The gobsmacking ‘Selected Early Keyboard Works’ forms the first full length vinyl release by Catherine Christer Hennix, a peerless Swedish polymath whose uniquely diverse yet holistic contributions to early American minimalism and experimental music are cultishly appreciated by those in the know, yet remain sorely overlooked in the broader history of 20th century music.
As anyone who has heard Catherine’s classic ‘The Electric Harpsichord’, her hypnotic ‘Dharma warriors’ with Henry Flynt, or the stunning Chora(s)san Time-Court Mirage and The Deontic Miracle CDs will surely attest, her compositions exist on a whole other plane of musical perception. They naturally embrace a complexity of expression that places science and maths at the service of art, resulting some of the most beguiling, enigmatic and unprecedented combinations of styles - Indian raga, jazz, drone, early electronics - that we’ve ever heard, at the least.
In keeping with that enigma, the label’s notes for ‘Selected Early Keyboard Works’, ambiguously imply they were recorded in 1976 circa The Deontic Miracle’s 1976 performance at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm, which was issued on CD in 2016 as ‘Central Palace Music (From 100 Model Subjects For Hegikan Roku)’. If we use our ears, and take an educated guess, though, we’d date these previously unheard pieces to the same period, which makes them even more remarkable in context of that fertile period of musical thought.
We’ll forever fail to fully place a finger on the magick of Catherine’s music, but there’s a play of paradoxes at work in her music - mischievous yet meditative; light yet somehow driving, and even psychoactively aggressive - which makes it stand way out from her field. It’s definitely not just another new age whimsy or academic exercise. It’s much better described as intuitively daring and hallucinatory, setting out noumenal space for logic-defying feats of imagination and musical virtuosity.
In the two parts of ‘Mode Nouvelle des modalitiés’ for well-tuned Fender Rhodes and sine wave drone, listeners will discover a masterfully alien mix of early electronic music’s mercurial freedom and razor sharp jazz chops, inseparably blending her formative, teenaged experience of listening to jazz luminaries such as Coltrane and Cecil Taylor play in Sweden, with later studies at EMS and playing alongside La Monte Young and Henry Flynt in NYC. In revealing contrast, ‘Equal Temperament Fender Mix’ follows on the same Rhodes but in twelve-tone equal temperament, also using a tape delay system akin to Terry Riley’s, yet with a more reflective, blue and psychedelic appeal that’s far more interesting to us than Riley’s hirsute ecstasies. And ‘The Well Tuned Marimba’ for well-tuned Yamaha, shoeing, sine wave and live electronics completes the set in suitably, subtly breathtaking style with 18 minute of trickling, iridescent rhythmelody and curdling timbre limning a lush lysergic episode.
While we can point to her influences - from Cecil Taylor to Pandit Pran Nath and the EMS facility - what Catherine does with them is little short of alchemy, and provides some of the most curious music you’ll ever hear. We can barely wait to see what this long overdue series brings to the table...
Back in the 80s Jesse Rae, along with Roger Troutman and Bernie Worrell, was part of the P-Funk movement that was hugely influential to Detroit’s early electronic experiments. Lesser known is that the enigmatic Scot-funk warrior later produced underground electronic tracks in the 90s.
"The inaugural release on Glasgow label Southside Shufflers presents two of Jesse’s Shufflers on vinyl for the first time on the Global 95 EP- a sampler from his pioneering 1995 album ‘Compression’. Ever the innovator, Jesse recorded the album collaboratively using live ISDN technology spanning three continents, with the resultant tracks fusing African, US electro-funk and old Scots influences. 23 years later, Jesse’s under the radar Shufflers sound more relevant than ever.
Southside Shufflers are a record label and sports collective based in Glasgow with outposts in London and Amsterdam. SSS- ain’t no half steppin’!"
Minimalist hypnotists Ambarchi, Sprenger and Sollmann manipulate the dance with deeply trippy results for Ostgut's A-Ton sublabel
In two extended, kraut-y flights the trio place a wealth of multi-disciplinary, avant-garde experience at the service of dancefloor enlightenment, conjuring a lysergically timeless sound that richly exceeds the sum of its inputs.
With the 15 minute ‘Panama’ they hinge a lone clave around chipping guitar and synthlines in a sublimely tempered ascent thru microtonal increments and eye-fluttering arps, working out something like Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe channelling ancient spirits.
On ’Suez (Version)’ they loosen up the groove with a rolling swing that accumulates strange, pitch-bent synth twang and grubbing electronics until we’re lost in a lush chromatic maelstrom by the half way mark, from which point they really take off, leaving the dancefloor hundreds of miles below, showered in electronic perseids.
Really feeling this!
Swaggering electro-acid-in-dub experiments from Glasgow’s Mr TC and up-and-comer Lo Kindre - who was behind a freaky dub mesh for Optimo Music and is also a member of Luxos with Cucina Povera. Includes a warped ‘Ambient Trance’ remix by Heap
In collaboration, Mr TC and Lo Kindre land on a wonky meld of puttering drum machine and wigged out echo chamber FX in the acidic wriggle of ‘The Storm’ and with a ruggedly slow heft recalling Tolouse Low Trax on ‘The Waving Bridge’.
Following his neat 12” for Berceuse Heroique’s ‘The Brasserie Heroique Edits’, Neubau co-founder Florian Stoffelbauer does his viscous Heap thing on a druggily smudged ‘Ambient Trance’ rework of ‘The Storm’.
Æ weigh in volume 3 of the labyrinthine, 8 hour ‘NTS Sessions’, parsing the guts of their hard drives for gold and other precious materials dating back to 2011
The duo were initially commissioned to do a DJ residency on NTS, following their show from early 2016, but what transpired is closer in approach and results to a super extended Peel Session, featuring stacks of reworked material along with exclusive new notions generated by their infamous ‘System’ of software patches.
On ‘NTS Session 3’ they entice us farther down the rabbit hole in 10 parts divided across 3 plates. The longest of these take up a side per piece, namely the amazing 22 minutes of slash ’n burn computer funk in ‘TT1PD’ and the 20 minutes of amorphous techknots in ‘Icari’, while other highlights are found in the bewildering texturhythmic chicanery of ‘Glos Ceramic’, the multi-linear dynamic of ‘nineFly’, and the unfathomably layered mixing trickery that creates the illusive depth of field in ’Shimripl Air’.
Æ weigh in the 4th and final volume of the labyrinthine, 8 hour ‘NTS Sessions’, parsing the guts of their hard drives for gold and other precious materials dating back to 2011
The duo were initially commissioned to do a DJ residency on NTS, following their show from early 2016, but what transpired is closer in approach and results to a super extended Peel Session, featuring stacks of reworked material along with exclusive new notions generated by their infamous ‘System’ of software patches.
Quite simply, this one is essential for the vinyl pressing of NTS Session closer, ‘All End’, an hour long piece of ambient inception cut over two sides for optimal fidelity and immersion. But that’s not to discount the deeply uncanny, floating megafortress structure of ’Shimripl Casual’ or the ancient sounding futurism of ‘Mirage’, which sounds like an echo of previous or parallel civilisations attempting to dial into our sphere of reality.
John T. Gast completes his BTEC alchemy course with a 2nd platter of of high-grade, low-bit-rate bleeps and vibes from the archive c. 2013
On the ‘Club Version’ module he fuses zig-zagging, Zomby-esque grime arps and classic electronic soul pads on a rugged aerobic mystic exercise, while the flipped is given to a weightless night flight guided by electromagnetic pulses in ‘Jettison II’, and ‘NUN-001’ enacts a stereo warfare between militant grime artillery and robotic synth spirits, ultimately with no clear winner.
Big RIYL Zomby, Actress, Hype Williams!
David Behrman’s pioneering electronic experiments explored on this astonishing collection of recordings marrying microprocessors with violin, sax and electrified Mbira between 1986-1989, all previously unpublished on any format. While Behrman’s name is synonymous with 20th century avant garde sonics - often checked in the same breath as John Cage, or alongside peers Gordon Mumma, Robert Ashley, Alvin Lucier - it may be difficult for curious neeks to grasp his wide-reaching, exploratory practice, which is where you can consider this LP a seductive and ear-dilating portal to his freely improvised, beautifully mercurial world.
Music With Memory was realised at the behest of John Driscoll and Mathias Osterwold, who conceived the phrase to describe the mixture of then newly available, portable “microprocessors”, or computers equipped with memory, with “real” musicians, namely Takehisa Kosugi (Violin) and Werner Durand (Soprano Saxophone) respectively, at their concerts held at Eiszeit-Kino in Kreuzberg, Berlin, 1986. Along with a later recording of Behrman and Fast Forward making electrified zithers sound like dizzy harpsichords, the collection renders some of the most immediately gratifying yet playfully challenging work that we’ve encountered in Berhman’s catalogue.
The A-side’s 23” piece Interspecies Talk was commissioned by John Cage and Merce Cunningham as music for the 1984 Cunningham Company dance, Pictures. It features Kosugi in flighty duet with Behrman’s electronics, which consisted of pitch sensors, or “ears” as he calls them, triggered by the violin phrases to create indeterminate “situations”, rather than “set pieces”. Whilst on one level comparable with New Age and 4th world precedents, Behrman and Kosugi’s work extends beyond those conventions to plot out gloriously absorbing new realms of gambolling chromatics and slooping phrases informed by, yet unbound from, tradition.
On the B-side, Behrman’s Circling Six finds Werner Durand’s Soprano Sax in the same role as Kosugi’s strings, used to trigger the computer in a duet of piquant yet smoothly contoured cadence and harmonised loops that sound like chorales of Welsh aliens in jazzy conversation. By comparison, the final 5 minute piece All Thumbs makes for a sweetly anomalous contrast, and maybe even the highlight for some listeners, us included. Here, Behrman and Fast Forward, transform traditional African thumb pianos - known as kalimbas or zanzas - in delicious, rhythmic flurries and twanging recursive clusters, simultabneously acting as a brilliant piece for dance, if the mood takes you, or perhaps even imagining Bach jamming with ancient Egyptians using their alien overlords’ leccy supply.
If you’re into any modern electro-acoustic works by Jim O’Rourke, Oren Ambarchi or Keith Fullerton Whitman, you owe it yourself to dive headlong into this one.
The enigmatic Tribe Of Colin rewires techno into UK steppers dub on a wicked 2nd solo LP, following his recent Docile hook-up with John T. Gast with whom he/they is/are often connected.
Like his cultishly loved Wide Berth 12” and the Fruits Of Zion tape before it, Colin draws from esoteric symbology and well-trodden UK dance tropes to forge his own sort of aerobic mysticism on the unfathomably titled LIONSPRINTCOMPLETE INTENTHOUSAND PRACTICESTHUS COMEONE .
A-side, he rolls from gnostic vox and a slug of lunky techno in LSCITTPTCO, thru ritual Nyabinghi of Babylon Kingdom Shall Fall, to the splayed skank of Guidance, before the B-side deposits a druggy slow acid churn in Ascent To Terra Firma, along with the cubist techno wonk of Opium.
Knockout collection of Pauline Oliveros' early electronic Works cataloguing her contribution to the tape and electronic music of the late 1950s and 1960s through a systematic exploration of sounds and techniques, including electronics (oscillators, tape recorders, buchla box series 100), but also found objects (soup ladles, table knife) and voice. Properly visceral, exploratory, vital recordings available on vinyl for the first time.
The music oliveros produced in the latter part of her life, for which she is best known, primarily focused on pieces for accordion (particularly those which she herself performed) and her contributions to contemporary composition through the creation of the Deep Listening Center, her approach to improvisation, and her numerous and varied collaborations including those with John Cage, Morton Subotnick, Terry Riley, Sonic Youth, Erold, and Andrew Deutsch.
These early pieces, however, provide invaluable exposition; highlighting material Oliveros composed at the university of Toronto and Mills college, but also at home using consumer grade tape recorders, cardboard tubes to filter sounds, walls for resonance and a bathtub for reverberation. They demonstrate her power of invention and ability to make something out of little more than objects around her, making an important contribution to the emerging electronic and tape scene of the late 1950’s. As she explains:
"My work with electronic music began in 1959. My first tape piece was an ambitious four channel work called Time Perspectives (1959). The piece was made by recording small sounds from objects resonated on a wooden wall and changing the tape speed. I used cardboard tubes as filters by inserting the microphone into the tube and recording sources through the tubes. I used my bath tub as a reverberation chamber.”
Anyone interested in the history of electronic music, Oliveros, or indeed the evolution of sound technique will find a huge amount to immerse themselves in here; a huge recommendation.
Carsten Nicolai concludes Alva Noto’s UNI-prefixed release cycle with UNIEQAV, the 3rd and most dancefloor-focussed instalment of the series. The follow-up to Unitxt  and Univrs  pairs pendulous minimal techno and electro rhythms with wide, sheer electronic drones in a way that strongly recalls recent Monolake output as well as Ilpo Väisänen in full swang. Comparisons aside, though, it’s unmistakably Alva Noto.
Pursuing the project’s roots in the dancefloor of Tokyo’s UNIT club to a satisfyingly logical endpoint, Nicolai rolls out 12 typically mercurial yet gripping sound designs defined by their fluid dynamics and seemingly fathomless dimensions intended to render the club or your head underwater, thanks to a still remarkable grasp of purified tonal minimalism/maximalism and studied sensitivity to proprioception.
The results are filigree yet robust, firmed up for deployment on the sickest sound system you can lay your hands on, but also highly pleasurable in a headphone or sofa-inclined context, keeping us rapt and twitching from the dubwise plong and looming pads of Uni Sub and the Robert Henke-esque pressure systems of Uni Mia.
The nervous skeleton of Uni Version flows into singular Alva Noto sounds in the jabbing pointillism of Uni Clip and the staggering scale of Uni Normal, with major highlights in the widescreen drama of Uni Blue, and footwork-like rapid movement join Uni Edit, while Anne-James Chaton’s vocal lend a sharp contrast in Uni Dna.
Next in The Boats’ vital vinyl reissue series, their 3rd album Tomorrow Time  finds Andrew Hargreaves and Craig Tattersall embracing a host of collaborators on a fuzzy, downbeat blend of ambient and indie-pop themes, wrapping fragile vocals from Elaine Reynolds and Chris Stewart (Need More Sources) to a patented framework of prepared piano, strings and elusive electronics in the wake of their instrumental duo session, We Made It For You . It's the first time it's ever been on vinyl...!
With the benefit of hindsight,Tomorrow Time takes on a curiously prescient nature; arriving a year prior to the biggest financial collapse for generations, at a time when the “authenticity” of folk music was fetishised by posh people as Wyrd Folk (or smth?) and the other main cultural points of reference were either retro-indie guitar bands, IDM or boisterous grime and dubstep.
However, The Boats’ combination of lower case pop with rustling electro and acoustic textures quietly stuck out like a sore toe, and when combined the aggressive title tracks points towards a quiet but growing dissatisfaction with perceived excess in music, culture, or at least the same old same old.
In that sense, the group’s roots in avant garde minimalism and myriad other non-commercial and pop styles really come thru on Tomorrow Time, but carefully distilled into an absorbing, subtly detailed sounds they can claim as their own, and quite unlike anything before or since - although many have tried to imitate it!
OK this one’s really special: technically Static Clings is the last record by The Boats; presenting material from their tour-only Typewriter  CD and the Sleepy Insect Music  compilation on vinyl for the first time, along with a great haul of unreleased outtakes and even a megamix of The Boats by Modern Love’s Miles Whittaker (Demdike Stare) and Gaz Howell (G.H.) in their lesser spotted Pendle Coven guise.
It’s essentially all outtakes c. 2004-2006 from their early releases for Moteer plus the aforementioned rarities, clutching 13 cuts which have been left to mature over the last decade or so, and now provide a slightly more scattered but ever-enduring overview of Andrew Hargreaves (Tape Loop Orchestra, The Mistys) and Craig Tattersall’s (The Remote Viewer, Hood) cherished time together in this vessel.
We absolutely have to highlight the sublime History Of Tape Hisses for what sounds like Instrumentals-era Arthur Russell jamming with Jan Jelinek, and likewise Why You Wanna Do This, and Shlom, Sonia and Conor, cos, well, awwwwwww, but also the ghostly vignette Danny Norbury, dedicated to the cellist and another key member of their fold, and also for the salty kiss of their distorted hymn May Our Enemies Never Find Happiness (Version), the wobbly oddity of You Didn’t Expect Me To Care, and lastly the perfectly opaque pop of Pendle Coven’s remix, which uncannily recalls Uwe Schmidt’s Pop Artificielle output as LB.
Sad to say they might now have to decommission Craig’s crackle-box (actually an old B&H packet full of trapped woodlice, the evil b*stard) but it’s dead lovely to have this new slab of (old) material in our mitts and finally complete our full fleet of The Boats’ catalogue.
Ta ta! X
So, so happy to see this first ever vinyl edition of The Boats’ second album, We Made It For You, released in 2005 and vailable here as a super limited standalone release - or collected in a boxset with Songs By The Sea , Tomorrow Time  and Static Clings  - this necessary vinyl edition forms a typically tender and heart-warming follow-up to their much loved and influential debut.
On their second album Andrew and Craig coaxed out a purely instrumental suite, leaving Elaine to her own devices (she would return on Tomorrow Time) while they drifted off into the sweetest reveries knitting passages of frayed, breezy solo piano and electronics nodding to Harold Budd, William Basinski or The Caretaker with the kind of burbling, gently glitching rhythmic tributaries that you’d expect from Isan, SND or Jan Jelinek.
All the tracks inside are named after their mates (hope they still are!), and effectively forms a sort of sketchbook of meditations on each character or group, like the rugged, melancholy Miles, Sean and Bodie is definitely nodding to them Demdikes and their soundbwoy, and you’ll just have to imagine the rest.
Compared with other releases of that era, it’s dated remarkably well as a record and a sound, which is most likely due to their future-proofing patina of distressed crackle and the electro-acoustic sound sensitivity of their approach to the material, managing to convey a quiet, intimate beauty without ever overstating it.
Blume is fast becoming one of the most crucial contemprary imprints for new and archival electronic and electro-acoustic works - and this one has once again completely destroyed us. If you’ve been snagged on the ideas and effects of sides from Áine O’Dwyer, Jim O’Rourke’s Steamroom archive, Julius Eastman or indeed Blume’s Mary Jane Leach edition, we wager this one will floor you.
The exceptional Blume series have us rapt on the edge of our listening seats with Sarah Hennies’ striking works for percussion; 'Foragers' and 'Embedded Environments', a pair of sui generis modern compositions for four players which make staggering, contrasting use of the acoustics at “Silo City” in Buffalo, NY.
In admirable, riveting pursuit of a singular sound that best represents Hennies’ identity, Embedded Environments documents her strive to achieve a sort of 3rd track or space severed from the cultural baggage of cis-gendered tradition. In order to do so, Sarah stripped hers and the players instrumental gestures down to the barest minimum of repetitive patterns which didn’t imply or appropriate this or that culture, then used the human-made acoustics of the silos to allow those sounds to mix freely, embracing the aleatoric complexity of those results, once created and released into the huge resonant chamber.
Documented in long form on each side, the results of her incisive approach vary broadly. The rolling waves of pressure from Foragers are notably intense but barely there, while Embedded Environments is raucous by comparison, yet in their own way, they both share a futuristic primitivism that’s entirely rooted in the moment of here and now.
In the first, a chronically low rumble sustains a meditative pressure that’s neither new age nor connoting religious or even erotic themes. Rather its a reinforcement of presence redolent of some aspects of work by Alvin Lucier, and sharing a canny trick in common with Áine O’Dwyer’s Gallarais when the hypnotic effect is broken by the sound of a plane passing overhead, ripping us out of one sphere and into another and then back in a way that’s subtly crude and completely shocking to experience.
On the other hand, Sarah’s B-side takes the kind of drums you may associate with Native American ritual practise, and sends them spiralling skyward, outward to find their own paths beyond pastiche, pressed by a timeless sense of urgency and near seething aggression directed at the foundations of restrictive institutions.
As a record of our times, Embedded Environments acknowledges the stale accretion of psychogeographic and socio-political sonics, the binds of self-censorship, and the “norms” of contemporary composition, and seeks to plough for the now with a raging sort of stasis that’s perhaps an apt metaphor for the current status quo. As the liner notes by Bradford Bailey put it, "What She Has to Say, Has Never Been Said".
At bleedin’ last, The Boats’ gorgeous debut album Songs By The Sea  turns up on vinyl! Along with first-ever vinyl issues of We Made It For You  and Tomorrow Time , plus a very special side of unreleased, unheard outtakes, Static Clings  - which are all collected in the The Boats Archive boxset, you should snap these limited runs while you can as they're unlikely to appear on wax again.
Scrolling thru the mists of time to 2004, a very different world indeed, and The Boats formed as an outlet for Kraftwerk-addicted composer Andrew Hargreaves and his pal, Craig Tattersall, fresh from a decade spent with cult post-rock group Hood and as half of The Remote Viewer, to pursue the ideas of post-rock, modern classical and lo-fi electronica along more intimate, personalised ginnels of folk and ambient music, with the cherry on their home-baked treats provided by vocals from another close friend, Elaine Reynolds.
Songs By The Sea was their wistful and charmingly humble introduction to the world; ten tracks balancing exquisitely pop-wise songwriting with gently pulsing, elusive electronics and a patina of crackle that became a real signature of their sound long before everyone else cottoned on and starting putting out pale imitations.
At the time, it received heavy rotation in our record shop, Pelicanneck, and was something of a shared secret between fans from Manchester to Japan via their home-town of Burnley, and still owns a certain section of our memory banks to this day that’s often triggered by the smell of coffee, waffles and toasted rye bread in the morning just as much as smudged Hulme sunsets in summertime.
We don’t want to gush about it too much but, listening to it now, and on a format the album always quietly yearned for, it’s just chokingly nostalgic in its own, low-key and endearing style and leaves little doubt in our minds that Songs By The Sea is one of the finest ambient-pop records to emerge from this region.
Widely championed techno/electronica producer Objekt deposits his detailed and complex debut album on PAN.
Since 2011 at least, the Berlin resident known as TJ Hertz has been a vital cog in the European techno machine, self-releasing some of this decade's most vaunted white labels, plus 12"s with Hessle Audio and Leisure System - including this year's great split with Dopplereffekt - beside his role as software engineer for Native Instruments. With 'Flatland' he takes the opportunity to scud farther between electro and techno conventions with some proper production acrobatics, modelling a vivid 3D framework viewable from multiple perspectives, imagining "…a world in which any scene can be seen from any angle at once".
Entering via the ambient airlock chamber of 'Agnes Revenge', we're given access to a subtly evolving soundsphere of sheer, incremental gradients and whirring mechanisms interspersed with nods to radiophonic experimentation and the melodic charm of '90s Warp styles. The scuttling funk of 'One Fell Swoop' or 'Ratchet' and the keening harmonics of 'Agnes Apparatus' recall classic Plaid, whilst elsewhere the album ranges from knackered techno ('Dogma') to Powell-esque hardwave ('Strays') and Rrose-alike techno churn ('One Stitch Follows Another', 'First Witness') via augmented hip hop ('Second Witness'). It's all certain to spark the interests of the techiest bass heads and IDM fiends around.
Holuzam is a new label from Prícncipe Discos co-founders José Moura and Márcio Matos. The second release on the label is a sublime disco missive from Macau, China, recorded between 1989 and 1993, bubbling up from a blindspot to offer a stunning package of sounds lesser, or even never, heard beyond private archives or Portugal’s borders...
Dwart has been the vessel for journalist and musician António Duarte and his sometime musical partner, Manuela Duarte, since 1985. They played gigs at home in Portugal with Telectu in support, before moving to Macau - then a Portuguese territory in China - in search of new sources of inspiration. They would find it everywhere from Macau’s karaoke bars to the discos of Ghangzhou, over the border in the hot, humid megatropolis of South East China. The three tracks on ‘Taipei Disco’ are their best recordings made during this era, rendering a mouth-watering bounty of exotic late ‘80s dance music heavily inspired by Canton pop, and patently compatible with everything from kosmische disco and proto-Goa trance to the current swell of suave, retro-futurist styles from Pye Corner Audio and Legowelt to L.I.E.S.’ KWC releases.
The original ‘Taipei Disco’ is a 12 minute disco dream named after the only Guangzhou club which would play Anglo-Saxon pop and rock alongside the Canton pop standards.The club’s DJ would end up playing Dwart’s tune, and eventually invited him to play live keys over its backing track at the club. In 1993 Dwart recorded the exquisite ‘Taipei Disco (Live)’ track at the China Pop venue in Macau, replete with solos and extra strings, to a frontline of can-can dancers on the ‘floor.
Completing the story and this superb record is ‘Red Mambo (Impromptu)’, a balmier jam with members of legendary Cape Verdean group Os Tubarões, recorded in a packed studio on the 19th storey of a Macau tower block overlooking the water. A perfect ending to an exotic, coolly entrancing record spritzed with character and charm.
Facsimile reissue of the original Virgin pressing, replete with Bridget Riley’s mind-bending back cover artwork. Includes download code and riso-print insert with notes by Dave Segal
A definitive dose of wry, wigged-out krautrock. Back in vinyl circulation for 1st time since 2010. A massive influence over everyone from Julian Cope to Gnod and far beyond
“Faust stand among the most influential creative forces to have emerged from Germany in the late '60s and early '70s. Along with Can, Agitation Free, Neu! and others, they rejected the Anglo-American norms of rock 'n' roll to start a back-to-basics and uniquely Teutonic revolution in sound – later dubbed by the UK press with the semi-derogatory term "krautrock." They would reach near-mythical status through a series of classic albums recorded between 1970 and 1973 at their secluded Wümme studio.
As Dave Segal writes in the liner notes, "There's no consensus about which Faust album represents their zenith. But a survey of the group's fans would likely find the collage-heavy messterpiece The Faust Tapes triumphing. Its freewheeling, jump-cut nature and unlikely earworm moments conspire for more what-the-fuck epiphanies per minute than just about any other record about which Krautrocksampler author Julian Cope has raved."
Comprised of twenty odd tape-manipulation experiments and freak-out jams, The Faust Tapes stashes away some of the band's best-known songs. "Flashback Caruso," with its delicate acoustic guitar and Rudolf Sosna's airy vocals, could easily have appeared on So Far or Faust IV, while on "J'ai Mal Aux Dents," Jean-Hervé Peron's playful lyrics and this ecstatic, era-defining riff perfectly represent Faust's magical mischievousness.
This first-time domestic release of The Faust Tapes on vinyl reproduces the original sleeve design, featuring artwork by Bridget Riley.”
Another sterling pick from Sacred Summits, Morgan Fisher’s charmingly playful 'Inside Satie'  sees its first ever vinyl reissue on Lindsay Todd and Stuart Leith’s cult label.
Morgan Fisher has had a storied career as part of ’60s one-hit wonders Love Affair, thru to playing keys for Mott The Hoople in the ‘70s, and working on ambient, improv and soundtracks in the ‘80s alongside Yoko Ono, Haruomi Hosono and Dip In The Pool.
Inside Satie was recorded in Japan following Fisher’s move from the UK in the mid ’80s. Perhaps a perfect fit for the sophisticates of Tokyo at the time, the album adapts Satie’s timeless minimalism to a mix of electronic and acoustic instruments, highlighting and feeding into the similarities between Gnossiene and Gymnopedie and the new age ambient zeitgeist of Japan in 1985.
As a meditation aid, a coffee table staple, and a historic artefact, Inside Satie is a beautiful and warmly satisfying document totally worthy of reappraisal in 2018.
What were the clouds like when Huerco S was young? The Kansas-raised, New York-based producer’s absorbing ambient album For Those of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have) goes some way to answering The Orb’s fluffy little proposition…
Brian Leeds a.k.a. Huerco S’s 2nd album, following Colonial Patterns (2013) finds him working between the cracks and fissures of what we’ve previously heard from him, drawing out nine pieces of mineral ambient textures and non-percussive rhythms marking his best work since the 20 minute Untitled track off his debut for Opal Tapes in 2012.
Defined throughout by a low lit, low-lying sense of intimacy, rather than oceanic or celestial tropes, Leeds’ appreciation of lower case nuance is in warm, crackling effect with a hazy hummus like grain and bonfire glow that recalls Wanda Group’s earlier outing as The Hers, or the sweeter touches of Bellows.
Like a well timed gary, once it really begins to sink in, the warbly electronic pitches and subtly chaotic ferric details really get to work in hypnotising and making you forget where you started, suspending disbelief for a 50 minute window of time just long enough to let your mind wander over the horizon.
Time will tell, but this is surely a future ambient classic.
'Prata Bagnati Del Monte Analogo' is a sublime and truly rarified piece of occult esoterica produced by the famous Franco Battiato and originally published in 1979 on a series he curated for Gianni Sassi's Cramps Records.
This edition has been remastered from original tapes and mercifully made available again by California’s Superior Viaduct. It was inspired by the unfinished pataphysical novel 'Le Mont Analogue' by French writer Renè Daumal, himself a student of engimatic Armenian mystic Georges Ivanovich Gurdjieff, whose teachings providing rich reference and spiritual guidance to the record's producer, Battiato, and its performers, Francesco Messina and Juri Camisasca.
A-side is a breathtaking 23 minute mediation played on Moog and Roland Vocoder synths, and EMS Synthi, stroking runs of gentle arpeggios over angelic pads with the sort of intimate pattern repetitions that could happily go on for infinity. Imagine a more sanguine, unhurried Iasos or Laraaji, or as Stephan Mathieu aptly puts it, "Vainqueur, Substance and Resilent as children chanting their vocodered chants" and you're there with us, floating lotus position one foot from the floor.
Raoul Lovisoni's B-side is more colourful and equally beautiful in its own right. His 'Hula Om' features Patti Tassini's purposefully wandering harp and intimate ambient sounds of the room it was recorded in, whereas the glassy resonance of 'Amon Ra' features a Lovisoni rubbing glasses to Juri Camisasca's chant.
Remastered and expanded reissue of a beautiful early K. Leimer album demonstrating his DIY Closed System Potentials method for painting lush electro-acoustic ambient scapes. It follows excellent retrospective compilations issued by RVNG Intl (a Period of Review) and V-O-D (Recordings 1977-90) to get farther below the surface, in the mind of his pioneering, homespun magic.
“Closed System Potentials is honest and intimate music, with the elements of DIY work ‘by hand’ that lends a realness and tangibility to the proceedings. Its juxtapositions are, to me, distinctly Northwestern: it is both alive and synthetic; homespun in execution, yet cinematic in aspiration; acknowledges global experimentalism of the time, yet reveals some isolation in its curious re-wiring of genre standards; grayscale in mood, but with an underpinning of hopefulness that, for me, recalls the futurism of the time.”
Tirzah pursues the slowest-burning soul feels on Devotion, the London-based singer-songwriter’s humbly singular début album, produced by Mica Levi and providing us with total life affirming summer listening - most probably the record we've listened to most this year so far, and one that lingers on and on...
Since her first solo 12”s and thru frequent collaborations with Mica Levi - including the Taz And May Vids  for DDS - Tirzah has quietly blossomed into one of the UK’s most precious and peculiar artists working at the fringes of experimental pop, post-grime and R&B, and Devotion is set to bring her love to a wider audience.
Plaintive and low key, Devotion presents Tirzah’s vocal in the most evocative light, framed by backdrops of bleary-eyed and bent vibes and the kind of half-finished, permanently work-in-progress production style that's become a calling card of her music and her tight knit crew including Coby Sey, Mica Levi and Brother May.
Album of the year? Aye, quite possibly.
Giant Swan do their soggy, line-dancing taps aff thing for this Mannequin ace.
Giant Swan specialise in a form of raucous showmanship that evidently works wonders in live situations (check the numerous online vids of crowds losing their shit).
On the High Waisted EP they knuckle out swaggering drums and blunted vox of The Rest of His Voice beside the gnarly noise keen of Architectural Hangover, while the B-side slams out a wonky techno girder with howling breakdown, and the salty nothings of Palm.
A sublime compilation of cherry-picked, lysergic ambient experiments. Commemorating the ancient Roman festival of ‘Neptunalia’ with 10 tracks by H. Takahashi, David Edren, and a strong handful of Finnish artists such as Kuupuu, Marja Ahti, Ilpo Numminen, and Nuslux (who also compiled the set)
“Neptunalia, a festival of Neptune, celebrated at Rome, of which very little is known. The day on which it was held, was probably the 23rd of July. The festival was celebrated with games. Respecting the ceremonies of this festival nothing is known, except that the people used to build huts of branches and foliage, in which they probably feasted, drank, and amused themselves. From a "Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities" by John Murray, London, 1875.”
Vital new electro and techno trax from the one and only Dopplereffekt, and Berlin's Objekt.
Once again, Leisure System bring out the best from Dopplereffekt, following the excellent 'Tetrahymena' 12" with some of their sharpest rhythms and inimitably romantic synth arrangements in 'Delta Wave' - the kind that only adventurous DJs will spin out, and the best crowds will appreciate. Objekt, meanwhile, keeps face with a strong effort called 'Ganzfeld' that sounds something like DJ Stingray in a step-off with Optical, all angular geometrics and moody blue pads...
‘And Nothing Hurt’ is Spiritualized’s eighth album, the follow up to 2012’s ‘Sweet Heart, Sweet Light’.
"From the opening lullaby of ‘A Perfect Miracle’ through to the fading Morse Code at the close of ‘Sail On Through’, it painstakingly wraps layer upon layer of gloriously transcendent sound together to create a mesmerizing and cinematic collection of songs. There are points - the thunderous climax of ‘On The Sunshine’; the spectral waltz of ‘The Prize’; the towering guitar solo on ‘I’m Your Man’ - where the waves of blissful noise are almost overwhelming, where one can imagine the studio’s speakers vibrating themselves off of the walls. Which is an incredible feat when you discover that the album was conceived and recorded almost entirely by one man - Jason Pierce, AKA J.Spaceman - in an upstairs room in his east London home. Sat in an edit suite in Whitechapel a month or so after finishing recording, Jason talks honestly about the painstaking, frustrating process of creating ‘And Nothing Hurt’: “Making this record on my own sent me more mad than anything I’ve done before. We’d been playing these big shows and I really wanted to capture that sound we were making but, without the funds to do, I had to find a way to work within the constraints of what money I had. So I bought a laptop and made it all in a little room in my house.”
For the listener, the nine tracks on ‘And Nothing Hurt’ effortlessly replicate the scale and power of Spiritualized’s previous releases, whether it’s the sonic blowback of ‘On The Sunshine’, the last dime in the jukebox love letter of ‘Let’s Dance’ or the swell of an imaginary orchestra that seems to lift ‘Damaged’ towards the heavens as it plays out."
Chilly Gonzales kinda puts everything else into perspective with this time-stopping solo piano delicacy. Delivered on his personal imprint, Gentle Threat, this third volume in his much loved Solo pIano series teases out fleeting emotions with each flurry of keys, sure to seduce anyone who’s still smote by the now classic album first volume.
"The album comes six years after Solo Piano II and, according to Gonzales, at “a more problematic inﬂection point”. "Like its predecessors, it’s a mostly happy ending in C major, but there is more dissonance, tension and ambiguity along the way… The musical purity of Solo Piano III is not an antidote for our times, it is a reﬂection of all the beauty and ugliness around us.”
Known as much for the intimate piano touch of best-selling albums Solo Piano I and Solo Piano II as for his showmanship and composition for award-winning stars, "Gonzo", as he is known to close collaborators, aims to be a man of his time, approaching the piano with classical and jazz training but with the attitude of a rapper. He holds the Guinness world record for the longest solo concert at over 27 hours. He performs and writes songs with Jarvis Cocker, Feist and Drake, among others, with recent collaborators including the likes of Ibeyi and Toddla T. With Never Stop, Chilly Gonzales composed a global hit for the inaugural Apple iPad 2 campaign. In 2014 he won a Grammy for his collaboration on Daft Punk’s ‘Best Album of the Year’ and composed the best-selling book of easy piano pieces Re- Introduction Etudes. With his last album Chambers, Chilly Gonzales devoted himself to ﬁnding a modern take on chamber music.
Most recently, Chilly Gonzales ventured into a new form of entrepreneurship. A culmination of recent years’ explorations in teaching, Gonzo inaugurated his very own music school: The Gonzervatory.
During this all-expenses-paid residential music performance workshop held in Paris, 7 selected students explored Musical Humanism, audience psychology and what it means to be a performing musician in 2018. After a week of intensive coaching, masterclasses and rehearsals, these young musicians performed a concert for an audience of 1500 fans with Chilly Gonzales himself as Master of Ceremony."
The dark lord of Berlin techno unleashes four pieces of brut elegance as the 30th release on his cultish Zhark Recordings
Uncompromising in the extreme and deadly functional, the Heinrich EP gets into gear with the trampling rolige and cavernous warehouse atmospheres of the title cut with its elusive finale, before stripping it all right down to the barest bones with Rattledisco.
On the dead murky swaggernaut Let Me Fly Away From You he hinges on the offbeat with aching effect that resolves with increasing intensity, and Beyond The 4th Alignment finds him tending to his most gothic sensibilities with a rare lick of melody enmeshed into its steely industrial design.
Pivotal solo cellist and producer Oliver Coates (LCO, Apartment House) proceeds collaborations with Mica Levi and Radiohead with Shelley’s on Zenn-La, an indefatigably endearing 3rd solo album, new for RVNG Intl.
We can hardly think of many artists beyond Oliver’s own circle who can meld dance music with avant-electronic and classical instrumental expression quite like Oliver does here. From the raw electric buzz and spattered breaks underlined with layered cello in Faraday Movement, to the abraded BoC-like downbeats of Lime, thru to wayward disco treks like Charlev, Analord-style braindance in Norrin Radd Dreaming, and the final swoon between wide-open string composition and balletic IDM in Perfect Apple with Silver Mark, Oliver is making wonderful music unconstricted by convention, but patently happy to play with it.
Where Neon Goes To Die’ explores a complex relationship full of highs and lows. From sultry pop to heart aching ballads, the album retells Clark’s travels through the city’s nocturnal fantasyland through hooky, R&B-infused synth pop - file alongside Prince and Frank Ocean...
"Of course, when Clark writes about his city he’s really writing about himself. ‘Where Neon Goes To Die’ retells Clark’s travels through the Miami’s nocturnal fantasyland. At its core, it is the story of a musician casting aside the distractions of his youth and discovering not only a new level of maturity but a new level to his talents."
Thomas Ankersmit, last seen on a pair of excellent albums for PAN and Touch (in 2011 and 2014, respectively) pays tribute to legendary Dutch composer / electronic and tape music pioneer Dick Raaijmakers with an extended study in electronic music, utilising Serge Modular feedback and sine/pulse/random generators, contact mic, and tape speed variation to mirror some of Raaijmakers’ deeply weird experiments. As the label so eloquently explain - despite the abstract nature of the material, a sense of loss somehow pervades.
Raaijmakers is a genuinely legendary figure in the history of electronic music, and Thomas Ankersmit’s fitting homage lands almost five years to the date of his passing, aged 83, in September 2013. Replete with experiments with sounds not found in the music, but generated by the listener’s own ear as a strange side-effect, this extended piece re-contextualizes Raaijmakers’ ideas about composition and spatial experience to focus on the sounds of raw electricity through creatively abused electronics, composing with analogue micro-sounds, and the three-dimensional sound fields; referencing storms, thunder, crashing and falling objects, and distant radio transmissions.
The concept of the recording is directly inspired by Raaijmakers’ thoughts on “holophonic” sound fields to be individually explored by the listener. With this phenomenon, the listener’s inner ears actively generate sounds that don’t exist in the recorded signal, and which can change with a small movement of the head. In other words; it’s unlikely that you will experience this piece of music in quite the same way as anyone else, or that you will experience it that way more than once. And it’s perhaps this sense of transience; of not quite knowing whether what you’re listening to has a real, physical presence, or is a direct result of strange otoacoustic phenomena, that imbues this work with such unexplained melancholy.
Listening to music borne out of conceptual curiosity, it's rare to suddenly find yourself staring into space, thinking about time, about the intangible essence of experience and beauty, of life itself. Homage To Dick Raaijmakers is an exceptional recording; approach with patience and care.
After announcing he’s winding down from duties in The Orb, Thomas Fehlmann “checks the juice” with a fine, squashed set of ambient-dub-techno jaunts. Make sure to check for the roiling acid-dub flow of ‘Morrislouis’, the way that the bassline on ‘Window’ practically drops out of the speakers, and the spiralling waltz of ‘Freiluft’.
"Establishing a picture of his current artistic condition, as suggested by the title - los lagos / die lage / the situation (literally translating to 'the lakes' but taking the meaning of 'wassup' in the context of a relaxed discussion between friends), the album refers to Fehlmann's "musical motivation, dreams and wishes" through the language of music exclusively: a way to "allow myself to techno" he says, "to techno as a means to deconstruct and rebuild again. Set up an area of tension, loose it in the flow of the grooves. Magnifying some detail out of proportion, regroup around that and slowly knit a texture. Expand."
"It was time to take a bend and head where the sun rises or sets, wherever my heart drives me." This is pretty much the kind of decision Thomas Fehlmann has made. 61 and shining, longstanding member of The Orb, multi-talented composer and boundless experimentalist, had to make in the twilight of his collaboration with Alex Paterson, eager to taste the flavours of the unknown on his own again. "It was the moment when felxibility would have become compromise”. Far from being the demise of their joint dream, this was bound to split it in two distinct, parallel fantasies - rich of their own singularity.
As goes with that essential love of his for the free-flowing nature of electronic music, a fascination born out of its "lack of borders", capable of "inventing, changing the emphasis, experimenting with an unpredictable outcome", 'Los Lagos' "freely connects disparate extremes. Art, disco, minimalism, schmalz, jazz and funk". As he likes to say, Fehlmann's head functions as a sampler, capturing elements and re-assembling them under his own embracing perspective ; not afraid to leap from a deep, dubbed-out hypnotism ('Window', 'Morrislouis', 'Freiluft') to the playfulness of '90s-style bleepy schaffel ('Tempelhof' featuring Max Loderbauer), through out-there, muscle-flexing dancefloor cuts ('Triggerism') onto the calmness of ambient ('Geworden’).
In need to keep his inner balance in check, Fehlmann committed himself to "switch off the control" and follow his intuition, which isn't so much of an easy process as he also wanted to incorporate the side disturbances experienced: "it’s a complex process of search and destroy to bring out a new beauty trying to expand my vocabulary". With 'Los Lagos', Fehlmann looked at finding "the structure that's surprising, disturbing and rewarding". The artwork for the record, courtesy of contemporary artist and friend Albert Oehlen whom he shares lots of artistic ambitions with, echoes the producer's "funky use of shape and space, sludge and clarity" like a second skin. A search for light and harmony that Fehlmann sums up eloquently: "Does your inner musical voice respond?", that is the question. Then "doors open up in unexpected corners, rays of light appear; you follow through and you're in - in your oasis."
RIYL: Jon Hopkins, Pantha Du Prince, Yann Tiersen, mum, Public Service Broadcasting, Tunng, Efterklang...
"‘There Is No Elsewhere’ is Haiku Salut’s third album and sees the acclaimed trio from Derbyshire continue their distinctive re-imagining of dreampop and rural electronica. Influenced by the evocative film soundtracks of Yann Tiersen and Benoit Charest, the genre-melting electronica of early Mum, and the impressionistic writing of Haruki Murakami, the band have previously released two critically acclaimed albums whilst last year they collaborated with Public Service Broadcasting on the track “They Gave Me A Lamp”, which featured on the PSB’s top five album, Every Valley. Yet it is this release that sees the band finally find their place, both musically and politically.
“It is an album about occupying your space, being proud of what you believe in and who you are,” says Sophie Barkerwood from the band. “It’s about making small life changes, making better decisions, writing better songs, having better conversations, knowing that these can lay foundations for change. It’s about finding who you are and not being dictated to about what you should be. It’s about celebrating others. It’s about making changes for a better future.”
This sense of solidarity and community prompted Haiku Salut to work with Glastonbury Brass on “Cold To Crack The Stones” and “The More And Moreness”, both of which marry the band’s ambitious interweaving of nelectronic and organic, natural and unnatural with the triumphant warmth of a brass band in full flow (with the former featuring a manipulation of a NASA recording of pulses emitted by lightning). It also provided the emotional core of the hypnotic electronic attack of “Occupy”, the genre-melting joy of “We Are All Matter”, and the startling “I Am Who I Remind You Of”, a seven minute pastoral symphony that sees treated vocals and glitched electronica blur into tradition, history and a sense of belonging, like waking up to sunshine after a long and dazzling dream."
Teklife’s Heavee charges up a strong debut solo album with ‘WFM’, featuring guest spots from DJ Rashad, DJ Phil, DJ Paypal, Gant-Man and more
Moving on from last year’s link-ups with Fractal Fantasy and the ‘Panic’ track from Teklife’s ‘On Life’ package, Heavee spells out his definition of footwork and juke, personalised with a soulful deftness and playfully forward funk.
You want highlights? Go get ‘em in the frenetic then squashed flex of ‘It’s Wack’ featuring DJ Rashad, the minaimlist mix of rap and footwork on ‘Cloud Rise’ featuring DJ Phil, and the hyper, intricate pointillism of ‘So High’ with DJ Paypal, then let your jaw drop at the wild discipline of ‘Scream At Me’, with Gant-Man, DJ Paypal and Sirr TMO on board.
Psychedelically enhanced synth experiments from Amsterdam’s Ben Penn on Young Marco’s label; ranging from psilocybin-soaked ambience to sticky, funked up synth boogie
“June 2018, Amsterdam, NL: 12 months ago we concluded a series of experiments with a test subject named Ben Penn. A year on, we decided to repeat this experiment at his Tilburg base. Once again, the results were startling...
After being provided with a sizeable dose of an enhanced and notably stronger derivative of 4-Ho Met (codenamed ST011), Penn not only reported intense hallucinations but also enhanced music production capabilities. With the aid of electronic instruments and hardware, he worked quickly, producing both his trademark “higher level inter-dimensional funk” and compositions that defied our previous expectations.
During the early stages of his ST011 experience, Penn completely ignored the provided Rhythm Composer and instead crafted a colourful, humid, jazzy and beat-free track entitled “Nix”, which boasted loose and fluid synthesizer motifs. As his hallucinatory experience intensified, Penn giddily tapped out tropical rhythms on the provided beat-making device, smothering them in alien electronics and sticky melodies. When we asked what this devilishly good cut was called, he simply replied: “Not Important”.
As the test went on and the most intense symptoms died down, Penn was much like his old self. Before the ST011 wore off completely, he was able to finish two examples of his trademark “inter-dimensional funk”: the skewed, introspective, bassline-driven wooziness of “Ben” and the mazy, kaleidoscopic goodness of “People”. The latter composition was particularly potent and ear pleasing, suggesting that his ST011 experience had finished on an intense high.”
Afro-futurist talent Scott Xylo releases his debut album 'Find Us When You Get There' via Black Acre.
"23 years old, Scott Xylo makes gloriously fragmented electronic structures that are as delicate as they are intoxicating. Sitting somewhere between hip-hop, neo-soul, left field electronics, and UK system culture, his work reaches a new level on the incoming full length."
‘Burn Slow’ is a 10-track album from Chris Liebing with vocal contributions from a diverse range of artists: Miles Cooper Seaton (Akron / Family), Mute labelmate Polly Scattergood (onDeadWaves), Cold Cave, Aleen and, of course, Gary Numan.
"‘Burn Slow’ is a minimalist electronic epic and the start of a new chapter for one of techno’s leading authorities. It might not be what you expect for a DJ synonymous with fast, hard and heavy techno but, according to Chris Liebing, he’s always been something of a slow starter: “I’ve wanted to do something like ‘Burn Slow’ all my life,” he says.
While retaining the framework of the techno beats that Chris Liebing has dedicated his life to for the past 25 years, here he also seeks out new harmonic territories, taking aim at the heart rather than the feet, in order to tackle some deep themes. The key concept of presence - the idea that everything is happening in this moment and that everything in the past is mere memory - form the thematic backbone of the record. It’s something Liebing got in touch with via philosopher Alan Watts, not to mention decades of getting entire dancefloors lost in the present: “If people would stay in the now, everything in the world would just have a bit more harmony,” explains Liebing.
Liebing has teamed up with Ralf Hildenbeutel (a key part of the long since defunct Eye Q family) for ‘Burn Slow’ and it was at his new musical ‘enabler’ Hildenbeutel’s Frankfurt studio that Liebing began drifting into new territory."
Compelling Ballardian descriptions of life in a seaside town, rendered in textured ambience, melancholic techno and warbling, degraded synth vignettes. RIYL Leyland Kirby, Bellows, Helm...
“Vast, expansive and introspective works utilising place-specific found sound on this second Cremation Lily LP for Alter. Contemplating mortality, illness and the perennial bleakness of British winter in a seaside town we find Zen Zsigo experimenting with piano, violin, synthesiser and walkman tape players. Layering field recordings of the Hastings shoreline atop druggy, stretched out 303 basslines and snippets of spoken word there seems to be an overarching thematic of memory and reflection at play.
From vignettes of crumbling glass and bittersweet drones through to sprawling, semi-rhythmical pieces (‘As a sea creature...’) it seems as if Zsigo is trawling the coast for fragments of its former glory. The end result of his study manages to echo the work of Yoran, Leyland Kirby and even Jacob Kirkegaard yet the rare moments where he lays bare his own vocal narrative seemingly transforms In England Now, Underwater into sonic diary territory. Mixing salt-water soaked cassette loops with haunting, minimalist piano motifs and warped recordings of crashing waves and bird noise an intense atmosphere of Ballard’s drowned world is evoked through sound.”
An evergreen ambient classic and FACT's #10 album of the ‘80s, also in Pitchfork’s Top 40 Best Ambient Albums of All Time, Steve Roach’s Structures From Silence returns to its spiritual home on vinyl more than 30 years since it first came into this dimension.
On his 3rd album, self-taught synthesist Steve Roach made a break from his previous two sides of Berlin-skool kosmiche and ambient to foster a far more delicate, focussed yet heavy-lidded style of new age ambient music that was mercifully shy of the style’s more cloying cliches, favouring subtly phasing repetition and suspense over space soap opera dramatics or hippyish fantasy.
The result is a seductively minimalist suite of space music in three parts, gently flowing upwards and outwards to beautifully introspective ends on Reflections In Suspension, before Quiet Friend cradles your heart in diaphanous sheets of satin synth, and Structures From Silence imperceptibly returns to 0 in a creamy wash of aqueous pads that feel like a Vangelis romance theme slowed to alien temporality.
Ambient gold, this. Don’t miss!
Charlie Bones' much anticipated imprint launches with this killer 3-tracker, perfectly distilling the essence of his much loved Do You? breakfast show for NTS...
"3 tracks reflecting past, present and future and the spectrum of my DO!!YOU!!! NTS radio show. Dog & Fox - Who Gets The Cows....Futuristic philosophy banger Bryce Hackford - You Get High In NYC....Disco banger Seiji Ono - Celebrate Your Life...Live jam."
Killer, smudged & lofi wavey synth & boogie joints from Sao Paulo, Brasil's Fernando, best known for his more floor-oriented releases as Innsyter and Seixlack for L.A. Club Resource and 777. Fans of PPU take note; this one's a peach.
"For this release, his first LP under his given name, we get a vast array of mutant electronics with surprisingly insane, almost pop, songwriting structure over 15 tracks. These songs conjure up a weird netherworld where all things bizarre and wrong come to head and spiral out of control.
Think the drum machine driven punk funk dub outs of 80s New York City meets the catchy low fi charm of Ariel Pink combined with the element of chewed up vhs cassettes getting spit out of the machine and your on the right track.
Fernando manages to create a truly unique sound that's equal parts catchy yet has sinister, underlying back alley undertones.
Check "Actual Job" for immediate Arthur Russell vibes or the VHS boogie of "Erotic Moments" for starters."
Factory Benelux presents a deluxe edition of Without Mercy, the fourth studio album by cult Manchester group The Durutti Column, originally issued in 1984 and widely regarded as Vini Reilly’s most ambitious album.
"In 1983 Durutti Column mentor/manager Tony Wilson asked Vini Reilly to abandon fleeting guitar miniatures in favour of a long-form modern classical piece. The result was an ambitious 20 minute instrumental suite, Without Mercy, performed by core Durutti duo Vini Reilly and Bruce Mitchell along with Blaine L. Reininger and John Metcalfe (violas), Caroline Lavelle (cello), Tim Kellett (trumpet) and Maunagh Fleming (cor anglais).
Explains Vini: “Tony had just come in for a conversation one day and said, ‘Look, you keep making these albums that you want to make, and I’m quite happy with you doing that, but just give me this one album and do it my way.’ He wanted it to have a narrative determined by a Keats poem, La Belle Dame Sans Merci, which he said was the poet’s version of a pop song: boy meets girl, falls in love with girl, loses girl, blah blah blah. It was a very, very Tony way of looking at it. He had aspirations that I should be taken seriously.”
Produced by Reilly and Wilson at Strawberry Studio and Britannia Row, Without Mercy was originally split into 19 separate stanzas, some of which have now been restored using digital cue points on the CD. Bonus tracks include the original recordings of Duet, Estoril a Noite and Favourite Descending Intervals (all re-worked for inclusion on Without Mercy), as well as companion EP Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say, collaborations with John Metcalfe, Steven Brown and Benjamin Lew, and two previously unreleased live sets across Discs 3 and 4, recorded at London School of Economics in December 1984 and Oslo in December 1986."
Fresh from starting his own label Insult To Injury, Timothy Clerkin returns with three tracks for Ransom Note.
"The MVP here is ‘Knife Edge Heart’, an unabashed pop song whose shimmering exterior is cut through with flashes of steely darkness. Frequent collaborator Natalie Reiss’ glacial voice is held at the perfect level of remove, while Timothy allows his love of shoegaze to blossom with a guitar line that seems to extend like a ladder to the stars.
‘With You’ bridges Timothy’s opposing impulses, balancing sparkling synths and a celestial vocal sample with churning low-end, while ‘Divisive’ is paranoid warehouse techno at its very best. With his debut solo album out soon on Phantasy, Gabe Gurnsey of Factory Floor stops by for a lurching, seasick remix of ‘Knife Edge Heart’ that sounds like the onset of the robot apocalypse we’ve all been promised for so long.
After cutting his teeth as one half of Eskimo Twins, Timothy launched his solo career in 2014 under the now-retired Heretic moniker. He’s since released on labels including Throne of Blood, Hard Fist and Days of Being Wild. Timothy’s last release on R$N was the 'Serenade' EP, which brought us plenty of special moments last year - most memorably Andrew Weatherall closing out his Houghton quarry set with ‘Execute’. Here’s to many more this summer and beyond."