Karen Gwyer returns to DBA, reenergised and packing some of her tightest drum programming and absorbing, beatless synth arrangements
‘Man On Mountain’ is Karen’s first solo release proper since the ‘Rembo’ LP in 2017, which distilled her deeply rugged hybrid of Detroit techno and AI-style rave to widespread acclaim. Two years later, Karen bounds back with two entrancing examples of her mutant techno style flanked by two rarer excursions into black hole ambient and Carl Craig-like synth scapes that demand to be heard by her keen following.
The colourfully plumed ‘Faces on Ankles’ gets the EP into gear with a deft mix of 2-stepping drums, merry-go-round melody and LFO-style bleep riffs that carries its weight beautifully into a sort of pounding hi-tech folk dance and the cranky black hole ambience of ‘Ian On Fire’. The flipside is then given to ‘Cherries on Shoulders’, demonstrating her livewire hardware intuition at its most fluidly hypnotic, and leading into sleek synth synth churn on ‘Ribbon On Neck’ recalling C2 or Rob Lowe trips.
In many ways, ‘Weather’ is the culmination of Tycho’s career as a whole – each prior step taken with intention to land on this new creative ground.
"The past 13 years have seen Tycho evolve from a part-time solo project of a graphic designer (Hansen is known internationally for his distinctive design work as ISO50) into a massively successful and world touring live band. The music, too, has fallen in line with this steep trajectory, and each release has introduced new elements to us, ever expanding into untouched sonic territory.
Hansen on the musical progression of Tycho through the years: “With each Tycho album my goal is to evolve and broaden the sound. After The Science of Patterns (2002) and Past is Prologue (2006) -- two primarily electronic solo efforts -- I began incorporating more organic sounds and instrumentation. Dive (2011) saw the addition of guitar and bass guitar while Awake (2014) took it a step further with guitars pushed to the forefront and the use of live drum performances for the first time. Epoch (2016) honed that sound further balancing the electronic and organic components that defined Tycho.” ‘Weather’ intends to reveal a more human side to the music, with the vocal and lyrical components adding a whole new dimension of warmth and life."
The original nuttah meets Adrian Sherwood in a doublet style, fixing the stepping ‘Makumba Rock’ beside the spaced-out skank of ‘Heaven & Hell’
Up top is an extended dubplate version of ‘Makumba Rock’ from the ‘Rainford’ album, featuring Perry’s gargles, hoots and cries woven alongside the lyrics on a charmingly lazy, crazed rockers riddim. Down below, they skank 10 feet wide with the speaker-worrying subs and duppy FX of ‘Heaven & Hell.’
Genre and meter-bending funk ’n soul badness from Andre Gibson’s Universal Togetherness Band
Uptown, there’s an edit of the frickin’ wild ‘Dreamality’, which comes on in fits of cool, downtempo swagger and giddy uptempo eruptions with strange, pitching vocals and freaky FX. Make no mistake though, it’s a serious dancefloor tune, bound to work crowds to the bone. Downtown they spy ‘Lucky Stars’, a pendulous, tuff groove twisting elastic boogie-disco bassline under Gibson’s club-calling vocals and natty brass.
Virulent highlife-soukous party starters from the Congo via Nigeria - big on ‘70s Nigerian dancefloors and still big with the legendary Picos sound systems of Colombia’s Cartagena and Barranquilla carnivals
“Since the 60s, Congolese guitar combos and orchestras have always been popular across West and Central Africa. But the ‘natural fit’ element between East Nigerian Igbo highlife and Congolese rumba and soukous made for a unique beat: highlife-soukous.
Although eclipsed internationally by Lagos, Yoruba, Fela Kuti and Afrobeat, it was highlife- soukous that you’d hear at parties all over southern Nigeria in the late 70s and early 80s.
Outside Africa, the sound proved a special favourite with Colombia’s Carnival Champeta and Pico Sound system DJs – where, even today, you can hear super-rare Bota International original vinyls booming out over 20-foot-high speaker stacks along Colombia’s Caribbean coast, the records being ‘covered up’ in the style of British Northern Soul 45s, or reggae sound system dubplates, so that competitors can’t discover the name of the tune or band.
Welcome to the mysterious world of highlife-soukous – and Bota Tabansi International.”
Etheric excursions into new age ambient and folk underlaid with woozy drum machine rhythms and perfused with field recordings
“Following 2017’s Infinite Avenue and 2013’s Sleeper, Both Lines Will Be Blue is Carmen’s first full instrumental album. A 7 track collection of cosmic excursions and dubby ambient-jams, the album is written, recorded, played, produced and mixed by Carmen in her Oslo studio. The soothing atmospherics are made up of tapestries of field recordings, synths, piano, drum-programming, zither and modular sounds. Throughout, Carmen’s music is colored by experimenting with different sounds and learning new techniques or by adding new instruments to the mix.
"I’ve been playing around with instrumentals for a long time, and it was something I wanted to do more with after I finished Infinite Avenue,” says Carmen. “Leaving out my voice and lyrics got me out of my own head a bit, which I needed. Working with sound is to me the ultimate meditation and is a more unconscious way of expressing whatever is going on inside.”
The flute, played by Chilenean-Norwegian Johanna Scheie Orellana (formerly of Sassy 009), is a central part of this new album. Carmen got her in to the studio to both record melodies that she had written, as well as making plenty of room for impro/freeform. Prins Thomas also appears on the record, playing percussion on “I Could Sit Here All Day.”
“I made this track based on a Roland SH-101 sequence run through various processing,” says Villain. “The whole thing came together kind of like a jam, I wrote the flute in one take, and it just felt right. I wanted real flute on this, so asked Johanna if she'd like to come in, and we've been collaborating ever since.””
Prayers are answered with Vainqueur’s Reductions 1995-1997, a compilation of in-demand cuts from René Löwe’s seminal Chain Reaction 12”s and Elevations CD, including the vinyl premiere of Antistatic and first ever appearance of Antistatic II on any format, all available on wax for the first time in over 20 years!
For anyone who came thru during the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, Vainqueur records were required listening - beyond Maurizio’s M-Series and the Basic Channel catalogue, they’re some of the strongest dub techno trax in existence. Now, two decades later, they still appear regularly in the mixes of those in the know, but their 2nd hand prices have steadily crept up in parallel.
To newcomers and older fiends alike, this 3LP selection provides a perfect overview of Vainqueur’s most feted period (not withstanding his all-time banger Lyot , but that was a kinda one-off). The first disc revolves his banging Reduce 1 and the monotone brilliance of Reduce 2, whilst the 2nd disc renders the more tender gasps and dub chords of Solanus (Original) and the heady Elevation II - both masterclasses in German techno minimalism - while the 3rd disc significantly presents the flared chords of Antistatic, taken from the Elevations CD, on vinyl for the 1st time, backed with the exclusive-to-this-12” Antistatic II.
Playfully witted, dancefloor-curious styles from River Yarra, back on Antinote a year on from the resoundingly well received ‘Lucky Boy’ 12”
Shifting his weight elegantly from 88-140bpm across four tunes, ‘Frog Mania’ has something to do with amphibians but it’s all french to us, to be honest. We can however deduce that trax are primed for dancing in altered states, hopping from the Acid-Arab creep of ‘Toad Charmer’ with its microtonal vamps and synthetic croaks, to what sounds like late ‘90s-era Chris & Cosey on a frivolous flex with ‘Amfybyonzz’ on the front, before picking up the pace with a pendulous electro-stepper ‘Frogz ov Gondwana’ and the rolling breakbeat raver ‘Prog Frog.’
Delicate, fizzing and emotive ambient & drone washes from Pop Ambient contributor Max Würden for A Strangely Isolated Place, falling somewhere between Marsen Jules and Rafael Anton Irisarri rendered in widescreen dimensions.
"Format draws from its Latin origin: “formatus”, meaning “to be formed”. Over two years, Germany’s Max Würden produced a variety of tracks using completely different approaches. It wasn’t until they were placed together in unison that the strengths from the variety of productions came together.
Max’s studio recordings lined up alongside live performances; field recordings of foot-steps and sounds from deep forests amongst broken leaves and custom synthesizers; processed guitar-loops weave amongst soaring ambient pads and energetic driving analog pulses segue classic 90’s ambient depicting the very furthest reaches of space. Max's abstract impressions were weaved together and Format was born.
The result captures the very best of Max’s multi-disciplinary techniques we’ve come to admire throughout his many productions and collaborations over the years with the likes of Thore Pfeiffer and his releases on Kompakt’s Pop Ambient series."
Prodigal rave architect Syed Ahsen Razvi, better known as Acen, returns to the fray nearly 30 years since his early 12”s defined the sound of UK hardcore
Flipping classic acapellas in a puckered breakbeat hardcore style, we’re happy to report that ‘Play 2092’ is not simply a shite revival effort. All three cuts pack similar levels of frenetic editing and pure, up-for-it vibes as his early ‘Trip II The Moon’ sessions, perhaps not quite as delirious, but still with that all important, irresistible flow and dipping breakdowns. Up top he lights a fire under Shannon’s ‘Let The Music Play’ acapella, while Candi Staton is fed a gary and taken to the darkside in ‘Return II’, and the B-side is run thru with the boisterousness of ‘Play 2092 (Part 2).’
Fluffy derp house and Italo smarm from Regular Fantasy and Void Mirror for Vancouver B.C.’s Mood Hut
A-side is inscribed with the blend of Italo disco optimism and blushing Detroit techno harmonies in ‘Gemini Month’, and B-side is taken by the woozy groove of ‘Trance Breaks (Dub Mix)’ and the rolling, floating square bass tug of ‘Hits From The Bongo’ (although we suspect those track titles are the wrong way around!).
Experimental ambient pioneer K. Leimer probes fuzzy, hypnagogic and inter-dimensional sounds on a rare solo session away from his Palace Of Lights label
“First Terrace Records have the honour to present an album of new work by influential and idiosyncratic artist K. Leimer. His second outing for First Terrace, following his part on FTS001, the album finds the composer working in a solemn & focused mode, rendering deep sonic landscapes that shimmer, sink into themselves and play host to a slowly emerging carousel of auditory apparitions - dynamics delivered through his mastery of textural manipulation.
Emerging in opposition to the sunless days & countless distresses of current US politics, each track is imbued with a refreshing sense of equanimity - in Kerry’s own words, he “does not profess that music - especially an experimental, lyric-free music - can change or influence such circumstances. But this is the context in which we now live, and this has shaped the music of Irrational Overcast — a coping mechanism for living under clouds of baseless beliefs and simplistic ideologies that disfigure and stifle what is an admittedly difficult though really quite lovely world.”
Akiko Haruna draws on backgrounds in Dance and A/V performance and sound design for her smartly off kilter debut with Where To Now?
An electronic expression of emotion through motion, ‘Delusion’ follows from Akiko’s previous work in promo videos for John Newman and AlunaGeorge to present a warped definition of rhythm-driven styles inspired as much by forward-thinking conceptions of club music as ideas from contemporary dance choreography.
In ‘A Mother’s Love’ she finds a fine tension between chattering, swarming vocal cut-ups and lunky, offbeat kicks in a style comparable to Don’t DJ as much as object blue, before the interlocking tresillo rhythms of ‘Husband Established’ work a stumbling, thunderous groove recalling the pressure and purpose of Jlin’s soundtrack for Wayne McGregor’s ‘Autobiography’, and she pushes that crookedly balletic flow into more abstract, spaced-out dimensions on ‘Hetero’ and with heightened, gyroscopic proprioception in ‘Ripheus Alley’.
Deffo one for the dancers!
Kate Carr renders a vividly sensurreal snapshot of nature coexisting with industry in a mix of microphone and hydrophone recordings made on the banks of the river Seine, next to a Nuclear power plant. This record is a one strong reason why Kate is among the most intriguing artists working with field recordings right now - make sure to check it.
“I was one of the only people to hop off the train from Paris at the tiny Nogent-sur-Seine station. Looking around for someone who looked like they might be meeting me, I spotted a very unexpected sight – a large nuclear power complex not far off in the distance. I had arrived in this part of France, about two hours by the fast train to the west of Paris, to undertake recordings of the Seine, in a tiny town called Marnay. Unknown to me the river, which at this time is icy cold, had just started to recede after bursting its banks.
Marnay is a town of just over 200 people. It is small, and its population appears to have dwindled dramatically. During the month I was there I often found myself cycling along empty streets, and the town's pub and hotel were shuttered and abandoned. There were no shops, and even the church was shut up and unused, although its electrified bell still tolled the hours. Elections took place that month, and the National Front took over the mayoralty from the sitting French Socialist Party candidate who told me on the night she lost about her memories of taking to the streets in May of '68.
I have loved the Seine since I was a child and read a book about an artist trying to paint the river, and when I arrived it was certainly doing justice to my memories of that book, swollen and mighty, perilously cold and formidable. In some places it was so flooded it was impassable. The river, and its series of tributaries and canals, some of which appeared to have been created to serve the nearby nuclear complex, had established vast marshes of bog, particularly in the area which approached the rear of the reactors, and water birds had arrived in their hundreds to enjoy this vast increase in habitat.
It was in these areas that I focused my recording.”
Glacial, magisterial studies in the psychoacoustics and aural phenomena of Lithuanian folk music from Joshua Sabin; exploring the emotional potency of the human voice through manipulations of archival recordings, traditional instruments and native forest ambiences.
Drawing from the folk music archives of the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre Ethnomusicology Archive, Sabin was particularly struck by recordings of Sutartinės: a near-extinct form of two and three voiced polyphony notable for the way it uses dissonance and creates perceptible “beating” frequencies due to the way singers (usually women), or instrumentalists on a skudučiai (a sort of panpipe, often played by men), create driving, dissonant tensions between their tightly syncopated parts.
Also taking cues from the psychoacoustic research of Rytis Ambrazevičius, whose computer analyses highlighted the unique acoustic and harmonic complexities in these archival songs, Sabin subtly exaggerates and reroutes what he calls their “arresting and often almost plaintive and minimalistic beauty” into a suite of forested soundscapes that unfurl with a natural beauty comparable to Ian William Craig’s decayed, long exposure landscapes, the arcane and ritualistic atmospheres of Lussuria, or the wind-etched grain of Richard Skelton.
Boxed don Mr. Mitch on an 8-bit dancehall bogle for The Bug’s Pressure label, backed with tremendously unstable remixes by the bossman
‘Not Modular’ is a mad stripe of bubbling electronics driven by a rugged ‘90s Dancehall engine in Mitch’s more playful, party-guaranteed style, while The Bug typically makes it darker, wilder with dense level of FX applied to growling, noisy fashion in the ‘Straight’ remix, then in super dry and rasping style on the murderously ‘Raw’ remix.
Infiné task Enyang Ha, Lord of the Isles, Ital Tek, and Dawan with remixing Deena Abdelwahed’s resoundingly well-received debut album
Seoul/Berlin’s Enyang Ha reworks the smoky Arabic vocal and rugged swang of ‘Rabbouni’ as a skudgy, offset techno roller with subtle, abstracted use of the vocal, while the mutant Raï rhythms of ‘5/5’ are stretched out to the horizon by Scotland’s LOTI.
The spiralling mysticism of ‘Ababab’ provides an elusive soul to Ital Tek’s tuffened-up IDM acceleration, and the enigmatic hustle of ‘Fdhiha’ is teased out into a spare, pensile stripe of broken beat acid techno by Tunisia’s Dawan.
David Murray Quartet's 1993 Japan only CD release “Ballads for Bass Clarinet” (DIW/Disk Union) is issued for the first time on vinyl by Ko Ko Music.
"Comprising a couple of waltzes, a blues, a Monk-ish suite-like piece, a free-ish drums and clarinet interlude, and finally an elegy to civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer - David Murray leads on bass clarinet, managing to go both deep and soaringly high, it sometimes sounds like two different instruments are being played. But this is not a solo effort from David Murray: there is also plenty to listen from the other members of the group. The quartet is tight and the recording is superb, with a warm and intimate sound. Highly recommended.”
Dry, jacking warehouse hammers from Florian Kupfer on Simoncino’s HotMix Records
Uptown he rides a big-boned square bass-line with transfixing strings, a potent haze of hi-hats, and nagging vocals buried to the hilt in-the-mix. Trust it kicks like a stoned mule. Downtown, his ‘Final Stage’ follows thru with reticulated EBM arp strapped to deep tissue massaging bass hits and percolated rimshots primed for darkroom frolics.
Mark Ernestus and Moritz Von Oswald’s sublime Main Street project was Berlin’s most beautiful contribution to bridging deep house and dub techno.
On the Round Two platter Andy Caine lends proper American soul/house vox vocals to the stepping’, swinging original, also trimmed to a natty New Day (Edit) and expanded to the horizon in a New Day (Dub).
Totally infectious Gnawa funk and psych-edged rock from Morocco, 1973, legit licensed and issued for the first time on any format! Yet another fuzzy peach on Habibi Funk.
Leading on from the labels plates of Afro-Cuban Jazz and the Afrobeat of ‘Muslims & Christians’, this is the first pressing of gripping, heavily soulful recordings by three generations of the same family, headed up by the distinctive cry of Attarazat Addahabia. Addahabia was schooled between Casablanca and Paris in the ’60s and brings some serious calibre to the record, commanding the mic in Arabic against female call and response vocals and a crack backing band throwing down thick electric guitar fuzz and driving blend of rhythm from Western rock and Moroccan tradition.
Running in the same circles as Moroccan legend Fadoul (star of Habibi Funk’s ‘Al Zman Saib’ reissue and ‘An Eclectic Selection of Music From The Arab World’ compilation), Attarazat Addahabia & Faradjallah were one of the first rock bands in the Arab-speaking world and they patently knew how to rip a cool groove. Nearly half a century later their tunes will still light up clubs from Casablanca to Paris.
Romantic ambient tech-nous from 1992, dished up on vinyl and available to DL for the first time from Young Marco’s Safe Trip
Originally a CD issued by Belgium’s Buzz (now sought-after 2nd hand), ’Sublunar Oracles’ was the first of two albums released by siblings Dimitri and Stefan van Elsen as Trans-4M.
Comparable in scope and feel to early work by B12, Mappa Mundi and early projects associated to The Connection Machine, the vibe is pure, fluffy early ‘90s, marrying classic sci-fi dialogue with spaced-out synths, obligatory whale calls and ethnographic sampledelia in eight finely feathered grooves intended to cushion your come-down.
Cellular Automata is the first new Dopplereffekt album in a decade! Rudolf Klorzeiger and To-Nhan kept us waiting but the anticipation pays off with some of their most striking electro architecture to date, tangibly making good on the promise of their Tetrahymena  and Delta Wave  deliveries over the interim, which, like this one were also released by Berlin’s Leisure System.
The symbiotic duo’s last album, Calabi Yau Space  remains one of the most memorable, puristic electronic records of its decade and Cellular Automata is up there with the most distinctive of its ilk in the current sphere. To outline their intentions; “Cellular Automata approaches mathematical growth and decay as an iterative process, with each data input considered individually relative to the overall model”, which broadly translates as a lofty metaphor for refinement thru increasingly searching practice; both technical research and the fine-tuned discipline of their physical, melodic inputs.
Difficult to say really how that works out from initial listens, but in aesthetic terms at least their sound is shockingly sharp and dense yet incredibly spacious, executing that unique balance of sheer technological advance and heightened emotive response in way that’s long been key to the success of their sound, encouraging listeners to revel and marvel at both the pure sonification of their sounds and equally their near-baroque classical elegance.
If you need any prompts, check out the vast harmonic structures of Cellular Automata and the tempestuous kosmische momentum of Exponential Decay at the album’s bookends, or deeper in for the uncanny stere-imaging of Gestalt Intelligence and the nerve-biting noise of Pascal’s Reunion, or the abyssal morphosis of Mandelbrot Set for the strongest sensations, but, as you’ll understand it’s definitely best consumed as whole for the most lucid yet disorienting experience.
While the filtered, tape-fuelled obfuscation of Grouper's signature sound remains, Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill is far more resonant up front about the songs at the heart of her work.
Opening track 'Disengaged' offers a segue from the cloudy, amorphous Grouper output of old and this current strain of more easily deciphered writing: it's a mass of mesmerising magnetic hiss and soft noise, with a voice cloaked in lo-fi haze somewhere at the back. Soon after, Harris' guitar and voice emerge, reverberant and phantom-like, and yet comprehensible.
If previously you've struggled to make out Grouper lyrics, and wondered what's going on beneath that veneer of musty, degraded audio, 'Heavy Water/I'd Rather Be Sleeping' offers you a way in. Those dense recording techniques have become a unique production signature and it's virtually impossible to separate Liz Harris' creative identity from that uniquely ghostly sound of hers, but now it feels like a conduit to her songs rather than a barrier. There are echoes of her earliest work on the album too, as on the wordless, partially acappella atmospherics of 'Wind & Snow', but the overall impression left by this album is one of inspired creative renewal, and the unveiling of a songwriting talent that's previously been content to dwell in shadows and deflect attention with smoke and mirrors.
A real milestone release for Harris, and a definite high point for the rejuvenated Type label, we've been unable to stop listening to this incredible album for weeks - it's an absolute must.
Following a series of impossible-to-obtain releases for her own Yellowelectric imprint and a CD compilation of her gorgeous 'A I A' set, Liz Harris seems to have settled with Kranky who are re-releasing her classic Type album 'Dragging a Dead Deer..' and this new album of previously unreleased material drawn from the same period: 'The Man Who Died In His Boat'.
It's not so hard to believe but we'll say this straight away - the material on this new set is just jaw-dropping, a worthy companion piece to 'Dragging a Dead Deer' - once again finding Harris delivering material edging ever so slightly towards more traditional 'songs' but executed with so much introspection and mystery that she really sounds unlike anyone, or anything, you'll have ever heard before. The record has an interesting backstory, as Harris explains - "When I was a teenager the wreckage of a sailboat washed up on the shore of Agate Beach.
The remains of the vessel weren't removed for several days. I walked down with my father to peer inside the boat cabin. Maps, coffee cups and clothing were strewn around inside. "I remember looking only briefly, wilted by the feeling that I was violating some remnant of this man's presence by witnessing the evidence of its failure. Later I read a story about him in the paper. It was impossible to know what had happened. The boat had never crashed or capsized. He had simply slipped off somehow, and the boat, like a riderless horse, eventually came back home." The narrative somehow enhances the songs - an achingly beautiful combination of forlorn, reverb-drenched lullabies draped in a veil of isolation reminding us of a more damaged Mark Kozelek, and indeed the classic 4AD sound with which Grouper has been compared so many times in the past.
By the time you reach the closing track 'Living Room', however, you come to the realisation that despite her best efforts to obscure her songs, Harris might just be one of the most gifted songwriters of her generation. An incredible album - possibly her finest yet.
The first Grouper album in 4 years finds Liz Harris stripped of FX, pairing her vocals with skeletal piano gestures in beautifully pregnant space. For anyone familiar with the miasmic fuzz of Grouper’s previous releases, the relative clarity is quietly shocking in effect, revealing her songs and sound at their most vulnerable, and, in the process, locating a newfound strength in fragility.
Grid Of Points was recorded in Wyoming shortly after Liz finished recording Grouper’s Ruins out in Aljezur, Portugal, and on the most immediate level it seems to describe the difference in recording locations between windswept Atlantic coastline and sparse, landlocked insularity. The seven songs were written over a week and a half, with the process curtailed by a bout of what she describes as “high fever”. What remains forms some of Grouper’s most legible lyrics and intimate instrumentation, with each piece framed by stark, unprocessed space working in the same role usually occupied by her billowing sheets of harmonic distortion.
Untreated and unfiltered, Grouper's voice rings plaintively clear, sometimes layered in ephemeral harmonies or curling off with jazz-soul wise inflections shadowed by modest piano phrasing in a crepuscular style that links back to all her previous work. Yet, in places the clarity is such that it almost feels like we the listeners have just been hearing her songs with clogged ears for the past decade and longer.
Ultimately, these results perhaps most acutely resonate with the etymology of Liz’s moniker - ‘Grouper’ as in member of a Fourth Way commune, The Group, which was inspired by the philosophy of George Gurdjieff, whose mystic meditations surely linger in the magick of Grid Of Points.
Remastered UK rave classics, newly reissued by Luna-C’s Kniteforce powerhouse
The ‘Fun For All The Family’ EP is the debut blast of hardcore heat by Alex Banks and Danny Demierre’s Hyper On Experience. The vocal-lead belter ‘H.E. Anthem’ was produced, in Alex Banks’ own words “[as] a big piano tune like the ones we were hearing at raves.” The result is a rolling but hectic energy booster packing all the tricks of the day. It’s followed by the edge-of-darkcore ace ‘Frightener’ making great use of samples from ‘Breakers Revenge’ by Arthur Baker in a furious fashion, while ‘Another Rave’ feels like a mental acceleration of the daftest, nuttiest Belgian rave techno.
Remastered reissue of a super smooth gospel soul rarity brimming with exulted vibes. Unavailable since the early ‘80s, and expensive to buy 2nd hand nowadays
“Amazing private gospel modern soul/boogie LP originally released in 1981, featuring an alternate version of the dance floor killer "Spread Love".
Having grown up in rural West Virginia, Michael Orr is a marvelously talented musician and accomplished singer, songwriter, and producer. From the time he was placed on a piano bench as a toddler, Michael has been playing and composing music. In 1975 Michael Orr recorded his first full record “Spread Love” which became an international classic. In 1979 he recorded his second and much lesser known album “Love Will Rise” in Los Angeles and released it on the Birthright record label. The single “Love Will Rise” was a tribute to The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
A gem of a smooth soul album – completely rare in the original, and a fully honest testament from Michael Orr. Orr's got a real talent for a song – and his commitment to strong vocals can be heard in his mix of styles that recall bits of Andy Bey, Jon Lucien, Gil Scott-Heron, and DJ Rogers.
An absolutely incredible gospel modern soul album, finally available again, fully licensed and remastered, with original artwork. Not to be missed!”
One of the most influential, insular and multi-layered albums of the last three decades, created through endless hours of improvisation - involving almost fifty musicians and recorded in complete darkness, 'Laughing Stock' is an album that has attained almost mythical status since its release in 1991.
Following the commercial success of their singles "It's My Life", "Life's What You Make It” and album "The Colour of Spring”, Talk Talk retreated back into the shadows and produced two albums that defied categorisation. After the release of the first of these (Spirit of Eden) and a proolonged court case, the band parted ways with EMI and signed to iconic jazz imprint Verve who financed the long and complicated recording of Laughing Stock. Assembling almost 50 guest musicians, Mark Hollis is said to have demanded they record in almost complete darkness, improvising for hours to produce individual parts without hearing any backing tracks or surrounding material. Most of these recordings were discarded, but from what remained Hollis and producer Tim Friese-Greene pieced together a record that is essentially one long sequence of overdubs separated out into six long tracks.
Laughing Stock was to be their last album - on its release the NME described it as “horrible” and many listeners were left perplexed by its insular, unfathomable dynamics. But in the time since, Laughing Stock's legacy seems to have grown in stature with every year that has gone by. You can easily see the stylistic and conceptual markers left by Talk Talk in the way that bands like Radiohead went on to explore more open-ended, diverse sound sources and stylistic shifts - feeling able to experiment without fear of alienating a large fanbase as if it were the most normal thing in the world for a band with considerable chart success to do.
"Laughing Stock" is not only one of the most absorbing albums of the modern era, it’s also a masterclass of production and construction, a relic, perhaps, of an era when artists could completely disconnect from the pressures of their surroundings and dive deep into the wormhole...
Jan Jelinek’s iconic album 'Improvisations And Edits, Tokyo 26.09.2001’ is finally given a vinyl issue for the first time. It’s another deep blue mood piece full of fragmented Jazz loops which will be essential listening for those of you enamoured not only with 'Loop Finding Jazz Records’ but also his quiet masterpiece 'Personal Rock’, released under ther Gramm alias. If you’re as obsessed with that album as we are, this reissue is a must.
"For the original 2002 CD on Soup-Disk and Sub Rosa (Audiosphere), Jan Jelinek and the Japanese trio Computer Soup (Satoru Hori – trumpet, Osamu Okubo - toys & electronics, Kei Ikeda - toys & electronics) presented eight tracks all recorded one afternoon in the trio’s living room in Tokyo. They are excerpts from a joint group improvisation that subsequently underwent rudimentary editing, on which Jelinek and Computer Soup worked separately.
Jelinek met the three musicians at his first concert in Japan in 2001, at Tokyo’s Yellow club, where Computer Soup performed as the support act. Delighted by their free improvisation on pocket-sized electronic toys, trumpet and oscillators, he arranged to meet Hori, Okubo and Ikeda a few days later for a session at their apartment. The resulting three-hour recording, made on their living room floor, formed the basis for Improvisations and Edits. A few days later, Jelinek returned to Berlin. Over the following months, they separately chose passages from the recording that were then edited and assembled into an album.
Formed in Tokyo in 1996 as a quintet (including Shusaku Hariya and Daisuke Oishi), Computer Soup began by performing with acoustic instruments on the streets of Shibuya. Ikeda und Okubo soon switched instruments, and from then on the group’s minimalistic but densely woven sound was defined by electronic toys, oscillators and Satoru Hori’s trumpet. Their first album was released in 1997 on the Japanese label Soup Disk. Eight further releases followed."
Michael O’Shea’s sole, breathtaking album ranks among our favourite of all time - yet hardly anyone seems to have heard of it. Produced by Wire’s Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis at the Dome studio in 1982, it’s an utterly singular work of magick meshing myriad, worldly modes into music that rarely fails to reduce us to tears. It’s one of those albums that basically sounds like nothing else - the only record we can draw some parallels to is Dariush Dolat-Shahi’s life changing 'Electronic Music, Tar and Sehtar’, despite it coming from the other end of the world.
First brought to our attention by Blackest Ever Black at the start of this decade, we’ve gradually developed an obsessive fascination with its sublime, rapid dervishes and warbling rhythmelodies, so it’s a pleasure to see it finally made easily available to everyone who we’ve ranted about it over the years (2nd hand copies have been historically pricey and hard to come by!), and especially replete with its enlightening new sleeve notes by archivist and writer Failed Bohemian.
A busker among other trades, O’Shea was an itinerant soul who, after a childhood and formative years spent between Northern Ireland and Kerry in the south of the country, and extensive travel between Europe, Turkey and Bangladesh, created his own instrument - an electrified dulcimer known as Mó Cará (Irish for ‘My Friend’) - which he performed on at Ronnie Scott’s, before later playing on bills with everyone from Ravi Shankar to Don Cherry, and also recording with The The’s Matt and Tom Johnson.
Aside from his two contributions to the Stano album, ‘Content To Dine In I Dine Weathercraft’ (also recently reissued by Dublin’s Allchival), O’Shea’s first and only album is the main point of reference for this unique artist. Like some eccentric expression of ancient Indo-European voices channelled thru a Celtic body, Michael O’Shea’s improvised acousto-electric music intuitively distills a world of styles into singularly hypnotic works. Using his self-built instrument; a hybrid of a zelochord and a sitar, made on a wooden door salvaged in Munich, and with the crucial addition of electric pick-ups and the ‘Black Hole Space Box’, O’Shea would absorb sounds from his travels like a sponge, and relay them back thru the instrument with effortlessly freeform and achingly lush results as elaborate as a Celtic knot or elegant as Sanskrit text.
The mercurial flow of syncretised styles in 15 minute opener ‘No Journey’s End’ catches your breath and doesn’t give it back, leaving us utterly light-headed and feeling something akin to religious experience, before his ’Kerry’ vignette most beautifully limns the epic coastline he hails from. The plasmic swirl and phasing of ‘Guitar No. 1’ is perhaps the one piece that time dates the LP to the post-punk era, even if it could have come from ancient Mesopotamia, while the album and artist’s underlying metaphysics bleed thru most hauntingly in the timbral shadowplay of ‘Voices’, and the rapidly tremulous, animist voodoo of ‘Anfa Dásachtach’.
Noted in his lifetime, not least by himself as; “…joker, transvestite, inventor, psychonaut, actor, catalyst, community worker, musician, traveller, instrument maker,” Michael O’Shea’s life was, by all accounts, every bit as colourful as his music, which only makes his untimely death in 1991 all that more tragic, as we’d practically give an arm to hear what he could have made in the early techno era, as he was purportedly getting heavy into London’s rave scene before he was taken.
Honestly no other record has cast such a strong spell over us in recent memory - to the extent of sending us on wild goose chases on the wrong peninsula in Kerry - so please pardon the gush ‘cos we can’t help but share love for this life-affirming disc and Michael O’Shea’s beautifully transcendent music.
Proper, super rare coldwave and EBM heat from White House White and the scuzziest ends of ‘80s tape culture on the 6th volume of Walhalla’s reliably ace compilation series.
Again, the series’ compiler Lieven de Ridder presents 12 zingers from his enviable tape archive on vinyl for the first time, turning out big highlights with White House White’s approximation of Joy Division gone acid in the previously unreleased winner ‘Your Screen’, while SS20 impress with the sludgy obscurity ‘Nichts Verstanden’, along with the icy pinch of Sex Bizarre’s ‘Coolcab’, a slick EBM night cruiser from War Tempo aka an early alias of Nitzer Ebb’s Duc Nhan Nguyen, plus a bittersweet bout of The Cure-isms from Onderbronders, beside with the bubbling synth-poptimism of ’Synchorinze’ by Tangible Joy, some grade A sleaze from Metal Thought with ‘Easy Touch On Silky Skin’, and Blitzzega’s swaggering ‘Ilona Marchesi’.
Trust the ratio of hits to misses is in favour of the listener.
Jolly Discs boss Guy Gormley (Enchante, RAP) and David C. Gray aka Special Occasion pronounce Balearic their way with ‘Ibiza Redux’, a balmy suite of heat haze chords, jazzy boogie vamps and snagging dembow shuffles
Delivering the effect of afternoon drinking in summer sun, ‘Ibiza Redux’ is loaded with some of the most charming, low-key dance-pop in recent memory. However, where, say, the likes of Boothroyd’s ‘Pure Country’ found a certain romance in the white isle’s sticky underbelly (an Ibizan alcopop Reflux?), Special Occasion look to its classier side for a more modest yet loftier sound that conjures the feel of shuffling around terracotta tiles in thick, hot and heavy air.
It’s pretty much a flawless set, shimmying from the wind-catcher keys and slow, syrupy bass pulse of ‘Sandstone’ to the gorgeous trickle of steel drum melodies and swaying tresillo rhythm of ‘Rampling’ and a twinkle-toed dancer set between Coil and AFX in ‘Jet Ski’, with a twist of John T. Gast meets Dâm Funk found in ‘Let Me In’, along with the NoW does Japanese city-pop vibes of ‘Big Wheel’ and some real come-to-bed sauce in @ Rupies.’
Deep house don Linkwood blesses his new label with a trimmed and re-shuffled pressing of much-loved debut album ’System’ following from the label’s opening gambit in 2018
Richly schooled in the classic funk, disco and house arts of Chicago, Detroit and NYC, Linkwood filters those influences thru a naturally Scottish wellspring of Gaelic soul and transmutes the results into a deepest dance music.
Now of a 10 year vintage, ’System’ is here stripped of ‘Fudge Boogie’ and ‘Chicago Pt. 2’, to be replaced with the iridescent shimmer and velvety bass of ‘Three Original Mix’ and the dub fried, crispy hustle of ‘Linkwood Lost Experiment’ to gently shake up the record, which still includes big highlights in the likes of his Carl Craig-esque jazz techno whim ’System’, the rude boogie pivot of ‘Falling’, and the Electrifying Mojo-ready flair of ‘Robot Parade’.
‘Strata’ catches playful, experimental percussionist Andrea Belfi modestly exploring his quiet side after the motorik lift of ‘Ore’
An esteemed collaborator of everyone from David Grubbs to Kiki Hitomi and Jóhann Jóhannsson, the ambidextrous Belfi possesses a catalogue as wide as it is deep. ‘Strata’ is his first new solo LP since 2017, and is quite possibly the most absorbingly dubbed-out and minimalist example of his intuitive, performance-based approach to percussion and electronics in his 20 years of releases.
Rhythm and sound flows effortlessly from Belfi’s unique synthesis of hypnotic drumming and lissom electronic patterning, diffracted through six parts that never outstay their welcome. Literally and metaphorically, from the track titles to their abstract shape, the music limns the feel of natural contours and broad spaces, and it’s testament to the subtlety and breadth of Belfi’s expressive talents that he evokes their subjects while imaginatively suggesting loads of room for interpretation.
AMM founder and indomitable improviser Eddie Prévost questions the “fractal not fractional” framework of rhythm and sound in a rare and captivating solo outing.
While regarded among the avant-garde’s most active and prodiguous collaborators, playing on hundreds of recordings with everyone from UK jazz legends Evan Parker and Derek Bailey to the likes of Thomas Köner and David Sylvan, solo records from Prévost are notoriously thin on the ground, meaning he doesn’t fuck about when it’s time to strike on his own.
‘When Is Sound’ sees the percussionist and metamusician intuitively draw upon, and negotiate, over 50 years of action at the avant vanguard. Since his earliest work on AMM’s groundbreaking ‘Ammmusic’ Prévost has persistently pushed against rhythmic and sonic convention, probing it’s whys and whats from every angle, before now forming his open-ended conclusions about “when is sound”?
Documenting a day of recordings made in Matching Tye, Essex, a village near his home stomping grounds, and also burial site of John Locke aka “the father of Liberalism”, Prévost takes cues from Locke’s ideas about “mixing labour with materials as a fore-running notion of possessive individualism and basis for private property” as a prompt to explore music as product of an open-source dialogue between history and the environment; between muscle/memory and the world around him.
Variously recording between a village green and mostly in a centuries old church, the results are the kind of music that would baffle an AI but potentially and instinctively resonate with human senses. In ‘Mixing & Match’ he bows a cymbal with the tactile glee of a kid left alone in the music room, feeling out the instruments stress points and the way it interacts with surrounding architecture, while ‘Rotology’ sees him play rototoms in a way that describes bird flight with an atavistic rawness. ‘maxPlus’ follows with a nod to Max Roach that tramples archaic distinctions or declensions between Afro-American jazz and European Avant-Garde, and ‘Locke’d In’ sees him cannily transpose militant snare rolls with a coolly disciplined but frenzied free jazz flair, and ‘Air, Oak, Metal, Hair’ sees him return to the cymbal in jagged conversation with a village green were rhythm is tone and vice-versa. When is Music? Always.
Ellen Arkbro uses a rare renaissance organ to emulate a sort of slow, gauzy blues music in the gently compelling organ and brass of her debut album. Arguably one of the most striking, drone-related records of recent years, ‘For Organ and Brass’ should be unmissable to anyone following Ellen or her peers and collaborators, Caterina Barbieri and Kali Malone, or indeed the exalted tones of her Just Intonation tutor, La Monte Young .
Unfolding in two meditative, durational parts written for 17th century organ, horn, trombone and microtonal tuba, Ellen’s debut side puts her studies at the Royal College of Music in Sweden to enchanting use in the titular piece’s 20 minutes of glacial movement, and to beautifully smudged, gauzy and intimate appeal recalling Arthur Russell’s ‘Tower Of Meaning’ in the shorter span of ‘Three’.
They were both recorded in St Stephanskirche in Tangermünde, Germany, which was specially sought out by Ellen for its Sherer-Orgel, a rare 1624 model with a specific kind of historical tuning known as meantone temperament, as she explains; “Hidden within the harmonic framework of the Renaissance organ are intervals and chords that bare a close resemblance to those found in the modalities of traditional blues music…The work can be thought of as a very slow and reduced blues music.”
While the religious links between 17th C Germany church music and early blues are historically implied, it’s maybe trickier to imagine their aesthetic links until you’ve heard ‘For Organ and Brass’. And while they may not be immediate, there’s something of a lingering, spectral link between the two, as though she’s transmuted the blues into slowly intoxicating airs, firstly with the funereal pace and cadence of her title part, and then in a way that perhaps draws links from blues thru country, to Arthur Russell’s earliest chamber-like arrangements found on ‘Tower of Meaning’ and ‘Instrumentals, 1974 - Vol. 2’.
Meditative, brilliant work.
‘Eternal Children’ is the excellent, unexpected first vocal album by Equiknoxx; the hotly awaited follow-up to their pair of acclaimed instrumental albums issued by Demdike Stare’s DDS label over the last couple of years, featuring that signature and completely inimitable production style, but this time with added vocal contributions from the extended Equiknoxx crew.
Recorded in Kingston, Jamaica for their own Equiknoxx Music label, ‘Eternal Children’ is the first time all 5 members have appeared on record together, with all three producers - Gavin “Gavsborg” Blair, Nick “Bobby Blackbird” Deane, and Jordan “Time Cow” Chung - cooking up for their vocalist Shanique Marie, alongside the ruder styles of regular spars, MC’s Kemikal and Alozade. As such the album expresses the collective’s shared experience both at home in sunny JA, as well as on the road and their 2nd home in Manchester, home to DDS but where they’re also keenly supported by an extended family including Swing Ting’s Balraj Samrai and MC Fox, plus DJ Jon K, and their mastering engineer Nick Sinna.
The resulting 8-track album is a bounty of eclectic productions tweaked for good times. Cherry-picking from dancehall, hip hop and even pop ballads, they effortlessly balance experimental tendencies with classic forms in each song. Opener ’Solomon Is A Cup’ places Shanique Marie and Kemikal’s timeless, poetic storytelling in abstract sound design to absorbing effect, while two highlights ‘Brooklyn’, and the ear-worming hooks of ‘Manchester’, featuring Brent Bird and Swing Ting’s Fox, perfectly display the diversity of their bonds with the Caribbean diaspora.
Listeners snagged on the weirdness of Equiknoxx’s DDS albums will probably want to head to the album’s more wayward productions; namely their dark, scudding ‘Corner’ and the percolated pearl of ‘Good Sandra’, complemented by the witty pen of Kemikal and Gavsborg, while it all comes together most soulfully with Shanique’s blazing delivery on the rugged bounce of ‘Move Along’ and her balmy pop-soul duet with Bobby Blackbird, ‘Rescue Me.’
Not for the first time, but arguably the most significant, Pye Corner Audio crosses paths with Ghost Box for his first LP of 2016; a narcotically hypnagogic and dystopian trip entitled Stasis.
At least one leap year cycle since his last album with the GB’s, Sleep Games, right now this one feels like a stygian trudge into bleakest futures, operating at such a stoned pace that it moves slower than actual time, and by submitting to its temporal warp we’re allowed to regress back into a pre-digital epoch of paranoid cold, or even civil war atmospheres and paranoia.
It could almost be the soundtrack to a Ben Wheatley flick (low budget, not the over-glossy high rise) about British time travellers, forgoing Dr. Who queso for a more hard-boiled, furtive vibe about anachronistic assassins sent back to kill Nigel Farage at birth, only to uncover that he’s part of an exceedingly dangerous non-human race with ties to Johnson, Cameron and all the other pebble-people, so they round them all up and lock them in a hostel in Middlesbrough with a broken kettle and packet of poisoned monster munch between the lot.
Of course, that fantasy is all set to a soundtrack of wistful electronic mists and pulsating arpeggios that could be right out of some late ‘70s / early ‘80s synth library, and ultimately shows that whilst technology has advanced in the meantime, that ostensibly archaic music still reflects an underlying eldritch darkness contemporary and relevant to both eras, then and now.
Spectrum Spools delves into the distant past – well, 1981 – for its latest tranmission, a reissue of the debut album by revered multi-instrumentalist / avant-garde operator Robert Turman.
Turman first came to cult prominence as a member of Boyd Rice’s NON, before going on to enjoy a sporadic solo career that has taken in DAF/Normal-style electronics (Way Down) and superior noise outings (Blizzard, with Aaron Dilloway). Flux, which Turman self-released on cassette, is a one-off – a patient investigation of classical minimalism and new age tropes, an attempt to create “a complex bed of interweaving micro-stasis” with kalimba, piano, drum machine, and tape loops.
The results are certainly sparse and meditative, but they’re also deeply engaging, and occasionally unsettling. We’re particularly into ‘Flux 4’, its marriage of plaintive piano and cotton-wool wrapped kickdrum coming over like a precursor to the Miasmah label or those early Dettinger records on Kompakt. Remastered by Rashad Becker at Dubplates + Mastering from the original c-60 cassette master and pressed on vinyl for the first time, this is the definitive edition of a very special work.
One of Drexciya's most sought-after and definitive "storms" finally reissued for those that need it.
Originally released in 2002, 'Harnessed The Storm' yields timeless anthems such as the devastating 'Digital Tsunami' - leaves us an emotional wreck every time - and the unfathomable mystery of 'Under Sea Disturbances' alongside signature enigmas like 'Mission to Ociya Syndor and Back' or the heart-breaking melodies of 'Birth Of New Life'. Trust us and everyone else: it's essential.
French beat maker Debruit meets Kinshasa, DRC’s Kokomo! for an energetic sound compatible with Kuduro but leaning towards dance-pop influenced song structures. Issued by the same label behind SOPHIE’s debut album
“You can trace the seeds of Fongola back to so many different places. It began in Kinshasa, in the Ngwaka neighbourhood where DIY experimental musical instruments are made, and the Lingwala neighbourhood where Makara Bianko sings every night on electronic loops with his dancers and where the band first met. We spent our tours across Europe dreaming about what we wanted to tell the world. It was recorded in makeshift studios we built out of ping pong tables and mattresses in Kinshasa and Brussels. Finally, I spent months putting it all together in Abattoir, Anderlecht like a giant electronic puzzle with pieces that don’t fit and no blueprint.” - Débruit
Signed with independent label Transgressive (Flume, SOPHIE, Let’s Eat Grandma), KOKOKO!’s distorted polyrhythms and spontaneous lo-fi sounds provide a chaotic soundtrack to their home country. When most people think of culture in the Democratic Republic of Congo, it’s The Rumble in The Jungle fight of Muhammad Ali vs George Foreman and the accompanying Soul Power concert with James Brown in the 70s, Mobutu in his abacost and leopard print hat, les sapeurs in their elegant tailoring, and the king of Congolese rumba Papa Wemba. A faded vintage postcard. KOKOKO! represent the antithesis of tradition, and their debut album Fongola - which translates to “the key” - is a torrid, anarchic, youthful journey smashing a new path through modern life in Africa’s third most populous city.”
Features production by Catnapp, Modeselektor, El Plvybxy, and Doxxed.
“Break follows last year’s EP Fear and No Cover single and sees Catnapp capturing the jaw-dropping energy of her live shows as well as further refining her characteristic blend of rap and heavyweight electronic beats. She challenged herself with exploring more complex emotions and subjects for this album, which is more than a collection of love songs, as she explains: „With so much happening in our world today, I feel incomplete telling only love stories. I want to give people inspirational tools that work like fuel. Songs that can make one hop out of a bad and complicated situation in order to move on and up with confidence.“
Catnapp is the guise of Argentinian artist Amparo Battaglia. Long before signing to Monkeytown in 2018, the Berlin based producer, singer/rapper and striking performer already (self-)released a couple of records full of boundless creativity and originality, taking whatever she needed from every electronic genre as well as pop and rap music. Amparo cites classic influences like The Prodigy, Aphex Twin, OutKast or Beyoncé, while her productions also draw from today’s post-internet and post-rap sounds. Break combines these diverse influences in a very distinct sound.
The album’s opening track „Down In The Basement“ is an ode to the underground, dealing with how to grow as an artist whilst staying true to your roots. You can take the artist out of the underground, but you cannot take the underground out of the artist. As she is playing big stages more frequently than gritty basement clubs, Catnapp tackles the beautiful contradictions of going her own way. Next up is „The Mover“ featuring Modeselektor, a slow burning, bass-heavy song about standing up for yourself and showing strength. It opens with the line „Don’t you tell me what to do“, an eternal credo for both Catnapp and Modeselektor, two generations of maverick electronic artists. „Fight For A Fight“ is inspired by the repression the LGBTQ community is facing all around the world. It came about when Amparo was invited to perform at the Pride March in Buenos Aires in 2018, its lyrics are aimed at supporting the ongoing fight against patriarchy: „My knife is sharp, my mind is bright, you’ll never stop my will to fight.“
Still, love and heartbreak are essential elements of Catnapp’s songwriting and thus appear in songs like „Thunder“, „Lengua“ and „Give It Back“. The latter is about leaving a toxic relationship behind and regaining control about one’s life. Musically, these tracks show Catnapp alternating fierce raps and booming beats with liquid R&B vocals and melancholic, dreamlike electronica.
Catnapp has been compared to electroclash artists like Peaches, her blend of modern rap and electronics may also evoke likeminded artist Tommy Genesis. There’s leaders and there’s followers – you already know which this girl belongs to. Break is no less than her most accomplished musical statement to date.”
Eminent avant-garde/experimental explorer Oren Ambarchi opens a rewarding new avenue to embrace the warmth and mystic psychedelia of Brazilian music with assistance from celebrated percussionist and Downtown luminary Cyro Baptista. Arriving just after Ambarchi’s 50th birthday, and Black Truffle's 10th, ‘Simian Angel’ sees him yoke back from the forward tilt of his rhythm-driven outings over the past decade in order to focus on his electric guitar playing, with utterly sublime results.
Keening sideways from the unyielding percussion of his last outing ‘Hubris’ , he divines a floating space that recalls the beautifully pensile cats cradle of his early classic ‘Grapes From The Estate’ , only this time with fleshlier, more inviting arrangements. The first half’s ’Palm Sugar Candy’ is pure star-gazing material, with Baptista’s hand-played, self-built percussion drawing us into a horizontal headspace while Ambarchi’s glowing notes gently colour the sky above. Ambarchi gradually opens up a glorious space between that dissonant murmuring and an awning, harmonic meridian, where a voice whispers into the space to gently recalibrate our depth perception, before seemingly turning his guitar into a MIDI-triggering aeolian harp in the piece’s spellbinding, levitating 2nd half.
’Simian Angel’ follows with a more gripping rhythmic pull from the twanging Berimbau, just one of myriad percussion mastered by Baptista (who has previously played with everyone from John Zorn to Derek Bailey, Herbie Hancock and Robert Palmer), before Ambarchi glydes into view like a chorus of the sighing Simian Angels, drawing the piece upwards into thin air, where his guitar melts into piano and columns of warm air carry distant vocals from below. The drums rejoin to mark the work’s final avian swoops in strokes and dashes, triggering MIDI keys in a beautifully colourful sort of jazz fusion call and response, located amid and above a subtropical canopy.
Arriving at the apparent apex of a long and sprawling career in which he's had countless collaborations and gone down a seemingly endless series of creative rabbit holes, 'Simian Angel’ is quite possibly Oren Ambarchi’s most open and generous album to date - a perfect entry point into, as well as highlight of, a recorded catalogue that over the course of more than twenty years has been one of the most unpredictable and rewarding in the game. Bravo.
Call Super aka Ondo Fudd does crystalline ambient house, disko-tek, slinky house and underwater electro on his 2nd 12” for The Trilogy Tapes
Picking up in the same shine-eyed zones as his ace ‘Blue Dot’ 12”, ‘Eyes Glide Through The Oxide’ seduces with a signature mixture of melodic allure and drift-away rhythm, puckering up with what sounds like spittle sucked thru a reed, set against gently sloshing, glassy rhythms and awning new age pads in the title cut, then laying out the lip-smacking late ‘80s disko of ‘Joyride to My Inside’, and playing out two driving but soft-geed house workouts, and finishing on the money with the iridescent electro flourish of ‘Fluenka’s Song.’
An amazing slab from Glasgow’s fecund subterrain, ‘The Funnel’ is Wojciech Rusin’s debut razz of field recordings and choral composition riddled with rug-pulling edits and keeling turns of phrases - arguably a spiritual parallel to László Hortobágyi, Black Zone Myth Chant, Jani Christou, Él-G
A big clue to the cryptic chicanery of ‘The Funnel’ is the fact that Wojciech Rusin builds his own instruments, which accounts for some degree of the odd tonalities at work. But when you factor in the field recordings of Port Talbot Steelworks, and his patent knowledge of renaissance polyphony, it all just becomes more brilliantly complicated and unfathomably idiosyncratic.
Across seamlessly segued sides, they weave strategies and logic from the GRM to soil dynamics and avant-classical skools in a remarkable diffusion and collection of energies, swaying in viscous grit one second, then waltzing with Richard Youngs-like folk vocals that bifurcate into dramatic polyphony the next minute, before stranding you in a lift with beelzebub chatting shite in tongues about the weather the next, only to expectorate your head and anticipations in scenes of gunky pastoralism and Noz-like feedback loops of choral vocals and windswept bleeps.
We could run ourselves circles trying o describe it any further, but save for your amusement, we’d rather just get back to listening to this one, and leave the freaks to grapple with it all in their own time.
Don’t sleep on this one, it looks stunning, too.
Sound poet and multidisciplinary artist Félicia Atkinson follows 2017’s cherished ‘Hand In Hand’ album with this spellbinding study on loneliness and intimacy, crafted while pregnant and on tour. Félicia notably draws Sunn 0)))’s Stephen O’Malley into her meso plane on the collaborative 19 minute closing cut ‘Des Pierres’, a quietly startling end to another captivating album from one of the most interesting minds working on the contemporary scene, perfectly encapsulating a sense of uneasy calm in the midst of so much global uncertainty.
To enter any Felicia Atkinson album is to give yourself up to another world where perceptions of time and space subliminally become short-circuited and synaesthetic. Combining illusive electro-acoustic process and meticulously tactile vocals reciting poetry, Felicia’s music rarely fails to provide anything other than an intoxicating experience, and her powers of perception appear to be uniquely attuned on ‘The Flower And The Vessel’. As she states; “this is not a record about being pregnant, it’s a record made with pregnancy”, and as such the results are more ambiguous, riddled with a cosmic web of references to musical memory and onotology, as much as nature and the strange subtleties of the everyday.
The album’s theme of loneliness while touring has historically provided much grist to the artistic mill over the years, but rather than tales of excess and depression, Félicia handles her subject matter more meditatively, using small gestures such as “recording my voice, recording birds, a simple melody” to locate her place in the foreign worlds around her, and in the process answer the questions “What am I doing here? How can I connect to the world?”.
The first 10 tracks are barely watermarked with her presence, with opener ‘L’Après-Midi’ acting as a poetic diary entry, where she fills in subsequent pages with a mix of notes both metaphorical and musical, from the unsettling intimations of ’Shirley to Shirley’ inward-spiralling vocals of ‘You Have to Have Eyes’, to the micro-to-macro contemplation ‘Linguistics of the Atom’, while album highlights ‘Lush’ and ‘L’Enfant Et Le Poulpe’ speak to a elusive sense of the pastoral, perhaps as viewed form a distance.
When she finally does meet another tangible soul, Stephen O’Malley, in the 18 minute finale ‘Des Pierres’, it’s testament to both her own vision and O’Malley’s tactile range that his harmoniously strung-out contribution is so seamlessly woven into her parallel dimension, that you may need to be reminded he’s there, sublimated in-the-mix.