Trevor Jackson dances with the zeitgeist again on this bountiful 2nd volume of 'Metal Dance: Industrial/New Wave/EBM Classics & Rarities '79-'88'.
The first volume was Resident Advisor's reissue of 2012 and, by all rights, this 26-track collection should be held in equally high regard. If anything, he's gone deeper into his famed collection, pulling out total rarities such as CHBB's 'Ima Iki-Mashoo' and the militant 'Riot Squad' by a pre-ABC Vice Versa alongside classic anthems such as Chris & Cosey's 'Driving Blind' or Ministry's mighty, 'Over The Shoulder' and Front 242's 'Body 2 Body (2 Trax)'.
For those old to remember talcing up their leather duds on a friday night it's likely a killer nostalgia trip, but for those of us who weren't even born in 1979, it's also a vital resource of all-killer, no-filler dancefloor goodies connecting the dots between prototypical techno like Liasons Dangereuses 'Etre Assis Ou Danser', the colourful computer funk of Japan's Haroumi Hosono ('Platonic') and even Rabih Beaini's mental edit of an obscure Lebanese pop tune, 'Tanki Tanki' - a massive anthem 'round ours, we tell ya. Factor in stunning moments like Propaganda's 10 minute earworm, '(echo of) Frozen Faces', Conrad Schnitzler's devilish, 'Das Tier' or Godley & Creme's salacious 'Babies', and you're onto a real no-brainer.
Sophisticated, jazzy rare groove vibesing from Dego (4Hero) & Kaidi (Tatham) on Theo Parrish’s Sound Signature bastion.
As broad as it is deep and plush, A So We Gwarn catches 14 prime examples of the long-running duo in irresistible effect, turning their hand to myriad variations on a soulful broken beat hustle, flanked by loads of their mates and regular collaborators; Mr. Mensah, Nadine Charles, Sarina Leah, Yelfris Valdes, Ray Carless, Wayne Francis.
We spy highlights in the swinging, Afro-cubed shuffle of Decide What You Choose, and the Mala-in-Cuba-esque roll of Nyabinghi Warriors, with the chrome squirt boogie of 18.1096 N 77.2975 W showing all the new boogie cats how it’s done, and Don’t Put Your Hat Where Your Hand Can’t Reach finishing up on a live-o jazz-fusion flex with double deadly percussion.
Brilliant album from Marcus Fjellstrom returning after a 5 year absence with an oneiric masterpiece that strongly recalls the low key brilliance of his strings of pearls released by Lampse and Miasmah between 2005-2011. It's a tense, highly atmospheric take on modern classical, highly recommended if you're into Kreng, Nate Young or Deaf Center.
Fjellstrom's natural abilities in narrative detailing and layered sound design seem to have grown exponentially, but with no sacrifice to his music’s ghostly, intangible appeal. He’s spent the last several years working intently on an A/V opera, Boris Christ whose necessary dramaturgical elements and sense of direction are central to the rich array of sound imagery conjured up across Skelektikon - impish funny-bones characters, mythical fauna, backdrops of dark green velvet, grasping forests and carmine lighting.
It’s the sort of music you play late at night, in solitary mouse-catcher mode, to encourage those moments of what the fxck was that over in the corner? whilst you drift off into reveries about pagan things until the hypnic jerks kick in, or don’t, and you’re either petrified, awake, or unconscious and on the other side.
If you’ve ever been seduced by the eyrie worlds of Nurse With Wound, or like the idea of melting into your favourite noir score, Skelektikon is shivering with expectation for you.
Avanti is Alessandro Cortini’s sixth album and his hauntological magnum opus; a masterful embodiment of his nostalgia for analog synth recordings wrapped up in a pall of decaying futurism. After numerous Forse volumes, a pair of LPs for Hospital Productions, a live recording tape and a collaboration with Merzbow, we’d wager that Avanti is the most substantial Cortini album to date.
In a Leyland Kirby/The Caretaker-esque gesture, Avanti investigates notions of memory surrounding music. Taking a time-capsule of old home movies made by his grandfather as a “perfect fossil of his childhood”, the NIN synthesist turns those cues into signature, billowing structures generated from the EMS Synthi AKS, resulting a record that is sore with a certain ‘hiraeth’, ‘saudade’ or ‘sehnsucht’ for a past which he comes to terms with in viscerally romantic style.
Across all seven parts, Cortini reflects the porous fragility of memory and its decaying glow quite literally in the piece’s fuzzy gaze and the inclusion of almost imperceptible “errors and mistakes”, and also metaphorically in their nostalgia-triggering strokes and wavering harmonic swells, which speak to and stimulate the limbic system with the same sort of magick defined by BoC or indeed Leyland Kirby.
They’re optimistic pieces riddled with and anchored by a sense of sadness, not necessarily cry-your eyes or rip-your-heart-out, but more a sanguine, bittersweet meditation laced with reverence to elegiac effect. For the most they come on as weather-beaten sonic postcards or hand-written missives, each introduced by ghostly voices and saying its piece as though whispering graveside or in private, keeping their messages neatly concise but impassioned in their delivery, save one final section when the feeling almost becomes too much to bear.
His canniness lies in worming out an personalising those combinations of chords, hooks which trigger feelings of nostalgia mutual to most folk who’ve grown up with the same culture and cultural connotations, and then wringing them out to the point of heartache/numbness, and practically making those gestures fulminate on contact with air, skin, nerves and infect your own corrupted memory banks.
Ran$om Note cop a killer Azonto session with release of Bryte x Gafacci’s in demand bubbler, I Like Your Girlfriend, replete in original vocal, instrumental and acapella mixes, plus new versions from Ahadadream, Oyinboy and Bawrut.
The original is a wild slice of Ghanaian dance music, fixing hardstyle synth burns with icy bleep hook and tucked groove for your best moves in the ‘floor. Best DJs can join the likes of Bok Bok and Gang Fatale in rinsing this one now.
The remixes are cool, too. Oyinboy impresses with an adroit pinch compatible with Dutch Bubbling, Afrobeats and UKF; Ahadadream draws it out for wavier effect, Bawrut boots it back on the good foot for a deadly follow-up to his trio of previous 12”s for Ran$om Note.
Hannah Peel's third album is a seven-movement odyssey for analogue synthesizers and traditional colliery brass band.
"Only a year following on from the release of her album ‘Awake But Always Dreaming’ (‘Album Of the Year’ – Electronic Sound Magazine), ‘Mary Casio: Journey to Cassiopeia’, explores one person's journey to outer space, by telling the story of an unknown, elderly, pioneering electronic music stargazer and her lifelong dream to leave her terraced South Yorkshire home in the mining town of Barnsley and see Cassiopeia for herself.
Artwork by the Grammy award winning designer Jonathan Barnbrook (David Bowie collaborator on ‘Blackstar’ and ‘The Next Day’). Recorded live on location in The Barnsley Civic Theatre by Peter Gabriel’s Real World studio team."
Italian composer Sandro Mussida follows up a pair of probing Mark Fell collaborations with the exquisitely enchanting minimalist Classical suite, Ventuno Costellazioni Invisibili - translating to Twenty-One Invisible Constellations in english - offering a beguiling, meditative iteration of 21st century Italian avant-garde as the debut release on Alfredo Scotti’s Metrica label.
Making up the first record with Mussida’s name at the top, Ventuno Costellazioni Invisibili ventures a beautifully suspenseful play on perceptions of time and space rendered in two distinct, electro-acoustic pieces, each making sublime use of an ensemble comprising the artist as director and looping strings, alongside Enrico Gabrielli (clarinet), Yoko Morimyo (violin), Susanne Satz (piano), Alessandra Novaga (electric guitar), Giulio Patara (triangles, celesta, tam tam), Sebastiano De Gennaro (triangles, glockenspiel, chinese gongs), and Giovanni Isgrò (sampler).
In both parts the piece references a graphic score which looks like the schematic for a teepee, but in fact describes a “transfiguration of perceptual time” in its triangular design, prompting the performers to play pitches at differing speeds, with musical “cells” generated by the rotation of triangular figures in time and space. While we may not be able to correlate exactly what we’re hearing on the record, it’s at least easy enough to see where the precision of its underlying structure stems from.
In the first, ten minute instance, this manifests an incredibly delicate display of pointillist percussions and levitating, sustained string tones which establish the spatial parameters, before shards of guitar and piano light up the space with a pensive emotional ambiguity which reveals itself as increasingly blue, melancholy and strung out by the pinch of the closing notes. In contrast, its 14 minute counterpoint is more radiant, but not necessarily optimistic, striking a balance of nervous tension and chiming harmonic resolution that soon enough slips into something like a lucid dream state with an almost theatric interplay and agenda that crosses soundtrack, avant-garde and classical sensibilities in a mannered, poised way that’s key to so much of the strongest Italian music, clearly inheriting from the likes of Giusto Pio and Franco Battiato, and cleanly resonating with modern works by Oren Ambarchi or Elodie.
All that said, there’s something totally captivating about this LP that can’t be explained in terms of its technique or theory. It’s a record whose crafty metaphysics encourage a sublime, unknown state which must be experienced to be understood.
Reissue of this kicking split between Jamal Moss (The Sun God/Hieroglyphic Being) and his accomplice from The Dirty Criminals, Daryl Cura. Originally released in 2004.
As The Sun God, Moss beams two of his more romantic workouts with the humping kicks and lush harmonic chaos of Show Me Love, then on slightly slower bent with the psychedelic bliss of Galaxy (Theme from SunRa).
Daryl Cura keeps up his end of the bargain in fine style with a sleek and deep Chicago swinger called Contigo, plus the Gemini-style bustle of Operator
'Echos Pastoraux' documents the enchanted first meeting between Timo van Luijk and Andrew Chalk under their Elodie alias.
Introduced to us in the same stroke as their most recent - and relatively moodier, nocturnal - side, 'Traces Ephémeres', this one is blissfully pastoral and wishfully oneiric, framing a natural ecology of field recordings, strings and wheezing, far-flung folk drones across its 13 tracks. Rather than many pastoral-minded releases which can be located by their musical make-up, 'Echos Pastoraux' seems to convene a sort of pan-pastoral aesthetic, hinting at stately Korean classical strings, as well as what we'd possibly identify as eastern gypsy music or Klezmer tones, along with wistful baroque and raga-like drones.
The common, unifying aspect is a hazy sense of shared space and intention, resulting a richly enigmatic trip that's meant to be absorbed deeply and slowly, preferably with the windows open and birds joining in from outside.
Mystic midnight tones from Andrew Chalk and Timo van Luijk's Elodie.
Summarised by their Belgian label, La Scie Doree as an "Eclectic ensemble of 18 instrumental arrangements evoking an epic and existentialist soundtrack determined by the power of momentary destiny and reflective sentiment", the album unpackages a gauzy sequence of strung-out spectral nocturnes incorporating the clarinet of Jean-Noël Rebilly with piano and koto by Tom James Scott.
They're considerately succinct pieces, oscillating dreamily between diaphanous chamber drones, ghostly guitar passages redolent of Loren Connors, and fragile string loops recalling the melancholy of William Basinki, with their pensile effect beautifully enhanced by a sensitivity to space and timbre that leaves notes almost tingling on the tongue or tickling the nostrils. It's genuinely magickal stuff, bound to be loved by many romantic nightowls.
DJ Sotofett and Finnish electro duo Jesse entwine pineal visions of psychedelic electronic dance music on Twotinos, their collaborative debut for Sähkö’s sister label, Keys Of Life.
Like the breezy DJ Sotofett mix of Jesse’s Pohja for Wania which preceded this LP, Twotinos unfolds a freestyling mix of loose percussion and synth fondlings swept up in seductively wide, wandering sound designs. However, with much more room to manoeuvre in here, they take the magic carpet much farther out from the blissed cosmic dunes of Fear Mix (Fearmix) and the intoxicating disco nightflight, Orga Fit to the mazy byzantine dub trip(tych) of Autiomaa and a hard-to-resist Indo-Afro-disco-psychedelic beauty called Kuume (Last Gitar), with the cradling dub tranquility of Puhallus (One Mo, Pad Conga Vocoder Mix) at its conclusion, likely to leave many hankering for another chapter of this saga.
Dusky, balearic-tinged acid house depth from Marlon Hoffstadt
Percolating the ’89-faced 808 State sweetness of Floating the fluttering fluff of ARP+ on the A-side, and the ruddier, US-styled p[ressure of Batavus on the B-side, next to Scott Fraser’s nimbly whisked Sunrise Mix of ARP+ on a metallic MayDay tip.
Timedance task Beatrice Dillon and Peder Mannerfelt with remixing Ploy
Resulting in a sublimated, weightless inversion of Footprints In A Solid Rock from Beatrice and a rolling, monotone Rock Solid remix of the same elements from Mannerfelt that prangs out with nutty metallic rave breakdown and a caustic 2nd half.
Partner to DJ Harvey’s The Sound of Mercury Rising mix for Pikes Ibiza, this 12” cuts off some of the mixes highlights:
Namely the Italian charms of Tony Esposito’s Danza Dell Acqua ; some beaming flamenco disco vibes from Denmark in Tore’s She’s A Lady ; with he symphonic hustle of Abran Paso - Ahoa (Enrolle) by Elkin & Nelson; and one exclusive number, Spanish Boogie from Van McCoy & The Soul City Symphony.
The Desdemonas are a 4-piece band, fronted by Aguayo (who sings and plays a variety of instruments).
"It’s also a fictional story about a group of teenagers in a dystopian world (the story will be told in the lyrics, and in cartoons and videos based on Aguayo’s drawings). And it’s of course an album, in which Matias digs deep into some dark forms of rock music which inspired him as a teenager, and brilliantly revisits them in a moody, compelling, post-electronic 2017 style.”
Japanese composer/demi-god Ryuichi Sakamoto presents an exquisitely oneiric and elusively spiritual new album inspired as much by the sound sculptures of Harry Bertoia as the magic of Andrei Tarkovsky’s seminal septet of celluloid classics.
It’s been some years since Sakamoto has placed his name at the top of a solo album proper - as opposed to his swathes of collaborations and film scores - and we can promise that the results herein are definitely worth the wait.
Imagined and realised after a period of fright with his health, Async captures Mr. Sakamoto at his most wistful and wonderful, meditating on the existentialist, ontological themes and atmospheres of Tarkovsky’s work from both a gauzily impressionistic aspect, and a quite literal one, employing readings of Tarkovsky’s poetry (poem transcribed in the liner notes) in a variety of languages from a coterie of contemporaries including long time collaborators David Sylvian, Bernardo Bertolucci (for whom he composed the OST for The Last Emperor) and Carsten Nicolai (Alva Noto), among others.
Embracing both the fluidity and flux of Tarkovsky’s water analogies as well as the harmonic chaos of Harry Bertoia’s lush metal rod clangour, Sakamoto melds feather touch acoustic keys with field recordings, shimmering electronic patinas and signature synthesiser flourishes in a suite that beautifully lives up to and even transcends its influences, revealing some of the most achingly emotive yet often abrasive and abstract work in a catalogue now spanning over 40 years of exemplary work.
Beyond maybe Scott Walker, we can hardly think of another artist who has continued to expand their oeuvre over such a long period of time, and with an appeal quite like this, albeit respectively unique to their work. But Sakamoto really is in a league of his own here, utterly absorbing us with the dappled keys, organ haze and stereo starting doom synths of Andata, thru the stark Sonambient emulations of Disintegration to the romance of ZURE and the almost Toshiya Tsunoda-esque sensitivity of his field recordings woven into Walker or Honj, with humbling moments to be discovered in the switch from disorienting cinematic dialogue in Fullmoon to the legit Ligeti style violence of Async, and again in the curdled chromatics of FF and the Gas-eous swells swirling about Garden.
Ivan Smagghe and Rupert Cross indulge another retro-futurist fantasy. File next to your Ghost Box collection...
“When experiencing zero gravity in a space station, or bouncing weightless across the moon’s surface, looking back at Earth-as-one, most astronauts feel dizzy at the immensity of the journey they have just undertaken. A near revelation , this sudden awareness is named the Overview Effect.
Once back on Earth, these astronauts are changed. The cognitive shift of the Overview Effect plunges them into a state of melancholy: for hours at a time, they remain lost in thought. When they eventually come out of these periods of aphasia, the astronauts are unable to express what they have experienced, but often recall having heard "strange music", similar to the music they claim to have heard close to Venus or on the hidden side of the Moon.
Smagghe & Cross's second collaboration (recorded chronologically before the MA album, released last year on Often) is the first attempt to recreate this celestial music, which up until now, had only existed in the minds of enlightened spacemen. It is reminiscent of the sound of meteors entering the Earth's atmosphere, of probes sent to infinity and beyond, their echo slowly fading from the control screens. Smagghe & Cross have boldly taken the step from the strobe lights to the Milky Way
For the past two decades, Ivan Smagghe has perfected the art of making spaced-out clubbers dance, has ridden a Fine Line and run his label Les Disques de La Mort. Rupert Cross is a London-based composer who has worked with Michael Finissy and Julian Anderson as well as writing music for television and theatre.
Before/after MA, an album which sat on the fringes of experimental music passed through a industrial particle accelerator., S&C give you the tracks codenamed Timothy Dalton (according to Ivan, "The laser sound in the track reminded us of Flash Gordon"). Neither pop, nor psychedelic, nor ambient, nor house, nor techno, nor post punk nor even new wave are spared, but none are singled out.
To nurture this proto-album, which targets paradise by plunging us into the abyss, the duo also called upon the talents of Tim Felton, the outstanding guitarist from the cult band Broadcast.
When listening to Timothy Dalton, the temporal and stylistic boundaries disintegrate to give way to all sorts of speculation: imagine the beardies from Tangerine Dream being kidnapped by Soft Cell, C86 and 1988, the Silver Apples composing a space opera with the help of an electro cardiogram monitor. Or the Wizard of OZ reviewed and reworked by Psychic TV.
Eight tracks take us from the New Orderey beaches of Ostend to the rings of Saturn, and gradually unfold before our eyes like a machine to travel through time and space. So what if Timothy Dalton was a one-way ticket to the Twilight Zone?”
The modern duchess of lo-fi dirge pop presents a sort of partner piece to her widely adored debut LP, You Know What It’s Like with four wistful songs distilling the spirits of post-punk and eerie chamber music.
We’ll cut to the chase, it’s pretty much all about the title track, The Garden, which operates shades away from the much cleaner output of CS + Kreme, but shares much in common with their dusky beauty, and of course distinguished by her sylvan vocals, phosphorescing from a lapping haze of tape noise and distant, quietly breathing synth figures that could happily loop off for twice the length.
The rest is lovely, too but we strongly recommend starting at the back and working your way in.
Höga Nord release the new Andrew Weatherall album Qualia.
"To pin down and value Andrew Weatherall’s musical deed takes more space than available in a press release text but here is some of many highlights. As a producer, Weatherall has since he first shook the foundation for modern pop music with ground breaking and genre bending remixes of Primal Scream (Loaded), My Bloody Valentine (Soon) New Order (World In Motion) and many other influential acts, continued to push sounds in to unknown territories. His importance as a musician is as big, with bands like the iconic Sabres Of Paradise and Two Lone Swordsmen in the 90’s and top quality solo records from the 00’s up till today.
With the above In mind, This album fits perfect in to the Höga Nord – Catalogue, which shows clearly already from the opening track Evidence The Enemy. This song is a monotonous yet uplifting piece of music, a case that holds for the album in full; Weatherall lets the melodies, built on a deep tradition of classical music and later developed by bands such as Kraftwerk, go in major scales, which lets fresh air in and creates a feeling of freedom. The music put you on top of Mont Blanc to overview the complete European music history. Qualia is soothing, harmonic and transporting. Within his framework, Weatherall knocks those frames out of place from time to time. When a song goes to much in one direction a new melody or a new instrument steps in to redirect and surprise the listener. This album is the perfect soundtrack to a road trip inside your own, ever-changing inner landscape."
Sickly sweet neo-soul/lo-fi nocturnes from members of the Young Echo crew
“Blackest Ever Black presents Sleep Heavy, the debut album of broken-hearted, downtempo R&B/street-soul and supremely atmospheric, introspective electronics from Jabu: a trio comprised of vocalist/lyricists Alex Rendall and Jasmine Butt, and producer Amos Childs.
The group was born out of Bristol’s Young Echo collective: an ecosystem unto itself which has birthed and nurtured a number of other notable soundsystem-rooted projects and artists to date including Kahn & Neek, Sam Kidel, Ishan Sound, Ossia, Asda, chester giles (the title Sleep Heavy comes from a giles poem) and Killing Sound (Childs with Kidel and Vessel).
Jabu’s previous 7” singles, though arresting, barely hinted at the level of accomplishment and emotional heft that Sleep Heavy delivers. It’s a future Bristol classic with a universal resonance, with songs that are highly personal but deeply relatable, and tripped-out, time-dissolving sound design that both haunts and consoles. It is, first and foremost, a meditation on grief, on loss, making sense of separation and death; but it also looks forward to what might come after the aftermath: healing, acceptance, the chance to begin again.
Childs is one of the most gifted producers of his generation and his work here, grounded in hip-hop but floating free, is a thing of sustained wonder: crepuscular, melancholic – funereal, at times – subtly psychedelic and heavily dubwise, but always concise and purposeful. Stitched together from deep-dug and beautifully repurposed samples, it draws on influences from US R&B to Japanese art-pop minimalism – Mariah to Mariah Carey, if you will – and a rich seam of underground UK soul, boogie, DIY/post-punk, library music and lovers rock; refining and reconstituting these inputs into powerfully immersive, emotionally ambiguous soundscapes as eloquent and engaging as they are understated and bottomlessly mysterious.
There is also of course a distant connection to the Bristol blues of Smith & Mighty and the sultry urban gothic of Protection-era Massive Attack, but Jabu’s orchestration of womb-like ambiences, cold synth tones and brittle beats feel entirely sui generis. They provide the perfect setting for Rendell’s wounded, imploring and carefully weighted vocals, which are no less extraordinary: nodding to giants like Teddy Pendergrass and The Temptations in terms of phrasing and front-and-centre vulnerability, with something of The Associates’ Billy Mackenzie in there too; defeated but defiant. Meanwhile Jas’s heavenly interventions, sometimes leading but more often parsed and layered into tremulous, gossamer abstraction, draw a line between the Catholic choral harmonies of her childhood and the ethereal, oceanic sweep of Cocteau Twins. Oceanic is the word: this is music to drown, and drown gratefully, in.
By its end, Sleep Heavy’s world-weariness is intact and scarcely diminished, but some light has been admitted, and is visible from the sea-floor. A chance, not a promise. Something to swim towards.”
Two rare tracks by Coil, commissioned by Sub Rosa. Never released on vinyl LP before.
Seeing as it’s now open season for Coil reissues, Sub Rosa understandably throw their hat in the ring with Another Brown World and Baby Food, taken from their two respective compilations, Myths 4 • Single Twilight In Çatal Hüyük , and Chaos In Expansion  - both released on vinyl for the first time.
Another Brown World catches Jhonn, Sleazy and Danny Hyde layering tape loops into slyding hyaline glissandi under-pinned by a gorgeous, percolated synth voice and organ refrain and perfused by vocals recorded by Sleazy at the Animist Monastery situated at the Summit of Mount Popa in Pagan, Burma. In Peter ‘Sleazy’ Christopherson’s own words, “This is a live recording: hums, clicks from equipment etc. are an integral and intentional part of the music.” Save for that hoary electric guitar solo in the middle, it’s a sublime piece of Coil.
Baby Food makes its first ever vinyl appearance on the B-side. Recorded in a storm, the 12 minute piece is the first track to use Coil’s Sidereal Sound recording process, “a continuation and advancement of the deep listening theories as demonstrated on the album ‘Love’s Secret Domain’”. It’s a seductive display of plasmic chords and impish organ figures, tilting towards a whirligig mix of eldritch and outernational scales with psychedelic effectt
Latest limited edition 12" pressing from Daphni on hiw own Jiaolong label.
There's a tracky flex with off centre kicks and watery hardcore stabs on Hey Drum, then brings the floor up with proggy early ‘90s Sasha vibes in the chord-driven canter of The Truth.
Reissued just after the 30th anniversary of its cinema and LP release, Angelo Badalamenti’s classic soundtrack for David Lynch’s surreal small town crime thriller Blue Velvet is now placed back in circulation via Fire Records.
All the hallmarks of Badalamenti and Lynch’s soundtracks are here, from orchestral string arrangements such as the magisterial Mysteries of Love [Instrumental] and Julee Cruise’s sylvan synth version, thru to Isabella Rossellini’s smoky blues cover in Blue Velvet/Blue Star - Montage and ’50s/’60s influences from Roy Orbison and Bill Dogett, with a choice piece of surreal Lynch/Badalamenti collage in Lumberton U.S.A./Going Down To Lincoln - Sound Effects Suite to boot.
Jezus the Julee Cruise piece is just golden...
Pete Swanson and Jed Bindeman's Freedom To Spend label return with probably our favourite on the label thus far (and that really is saying something - each one has been a peach) - Richard Horowitz’s incredible suite of electro acoustic 4th world music, ‘Eros In Arabia’ ; written for flute and Prophet 5 and rife with mercurial, avian flights of fancy. This one is a proper find - especially if you’re obsessed with Dariush Dolat-Shahi’s more or less peerless Electronic Music, Tar and Sehtar, or indeed Byrne & Eno’s ‘My Life in the Bush of Ghosts’ or Craig Leon’s ‘Nommos’.
Horowitz has had something of a dual career - on the one hand via this little known but pioneering kind of work, and on the other scoring films in Hollywood (including work on Bertolucci's The Sheltering Sky). The cinematic quality of his material is evident here, but the subtle interweaving of Eastern influences with Western production techniques is incredibly rich with detail and imbues proceedings with an alien, fourth world quality that’s hard to place. Just like Dolat-Shahi managed to intersperse traditional Persian instrumentation with modular overlays in a way that didn’t ever feel contrived, Horowitz’s application of technique comes across as completely intuitive. As the label explain:
"Working in natural succession from end to beginning, “Elephant Dance” demonstrates the central synth and ney node to explore energetic sound patterns Horowitz imagined to be played in the 16th century on the island of Java, around the time Sufi’s may have arrived in Indonesia. Delicately trampling the twenty minute mark, the piece offers an immersive climate of microtones that might, with the primordial matter of love, alter DNA. “Baby Elephant Magic” is “Elephant Dance” but sped up— producing digital baubles that sound less like an Indonesian forest, more like an urban hive of mechanical insect interaction.
The piano on “23/8 for Conlon Nancarrow,” with John Cage technique at play, is played “as fast as possible by a human.” The sounds are driven to derail from the space time continuum. On “Never Tech No Foreign Answer,” a cheap cassette recorder microphone captures the Prophet-5 left to the devices of its master’s inner clock, taking on a frenzied sound form that vibrates in place before bouncing off the tape case walls. Chaos is concentric.
“Queen of Saba” incorporates the vocals of long-time collaborator, Sussan Deyhim. Described as one of Iran’s most potent voices in exile, Deyhim’s work is in both the tradition of Sufis and the late feminist poet, Forough Farrokhzad. Recently Deyhim and Horowitz worked together on a multi-media performance based upon Forrokhzad’s Iranian New Wave film, The House Is Black. Here Deyhim performs a taḥrīr where vocals go low to high without any semantically meaningful words. Horowitz’s associations with great cultural icons of the Middle East, like these women, soften (in)appropriations.
Less aggressive than its predecessors, “Eros Never Stops Dreaming” introduces the bendir frame drum, the feathery wind of the ney floating above its bowing rhythm with effortless mathematics. “Bandit Nrah Master of Rajasthan” begins where the album ends, an ode to Shakuhachi flute players known to indulge in both trance-inducing circular breathing and espionage.
Horowitz is linked with the worldly sound seeking circles of minimalist and avant-garde New York City musicians, especially Lou Harrison and La Monte Young, with whom Horowitz shared Shandar as a record label momentarily. He recorded and toured with Jon Hassell and collaborated with David Byrne and Brian Eno, Jean-Philippe Rykie, and Bill Laswell. Along his travels he befriended Brion Gysin and Paul Bowles, the latter whom mentored Horowitz over decades of correspondence, some of which documents the making of Eros and comes quite literally with this edition.
A record of physical and intellectual love for Arabia, FTS extends this flowing forward and backward – a shimmer that reverses the backward spelling of Ztiworoh. Eros is presented in the ever present. To borrow from a song title, Horowitz remains gainfully employed as an “inter-dimensional travel agent.””
Getting in there just as his new album proper drops, Ben Frost presents his tense soundtrack to Super Dark Times, a new flick directed by Kevin Phillips and hailed as “an unnerving cross between ‘Stand By Me’ and ‘Donnie Darko’” by IndieWire.
Like his work on Fortitude, and his acclaimed A U R O R A album, the Australian composer diffuses scarily close strings thru diaphanous soundscapes to mirror both the film’s imagery and his own internal landscapes.
More specifically, Frost picked a palette of sounds appropriate to the film’s setting in ‘90s upstate New York, generating a temporally sensitive tension that drew on his formative experiences with digital delays, Boss Metal Zone distortion pedals and Peavey Amps that was also pretty ubiquitous to that era.
The results sound like the downstrokes of NIN, threaded with thwarted techno impulses and rent with a gripping sense of digital awe.
Heavyweight, head-boggling drone pressure from two of The Skull Defekts’ slaves, Henrik Rylander and Joachim Nordwall, who both aim squarely at your psychedelic pleasure zones with Focus on the Centre of Your Skull for Nordwall’s iDEAL Recordings.
Along the same trajectory as last year’s Journey To The Centre of Your Mind LP and the Harsh Realities, Broken Bones and Skull Tones tape, this one is a stoically crushing demonstration of noise and techno minimalism at its purest, most affective; rudely intent on massaging or even masticating your grey matter into unstable states.
The four parts of Focus on the Centre of Your Skull draw on a strong heritage of dub, noise, techno and metal yet could never quite be accused of imitating any of them. Rather they cut thru all fields at once to irrigate their own furrow of mutant, roiling drone which exists in a strange paradox of pulsating momentum and aching stasis, eaten away by caustic FX which bluntly work their way in like parasitic organisms.
Great, visceral stuff.
Two years since 'Splazsh' topped a stack of annual polls, Actress presents his 3rd, and most coherent album, 'R.I.P' - his 2nd for Honest Jon's.
Despite being a vital cog in the machinery of underground UK dance and electronics since at least 2004 (when he released his 'No Tricks' debut), it's fair to say that it's only in the last few years he's made the shift from cult concern to acknowledged auteur of some repute. His work with Damon Albarn's DRC Music, beside a legendary DJ set at Sonar and killer remixes of Shangaan Electro, Panda Bear and Radiohead all certify the fact; so expectations are no doubt set high for 'R.I.P'.
Produced exclusively on hardware and inspired by Milton's classic poem 'Paradise Lost', he's arranged his most labyrinthine, esoteric release to date; a timeless set of 15 tracks traversing crystallized radiophonics and subterranean Techno with a psychedelic sideswipe that leaves us dazed and beguiled. By assimilating machine-like characteristics - his notions of "seeping yourself liquid into the machinery" and "I'm just an instrument, I'm completely dead when I write" - he's become an interpreter, a symbiotic conduit of semi-lucid visions into the interzone whose revelations contain the potential to manipulate your consciousness in magical ways compared to the prosaic intentions of so much bland and overwrought electronic music out there.
The newfound clarity and fluid narration of 'R.I.P.' makes this the most intriguing chapter in the Actress saga so far - an unmissable experience.
At bleeding’ last, Raime commit their 2nd album to Blackest Ever Black, and it’s every year worth the wait.
Tooth is the result of a fastidious refinement process, chipping away any extraneous elements in order to drill right down to a personalised, uncompromising truth: respectfully consolidating a hive of reference points - the finest filaments of grime, jungle, gothic film soundtracks, and rocking industrial sci-fi - but always with a deeply unique style and pattern.
Hewn from a trad set-up of hacking guitar, samples, and heavily processed drums (from source by Valetina Magaletti, who also played on Quarter Turns…), all helmed by asphyxiating bass pressure, the results were subsequently rinsed in post-production to an inch of their lives. The result is a future-proofed and achingly taut sound; one that acknowledges any flaws in their previous efforts and ascetically twists the screws to a water-tight, rasping, tongue-in-groove finish.
Its eight unyielding tracks render filigree variations on that central theme, each focussed on a subtle yet keenly twisted sleight of syncopation from the opening Om-meets-Mala meditation of Coax to the rictus chatter and gasping stabs of Stammer at the final run out.
The effect is wickedly jarring yet hypnotic, sustaining a vicious, duelling tension between fight or flight between those points; lulling us in with Sun City Girls-like mantra and Jah Shaka-style sub massage in Dead Heat’s arabesque whorl, before ratcheting the tension with a slow, tendon-twitching panic like Albini-meets-Source Direct in Hold Your Line, to lend a sense of temporary resolution with the glinting pads of Front Running.
With Glassed they plumb the sweetspot between Rhythm & Sound, Senking and earliest Swans, but to be honest it all feels like it was leading up to the denouement of Cold Cain, arguably their master opus, parsing the gothic shiver of The Cure ('81 vintage) thru the gullet of ‘05 grime, buoyed off by thee sickest subs to effectively bury this sound beyond the reaches any comers.
We can nary think of another contemporary band whose impact is so directly disproportionate to their empirical output as these arch, vantablack neeks: a lesson that could well be learnt by so many others.
Tooth is a unit; a measure of beauty; an irregularity.
Eomac’s Eotrax shift dimensions with Lair’s haunting debut EP of processed overtone singing and etheric rhythmic experiments, backed with two subtle techno and ambient augmentations from Rrose.
The air-curdled tone of opener, Invoke immediately recalls Akira Rabelais’ use of the Argeiphontes Lyre software - as used on the eternal classic Spellwauerynsherde - but also strangely recalls Underworld’s Karl Hyde in parts, so there you go. Meld sustains that sound in more reverberant yet still static space, whereas Searching In Circles embellishes the same elements with sparse but dynamic pulses pinging around the soundfield like searching radar bleeps, and Incant seems to invert the effect to cavernously, gaunt and hollowed effect.
Rrose treats the material with a faithful hand, leading the ghostly silhouette of Meld to the darkroom on a pulsing string of pearls leash, and then freezing the same elements in a keening microtonal Distillation recalling work by Eliane Radigue.
Frank Maier’s always amazing V-O-D spy a comprehensive overview of Marc Barreca’s probing early phase with his first two tape albums Raw Fish and Green Tea / Surrogate religions  and Currents  made available on vinyl in their entirety for the first time.
There’s material strewn across both plates that appeared on Tape-Recordings 1977-1983, but the vast majority is practically unheard by anyone as the originals were issued in super limited quantity and are nigh-on impossible to track down 2nd hand. If you were seduced by Barreca’s Twilight  reissue on his Savant bandmate K. Leimer’s Palace Of Lights, then this one’s a reel must-have.
Perhaps best described as more stripped down and off-kilter than the material on Twilight, Barreca’s Recordings 1978-1979 demonstrate his solo sound taking gaseous shape inspired by the Brian Eno school of ambient minimalism. In the Raw Fish and Green Tea / Surrogate Religions recordings hear him mashing Eno’s inspirations with simultaneous influence, as the title may suggest, from far eastern modes of tuning and spiritual thought, resulting a spaciously but elaborately textured side of frolicking rhythmic electronics and cascading, bittersweet tones swept with glowing chimes and lush microtonal arpeggios, at best in the extended closing whorl of At The Carnival.
The wistful Eastern motifs also percolate into Currents  which again, as the title implies, is all about a natural chi or flow of energy nodding to Eastern schools of thought. Here the music is detectably more layered and frothing with an aesthetic that would later come to the fore in Twilight, making for remarkably sublime moments on In Far Cathay’s spiritualised swoon of flutes and bubbling electronics, or recalling OG Oblique Graph as much as Dopplereffekt in the sheer contours of Duet, and Franco Falsini’s sky-licking kosmiche on Visitors Part III, one of three bonus pieces not found on the original tape (which is impossible to find anyway!).
We've been waiting for this one for a while being the Hood obsessives that we are, and here it is - the new album from Chris Adams, aka Bracken.
Day-dreaming dub, ambient pop and downbeats are the order of the day, wrought with that melancholly vibe Adams has been doing so well for over 20 years now.
If you're into Hood, or any of its many offshoots and inter-related projects, or indeed the likes of Moon Wiring Club or Animal Collective, this one comes with our highest recommendation...
The Centre Cannot Hold is Ben Frost’s 5th studio album. It was recorded over ten days by Steve Albini in Chicago and represents a pinched, subtler refinement of the billowing structures heard on its predecessor, A U R O R A , as well as a more personalised statement from Frost, who has more commonly been found working to someone film scores for someone else’s storyline with Music From Fortitude and The Wasp Factory.
Accompanied by players Skuli Sverrisson, Nico Muhly, Daniel Lea, and Shahzad Ismaily, and aided by production from Lawrence English, Paul Corley, Daniel Rejmer and Valgeir Sigurðsson; Ben Frost is effectively the triple threat actor/writer/director of his own particular album-cum-movie, rendering a typically melancholic vision of modern ambient and neo-classical storytelling that keens heavy with textural and emotive inspiration from industrial, post-rock and noise paradigms.
The record’s two side openers, Threshold Of Faith and Ionia were issued as single previews of the album, and both offer fair measure of what to expect from the other eight songs, which contract and expand between the scything post dubstep dynamics of A Sharp Blow In Passing and shuddering storm systems of Trauma Theory and the very NIN/Cortini-esque sprawl of Eurydices Heel, to the crystalline ice caves of All That You Love Will Be Eviscerated and the heavy-handed troll-bait epic, Entropy In Blue.
In emotional terms, Frost sums up feelings of apoploptic rage and despair usually only felt when you’ve gone to an outside toilet in Iceland in middle of winter, but forgot the tissue, while the production remains as trustingly tourist friendly as the northern lights. Put this on after GoT while you reflect on another great episode of tits and CGI dragons for optimal effect.
No nonsense hard jaw EBM form Phase Fatale, dispensing a proper workout for Jealous God’s 15th release.
Cementing his spot at the top of the EBM techno table, the Berlin-based NYC transplant grinds out the blank-eyed and noisy toil of Breathe and nails a mean af 16th note slammer to the wall in iMirror.
Turn it over and you’ll encounter the beastly trample of Pressure and razor-toothed industrial swang of Cell.
The outstanding maiden release on Pete Swanson’s Freedom To Spend label is a reissue of Michele Mercure’s sublime obscurity Eye Chant (1986), which was originally issued under her then married name, Michele Musser, and has since become a proper collectors item regarded for its patently otherworldly blend of minimal wave, new age ambient and creamy, krauty electro boogie.
In the early ‘80s, with a background working as a cell animator, and hailing from a mid-sized industrial town, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA, Michele was embedded in the the town’s visual arts community but suffered for lack of decent music - a familiar whinge from anyone who grew up outside of the big cities - so she made her own wickedly inventive and expressive sound using synths, effects, tape loops, vocals.
Her visual and musical worlds first gelled in a 1983 soundtrack for Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot, followed by three self-released cassettes which built on that aesthetic, creating a richly synaesthetic style of highly visual yet mostly minimalist music.
Released a few years later, Eye Chant was the pinnacle of her output, and is now revealed to the world at large, thirty years later. From the rim we’re sent skyward into the waltzing orbit of Tour De France (Day 2) and kissed with the budget Jean Michel-Jarre vibes of In The Air, handing over to the wistfully primitivist incantation, The Intruder and hitting lightspeed with her soaring soundtrack for a performance art piece, 100% Bridal Illusion, where she calves from ecstatic highs into a scene of tumbling 606 drum machine, seagulls and nods to squabbly free jazz.
The others also live up to her name, almost imperceptibly shifting from glowing microtones to alien noise and slippery, lounging electro fusion with Dream Clock, and then like some salty-curdled ambient stroke in Proteus and the Marlin that uncannily reminds us of mid ‘90s Rephlex charms - think super melodic AFX or Cylob - before melting all over the ‘floor with a wigged-out waltz called Too Much primed for the back room at One Eyed Jack’s.
It’s easy to hear, this is strongly tipped to fans of Julia Holter, Suzanne Ciani, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, AFX, Irdial Discs.
In Pessimist, Blackest Ever Black’s furtive D&B agent submits a killer debut LP recce from the no man’s land between jungle, tekno and greyscale electronics - a definitively Bristolian sound. Forming a logical expansion of the themes explored in his work with the Ruffhouse trio and in solo shots for A14 and Osiris Music UK over recent years, his first album finds him working in acres of negative space to fully indulge his worries for the dance, arguably resulting in a new high-water mark for the D&B album format.
Thanks to a natural predilection for minimalism and a fine tuned sensitivity towards textured, atmospheric detail, Pessimist succeeds where the vast majority of D&B long-players fail; fundamentally keeping our interest without resorting to beating us around the head with the latest plugin acrobatics. Rather, Pessimist uses techniques of stealth and guile to draw in and toy with his prey, resulting a far more intriguing and satisfying dispatch from the dark side of the echo chamber.
Like we say, it’s sculpted as a proper album, as opposed to a clutch of middling bangers, replete with intro, outro and a tempered transfer of energy between the tracks that necessarily curves the listener’s enthusiasm between pockets of dank ambience, dread dub dimensions and rolling, ghostly tech-steppers.
Aside from the bolshy techno of Peter Hitchens and clinical badboy rolige of Through The Fog, it’s all exclusive new material, churning up some robust highlights with Grit’s hunched and grubbing torque, and the stark, crispy Spirals, but we’d have to point to his No Matter What collaboration with Overlook for the LP’s most impressive mutation of pure UK bassbin pressure. If we’ve any gripes, though, it’s from the splashback of his breakbeats that come in half way thru Grit and dominating his Glued link-up with Loop Faction, but apart from those, it’s a proper dark fantasy.
Alternately guttural and ecstatic electro-acoustic invocations from Dais Records co-founder Ryan Martin and the restless Joachim Nordwall ov iDEAL, recorded over a couple of cold nights in a Brooklyn basement, late 2014.
Trance Below The Streets courses an effluent route underneath the same, sputum-tiled streets that we’d imagine influenced Ron Morelli’s Spit, pursuing a toxoplasmic muse that resonates in the air, sliming from the ceilings and coating the walls of their recording space and channelled right onto the wax. If it was a scratch and sniff record it would smell of mould.
However, for all the clamminess and cold, ceramic finish, there’s soemthing hypnotically magnetic about the way in which the duo musically converse; neither trying to outdo the other, rather allowing the other room to manoeuvre within the frequency spectrum, from the sludgy gathering of energies in Exposing the Absurdity of Superstition to the ecstatic vocal charge which soon calves away to an oppressive, greying battery in of Retrace/Reverse, before the elegant, sashaying repetitions of Ricochet Around The Triptych lure us into a deeply somnambulant headspace with only the slight hint of violence lurking bedside.
Thanks to engineering by Kyle Keays Hagerman and cold mastering job from Kris Lapke (Alberich), Martin & Nordwall’s music is subtly petrified, pensile, frozen in place as a special document of that night in the basement.
Brilliant reissue of Maria Monti's Il Bestiario, originally released in 1974 and a prime example of the avant-garde art-song of the 1970s.
"Known for her renderings of Italian popular songs, Maria Monti is an Italian singer and actress with a noteworthy career: cabaret singer in the '60s, ambitious avant-garde folk artist in the '70s, and starring in films by directors as such as Sergio Leone's Fistful Of Dynamite (1971) and Bernardo Bertolucci's 1900 (1976).
Il Bestiario is a near perfect emblem of the fascinating territory gained through collaboration. It enlisted the radical poet Aldo Braibanti as its lyricist, features arrangements and synthesizer from Alvin Curran (Musica Elettronica Viva), the baritone saxophone of Roberto Laneri (Prima Materia), as well as the soprano saxophone of jazz legend Steve Lacy.
The result is absolutely stunning, musically unique within the respective outputs of its participants' long and noted careers. Unquestionably one of the most beautiful and neglected albums of its decade."
Killer suite of Ruhr region night slugs from Detlef Weinrich (Tolouse Low Trax) and Viktoria Wehrmeister (La! Neu?), mixed and edited by Kunstkopf’s Gordon Pohl and clad in designs by Jan Wagner, director of the Filmwerkstatt in Düsseldorf.
The follow-up to Often Music’s reissue of Serbian synth obscurity In The Moon Cage by Rex Ilusivii follows darker paths into narcotically grinding industrial rhythm and noxious atmospheres humanised by the vocals of Viktoria Wehrmeister, a Mexican sculptor who was last spotted singing in Klaus Dinger’s La! Neu? group of the ‘90s.
Six tracks absorb and reflect the heavy industrial landscapes and history of their locale to convey a raw, austere and shadowy sound strung out between the overworked machinery of The Hill and the burned-out bogle of Comida para Todos, taking in the pensile industrial dubbing of Laquella and swanging tribal slop of Quedarte en route.
Seriously stylish business, don’t expect this to stick around…
Richard D James' classic album from 1992, re-pressed countless times but still sounding as vital and impoirtant as it did way back when. Still probably the most uplifting and nostalgic thing in the AFX catalogue...
Pan Sonic's Ilpo Väisänen, Dirk Dresselhaus (Schneider TM) and Oren Ambarchi break down to the soul of noise with a new album dedicated to Mika Vainio. If you’re into Vainio, KTL or Ilpo’s brilliant solo work under his own name or as Liima / Piiri, this one's a doozy.
Collectively, die Angel model a complex physicality through raw, elemental inputs, exploring a flux of reactive feedback processes and mutating, unstructured sonic states generated from crackling fusions of electronics, drums, electric guitar and field recordings warped and riddled with FX. They basically sound like Pan Sonic at their most intricate and visceral.
The opening Roha transcribes barely-perceptible shifts in the stereo field with the kind of molecular detail you’d expect to find on a Rashad Becker production, before Terminen Kevat and then Kitka plug into a more amplified dimension that recalls Stephen O’malley at his most contemplative and motorik.
Silvaticum harks back to a classic Pan Sonic sound - at once primitive and somehow transmitted from the future - but it’s the sloshing brownian motions on the brilliantly towering 15 minute Entropia North that tips us into billowing, white hot feedback with scintillating effect.
The amorphous results document and describe a freeness of energy travelling from body to machine and diffused across alternating acoustic environments. Each of the players here works as controlled, external variable interacting with the different acoustic conditions to tempestuous impact, convulsing between squashed, recursive diffractions to sublimated jazz drums and feedback chaos without pausing for breath...
R.I.P. Mika Vainio.
The amazing Sandro Perri brings the likes of Brandon Hocura (Invisible City Editions) and various Constellation personnel on board his Off World vehicle for the 2nd part of an ongoing, esoteric saga which started with the Rashad Becker-meets-Pekka Airaksinen styles of 1.
This time it feels like they’ve located and touched down in the goldilocks zone of some distant solar system, reflected in their turn toward a sort of amorphous space age exotica and kosmiche folk for a whole other notional species.
Clad again in Karl Sirovy’s evocative artwork, this time dating to 1923 and 1931, and geared up with banks of vintage synths including Juno 106, VC-10, EMS Synthi and the krautrock staple, a Syntorchestra farfisa organ, among lots more, the eight players and engineers of Off World generate a sound quite literally dripping with classic reference, tended to with an economy and sound sensitivity that means it could have feasibly been made any time between the late ’60s and modern day.
Out of time and place, the squad embark on recon missions in teams of no more than four on any of the album’s ten tracks, returning with vivid, if abstract, descriptions of imagineered landscapes and cultures that resemble familiar earthly tropes, but somehow different, each according to stranger hybrid scales and rhythmic syntax that fluidly defy our meagre homo sapien powers of perception.
We recommend any daring or budding space cadets simply sign up for a one-way ticket andOff World’s uncanny parallel dimension open up before your keen ears.
Teklife’s DJ Manny steadily ups the footwork ante on his 4th album
Swerving from soulful samples and sweet vibes in Way You Move, to a rush of jungle footwork zingers in You Looking Good and the rumbling torque of Like That, thru intense hyperboogie pressure on Zancrash with DJ Taye to a scintillating 2nd half rush of fresh styles, most notably in the stark darkside flex of Ghost Out and the curdled chromatic warps, Life In This Bitch and If U Want It.
Proper club ammo.
Blasting outta Berlin, Ziúr reps a new wave of artists claiming the ‘floor as a space for freedom and experimentation. It’s a sound that would broadly fall in with an ‘anti-banger’ aesthetic, meshing cues from brooding post-rock electronica, snarky punk and J-pop with spare, deconstructed, spasmodic rhythms nodding to the ghetto styles of Lisbon as much as club music’s avant grade. In effect it’s more like a smart drug than traditional dancefloor/drug analogs; alert and focussed, assuaging ‘easy’ rhythmic gratification or the psychedelic sensuality of rooted dance music which preceeded it.
“Ziúr is one of the most exciting producers to come out of the fringes of Berlin club music in the last few years. A new generation is breaking out of the techno mould and creating in a spirit of freedom and experimentation, taking seemingly incompatible influences and balancing them into a new and exciting sound. Ziúr is also the founder and resident DJ of 'Boo-Hoo', a night championing diverse lineups, reflecting it's creative audience, bringing through the cream of the experimental dance underground. Planet Mu are proud to release Ziúr's debut album 'U Feel Anything?' in collaboration with Objects Limited, a label run by Lara Rix-Martin which releases music by women and non-binary people.
For someone who has previously released just two EPs, the vision of Ziúr's music is advanced and precise. It's music which beckons you into an alternate world; wonderfully alien pop music that eschews conventions. She creates eldrich atmospheres that balance gentle melody and warm pop, in which strange elfin voices sing from other worlds and spiralling rhythms feel like entire structures moving. In the latter half of the record these harden into a pounding, martial symphony of steel, and introduce the kind of rough electronic riffs and guitar samples that betray her background in punk.
'U Feel Anything?' was written as a way to think about music as a tool of enlightenment, a de-conditioning force and the kind of yin and yang that can be summed up in the title of one of the songs 'Laughing and Crying are The Same Things', a track which features Swedish pop singer Zhala, whose vocals straddle twisting beats, space and staccato strings. The album also features a collaboration with Aïsha Devi on the epic 'Body of Light', in which Aïsha's vocals are pitched up and down, manipulated and distorted into wispy angelic tones, setting the tone for the first half of the album. There's a process to Ziúr's music that's informed by this wish to get beyond the small things. She says Putting a relation on what's big and small and certainly meaningless behind our existence; how nothing is everything at the same time etc... it's something that I try to explore again and again by putting myself into a thought process, rather than having everything already formulated.
It's a record of powerful, emotional twists and turns and mind-flipping contrasts that resonate with depth. As Ziúr says I believe you can only tell that something is harsh when you have a soft side to compare it to. If everything is amazing then nothing is, right?”
It’s been four years since Zach Saginaw, aka Shigeto, returned home to Michigan from a stint in Brooklyn, NY, and since then, the musician has become a part of Detroit’s music scene.
"While always having a personal approach to his projects, Saginaw’s influences for his third album, The New Monday are more about the community of Detroit than anything else. Named after a weekly DJ event called Monday is the New Monday that Saginaw does at the unassuming Motor City Wine with a group of friends, The New Monday is the result of Saginaw diving into the city’s deep record culture, where there legacy of artist’s of the past help Saginaw embrace his own contributions.
“It’s focused on a couple things and they all kind of come together to represent different things,” explains Saginaw. “My time back in Detroit, back living in Michigan and spending time with a lot of kind of original people who have always been here, learning from them, hearing stories from them, being influenced by them, and inspired by them.”
While, in the past, projects like Lineage or No Better Time Than Now were rooted in strong personal messages, family and relationships respectively, The New Monday represents a communal eort where solidarity is the key. Going for a simplified approach of just trying to make good tracks, The New Monday is diverse in its styles leaning more into a dance music direction – new ground for a Shigeto project. A new air of confidence in Saginaw has expanded his horizons since his return to Detroit, but traces of his past work will continue to be present.
“I don’t want people to think I’m leaving anything,” says Saginaw. “I’m still me. It’s a result of me being immersed in the culture, and inevitably making music that is influenced by that culture whether it be house, techno, jazz, rap. It doesn’t matter. It’s all coming from what I love about Michigan.”
While The New Monday still features the jazz textures long associated with Shigeto projects, the varied elements that make up the album cohesively come together to show the distinct inspiration that Saginaw has drew from since his return home to Detroit. Like on “Barry White”, which features Detroit hip-hop artist ZelooperZ (a member of Danny Brown’s Bruiser Brigade crew who Saginaw also has a side project with called ZGTO), Saginaw captures everything he’s been doing all on one track. As much as it’s hip-hop influenced, it’s a mutant that encompasses elements of dance music, jazz, and ambient sounds
Throughout The New Monday, Saginaw poignantly references the musical influences that have either always been with him or newly discovered. It is Saginaw’s interpretation of Detroit’s rich culture of innovative artistry, but done so with respect for the history and to contribute, not disrupt.
“I think over the past four years, I can confidently say that I found my place here,” describes Saginaw. “I’m happy here and I feel that I have the respect from the people I need respect from, that I want respect from. It’s all of the result of embracing it and embracing, not Detroit, but embracing community, embracing family, being closer to my parents, being closer to my oldest friends."
“On Mikrojazz, their cutting edge joint project for RareNoise Records, German saxophonist Philipp Gerschlauer and guitarist David Fiuczynski explore the world of music that falls between the cracks of the tempered scale. Joined by jazz drumming legend Jack DeJohnette, fretless electric bassist Matt Garrison and microtonal keyboardist Giorgi Mikadze, this daring crew creates dreamy, otherworldly soundscapes on tunes by Gerschlauer like aptly-titled Hangover and LaMonte’s Gamelan Jam along with a swinging microtonal tune “Mikro Steps“ and other originals like Fiuczynski’s MiCroY Tyner, Zirkus Macabre and Lullaby Nightmare.”
Awful Records’ breakthru star and leading light of ATL, Abra sees her widely celebrated debut album Rose remastered and pimped-up for this deluxe vinyl issue via Ninja Tune.
As the story goes, Abra was discovered by Awful Records’ Father after uploading videos of herself doing acoustic covers of rap songs to YouTube c.2013. Fast fwd to 2017 and she’s graced magazine covers, guested on Charli XCX’s Drugs, and been hailed as one of the hottest artists to emerge from Atlanta’s fertile underbelly in recent years; one in possession of a classic, fresh R&B sound steeped in ‘80s and ‘90s tropes and with a patina of subtly psychedelic/ambient production to boot.
Rose features Abra as the star of her own show, with stripped-back, self-produced beats giving a firmly funked-up but stark platform for her modest, unaffected and compellingly soulful vocals, which tread the finest line between aloof and necessarily economical.
All of that means nowt in R&B and synth-pop terms without tunes, though; and Rose has bags of them. From the lean darkwave groove and ‘90s R&B cadence of Roses thru the 808 subs and crack of her surefire heaters U Kno and Fruit, to the drily percolated 3-step house of No Chill and addictively strong gear such as $hot with its DX7 bass twang, or Jeep-ready freestyle-electro bumps of Tonight!, she’s seriously generous with the earworms.