth Grammy nomination, and the first for Mr. Ratliff, who also wrote the liner notes for After The Rain."
Special Request exerts hardcore Yorkshire G-Force while wearing his Y-fronts for the raving joyride of ‘Vortex’ with Houndstooth
Paul Woodford’s 4th album under the Special Request guise is also his loosest and nuttiest, monkeying around all aspects of his cumulative rave knowledge to draw zigzagging lines between electro, Detroit techno, breakbeat rave, jungle-tekno, and rushing hardcore trance in his own style.
On a handful of highlights he appears to crack out the same software FX employed on his Bobby Peru classic ‘Erotic Discourse’, namely in the mazy, AFXian electro chicanery of ’Sp4nn3r3d’, the Tango-flavoured hardcore nosedrip of ‘Vortex 150’, and his ruthless fast couplet of ‘Fett’ and ‘A Gargantuan Melting Face Floating Effortlessly Through The Stratosphere’, while the best of the rest draws on a very ‘90s sort of electronic dance music soul in the likes of his Luke Slater-esque techno buzz ‘Memory Lake’, and the rude rave rolige of ‘Fahrenheit 451’.
Russell Haswell serves vacuum-tight production for Sarah Froelich and Philip Best’s alternately piercing/soberly observant vocals in their 3rd album together as Consumer Electronics, and their first since relocating from London to San Francisco…
In ’Airless Space’ the grizzly trio recalibrate their shrewd gaze from the pre-Brexitlands of 2014’s ‘Estuary English’ to the thick of an unprecedented time in USA, which is currently in the process of fulfilling the dystopian, apocalyptic America of 2020 prophesised in countless films, books and artworks.
Trust CE to grasp the zeitgeist with bare hands in their particular style, with Best and Froelich trading the mic to mete out nearly 60 minutes of wryly sardonic side-eyes at the state of it all, while Haswell variously punctuates the negative space with a palette of bolshy bass drums and noise, or turns the vocals into gargling gurns of bestial wretchedness.
If we’re playing favourites, the increasingly throttled 13 minutes of vitriol and pranging n0!ze jabs in ‘Muder of JJ’ is substantial, while Best is at his most unsettling with the unflinching cool delivery of ‘Carnage Mechanics’, and they come together most fiercely when the vocalists trade the mic over pelting rhythm and bone-twanging twitches in ‘Play Therapy’, with Best uttering the truest lines: “Stay indoors all day, that’s what i do these days / Never leave the house if I can help it/ why would i fucking want to?”
Burnt Friedman frames his latest album in the vein of the nonsuch explorer series, with a musical look at Central Europe, specifically Berlin, and its intersection of artists, dancers, musicians still moving to 30 year old techno and house while constantly investigating and discarding novel new forms...
“Burnt Friedman with Explorer Series Vol. 4, original ethnic music of the peoples of the world/full spectrum stereo dominance. With such a complicated amalgam of races, religions, and language as there is in central Europe, it is not surprising, that the musical life is endless in variety. Before the upheavals engendered by immigration policies, the introduction of 5 G technology, and the gaining of maximum self-expression, the separation of cultures must have been even more noticeable, yet now in the sphere of music one can see them drawing more closely together.
This is especially true of an under-populated melting pot such as Berlin, where the sense of beauty is innate and one hardly meets a white male or a woman not being a painter or a dancer, or a musician. The system of scales, and also the fact that the western central Europeans rely on recorded or written script in order to conserve the themes of their music, could lead us to look upon it as a form of art music. Remarkably enough, traditional house or techno which existed 30 years ago, still flourishes today. Moreover, all the time new forms and musical styles are being discovered, tried out and eventually overlooked. The present record can offer but a modest sampling of extinct splendors, political or individual sufferings, gloomy sadness, love, resentment, exquisite delicacy, laughter and delectable wisdom of rural and urban central European music. Burnt Friedman's essential function is to perform music that ensures the repose of the dead and render their ghosts harmless; in the case of whole communities, to dispel evil spirits and restore to Berlin its pristine purity; and in the case of individuals, to expel the demands of possession.
Despite the limited scope of sound carriers, these ten highlights of central European culture contain an emotional force and documentary value of inestimable importance. Although it would be incorrect to consider the various selections contained herein as authentic ethnological documents insofar as the performances were for the most part "mystified", on the other hand one can certainly consider them significant examples of the attempts of white males to develop their own modes of expression and communication.”
The Upsetter rejoins Adrian Sherwood for ‘Rainford’, where he packet spools over languid and even lysergic riddims from the On-U Sound ringleader. If Perry’s own production of late have been a bit, erm, wacky, Adrian Sherwood gets the right balance of letting Lee do his thing while making sure he doesn’t look daft doing so. Make sure to check it for the experimental madness in ‘African Spaceship’, the balmy dancehall of ‘Let It Rain’, and the rocksteady blues dub of ‘Autobiography of the Upsetter’
““It's the most intimate album Lee has ever made, but at the same time the musical ideas are very fresh. I'm extremely proud of what we've come up as a piece of work". - A.M.S
This new set is the culmination of over two years work and recording sessions that span Jamaica, Brazil and the UK. Determined to craft a work of lasting power, Sherwood likens to the album to the work that Rick Rubin did with Johnny Cash on the American Recordings series, a deeply personal work (the album title refers to Lee’s birth name) and arguably the strongest batch of original material that Perry has released for many years.
From the atmospheric field recording and wah-wah guitar of album opener “Cricket On The Moon”, to the gothic cello embellishment on “Let It Rain”, the chopped-and-compressed horn section of “Makumba Rock”, to the layered, carefully arranged backing vocals like a heavenly chorus throughout the record, this is an album with true love, care and attention poured into it’s every groove. It culminates in the truly extraordinary “Autobiography Of The Upsetter”, in which Scratch narrates the story of his life from growing up on a plantation in 1930s colonial Jamaica to becoming a worldwide musical superstar.
The story of Lee Perry and Adrian Sherwood collaborating stretches back to the mid-1980s, and a fortuitous meeting brokered by underground broadcasting legend Steve Barker between the dub innovator and UK upstart. This led to the creation of On-U classics such as Time Boom X De Devil Dead and The Mighty Upsetter, as well as Lee gracing Dub Syndicate records with some vital vocal injections.”
In ‘Border Ballads’ Richard Skelton draws inspiration from the rolling landscapes of the Scottish Borders for a moving instrumental panorama coloured with a melancholy palette of piano, bowed cello, viola and burnished electronics. It’s some of the most focussed and direct work of an already fascinating career.
Blessed with his usual knack for limning the atmosphere of a place so well it feels familiar even if you’ve never visited it, ‘Border Ballads’ beautifully channels wide open spaces, lush green pastures fringing on moorland, most crucially, experienced without a soul in sight, leaving listeners comfortably isolated in the elements. While there’s no detectable human voices in the recording, Skelton's strings possess the haunting cadence of the region’s rich folk music heritage, which quietly seeps into the album’s abstract yet gripping, underlying narration.
"Richard Skelton has spent the last two years living on the rural northern edge of the Scotland-England border, a boundary demarcated by various watercourses - among them the Kershope Burn, the Liddel Water and the River Esk. This hinterland topography has informed a series of musical recordings which, in their brevity, stand in stark contrast to the longform compositions for which he is more usually known. Nevertheless, there is a sense that these twelve miniatures are fragments of a larger whole, such is their unity in tone and timbre.
In some ways, ‘Border Ballads’ can be seen as a revisiting of certain compositional processes first encountered on ‘Marking Time’, over a decade ago. The sparse, overlapping bowed notes, for example, or the solitary, bell-like piano. But there is something different at work here. Whereas ‘Marking Time’ felt aeolian, shifting, fleeting, this new work, with its persistent cello undertow and its low, tremulous viola, feels telluric, grounded, earthen. Perhaps ‘Border Ballads’ can be seen as the embodiment of a desire for certainty after a prolonged period of upheaval, but that ever-close riverine border, at once both fixed and fluid, is a disturbing presence. A darkness that cannot be ignored."
‘Holy Water Whisper’ is one of those purist electronic peaches that bloom regularly on Antwerp’s excellent, ever searching Ent’racte label
It is Cologne-based artist Volker Hennes’ 3rd release for the label, after 2015’s ‘Emperor Ambassador’, and follows from his 2017 action with Anthony Moore in Therapeutische Hörgruppe Köln.
Technically the nine track album was entirely produced on a Nord Modular G1 - “One track, one patch; no additional effects or over-dubbing”, while the label more poetically describe it as “Fluids flood the entire audio spectrum (20 to 20k). A solid state which is simultaneously and continuously changing.”
Echoing the stripped down approach of Yves De Mey’s recent ace ‘Exit Strategies Part 1’, the results are all dead abstract, and range from what sounds like a protein-gargling alien vocaloid in his ‘Holy Whisper’ parts, thru to bouts of ultra iridescent, deliquescent, gurning lushness in the ‘Fluid Noise’ bits, and a couple of astringent, unsettling ‘Cleaning’ numbers.
The Fall’s second studio album, reissued as a massively expanded 3CD clamshell box-set and a limited splatter vinyl LP with 7” single replica of their ‘Rowche Rumble’ single.
"Founded by its only constant member, Mark E. Smith, The Fall formed in Manchester in 1976 and were one of the most prominent post-punk groups in the world. Musically, there may have been several stylistic changes over the years, but it was often characterised by an abrasive guitar-driven sound and frequent use of repetition, always underpinned by Smith's distinctive vocals and often cryptic lyrics. “They are always different; they are always the same...” John Peel “Dragnet” is the second studio album – released 26th October 1979 - these editions celebrate the fortieth anniversary of this seminal album. Originally released through record label Step-Forward, it predicated 2 major factors in the group’s career – high productivity and high group turnover.
The album has historically garnered excellent reviews, including 4/5 in MOJO, 8.7/10 on Pitchfork and 4/5 in Q Magazine. Featuring the one and only Mark E. Smith alongside Steve Hanley (bass), Marc Riley (guitar), Craig Scanlon (guitar), Mike Leigh (drums), Kay Carroll (backing vocals) and Yvonne Pawlett (keyboards). This is the second release in Cherry Red’s new series of deluxe Fall reissues: “Fall Sound Archive”. The 3CD version comes housed in a clamshell boxset. Alongside the full album are several b-sides and alternative takes plus live shows from Retford in 1979 and Los Angeles in 1979. The boxset also features a booklet of new sleeve notes by Daryl Easlea and has been remastered by long-term Fall engineer Andy Pearce."
From the Catskill Mountains, Emily Sprague channels a timeless mix of new age ambience and poetry in her captivating debut for RVNG Intl. Compiling Emily’s two self-released tapes ‘Water Memory’  and ‘Mount Vision’ , this sublime package brings us right up to date with her effortlessly enchanting solo output. Across 14 parts in 80 minutes, she proves equally adept at sprawling out in longer forms, as with ‘At Lake’, as she is at capturing crystalline vignettes like the kaleidoscopic miniature ‘Huckleberry’, or the microtonal peal of ’Synth 3’, all pointing to a charming new talent coming into being.
“Emily A. Sprague’s Water Memory and Mount Vision albums are presented in new and complete detail. Emily’s work concerns the connectedness of all things, giving living, core form to the mysterious forces that guide earthly activity and human contact with them. Memory and vision, ocean and mountains, question and answer, emotions and infinity. Sunshine, lizard, sea salt.
Through sound and poetry, Emily focuses on fleeting moments of crystalline clarity and meditates on expanded lifetimes of intricate meaning-making. This vision is unfalteringly beautiful, gently profound. But, as Ursula K. Le Guin intuits in her translation of the Tao Te Ching, “In poetry, beauty is no ornament; it is the meaning. It is the truth.”
A collection of reflections are visible in the mirrored structures of Water Memory and Mount Vision, two chapters - two halves - each complemented by a written verse. As much about the presence in youthful experimentation as the permanence of transition and maturation, Water Memory is the first long-form instrumental music Emily ever channeled, generated over a year of self and sonic exploration between Massachusetts and New York.”
Los Angeles-based Cold Showers return to Dais with their third album, Motionless, wielding a pop sound that is familiar to followers, yet more sophisticated and evolved than their previous works.
"Having traversed the realm of synth-laced post punk expertly for close to a decade, their return with the new album Motionless is a process-based album that reaches into the band’s collective quiver, melding their familiar anthem infused postpunk and lush, grand pop influences.
Motionless is Cold Showers looking inward and taking control of their creative process, while retaining all of their unique songwriting signatures. Recorded in their own studio in Los Angeles with band member Chris King at the production helm, each selection on Motionless sounds like a line drawing that quickly becomes a technicolor collage of crashing shoegazed reverberation.
As compared to their previous endeavor, Matter of Choice, the similar additions of arpeggiated electronics and more recently, string arrangements, adds a new, more sophisticated depth to Cold Showers’ already dense allegories. Tracks such as “Shine” and “Faith” stand on their own as heavy-hearted melodies that have an almost “classic” impression after only one listen. The band’s cover of Sandy Rogers’ 80’s ballad “Black Sidewalk” (only available on the LP & CD) offers proof-of-concept, never fully comfortable with their formula and challenging themselves as to what defines an amazing song. “Measured Man” and “Dismiss” have Cold Showers orbiting in the palpitations of early Factory Records and present each spin with tactical layering, rather than flooding the board. "
Massively expanded reissue - the 3CD version comes housed in a clamshell boxset including a disc of b-sides and session tracks and a live show from Mr Pickwick’s in Liverpool 1978. The boxset also features a booklet of new sleeve notes by Daryl Easlea and has been remastered by long-term Fall engineer Andy Pearce. The LP features only the original 11 tracks.
"‘Live At The Witch Trials’ offers a fascinating insight into The Fall at a very early stage of their career and also the nascent alternative scene which was pulling away from the ‘rama-lama’ punk of 1976 / 77. ‘Live At The Witch Trials’ (not a live album) was recorded at London’s Camden Sound Suite on 15th December 1978 and mixed by producer Bob Sargeant the next day. The album was released on 16th March 1979 through one of Britain’s most noteworthy punk labels, Step-Forward. No singles were taken from the album, a practice that would be commonplace for the group until 1986. By the time the album was released, drummer Karl Burns had left the band and guitarist Martin Bramah also quit shortly afterwards to form Blue Orchids, leaving Mark E Smith as the sole remaining founder member."
Gird thy loins for the second Coil bounty from the Threshold Archives - a haul of 8 discs gathered from original releases, plus stacks of previously unreleased demos, outtakes, and era-appropriate ephemera - over 9 hours of material.
Following from the first batch in 2015, Threshold Archives continue with a massive project initiated in 2006 by the band’s core member, Peter Christopherson, seeking to salvage material, which, over time, has been lost or has become scarce due to record label bankruptcies and intercontinental moves, where many masters were damaged, became degraded, or stuck on obsolete devices. The project began two years after the death of Christopherson’s partner and bandmate, Geoff Rushton aka Jhonn Balance, and four years before Peter passed in Thailand, 2010. As both core members have moved on to new dimensions, these posthumous releases are vital to disseminating their energies for further generations of dilated souls.
Spanning decades and myriad aspects of Coil’s oeuvre, each CD variously packs vintage material with unreleased cuts, or simply and handily stacks up loads of dead hard-to-find gear on one disc. For example, their 1994 CD ‘Protection’ is expanded to include the piloerect effect of ‘pHILM #1 (Vox)’ alongside multiple versions of their balletic lecture workout ‘Static Electrician,’ and a haul of haunting offcuts including strange choral elves and a 10 minute acid gunk swill out, whereas ‘The Sound Of Musick’ pulls various soundtrack works ranging from the ‘Theme From Gay Man's Guide to Safer Sex’ to the pulsing disco tricks of ‘Theme From Blue’ and 28 minutes of their soundtrack for 1992’s ‘Sara Dale's Sensual Massage’, and the ’Heartworms’ album focusses on various vocal works, both from Geoff as well as Taylor Mead, John Giorno and William S. Burroughs.
The one that’s striking us most is ‘I Don’t Want To Be The One’, featuring material previously released on Hate People Like Us/Computer Music Journal/Emre comps, and including gems from the ‘Astral Disaster’ and later ELpH sessions, such as the severe warp of ‘Gnomic Verses’ and the 20 minutes of ‘Zwölf’ plus loads of digitally abstract studio gremlins. Factor these in alongside all-time classics in their crushing yet life-affirming classic ‘Is Suicide A Solution?’, and the vaulted, esoteric rarities contained in ‘Copal’, and you have a necessary set for both budding Coil-o-nauts and veteran fiends alike.
First in a two part compendium scanning the career of short lived, but highly influential New Wave Goth group, Bauhaus.
With their first single 'Bela Lugosi's Dead' the Northampton-based group effectively started one of the first post-punk genres by mixing gloomy guitars and spikily danceable drums with a subtle dub element to create that definitive goth-punk atmosphere. They're now held as a reference point by everyone from TV On The Radio to Kode 9, Silk Flowers and Regis, so if you've never checked them, this is an excellent place to start.
There are few contemporary musicians who have had as much of an impact on us as Mika Vainio, so each new release is always cause for celebration. Whether exploring the grim underbelly of the electric guitar on ‘Life (… It Eats You Up)’ or haunted minimalism in his collaboration with Kevin Drumm and friends on ‘Venexia’, Vainio somehow manages to throw us into a state of awe consistently time and time again.
‘FE3O4 – Magnetite’ manages to uphold this quality but takes a stylistic about turn, exploring the two poles of noise and silence, finding Vainio explore distortion and contrast in a way he hasn’t for many years now. Radio static emerges from almost nothing, sounds appear for a second and are gone and cables are established and removed without warning. This dynamic is offset by Vainio’s well-documented expertise with very loud drones, and the drones we’re treated to on ‘FE3O4’ are louder and more intense than you’re likely to find almost anywhere else. Sub bass tones tear through the silence heralded only by small pops, and wavering, distorted oscillators cut and slice like a lone machete in a dark night.
This is often terrifying music, but thanks to Vainio’s calm hand it never devolves into mere theatrics. Rather the sounds are so well paced and expertly handled that you feel like you are being treated to the work of a pioneer, and someone whose work is a direct descendent of Bernard Parmegiani, Luciano Berio and Throbbing Gristle. Incredible music, and yet another totally unmissable full-length from Mika Vainio.
Second in a two part compendium scanning the career of short lived, but highly influential New Wave Goth group, Bauhaus.
With their first single 'Bela Lugosi's Dead' the Northampton-based group effectively started one of the first post-punk genres by mixing gloomy guitars and spikily danceable drums with a subtle dub element to create that definitive goth-punk atmosphere. They're now held as a reference point by everyone from TV On The Radio to Kode 9, Silk Flowers and Regis, so if you've never checked them, this is an excellent place to start.
Further to Daehan Electronics’ excavations of Liquid Liquid drummer Dennis Young’s archive, Athens Of The North pull out a Young album developed between the late ‘80s and 2004, to sit neatly alongside his late ‘80s new age/dance output
“After Liquid Liquid disbanded in 1985 I continued to record electronic music at my home studio inEdison,New Jerseybut I decided to mix the songs for "Concepts" at another studio so I could have another set of ears to help with the mixes. I was lucky when I looked in the local music ads that I to find Gabriel Farm Studios inPrinceton,New Jerseyowned and operated by Andy Gomory. Andy was a true talent, a keyboardist and arranger, we hit it off immediately. After he recorded my mixes we would record songs together. Andy played drum machines and keyboards while I played percussion, keyboards, & guitar and we both sang. When Andy and I parted ways in the late 1980's I decided to add both drums and percussion as well as overdubs from guest musicians many of which are included on this album. The albums timeframe ends in the year 2004. The later recordings have a jazz feel to it yet still had dance music elements mixed in. The title track "Primitive Substance" really sets the tone as you hear the great playing of Michael Gribbrook on Frugel horn/Trumpet and Gerry Carboy on bass. Also, my favorite song on the recording "Forgiveness" has David Axelrod (not the famous one) playing beautiful melodic bass guitar thru out.
Special thanks to Euan Fryer of "Athensof the North" for releasing this album. As I listened to the songs I decided to use for this recording it brought back memories of the hours spent adding the extra sounds and instruments to the point where I wanted to listen to them again and again to see what I missed hearing . Keep a close ear this might happen to you after hearing "Primitive Substance”.”
The king of Malian hip hop, Luka Productions follows up the sublime new age synth styles of ‘Fasokan’ - one of our top albums of 2017 - with a much broader window on his sound in ‘Falaw’, taking in cosmic folk, Afrobeats dance music and Indian-flavoured disco
Based in a small studio on a busy street in Mali’s capital, Bamako, Luka Productions writes beats for some of the region’s biggest artists, such as Supreme Talent Show, Ami Yerewolo, Iba One, Van Baxy, and Sidiki Diabate, earning him a reputation as one of Mali’s most prodigious and revered producers.
Luka’s 3rd release for Sahel Sounds follows the quietly stunning ‘Fasokan’ album with blend of that album’s balmier moments and the African pop and rap styles on his debut ‘Mali Kady’ tape, offering a much wider testament to the breadth and sweetness of his sound.
Meshing live traditional strings and flutes with synths and software percussion, plus myriad vocals, ‘Falaw’ fully spells out Luka Productions’ style, drifting from the title track’s languorous folk soul at one end, to the driving, UKF-compatible banger ‘Dogonodoon’ (note the reference to the enigmatic Dogon tribe) at the other, taking in a very healthy set of dance trax such as the reggaeton-like ‘Bbni’, the charming twang of Sitars on a disco beat on ‘Indienfoli’, and the devilish twyst of ‘Badjan’ alongside more fragrant, spacious and unexacting downbeat highlights in the grubbing sway of ‘Forêt’, and something very close to the ‘Fasokan’ sound with ‘A Tara’, where he gently flanges Kora strings under his hushed vocals to gorgeous, spine-playing effect.
Again, warmest recommendations for this one.
Dylan Carlson and Adrienne Davies return Earth to its fundamental state - raw, slow burning and sensually psychedelic - in the “witches garden” of ‘Full Upon Her Burning Lips?’, their 9th studio album marking 30 years since the band’s formation
Doing away with the increased polish of Earth’s albums since they returned with 2005’s ‘Hex; Or Printing In The Infernal Method’, the singular band now prize a more direct route to the core of their sound. Still geologic in pace, their 1000 yard stare is here as transfixing and strung out as their early “ambient metal” classics, but of course with the addition of Adrienne’s workhorse drums underlining and urging Carlson to drag every riff out to the horizon.
The album’s 10 songs are titled with reference to historic, mind-altering drugs and animals that, in Carlson’s own words, “people have always held superstitious beliefs towards”, and it’s in this timeless, countercultural frame-of-mind that Carlson really comes into his own. Like a time-travelling bard who’s somehow seen it all, from the ravages of the American civil war to the darkest side of contemporary rock culture, Carlson’s expressively detuned licks regale heavily accented, instrumental stories of life and death and the liminal spaces between, and most crucially with the labouring quality of a resident act who plays five-nights-a-week in a dusty saloon.
Two durational highlights really set the scene at the album’s dawn and midnight, where he really rinses every last bit of distorted twang from his guitar, and both cuts act as gathering/diffusion of energies for what’s to come. In the first half ‘Datura’s Crimson Veil’ gives way to the sky-searching axe calligraphy of ‘Exaltation of Larks’ and comes down to bruxist grind of ‘The Colour of Poison’ and unpredictable turns of phrase and lacunæ in ‘Descending Belladonna’. At the album’s midnight, ’She Rides an Air of Malevolence’ then parts to the nocturnal solitude of ‘Maiden’s Catafalque’, but there’s a glimmer of hope cracking over distant mountaintops in ‘The Mandrake’s Hymn’, that ultimately follows with the resolute but resigned summation of ‘A Wretched Country of Dusk’.
Half a decade since the DMT-inspired ‘You’re Dead’ LP, Flying Lotus is cooking on gas with ‘Flamagra’, another concept-driven spectacular, this time featuring notable guest turns from Solange and David Lynch, among many, many more.
At 27 tracks wide and 67 minutes it’s a heavy serving by modern measures, likely inspired by the arms-race for epics established by Kamasi Washington, and like Kamasi, Flying Lotus favours a rich and densely woven blend of classic soul, jazz and P-funk flecked with the kinda jazzy IDM turns-of-phrase you might expect from Squarepusher, and the sorta wonky hip hop that was big 10 years ago.
Berlin’s Réelle commits their first physical album to Aïsha Devi’s Danse Noire, offering claustrophobia-inducing insight to states of schizophrenia thru a palette of tense, explosive percussion, astringent electronics and unsettling vocal processes
“Following their debut release with Danse Noire Réelle releases their second album entitled Ghamccccxc vRR, expanding upon the painterly melodies and ornamental sound design of Kissing Myself. Rather than focusing upon deep psychological aspects of schizophrenia, Ghamccccxc vRR explores key moments before and during Réelle’s first schizophrenic psychosis as well as the lateral state of mind caused by this condition.
“Schizophrenia is said to limit a person’s abilities overall. My discovery was that it opened a gate to limbic realms not accessible under normal circumstances – at least not to me.”
The Cuban – German artist’s approach to schizophrenia as xenopraxis leads them to explore avant garde methods to composition, such as focusing on a key technique within their work of painting melodies via Image Synthesis, rather than inputting binary values or manipulating sound through skeuomorphic methods such as knobs and sliders. The painted melodies also featured in the gorgeous “Floating” and “All I Have Left” evoke alien soliloquies through damaged soundscapes.
“Most of these sounds, as well as the album title, were created during psychosis without me consciously knowing what I’m doing. Therefore I also can’t remember when or why I wrote down Ghamccccxc vRR on a piece of paper.”
Ghamccccxc vRR questions how one navigates with authorship within and beyond one’s control. Gargling textures and vocal artefacts oscillate between the erotic and the eerie (“Hybris,” “Fluid Metals”). Between Kissing Myself and Ghamccccxc vRR Réelle dissolves the real and illusion, reassembling their relationship between body and mind.”
150 minutes of previously unreleased material from Coil, strewn with parts that would eventually metastasise into ‘Backwards’, and ultimately ‘Black Light District’ and ‘Musick To Play In The Dark’. We hardly need to stress that ’Swanyard’ is a bounty for Coil nuts out there, but equally a fascinating listen for anyone attempting to get to grips with their unfathomable catalogue - especially DJs and listeners currently digging into the underbelly of the ‘90s.
The material was all written and recorded between 1993 to 1996 and was selected and assembled by Danny Hyde (Electric Sewer Age, ex-Coil, ex-Psychic TV, ex-Black Light District) from the studio archives. As he outlines in the liner notes, these 23 tracks offer unforetold snapshots of Coil’s constant work-in-progress during an important phase of exploration. Tracks were usually seeded in Peter 'Sleazy' Christopherson’s dreams, and rendered thru the prism of his myriad sample bank, with Jhon Balance pulling from his notebooks for lyrics, and Danny Hyde would aid in engineering, editing and mixing, animating their studio gremlins and mental apparitions to an almost complete form.
The ’Swanyard’ is effectively as close as you’ll get to being in their notorious studios during the pharmaceutically-fuelled peak of the ‘90s, at the point where dark ambient, electronica and dance music were mutual bedfellows, and mutated the framework for where we are today.
Reinhold Friedl’s zeitkratzer perform the tense and often violent ‘Agitation / Starvation’ from an original, electronic score by Polish-French composer Kaspar T. Toeplitz, also included on the 2nd disc
Marking 20 years of releases under his own name, during which he’s worked extensively at the GRM and notably collaborated with the likes of Eliane Radigue and Phill Niblock, ‘Agitation / Starvation’ forms both an objective and subjective rendering of Kaspar’s latest work, with his original electronic score included for reference against zeitkratzer’s instrumental interpretation. The two pieces are meant to be stand alone, but the CD cover does ate that they can be played simultaneously.
On the original electronic score, Toeplitz presents a harsh, abstract gully of free-moving atonalities that erupt with a n often violent nature. There’s almost no respite apart from the relatively poignant breakdowns in the latter half that offer some contrast to the transfixing, spectrum-saturating nastiness. So, then, it becomes all the more fascinating to hear how zeitkratzer’s interpretation makes the instrumental leap into acoustic dimensions. Revolving 11 personnel, including Toeplitz as conductor, Hild Sofie Tafjord on french horn, and Reinhold Friedl at the piano stool, the reset ‘Agitation | Starvation’ in a vaster sound stage, sustaining and diffusing the tension with often petrifying, even alarming results that resemble a warzone or the rendering of a nightmare in sound.
‘Birmingham Frequencies’ is Biosphere and Bobby Bird’s atmospheric reading of the Brummy pulse at the turn of the millennium
Recorded in 1999 and released in 2000, the CD album explores intersections of location recordings with filigree ambient tones between dual poles of rugged, range-finding dub and exquisitely burnished, Lynch/ Badalamenti soundtrack styles to present a portrait of Birmingham that’s much more romantic and dreamy than you may imagine, especially if you know the place.
20 years later, the album effectively marks a midway point between original, late ‘70s/early ‘80s ambient pioneers and the modern field. It trades in a mixture of crisply polished, well established, classical ambient notions that reflect foundational forms by Eno and Hassell, and a strain of more technoid investigation that’s perhaps prescient of producers such as uon or Pendant.
The exquisitely sparing ’Giraffe’ contains Swedish composer Johan Lindvall’s super minimalist works for acoustic steel string guitar and voice, performed by Fredrik Rasten.
‘Giraffe’ is a hugely sparing testament to this mature-beyond-his years and quiet mind’s time-lapsed style of composition. It unfurls in 5 multi-segmented parts, firstly establishing his airy meter with the 14’ piece of plucked, trembling strings in ’21 Nocturnes’, and a series of shorter probing pieces, before those spaced out notes appear to gather closer harmonic relationships with ‘As Though It Had Shut Its Eyes’, all seemingly preparing he stage for ‘Five Songs for Voice and Guitar’. Here, words by Marianne Moore are sung by Fredrik fasten in an unaffected, plaintive style, with space between the notes taken up by the breathing and leathery creaks, while the songs take elegant form recalling the spectres of Hisato Higuchi or a Nico folk song taken to extreme lengths.
A must check!
Cellist Charles Curtis searches for phantom sonorities in ‘Orpheus Variations’, a work for solo cello and seven wind instruments played by the SEM Ensemble - one of eight large scale compositions expressly written for him by Alvin Lucier - and specifically based on a particular sonority, or de-tuned chord, from Stravinsky’s ‘Orpheus’ that Lucier can’t shake since he first heard it, decades ago
“Lucier speaks first of a sonority, and only then of a chord. He discusses the chord, its notes and their disposition, but what haunts him is a “particular sonority.” A sonority is the product of physical action on physical materials: the instruments, the registers in which they are activated, the breath of the musicians, the waveforms thus produced, their merging and interfering, and finally the moment and place of these actions. An energy field, certain to vanish completely once the musicians put down their instruments. However concrete and real the actions and materials, the sonority they produce is a phantom.”
John Cage acolytes, Edition Wandelweiser Records, collect Guy Vandromme’s performance of three ‘Number’ pieces for piano from a body of late Cage works composed c.1987-1992
All entitled ‘One’, as the pieces were so named to denote how many players, and which variation they’d play, each piece is structured around Cage’s time bracket technique; providing only short fragments of score (often a single note, with or without dynamics) and indications, in minutes and seconds, during which the fragment can start andy what time it should end. The brackets can be fixed (e.g. from 1.15 to 2.00) or flexible (e.g. from anywhere between 1.15 and 1.45, and to anywhere between 2.00 and 2.30), allowing form myriad subtle variations on the same themes.
In the case of ‘One’ there are 10 time brackets, all flexible except for the ninth./ Each contains music written onto staves, but the content of one staff can be played in any relation with that of the other staff. Guy Vandromme offers two calmly spare 10 minute versions of ‘One’, which, if we’re honest, sound pretty much identical, but do actually differ from each other. There’s also a 20 minute version of ‘One5’ (his fifth work for one player) which has a more complex set of instructions including 21 time brackets for the left hand and 24 for the right. Each contains a single chord or a single note, and the performer is instructed to either hold the pedal throughout, or make as many overlappings as possible (again, using the pedal if necessary). The final piece is very quiet, often tending to the lowest registers of the keyboard and allowing the notes to spread out, smeared into a gently undulating late night panorama.
Low Jack hustles a clutch of mutant industrial dancehall edits for Hospital Productions following his role on a pair of killer Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement releases
‘Breizh’ on the most immediate level is a heavyweight bag of riddims bending industrial sounds into the dancehall template - airhorns and vibes replete - while on another level it’s posited as a comment on the “sociapolitical contradictions and passions” of his home region, the Celtic region of Brittany in North West France, which is reflected thru the cryptic cover art of Celtic glyphs and, perhaps more subtly, in the music’s short-circuiting of cultural dogma.
All cut from live recordings, the five tracks serve ammo to the discerning DJ, ranging from stormy dancehall dread in ‘Robert (Le Bourg Version)’ and woozy reversed loops in ‘They Rule (Cap-Sizun Remix)’, thru to absolute dancefloor wreckers in the cyborg bogle of ‘Plogo (Live Edit)’, a bombed out flip of Richard Brown’s late ‘90s ace ‘Baddis Riddim’, and a mental, recklessly sped-up ‘Tempo Riddim’.
Argentinian saxophonist Sergia Merce appears to flicker in and out of consciousness in ‘Three Dimensions of the Spirit,’ a spellbinding deep dive into microtonal and prepared Tenor saxophones.
Conservatory trained Merce plays with the Berlin-Buenos Aires Quintet and Haiti groups, and has previously collaborated on record with another master of spittle-inflected microtones, Lucio Capece. This is his 2nd recording for Edition Wandelweiser Records after 2016’s ‘Be Nothing.’
Until we got used to his steez by the end of titular opener, ’One Dimensional’, we genuinely weren’t sure if the CD was cutting out or if he suffered from a form of Narcolepsy or self-induced hypoxia (shortage of oxygen to the brain) from his concentrated tekkers. But, no, the piece actually makes use of those lacunæ as ear-palate cleansers in between his strangely harmonised musical sections, each returning similar to the previous part, but always different, beckoning the ear to make out the difference. ‘The Same Morning’ follows at a similarly slow pace, this time stressing queered overtones and beating frequencies after each fade out and in, until he’s hitting some really tweaky nerves, before ‘Ondular De La Espera’ completes the suite with a real test of physical endurance, as Merce somehow sustains his beating frequencies and tremulous overtones for 27 minutes.
Youth keep up a killer run of form with the first album proper by Tokyo’s Hoshina Anniversary; a steeply immersive fusion of traditional Japanese instruments with gunky acid and coruscating, psychoactive electronics.
Arriving hot on the heels of Youth’s widely-praised ‘Sports’ comp, Hoshina Anniversary’s ‘Nihon No Ongaku’ extends an invitation into a singular sound world as mazy and enigmatic as the label’s previous solo artist album by FUMU, but informed by a whole other set of reference points.
Comprising over an hour of material, ‘Nihon No Ongaku’ showcases Hoshina Anniversary’s full but particular range, spreading out from the heavy-lidded acid noise hypnagogia to experiments with processed instrumentation and pulsating electronics that recall Sote’s ontological explorations of traditional Iranian music, but woven with curious threads of pinched, minimalist, fluid rhythmelody.
If you’re after highlights, run check for the Don’t DJ-alike percussive cadence of ‘Maai’ - somehow reminding us of both Photek's 'Ni Ten Ichi Ryu' and Ryuichi Sakamoto's 'Left Handed Dream' album, the grubbing electro-dub elegance of ‘Makuranage’, or the oddly sidewinding, darkly jazzy hustle of ‘Saga’ and ’Shindeiru’.
A big tip to fans of owt from Peder Mannerfelt to Foodman, Sote or Don’t DJ!
You’ve definitely seen their name on a poster over the years if you live in the UK, and now, if the mood takes one, Hey Colossus can be heard on vinyl for Luke Younger aka Helm’s Alter label
“Coming out of London and the South West of England, Hey Colossus are one of Europe's great live bands. Since 2003 the 6-piece has been driving around the continent with their “pirate ship” backline of broken amps and triple-guitar drang, elevating audiences in every type of venue imaginable; a doctor’s waiting room in Salford, an industrial unit in Liege and a vast field next to a river in Portugal. Wherever they may roam.
Four Bibles is their twelfth studio album and the first to be released by London label ALTER, whose sole proprietor (the electronic producer Helm) encountered the group at their first gig in 2003. Recorded by Ben Turner at Space Wolf Studios in Somerset, it's their most direct album yet and follows a well-documented trajectory of evolution that began (in the truest sense) with 2011’s RRR for Riot Season and continued across three albums for Rocket Recordings. Lead vocalist Paul Sykes sounds more in focus than before, dialling down the effects and using reverb / delay to carry his lyrics rather than smother. The band has also fine-tuned to leave some room for extra depth. Piano, electronics and violin (by Daniel O'Sullivan of This is not This Heat / Grumbling Fur) all find a way in amongst a familiar mesh of interlacing guitars, wrapped round a taut rhythm section. Like every other Hey Colossus record before, the line-up has altered and the sounds reflect this.
From the weight of “Memory Gore”, to the subtlety and swag of “It's a Low”, via the sonic extremes of “Palm Hex/Arndale Chins” this is exactly as the band are live; raging & rail-roading but somehow in control. Grooves for those who want to dance or for those who want to hug a wall and nod...bleak dystopian imagery submerged in relentless rhythms and low-end rattle. The songs breath life and soul - Hey Colossus have never sounded fresher or more on point.”
Folk-Blues trooper Mike Cooper and French rock band Hifiklub present a craggy psyche-rock soundtrack setting music to a 1907 text and the images of Robert J. Flaherty’s silent film ‘Man of Aran’ 
Filmed over two years on the inhospitable islands off the Irish west coast, ’Man Of Aran’ was 3rd documentary feature film made Robert J. Flaherty following ‘Nanook of the North’ - in 1922 the world’s first commercially successful documentary film in 1922 - and ‘Moana’, which was set in the south seas. While the latter film may seem the most natural choice for Cooper, whose work often revolves the south Pacific, the Aran Isles clearly provide a colder streak of inspiration for Cooper and Hifiklub, who describe the Atlantic-lashed rocks with salty licks of psyche guitar and starkly primitive drums, while Cooper hollers John Millington Synge’s text ‘The Aran Islands’  with a conviction that brings the words to life and takes listeners right there.
Nottingham-based composer and multi-instrumentalist Thomas William Hill returns to Village Green with ‘Grains Of Space’, his second album for the label following 2017’s multi-textured ‘Asylum For Eve’.
"‘Grains Of Space’ started life as a series of minimal loops, recorded using a viola da gamba - a stringed instrument most popular in the Renaissance and Baroque eras - and aloop pedal. Using the negative space within each loop as the primary drive for composing, Thomas began a process of ‘joining the dots’, allowing the silence to dictate the next layer, informing the length, pitch and timbre of notes.
Using those recordings as the foundation, Thomas began incorporating a wide variety of other instruments into his palette, including bowed metallophones, gongs, Tibetan singing bowls, African kalimbas and metal tongue drums, as well as drum machines and analogue synthesisers. From the tense, opening drones of ‘Carriages’ to sparser, more lyrical works such as ‘Curvature’ and ‘Refract’, Thomas again demonstrates profound compositional insight, crafting highly poignant moments rich with harmony and texture. Complementing this, a more developed sense of pulse and rhythm characterises much of the album, such as the propulsive undertow of ‘Willow’ and the tactile, modernist polyrhythms of ‘Furnace’ and ‘Tongue’.
‘Grains Of Space’ also sees Tom collaborating and cowriting with a number of other musicians, bringing trumpet, violin, double bass and harp together to provide a broad and varied form to each piece."
Carl Craig follows Stacey Pullen’s lead to mix the 2nd volume of ‘Detroit Love’, starring a slick and funky selection of cuts Kevin Sanderson, DJ Minx, Mr. G, Derrick May, Ectomorph, The Dirtbombs, and many more
The 1hr 37 min mix appears alongside its components, turning up highlights in Gay Marvine’s kinky bathhouse remix of ‘Credit Card’ by Interdimensional Transmissions’ BMG & Sal P; the twisted jazz-techno of ‘Boss’ by Brain; Floorpan’s gospel techno rework of Sophie Lloyd’s ‘Calling Out’; Derrick May’s all-time classic ‘ is It What It Is’; and the rude electro swivel of ‘Satori’ from Ectomorph.
‘Morphic Dreams’ is the sophomore LP by Alessandro Adriani, including guest input from Simon Crab (Bourbonese Qualk) and Shawn O’Sullivan (Led Er Est, Civil Duty)
A crucial cog in the wave machine with his Mannequin Records, and a gatekeeper to one of Berlin’s most feted clubs in his role as programmer of Säule in the guts of Berghain, Alessandro Adriani is by many measures a key player at the intersection of retro-futurist Industrial, EBM, post-punk and techno. Leading on from the cinematic vision of his debut LP, 2016’s ‘Montagne Trasparenti’, his follow-up is defined by its dancefloor-ready stance and is full of dead-on jak beats extracting what he needs from Italo, Industrial and EBM, to galvanise 11 tracky trax of bare bones rhythms and fanged, fleshly arps in his dry style.
Luke Younger yields his most engrossing work as Helm with the sorely romantic dynamics of ‘Chemical Flowers’, his follow-up to 2015’s ‘Olympic Mess’. Bolstered by J.G. Thirlwell’s rich string arrangements, it’s a hugely ambitious work that extends from whirling, panoramic vistas to insular, pulsing dynamics, somewhere between Earth, Oren Ambarchi, Keiji Haino and Actress.
Recorded in long, sustained sessions in the Essex countryside, giving him breathing room from the choke of London, ‘Chemical Flowers’ feels more elusive and ambitious than anything we’ve heard from Helm recordings in the past. While typically concerned with the nature and sound ecology of urban life, the Helm sound now feels more edgeland, drawing on a sense of marshy menace and concrete-meets-country dread limned so evocatively in classic J.G. Ballard novels, and surely recognisable by anyone in the UK beyond off-grid folk in Pembrokeshire or the Scottish highlands, perhaps.
Given the luxury of space and time, Younger detectably reflects on past experience touring and playing live, as ambiguous nods to the strings and tones used in his Egyptian ‘Rawabet’ recordings subtly colour and marble the eight tracks, thanks to string parts arranged by J.G. Thirlwell (Foetus/Manorexia/Xordox, The The), plus saxophone from Karl D’Silva and Lucinda Chua’s cello. These acoustic touches lend human sweat and grease to proceedings which Younger uses sparingly but crucially in his electronically sculpted stagings.
In effect, Helm pulls something hallucinatory from the mundane and prosaic, akin to viewing other dimensions refracted and projected into the dark from within a brightly lit bus or train carriage during a long commute, when the mind slips into the realm between reality and waking dreams. As we pass under the flight paths and neon, microtonal ephemera of ‘Capital Crisis (New City Loop)’ this nocturnal mindset plays out in the most absorbing ways, slipping from Yves Tumor or David Axelrod-like symphonic soul strokes and trip hop drums in ‘I Knew You Would Respond’ then the ambient noise qwheeze of ‘Body Rushes’, while ‘Lizard In Fear’ captivates with its hyperrealist electroacoustic evocation of a drowned Thames estuary, and the title and gnawing tone of ‘Toxic Racecourse’ could be an allegory for London itself.
But Younger makes sure to keep that view of London ambiguous, at arms length, by returning to hypnotic rhythms like the doomy pulse of ‘You Are The Database’ that glumly precedes ‘Chemical Flowers’, a majestic widescreen synth piece that poignantly manifests the allure and promise of the city as much as its isolating qualities.
Surreal Euro oddity from double bass player Hannes d’Hoine’s Jon Doe One, joined by a quintet of guitar, flues, marimba, drums, clarinet and vacillating late night Lynchian feels with prog-jazzy turns of phrase and unexpected daubs of strange soul music. RIYL Rupert Clervaux, David Lynch, Jean-Michel Jarre, Kreng
“Jon Doe One is the alter ego of Hannes d’Hoine, a double-bass player and composer from Antwerp. His collaboration with guitarist Sjoerd Bruil and Magnum photographer Sohrab Hura, The lost head and the bird, has led to a series of live events in which the framework for Small Numbers was established. Together with a handful of guest musicians (Elko Blijweert, Michaël Brijs, Jeroen Stevens, Han Stubbe and Gert Wyninckx) the material was distilled and refined into the album’s eight tracks.”
Scandinavian isolationists Deaf Center draw a beautiful pall over this decade with ‘Low Distance’, their first album since 2011’s ‘Owl Splinter’, arriving nearly 15 years since their debut couplet of modern classical/ambient masterpieces; the ‘Neon City EP’ and ‘Pale Ravine’.
Low Distance’ returns Erik Skodvin and Otto A. Totland to the shadowy, wintry depths of their early sound, seemingly sequestered in a loft or creaking wooden house in a place where the sun doesn’t rise for 6 months of the year. Their signature palette of ghostly piano gestures, glacial but knife-edge strings and electronics is employed to expectedly beautiful effect, but it’s perhaps the final mixing treatment, uncannily rendered along vertical and horizontal axes at EMS Stockholm, that really brings this record to life, just as integrally as lighting is to a slow burn film noir.
Endearingly working on low batteries throughout the album, their sense of melancholy is patently apparent and deeply intoxicating with it, diffused through the synaesthetic connotations of rain in ‘A Scent’, and through the clammy skin stroking strings of ‘Entity Voice’ before sublimely relieving tension with ‘Undone’. They then broach more textured, abstract electro-acoustic space in the spectral flocking of ‘Gathering’, the album’s extended centrepiece, before touching on midnight jazz notes, sumptuous subs and extended techniques in ‘Red Glow’ like some meeting of Deathprod and Bohren Und Der Club of Gore, and the barely there yet heartbreaking strings of ‘Faded Earth’ attest to their preternatural skill in getting the most from the barest components.
The last section is just immensely powerful in its stark vulnerability and impending tension, holding its emotive line thru the needling hi-register keys and heavy-breathing strings of ‘Movements/The Ascent’, thru the lingering romance of ‘Far Between’, until the quietly jaw-dropping, beautiful solo piano resolution of ‘Yet To Come’, where the hallucinatory nature dissipates and we’re left with starkly vivid, waking realism implied by the track’s title.