Minimalist hypnotists Ambarchi, Sprenger and Sollmann manipulate the dance with deeply trippy results for Ostgut's A-Ton sublabel
In two extended, kraut-y flights the trio place a wealth of multi-disciplinary, avant-garde experience at the service of dancefloor enlightenment, conjuring a lysergically timeless sound that richly exceeds the sum of its inputs.
With the 15 minute ‘Panama’ they hinge a lone clave around chipping guitar and synthlines in a sublimely tempered ascent thru microtonal increments and eye-fluttering arps, working out something like Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe channelling ancient spirits.
On ’Suez (Version)’ they loosen up the groove with a rolling swing that accumulates strange, pitch-bent synth twang and grubbing electronics until we’re lost in a lush chromatic maelstrom by the half way mark, from which point they really take off, leaving the dancefloor hundreds of miles below, showered in electronic perseids.
Really feeling this!
Cuts distills the world’s troubles into a starkly percussive and brooding new EP for Village Green
Following in cinematic suit from the ‘Exist’ EP, Cuts’ new EP opens with the coruscating greyscale drones, pealing synths and dry pounding crack of ‘A Gradual Decline’ in a way recalling Jóhann Jóhannsson’s more aggressive moments, whereas the B-side tends to more introspective needs with the low register 808 bumps and chapped melody of ‘Carbon’, which recalls Alva Noto’s ‘Xerox’ before the breaks splinter thru, and ‘Drowning’ pushes out into precipitous, beatless drone terrain calling to mind Ian William Craig’s cracked panoramas.
Jealous God call for EBM reinforcements with three new tracks from Pye Corner Audio, and a collab between Marcel Dettmann & Silent Servant.
Pye Corner Audio does it slow, grubby and inquisitive on Delay Gratification, teasing in a sort of industrial zombie cumbia, while Meet Me In The Void follows a muggier hunch into Carpenter-esque synth alleys, and The Future is a bleak as f^ck black knot of acid rolling with stygian function.
Dettmann subtly indulges his longheld passion and fascination for EBM in collaboration with Juan Mendez aka Silent Servant on The Bond, where they marry a strapping lead arp with floating, over-the-shoulder voices and booming kicks, all pinned into place by a reverberating snare that’s sure to ricochet around Berghain’s main hall like stay shrapnel.
Alvin Curran’s outstanding mesh of soaring vocals, swooping subbass and glancing percussion in ‘Cante E Vedute Del Giardino Magnetico’  arrives as part of Superior Viaduct’s indispensable, educational reissue series for its first vinyl reissue since 1981. Bravo, SP. This is blowing our minds right now!
“American composer and multi-instrumentalist Alvin Curran has remained one of the great emblems of experimental music for the last half-century. In 1966, along with Frederic Rzewski and Richard Teitelbaum, Curran co-founded Musica Elettronica Viva, a seminal gesture in collective free improvisation. In the early '70s, his solo work would become a crucial bridge between minimalist traditions on both sides of the Atlantic.
Canti E Vedute Del Giardino Magnetico, Curran's solo debut, was recorded by the artist himself and issued on Ananda, the small Italian imprint started by Curran and fellow composers Giacinto Scelsi and Roberto Laneri. The piece itself was put together in the winter of 1973 and presented for the first time at Teatro Beat 72 (Rome's The Kitchen).
Encouraged by the work of Terry Riley, La Monte Young, Charlemagne Palestine and Simone Forti, Curran binds the listener to aberrant notions of place and time: blending field recordings (wind, high-tension wires, beach waves, etc.) with simple and often primitive instruments. Across two sidelong tracks, Giardino Magnetico forms a lyrical collage of synthesizer, glass and metal chimes, plastic tubes, brass and the composer's alluring voice – converging in an immersive realm of Curran’s inner / outer experiences.
This first-time vinyl reissue is recommended for fans of Harry Bertoia, Michel Redolfi and Lino Capra Vaccina.”
'Prata Bagnati Del Monte Analogo' is a sublime and truly rarified piece of occult esoterica produced by the famous Franco Battiato and originally published in 1979 on a series he curated for Gianni Sassi's Cramps Records.
This edition has been remastered from original tapes and mercifully made available again by California’s Superior Viaduct. It was inspired by the unfinished pataphysical novel 'Le Mont Analogue' by French writer Renè Daumal, himself a student of engimatic Armenian mystic Georges Ivanovich Gurdjieff, whose teachings providing rich reference and spiritual guidance to the record's producer, Battiato, and its performers, Francesco Messina and Juri Camisasca.
A-side is a breathtaking 23 minute mediation played on Moog and Roland Vocoder synths, and EMS Synthi, stroking runs of gentle arpeggios over angelic pads with the sort of intimate pattern repetitions that could happily go on for infinity. Imagine a more sanguine, unhurried Iasos or Laraaji, or as Stephan Mathieu aptly puts it, "Vainqueur, Substance and Resilent as children chanting their vocodered chants" and you're there with us, floating lotus position one foot from the floor.
Raoul Lovisoni's B-side is more colourful and equally beautiful in its own right. His 'Hula Om' features Patti Tassini's purposefully wandering harp and intimate ambient sounds of the room it was recorded in, whereas the glassy resonance of 'Amon Ra' features a Lovisoni rubbing glasses to Juri Camisasca's chant.
What do you do when you’ve done a private gig performing MJ classics in Quincy Jones’ lounge in front Mr. Jones himself, supported Red Hot Chili Peppers on tour, co-written tracks on Thundercat’s opus ‘Drunk’ and written a song for the Lego ‘Ninjago’ movie? Sign to Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder label, of course.
"‘Time’ is Cole’s third album - a casual but addictive blend of quickfire, hook-laden electrofunk bullets and wistful, soft-focus balladry - and it’s compelling. Featuring guests Thundercat, Brad Mehldhau, Genevieve Artadi and Dennis Hamm. For fans of Mac DeMarco, Thundercat, Connan Mockasin, KNOWER."
Suzanne Kraft beautifully paints outside the lines on ‘SK U Kno’, offering studio-rendered snapshots of material that gradually evolved into the pieces in front of you, drawing woozy connections between wistful ambient contours and more vaporous, hypnagogic loops, into unstable House and abstracted midnight Blues. One of the loveliest/smudged listens this year, huge recommendation...
On the A-side Kraft seduces with eight minutes of wilting chords and percolated synth voices in ‘Gaze’, before ‘Vast Mute’ breezes close to the kind of DJ Screw-style magick found in 0PN’s ‘Chuck Person’s Eccojams’, but to more abstracted, hazy effect.
His B-side follows with the beautifully mellow strums of ‘To Make A Stone Weep’ probing a Jim O’Rourke-like transition from acoustic balm to digital saltiness, and then we finally get to hear the full version of ‘Accelerate Me Wildly’, which now comes with an extra 12 minutes of astral synth-scaping and GRM-like electro-acoustics before it drops into killer, airborne funk trills and levitating chords with a proper West Coast US steez.
So good this one.
For the first time in thirty years, iconic electronic music pioneers Vince Clarke (Erasure/Yazoo/Depeche Mode) and Martin Gore (Depeche Mode) reunite for a full length album project. 'SSSS' is a club-dedicated affair taking heavy inspiration from Teutonic Techno and was built part-by-part over email from the duo's respective studios. Their take on contemporary Techno is quite camp, if we're honest, which shouldn't really come as a shock to anyone aware of their tastes. They've got a maximalist approach to the dancefloor, packed with frilly tweaks and throbbing, haughty, macho rhythms. Previous single 'Spock' - acclaimed by The Quietus as "one of the best tracks of 2011" - appears, as does the more recent 'Single Blip', next to the cantering ElectroTechno cruiser 'Windup Robot', the spiked, blurry contours of 'Bendy Bass', the sawtooth synth-driven insistence of 'Aftermaths' and the almost Baroque set-piece 'Flux'. Mixed by Timothy "Q" Wiles, recorded and engineered by Sie Medway Smith and Vince Clarke and mastered by Stefan Betke (aka Pole).
Sumptuous, psychedelic, ambient jazz electronics woven with moonlight and a special blend of ancient spices
“Fourth world fusion voyager Anton Glebov’s latest full-length of chimeric environmental music, Diego, emerged from field recordings he conducted on a recent trek through Georgia: gurgling waters of Narzan springs in the Caucasus Mountains, serenading frogs late at night by a lake in Batumi, crickets and cicadas hissing in the fields. Returning home to St. Petersburg he layered them with meditations and melodies using balafon, flute, percussion, saxophone, and synths to create surreal, shape-shifting habitats. Though Mårble began in Siberia the project has always been rootless, a mercurial melting pot of scrambled electronics, tribalist rhythm, prismatic jazz, and ethnographic ambience, evoking illusions more than identities.
Glebov speaks of his music inducing “transcendental ideas and infinity,” hinted at in the lofty alien hymnals “Upanishad” and “Болото Релаксации” (Russian for “The Swamp Of Relaxation”). Elsewhere Glebov’s message is more garbled and miasmic, in keeping with the dizzying hybridity which could well serve as his artist’s statement: “Not belonging to any musical style creates an atmosphere of freedom, disengagement, and levity.”
Doomy grey area/light industrial zone incursions from Nigh/T\mare, backed with a gristly Killawatt remix, for Swiss label, Thrènes Records
A strong look for the monochrome nightcrawlers, ‘Hypnagogia’ summons fine nocturnal tremors between the rolling ram of ‘Inside Me’ and the epic crest of ‘Without Believing’ on the A-side, while the B-side brings the rollicking trample of ‘Deflagration of Hell’ and the widescreen gloom of ‘Despite Everything’ along with a a beastly, squashed remix from Killawatt in industrial mode.
Hessle Audio turn out two cuts from Bruce cut at 45rpm.
‘What’ rumbles along the top with percolated subs underlining a proggy, dry peak of stressed, processed vocals and nagging, zig-zagging bleeps. Think a mithered Zomby.
‘Æon’ opens out into simulated airier space with well tucked subs and filigree detailing that sounds like an AI imitating Detroit techno...
Incredible, unsettled soundscapes from Melbourne’s Francis Plagne, gently spiking Penultimate Press with ‘Moss Trumpet’ after doubling down on LPs with crys cole and Andrew Chalk already this year.
Plagne’s Penultimate Press debut is a fine lesson in the art of lower case obscurantism. Using an array of flute, harmonium, keyboards, mics, organ, paper, percussion, recorder, synthesiser, tapes, tuba, voice, whistle and zither, the Melburnian sound artist connotes a kind of lucid dream state for mental transport, seemingly bringing the shoreside indoors and somehow lighting small fires in its ebbing and frothing tide, where he cooks up stones and herbs and recites their geomantic prognostications instrumentally.
As you may be able to see, we’re sorta left floundering for handrails with this one, as Plagne maintains such a strange, naturalistic logic between his sounds that it feels more like the document of something that happened beyond human control than anything composed or written. Perhaps then, as the label inform us, the key to ‘Moss Trumpet’ lies in Costin Miereanu’s ‘Luna Cinese’, an avant-garde classic which we’re unfamiliar with, but need to run check out after ingesting this gently heady beauty.
The Death of The Machines series arrives at its first compilation, featuring heavy hitting EBM and industrial zingers by four new artists: Exterminador, Craow, R. Gamble, and Plastic Ivy
Classically schooled in the dark art of war dance, each operator pulls out something hard and nasty, ranging from the supremely taut, Silent Servant-esque traction of ‘Mohammad Bin Salman (Tegeler Mix)’ by Exterminador, to the gnashing drum machines and palpitating EBM pulse of Craow’s ‘Lot’ on the front, and over to the virulent synth-pop lead and muscular thrum of R Gamble’s ‘Dead Advice (Club Mix)’ and the hot-stepping quicksilver of ‘Exit Strategy’ by Plastic Ivy.
A spellbinding ode to love lost, and possibly to be gained, from Belgium’s Annelies Monseré, one of the few contemporary artists to release new recordings amid Stroom’s classic reissue schedule - although you’d hardly tell from the timeless, ghostly quality of her signing and gothic backdrops.
Described by Ziggy Devriendt’s (a.k.a. DJ Nosedrip) label as “…a record about a parting of ways. It is dedicated to the one who has been left behind and the one who left” the latest LP from Annelies is unmistakably shaded with a mittel european sense of sombre, nocturnal, romantic themes, using a blend of electronic and acoustic instruments to paint stark chambers of sound ready for intimate reflection and contemplation.
The lyrics of each song are included for disambiguity, but to be fair Annalies doesn’t hide behind glossolalia or any sort of wistful whimpering, masterfully mixing her vocals for plaintive legibility and with transfixing effect that’s only accentuated by the stripped back, refined poise of her undulating organ lines, glowing synths and sighing accordion phrasing.
In the most beautiful way, ‘Happiness Is Within Sight’ strikes the finest balance of vulnerability and quietly resolute strength, of classicism and timelessnes, making for a record that rewards many return listens - soemthing we could say about almost any Stroom release, but very strongly here.
As the legendary Art Ensemble Of Chicago celebrates its 50th anniversary, Soul Jazz Records release a new, fully re-mastered edition of the group’s seminal 1970 album ‘Les Stances à Sophie’, which features the great singer Fontella Bass on the opening track ‘Theme de Yoyo’, a stunning 9-min opus that continues to startle and compel new audiences today.
"The Art Ensemble explored many areas of popular black music during their career. For instance, their ‘Ancient to the Future: Tribute to the Masters’ album covered songs by artists such as James Brown, Fela Kuti and Jimi Hendrix. This however, remains a pinnacle moment in their exploration of black dance music.
‘Les Stances à Sophie’ was recorded in Paris in 1970 and features regular Art Ensemble members (Lester Bowie, Joseph Jarman, Roscoe Mitchell and Malachi Flavors) alongside newly recruited drummer Don Moye and guest Fontella Bass on vocals and piano. Fontella Bass already had a successful career as a soul singer - ‘Rescue Me’ was her biggest hit in the Sixties. She and Lester Bowie first met in St Louis while working with legendary rhythm and blues producer Oliver Sain. Vocals (and lyrics), alongside a constant drum and bass beat, were new elements to the music of the Art Ensemble at this time. Musicians such as Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane spearheaded the free jazz movement at the start of the 1960s.
Far from simply defining a musical concept, they also began to redefine the concept of the African-American musician in society. A new period of self-respect and spirituality among musicians paralleled the Civil Rights Movement led by Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, encouraging self-determination and empowerment in every African-American musician. The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) was formed in Chicago in 1965 by Muhal Richard Abrams with members including future Art Ensemble of Chicago members Bowie, Jarman, Mitchell and Flavors, as well as others including Anthony Braxton and Amina Claudine Myers. The AACM explored experimental music and began promoting concerts, teaching music and Black history and offering spiritual guidance to youngsters in the Chicago community.
Out of this The Art Ensemble was formed in 1968 and in June 1969 the group headed for France. ‘Les Stances á Sophie’ was originally released on EMI France in 1970 and later in the US on Nessa Records. Soul Jazz Records first released the album in 2000. Now ten years out of print, they are releasing it once more in this new fully re-mastered edition. ‘Les Stances á Sophie’ came about when Israeli film director Moshe Misrahi befriended the group and asked them to record a soundtrack to a (then unmade) French New Wave film of the same name. During a two-year period in France the group recorded an astonishing amount of music - over fifteen albums recorded for various labels such as BYG, Freedom, Nessa, Arista and EMI - before returning to America in 1971 to continue their journey. The Art Ensemble Of Chicago’s musical soundtrack remains perhaps the definitive release from this period, a stunning exploration of radical jazz music and, with with the rare addition of vocalist Fontella Bass on ‘Theme De Yoyo’, an unashamedly powerful celebration of Great Black Music."
Preeminent theremin player Hekla Magnúsdóttir coaxes a beguiling spectrum of tones from her trusted and notoriously difficult instrument on a superb vinyl debut for Phantom Limb - the label run by former FatCat Records, Thrill Jockey and Royal Albert Hall bods James Vella, Ken Li and Mark Pearse.
Short of developing your own software from scratch, it’s maybe harder than ever to make genuinely unfamiliar sounds nowadays - but that’s exactly what Berlin-based Icelandic theremin player and singer Hekla has done on Á, unpacking and reframing some 100 years of the Theremin’s history into her breathtaking solo opus .
“Hekla's music exists singularly. A one-off talent, emerging from no particular scene, ascribing to no particular rules.
A long-term scholar of solo theremin, Hekla (shortened from her own name Hekla Magnúsdóttir) uses her instrument as an otherworldly and highly evocative Siren-call. A spectral, wailing, howling, lamenting yearning second-voice that underpins a soft vocal delivery... as if her studio had been haunted with a chorus of ghostly backing singers.
As a creative tool, the theremin - bizarre, unique, and rarely heard - can be expressive, intuitive and highly adaptable. In Hekla's hands, her instrument covers an enormous range, from skittering birdsong of high frequency chirrups and chirps, to grinding, tectonic sub-bass. We are given the throbbing, apocalyptic dread of 'Muddle' and the baroque beauty of traditional Icelandic hymn 'Heyr Himna Smi∂ur' in sequential tracks on the album's A-Side. Appropriately, she also writes that the album title - Á - is similarly multifaceted in her native Icelandic: "a river is an á and also it means ouch like when you hurt yourself, and also when you put something on top of something you put it á (on) something.”
“Boogie on the Mainline” presents a selection of 10 rare disco tracks from Germany plus one more tune from Austria, all of them, originally released between 1980 and 1987...
"The album contains little known tunes by groups like Imagination (which you can also see on the cover of the LP), Squish, Upstairs, The Poptown Syndicate and more. As the Boogie-ish post-disco side of German music history still basically remains undiscovered as of yet, “Boogie On The Mainline” hopefully will shed some light again on 11 rare gems that were mainly published on small or private labels.
The collection starts with an incredible song produced by composer and studio musician Peter Patzer who recorded his early works in the CREA-Studio in Bremen. With its mellow and distinguishing groove, the beautiful female vocals, and thrilling synth work “You Are Not The One For Me” is the perfect opener. The title was composed and recorded in 1982/1983 and finally released on the album “Pos-Attractions” in 1984, one in a series of 8 library recordings. It features the brilliant and now popular German TV voice of Anette Gerhardt, who is actually misspelled on the original record as J. A. Gerhards. Too bad there aren’t more tapes of the collaboration of Patzer and Gerhardt.
Next up is Ströer with the überclassic track “Don’t Stay For Breakfast”. Even though Ströer’s tune is the only one on “Boogie on the Mainline” that can be readily found on other compilations, we could not resist featuring this great song here as it boasts one of the most brilliant Moog synth-bass grooves ever heard. Composer and multi-instrumentalist Hans-Peter Ströer was a well respected bassist in the German Jazz and Fusion scene (being part of Volker Kriegel’s Mild Maniac Orchestra for example) but was also connected to the Disco scene in Munich. “Don’t Stay For Breakfast” is a synergy of these two musical worlds.
Around the same time, the band members of Upstairs from Frankfurt were being influenced by Rock, Funk and Disco. On their rare album “It’s Hard To Get In The Showbiz” from 1980 they created something that could be called Germany’s definitive answer to AOR. “You’re Just Yourself” marks the most soulful track of their album with a superb catchy groove and great vocals.
Next up is J.D. “Puma” Lewis aka John Davis. The bassist and singer began living in Germany in 1975 as a GI and still resides close to Nuremberg. His debut album “Joker” from 1980 features brilliant Modern Soul offerings like “Today” and “That’s Loving You”. Later, Davis became mainly focused on Electro Funk productions, many of which were released on the German label Metrovynil under various aliases before he gained late but rather infamous attention as one of the real voices of Milli Vanilli in the early 90s. “Dancing Shoes”, the track we licensed here, is one of the hits from the collectable Boogie record “Shake it - “Make it Loose”” on which John Davis teamed up with composer Reggy Hudson. The track is a perfect invitation to get up and dance.
Trust, a band from Hamburg, recorded their second and last album “Bow Making” in 1984. It remains a great example of German Boogie with beautiful soul and latin vibes. The uplifting groove on “It’s Not Over” combines with melancholic touches in the vocals sung by keyboardist and composer Jan Clemens Moeller. Once you hear this song, you won’t get the catchy chorus out of your head for a while!
Imagination, a band from Düsseldorf, originally started as an instrumental Jazz formation in the mid 1970s. Their influences ranged from Soul, to Fusion and even Blues, all the while employing jazz improvisation as a key component. On their self-released debut album “Shake It” from 1980 they expressed themselves with a unique version of mellow, yet funky Jazz and Modern Soul. The more uptempo “Strawberry Wine”, the opener of their album, could have been a straight-up hit. Unfortunately, attempts to promote and re-release the album professionally with the help of a dubious label and publishing company proved unsuccessful. The band felt ripped off by the record company who reissued the album without their knowledge.
“Get up” by Squish is an uplifting and motivating song to change to your life. The beautiful female vocals go “It’s time to make a change and leave the past behind - get up!”. Assembled with jazzy notes - what a beautiful pearl of a song! When demos of the full album “Royal Flash”, a soulful Jazz Pop release, were rejected by record companies it was released privately by band member Rainer Eichhorn on his own label Squirrel. It may be one of the hardest to obtain original records on our compilation.
Publicity’s “Funky Feeling” does not have to be explained much further as the track title says it all! Being the most recently produced cut on this album – released in 1987 – it may sound ‘cleaner’ than the other tracks. Nevertheless it still provides that funky “boogie” feeling we all love.This album became sought after within the French and German Boogie collectors’ scene a couple of years ago and since then the LP has become increasingly hard to find.
“Backstreetboy” by Bernie L is the only song on this selection from Austria. We simply could not resist licensing the track as it sports a raw, funky spirit. While Austria had a successful Disco scene spearheaded by superstar acts like Supermax and Falco, Bernie Leier was a sort of local underground hero from Linz. The obscure album “Ende der Eiszeit” (“End of the Ice Age”) on his own Skyline label is hard to put in a box and ranges from experimental New Wave to Funk.
Ca$h’s "Raff Dich auf" is surely one of the greatest moments in German Boogie history. A well arranged song with brass section, pure slap bass madness and a great recording quality. Unfortunately, Ca$h never released any albums and the track can only be found on the obscure local sampler "Vogelsberger Rock LP".
Imagine a groove as infectious as Cheryl Lynn's "Got To Be Real" with a big band feel and you get "Raff dich auf". This is the only track on the album that is sung mostly in the German language. "Raff dich auf" basically means "get up", shouting to the crowd to get out on the dancefloor.
Last but not least comes “Keep On Lovin”, a relatively unknown track which can be found on side B of a Synth Pop 12” on the small Eichhorn label. Produced by studio partners Freddy Steinberg and Franco Bloessoni (a.k.a. Frank Blöß) it features a couple of musicians and friends that they invited to their recording studio in Hamburg. The track shows strong influences of Italo Disco but still remains quite funky due to the grooving bassline and guitar. The heavy drums feature the sound of the legendary Roland 808, most other instruments were played live. We decided for the shorter 7inch version of the song which still retains all the juice of the 12” version. And when the final chorus goes “Keep keep keep keep on loving …” we hope you have enjoyed the track as well as the full album.
“Boogie On The Mainline” pays tribute to an era and movement that never really existed - and it will hopefully shed some light on these little-known Disco gems. The album is released in a deluxe double vinyl edition with gatefold jacket on the new Artless Cuckoo sister label “Boogie on the Mainline”. It includes extensive liner notes and original artwork by compiler John Raincoatman a.k.a. DJ Scientist."
Humbly enchanting solo piano suite by a regular member of the long-running Idea Fire Company, and former collaborator with The Shadow Ring
“Karla Borecky’s long-awaited second album following 2011’s Still In Your Pocket (R9). In between her work with Idea Fire Company, Karla has been slowly building a new repertoire of solo pieces. She threads together simple, whirling piano numbers. Lines of blue sadness, red memories, and green dreams, stitched with charm and care.
An approachable album in the best way possible. Whatever your hobby may be, The Still Life will set the mood. This album also features two solo-piano versions of Idea Fire Company bangers: “The Life of the Party” from Music from the Impossible Salon (KYE) and “The Island of Taste,” from The Island of Taste (Swill Radio).
Borecky’s music carries such a layered emotional identity while balancing a lack of pretension. A fine tightrope to dance on, but she does it gracefully. Please do enjoy.”
A highly personalised sociopathic gem delivered as a futuristic rewriting of how music works, a melodious breeze with a tail wind of venomous din. A ten-track album, her tenth studio set.
"Enveloping the juxtaposition of the concept of ‘dark sunshine’, a brooding solo record creating with friends to expand her off-kilter sonic vision; a squally, squeaky mix of discordant beauty.
Feedback and phasing gyrate from simply strummed normality, imagine Dinosaur Jr and My Bloody Valentine cranking up a Dylan couplet. Messing with both extremes of the sonic spectrum: atonal and arrhythmic, a unique sound and a glorious return to form for one of alternative rock’s true innovators.
“Sometimes the most subversive thing I can do musically is adhere to standard song structure, sometimes the creepiest chords are the ones we’ve heard before, twisted into different shapes, and sometimes a story is lived a thousand times before we can ride it like a roller coaster. Nothing wholly unfamiliar is gonna make you look twice. When you can describe a record as being “deceptively” anything, you’re hinting at the sociopathic nature of music. Something I love. Imagine truly buying your own sunshine and charm, but also your darkness and violence; the two sides of your psychology showing each other off in relief. Songs can do that...we can’t, really. Darkness we’ve seen.”
Kristin Hersh, July 2018
The master of breezy but heavyweight modern soul smackers, Devonte Hynes a.k.a Blood Orange’ racks up a terrific follow-up to his ‘Freetown Sound’  LP, loaded with guest spots from Puff Daddy, A$AP Rocky and Georgia Anne Muldrow, a.o., but undoubtedly revolving Hynes as the star of his own show
Where ‘Freetown Sound’ found Hynes singing from his parents’ perspective, its follow-up comes from Hynes’ formative experience growing up in England, rendering, in his own words; “an exploration into my own and many types of black depression, an honest look at the corners of black existence, and the ongoing anxieties of queer/people of color.”
Instant standouts step forth in the deftly rugged swang of ‘Chewing Gum’ feat. A$AP Rocky and Project Pat, as well as the the fusion of ‘90s R&B and adroit soul-jazz touches in ‘Saint’; the jiggy but tender R&B of ‘Runnin’’ with Neo-soul queen Georgia Anne Muldrow; and the killer Linn drum programming on ‘Out Of Your League’; but it’s really sculpted for seamless, absorbed listening in one sitting.
Shoulda-been-huge Balearic pop music from '80s also-rans, DJ Ralf Behrendt, Stefanie Lange and Claudia Hossfeld aka Saâda Bonaire.
The first issue on Captured Tracks' new 'Fantasy Memory' sublabel, curated by Andy Grier of Theives Like Us, rescues from obscurity a full album of dub-wise, electronic pop produced by Dennis Bovell at Kraftwerk's studio in 1982. As fate would have it, the project fell foul of EMI's label politics, notably the group's excessive A&R man, who went 5 times over budget on Tina Turner's 'Private Dancer' and more than three times over on Saâda Bonaire, hence the release fell by the wayside with lack of promotional support.
This release collects their only released single, 'You Could Be More As You Are' along with eleven unreleased cuts of super slick pop equal parts Grace Jones sass and kinky studio experimentation melding exotic eastern instrumentation, killer drum machines and outright seductive vocals. Now, thirty years later it's getting the treatment it deserves.
Following his Pacific Alley album, Krikor Kouchian serves this killer soundtrack to the documentary 'Arabie Saoudite: Les Liaisons Dangerousness' on a deluxe presentation. Where the French TV program focusses on the Saudi royal family’s support of Wahhabism and the West’s appeasement of Saudi foreign policy, Kouchian underlines and accentuates the content with a brooding blend of mirage-like electronics and drum machine geometries that take on a gauzy new life thru the tape format.
In tone and aesthetic Kouchian’s soundtrack feels close to the use of melancholic ambient motifs in Adam Curtis documentaries on the same subject, as the Parisian artist conjures a sort of furtively ephemeral and mystic feel that matches the clash of ancient religion and crude oil-soaked modernity explored by the documentary. However, where Curtis’ soundtracks tend to collage recurring motifs, Kouchian’s emotive nudges are perhaps less ambiguous, lending a decidedly dark, looming shadow to proceedings.
Highly Recommended if you're into Gigi Masin, Low Jack, Terekke, Newworldaquarium, Boards of Canada.
Exploded View, the project of Annika Henderson, Hugo Quezada, and Martin Thulin has returned and taken flight with their second full-length, Obey.
"The album was recorded at Hugo’s and Martin’s studios in Mexico City with Annika visiting from Berlin. Leaving behind their raw, live recording process, and embracing overdubs and multi-instrumentalism, the band has crafted their most ambitious work to date. The four-piece that recorded the band’s self-titled debut album and Summer Came Early EP became three to create a more concise collection of songs. Their motivation for creating together remains purely passionate and the improvisational spark the band is known for has morphed into the emotional flames of being close friends with a deep desire to make music with each other.
When asked about the title of the record, singer Annika said “this is in reference to so many things. We live in a society where we must obey or risk punishment. This can be social punishment, legal punishment, emotional punishment - if you dare to step outside, you will reap the reward. We live in a time when we are selfcertifying a lot. Whether it’s how we present ourselves on social media or our diet or our job - we obey the social norms. Our fears are used against us by advertisers. Our fears of growing old or being excluded - we must conform or pay the high price - buy this and you will be accepted. We must obey.” She adds musingly at the end, “It’s also funny because in the band we often feel like we are all compromising, so we must all obey each other’s wishes to some extent too.”
Striking the balance between precise and wild, between unshackled and grounded, grooving and unhinged, has always been Exploded View’s specialty. They have a special knack for making the esoteric feel accessible and crafting pop music out of seemingly raw consciousness. This unique ability to make beautiful music that feels written beyond the veil is at the heart of what makes the band so captivating and powerful, and it’s on full display all over Obey."
Sleaford Mods’ pal John Paul speaks to the woes of former hardmen in the UK’s east midlands on ‘No Filter’, a series of heavily accented rants and references to pop culture, set to cruddy hip hop, acid and dubstep beats
“"No Filter" is the rightful extension of the Sleaford Mods idea in my opinion but dont let that drive you into thinking this is some rehash.
John Paul has, with the help of Rat and Steve Underwood, created a horrible account of modern forgotten england from the edge of his stool in the corner of the pub away from all the hard men he once ran with. Its the re-awakening of a mind trying to tune into truth and its brutal.
His wordplay and observations are near exceptional and at some points, and like all good music, it nearly devours itself as it tells musical convention to get fucked. The music too, is so fucking crap its beautiful, like the mundane back ground music sent out from head office to all its pubs.
'No Filter" has for me in some ways pushed the envelope of the Workers Tale, the arrival into mid-life with its disgust for the old shit you did and the attitudes that came with all that. Its solid." - Jason Williamson / Sleaford Mods.”
Rabit resets his sound in kaleidoscopic, cinematic dimensions on ‘Life After Death’, an absorbingly psychedelic, pop-wise and fractally refined follow-up to his trio of boundary-pushing albums that bridged the gaps between DJ Screw and Coil, grime and the GRM, also inspired by Surrealist art, Enigma, and Japanese Ambient artists like Hiroshi Yoshimura...
Divined and constructed over the last two years between studios in Houston, TX and Paris, France, ‘Life After Death’ is Eric C. Burton a.k.a. Rabit’s most concerted effort at working deeper into the cracks between genres, so deep in fact that stylistic taxonomy becomes obsolete and sonic alchemy is now firmly the aim of the game. Across its 12 tracks Rabit essentially offers himself as a conductive vessel between dreams and machines, a kind of dark interpreter and interlocutor between metaphysical spirits and the material world.
‘Life After Death’ is still patently Rabit, but a tempered version of himself - one that’s clearly coming, or has come to terms with himself and what he wants from his music, which now finds him moving away from relatively obvious pattern recognition to a finer graded consolidation of styles, meters, textures and feelings. In his words “the probing and revisiting of genres in electronic music felt fetishistic and limiting and wasn’t the best way for me to communicate”, adding ”…I think the occult term is interesting because I don’t hear this explored in music in ways that I find relevant. I leave it to time and the intelligent listener to make up their own meaning.”
Within this wider yet finer semantic framework, Rabit elaborates an unfathomably mystic sound akin to a movie score without the visual aspect, conjuring a kind of modern sonic answer to the percptions and notions expressed in Alejandro Jodorowsky or Stanley Kubrick movies. It’s succinct parts each connote the feeling of distinct, interrelated scenes traversing from keening synthetic chorales to impendingly doomy orchestrations, knots of gnarled distortion and isolationist instrumental grime études, with each finding a Cerberus-like biting point between rawness and deliberate, filigree detail, or the ultimate abstraction of death and the thizzing surreality of waking life...
12 extraordinary tracks from the timeless genius of the New York underground...
Following up Soul Jazz's excellent retrospective on Arthur's disco material - now things really start getting serious. Mostly the material here is derived from two unreleased albums worth, a 1985 test pressing entitled 'Corn' and a long planned album for Rough Trade, worked on between 1986 - 90 and eventually shelved when Russell became too ill to complete, or let go of his material.
Arthur's curious, optimistic vocal - lifting us away from the corporeal into true mantric territories - is just completely inimitable and life affirming. The lyrical preoccupations with american upbringing and life could perhaps be found in an imaginary midpoint somewhere between Frank O'Hara's 'Lunch poems' and Billy Collins. His beloved cello and drum machine experiments still sound vital and completely innovative. Check 'Calling All Kids' for the beautiful Walter Gibbons remix, bringing us full circle back to the disco Arthur held so dear.
Russell emerges head and shoulders above, standing on the outside looking in, but glad of the fresh air. This is a must.
Funky Turkish psych rock
“Altın Gün offer an exciting mix of Turkish folk, psychedelia, funk and rock.After performing in Istanbul with Jacco Gardner, bassist Jasper Verhulst became fascinated by the Turkish sound of the 70s. At that time, artists like Selda, Barış Manço and Erkin Koray combined traditional music with western rock influences. Along with bandmates Ben Rider (guitar) and Nic Mauskovic (drums), Verhulst searched for Turkish musicians to revive this sound. They found Merve Dasdemir (vocals) and Erdinc Yildiz Ecevit (vocals, saz, keys) through Facebook. Jungle by Night’s energetic percussionist Gino Groeneveld joined the groupand the band was complete.Altın Gün play songs from the aforementioned artists from the 70's and their lesser-known contemporaries and also make their own arrangements of Turkish traditionals. This way different worlds meet and form a refreshing danceable sound.”
Perú’s Dengue Dengue Dengue! grind out a potently dark and psychedelic twist on native rhythms and global bass styles for London’s award-winning On The Corner label
“Dengue Dengue Dengue are the Peruvian duo known for raising a tropical storm. Their electronic psychedelia and bass flows from their roots in Lima, Perú upstream to global dancefloors. The duo are constant in their evolution, exploring rhythms and sounds native to Peru and from the world over. Their focus is in recreating them in electronic form, mixing the old with the new, analog and with digital.
In owning their unique sound and visual identity they share a common quest in their pairing with London-Global label On the Corner. Already deemed ‘Label of The Year’ at the Worldwide Awards On the Corner are crossing more borders and breaking down the silo of left-field sounds having now been nominated for the ‘Best Small Label’ gong at the prestigious AIM Awards.
Gilles Peterson's 'Worldwide Premieres' called it back in summer 2016 saying that the label is “On a never-ending quest to support and expose far-off musical cultures around the world”. On the Corner continues to leave no stone unturned.
In this 6-tracker Dengue Dengue Dengue team-up with label mates Penya. The band feature on the first track ‘Pua’ that sets a rich scene for the sonic journey ahead. The flip is stormed with title track ‘Semillero' whilst hearts, minds and imaginations are set to be inspired with their versioning of ‘Habu Raminibu’ which is a healing chant of the Huni Kuin people whose ancient home is located deep in the Amazon where the borders of Peru and Brazil meet. The collaboration between artist and label seeks to honour and represent this heritage. The Huni Kuin have bestowed guardianship of this rare cultural treasure to Dengue Dengue Dengue and On the Corner.”
Toned, muscular EBM techno from Romania’s Borusiade on Ostgut Ton’s Unterton after outings with Cititrax and Cómeme in recent years
Repping the darkroom sound of Berghain, ‘Their Specters’ teases in with the slimy synth wiggle and clanking percussion of ‘Forewarned Is Forearmed’ on a reserved Vatican Shadow or Ancient Methods tip, and ‘Common Ancestor’ heads down a wormhole of pumping, offbeat subs and shivering percussion recalling he EBM-Dub styles of Marc Verhaegen and Sabine Voss’ Para.
On ‘Double Think’ they fix a cold synthetic glare over undulating kick drum canter, and ‘Atlas’ sees the session out with a starkly depressive cinematic style, as though the EP’s imaginary synth protagonist just drowned, face-down in a puddle of protein.
Scratchy, agitated mutations of breakcore jungle from AAR, Milan’s latest lamb to the rave slaughter. Think Somatic Responses, La Peste, Noize Creator
“AAR is a project by Milan-based producer, DJ and designer Giorgio di Salvo. The First Grade LP is his first record under this name, self-released in collaboration with Haunter Records, the first chapter in a new series dedicated to tonal and rhythmic experimentation. ADVANCED AUDIO RESEARCH is the ironic definition of this new music course of his, a nod to the large amount of esoteric studio gear accumulated and (ab)used during the years.
The project itself is the result of years of study and experimentation with generative music matrices, based on the application of a three dimensional array of variables and unknowns to algorithmic pattern creation. The result is punishing, close to the most radical exploits in ear-wrenching breakcore, footwork and jungle, albeit with a sonic and structural finesse that reveals the producer’s manic dedication. Track A-4 is produced in collaboration with Somec and B-01 in collaboration with Heith, channeling abstract and melancholic vibes into the project.”
Frayed, nutty, polyrhythmic techno from Ayln, following fine outings on Nous compilations with their fully fledged and distinguished debut 12”
Working at the brink of dancefloor madness, Ayla’s ‘Rehtom’ reveals a restless mind at work churning broken techno patterns into clattering funk in five variations on a psychotomimetic theme.
Up top we suspect ‘Eivissa’ swings out with rugged subs and plangent vamps in cacophonous, underwater dynamic that make us think the title is sardonically ironic, while ‘Victim’ and ‘Rehtom’ knead out a industrialised electro-techno-dancehall mutations recalling Iueke’s shot for Low Jack’s Les Disque De La Bretagne.
Downtown they recoil the busy funk ricochets and sloshing movement of ‘Digital Memories’ on a vintage Gescom bent, and ‘Impulsive Sheit’ returns to a sort of electro IDM compatible with Objekt and Hiro Kone X Drew McDowell styles.
Beatdown Detroit house charms from the master Marcellus Pittmann, including a canny Jamie 326 edit of his acid twisted 2007 ace ‘There’s Somebody Out There’
Pittmann’s two original joints deliver in typically modest, economical, and ruggedly suave style: firstly sashaying across the front with wobbly jazz chords and a sloshing groove pivoting an R&B vocal earworm; then in the gently undulating and balmy, head-high shuffle of ‘Breathe Beat’.
However the best tune is Jamie 326’s edit of ‘There’s Somebody Out There’ off ‘The Midwest Advocates EP Part One’, which is nimbly tweaked and contracted to a ‘floor-bending wriggle set to turn bodies inside out at the right hour of the night/morning.
Dream sequence ambience, deep abstract jackers and hypnotic disco treks from David Kitt (New Jackson) and Gareth Smyth (Lumigraph) for Dublin’s excellent Major Problems Records
While approaching from very different angles - Kitt from indie-pop and house, Smyth coming from ghetto-house and electro - they brilliantly consolidate their styles in ‘Garies’, whose title translates to a colloquialism for ectos; pingers; molly; E.
In an honorable quest for a sound worthy of the mantle ‘Garies’, the pair pull out their finest moves, coming on in waves between the sublime, beat-less introduction of ‘Dick and Nancy’, the manic abstract techno thizz of ‘Soda Springs’, and hair-kissing eleectro-disco aces such as the swervalicious ‘Modified By This’, a crooked Drexciyan trip named ‘Irelande Nul Points’ nodding to nationwide relief after Eire’s illustrious history at the Eurovision Song Contest, along with proper party-fuel in the mesmerising deep techno flight of ‘Future Systems’ and their lip-smacking ‘Crash Course’.
Best dance music album from Ireland in 2018? We reckon so.
Penultimate Press boss Mark Harwood (Astor) meets cult Sydney character Matthew P Hopkins (Naked On The Vague, Vincent Over The Sink) in the claggy mental unravelling of ‘Disfigured With Abbreviations’
The duo’s debut recording is their follow-up to a live performance held on a bakery rooftop in Northcote, Victoria, in early 2018. Starting out as rudimentary superimpositions of each other’s material, the LP has grown into this side’s intoxicating mulch of ideas, operating at unfathomable level of depth perception with a fluctuating surface patina breaking to reveal ungodly voices rising to the surface in a byzantine ferric soup of found sound, field recordings, and low-power electronics.
Adventurous listeners and harder-to-please ears will find much to wallow in across Harwood and Hopkins oddly wide and shallow surface textures, which seem to support the listener precipitously above the cavernous, unknown and possibly thistly spaces below them, as though they’re midnight sound robbers whispering to each other and treading on the roofs of high-end equipped workshops in the dead of night.
First new Phosphorescent album in 5 years, Matthew Houck's most grand and varied album to date.
"For years, Phosphorescent’s rise was a steady one: tours got a little better, rooms got a little bigger, and with it the music became more intricate, more ambitious in its recording and arrangement. Then came Muchacho, a juggernaut that to date has sold over 100,000 worldwide, with lead single “Song for Zula” now well over 50 million streams. Now, five years later, Phosphorescent returns with his seventh studio LP, C’est La Vie. Recorded in Nashville at Matthew Houck’s own Spirit Sounds Studio, C’est La Vie reveals a crystallization of what made Muchacho such a breakout — a little sweetness and a little menace, sometimes boot-stomping and sometimes meditative.
A lot of life was lived between these records: Houck became a father (twice), built his studio, escaped New York. And C’est La Vie does have a hefty, career-spanning feel. But there’s a newfound wisdom, too, a deeper well for all that livin’. The magic of Matthew Houck’s music has always been the way he weaves shimmering, almost golden-sounding threads through elemental, salt-of-the-earth sounds. It’s not experimental, exactly, but it’s singular and it’s definitely not traditional. That knack, the through-line across the Phosphorescent catalogue, is front and centre here."
Marie Davidson is a synth-pop star for our times. Her belting 4th solo LP, ‘Working Class Woman’ is a definitive reflection of her character and current sound, including road-tested zingers from her powerful live show along with genuine surprises, while introducing a whole new wave of listeners to her charms.
In hot pursuit of the more ‘floor-friendly styles on her ‘Adieux Au Dancefloor’, and marking distance travelled since her cinematically sculpted ‘Un Autre Voyage’ for Holodeck, Marie’s 4th album inseparably binds the sound designer and dancefloor aspects of her sound in a sleek, witty, and totally captivating album which, for all it’s vintage touchstones, feels very symptomatic of 2018.
Her grooves are firmed up to direct functionality while the arrangements are as varied as anything from her intricate earlier works, resulting in big highlights on her live show favourite, the playfully raunchy EBM of ‘Work It’, and the rabid drum machine razz-out ‘Workaholic Paranoid Bitch’. But the amazing late ‘80s synth-pop-house of ‘So Right’ and the album’s two bookends of sardonic and sensual vocals, set to respectively pensive and sublime backdrops, really set this album apart from the crowd.
At 76 years old, you’d think virtuoso guitarist Mike Cooper would rest on his laurels a little, having continuously mined a seemingly bottomless well of inspiration for almost seven decades, spanning a countless number of recordings feeding his insatiable appetite for experimentation. For his latest album ‘Tropical Gothic’, however, he takes another sharp turn into more abstract terrain with a dark, brooding take on Exotika and Pacific music, sounding something like Jan Jelinek’s much loved Loop-Finding Jazz Records as rendered by Badalamenti and Lynch, before suddenly veering off into a tropical breeze...
Making use of his usual lap steel guitar, sampler and FX, Cooper provides a radical inversion of his style, switching from Pacific to Atlantic ocean to scouting out a looming deep south darkness lurking behind his usually balmy lap steel slide guitar blues. The title itself, “Tropical Gothic” references Cooper’s beloved areas of ‘the South’ with a Gothic, dark, remote interplay.
On each side Cooper studies different approaches to his method of weaving guitar and field recordings into a constant stream of sound, where he delivers chaos and melody - not necessarily in that order. Side A is composed of shorter pieces. Each of them offers a myriad of images and sensations, between the enigmatic and terror (“The Pit”), joy, happiness and freedom (“Running Naked”) or pure contemplation (“Onibaba”).
“Onibaba” runs as a fitting introduction to Side B and its 18 minute magical piece “Lelong & Gods Of Bali”. A mix of ambient exotica, silent film soundtrack and distorted rhythms that dance around Mike’s guitar. It keeps reinventing and transforming itself throughout those eighteen minutes, summing up the dexterity and muscle of Mike Cooper’s music of the last two decades.
Incredible music from a genuine unsung hero; yungers out there resting on yr laurels - take note.
Deep house craftsman Lawrence coaxes out trademark slinky bass warmth and playful drums on his 8th album since emerging at the turn of the century.
A perennial favourite of house heads in the know, the Dial Records co-founder continues to find iridescent variation within his style on ‘Illusion’, inducing the lushest hypnotic states with beautifully woven square bass and cirrus pads in ‘Treasure Box’ and the feathered flight of ‘Yu Yu’, while ‘Flaunting High’ seduces with some of the strongest bass work his side of Terre Thaemlitz, and ‘Transitions’ makes a lovely foray into midnight jazz-toned electro-house.
‘Documento’ is a beautifully nostalgic minimal wave salvo from Valladolid, Northern Spain and Catalonia’s Slovenska Televiza duo
An astute study into the strange, unshakeable feelings associated with ‘80s cartoon soundtracks and the way childhood and formative nostalgia lingers over and permeates adult life, ‘Documento’ is a highly intriguing debut from the Wladyslaw Trejo and Lunademayo’s Slovenska Televiza, who are so named after the lasting impression of Czech cartoons’ vivid colours and soundtracks mixing classical and experimental electronic melodies.
It’s fair to say we totally subscribe to Slovenska Televiza’s hauntological notion, and also fair to say the five tracks flawlessly connote their subject across the A-side, flooding the senses with a range of emotions from the furtively mystic yet adrenalising opener ‘Invierno En Agosto’ thru the stark doom of ‘La Horrenda Noche’ and the pop-gilded romance of ‘Es El Ordenador’, to the chase sequence of ‘Muskiz’ and closing theme of ‘Slovenska Televiza.’
Here’s to waking up before everyone else on late ‘80s and early ‘90s mornings, getting your fix of sugary cereal, and being glued to syndicated foreign animations and the phosphorescing glow of their synthetic soundtracks.
On his playfully subversive fourth solo album, Nathan Bowles (Steve Gunn, Pelt, Black Twig Pickers) extends his acclaimed banjo and percussion practice into the full-band realm for the first time, showcasing both delicate solo meditations and smoldering, swinging ensemble explorations featuring Casey Toll (Jake Xerxes Fussell, Mt. Moriah) on double bass and Rex McMurry (CAVE) on drums. RIYL: Steve Gunn, Jake Xerxes Fussell, the Black Twig Pickers, Pelt, Jack Rose, Michael Chapman, Bill Callahan, Daniel Bachman, Marisa Anderson, William Tyler, Hiss Golden Messenger, Mary Lattimore, CAVE, Henry Flynt, Clive Palmer, Terry Riley, Julie Tippetts.
"As he considers the cycles of deceit and self-deception that shape both our personal and political lives, a mixed mood of melancholy and merriment permeates Bowles’s own compositions as well as the interpretive material, which draws from traditional Appalachian repertoires and the diverse songbooks of Julie Tippetts, Cousin Emmy, and Silver Apples.
Plainly Mistaken, the playfully subversive fourth solo album by Durham, North Carolina multi-instrumentalist Nathan Bowles, begins with a lullaby written by a child for an adult. The seven year-old Jessica Constable composed “Now If You Remember”—the titular lyric continues, precociously, “we were talking about God and you”—for English singer Julie Tippetts’s 1976 album Sunset Glow. Bowles’s ethereal rendering represents a rather radical departure from his previous recordings; his placidly plaintive singing has been stripped of its otherwise genial, ursine gruffness, and the brief song floats by on the sedative ebb tide of banjo and pianos both acoustic and electric.
Following that role reversal—a child assuming the role of parental bedtime bard—is the ten and a half minute-long album centrepiece “The Road Reversed,” a reversal (and vast expansion) of previous directions both sonic and congregational. Here, and throughout Plainly Mistaken, Bowles extends his acclaimed solo banjo and percussion practice into the full-band realm for the first time, showcasing both delicate solo meditations and smoldering, swinging ensemble explorations. “The Road Reversed” introduces the growling, bowed double bass of Casey Toll (Jake Xerxes Fussell, Mt. Moriah) and the rigorously precise minimalist drumming of Rex McMurry (CAVE), both of whom feature on five of the nine tracks herein and are integral to the record’s ambitious palette and limber but exacting rhythmic structures. “The Road Reversed” likewise introduces, and lays authoritative claim to, the full compositional extent and capacity of this unorthodox banjo-bass-drums trio, the spacious sonority of which might best be described as arboreal in texture and heft. No instrument impinges on the frequency of another—instead, they feel like towering ligneous parallels, great swaying longleaf pines that, arc and bend perilously together in heavy winds, groaning in head-nodding 5/4 time but remaining upright and rooted.
Plainly Mistaken, its title apt, adjusts assumptions we might have made about the scope and scale of Nathan’s music, which sounds both more exquisitely controlled and more dangerously unleashed than ever before. We hear here his ever restless roving between the poles of Appalachian and Piedmont string band traditions and ecstatic drone. In the former category are his percolating full-band rerecording of Ernie Carpenter’s “Elk River Blues” (which previously appeared in a very different solo iteration on A Bottle, A Buckeye ); “Fresh & Fairly So,” the indelibly careening melody of which could be an old-time standard; and “Stump Sprout,” the ghost of a misremembered reel. The latter category includes the solo recordings “Umbra,” “Girih Tiles” (played on the “mellowtone,” a custom banjo/bazouki hybrid instrument built by Rex McMurry’s father Maurice), and the improvised “In Kind” suite. However, never before has Bowles offered such a surprising, but succinct, crystallization of his diverse work with other groups—Steve Gunn, Pelt, the Black Twig Pickers, and most recently, Jake Xerxes Fussell’s band, in which he serves double duty on drums and banjo—made possible here by the fleshed-out full-band configuration and arrangements. Colleague and mutual musical admirer Bill Callahan writes of these scale shifts in Nathan’s music as, alternately, “the grand blankness of seeing everything at once” or “a pinhole vision that soothes and subjects in its narrowness”—the two conditions as, perhaps, two sides of the same equation of Panopticon-to-pinhole compositional logic. That also sounds like a description of spiritual jazz, or the trance context of gnawa song, both of which inform Bowles’s work here.
But this is not solipsistic music. Plainly Mistaken also gestures outward to the world, as Bowles considers the cycles of deceit and self-deception that shape both our personal and political lives. “I’ve come to the conclusion,” he writes, “that we’re generally ahistorical and snowblind, unable to adequately digest the past in order to live sufficiently in the present.” The album jacket includes a quotation from Javier Marías’s 2014 novel Thus Bad Begins: “We go from deceit to deceit and know that, in that respect, we are not deceived, and yet we always take the latest deceit for the truth.” It might be funny if it wasn’t so devastating.
And so a mixed mood of melancholy and merriment permeates Bowles’s own compositions as well as the interpretive material. His rambunctious and exuberant version of Cousin Emmy and Her Kinfolk’s 1946 proto-bluegrass classic “Ruby,” the other vocal track here—elided with “In Kind I”—draws primarily from the 1968 version by Silver Apples instead of the canonical versions by the Osborne Brothers or Buck Owens, thereby embodying a tribute to a palimpsest of bluegrass-meets-avant-garde iterations that perfectly suits Nathan’s own practice. In its trio-fueled headlong canter, “Ruby” feels unhinged and manic, a sinister interrogative mantra that encapsulates the slippery cycle of deception and stuttering accusation that plagues our contemporary cultural moment."
La Maison Noir / The Black House is the new mini-album from South Africa’s Petite Noir. Diverse yet instant, six tracks are imbued with a spirit that leave an indelible memory.
"The long-awaited follow-up to his acclaimed 2015 album La Vie Est belle / Life Is Beautiful, the mini-album features contributions from New York rapper/poet Saul Williams and Detroit rapper Danny Brown, who Petite Noir previously collaborated with on Brown’s 2016 album Atrocity Exhibition.
It is through the lens of Noirwave that La Maison Noirwas created. Noirwave is a movement created by Petite Noir and creative director RhaRha, with its roots in music but its vision fixed firmly on the creative future. Responding to current cultural movements centred in Africa - arising against a backdrop of international anxieties concerning borders, nationhood and globalisation - Noirwave offers followers a citizenship which rejoices in freedom of movement, physically and creatively.”
Haunter’s chief spirit Daniele Guerrini a.k.a Heith turns Indonesian gamelan into spectral, plasmic ambient designs on ’Laguna’, his 2nd vinyl following ‘Silence Will Expire’ 
Coming from the same skool of unsettling ambient thought as Coil and their myriad side projects, ‘Laguna’ is a richly and purposefully meditative session patently in thrall to the complex, chaotic, yet subtly iridescent harmonic qualities of tempered metal alloys and South East Asian scales.
The A-side’s title cut finds him accreting and parsing layers of field recordings into a steeply opiated and viscous slosh resonating somewhere between Kink Gong and Sleazy’s The Threshold HouseBoys Choir, whereas the B-side’s ‘Tree Stand’ appears to invert that radiant effect with unsettling, endothermic dynamics and ‘Maria’ folds in Matthias Girardi a.k.a. Weightausend for a more mystic, tonal variant recalling the atmospheres of John T. Gast and M.C. Boli’s Gossiwor duo.
There are few voices more deeply embedded in the iconography and mythology of American indie rock than that of Chan Marshall.
"On her 10th studio album, ‘Wanderer’, Marshall resets her dials, offering a collection of winding, wondering narratives all perfectly imbued with the kind of yearning and warmth that have made her one of the most distinctive and beloved artists of her generation. Held aloft primarily by Marshall’s own guitar and piano and featuring appearances by longtime friends and compatriots, as well as guest vocals courtesy of friend and recent tourmate Lana Del Rey, the new album ‘Wanderer’ is a remarkable return from an iconic American voice."
Making music as Illreme for over 15 years, as well as being a member of Hip Hop trio Baleine 3000, Kamoda has been a formidable force in Japan’s music scene for quite some time.
"Debuting with ‘The Clay’ on Mister Saturday Night Records in 2016, which featured that unforgettable ‘Physical Graffiti’ track, Kamoda’s foray into dance music has been truly impressive, following up with two releases on Black Acre and a vinyl-only outing on Mall Grab’s Steel City Dance Discs imprint.
‘Surreal Tongue in Northern Osaka’ kicks off the album with organic, choppy hip–hop paced drums lead by rugged Japanese vocals. Kamoda then follows with ‘Nightmare Club’ and ‘Crush’ - two tuneful, funk-infused rollers. ‘Hakoniwa Disco Strut’ switches up to a reformed new-age disco track with an emphatic 60s electric guitar solo surrounding the center. The next three tracks, ‘Mt Woo’, ‘Gravity of Love’ and ‘Blooming Blues’ are all peppered with high-energy, uplifting melodies layered over a more uniform house sound.
‘The Ruddy Sunset’, is a pitched down, Balearic inspired dance track – deep bass-lines and mellow flutters providing the core. The album decisively ends by throwing genre categories completely out the window with ‘No Rhyme Nation’ – tough, broken drums and breaks of unpredictable, eccentric melodies are the theme here.
Like previous Kamoda releases on Black Acre, Jun’s wife Hisano has painted the artwork and limited edition prints will be released alongside the album. Jun is also a cartoonist and illustrates for Japanese independent magazine ‘Usca’ – the 12” release includes a cartoon within the vinyl insert.”
Some of the most gorgeous, little heard DIY music of the early ‘80s finally surfaces with Rimarimba’s ‘Below The Horizon’, the first in Freedom To Spend’s reissue series of work by Suffolk, UK’s Robert Cox - all massively recommended to followers of Colin Potter, Woo, General Strike, Konrad Sprenger and homespun electro-acoustic music of all stripes!
Committing its first appearance on vinyl, ‘Below The Horizon’ documents Robert Cox in freehand exploration of his modestly built, four-octave Marimba, homemade electronic systems and FX boxes in the front room of his bungalow in Felixstowe, UK. He literally feels his way through the kit in subconscious search of an aesthetic that would firm up on future releases, but is quite beautifully caught in flux here, catching him probing at the edges of concrète, electro-acoustic, and minimalist frameworks in the wide-open spirit of post punk experimentalism.
Oscillating scenes of eldritch psychedelia and chaos with something like a miniaturised Reich on the A-side, before reaching out for the album’s titular horizon in the B-side’s durational meditation ‘Bebag’, the results are memorable, oddly regression-like - as though we’ve been induced to recall postcard images of a shared, hidden reverse. Two of those provide an unshakeably lasting impression, as the cascading, gently psychotomimetic cadence of ‘The Melting’ leaves us reminded of Derek Bailey or John Fahey in a lysergic ramble, and the durational B-side weaves its magick with a psilocybic alacrity that puts the LP’s cover image into context.
We can almost guarantee this side will be an end-of-year favourite, and at the very least should be a vivid, humbling reminder that untold joys remain undiscovered in the archives of so many artists form this fertile era of underground, or should we say ‘Below The Horizon’ music.
Self-titled debut by The Other Years, a new duo from Louisville, Kentucky comprised of Heather Summers (banjo, guitar, vocals) and Anna Krippenstapel (fiddle, guitar).
"The brilliant 10 song album was recorded over 3 days in a cabin outside Louisville and engineered by Daniel Martin Moore. Uncut Magazine heaped some early praise, saying the bands “combination of crystalline vocal harmonies, Krippenstapel’s fiddles lines and Summers’ contributions on banjo and guitar signals the duos fealty to the Appalachian traditions… [but] their music does not represent a retreat into an idealized pre-industrial past… Instead it’s full of pathways that lead to the present, whether the endpoint is a shadowy corner or a vista.”
Air Texture hand the reins of ‘Vol. VI’ to Steffi and Martyn for a 26 track set of atmospheric IDM, electro, techno and D&B from friends, family and their favourite artists, including pieces from Stingray, Mosca, Actress, Shed, Herron and many more...
“The Air Texture series asks two producers/performers to provide a selection of unreleased music. The only guidance is the music should not be main floor bangers; other than that, the label gets out of the way, allowing them autonomy over their selection. For Air Texture Volume VI, Steffi and Martyn were asked to step up. Exciting, since as residents at Berghain/Panorama Bar, two of the most important dancefloors in the world -- how would two such respected artists approach our experimental ethos? Bringing together contributions from veteran producers such as Total Science, As One (Kirk Degiorgio) and Stingray, as well as contemporaries Actress, V.I.V.E.K. and Shed, the artists explain in a press release that the selected tracks are all "unique interpretations of a leftfield, non-linear aesthetic". Double-CD version features Synkro, Appleblim, Answer Code Request , dBridge and Lewis James, Tracing Xircles, Samuel Pling, Herron, Steffi, Afik Naim, Mosca, Novocanemusic, Mesak, FaltyDL, 214, Basic Soul Unit, Barker, Late Night Approach, Martyn, and KiNK. Double-LP version features: Steffi, Tracing Xircles, Basic Soul Unit, As One, Martyn, Afik Naim, Late Night Approach, and Answer Code Request.”
Hans-Joachim Roedelius meets Gotan Eject founder Christop H. Mueller in etheric space for a 2nd time, reprising the serene buoyancy of their 2015 debut across a longer, broader, and immersive 2nd collaboration finding the sweetspot between Latinate fancy and ambient tranquility
“In 2015 their debut, IMAGORI, was released on Groenland Records. It is an album that readily demonstrated how well their musical visions fit together. Roedelius’s soundscapes joined Christoph H. Müller’s electronic productions and beats and they entered into a dynamic symbiosis that gave rise to music that, instead of uniting two worlds, created a new one.
That process continues seamlessly. The title itself implies as much: IMAGORI II. The second joint album from these electronic music virtuosos shows new facets of their collaborative efforts and reveals all the new discoveries there are to be made when two explorers join forces. IMAGORI II’s twelve tracks oscillate between tender and hard-edged, between science fiction and the Garden of Eden; they call forth organic orchestral sounds that then fragment; they create moods ranging from melancholy to euphoria and are all the while accompanied by Roedelius’s filmic pathos, which has no use for extravagant gestures and instead tests the limits of minimalism.
Language is employed strikingly often; for instance, on the first track “FRACTURED BEING,” which is sung by “Miss Kenichi,” alias Katrin Hahner. The song “ICH DU WIR” is a family affair in which Rosa Roedelius gradually allows the listener to observe how soundscapes allow deconstructed language to fuse into structured form once again. Then, on “LA VIE EN BLUE” we hear Christoph H. Müller’s daughter illustrate the boundlessness of her father’s music in while singing in French.
Thus, we witness new experiments on IMAGORI II that are well aware of the foundations they are built upon and that sometimes let us forget the present with their future-oriented perspective while never descending into pure escapism. The twelve tracks allow the listener to close his or her eyes and enter a dream that could not sound more beautiful – we experience this phantasm as IMAGORI II. It contains no fractures, merely passages that provide a plane on which something new emerges.
The album ends with a song that could not be more defining and that recapitulates the production’s musical harmony one final time: “HIMMLISCHER FRIEDEN.” Hopefully, this will go on for a long time.”
The Overmono brothers, Ed & Tom Russell, give it some deep and rude swang on ‘Raft Living’ for Ed’s Poly Kicks label.
‘Daisy Chain’ pivots on a tuff breakbeat techno groove somewhere between Shed and Skee Mask, but softens up some with the appearance of woozy chords a la Lone in the 2nd half. ‘The Mabe’ rolls out further with crisp breaks and floating pads for a loved-up and drunken 4am swagger, while the EP’s title track sees it off with a sweet nod to BBC Radiophonic Workshop vibes.
G.B. Beckers’ languid, etheric minimalist guitar and drum machine suite ‘Walkman’  resurfaces in its entirety on the inestimable Music From Memory. Big tip to fans of The Durutti Column, Gigi Masin...
“Music FroM Memory’s latest release sees the reissue of G.B. Becker’ ‘Walkman’ album from 1982. A painter and musician from Achen, Germany, Günther Beckers created his third album ‘Walkman’ to coincide with an exhibition of his latest body of artwork in 1982. Released on his very own ‘Milky Music’ label with a run of just 500 copies and original pieces of artwork included with some copies, most copies of the album however remained amongst art collectors and with the painter himself. Rediscovered a few years ago through a friend of Music From Memory in the archives of a local radio station where all but one of the stations copies has beed destroyed, it has been an album the label have been in love with since the first listen.
Touring as a guitarist with ECM affiliated musicians such as Alex De Grassi, William Ackerman, Ralph Towner & Larry Coryell to name but a few, Günther Beckers also would record on a number of releases of Klaus Schulze’s cult electronic music label ‘Innovative Communication’.
Always exploring new ideas and the possibilities of technology within his music, Günther would record the ‘Walkman’ album utilising the ‘Kunstkopf’ technique of sound recording. Kunstkopf of ‘Dummy Head’ recording is a 3D audio recording technology that enables listeners to define each source of sound as if they were in the original recording situation itself. using two microphones which are usually mounted in the ears of a mannequin (giving it the ‘Dummy Head’ name in English) the technique exploits certain basic principles of human spatial hearing.
Listeners to ‘Kunstkopf’ recordings are in fact encouraged to listen to such recordings on headphones, as the 3D perception is often greatly diminished on speakers. With the title ‘walkman G.B. Becker was very much hoping the album would be enjoyed on headphones, even portably through a Walkman. Minimalist variations around acoustic guitar, guitar synth, rhythm box and with wordless female vocals, G.B. Becker’ ‘Walkman’ drifts in and out of moods; it is a unique and at times hauntingly beautiful album, which the Kunstkopf recording technique further adds to the albums at times often otherworldly feeling.”