Lucy Dunscombe’s stunning self-released debut is a dreamlike avant-ambient-pop distillation of online life, featuring an array of manipulated vocals narrating pristine soundscapes that sound like a modern equivalent of Japanese environmental recordings, rebuilt for the digital domain. Highly recommended if yr into Hiroshi Yoshimura, Klein x Mark Leckey.
Enamoured with melody and animated with small sound detail and additional, instrumental ornamentation by Ailie Ormstom, ‘The Rapture Of Cellular Accretion’ is a striking debut put together by Glasgow based artist Lucy Dunscombe in early 2021, prior to her 10” with 12th Isle.
Conceived around the act of sharing music and building alternative social spaces in the digital realm, the release obliquely and craftily reflects on the way we’ve all come to embrace the surreality of the experience in a highly sound sensitive way.
With her vocal processed in pitch and glitch to resemble a range of voices, from naif gynoid to queered curdle, R&B-esque to ambient choral siren, the 10 tracks shapeshift in shimmering slow motion as though we micro-dosed mushies with our shreddies, creating a sense of surreal, detached familiarity so emblematic of our age.
It’s a real, rare delicacy of contemporary experimentation; and an essential listen for anyone interested in the stranger nooks of c.21st electronic music from the uncanny valley.
Heady synth-bass-trap constructions inna Rustie/Kuedo/HudMo mode from French producer Charles Prieur on Simo Cell's ace TEMET imprint. Mad fancy packaging too.
On "Memory File Hosting", the French beatmaker refines his process, sticking to the rough template established by US pioneers like 808 Mafia and DJ Spinz but injecting it with neon-hued UK special sauce - the kinda rave-corrupted, video-game-inspired sound we heard from Joker, Rustie, HudMo and Dark0. It's a solid formula, carried by Prieur's estimable engineering skills: each track sounds as if it's been tweaked to reach a level of sonic perfection, with synths beaming like sun rays.
Unlike the ATL material that roots Prieur's rhythms, "Memory File Hosting" leans into a level of synth fetishism that coolly scrapes against Jean Michel-Jarre's glitzy stadium electronics. On 'Inner Dance', malleable baroque arpeggios suggest a 1970s electronic landscape painted in the wake of Wendy Carlos's "Switched on Bach", interrupted by Shawty Redd 808 booms and Lex Luger trilled hats. 'Ash Flow' operates in a more liminal zone, epic and synth heavy, but still heavy enough to rattle the lining out of yr trunk. Prieur saves his most club-ready material for later: 'Red Dominoes' and 'Skaï Mauve' are as heavy as anything on 808 Mafia's crucial instrumental mixtapes, cutting dissonant piano and flute sounds with innovative, chunky percussion.
We're most impressed when Prieur engages his softer side though, embracing a PS1-era shimmer on 'Transparent Things' and the Sakamoto-esque 'Firefly Lullaby', our pick of the bunch.
Red-lining crud from John T. Gast’s pal, St. Agnis, for his 5 Gate Temple - one for devotees of Tribe of Colin, Brassfoot, Sockethead
Likely named after the town south of Newquay, Cornwall, St. Agnis comes with a craggy as fuck batch of soundsystem blow-outs that we’d imagine sound best with sand in your pants and a strong Gulf Stream breeze in your grill, but likewise deliver that tang at home.
Following in the mutant footsteps of class blatz by Jog Mode, and echoing frazzled joints from other corners of this sceptic isle, the styles dial up memories of free parties and mucking about on grubby equipment, wresting 6 sharp gobs of singed circuitry between ‘I (welcome)’, the rusty discord of ‘II’, the frantic step of ‘III’, and something like Ekoplekz on a singeli hop with ‘shepherdess’, before sendign eyes in backa-head with the rapid arps and meditative vox of ‘om mani padme hum.’, and keeping it way out west with ‘what a joy’.
Top shelf sci-fi thriller machine functions on Funkineven’s Apron Records, for fans of Dâm Funk, Shamos, Tony Price, dBridge
Night-vision goggles turned on, Quaid comes slick as fuck with the perfectly pulpy steez of ‘The Algorithm Don’t Like My Freek’, a narrative-based instrumental suite in the vein of his four albums to date, including the pair of ‘Dreem Static’ sessions for Apron in 2020/21.
Blessed with purring groove control and padded with lustrous synths, it feels like the lost score to a Michael Mann flick, scanning glittering city horizons in the panoramic open ’End Game’ and shuttling between kerb-crawling funk on ‘HyperReal’ to the romantic keytar riffs and bass plucks of ‘Secret Colors’, tempered by storytelling pieces such as the crimson-hued glyde of ‘Quantum Prophets’ and proper ‘80s thriller leads of ‘Future Attractions’, with debonaire turns of 808 electromance in ‘The Lovers’ , while perpetrating proper purple funk in ‘Untitled Freek’.
Dubwise, richly-textured ambient delicacies from Austin’s Gi Gi, cycling thru feathered permutations of sunkissed new age and junglist styles for a strong Good Morning Tapes debut. RIYL Terre Thaemlitz, Orbital, William Orbit, FSOL, Art of Noise.
Gi Gi is a snug fit for the label; sanguine but just the right side of soporific, the vibe dials up echoes of classic balearic bliss crossed with early Terre Thaemlitz in its sound sensitive soulfulness and warmth, washing over yr skin and mind with a classicist balm that’s perfectly in chime with the season.
Jazz drums, lissom guitar and synth-flute streaks conjure bright blue skies and cirrus streaks in ‘Dawn Song’, while ‘two ones’ doubles the tempo on a swaying ambient jungle flex that also perfuses the hazier hues of ‘Ambergris (Blue)’ and dances around the links between deep house, ambient and D&B like Terre Thaemlitz’s Ambient beauty ‘Tranquilliser’ (1994) in the lilting congas of ‘Asp’, caressing strums of ‘Lisle’, and the piano-led ambient blues of ‘Sunchoke.’
The last gasp of summer, right here.
Amsterdam mainstay Interstellar Funk errs to the former part of his moniker in a showcase of modular synth melodies wrought with chamber-like elegance.
While there are traces of grooving baselines and rhythmic pulses, they’re mostly harnessed to a sanguine style in his performance recorded at The Rest Is Noise Festival, in the Muziekgebouw concert hall.
He’s definitely channelling the faraway synth gaze of Klaus Schulze and Manuel Göttsching here, as much as Kluster or even Global Communication, setting controls for an arcing journey between burbling offworld-pastoral arps to luscious kosmiche, siren-call choral plumes and a patch of vocoder-led brilliance that prompts the set’s gorgeous resolution in its latter stages. Skills.
Epic 4-way pitting A Colourful Storm (Moopie and Mark) vs V I S (Nina and Good News) for an almost 3-hour session of sprawling selector specials, mined from the depths of their respective, groaning shelves.
The levels are obscure and absorbing on each side, under the title ‘Not Kennt Kein Gebot!’, or ‘Necessity Knows No Law!’, each player follows their noses down rabbit holes of investigation for a pack that adds up to more than the sum of its considerable parts.
Good News is up first with an opening that sounds like a pitched down brass band playing over a mentasm deployed at 1% - it’s beautiful and terrifying all at once, providing a perfect portal into his opiated take on smeared, viscous drone, flesh-creep electronics and æther voices that channel NWW-like sensations of sinister whimsy and unforetold audness.
Nina follows with more buckled post-industrial structures and dense passages studded with calcium-deficient drums and doom rave that sound gloriously out of time, all slowed Amens and scattered snares laced with low-lit klang - our kinda shit.
The final two sides descend into the recesses of A Colourful Storm’s far reaching imagination, with Moopie assembling 45 minutes of squashed drums and K-hole sluggers, over-easy on the bass and late ‘90s ruggedness somewhere between dank Scorn x Illbient and the sort of gear that made DJ Scud’s and I-Sound’s Wasteland project so quietly influential in the early aughts.
Mark is up last and plots a slanted transition thru avant-garde experiments, baroque wonders, classical guitar, bells, gongs and a particularly satisfying section half an hour in that sounds like the Mamangakis soundtrack for Heimat, you know, excactly our kinda shit.
Derek Piotr's final part of the "Bare family trilogy" again presents a selection of roughly recorded folk songs that highlight the resilience of American folk traditions.
Piotr's collections have been often difficult to absorb, but crucial documents of music that's as unpolished as it is historically essential. This one combines recordings from 1939 in Tennessee and North Carolina with more recent recordings - made by Piotr himself - from earlier this year in North Carolina. Like the previous installments in the trilogy, "Come, Let Us Sing" offers a different story of US folk music, focusing completely on near-acapella recordings of the Bare family, whose cracking sentimental renditions are strangely transfixing.
Consummate selector and veteran of a pair of mixtape percies for The Trilogy Tapes, DJ Sundae racks up the rarities for a killer new edition for Good Morning Tapes, a recording of his set for Alexis Le Tan’s Oddity Radio, Paris.
Sundae’s selection skills are already a thing of low-key legend and on this new one he picks an arc from sylvan synth glydes to punky reggae dub via ample armfuls of spirited music, each cut a stepping stone to the next in a proper example of DJ as storyteller.
Aye, you can forget about any easily identifiable gear and expect to snag the attentions of earnest spotters licking their nibs for hits of rustic folk, proggy psych, druggy grunge and punk hymns that give way to brooding bass music and stepping post-punk.
Sublime, BoC-wise ambient drift by Calum McLeod, supplying a genteel antithesis to his tonking hardcore techno with Clouds, for Mark “Mother” Maxwell and DJ Crud’s Concrete Cabin
If Glasgow’s Concrete Cabin is best known as incubator of bombproof mutant rave, this release frames it as a metaphoric bothy sheltering McLeod’s atmospheric wanderlust. Draped in mist and following his instincts for melodic lines of thought, it’s equivalent to a hand-knit comfort blanket or a crackling fire in the hearth, replete with mice scurrying about nibbling ramblers’ crumbs and toes, and with a babbling burn outside. Yeah yeah, you can probably tell we need a holiday, but right now this is as close as we’ll get and it’s all the more welcome for it.
Evoking similar terrain to BoC interludes or Lord of the Isles’ most pastoral intimations, but vaporised to a more subtly suggestive quintessence, the nine tracks transmute a deep topography of OS and spiritual grid references into a form of psychoacoustic navigation on the back of yer eyelids. Each track takes as long as it needs to fray its flux of plaintive, woollen melodies and ember-smoulder rhythms into sublime permutations, drifting from ‘Herz’ to ‘Nostalghia’ via the heather harmonic hues of ‘LWK’ and gloaming pads of ‘…in the sky Zentraleuropa’ with hints of classic ‘70s kosmiche that fed into classic ‘90s ambient forms via Eno and his ilk.
Pack this in your mental knapsack with a bottle of Ceol Ila and some sturdy waterproofs and woollens and take yourself off piste for the best holiday sans stealth turds or smelly busses.
Logos isolates and interrogates experimental techno functions on an uncompromising 2nd volume of his keen studio research series, taking inspiration from the primal, minimal brutalism of Mika Vainio, Panasonic, Sähkö and Topdown Dialectic.
Getting ever deeper inside his Nord Modular G1 after 2021’s ‘North Vol.1’, Logos follows-up with a new suite of productions veering between looped and spheric bleep techno and blasts of icy distortion. Shelling manic, shearing modem-noise in ‘G1 Rungle’, we find purest Sleepachive variations in the run of ‘G1 Warehouse’, ‘Zone 2’, and the lop-sided ‘Gamma Version’, while a palate cleanser of atom-smashing movements in ‘Pointil’ hearkens to his work as part of The Sprawl for The Death of Rave.
‘Rollers Instinct’ dials down his D&B inspirations to the sleekest Ø style tool, while ‘Schaffel’ and ’Stuck’ tinker with the parameters of Wolfgang Voigt’s Studio 1 productions with clinical obsession. It’s all dry and minimal to the extreme, providing an almost forensic investigation of form and function in a way that feels ripe for re-evaluation following that early 2000’s Sähkö-aping frenzy.
Californian psych duo Kamikaze Palm Tree teeter between studied academic complexity and batshit freeform playfulness on their second full-length.
"Mint Chip" is the second album from White Fence drummer Dylan Hadley's Kamikaze Palm Tree, a collaboration with multi-instrumentalist Cole Berliner. Handling vocals, Hadley is central to the Kamikaze Palm Tree sound, offering a breathy, unbothered quirkiness to the cleverly absurd songs. The music's rooted in prog rock and psych, touching on Mr. Bungle or even Frank Zappa at its smartest and most slippery, but there's also a poppiness to Hadley and Berliner's songs that remind us of Stereolab.
Key changes, tempo changes, instrument switch-ups, vocal runs - it's a dizzying display that's as hard to follow as "Rick and Morty" on double speed. Good luck.
Well this one is completely off its tits; DJ, producer and suave bohemian Iueke lays wreckage with a 100 minute, double tape session, his third for Demdike Stare’s DDS label. Piling layer after layer of plasmic drift and smudged delirium, Iueke takes in gregorian chanting, baroque drone, pressurised dub and dispersed, scattered drums for a session that’s more chopped & melted than chopped & screwed. Bit of a masterpiece we’d say.
By any measure the most delirious of his sessions so far, ‘Mix 3’ pays witness to the Parisian weirdo twisting his mad pile of tunes into nutty putty, playing with streaks of wild-pitched polymeter with an extra special, curdled digital tangggggg. It’s an absolutely sweltering maelstrom of energies that makes mincemeat of any attempts to grasp its slithering contours and GRM-like diffusion of everything ranging from Dabke horns to Far Eastern vocals, clattering gamelan, gregorian chant and scything jungle for good measure.
If there was any semblance of groove in the first two Iueke mixes, this double session pushes conceptions of rhythm and meter to their wildest parameters, making free-handed use of “wide” pitch, loops, cue triggers - to dissect and re-combine disparate elements in-the-mix like some crazed descendent of Gescom’s disorienting Disengage wonders for Kiss FM, a pebbledashed deep dive into c.20th concrète and sound art.
Endlessly deep and fully disorienting, we reckon it’s impossible to listen to this one all the way through without questioning yr own reality, which is to say - fully licked. Thanks pal.
Vintage Jersey club sauce on this “lost” 2011 mixtape salvaged by Finn’s 2 B Real label on cassette tapes that are near guaranteed to last longer than a streaming link. 42 tracks, 70 minutes from Jersey Club’s golden era, all produced by DJ R3LL & DJ Kiff and lost to the internet after major label takedown requests - newly mastered and issued by 2 B Real.
Jersey club has long been a diamanté-plated touchstone for Finn and Local Action, whose enthusiasm for the sound has nurtured its revived popularity. Rooted in the Baltimore club style from further down the eastern US seaboard, and with parallels in NYC ballroom, Miami bass, and Chicago juke - or even UK hardcore and UKG - Jersey club’s hybrid of hip hop/R&B and scudding house kick drums is pure party tackle, built ruff and rude to whip crowds to a frenzy. DJ R3ll & DJ Kiff’s flex is legendary and now secreted to tape after long thought lost.
Newark, Jersey’s core duo DJ R3LL & DJ Kiff lay it down with a trowel, stitching dozens of classic burners in a deadly sequence of bumping bass drum triplets gilded with pitched up R&B vox and melody and party-starting call-and-response choruses. The sound is self-evident, clearly made for popping corks at the Ba Da Bing or Club Karma on a weekend, but just as ripe for UK nippers spraying Blue WKD.
While the sound nowadays has mutated into forms of Jersey drill, this tape hails it right on the cusp of slapping EDM’s massive, hormone-injected ass, replete with flips of LFMAO, Drake and contemporary pop madeleines primed to give flashbacks to your wildest nights on M-CAT back in the day.
Jo Montgomerie intensifies her sound in shorter, more nuanced forms of bloody-minded solo piano and crushing tonal pressure after a series of durational releases that have staked her on the map of uncompromising, contemporary noise - RIYL Reinhold Freidl, Éliane Radigue, Alberich, NWW
Firmly established as one to keep an ear on since 2019 via tapes for Industrial Coast and Helen Scarsdale Agency, Jo now diffracts her waves into a more nuanced grip of six cuts for Brachliegen Tapes, hailing from the historic coast of Deal, Kent. Where the unyielding structures of her previous required a focussed level of attentive listening from the user, these ones span Friedl-isch solo piano to whelming industrial drone, ‘Those Things Beyond & Within’ farther reveals her trenchant close listening of the minutiae to her combinations of documentarian field recordings and, for the first time most explicitly, her refusenik background of practice and training as a pianist.
We’re particularly struck by album opener ‘focus on the constant’, where she jabs the lower registers of the piano in a properly doomy processional accreting gloaming overtones like Reinhold Freidl channelling Éliane Radigue. Suitably submerged in her world, the set continues with the gravelly waves of bass attrition in ‘the times i let you think you know me’, while the relative spatial relief of ‘they all fell so easy’ shores up in furnace intensity, and ‘think we lost them’ recalls the sound of the fridge on the other side of my bedroom wall that lulls me to sleep paralysis every night.
By this point you’re either all in or not at all, and ‘i only just realised’ polishes off the with a stare-down 12 minutes of martial industrial percussion and stealthy escalating drone that feels like Black Mecha or Wold’s mentation electronics in its unyielding density. Gwarn Jo, ya mad scone.
Mor Elian returns to her Alloy Sea project after 2020's brill "Petrichor" tape, borrowing IDM aesthetics, dub tech and new age drones to construct tweaky FM bass-music inversions. RIYL Arovane, B12, Martyn, T++.
When Elian debuted the Alloy Sea project, it was with 50 continuous minutes of flowing ambience and dub techno-indebted moods, assembled like a mixtape and released on her own Syn Syn label. 'Xoomin' is a more robust proposition, put together at the request of Paralaxe Editions' Dania Shihab and made up of eight FM-powered tracks that betray Elian's love of early IDM and glassy new age sounds.
The linking thread on 'Xoomin' is Elian's sonic palette, using frequency modulated synths - the sounds most commonly connected to Yamaha's DX-series of synthesizers - to give the record its particular sound. Combining these textures with snippets of voice, she makes music that exists in a hypnogogic state, between dancefloor and sleep zones.
Opener 'The moment' deploys Elian's vocals at an almost inaudible level, smudged into raw Grouper-esque notes underneath synth blasts. Just when you expect the track to erupt into a full-pelt 4/4 monster, Elian pulls it back. 'You stepped outside' is muddier still, sounding as moody and dreamlike as Motion Sickness of Time Travel and as rhythmically propulsive as B12's defining 'Time Tourist'. The use of FM sounds roots 'Xoomin' in 1980s electro and TV soundtrack aesthetics - we can't help but get reminded of Peter Davidson's Radiophonic Workshop run - but Elian saturates these sounds and curves them thru nu-dub ideas to separate them from their usual cultural references. So while 'On your skin' sounds relatively throwback, 'Rain fell down' drags the glassy sounds thru miles of muck, sounding closer to Vladislav Delay or T++.
'We will never' is our pick of the bunch - a mid-point between early electronic experimentation and electro punchiness, it flows around a single, distorted low-end synth tone, moving slowly thru robotic, rhythmic loops, before being suddenly disrupted by sharp FM blasts.
Gqom hybridists Phelimuncasi return to Nyege Nyege Tapes for a second album of purple-hued, darkside energies that cross galvanized futuristic productions with frenetic MCing in isiZulu and English. Imagine DJ Lag, DJ Menzi and Byrell the Great in a blender and you'll get a vague idea of what to expect.
Nyege introduced Phelimuncasi to the wider world a couple of years back with a career spanning sampler that was released to much acclaim, but by that point they were already a long-established fixture on their local Durban scene. 'Ama Gogela' brings us right up to speed, allowing everyone outside of their Mlaszi township a chance to experience the sound and energy of one of gqom's most relentless, uncompromising units. Vocalists Malathon, Makan Nana and Khera team up once again with Gqom's most innovative producers DJ MP3 and DJ Scoturn, joined by locals DJ Nhlekzin and DJ Ndakx, alongside South Korea's NET GALA, who dropped the ace "신파 SHINPA" last summer.
The album starts on a delirious tip with 'I Don't Feel Like Legs', a DJ Nhlekzin-produced trunk bumper that lifts Malathon, Makan Nana and Khera's circular chants above a mass of subby womps and party clacks somewhere between Miami bass and classic gqom, complete with frenetic thee-part vocals, police sirens and chat delirium. NET GALA throws down another early highlight with the squelchy 'Ngiphupha Izinto', blasting Phelimuncasi thru rolling ballroom-adjacent snares and bee-sting synths.
'Maka Nana' features guest vocalist Bhejane riding a more traditional gqom blueprint, balancing a slithering drone against a familiar 120bpm bounce offset by those neon vocal chants, while 'Dlala Ngesinqa’ percolates with menace, a winding synth ramping up the tension with increasing intensity, and they leave it to the clipped vocal stabs of 'Uyaphi WeNano’ to present the most unhinged darkside energy on show, deployed at half speed for a tempo madness.
Scribbly sound paintings from Japan’s Akhira Sano, leading on from albums with Sun Araw’s label and Cassauna to The Trilogy Tapes
Existing in a liminal cloud space somewhere between Tomoko Sauvage’s tinkling experiments with ceramics and water, the dust mite dances of Bellows, or YPY’ glitching pulses, ‘Particle Dialogue’ is all brownian motion and crackle coaxed from undisclosed equipment.
There’s a sort of Murakami-esque enigma at play in Sano’s groggy logic that lends itself well to drifting off and letting it colour your background and airspace like some playful augmented reality projection where your speakers spit flecks of paint in the air and on the walls.
After snatching our album of the year spot in 2021 with ‘Rhinestones', HTRK open up the vault for a feature-length collection of alternate takes, demos, and sketches augmented by a bunch of unreleased songs, compiled to coincide with their US tour happening round about now. Love this band so fucking much.
Offering a “glimpse behind the veil” at last year’s most effective emotional support animal, ‘Death Is a Dream’ plays like an unexpected encore transmitted straight to the heart. It’s such a weird, real pleasure to hear these songs distilled and viewed from other perspectives, as with the ‘rehearsal’ take on ‘Gilbert & George’ or the slow thrumming ‘Eurodance’ version of ‘Kiss Kiss and Rhinestones’, while the newly unveiled songs are no doubt worth cost of admission alone, particularly the tear-jerk jangle and blunted croon of the title tune that closes the tape and appears to feature Nigel’s voice.
A shivering new backbone of minimal, pulsing reverb-drenched 808s now bolster their watercolored strings in ‘Valentina (Cali Highway Version)’ while the clipped drums on ’Straight to Hell (Demo)’ frames the scene with brilliantly different strokes, while ‘Reverse Deja vu (Demo)’ is stripped to heartbreaking quintessence complete with woodblock drums piercing the melancholy.
"lost highway jukebox standards”, indeed.
Moonchild Sanelly's second album on Transgressive.
"Forming a sonic foundation that veers between Amapiano, Gqom, grime, pop, house and R&B while showcasing her vocal talents on more downtempo songs, Phases 19-tracks document the varying chapters of a toxic relationship and subsequent freedom. A double album, the first side is a journey through the relationship with production reflecting those different moods and aspects of her personality; the second side, meanwhile, leads into a clubbier amapiano space.
Collaboration has always been core to Moonchild’s alternate world. Since her 2015-released award-winning first album Rabulpha! put her on the global map, she has collaborated with local favourites Maphorisa, Sho Madjozi and Thandiswa Mazwai. In the years that followed, she caught the attention of a host of international superstars, leading to high-profile collaborations with artists including Wizkid, Beyonce (featuring on “MY POWER”) and Gorillaz (on “With Love To An Ex”).
Phases is a highly collaborative record, too, with production and guest features from Sad Night Dynamite (their track “Demon” is already a huge hit), Wesley Joseph, Xavier Thomas (Débruit), TOKiMONSTA, HOLLY and Aramboa. The album’s title takes on a multitude of meanings: via the range of genres covered across its runtime, the different sounds and styles that it encompasses and the personal journey that Sanelisiwe Twisha has taken to get to this point."
Raime’s Joe Andrews and Tom Halstead, plus Valentina Magaletti (numerous projects, solo and in collab - all of them worthy of yr time) come together once again as Moin to vacillate between bitter/sweet picks of post-punk, inebriated skuzz, cut-up WTF? joints and queasy ambient for their excellent 2nd mixtape for AD 93.
Penetrating the depths of their record collections, ‘Capable’ sprawls through an hour and a half that keeps their influences open and unpredictable in the maziest fashion, spanning puckered kisses of C86 x Wiiija pop, angular grot, modal rock and dream-sequence audities with a guess-again agenda that’s always half the fun with their mixes.
If u wanna get snagged on ohrwurms that might only reveal themselves years later on your digging journeys, this one has ample rewards in store - effectively a breadcrumb trail thru the recesses of experimental rock and related paradigms of the past 40 years or so.
If you lose yr way, go back to the beginning and do it all over again.
Another enthralling and nostalgic time capsule from the Death is Not the End crew, this time collecting rave ads from the era's nexus., 1991 - 1996.
Picking up just about where the "London Pirate Radio Adverts" comps left off, "London Rave Adverts" focuses specifically on pirate radio rave stings, described by Simon Reynolds in the liners as "the audio equivalent of a rave flyer". And while none of us were plastering our walls with shoutouts (or making tapes of 'em), he's right that there's a similar rush of nostalgia hearing gravel-voiced MCs shouting out DJs like Grooverider and Mickey Finn over shortwave-corrupted amens and canned piano.
Each ad is like a tiny echo of an era that's been so heavily mythologized by this point that it's almost entirely lost its connection to tangible history: voices are timestretched into robotic dipper wails or splattered into reverberating shimmers, euphoric fuzzed pads and wobbly subs are spliced with chipper cockney banter, sandwiched between radio static and breaks.
Ignore the tidal wave of regurgitated poshnob polite-n-bass rave flatcap-to-fitted doof, this'll remind you of a time when the genre represented change, independence, hope, and genuine progression.
Outstanding, darkly poetic collab from conceptual artist Richie Culver & electronic shapeshifter Pavel Milyakov (Buttechno) - a bloodletting for the times RIYL Blackhaine, Teresa Winter, TG
Landing in the slipstream of Culver’s surprise ace for Superpang, ‘A Change of Nothing’ presents the Hull-based multi-hyphenate meeting an ideally cranky foil in amorphous artist Pavel Milyakov, who relocated from Moscow to Europe with his Ukrainian wife earlier this year for obvious reasons.
Both artists bring their respective realities to the fore in utterly compelling style on ‘A Change Of Nothing’, meshing Culver’s spoken word observations and Max/MSP patches to Milyakov’s ravishing guitar and synth textures in visceral forms that speak vividly to their shared backgrounds in the brutalism of Hull and the former Soviet capital. It’s not a union that we might have readily predicted, but it proves a vital meeting of minds and energies, underlined by a soberly mature emotive intelligence and ability to divine beauty from harshness, or, at the least, a certain artistic truth.
As with Culver’s preceding Blackhaine collab ‘DID U COME YET / I’M NOT GONNA CUM’ and solo debut for Superpang, his lyrics are wryly realist, autobiographical observations on life in Hull, from the perspective of someone who grew up there, but found themselves rotting away, and moved cities to pursue his art, before moving back as a different person, sans addictions. Pavel’s perspective is similar but different, having grown up in Russia during the challenges of the ‘90s, then witnessing an autocratic ruler execute imperialist ambitions, effectively pushing him to abandon his home.
Where that combination of experiences could precipitate sentimentality, the pair hold a to a fine line between catharsis and disciplined restraint in five starkly evocative, open-ended works, with Culver’s unapologetically DOA Humberside vowels uttering junkie proverbs and punchily plaintive observations to Milyakov’s freeform textures. At times resembling the emotive orchestrations of Fennesz, at others like Kevin Drumm’s skull-scrape ambient tones, or with the bite and roil of Shapednoise; it’s a real deal expression of contemporary dread that’s going straight in our special folder of North Sea doom music.
Severely desiccated dub wreckage from iDEAL boss Joachim Nordwall, pushing the aesthetics and tekkerz of his records as The iDEALIST to extreme degrees comparable with Ilpo Väisänen’s Kangaroo turns, starkest Rhythm & Sound joints or the most uncompromising gear found on SM-LL
A big look for noise and industrial dub fiends, ‘Healing Music’ wounds and sutures heads in six spirit-grinding works defined by an obsessive sound sensitivity toward subbass and worn-out texture. We’ve heard artists explore this zone before, yet rarely to this kind of unyielding extent, where the principles of dub are factored by the industrial mindset into intensely sparse negative space. It’s a logical next step on from Nordwall’s work as The iDEALIST, effectively cutting the kick drum anchors to leave behind trace elements and after-impressions of dematerialised rhythms and sounds.
Frankly it’s a sound we could happily run all day, requiring little effort on behalf of the listener, yet helplessly snagging us in its spectral slosh and a sort of illusive ephemerality that leads yr mind off into space. While patently hard-bitten, there is a subtle declension of rawness and sensuality at play in the album’s arc from slow, seething scree of its first part thru the relative airborne lightness of its last. In between he opens fathoms of seductively gritty imaginary space, descending subs of ‘Healing Music 2’ and extreme high/low register tones of ‘Healing Music 3’, into empty-belly echo chamber resonance of ‘Healing Music 4’, and settling near Nate Young’s ‘Regression’ session styles on ‘Healing Music 5’.
Dub and Dilla-wise downbeat hip hop chops from OGs of the ‘00s wonky beats scene
Still going strong on their Wulf label, home to Letherette’s tubes for the past five years, ‘BL6’ continues the Brown Lounge series started in 2008 with a 19 track beat tape of loping rhythms shaped in sampler-tesselated cuts of boogie soul, dub-hop, and Dilla worship.
Respect for sticking to their thing and continuing to find their soul in that niche, with some tidy slices of velvet-clad late night music in ‘Armor’, dub-hazed instrumental drizzle on ‘Mell’, Madlib-adjacent bumps in ‘Tears’, RZA-esque loop slips on ‘Your Heart’, and the early Ye-esque sample flip of ‘Middy’, plus a continuous mix version that puts it all in context.
Hardcore jungle flashback from Demdike Stare, filleting ’93 madness heavily inspired by the cut-up rhythmic psychedelia of Tom & Jerry, Rufige Kru, A Guy Called Gerald, DJ Hype - yano it’s 100% deadly
One we’ve all been waiting for, ‘Physics’ is a tour de force of the most thrilling era in UK dance music. Dicing with late ’92-into-’93 templates, the hour-long selection cues up a barrage of classics and rarities that emerged following the accelerated rush of the hardcore years, ’90-’91, when tempos began to break the 150bpm sound barrier in a disciplined escalation and advance of Caribbean soundsystem culture’s style and pattern, causing an unprecedented rupture of the dancefloor space-time continuum.
Although emerging in the crucible of London dances during the late ‘80s, the music rapidly evolved and spread thru the UK’s rich diaspora of 2nd gen Windrush descendants to ravers across the UK, as far north as Kode 9 in Glasgow, and Demdike Stare’s native Lancashire, where it irrevocably infected a generation of players who rinsed it out at legendary warehouse parties.
‘Physics’ now drills deep into Demdike's memory banks and record collection for a ravenous reflux of the OG style, benefitting from razor-sharp edits and judicious FX to present the style (almost) as you would have got it in a cavernous warehouse surrounded by thousands of spring-heeled gurners. The mix shells pure stacks of badness, toggling the pressure gauge between toe-tip steppers, soulboy glyde and ballistic bruk outs with darkside switch-ups that leave no body still on the ‘floor.
While 30 years removed from that pivotal time, ‘Physics’ perfectly captures the frenetic energy of hardcore jungle for those who know, and those who’re about to find out, distilling its compound symbiosis of technological innovation and narcotic nuttiness at its most deadly effective, playful and game-changing best. Nowt quite like it, is there?
On her second full-length, Belarusian producer Lina Filipovich deconstructs baroque music, turning familiar compositions from Bach, Handel, Frescobaldi, Carleton and Couperin into tweaky, neo-electronic symphonies.
Driven by her memories of playing baroque music as a child, Filipovich decided to develop a suite of interpretations, deconstructing and re-interpreting pieces to "push the limits of performing classical music in the traditional way." The first example we have of this is 'BWV 534 Prelude Fugue in F Minor', an attempt to wrangle Bach into a glitchy 4/4 framework that's a hair's breadth away from early Murcof. But where Murcof used classical sounds to suggest space and darkness, Filipovich appears to have more of an interest in electroplating organ sounds and evoking a ghostly future-ancient tenor.
She approaches each track with vastly different energy, tempering Frescobaldi's 'Toccata decima' with filtered frequency fuckery and leaving little of the original composition untouched. Her version of 'Alle Menschen müssen sterben BWV 643' boils Bach into gaseous traces, filtering identifiable organ loops into blots of booming bass and vibrating oscillators. Most memorable is Filipovich's take on Handel's 'Sarabande' - widely known for its usage in Kubrick's iconic "Barry Lyndon" - where she dissolves the organ theme with crunchy overdrive and rolling synth scratches.
Mexican sound artist Concepción Huerta looks to the stars on her latest sludgy kosmische set, filtering weightless synth sequences thru fluttering tape processes.
A photographer and video artist as well as a composer, Concepción Huerta is also known locally in Mexico for her work documenting the country's growing experimental scene. "Harmonies from Betelgeuse" follows a run of releases on Static Discos, SA Recordings and Hole Records, and demonstrates the flexibility of her musical knowledge. Her inspiration here is the endless open void of the universe, and she attempts to represent space using analogue synthesizers and effects, keeping an eye on our 1960s/70s ideas of electronic music and science fiction, while simultaneously referencing contemporary tape-obsessed experimental heads like William Basinski and Nikolaienko.
Across eight woozy compositions, Huerta evokes the sensation of space, its constant weightless movement, its expansion and contraction and its ultimate mystery. "Harmonies from Betelgeuse" is almost a soundtrack to a lost sci-fi movie, or at least a documentary filmed using the very finest telescopic imaging equipment.
Yorkshire's Working Men's Club emulate early '80s electro pop on their sophomore album "Fear Fear".
The young band from Todmorden notched up plenty of acclaim for their self-titled 2020 debut, written when singer-songwriter (and de-facto frontman) Syd Minsky-Sargeant was just 16 years old. So "Fear Fear" is the sound of a band maturing; Minsky-Sargeant is now 20 and the sound of the band's second album is darker and more pointed. "I like the contrast of it being happy, uplifting music and really dark lyrics," he says. We don't know about that - the music presented here isn't exactly the Arctic Monkeys, although it was produced by that band's producer Ross Orton.
Nah, "Fear Fear" is rougher around the edges, all spiraling, broken oscillators and on-the-fritz drum machines with deranged acid squelches poking in-between the gaps. If you need a stylistic comparison, it's a bit like if the Lo Fidelity All Stars did a record of Depeche Mode covers. Yeah.
Best yet from Luke J Murray’s multiple, ‘nuum-surfing personas; a murky deep topographic reading of East London’s palimpsest of paranormal energies, hardcore and pubcore
Splicing fragments of overheard convos from East London public houses with a palette of sawn-off jungle, Eski grime, drill, UKG and plasmic ooze, Murray’s first act as Superior London Pulp is a logical successor to turns as Stonecirclesamper and with NONEXISTANT and The Iceman Jungliest Kru.
Coming into his own somewhere to the left of Moon Wiring Club anachronisms and Black Zone Myth Chant’s screwed psychedelia, Murray stitches 12 tracks into a groggy narrative that can literally be read thru its evocative track titles, such as ‘Haunted Cassette Spools From ’92 Jungle Tape Packs Washed Up On Bermondsey Beach Waste Away And Dissolve Into The Thames Like Nightmares’, or ‘This Is Where C. Wilson Wrote Ritual In The Dark’, or better taken as a headphone soundtrack to dérives around the East End on a sticky hot day.
Between the splice of Wiley flutes and field recordings in ‘Cold Water’ and the ambient fade-out ‘Have You Been To Derr Park’, Murray waves his divining rods over East LDN’s mazy hash of mashed memories and publore marbled with radical energies, with results ultimately resembling a regression session in the back room of an old boozer, prompting residual come-ups-by-proxy from decanted memories and Proustian, memory-jogging patchworked samepledelia.
Wistful, textured, plangent ambient scapes by LA’s Robert Takahashi Crouch & Yann Novak
“The four tracks that comprise "Giving Water to the Dead" were composed using sound materials originally recorded for the sound installation Histories of the Present, a public artwork commissioned by the City of Berkeley in 2019. But where the installation was about a melding of practices and sounds into a single gesture, Crouch and Novak wanted to take the opportunity of a split release to exploring divergent paths starting from common ground. For "Giving Water to the Dead", each artist started with the same source material and plotted their own direction without direct influence from the other. As artists in a relationship and sharing a studio this was no easy feat. Despite the planned divergence the resulting tracks compliment each other, as the artists do.
Yann Novak and Robert Takahashi Crouch are a creative and romantic couple living and working in Los Angeles. Their collaborative practice incorporates field recordings, photography, and video as tools to investigate the relationship between site and subject. Their performances and installations have been presented at the AxS Festival, Pasadena; California Museum of Photography, Riverside; Desert Daze Festival, Southern California; Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza, Berkeley; Gays Hate Techno, Northern California; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; LACMA, Los Angeles; PØST, Los Angeles; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York and others. Their compositions have been published by The Tapeworm, Murmur Records, Estuary Ltd., IO Sound, and Untitled & After.”
Laila Sakini fleshes out her Princess Diana of Wales avatar on a quietly stunning album of slowburn, coygaze dream-pop for the ever-wonderful A Colourful Storm.
Following a trio of wonders released last year - her AOTY contending ‘Vivienne’ and it’s endlessly layered 'Into the Traffic, Under the Moonlight’ companion piece, as well as a brilliantly distinctive submission for our Documenting Sound series, on Princess Diana Of Wales Sakini finds a contemplative and opaque downstroke, her forlorn vocals convected via radiant webs of reverb in an ephemeral style of songcraft that drifts effortlessly, like the sound of someone coming to terms with themselves.
Making use of negative space as an evocative ingredient, she keeps everything in a sublime tension between reserved emotion and the lingering decay of FX, effectively allowing us into her space but at arms reach, obfuscated by pink hued smoke and down lit in a manner that keeps her features oblique but tangible. And like everything we’ve heard from Sakini before - her work here is multi-dimensional, its emotional complexity taking a while to resolve, its impact multiplied in waiting.
Lulled into existence with the snoring bass and sleepy cicadas of ’Sleet’, Laila's voice comes to occupy a dreamily illusive mid-ground, smudged into whispers and drizzly atmospheres on the breathy country nocturne of ’Still Beach’ and plumbing rich depths of her echo chamber in the all too fleeting ‘Closer’. Flip it over and the kneaded bass presence of ‘Exhaust’ guides us into a sort of flinty 2-step dream-sequence, before that dream logic steers a lonesome post punk bass and dubbed snare rolls of ‘Fragments of Blue’. On the closing ‘Choir Chant’, harpy squeals ride against a low slung bassline, one part Coil, one part Joy Division, notched with a longing detachment.
Difficult to absorb and benefiting from attentive, repeat listens, Princess Diana of Wales resonates with these strange twilight times above perhaps anything else we’ve listened to this year. "What is real and how does it feel?" the cryptic press release asks. We're gonna be unravelling that for months.
Punk-rap spearhead Wu-Lu reps for South London in ’22 with a strong debut album, proper, for Warp after making waves with his self-releases and drops on CURL and Touching Bass.
Hailing from a fecund scene south of the Thames, Wu-Lu naturally weaves influences ranging from punk rock and rap to jungle and slanted soul in the swagger of ‘Loggerhead’. There’s a thousand other artists professing to do the same, but it genuinely works in Wu-Lu’s hands, in no small part due to his versatile vox which serve the coherent connective ligature between his disparate style hopping. At times those vocals remind of Dean Blunt at his most strung out, and especially when he’s joined by the harmonised backing vox of Asha Lorenz, Amon, Lex Amor and Léa Sen in a style shades away from Blunt’s work with Joanne Robertson.
Issued in the year that Disney released a TV mini-series about The Sex Pistols, the idea of “punk” is clearly up for grabs by whoever the fuck wants it. Safe to say we’re really feeling Wu-Lu’s rugged punk-rap slant, one informed as much by jazz and soul as it is by loud guitars and pugilistic percussion. There’s a direct rawness to the results that are in antithesis to Yves Tumor’s overwrought posturing, for example, and really gets under the skin between the Dean Blunt-esque intro ‘Take Stage’, his restless, tight take on jungle in ‘Facts’, and the killer post-punk holler of ‘Road Trip’, with downbeat highlights such as ‘Calo Paste’ and ‘Slightly’ even recalling aspects of Rat Heart’s lokey punk soul approach as much as Slauson Malone or Tirzah.
Bob on, this.
Pow wow singer and Bon Iver collaborator Joe Rainey directs his astonishing voice thru industrial grit, widescreen orchestrals and chaotic DIY synth noise on "Niineta", his debut for Justin Vernon's 37d03d label. Completely singular music.
Rainey was brought up in Minneapolis, with a heritage that links to the Red Lake Ojibwe - an indigenous tribe that has a sovereign state in northern Minnesota. And while he didn't grow up there, he long felt the pull of a culture that at various times has been blotted out by the USA. Rainey has been involved in pow wow singing since he was just five years old, and has performed in bands as well as building up an immense archive of field recordings. 'Niineta' is his debut album, but he's been performing for years - in 2016, he even brought Justin Vernon to tears during a festival show in Wisconsin. It was enough for Vernon to invite Rainey to contribute to his last album, and sign him to the 37d03d he runs with The National's Aaron and Bryce Dessner.
The record is an example of how pow wow traditions can be synthesized into different forms without losing their musical core; Rainey's range and vocal style roots the album in tradition, but his production and willingness to experiment fires "Niineta" into the future. With help from Fog's Andrew Broder, Rainey has put together a distorted, abstract backdrop that happily ducks from jagged beatscapes into luscious orchestral cinematics without any unintentional jerkiness. The music is consistent with Rainey's pow wow tradition, but acknowledges decades of music that too often has sat distant. 'b.e. son' loops vocal phrases across each other over blown-out percussion and sweeping strings, and 'easy on the cide' foregrounds a beat that sounds rougher than gravel, Autotuning Rainey's lead vocal and contorting it evocatively.
On 'no chants', a frazzled TR-808 kick booms beneath tape saturated pulses, creating a soundscape that's not a million miles from Kanye West's game-changing "Yeezus" - but this isn't homage, Rainey uses the distortion to hint at darker elements, a disturbance in his culture that's violent, deafening and charged with emotion. The album's lengthy finale 'phil's offering' is also its most impressive, building slowly over looped crackle that gives a rhythmic click to Rainey's unforgettable vocal performance - eventually the track disappears into an industrial blur as processed field recordings reveal Rainey's heritage. Trust us, this ain't like anything you've heard before.
The Glasgow underground stands up with a wavy set of aces from Helena Celle, Kavari, Kamus & PInballspider, Evanthéa and more, identifying the great city’s strength in diversity.
Centred around Glasgow’s notoriously fecund DIY electronic music community, ‘PINS’ maps out a guided tour between six of its vital nodes, spanning free-jazzed electro thru to balmy beatdown, hobbled rhythmic psychedelia, industrial dub and synth-pop sleaze. The cumulative effect of the music sends us groggy, pushing us into the imaginary thick of a Glasgow night.
In sequence, you’ll find Kamus & Pinballspider spinning a web of scuffed rhythms and almost post-Detroit jazz-techno atmospheres beside the swinging acid dub balm of ‘UR Welcome (Karaoke Mix)’ by Pigeon Steve ft. The Waffle, and a standout piece of warbling, one-leg-shorter-than-other rhythmic psych from the always excellent Helena Celle (Otherworld). Optimo alum WomenSaid follow with a wickedly strung-out sorta goth-rock creeper ‘Drowning in OHM’, while Kavari channels Salem’s classic witchhouse on the crunchy dembow groove ‘Deaf to Sirens’, and Evanthéa wraps up with the set’s other big standout, a syrupy slow synth-pop sashay ‘Stromm Cande’.
Milanese sound artist Boccardi explores eerie electro-acoustic interstices reflecting his time spent in Cairo, and move back home to Italy, for Room 40. RIYL Perila, Annea Lockwood, Félicia Atkinson.
‘Petra’ unpackages the artist’s mind in quiet, spectral designs after spending five years in the humid swelter and febrility of the Egyptian capital. Recording in a Milan studio he set up years before, Boccardi embraces silence after so long without, prizing his studio’s relative familiarity and controlled settings as a space to ruminate on his thoughts on Cairo from a distance. Ideas on subtraction were key to the process, informing the recording’s sculptural dynamic and slow breathing, quietly transient nature, with the presence of vocals by Cinzia De Lorenzi, a dancer/choreographer, and long time collaborator, lending a more curious spirit to proceedings.
Boccardi’s sound is full of shadowy inference and barely-there tones eked from a very minimalist palette. Cinthia’s vocals are credited on three of the five works, emerging from their strange fissures and folds in a range of processed whispers and purrs, but we can identify them on most if not all of the tracks, and most explicit on those not credited to her. For most direct taste of what to expect, we advise skipping to the sore thumb of ‘Silice’, where Cinthia’s tongue-tip phonemes introduce the album’s strange spatialisation and melted dub chords a la Perila, before getting into its more minimalist delicacies, from he ASMR-tactile purrs of ‘Arenaria 1’, thru the eerie nocturne ‘La Testa Cade A Piombo’, and groggy hypnagogic traction of ‘Una Variopinta Immagine Divisa’.
Finnish drummer-producer Teppo "Teddy Rok" Mäkynen of Helsinki jazz outfit 3TM impresses with an electronics-infused set of taut rhythm experiments on a Conjoint / Lifted tip.
Best known for his work in full-fledged jazz acts like The Five Corners Quintet and Platypus Ensemble, Teppo Mäkynen uses his Teddy Rok moniker to dig into electronic sounds. On 'Atonal Drums', he does exactly what the title suggests, using vintage electronic drums as the guide and fleshing them out with analog synths, field recordings and satisfying dub processes.
It's engaging stuff too, existing in a space between Conjoint and Lifted, blostered by rhythmic trickery. Good stuff!
Techno-pop shapeshifter KLO meets Lasse Marhaug for an absorbingly gauzy 3rd album of unbuckled structures and expressive sound design, marrying Celtic mysticism and industrial dream-pop experiments nodding to TG and Enya.
Five years since her eponymous debut of puckered dance-pop songs, KLO yields the loosest, dreamiest conception of her style in ‘LP.8’, a very easy-on-the-ear suite of exploratory, studio-as-instrument craft benefitting from co-production by Norse polymath Lasse Marhaug. The album’s nine parts gently but intently flip preconceptions of KLO’s style into more etheric zones somewhere between the enigmatic song crafts of Susanna or Jenny Hval, Julia Holter’s oneiric early works and more brooding technoid-cinematic horizons. This switch in stylistic direction can be attributed to Kelly’s spontaneous decision, prompted by the pandemic, to board the last flight out of London to Oslo, where she holed up in subzero midwinter to coolly reassess and approach her music from alternate angles. The result oscillates her most sanguine and spacious works with an agitated core, reflective of a burning but unhurried mind tapping into its creative subconscious.
Simply put, don’t expect ohrwurming club cuts, as with previous KLO albums, but do expect a strong quota of spectral energies at work that are sympathetic of needs for time and space to think. Her thumping opener ‘Release’ is a gritty red herring for the rest of the album, giving up the club ghost in its exhaustive mantra before conducting a cleanse of energies from the greasy slump of ‘Voice’ to the raw electricity of ‘Sonic 8’, meting out grizzled ambient gunk in ‘Voice’, and going like Nate Young channelling Welsh myths in ‘Anadlu’.
The centrepiece couplet of the soaring ’S.O.’ and the Reese-streaked ‘Olga’ depicts her most widescreen, northerly visions in a contrasting flip of the weather vane, with the lilting keys of ‘Nana Piano’ giving way to the mountaintop kosmiche vision of ‘Quickening’ and the album’s standout torch song of sorts, ‘One’.
Supremely fugged-out improv for gong, drums, guitars, samples, and electronics from pivotal Manc and rumoured onetime member of Gescom, Black Lodge and his Stockport accomplice, Jack Lever (Kiyoko).
Dan Dwayre aka Black Lodge is the mutual spirit to Gescom, The Trilogy Tapes, Chloë Sevigny, Mo Wax and the NQ’s finest drinking holes. Don’t ask.
With fellow chthonic spirit Jack Lever, he recorded ‘Enso’ for Teesside’s Industrial Coast, supplying a keenly awaited follow-up to his Bitter Blood’ album with Disciples, and ‘MWR157’ (2018) for Warp’s Arcola sublabel, which itself was a long-awaited pressing, proper, of a thwarted Mo Wax release from 20 years ago. Aye, time moves different in Dan’s world, as with this half-hour tape, which feels at least twice as long due to its potent levels of wooze and hypnagogic oddness.
‘Enzo’ lands 20 years since Black Lodge’s debut for Mo Wax, the marvellously daft ‘Horse With No Name’, which was coincidentally among the first records this set of ears picked up in Vinyl Ex as a spotty teen splurging McD’s wages earned in Boro. In a very circuitous way, ‘Enso’ now ends up coming from a label in the same ’hood and the synchronicity is just personally fucking uncanny. Or is that the music? Yep it’s dead uncanny too; a slow, sozzled daydream of regression-session drones, muffled drums and reverberant gong magick that really sets it all apart.
Apparently captured in one unrehearsed take, it all flows out/inward simultaneously from the speaking-in-tongues glossolalia of the first part, thru Burroughsian dictaphone cut-up and Coil-esque folk-drone undressed of posh affectations on the A-side, while Dan’s decade spent with his huge gong is evident in the spectral ripples that open B-side’s ‘UK82’, and melt out into slopped ’n screwed psych on ‘777 - My Sad’, ultimately passing out and reaapearing in a dream with the gibber-jawed ‘Stella’. To be fair, this bout of Covid is possibly affecting my judgement here, but fuck me if this isn’t Black Lodge’s best gear, and kudos to Jack Lever for bringing it out of him. Trust, it’s one that rewards with repeat listens.
Hakuna Kulala’s latest bomb introduces MB Jones (Feeding Tube) to the fold - appearing here alongside Rey Sapienz as Troposphere 7 for an immersive mix of propulsive Afro-futurist club music and sonic fiction dedicated to the Democratic Republic of Congo’s fledgling space program.
Working within a narrative framework akin to Nyege Nyege Tapes’ Metal Preyers, Troposphere 7 take inspiration from the story of Congolese scientist Jean-Patrick Keka Ohemba Okese, who, in 2007, established the DRC’s first space program, developing a family of rockets named ‘Troposphere’. Jones and Sapienz now look forward to Keka’s as-yet unmade rocket, ‘Troposphere 7’ with a soundtrack of spaced-out machine funk and atmospheric wooze that evokes feelings of anticipation and wonder on its jag from cuboid electro-funk to cosmic scree and UK Funky, via industrial and scrambled Korean vocal transmissions.
Revving into view with samples of the motorcycle taxis of Kampala on ‘Boda Boda Ride’, the pair switch strategies from stripped machine funk to lurching deep space techno on ‘Butu Na Moyi’ and cartoonish beatdown in ‘Mwinda’ with a biting character that plays out across the album. The teasing electro-jazz fusion lilt of ‘Isabyre’ comes to recall Pekka Airaksinen, and the wide-eyed gaze of ‘Atmosfer’ brilliantly plongs out into deep electro-dub space, with Eun Young Ju lending Korean vocals becoming rhythmically refracted in the mix, ultimately setting up the album’s closer and club standout, a sort of bolshy UKF mutation that takes the sound back upriver to its source = all pendulous log drums and humid field recordings riddled with kalimba and chattering bleeps that create a properly peculiar landscape.
An absorbing document of electro-acoustic improv from artist-technicians-teachers Craig Tattersall (aka The Humble Bee) & Steve Oliver, recorded at Salford University between 2011 - 2014 as a series of performances and workshops delivered to their students.
The first piece, ‘screens, coating troughs, microphones, tape looping system’ is an intently quiet room recording of workshop rustle and hum that’s one of the most intriguing pieces in Tattersall’s sprawling catalogue, building from scrapes and location sounds (coughs in the room etc) into an enervated but unsettling cacophony on the downlow.
In contrast, the B-side’s ‘turntable, speaker, microphone, tape loop system & piano’ feels more like a brass band slowed down 1000% as heard from the next soggy valley, gradually accreting distorted overtones, like some lo-fi echo of Ingram Marshall’s ‘Fog Studies’.
Tattersall's work as a tirelessly inventive arranger of small sounds and textures is pretty much unparalleled at this point in his career, not so much because he doesn't sound like anyone else, more because his work is forever evolving in a kind of creative isolation. It’s basically the sound of a guy in his workshop making all sort of things, recording it all, and then dismantling/assembling as the mood dictates. While his work as The Humble Bee fits in with a kind of Ambient zeitgeist, it’s recordings like this - often in collaboration with others - that make us appreciate his creative sprawl so much more: barely-there, but full of life.
Second tape in a series of six documenting Tom Boogizm’s legendary all-night set at The White Hotel’s reopening weekend in mid-summer 2021, this one spanning mutant kuduro to EBM disco, cosmic techno crud, Afrobeats x Amapiano, all multiplied by the power of supreme shotta skill.
‘All Night Long Vol.2’ slices out 90 mins from the middle section of Boogz’ 9 hour set, toggling it ruff and smooth around a serpentine, mid-tempo groove pivoting around his core interests in Black Atlantic styles and weaving a thread between them that’s a deeply, instinctively respectful echo of historic links between Africa, the US, and Lancastrian zones that has informed north west English style and culture for centuries.
Boogz settles heavy into a 110bpm swagger for most of the session, cycling thru strains of pendulous, syncopated body music rife with burning synths and an ideally tempered grasp of rhythmic psychedelia and sensuality. More than anything, he knows what matters to the ‘floor, and it would take some persuasion to convince us that he’s not one of the best and sexiest DJs on road right now - the total antithesis to a wave of IG-gurning dilettantes who spend more time preening and shitposting than collecting and honing their skills.
Soaring kosmiche synth saga by an alum of Kranky and Not Not Fun, wrapping up thoughts on life/death and the netherworld in proggy narrative longform - RIYL early 0PN, Tangerine Dream, Jürgen Müller
‘A Ragged Ghost’ is Reinhardt’s first full length outing since 2018, proceeding from a decade of work with likes of Trans Am’s Phil Manley and fictional new age figure Jürgen Müller to refine his solo vision as a fine balance of sincere pastiche. Exploring what the artist describes as “a dance of religious syncretism, navigating spaces between the living and the dead,” he matches his lofty concepts with super spacious synth designs that weave a plethora of classic strands - German kosmische, US new age, library music and Italo disco - with a transportive sense of motion and classic, wide-eyed emotion sure to ring true with more romantic synth fanciers.
A perennial, if lifelong, pursuit for most synth obsessives, the idea of crafting your own stellar journey catalyses Reinhardt to his most evocative and succinct work here. In 11 neat steps we’re guided from the lift-off fanfare of ‘Ape & The Universal Axis’ to the sublime glyde of ‘In Lotto Commodore’ and feathered pulses recalling Werkbund on ‘Earthshaking Patsy’, an Roedelius via Global Communication in ‘Oxus’, leading to a pinnacle of Vangelis-esque synth and sax by Maxim Starcke on ‘Wretched Orchestra of Armistice’. We can hear distant shades of Italo via Carpenter’s pulsating film scores in ‘Quest or Go Fanatic’, with glorious choral pads in ‘An Alleged Jeremiad’ trailing off into his sublime new age curtain closer ‘The Five Paper Tell’.
Thrilling Venezuelan hard dance pressure from Pedro Elias Corro, AKA DJ Baba, inventor of “Raptor House” - widely recognised as the first purely Venezuelan electronic music genre, here served steaming hot via DJ Florentino’s Club Romantico. An unmissable workout for hips and party bodies on the line from Arca to De Schuurman, Nick León to Príncipe - don’t miss it.
Galvanising prevailing attentions around c.21st Latin dance music, ‘Club Romantico Presents…The Godfather of Raptor House’ extends an incendiary introduction to Pedro Elias Corro, aka DJ Baba, and his conception of the Raptor House style hybridised from aspects of ‘90s dance music and sped-up rhythms.
Hailed as Venezuela’s first purely electronic music genre, Raptor House - or Changa Tuki as it was pejoratively known - emerged as the de rigueur sound of Catia in the western part of Venezuela’s capital, Caracas. Crucially driven by the hybrid productions of visionary dynamos such as DJ Baba and DJ Irvin, and replete with it’s own dress code (red trousers and sleeveless shirts, bleached ‘tache, and Air Jordans) it represented the sound of Caracas in a parallel to myriad regional working class club subcultures across the globe, and would come to international attentions via the likes of Buraka Som Sistema and Arca, both known to deploy the virulent style in DJ sets by the end of the ‘00s. By 2008, DJ Baba reached a point where he felt he had to put the sound on a back burner but he is now back to let you know that Raptor House is a proud chapter of his life - one that spans a catalogue of 500+ tracks and counting.
As one of the greatest champions of reggaeton and its diasporic spectra, DJ Florentino here illuminates DJ Baba’s input to Raptor House for new ears and longtime obsessives, rinsing dozens of tracks in a powerful 1 hour mixtape that builds on Club Romantico’s releases by Sangre Nueva and Bitter Babe & Nick León. In its pyroclastic flow of urgent tresillo rhythms amped by electro- and hard-house styled synth tones, we hear the perseverance of DJ Baba against snotty perceptions of the hard-ass sound as “scally” music from outside his ‘hood, much in the same way gabbers were denigrated in Holland, or, as memory serves us correctly, a lot of UK dance music was treated until popular perceptions changed around a decade ago, and tastes embraced the heat right under their noses.
The session is no doubt a deadly party mix, and, on another level, a brilliant study in the evolution of regional dance music as a fierce expression of folk and subcultural character, as much as the timeless need to get wild.
Sonorous psychoacoustic-geographic mapping of a Swiss village by electronic musician Feldermelder and percussionist Julian Sartorious - a collaborator of Valentina Magaletti
“Commissioned by the legendary concert venue Bad Bonn in Düdingen, Switzerland, and the KRAN project, ‘Bonn Route’ is a collaborative album by electronic musician Feldermelder and percussionist Julian Sartorius. A location- based sound walk that can be experienced both on-site in the village of Düdingen, and as a full-length album. The eleven tracks are a sonic homage to, and an artistic interpretation of, a small village in Switzerland’s heartland.
Building on his practice of site-specific performances and percussive sound walks, Julian Sartorius captured sounds and patterns at eleven locations: the train station and cemetery, on the banks of a stream, on a bicycle path, and in an intimate cavern above the village’s lake, amongst other locales. Sartorius documented the soundscape of the village in field recordings, recorded samples of objects and captured percussive patterns by playing on the architecture and vegetation found on-site.
Feldermelder then processed these recordings into eleven compositions, preserving the locations’ acoustic identities, but expanding on Sartorius’ material. Besides the bassline on ‘Veloweg’, Feldermelder used only sound reactive synthesis and resonators to create additional sounds, layers and tracks, thus multiplying the spectrum and rhythms of the original material. ‘Bonn Route’ is a musical journey rooted in the emittance of sound, and our resonation with the world around us.”
"Palaces began to take shape when Flume returned to his native Australia after struggling to write music in Los Angeles at the beginning of the pandemic. Settling in a coastal town in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, Flume quickly found the inspiration he needed through reconnecting with the nature around him—the rolling hills, walking around barefoot, the green colour the sky turns before a big storm, growing and eating his own vegetables, the smell of rain. He and his neighbour and long-time collaborator, the visual artist Jonathan Zawada, became fascinated by the local wildlife, in particular the birds, collecting field recordings that ultimately worked their way in to the album. As Flume continued to forge a strong connection to his surroundings, the album he wanted to make started to form, eventually adopting a title to properly highlight the luxury and magic of the natural world. Palaces is his most confident, mature and uncompromising work to date, a true testament to nurturing the relationships that make us whole and bring us peace.
The album features a host of vocalists and collaborators, its cast list spanning new and household names from around the world—breakout U.S. star Caroline Polachek, British polymath-icon Damon Albarn, Spain’s Vergen Maria, France’s Oklouand fellow Australian Kučka, who returns following her standout turn on Skin."
Following releases for West Mineral, Experiences Ltd and Good Morning Tapes, Brooklyn-based Ben Bondy lands on Quiet Time Tapes with his most understated and rewarding set to date; a shimmering collection of rustling environmental recordings, dubbed-out percussion and dreamy synths, smudging blots of electro-acoustic color into a pastel landscape of dub techno, ambient and modern classical.
Following the gloopy IDM of 'Glans Intercum' and the dappled hopefulness of its follow-up ‘Camo', Bondy makes a slide into more subtle, emotionally obscured wormholes on his eopnymous album. 'Everything I Can't Be' is light and airy, with resonant synths that evolve in a mesh of rainy environmental scrapes and scratches that feed into a kind of fizzing, simmering dub; it sounds as if we're poised in the deep wilderness, watching the world wash itself clean in the aftermath of a cataclysmic event.
The mood changes on the second side with animal calls that bring a psychedelic slant to 'Dream Bleed’, but the foreboding is cracked by saturated new age synths and ambience that bring us back into the peacefulness of the late afternoon. Nighttime arrives with a snap on 'Butterfly Chair’, as a fire crackles alongside acoustic guitar plucks and light synth fx.
'The Only Part of You That I Ever Really Needed’ ends the set with chirping crickets bleeding into message notifications and text-to-speech cuts that wrestle with contemporary reality, creating a sort of termporal disorientation that’s still somehow beautiful in a way you’ll likely most enjoy if yr into the diaristic worldbuilding of claire rousay, more eaze, or Ulla.
Subversive noise rap belligerence from Prison Religion on Lee Gamble’s UIQ, shattering paradigms with uncompromising blows of atonal noise, hardcore aggression and larynx-shredding vox. RIYL Slikback, Blackhaine, Death Grips, clipping, Dreamcrusher.
Presenting the duo of Parker Black & Warren Jones’ first fully formed work as Prison Religion after introductory mixtapes for Rabit’s Halcyon Veil, ‘Hard Industrial BOP’ yields a definitive statement of brutalist intent. Reading the room’s need for more guttural, truthful expression, the nine tracks were forged against a backdrop of uncertainty and panicked stasis, with the “arduous and scattered process” of recording becoming a commentary in itself.
The blistering results are borne as a historic parallel to jazz’s transition from bebop to its more uncompromisingly expressive strains at the hands of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers with ‘Hard Bop’ in 1956, effectively subverting the status quo of convention, as they put it, “in the face of overwhelming hypocrisy”, offering a palate-cleanser in the process.
While it may sound f*ck-all like putative takes on jazz, ‘Hard Industrial BOP’ undoubtedly shares a template-tearing energy with the original mode in its ruptured rhythmic attack and embrace of unusual tonality that speaks directly to the contemporary reality of an ever-degrading society. In short, sharp shocks, they offset industrial noise against mauling post-breakcore and something like early Arca in the rap roil of ‘Brick Dust’, turning to near screamo violence in ’Turret’, and unleashing all heck in the caustic barrage of sirens, white hot leads and bombed out destruction of ‘Survival, Leave Me Alone’, with ‘Torn Up Body’ pushing the wildest examples of Death Grips and Blackhaine to panic attack-inducing degrees.
Proper existential de-compression, essential listening for anyone left sweaty and breathless by recent deployments from Dreamcrusher, Moor Mother or Deli Girls.
NYC's Yaya Bey relaunches Big Dada with a convincingly emotional set of narrative-led R&B hybrids that should appeal to fans of Erykah Badu, Dawn Richard and Jamila Woods.
There's an unflinching honesty to Yaya Bey's music - you can hear it in her vocals as they crack with a rare humanity that's a far cry from the Autotuned polish of the established mainstream. "Remember Your North Star" is the Brooklyn-based New Yorker's second album, after 2020's excellent "Madison Tapes", and finds the vocalist reflecting on a life lived thru the unpacking of trauma and wading thru doomed romantic encounters. She wrote the entire record herself, producing the majority of it with assistance from DJ Nativesun and Phony Ppl's Aja Grant - and this is the key to its warmth. Handling her vocals herself, Bey is able to emphasize the qualities in her voice that she knows root her narratives, and as a keen jazz listener, she realizes that's her voice's human elements.
So although the standout tracks 'keisha' and 'alright' are tightly woven jazzy nu-soul groovers, it's Bey's elastic vocal acrobatics that keep you coming back for more. There's an elaborate and purposeful un-polish that keeps Bey sounding contemporary while harmonizing with classic neo soul material like Erykah Badu's "Baduizm" and Jill Scott's "Who is Jill Scott?". Her vocal cracks might be influenced by Bey's idol Billie Holiday, but it gives the music a contemporary freshness that feels in line with the chaotic messiness of 2020s life.
Hearty Andean guitar duets and captivating traditional vocals from ends of the earth, preserving pre-Hispanic culture via trad. Huayano melodies transposed to the Spanish guitar, with results likely to entrance lovers of Ben Chasny or John Fahey’s fingerpicking style.
“Gustavo Yashimura-Arce comes from humble origins in the Ayacucho region of the Peruvian Andes. He started playing guitar in 1987 and 2 years later he travelled to Montevideo in Uruguay to study music at La Casa de la Guitarra. After spending some years playing classical guitar in Japan, Gustavo returned to Peru in 2004 and began his intense studies of the Andean guitar styles of the Ayacucho region. Later, in 2008 he found the perfect teacher – 80 year old veteran guitarist Don Alberto Juscamaita Gastelú, known locally as Rahtako. Through Don Alberto, Gustavo was able to learn songs and styles from across the Andes, though the main focus remained on the traditional styles of the Ayacucho region.
The Ayacucho Province of Peru is mountainous and remote and mainly populated by indigenous people of Quechuan descent, with the main language remaining Quechua, or Runasimi ('the People's Language'). The Quechuan people of the Andes remained resistant to Spanish colonisation and fierce in their preservation of their culture but on this album you will hear one of those strange, hybrid artefacts that can arise when cultures meet. The Spanish guitar was taken by the Quechuan people of the Ayacucho region and employed as a new means to convey their traditional music. The melodies you hear are versions of the traditional Huayno melodies usually played on harps, Andean pipes, charango and mandolin. Gustavo is joined by Luis Sulca Galindo on second guitar and Greys Berrocal Huaya on vocals on 4 tracks on the album.”