Burbank appears to takes cues from FIS’ geologic structures and Autechrian warp in ‘Botanical Clipboard’, his first record for Kinlaw’s Bristol-based Ceramics label
Check for heavily abstract electronics in the technoid roil and sputter of ‘Powdery Mildew’ and the swaggering, distended beast called ‘Stame’.
Julius Steinhof returns to the bosom of Smallville Records with a subtly stealthy set of deep house shimmies
On Along The Coast the landscape scrolls from plaintive choral voices to rolling jack, building up to a prime Detroit house bustle a smart balance of subtlety and tugging ruggedness.
Mooddowner simmers the mood to a breezy, organ-riding swing nudging at Rob Hodo vibes, and Be Myself stealthily locks us into his mindset for a deep, blue and rudely teched-out ride.
Rodrigo Amado: tenor saxophone Joe McPhee: pocket trumpet, soprano saxophone Kent Kessler: double bass Chris Corsano: drums
"Great dedicated music by four strong individual players, brought together by Portugese saxophonist Rodrigo Amado – intense communication with room for outbreaking solo-parts but always held together through a vision of playing together, exiting and interwoven with beautiful melodies!"
‘Serious Time’ is Joane Skyler first album of canny, natty electronica for Bristol’s Ceramics
Like Joane’s memorably charming side for Boomkat Editions, ’Sssssssss’ , his ‘Serious Time’  album is bewitching batch of clipped hip hop, garage and mutant dance rhythms spliced with tantalising melodies and a real knack for off-kilter harmonics that reminds us of Mortal & Chemist as much as early Pendle Coven and those frayed Unknown and Untitled editions from Cotton Goods.
Nyege Nyege Tapes return with their third ever vinyl release; an amazing collection of thumb piano recordings by Ekuka Morris Sirikiti, a legendary Mbira player from the Lango people recorded from Ugandan radio c.1978-2003. Heavily textured with radio static and ferric distortion, think Konono Nº1 or Honest Jon’s East Africa sets relayed by The Conet Project...
Hailing from the Langi tribe of Lira, Northern Uganda, legendary local griot Ekuka Morris Sirikiti performs his music in various situations - festivities, market days, and other gatherings - on a homemade foot/drum contraption coupled with the Lukeme; a small, handheld thumb piano that produces flurries of metallic rhythmelody under deft digits, and is maybe best known as an Mbira in its heavily distorted use by the DRC’s amazing Konono Nº1, as well as myriad other recordings from the vast Central and East African region.
Entirely comprising recordings of the original radio broadcasts made on various devices, the music on ‘Ekuka’ is distorted to differing degrees, resulting in a broad spectrum of fidelities that are both unavoidable and inherent to the music, its reception, and its perception by those who didn’t catch the broadcast as it happened.
The 12 songs selected zig-zag across the timeline 1978-2003, with an alternating patina of ferric noise that camouflages their chronology - it’s difficult and unnecessary to discern their recording dates, as the songs serve a timeless social purpose, from everyday reminders to be a good husband; take your kids to school; and don’t disturb the wife of your son; to Government commissioned warnings about venereal diseases, drinking alcohol and paying taxes.
Considering this all took place against the backdrop of tribal warfare and cattle raids by rebels, the raucous laughter on ‘In Boloney For Ayinet’ demonstrates the humour and pathos behind the songs in a way that may literally escape listeners elsewhere. And in that context ‘Ekuka’ is quite unlike most other vintage recordings which resurface outside of Africa beyond, say, Honest Jon’s ‘Something Is Wrong’ and ‘Bellyachers, Listen’ sets, which admittedly document a much earlier period c. 1938-1957, but were also selected from recordings not specifically or even vaguely conceived for the international market.
As with Nyege Nyege Tapes’ previous dispatches from modern day Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, ‘Ekuka’ provides a genuinely street-level, unfiltered perspective on unfathomably long-rooted traditions in a way that sounds incredibly fresh, unfamiliar and hugely interesting to keen ears the world over.
Following on from his works Stories and Apologues, Berlin-based composer and vibraphonist Masayoshi Fujita returns with his new album Book of Life, the third instalment in a trilogy of solo vibraphone recordings.
"With Book of Life Masayoshi continues his mission in bringing the vibraphone — a relatively new invention in the history of instruments often kept in the background in orchestras and jazz outfits — into the spotlight. Having trained as a drummer, Masayoshi began experimenting with the vibraphone, preparing its bars with kitchen foil or beads, playing it with the cello bow such as in Fog or using the other end of the mallets to create a more ambient texture of sound, as with the title track. Focussing on the vibraphone in this way sets Masayoshi apart, dedicating his artistic life to celebrating this fascinating and often underappreciated instrument and making his take on ambient and modern compositional styles a unique one.
“I think the vibraphone is capable of more interesting and beautiful sounds that haven’t been heard before. It’s quite a new instrument but it’s often played in a similar way. I feel that there is a lot more to explore with this exciting instrument.”
Book of Life sees Masayoshi expand on his compositional skills, bringing in more orchestral elements such as strings, brass and even a choir to interact with the vibraphone. And not just any choir — members of this chorus include musical friends Peter Broderick, Hatis Noit, David Allred and Shards who featured on Nils Frahm’s latest album All Melody. The instruments come to represent characters in Masayoshi’s stories, hinted at in each accompanying text contained in the album booklet, which Masayoshi recites at his live performances. They set the scene for each piece, for example “the choir in Misty Avalanche is meant to resemble the blizzard, while the vibraphone is the bird hovering above,” he explains.
The title track however, was unusual from the start; “Book Of Life is very different to my other songs. It was about humans, whereas the other songs are all about animals and nature. And it was improvised initially, whereas normally my songs are composed and planned. This one was free. I scratched the vibraphone bar as if I was writing something. An image connected in my mind: these two people meeting and sharing their lives. This image was the book of life.”
The upbeat lead single It’s Magical features two cellos and a flute as extensions of the vibraphone; “like a man who’s put artificial wings on his arms to attempt to fly like a bird, before an airplane was invented,” says Masayoshi. A different version of the song, called Spaceship Magical, also appears on the Erased Tapes 10th anniversary box set 1+1=X. “Like most of my songs, It’s Magical started from one simple phrase that I’d played again and again. But at one point I had two very different versions; one acoustic with orchestral arrangement, whilst the other had distorted guitars with electronic bass that perfectly suited the collaborative nature of the label residency when Robert invited me to participate.”
Poetically politicised house from Rupert Clervaux - Beatrice Dillon collaborator and remixer of The Radiophonic Workshop - with a blend of sampled dialogue and collaged dance rhythms for Berceuse Heroique, including a killer final cut that sounds like A Guy Called Gerald c. 1990!
“Marx’s famous assertion that history would repeat itself first as tragedy, then as farce, seemed to come to its full predictive fruition in 2017. Perhaps––in the case of the Euro-Atlantic democratic project––as a result of our systems of governance becoming so comprehensively untethered from the ancient idea whose name they continue to use and abuse. The parasites of neoliberalism are killing the democratic host… Plutocracy is thriving…
In this third instalment of the Zibaldone series, Rupert Clervaux’s CVX alter-ego impulsively fills his audio notebook with musical settings for those ideas––namely sortition and anarchism––that present real alternatives to the dire political landscape of our time, and for the words of some who have made it their life’s work to challenge the foundations, assumptions and presumptions of the status quo. As with its predecessors, Zibaldone III draws freely from a wide span of performance and production techniques––tapping, for what it’s worth, creative roots before they can be grouped together into a stylistic formula.
Explosive percussions pay homage to the anarchists of Argentina; Malcolm Muggeridge syllogises the grim logic of government, power and tyranny into a mantra of dissent, driving a stream of electro-jazz drums and synths to its rapturous disintegration; a saturnine piano improvisation leads the way to clattering protest drums as David Graeber shrewdly inveighs against the absurd but sadly pervasive neoliberal illusion that creativity and ingenuity are dependent on economic incentives; then, as a dancefloor footnote, a withering Gore Vidal wryly warns against the strict conflation of artistic methods with political theories in a smartphone-produced rafter-shaker that echoes Joey Beltram’s Orbital-sampling classic…
Ultimately though, this record is a dedication to the work of one person, a musical wreath to be laid at the grave of the great thinker (and doer), Simone Weil––tragically so young in death, but thankfully so active in the brevity of her life. Here, as a looped fragment of another late-great ‘Simone’ reminds us that change is inevitable, unfolding piano and double-bass elaborations set the stage for Coline Cornélis to recite two key excerpts from Weil’s scathing and brilliant valedictory essay, ‘On the Abolition of All Political Parties’ (1943). Seventy five years later, the farcical horror of egregious corruption, misguided referenda and prevailing post-truths surely serves to strengthen the thrust of her prognosis and prescription––both of which are as sensible as they are radical.”
Chevel steps from his Different Circles LP back into his Enklav. to explore deep ambient techno frameworks with ’In A Rush And Mercurial’
The sound here emphasises texture and tone rather than the skeletal rhythms of his preceding album, Always Yours, a silty flux of chaotic ambient dynamic and steadier, yet offset rhythms and stabs nodding to electro as much as weightless grime.
We advise checking out the proprioceptive chicanery of Another Dimension for something like a gentler take on The Sprawl, or Mercurial for a rugged sound compatible with your Night Slugs bangers, or the frothing arps of Polyphonic Love and the pop inception of Always Yours Amended for much sweeter examples of Chevel working with melodic arrangements.
Jay Glass Dubs diffracts Sade thru his inverted prism with delicious results for Berceuse Heroique following the dispatch of his immense ‘Dubs’ comp on Ecstatic and the ‘YMFEES’ collab with Leslie Winer...
Perfectly timed for summer in the northern hemisphere, The Safest Dub yields three deep ’n rugged takes on a definitive ‘80s soul anthem, swiping away the vocal to refocus the groove in a patented, fluid and spectral style of dub process that’s brought so much attention to Athens-based Dimitris Papadatos a.k.a. Jay Glass Dubs in recent years.
Uptown, he synchs trickling marimbas with slippery bass and balmy synth voices in The Warmest Dub to lush, radiant effect, before the night comes in properly with the vaporous brass and groggy, red wine-soaked slosh of The Safest Dub. Downtown, he opens the groove out to 9 minutes of sun-dazed breeziness, sounding like a stray studio take where Sade smoked a blunt and could barely get her words out in the booth, leaving Jay as the man behind the glass, dubbing the groove something sublime.
Freerotation’s Duckett rolls out a mixed bag of Afro-inspired, bittersweet and gritty grooves for Berceuse Heroique
The rhythms are all a bit too regular and pedestrian for us, especially when compared with the crookedly attractive drum workouts of Don’t DJ already released by BH, but adherents to the cult of "Freero” will surely find some nice moments inside...
In advance of felicita’s eagerly awaited album, ‘hej!’...
PC Music give a tart taste of its upfront thrills with the combo of squeaky clean baroque motifs and strange vocaloids underlined by glutinous subbass on ‘coughing up amber’, whereas ‘shook’ goes hard with burned out kicks squeezed into a sort of cyber-dancehall pressure cooker riddim.
Trust Music From Memory to serve the loveliest thing you’ll hear all week with Orquesta De Las Nubes’ ‘The Order Of Change’ continuing their excavation of Suso Saiz’s 1980s gems with a sublime 10 track compilation showcase of his new age/ambient band
“Following on from a retrospective compilation of solo work and an album of recent work in 2016, Music From Memory continue to explore the work of Spanish ambient and experimental pioneer Suso Saiz. The subject of Music From Memory’s latest compilation focuses on Suso Saiz’s output as part of the group Orquesta De Las Nubes, formed by Suso Saiz and percussionist Pedro Estevan when the two met whilst studying a course on ‘Techniques of Contemporary Composition’ in Madrid.
Sharing a curiosity for American minimalist and Non-Western music, the pair began to share music through many listening sessions, during which the idea slowly evolved to try and make music together. Pedro’s partner at the time, soprano singer Maria Villa, would later join the two on vocals. With Suso’s sparse us of guitar loops, synthesizers, and drum computers in combination with the hypnotic percussion of Pedro Estevan and the wordless drifting vocals of Maria Villa, Orquesta De La Nubes would evolve as a group with a truly unique musical language; an ethereal and almost otherworldly musical realm.”
Alessandro Cortini returns with the third and final album from his SONOIO project...
“Prior to releasing a string of influential and widely acclaimed solo records under his own name on labels such as Important and Hospital Productions, Alessandro Cortini (Nine Inch Nails) self-released two albums under the name SONOIO (“It’s Me.”) in 2010 and 2011 in limited runs.
Praised for their complex and rich pop sound, strong vocal delivery and thoughtful compositions with impeccable production values, SONOIO’s “Red” and “Blue” (and the accompanying remix albums “Non Red” and “Non Blue”) made heavy use of Cortini’s expert manipulation of the Buchla synthesizer, releasing the single “Enough”, and remixing Ladytron’s “Houdini” before setting off on tour in direct support.
As activity with Nine Inch Nails, the demands of touring, and his other solo endeavors began to pick up, production on the third and final SONOIO installment was delayed. In 2014 however, after years of silence, SONOIO posted the single and video for the song “Thanks For Calling” exclusively on sonoio.org and quickly reignited rumors and hope for the release of the third album.
Opening track “I Don’t Know” and the mournful follow-up “Left” set the stage for the emotional ride, with reverbed synths over an acute mid-tempo beat – accompanied by astonishingly strong vocals, which those accustomed to Cortini’s instrumental works will likely be happily shocked by. Next, the aforementioned single “Thanks For Calling” starts slow, building over 4 minutes with Cortini whispering, speaking, building strength into the gorgeously delivered line: “falling to pieces” before the track explodes into a driving anthem.
The album then quite literally descends into “Pieces”, an instrumental effort that brings to mind Aphex’s Ambient Works – a submerged lullaby of electronics before re-emerging into “Vitamin D”, an energetic and pulsing track that snaps the listener to attention. A pattern of smart and intentional pacing and rhythm becomes apparent, as the listener is taken down through moody, effective dirges (“Bad Habit”, “Under The Sea”) and lifted up into a surprising guitar piece “What’s Before”. “I Don’t Know (Coda)” is the album’s effective and final track, with Cortini’s vocals muffled and echoing “I’m in the mirror, let me in….” before emerging loud and clear above a wash of howling synth*
Personal, layered and complex, “Fine” achieves greatness as both a singular example of deep and inspiring pop music, and as the final album – the closing chapter in the story of SONOIO.”
The first in a trilogy of vibraphone solo albums by Berlin-based composer Masayoshi Fujita.
"This quietly exquisite album is like a book of illustrations, evoking scenes of natural beauty and poetic poignancy that combines climactic crescendos laced with electronic detail and luxurious melody. Stories is the beginning of Masayoshi’s mission in bringing the vibraphone — a relatively new invention in the history of instruments often kept in the background in orchestras and jazz outfits — into the spotlight.
Having trained as a drummer, Masayoshi began experimenting with the vibraphone, preparing its bars with kitchen foil or beads, playing it with the cello bow or using the other end of the mallets to create a more ambient texture of sound. Focussing on the vibraphone in this way sets Masayoshi apart, dedicating his artistic life to celebrating this fascinating and often under appreciated instrument and making his take on ambient and modern compositional styles a unique one."
‘Thirst’ is the exquisite début of diamond-cut dance music from Xzavier Stone for Fractal Fantasy
Two years in the works, Thirst follows Xzavier’s appearance on Visceral Minds 2 and a crackshot remix of Martyn Bootyspoon with a blinding portrait of the US producer’s intricately detailed style, where he leaves no nanosecond wanting for colour, heat and dynamic movement.
Xzavier’s vocals feature prominently, refracted and warped like an autotuned light beam thru its myriad dimensions, accentuating the album’s highlights and cushioning its downstrokes while also acting as another rhythmic element within its tightly packed atoms.
It’s a sterling summation of where US club music is at right now, a breathless mixture of R&B, dancehall, reggaeton and bass-heavy regional styles, all lacquered with the shiniest production imaginable. For DJs and dancers, you could do a lot worse than checking for its strongest moments in the likes of Stone’s lush yet highly-strung oddity XYLT, with its ear-worming R&B vocal riding rock hard drums, or equally in the intoxicating deep blue tone and mercilessly tight percussive prangs of Oud.
A record of burning nocturnal yearning, invoking unfulfilled dreams in a glacial transition from slow-stroked strings and woodwind thru brooding chamber minimalism and raga drones to a surprising and enlightening climax, leaving the listener wondering how they got from A to B...
“The Brussels-based Razen make experimental and minimal music with unconventional instruments, focusing on tuning, intonation and the use of intervals. Their “The Night Receptionist” album is easily the most monochrome and minimal music the band has ever recorded, with a timbral effect that is dreamy and twilight-like, Bryan Lewis Saunders’ voice adds a layer of hushed disconnection and disenchantment, recounting the story of a failed gymnast turned night receptionist, wishing for acts of anti-gravity and catching salamanders. It is music for the early hours of the morning, music that explores the undercurrent of thought processes on the threshold of deep sleep.”
Exothermic modern jazz-funk ecstasies from Vienna’s Dorian Concept on Brainfeeder
On the OG ‘J Buyers’, Mr. Concept spends the first 1/3rd of the cut ratcheting the suspense, before dropping into an explosively colourful display of intricate jazz chords, electronic glitches and pendulous beats recalling Hud Mo or Rustie. The edit cuts to the chase with more intense effect.
Turbulent, gnashing techno-bass tackle from Killawatt, on a search ’n destroy mission for Tommy Four Seven’s label
‘Accupunk’ rages first with gut-socking bass hits and calloused noise to leave the dance reelin’, while ‘The Roamer’ lurches on a trampling industrial steppers’ momentum recalling recent Samuel Kerridge moves.
‘Polar Polemic’ churns with more viscous textures and pacing like a swaggering Ossia juggernaut, and ‘Glacia Systemic’ drop the energy levels into a tarry pocket of zombied bass torpor.
Rod Modell saves some of his finest recent efforts for this divine release with Astral Industries - home of his acclaimed ‘Lanterns’ side and his Waveform Transmission LP with Chris Troy. What starts out tranquil subliminally surges into a fast dub techno flight, cannily in flux between serenity and ecstasy...
“Rod Modell returns as Deepchord for his first solo release on Astral Industries since inaugurating the label with his sought-after ‘Lanterns’ EP. Consisting of two stunning long-form pieces split on one side each, 'Immersions' captures the emotive, halcyon sound that Rod has long become synonymous with. Opening with glistening ambient textures, ‘Immersion I’ grows into an 18-minute piece of deep rolling dub techno. On the other side ‘Immersion II’ paints pristine soundscapes of soft, lapping waves, underpinned by submerged pulsations that rise to the surface to continue its deep space explorations. Two highly refined and inspiring tracks that sit on the apogee of this sound.”
DJ Parris’ Soundman Chronicles cut off an EP from Etch’s first album, ‘Altered Roads Tape Vol.1’
Going deep into the breakbeat echo chamber, Brighton’s Zak Brashill a.k.a. Etch renders the stereo-shifting, tail-chasing weightless breaks of Lost Orbit (Chrime Drum VIP), along with the droning zombie-step torpor of Phenomena, along with what sounds like a quasi-speed 4Hero in Beggars Belief, and a rework of classic late ‘90s Kool Keith in Paging Dr. Octagon.
Powell loosens up and reaches out on the 2nd New Beta playground - a place to explore his more reflexive, emotive urges - with seven curious permutations that swerve from Æ-style abstraction to pointillist electro-acid and a brace of mutant diskotheek breakers. As with the first volume, he’s clearly still gassed off his new hardware, resulting in a nerve-jumping fizz and crack that sounds like he’s jamming with fingers directly in the jack ports, channelling his thoughts and feels practically unimpeded.
Like some cyborg antagonist who can’t stand to see humans plodding four square bro-si-bro in the dance, Powell fractures and gels the groove in wickedly freakish exercises, increasingly finding himself attracted to near beat-less structures to give his dancers and listeners freakier feels and more jelly limbed options for kinaesthetic interpretation.
On PosTAe he prangs out in sincere tribute to arch ‘borgs Autechre with a hot mess of haywire modular plongs, before Sneak 2_05 catches him cutting back to the ascetic funk of his earliest 12”s, this time sharper, serpentine, before Rudeboy, Let’s Funk catapults us into something like a scrap between clipped drum clatter and acid zig-zags itching for the sweat and perfume of the ‘floor.
Slippy Pig jabs the B-side into play with some of the EP’s nattiest, stepping impulses drawing a line from The Normal thru Ed Rush’s Wormhole via The Bocaccio, then Drumz VIP darts like some deviant jazz-funk oddity from West London, with its dissonant flourishes making way for the febrile blatz of Hoi!!and the EP’s surprise standout in the richly colourful and dynamic phrasing of Strobe, perhaps the smartest/goofiest iteration of Powell’s new sound in circulation.
"Joining Bonny deep in the mix of ‘Beware’, the roll call of top players includes the band (Josh Abrams, Jennifer Hutt, Emmett Kelly and Michael Zerang) and special guests (Dee Alexander, Leroy Bach, Jim Becker, Robert Cruz, DV DeVincentis, Jon Langford, Greg Leisez, Rob Mazurek, Nicole Mitchell and Azita Youseffi).
‘Beware’ is a much more measured exploration of the soul’s frailty and the sorry state of human relationships than your typical, everyday, bleaked-out, all-and-nothing roots rock platter. Where fiddle and steel contribute their rustic timbre alongside guitars and voices, a thickening thud of low tone rolls beneath, giving the record a bottom that’s funto watch bounce in new clothes."
Addendum to Yu Aseada a.k.a. Ena's 'Divided' tape & digital album including the 9th and 10th divisions of warped electronic atmospheres and glitching pulses.
His '9th Division' almost sounds like an Alva Noto & Sakamoto cut, in dub, whereas in the '10th Division' he picks crack'd concrète scabs off frayed and introspective loops to sound like Bellows meets FIS.
Killer new D&B mutations from the shady 4 6 2 5 collective of UVB-76 affiliates, including the outstanding, febrile Cassette_A rave regression.
Uptown, they go hard with splashy big beats and knee-crumpling subs in Non-Citizen, before prolapsing the murky sludge of Proles for the techno mutants.
Downtown brings a densely pressurised minimalist roller called The Barrens, and the one you really need, a shadowy scene-setter called Cassette_A which makes killer use of sample of a rave MC calling “security, come here right now!” set to a backdrop of billowing, bellicose noise, and nothing but. Top marks for that one at the very least!
Echovolt pull out a string of deep techno pearls with Priori’s sublime yet tumultuous ‘Noogenesis’ EP
It’s practically worth it for the floating pads and offset acid techno roil of ‘Waves (Gibraltar Mix)’ alone, but turn i over and you’ll also find a very canny, early ‘90s sounding deep ’n bleepy house option called ‘Noogenesis’, and the B12-styled half-stepper ‘Port Romance’ to push you in the right direction.
30 minute theatre soundtrack by Siberian trio, presidiomodelo. Field recordings meshed electronics and snatches of classical and folk music in a style recalling mysterious scores for Tarkovsky flicks or the spectral sensations of Jacob Kierkegaard, Kreng
“The Shaman - older than Christ - survives an endless winter of over two millennia as if preserved in permafrost like the mammoths and prehistoric horses littering the bowels of his mother Siberia.
The Shaman - named ‘the priest of the devil’ by dutch explorers - endures the horror of the Soviet labour camps. He has access to the Axis and inhabits more worlds than one.
NKT presents The Inner Empire , the work from Siberian trio presidiomodelo where misty atmospheres are infused with a murky, industrial aesthetic. Following previous NKT investigations into inner conflict and alienation, The Inner Empire is a meditation on themes of self confinement and interior exile. Originally composed for theatre, here revisited to include the full original recordings, presidiomodelo ’s release is an evocative thirty minute journey that burrows deep like the diamond mines.
Rumbling synths oscillate amongst delicate beds of chimes whilst ghostly chants and guttural tones vibrate around the sound of handmade instruments and hypnotic drums, all immersed into the humid Siberian forest.
The soundtrack drifts unbroken throughout sections as if shifting through different thresholds of consciousness, dilating time and projecting images of ancient scenes and archaic practices.
The Inner Empire also reflects the feeling of mismatch between private and public persona in the modern world. It carries a primordial sense of imprisonment and inescapability, a familiar yet inaccessible inner empire.”
Oneirc avant-jazz-fusion, keening from the spiritual to the arcane and back in almost palindromic form. The players’ decades of combined improv experience is patently obvious. Exquisitely recorded and mixed by Jim O’Rourke, another adventurous side from Oren Ambarchi’s excellent Black Truffle...
“The first release from the duo of two important yet often underappreciated musicians, Eiko Ishibashi and Darin Gray. Ishibashi is a singer-songwriter, keyboardist, drummer, and multi-instrumentalist, known in Japan both for her own elaborately conceptual solo albums and for her frequent collaborations with figures such as Jim O’Rourke, Merzbow, and Phew. Darin Gray is a bassist and multi-instrumentalist known for a multitude of collaborations (with O’Rourke and Loren Connors, among many others), for On Fillmore, his cinematic post-exotica project with Glenn Kotche, and as one half of Chikamorachi with Chris Corsano, one of the finest free-jazz rhythm sections around.
Presenting the entirely of a live set performed at Tokyo’s Super Deluxe in March 2013, the set begins as a duet for Ishibashi’s flute and Gray’s upright bass. Calmly melodic yet harmonically inventive, with shades of ‘spiritual jazz’, the pair’s acoustic ruminations are gradually joined by Ishibashi’s lush electronics, which randomly flicker between chords in a manner recalling the classic work of David Behrman. As the electronics build into a gloomy fog of slowly cycling loops, Gray lays his bass aside and turns to making strangely mournful interjections on a mouthpiece.
Eventually Ishibashi moves to the piano, enveloping the audience in rippling pools of sustained, octave-doubled melody, provided by Gray’s bass with a fluid and dynamic foundation. For much of the second side, both Ishibashi and Gray turn to electronics, ultimately arriving in a bizarre space of melancholic arpeggios and random sputter and sizzle, oddly reminiscent of 70s outsider prog acts like Wapassou.
An uneasy coda of rich piano chords ends the set. Captured in warm room ambience and beautifully mixed by Jim O’Rourke, Ichida is a rare combination of improvisational acumen and emotional directness, both adventurous and immediately accessible.”
The producer fka fLako, Dario Rojo Guerra adopts the Natureboy Flako mantle for a cooler study of his style in ‘Theme For A Dream’ with East London’s Five Easy Pieces
Where the preceding 8 years have heard him cut a path from wonky hip hop to more melodic electronica, he arrives at a crisp and spacious fusion of the two in ‘Theme For A Dream’, traversing from the sci-fi cinematic intro and clash of classical pomp and trilling trap beats in ‘From The Shadows’, thru the title track’s rugged lean, to the shiny grimy styles of ‘Ancient Lands (Carmo Viejo)’, and the off-kilter, bittersweet synth tang of ‘Wolkenlos’ with an assuredly deft swagger.
The woozy eldritch charms of Pram return for the first time in over 10 years...
“The return of Pram. Across The Meridian is a celebration of Pram’s unique vision, focused into a beautifully constructed and tautly produced soundworld. Across The Meridian is their first album since 2007’s The Moving Frontier.
As with their previous albums, Across the Meridian mixes instrumentals and songs, weaving a gleeful path through the musical territory of film scores, 30s jazz, sun-drenched pop, electronica, and post-punk experimentation. Haunting and wistful vocals are set to a variety of soundscapes, sometimes appearing as a snatched fragment of the subconscious and dreamlike, at others crafting a story of longing or regret, drawing the listener into Pram’s uncanny world through the mirror. Newcomers to Pram will find a richly detailed collage of influences ranging from exotica, Krautrock and the forgotten film soundtracks that went on to inspire contemporaries Stereolab & Broadcast.
The band convened at the remote Foel studios in Wales to improvise on ideas and record some bases for tracks, before finishing them in their studio in Birmingham. Pram have a working process that has developed over many years and reflects shifts in band personnel and technological advancements. Across The Meridian is a testament to the band embracing these new approaches without losing any of their original allure.
The band line up now consists of Matt Eaton, Sam Owen, Max Simpson and Harry Dawes.”
Florian Hecker, DJ Stingray and Tale Of Us cap a banner year for Lorenzo Senni with stunning, divergent remixes of his 2nd Warp release, ‘The Shape Of Trance To Come’
With XAllegroX, Florian Hecker casually knocks out perhaps the deadliest remix of the decade, smashing its atoms into 12 minutes of unrelenting, needle-toothed PointilisticT that just leaves us a mass of burned out synapses. Seriously, this is what we’ve been waiting for - extreme trance noise ecstasy at its most clinical and breathtaking. Fcuking bravo, maestro.
DJ Stingray keeps up his end with a deep sci-fi electro take on XAllegroX, all oil-spattered Detroit mechanics meets razor-trimmed trance riffs, while stadium tech-house heroes Tale Of Us rework The Shape Of Trance To Come for the slow burn, teasing out the original arps in a pendulous big room groove.
That Hecker remix, though!!!
Bristol’s purple sound pioneer Guido returns with a pack of hard, bolshy and economically colourful rhythms on his State Of Joy label
Guido’s sound is less exuberant here than earlier outings, with more attention placed on his diamond-cut drums, but still lit up with super shiny lixx; most impressively in the mix of glinting, Mid-Eastern rhythmelodies with percolated synth voices, brassy flashes and trepanating snares in ‘Would Oud Mind’, and in the hard, slippery Bristolian dub drill of ‘Unknown’.
Class selection of early Ska aces taken from the seminal Kentone Records - a subsidiary of Federal Records
Surveying Jamaican music at the point it transcended Jazz, rock, soul and calypso influences to create the foundations for what would become reggae music. The bookending acoustic pieces by The Sharks and Federal Singers are icing on this big slice of Ginger cake.
“Founder of Jamaica’s first recording studio, Ken Khouri produced early ska classics 14 first-rate ska pieces including previously unreleased materials from undoubtedly the industry leading Federal Records that consisted the virtuoso Ernest Ranglin and co.”
Time-and-worry-melting minimalist songs composed by Taku Unami (guitar, engineer) and played along with Moé Kamura (vocals) and Tetuzi Akiyama (guitar) as Hontatedori for David Grubbs’ Blue Chopsticks
Unspeakably sublime and delicate, Hontatedori’s ‘Konata Kanata’ revolves around four exquisitely chamber-like works absorbing and distilling traces of medieval plainchant, psychedelia, and gossamer ambient-pop into gently glowing and dreamily poetic paeans to the ‘Planets’, an ‘Iron Fence’, the ‘Horology of the Surf’, and ‘A Boy’.
RIYL Hisato Higuchi, Loren Mazzacane Connors, Elodie
Kerry Leimer captures a sound in flux of fractured temporality and decay, with melancholic motifs emerging thru hazy drizzle and construction-site-at-night atmospheres, taking its cues from music by Arve Henriksen, David Sylvian, Taylor Deupree and Biosphere
"Threnody by K. Leimer is a music of disorientation, error and loss. Free of any particular sense of continuity or structure, Threnody dwells in an absent-minded and forgetful state, inhabiting an aftermath of events too disorienting to be completely comprehended. Highly atmospheric, the music draws from influences as diverse as Arve Henriksen, David Sylvian, Taylor Deupree and Biosphere. Shattered phrases emerge among shrouded details in a state of sustained incompleteness. In a departure for Leimer, this music is highly improvised, mostly studio-generated in real-time. 'I approached the work by repeatedly abandoning it and, at some later time, after pursuing some other task, after days or weeks of new outrages, wandered back and tried to once more pick up the threads.' Threnody is music tuned to a fractured time. K. Leimer founded Palace of Lights in 1979. Leimer's work has also been issued by Autumn, First Terrace, Les Giants, Origin Peoples and RVNG and his cassette work is included in the critically acclaimed VOD box set American Cassette Culture. Leimer has been actively producing music since the mid 1970s -- his current catalog includes eighteen solo albums plus collaborative albums with Savant and Marc Barreca. His work is included in the collection of The British Library."
Sarah Davachi renders another sublime, haunting slice of magick with ‘Evensong’
A passage of sylvan solo keys and spectral glossolalia working at a stately pace and grace, taken from her eagerly anticipated ‘Gave In Rest’ album for Ba Da Bing Records.
El mysterioso, Black Lodge pops the cork on a mad new collection of cut ’n paste dance music and other oddities with ‘Bitter Blood (A Collection of Archival Recordings)’ for the Disciples label
Cut and stitched from a dash ’n grab collection that's made entirely from analogue recordings and environmental ephemera similar to his trips with Mo Wax and The Trilogy Tapes, this, his first release since 2010, is peppered with cameos from Manchester nobility, erstwhile and otherwise, along with the sound of his shaking spray cans and sprained grooves snaffled from the lower racks of myriad charity shops and record emporia.
Nowadays he doesn’t make this kinda stuff because he sold all his gear to buy a gong, but he clearly saw fit for these ones to creep out of his notorious archive and make everyone feel a bit queer for 43 minutes in their otherwise boring lives.
The results range from Demdike Stare-esque library record abstractions such as A Cross Inverted, thru to bleary, brassy psychedelia in Bitter Blood and collage patchworks such as Ginny Spinner or the wheezing Jamais Vu, along with super pert synth-pop in Wodwo, and a Tony Conrad/VU-ish drone elegy named Withershins.
Brilliant, super limited vinyl only LP from Powell breaking down and recombining styles in a way that hearkens back to the syncretic clusterf*ck of musics - house, industrial EBM, early electro, glam and synth-pop - which made up original, late ‘80s Belgian New Beat, and which fed into the emergence of an early rave techno sound.
New Beta Vol.1 finds Powell also hacking and splicing formative influence from late ’90s UK D&B, noise and cantankerous No wave electro into a breathlessly taut, mercurial alternative to modern day familiarity, briskly refreshing his sound while making no bones about its roots or compromise to its fractious nature.
The seven tracks of New Beta Vol.1 find smarter, looser points of connection and juxtaposition between their mutual and exclusive binds, better consolidating his dancefloor impetus with an emotive thrust that he’s previously preferred to dance around or assuage in favour of outright madness.
Whether its the bittersweet bubble of opener Teddy, the cascading synth harmonies of Freezer, or in the brain-frothing ambient strokes of Electric Sheep, the shocking flashes of pathos which began to emerge from certain angles of Sport are now rendered with more space to move and cause affect, tempering his pinched, nipped and ripping grooves with a vacillating ambiguity and tempestuous quality that bears up to closer listens at home or on headphones.
Ultimately New Beta Vol.1 is definitely still Powell, but perhaps reveals a truer reflection of the artist’s musical make-up, one sure to lasso new fans as well as pique the interests of those who’ve intently watched his development since 2011.
Emptyset’s James Ginzburg morphs into Bleed Turquoise with the slow, seething swagger and inflamed electronic textures of his eponymous debut album for Other Other Recordings
Picking up where the buzz of Emptyset’s ‘Borders’ left us, and with something of Vessel’s prurient noise keen, ‘Bleed Turquoise’ is unmistakably tied to a visceral strain of dark, neon Bristol blues and post-punk experiments.
From its sluggish pacing to its disciplined intensity, it’s hard to avoid comparisons to putative Bristolian sounds, but rather than stoned and cocooning dread, the album’s seven tracks bristle and burn at the edges with a different sort of negative ecstasy, at best in the sooty bass revs and incendiary iridescence of ‘Timed Indigo’ and the crushing gait of ’In So Far As’, or the razing, Vessel-like drill of ‘Divide Red’.
The soundtrack to the Netflix original movie ‘1922’, based on the Stephen King novella.
"Mike Patton (Faith No More, Tomahawk, Fantomas,Peeping Tom, Mr Bungle) composed the score and this soundtrack release features music from the film as well as expanded tracks that didn’t make the cut.
Heavily orchestral, with rich, funereal strings, the score is punctuated by distinctly Pattonian touches, such as bursts of jarring dissonance and a skittering strain of percussion that’s eerily dreadinducing.
Previously, Patton composed the scores for ‘The Place Beyond The Pines’ and ‘Crank: High Voltage’."
Scorching, deep fwd Gqom from scene OG, Griffit Vigo, back to bang on Gqom Oh! after appearing on ‘The Originators’ 12”
Leading on from the necessary drop of his Ree’s Vibe classic, Griffit gives up some blindingly strong dancefloor futurism in four ways, ranging from bare boned, nagging buzz of the brutally stripped down original, to a concise Video Edit, before knocking us out cold with the heat-warped chromatic convolutions of Gqom 6 (Remastered 2018), and the exhilarating thunder of Come To Durban.
Properly overproof, this stuff. Untouchable.
That cheeky lad Mickey Pearce coughs up ‘Club Tools 001’ on his Box of Toys label
This is Pearce at his most playful and proving, with four tracks variously built to move the club in different ways, from he jerky jack ’n pivot of Rinsed, thru the clenched tension and funky release of Highly Strung, to the balmy swagger of Brass Tacks, and the nutty jack track, Washed.
UTTU catch Deadboy at his best on the ‘Psychic Hotline’ EP with 6 tracks of fuzzy, bleary-eyed house primed for festive gatherings...
Side A charts a dawning trip from filtered, keening and harmonised house in So Cold thru the deep burning swang of No More into the positively uplifting shimmer of Silicon.
The B-side sees that vibe channelled between the natty Afro-Sino grub of Ryuichi, to spheric footowrk-meets-new age impulses on Dervish, and a gently slouchy wash of gauzy chords and sloping groove in Venus & Mercury.
RIYL Justin Toper, Russell Grant, Derek Acorah
Classic grime instrumentals back on (digital) road!
Garna loads up a full clip of proper old skool badness, including his & Garna’s OG of ‘Magik Circle’ from the ‘Magik Circle EP’ , plus a high-tension VIP, and multiple variations, at best in the cold neck-snapper ‘MagikAlarm’ and the evil squeak of ‘BlackMagik’.
Inkke tees up steel-tipped drill drums, pointillist garage and searing synth melodies on the ‘Lil Plasma EP’ for LuckyMe, mounting his fiercest, most forward assault on the ‘floor since emerging on Astral Black
Leading on from the Secret Palace 12”, Inkke kills with surgical precision in the Lil Plasma EP, bending a body between the biting-point metallic synths and fanged drums of Lil Plasma, to some super tangy, hyper garage a la Rian Treanor in Rome, and the laser-guided trap of Incense.
Sublime, smudged and looped ambient/pop layering from Jake Muir (Further Records, Touch), the third release on sferic following Space Afrika’s excellent ‘Somewhere Decent To Live’ album. Huge recommendation if you're into Jan Jelinek, Pinkcourtesyphone, Conjoint, Studio Pankow, Andrew Pekler, Fennesz...
sferic cruise the best coast with Jake Muir, an artist and field recordist hailing from Los Angeles, California, where he’s previously recorded and released albums under the Monadh moniker for Further Records and Touch, the latter of which on the compilation ‘Live At Human Resources’, where he took part in a beautiful group tribute to Jóhann Jóhannsson along with a number of solo contributions.
On ‘Lady’s Mantle’ Muir constructs a poignant sound world crafted from samples of well loved American pop smudged with aqueous field recordings made everywhere from Iceland to the beaches of California. In nine succinct scenes, the results loosely limn a wide sense of space and place with its fading harmonic auroras and glinting, half-heard surf rock melodies rendered in an abstract impressionist manner that suggests a fine tracing of in-between-spaces, perhaps describing metropolitan sprawl giving way to vast mountain ranges and oceanic scales.
In effect the album recalls the intoxicated airs of Jan Jeinek's Loop Finding Jazz Records and Gramm project, as well as Pinkcourtesyphone (a.k.a L.A. resident Richard Chartier) and Andrew Pekler’s sensorial soundscapes and even the plangent production techniques of Phil Spector. But for all its implied sense of space, ultimately there’s a paradoxically close intimacy to proceedings which feels like you’re the passenger in Muir’s ride, and he patently knows the scenic route...
Industrial kosmische noise, new on Opal Tapes.
“Beginning with childhood experiments using a cheap keyboard sampler & multi-track tape machine. The Subdermic created hypnotic loops, drawing her early influences from the New Romantic & New Wave era. Her teenage years were drenched with early Acid house and later Techno as both a listener and an emergent musician. This cultivated a growing collection of studio equipment from where she began to hone her sound. Interest in the work of Kosmiche pioneers Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream and the expansive, cinematic synth soundtracks of John Carpenter and Lustmord have all informed the Morphology EP, a debut release for The Subdermic on Opal Tapes.
“Most of my music comes from a definitive idea or theme that I’m obliged to express, it’s like a sculpture, starting from a simple place the whole work ethic grows to become fevered and all encompassing. The most important part of writing & arrangement for me is the process of subtraction or sculpting the piece”
This elegant, learned subtraction is evident here where over the six pieces all surfaces are worn down to reveal subtle detail or to erase the detail entirely. Opening track ‘Ballet of the Sutures’ daubs pointillistic synth against grinding metallics. Leering forwards the piece offers no solution just a see-sawing of trapped acid possibilities and oddly emotive ostinato. ‘Rage 1st Movement’ throws argumentative squeals of overdriven sound through the stereo, formants fold against clusters of noise and crushed breathing sounds. Doors bang and close for good, the whole track is trapped in it’s own smothering air. ‘An Upside Down’ ends the A-side with pure, horizonless, “Phaedra” like ambient built around deep, enwombing Jupiter 8 cycles.
‘God the Mind’ follows suit to start the B-side though this time the orbit is lower and the air thicker. Duelling lines of ever tightening oscillation coarse closer and closer in a devastating minimalism recalling Aube’s brain-scanner works. ‘Southern Sun’ is all delicious Jupiter and Juno in full Carpenter mode, majestic chords crashing against purring filters in a total sunrise of sound. The EP closes with ‘Of Moths and Butterflies’ where sequencers pluck melancholic arps and wings fill with blood for the first time. Future-retro perfection.
Serene and sometimes scarring, minimal but eminently tuneful. This is the music of The Subdermic.”
Sandro Perri, the don behind Polmo Polpo and more recently Off World tends to his pop soul with ‘In Another Life (Edit)’, the first glimmer of his first new solo album since 2011’s ‘Impossible Spaces’
Somehow retrogressive, yet timelessly fresh in a style that has done him well him thus far, ‘In Another Life (Edit)’ comes off like Paul Simon in the studio with a dizzy wasp, but he’s so chill that the wasp just buzzes dozily around the mic while he croons and strums. No fuss.