Reissue on Acid Jazz of Orchestre Les Volcans du Benin's 1980 album, "Vol.1".
"Orchestre Les Volcans du Benin Vol. 1 has long been a ‘holy grail’ LP for Afro-Cuban aficionados. It now sees it’s first official reissue on Acid Jazz Records, with four infectious tracks across the two sides, including Oya Ka Jojo – latin dancefloor dynamite and a DJ must-have. Remastered by Nick Robbins at Sound Mastering and presented in a wonderful colour sleeve, it’s an opportunity to finally own this special and highly sought after LP."
Nerve-tweaking techno pressure from the Token boss on James Ruskin’s powerhouse label
Now a fully fledged producer after running Belgium’s leading techno label for 15 years, Kr!z shows off his freshly cut teeth in four parts of driving, classically-skooled techno. There’s a fine piece of piquant arps synched with sizzling hi-hats and rolling kicks in ‘Vortex’, plus the unyielding jack of ‘Mirage’, frenetic but minimalist Millsian drive in ‘Neutrino Systems’, and the bleep techno stealth attack of ‘Levitate’.
Arch Berlin techno interrogator Stefan Goldmann explores polymetric rites of percussion in a smart break with his more gridlocked work, landing somewhere between Monolake, Logos & Felix K or Mark Fell in the process.
Putting experimentalism back into Berlin techno tropes, Goldmann explores more unusual meters (13/17, anyone?) and timbral characteristics of his paradigm in pursuit of a more expressive style of production. The filigree attention to detail of his previous works is not lost, but found displaced into mazier, abstract constructions that, to be fair, may not get one on their toes like a peaktime set, but are bound to elicit more curious reactions from the harder-to-please sound designer types and ravers/DJs looking away from line-dancing tradition.
The seven tracks appear to progressively bind their elements tighter over the course of the album. The 13 over 17 patterns of ‘Nayba’ really jog and tease the muscle memory with command of your finest ligaments and tendons, prepping bodies for the Rian Treanor & Ocen-like impulses followed on ‘Oyotung’ and distilled into sparkling syncopations on ‘Lorino’, while ‘Yukagir’ and the cosmic long of ‘Aypn’ push right out into spectral electro-acoustic abstraction. It begins to come together in subtler, sloshing, West African-style hustle meets dub techno dynamics of ’Tiksi’, and ultimately in the buzzing, grubbing techno urge of ‘Valkumey’.
Well, this is just lovely; Hiroshi Yoshimura’s soothing electro-acoustic ambient suite, Music For Nine Postcards  is made available outside the Japanese market for the 1st time, unfurling the Tokyo-based artist’s delicate, minimalist masterwork inspired by Satie, Schaefer and Eno to whole new generations in need of blissed sonic respite. Unless you’re a bit wadded or simply helpless to the charms of early ‘80s Japambient records and bought a dead expensive original, it’s maybe likely that you’ll only get to hear this one via YouTube otherwise, so the opportunity to hear this beauty in full fidelity, at a reasonable price, is not to be missed!
"Despite his status as a key figure in the history of Japanese ambient music, Hiroshi Yoshimura remains tragically under-known outside of his home country. Empire of Signs–a new imprint co-helmed by Maxwell August Croy and Spencer Doran–is proud to reissue Yoshimura’s debut Music for Nine Post Cards for the first time outside Japan in collaboration with Hiroshi’s widow Yoko Yoshimura, with more reissues ofHiroshi’s works to follow in the future.
Working initially as a conceptual artist, the musical side of Yoshimura’s artistic practice came to prominence in the post-Fluxus scene of late 1970s Tokyo alongside Akio Suzuki and Takehisa Kosugi, taking many commissioned fashion runway scores, soundtracking perfume, soundscapes for pre-fab houses, train station sound design – all existing not as side work but as logical extensions of his philosophy of sound.
His work strived for serenity as an ideal, and this approach can be felt strongly on Music for Nine Post Cards. Home recorded on a minimal setup of keyboard and Fender Rhodes, Music for Nine Post Cards was Yoshimura’s first concrete collection of music, initially a demo recording given to the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art to be played within the building’s architecture.
This was not background music in the prior Japanese “BGM” sense of the word, but “environmental music”, the literal translation of the Japanese term kankyō ongaku given to Brian Eno’s “ambient” music when it arrived in late 70’s Japan. Yoshimura, along with his musical co-traveler Satoshi Ashikawa, searched for a new dialog between sound and space: music not as an external absolute, but as something that interlocks with a physical environment and shifts the listener’s experience within it.
Erik Satie’s furniture music, R. Murray Schafer’s concept of the soundscape and Eno’s ambience all greatly informed their work, but the specific form of tranquil stasis presented on releases like Nine Post Cards is still difficult to place within a specific tradition, remaining elusive and idiosyncratic despite the economy of its construction. This record offers the perfect introduction to Hiroshi’s unique and beautiful worldview: it’s one that can be listened to – and lived in – endlessly."
Listening to this latest album from Liz Harris’ Grouper project it’s easy to forget how much of a hard sell her music was back when 'Way Their Crept’ landed with us back in 2005.
Her eerie, layered mix of bare vocals, guitar and tape delay didn't quite fit in with what anyone else was really doing on the scene back then - and it completely knocked us out even if no one was buying it. By the time her breakthrough ‘Dragging a Dead Deer…’ arrived on Type three years later she was more or less playing to a baying mob hungry for any little morsel she cared to throw their way, her (by now) more fleshed out shoegaze variants marking her out as a natural outsider who had managed to tap into some kind of collective melancholy, her songs both hugely affecting and yet somehow emotionally opaque. Last year’s 'The Man Who Died In His Boat’ collected previously unreleased material from the ‘Dead Deer’ era and, despite it essentially being an assembly of offcuts, still managed to sound as coherent and bewitching as any of her ardent followers might have imagined. ‘Ruins’ is Harris' first new album proper in several years and - to no one’s surprise - is just utterly sublime.
The opening and closing tracks excepted, Harris’ instrument of choice here is the upright Piano, delivering a sequence of songs that feel utterly bereft and lonely, intended by Harris as “...a document. A nod to that daily walk. Failed structures. Living in the remains of love.” There are also found sounds (you can here a microwave switching itself back on after a powercut in the background), and the room recordings lend an effervescent quality to the recordings that somehow magnify the sense of timelessness. ‘Ruins' is book-ended by two instrumental pieces, the pulsating field recorded opener ‘Made of Metal’ and the 11 minute closer ‘Made of Air’, an instrumental, ambient piece recorded at her mother's house way back in 2004. Together, these tracks make for another sublime 40 minutes spent in Liz Harris’ company, a precious distraction from the clutter and noise of the outside world.
Prime 1983 UK soul and electro-boogie numbers now available on their first reissue.
Scrolling back to an early heyday of UK funk and soul before house was even conceived, Take Three’s combo of lovers rock vocals and debonaire machine funk lies at the square root of so much UK dance music to come. South London sisters Jackie & Jean heron and Marlene Richardson gild the original and New York Dance mixes with gorgeous vocal harmonies that demonstrate the hairs-breadth difference between styles, laying it down glamorous yet rude in the UK-ready Extended Mix, and with more funk in the trunk on the breezy but tuffer NYC mix, while ‘Breaker’s Night’ strips it all back to cascading, dubbed-out fundamentals for dancers and DJs to get busy with.
A momentous UK hardcore/bleep-techno classic back in circulation, newly remastered and cut with a reshuffled sequence by Blank Mind.
It’s hard to overstate the all-time classic status of Earth Leakage Trip’s ‘Psychotronic EP’. Stamped with the fortuitous catalogue number Shadow 1, the EP is best loved for its foundational highlight ‘No Idea’, a template-firming collage of samples from a novelty record and the film Poltergeist, set to oozing subs, gull squawks and thee nattiest bleep rhythm of its time.
It’s a sterling example of the shift from original, utopian acid house of ’87 to a more fucked embrace of the dark side by ’91, balancing dummy-sucking naïvete with a grimmer UK edge that would come to infiltrate rave music over the coming years, perhaps reflecting a paranoiac mindset that came hand-in-hand with the comedowns of guzzling high grade eccies.
No doubt it’s a sort of turning point for ‘90s UK dance music, precipitating reams of darkside hardcore and brooding dance music in its wake. Let’s be honest, the other two tracks aren’t that great, but ‘No Idea’ more than makes up for them.
The late, great Jóhann Jóhannsson’s contemporary oratorio makes its long-awaited premiere with Deutsche Grammofon as a posthumous recording by ACME with Theatre of Voices, overseen by Francesco Donadello and Paul Hillier.
A staggering testament to Jóhannsson’s unbound vision for classical and electronic music, ‘Drone Mass’ is arguably among his most ambitious, timeless compositions, and comparable with minimalist classical works by Arvo Pärt and Henryk Gorecki. Originally premiered in 2015 at the Egyptian Temple of Dendur, NYC’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, it sadly remained unrecorded by the time Jóhannsson passed in 2019. However, his friends and longtime collaborators have made sure the work now comes to light, with the American Contemporary Ensemble (ACME) teaming with Denmark’s Theatre of Voices, conducted by ECM regular Paul Hillier, and produced by Francesco Donadello, who worked with him on ‘The Theory of Everything’ soundtrack and ‘Englabörn & Variations’, among others. The result is a fitting tribute to Jóhannsson’s legacy of visionary orchestral composition, and the way he seamlessly refreshed that crenelated paradigm with modern electronics.
This 2019 recording, made at the Garnisonkirken in Copenhagen, sees the composer’s myriad interests dovetail in breathtaking form. Taking his cues from the so-called ‘Coptic Gospel of the Egyptians’, part of the Nag Hammadi library discovered in 1945, as well as longheld fascinations with large-scale vocal works and the elemental might of drone music, the nine part work is a momentous achievement from any angle. Its pair of introductory vocal pieces, ‘One is True’ and ‘Two Is Apocryphal’ manifest a keen focus on Renaissance polyphony, with particularly haunting effect in the latter. They prep the ground for a remarkable feat of musical dramaturgy, calling in cavernous, sliding string pitches to match the banking chorale of ‘Triptych in Mass’, while ‘To Fold & Remain Dormant’ elevates the work further with its integration of aching electronic drone noise. There’s a truly jaw-dropping centrepiece in stately swell of electronics and deeply uneasy string pitches of ‘The Low Drone Of Circulating Blood Diminishes With Time’, with ‘Moral Vacuums’ providing necessary respite and catharsis, before the vertiginous flight of vox and bitterly textured noise in ‘Take The Night Air’ gives way to a finale worth the journey in ‘The Mountain View, The Majesty Of The Snow-Clad Peaks, From A Place Of Contemplation And Reflection’.
It doesn’t bear imagining what music Jóhann might have written recently if he was still around but, with pieces like this one, his work on this planet is more than enough already.
Greek legend Lena Platonos and = Rabih Beaini rework the spirited improvisations of Equations Collective in spellbinding versions for David August’s 99Chants label
Stemming from ‘The Helicon Sessions’ - an enigmatic raft of recordings made on the titular Greek mountain and issued in 2021 - these re- and deconstructions suffuse new life into the work alongside a member of the collective, Yiorgos Konstantoulakis (aka Aphelion), lending new vocals and transporting the piece across continents to find kinship with other exotic ritual musicks.
Lena Platonos x Yiorgos Konstantoulakis’s ‘Reconstruction’ is the big attraction, with the poetic synth-pop outlier adding her wisdom-infused vocals to a richly mysterious backdrop of arid, granular electronic ambience and modular synth pulses that firm up a distant, but still recognisable, echo of Lena’s seminal early works. Rabin Beaini’s ‘Deconstruction’ is more oblique, splicing influence from specific rituals of West Java to herd 808 patterns and outboard gear into a strangely hoofed trample that escalates in intensity to a possessed peak.
Joining the roster of Toronto's Telephone Explosion Records, Eucalyptus present their sixth release "Moves".
"In addition to it being the octet's most psychedelic and arrestingly soulful release thus far, Moves also their longest—their first, in fact, to cross into bonafide full-length territory.
Where the Brodie West Quintet (Astral Spirits, Ansible Editions) trades in clever jazz asymmetry and his duo Ways is a stark and focussed exploration of rhythm, Eucalyptus is where this eclecticism is most audible. The band simmers with polyrhythmic percussion, laid-back jazz sweetness, various strains of psychedelic wonk, and subtle tropical aromas from dub on “Rose Manor,” named after the retirement home of his musical grandmother Lorna (ever a source of inspiration for West) to Bossa Nova, as heard on “It's In A Move.” Its streaks of free-form bedlam and pure sonic texture keep listeners poised for perplexity and cheerful volatility.
Moves manages to approximate the playful, intoxicating warmth the band conjures in their beloved local live appearances. Eucalyptus has made a tradition out of mounting month-long residencies at Hirut, a cozy east-end eatery that serves delicious Ethiopian cuisine. Hirut even gets a nod in the credits. Perhaps it's because this record's subtle whimsy and inviting disarray draws so much from the spirit of those evenings.
Another exciting development unveiled on Moves is the presence of guitarist Kurt Newman, who replaces longtime member Alex Lukashevsky. Newman's whirling treatments and colorful array of tones figure prominently into the ensemble's new and disorienting sound. Newman was the co-founder of premiere Austin improv festival No Idea alongside Chris Cogburn. A ceaseless collaborator who's worked with the likes of Sarah Hennies, Tetuzi Akiyama, Mats Gustafsson, he also leads his own projects such as Country Phasers and the Nashville Minimalism Unit."
Dead Oceans presenets Toro y Moi’s seventh studio album, Mahal.
"The record spans genre and sound—encompassing the shaggy psychedelic rock of the 1960s and ‘70s, and the airy sounds of 1990s mod-post-rock—taking listeners on an auditory expedition, as if they’re riding in the back of Chaz Bear’s Filipino jeepney that adorns the album’s cover. But Mahal is also an unmistakably Toro y Moi experience, calling back to previous works while charting a new path forward in a way that only Bear can do.
The second the album begins we’re immediately transported into the passenger seat, jeep sounds and all, ready for the ride Chaz and company have concocted for us. Seeds of some of Mahal’s 13 songs date back to the more explicitly rock-oriented What For? from 2015. Mahalwas mostly completed last year in Bear’s Oakland studio with the involvement of a host of collaborators, Sofie Royer and Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s Ruban Neilson to Neon Indian’s Alan Palomo and the Mattson 2.
Lyrically, the album zooms in on generational concerns, picking up where the Outer Peace standout “Freelance” effectively left off. Bear seems to be surveying the ways in which we connect with technology, media, each other, and what disappears as a result. Cuts like the squishy “Postman” and “Magazine” take a deep dive into our relationship with media in a changing digital world. “It’s interesting to see how we adapt to this new age. We’re so connected, but we’re still missing out on things,” Bear ruminates while discussing the album’s themes.
It’s not all introspection. Bear cools things down near the album’s end with the Mattson 2-featuring “Millennium,” a laid-back jam with tricky guitar licks about ringing in new times even when everything else seems upside down. “It’s about enjoying the new year, even when it’s been shitty,” Bear explains. “There’s nothing else to do.” Finding a sense of joy in the face of adversity is embedded in MAHAL’s DNA, right down to the jeepney that literally and figuratively brings the music out into the community. “We know that touring is messed up for now, and large gatherings are a fluke,” he explains. “It’s about the notion of us going out to the people and bringing the record to them.” And with the wide-open atmosphere of MAHAL, Toro y Moi stands to connect with more listeners than ever before."
Crucial selection of raw, darkside early gqom from pioneering Durban trio Phelimuncasi, setting the gripping vocals of twins Makan Nana and Khera, and Malathon, to cranky technoid club engines by DJ Menzi, DJ Mp3, and DJ Scoturn, all showcased for first time outside South Africa on the ever vital Nyege Nyege Tapes. Unmissable for fans of dark, heavy dance music of all stripes!
For Phelimuncasi's overdue first international showcase NNT follow a number of excursions into this sound from DJ Menzi and Sleeping Buddha for sibling label Hakuna Kulala with a mix of vintage early works and banging new exclusives, including some produced as recently as 2019 in the downtime after the trio’s incendiary performance at the label’s annual festival. Alongside the gqom archaeology of Italian-based GqomOh! label, this lot forms a vital piece of the genre’s history, charting how the vocalists’ conversational, toasting style, itself rooted in local storytelling traditions and the intimidating rhythmic singing of the apartheid-era came to influence their sound, and ultimately set the course for Gqom to come.
Colloquially known as “taxi techno” in the Durban townships, Gqom is a staple sound at NNT’s annual festival in Jinja, Uganda and always brings the best moves out of the SA dancers (and everyone else for that matter). As recently revealed on his shocking ‘Impazamo’ tape for Hakuna Kulala, DJ Menzi is one of the scene’s wildcards, and his productions for Phelminancusi are a big highlight here, counting the heavy call and response lyrics, signature Zulu trills and hard clang of their ‘Private Party’ anthem, the Terminator-stare drones of ‘GQOM Venus Cemetary’ and the desiccated bones of ‘Umgido’ among the comp’s heaviest drops.
Racked up beside an infectious introduction to gone-but-not-forgotten producers, DJ Scoturn with the menacing bell hook and bouncing bars of ‘Umahlalela’, and the starkly martial snares of DJ Mp3’s ‘Sesi Gora’, which sounds like mutant dancehall dispatched via late ‘80s Chicago, this lot is surely more than your RDA of crucial dancefloor energy, and absolutely primed with dense cyberpunk atmospheres for skulking deserted inner cities and counting down to the apocalypse.
Incantations is a collection of visual and sonic experiments centred around the idea of score as spell, curated by Seance Centre and featuring Tomoko Sauvage, Gavilán Rayna Russom, Félicia Atkinson, Beverly Glenn-Copeland and more.
Finally, a concept-driven compilation that's actually an interesting idea done well. Inspired by the idea of spells and incantations, Canadian label Séance Centre asked a handful of their favorite artists to collaborate by coming up with a spell and interpreting that as an incantation. Tomoko Sauvage starts things off by reinterpreting a salt painting from Benjamin Kilchhofer, translating his forms and runes (used as the album's cover) using her hydro harp. The sound is magical, exactly like you'd hope an incantation might - watery and organic but intensely otherworldly.
Mona Steinwidder's Museum Of No Art composition 'Textile Trance' does what it says on the tin, building a blunted groove from repeating tonal blips, vocal chants and shakers in response to Mehrnaz Rohbakhsh's drawing, a meditation on "textile, pattern and code." Listening carefully, it's hard not to sink into the careful repeating phrases and project these exact patterns - who said trance had to be big room? Gavilán Raynor Russom's 'Shadows Cast By Moonlight' is a collaboration with poet Dani Spinosa, who created a typewriter poem inspired by the witch goddess Hekate, a figure Russom had incidentally been researching and teaching. Her sonic interpretation is typically dense, touching the alien early electronic landscapes of Daphne Oram and puncturing the mood with demonic oscillations.
C.R. Gillespie’s 'Invitation To A Clog' is one of the compilation's most unusual tracks, described as "Roman Gamelan" and inspired by a score from bricolage artist Andrew Zukerman. The score itself was a collage of occult symbols and sigils, and Gillespie reinterprets that mood using jerky minimalist rhythms and gestures, interrupting his blurry pulses with squeaks and clangs. Scott Gailey meanwhile interprets a pudding recipe from Yu Su, recreating the texture in an otherworldly soup of field recordings and pitch-fucked synth. And the record concludes with a chant written by writer-activist adrienne maree brown, narrated by the legendary Beverly Glenn-Copeland.
All in all, it's a compilation well worth diving into - a concept that feels as if it's inspired its artists to experiment, and most of all, connect.
Precious Metals announce "Chaos Butterfly", the debut album from the Vietnamese-Canadian electronic music producer, vocalist and filmmaker, x/o.
“Chaos Butterfly” is an epic tale of catharsis and self-actualization explored through metamorphosis. It is a free-falling kaleidoscopic journey into a beautiful nightmare, both cataclysmic and tender. Expanding on the themes present in their first EP “Cocoon Egg”, the album builds a parallel world from a different perspective.
“Chaos Butterfly” tells a loose narrative about an anti-hero navigating trauma through whirlwinds of grief and anger; a vengeful spirit who finds true strength in inner healing and forgiveness. An allegory for transcending societal concepts of gender, “Chaos Butterfly” is a journey of self-acceptance and reflection of x/o’s own path towards their non-binary identity.
Throughout the voyage, x/o pulls apart and collides masculine and feminine tropes both theoretically and musically by utilising contrasts between soft and hard, internal and external, calmness and anger, loud and quiet. This system of symbolism and influences reveal a pattern that is the overarching theme of duality.
Colliding disparate but interconnected influences, x/o references Playstation 2’s Final Fantasy X world-building, Fight Club, the half-yoma warriors in the anime Claymore, as well as the real legends of the Vietnamese Trưng Sisters.
Musically, “Chaos Butterfly” resists easy categorisation, playfully fusing moments of reversed breakbeat, with elements of solemn ambience, distorted metal, and trip-hop catharsis, with inspiration from artists such as Yoko Kanno, to Bone Thugs-n-Harmony as well as Deftones, Massive Attack, Orbital, and Aaliyah.
The album journey begins with opener “Chrysalis Wrath”, a prologue to the story, and emblematic of the metamorphosis of the album. A soft and unassuming exterior to the hard shell and bone that lies beneath. Delicately cascading melodies and disembodied vocals are torn asunder by a brooding, ominous synth, punctuated by blasts of percussion, like dark clouds forming on the horizon, the egg cracks; a foretelling of what is to come and a reference to what has been.
This is followed by “Red Alert,” the first single from the release, which blends airy melancholic vocals with a flurry of drum breaks and synths plucks, an ambitious and cinematic exploration of intuition against recurring trauma. Melodies drifting and out of focus under the swirling vocal, like the blur of neon street lights reflecting in a rain-soaked cityscape. It’s a liminal poem about listening to your inner voice to protect you from harm.
Duality is never more apparent than on “Promise : Armour” delicate piano melodies drift and settle like snowfall before crushing blows of hardstyle kicks blast through the ether, as their soulful, but anguished vocal harmony is overcome by a demonic refrain “Cross your heart, don’t cross me”."
Stefan Betke aka Pole’s hugely influential debut LP of frayed dub experiments resurfaces for a 20th anniversary reissue, taking us back to smoked out nights at the turn of the century and some of the finest post basic-channel dub echoes ever released. Essential listening if you’re into anything from Rhythm & Sound to Vainqueuer, Jon Hassell to Jackie Mittoo.
As legend goes, Pole took his name from a malfunctioning Waldorf 4-Pole filter which produced hisses and pops which weren’t really controllable or predictable, much like a living organism. Betke realised the potential and came to alchemically morph and render them with judicious FX dubbing into a groundbreaking sort of minimalist electro-dub that sounds exceedingly good with a spliff and glass of booze. Working somewhere between the variants of abstract techno on Chain Reaction and Mille Plateaux’s cutting edge minimalist strains, Pole’s first trio of albums inarguably helped lay the foundations for dub techno as it’s come to be known and are held in the highest regard by practically everyone who owns them.
The Pole aesthetic is patently laid out in ‘1’, where his organic clicks ’n pops come out to play accompanied by lilting organ and jazzy bass channelling Jackie Mittoo via Jon Hassell and Rhythm & Sound into a uniquely, gauzy, gaseous state. So strong was the impact of the album on the late ‘90s underground, they even generated a “pastiche” that was unwittingly issued (and subsequently deleted) by Fat Cat on their split series, but was purportedly made by V/Vm in a snidey but frankly hilarious prank, albeit one that demonstrates just how ubiquitous and influential Betke’s sound was at the time. More than that, it’s fair to say the 20 year cycle hasn’t rinsed out the appeal of this triptych one bit; it remains one of electronic music’s most enigmatic and strangely moving, tactile bodies of work.
Burial with his most substantial release in years, over 40 minutes of fizzing seasonal crackle and ultimate wooze.
Practically album length by other standards, the 'Antidawn EP’ plays thru five parts in 44 mins, unravelling a sequence of signature, crackling samples and vaporised soul strokes that play deep into his soundtrack-like collage style. It’s a real one for midwinter consumption, with the capacity for a sort of introspective romance that holds its own without explanation. Ye ye anyone hoping for another Untrue will have to go whistle but, for the diehards, it’s another surefire salve for frayed nerves and burned out heads.
Nose to tail it’s proper central heating for the soul, convecting a palette of pop and film dialogue snippets weft with ephemeral organ vamps and dabs of ‘80s/’90s synths that hazily throw back to frosted lens vibes that were canon to a generation who’ve perhaps slipped into older age by this point, some 16 years since Burial first struck a nerve. ID hounds will have a field day attempting to unpick its constituent parts, but suffice it to say, it’s predictably evocative gear that feels like an extended tease; you’ll just have to listen till the end to see if those woodblock drums ever make an appearance, we ain’t sayin.
Really good this! Influenced by an interest in rave culture and queer theory, keyboardist and producer Dan Nicholls sublimes solo piano loops and field recordings into chirping loops that end up sounding like Colleen or Susumu Yokota.
Just when we thought we'd heard everything solo piano, Dan Nicholls brings something a little different. The component parts of 'Mattering and Meaning' are familiar, but the way Nicholls puts them together is stunning in its simplicity. Starting with field recordings and jazzy improvisations on an acoustic piano, Nicholls recorded these elements to his phone and layered them as if the piano was just a part of the soundscape. It's this non-hierarchal examination of the piano that makes it so interesting - instead of being in thrall, Nicholls sculpts the instrument into hazy riffs and themes that echo dance music without seeking to recreate it.
This warts-and-all process is madly enjoyable: wrong notes and tuning slips become part of the texture, and room tones, voices and key scrapes become as much a part of the composition as the notes themselves. It's like hearing someone play piano in a dream or a distant memory, but free of the usual tropes. We're sold.
More B12 / AFX / Black Dog-style cloud-punching electronic effervescence from veteran producer John Beltran, who made a triumphant return in 2019 with 'First Blue Sky'. Nowt new here, but hard to complain cuz it's decent stuff.
There's enuff people making OG-sounding Artificial Intelligence era electronics at the moment, but we have to give John Beltran a pass, mostly 'cuz he's been doing it since way back when. "Touch the Earth" doesn't attempt to reinvent the wheel and doesn't have to - Beltran's real skill is his command of harmony and melody, and his tracks sound as unshakably beautiful as they ever did.
'Deep Blue' is like classic Clear-era Plaid, all bouncy drums and staccato synth blasts; 'Clouds Over Clifden' is like Squarepusher without the drums; 'At One With' is like Global Communication at their most haunted. Our fave though is when Beltran runs into a couple of contemporary faves, collaborating with Baby Blue and Malibu on 'Beauty Begins'. It's cheesy, but in the best way - tears in the club for sure.
Actress' 3rd album, 'R.I.P', his 2nd for Honest Jon's, is now 10 years old.
Despite being a vital cog in the machinery of underground UK dance and electronics since at least 2004 (when he released his 'No Tricks' debut), it's fair to say that by the time 'R.I.P.' was released Darren J. Cunningham made the shift from cult concern to acknowledged auteur of some repute. His work with Damon Albarn's DRC Music, beside a legendary DJ set at Sonar and remixes of Shangaan Electro, Panda Bear and Radiohead all elevated the fact; so expectations were high for 'R.I.P'.
Produced exclusively on hardware and inspired by Milton's classic poem 'Paradise Lost', Actress arranged his most labyrinthine, esoteric release to date; a set of 15 tracks traversing crystallized radiophonics and subterranean Techno with a psychedelic sideswipe that left us dazed and beguiled. By assimilating machine-like characteristics - his notions of "seeping yourself liquid into the machinery" Cunningham effectively became an interpreter, a symbiotic conduit with the potential to manipulate your consciousness. The newfound clarity and fluid narration made 'R.I.P.' the most intriguing chapter in the Actress saga so far - an unmissable experience.
Out of the blue, cult German new wave act Saåda Bonaire present a lost and rediscovered album of their second-wind recordings, made in a sex shop owned by their guitarist’s family - only in Germany, right?
Creators of one of the sexiest records of the decade with their Dennis Bovell-produced debut 12” in 1984, Saåda Bonaire famously fell foul of major label politics and by 1985 their singer Claudia Hossfeld had left the band, followed in 1985 by its other singer Stephanie Lange in the wake of her break-up with co-founder Ralph “von” Richthoven. However, time heals and the new wave of dance music from UK and US at the turn of the ‘90s prompted them back to the studio, with Richthoven rejoined by Lange, as well as many of the Turkish-Kurdish musicians from the original sessions, plus new vocalist Andrea Ebert, North Irish folk singer Paul Lindsay, and, perhaps most pivotally, jazz guitarist Mike Ellington, who gave the band a place to record at his family’s sex shop in Bremen. Long thought lost, those recordings recently surfaced on a tape marked ’Saåda Bonaire 1991’, and are now inches away from your grubby mitts.
Despite the lack of Dennis Bovell’s expert hand at the rudder, ‘1992’ sees the band capably adapt to the new wave of dance music, straddling contemporary house and soul, trip hop, new jack swing, Eastern influences and acid jazz with the same grown-up poise and charm that made their earlier work so vital. While it does bear thinking what they could have sounded like with Dennis Bovell back in the fold, the dozen songs still trade in equal measures of debonaire elegance and ‘90s sleaze comparable with Janet Jackson as much as Leslie Winer and Soul II Soul.
A couple of strong covers set out their stall with a sultry soul spin on James Brown’s ‘Woman’ beside the Arabic percussion-inflections and organismic whimpers in their flip of Stevie Wonder & Syreeta Wright’s ‘To Know You Is To Love You’, while fans of early ‘90s raunch will gets theirs everywhere between the hard-to-resist swang of ‘So Many Dreams’ with its Kurdish flutes, plus the strong Wild Bunch views on ‘That’s Right’, and echoes of NYC and South African deep house strut in ‘Lovelife’, while the upbeat bustle of ‘Your Prince’ sounds like a German M-People, and the deeper drive of ‘7th House’ slinks closer to dream house territory, while ‘Move From The Heart’ could almost be a Mousse-T prototype. Ultimately, if you were expecting a reprise of their eponymous 2013 comp, you may be left wanting, but anyone with an eye on ‘90s halcyon years will be in their element.
Featuring collaborations with vocalists / producers / musicians from Japan and abroad including a cover of Dusty Springfield's ‘That's The Kind Of Love I've Got for You’ featuring Lisa Tomlins, who is known for her vocals on Lord Echo and Recloose albums.
"Also featuring are Berlin-based Mr. Ties; Keith Sano, a promising talent from Okayama who is gaining international attention; MIRRROR, an up-and-coming Japanese-American hip-hop unit; DJ Sammo Hung Kam-Bo (Omoide Baka Yarou ATeam); Marimba player Mami Tsunodou, who is a supporting member of cero, KIRINJI, etc. and many more."
Hotly tipped UK DJ and producer TSHA bolts together a fun and fluid mix for fabric, shifting thru deep grooves, bass-heavy techno and neo rave messiness.
TSHA's motivation for the mix was to recreate the feeling of an acid house party: "I love the idea of old skool rave culture, the ethos around peace and love as well as the aesthetic that comes with it, so that's what I wanted to bring with the mix," she explains. Thankfully, this ain't just a selection of tracks we've heard a million times either, TSHA uses her club literacy to pull together contemporary music that recreates the acid house philosophy rather than its overused aesthetic.
Early on, that's a 303 squelcher from LA's Stefan Seay and a peak time Mac & Ward remix of Posthuman's riotous 'You're Mine', but the mix goes deeper and darker in the middle section, with bass-heavy euphoria courtesy of WK7 and 'BOYZ', a standout exclusive cut from TSHA that highlights her smart fusion of slippery 2-step and Bergz-ready dungeon grooves. Good stuff.
Bathhouse ambient alchemist Jake Muir phase shifts to Ilian Tape for his headiest set yet - a re-imagining of the illbient genre that sublimes loose turntablism and fritzed industrial fuzz into haunted trace elements and gooey, tactile drones. One for fans of everyone from DJ Spooky and QBert to Pendant and Akira Rabelais. Next level!
An artist laser-focused on the art of sampling - his 2018 album 'Lady's Mantle' was extracted from chopped up surf rock - Muir has long been passionate about the illbient canon. 'Mana' is his opportunity to finally throw his hat into the ring, and he takes a crate digger's approach - hardly surprising considering his mixes are as essential as his full-lengths. Using barely-recognizable debris lifted off illbient milestones, Muir sculpts a modernist simulacrum without losing the source material's mineral sparkle. Looking to unbutton and untuck Ambient sterotypes and instead highlight its tactile sensuality, illbient becomes the perfect vessle for Muir to straddle, echoing DJ Olive and DJ Spooky's desire to disrupt the 'background music' chintziness of 1970s ambient with the hands-on wizardry of hip-hop turntablism and knob-twiddling dub-rave tweakage.
The NYC-born movement was misunderstood back in the 1990s, but since then its vaporous traces have slipped into the experimental consciousness completely without fanfare. Taking Eno or Varese records and blending them with King Tubby and Ruffige Kru 12"s was novel then, but now feels foundational at a time when genre and aesthetic identity is in constant flux. Understanding this, Muir keeps raked-over referencing to a minimum, cooking down sounds to a dubbed-out mush of psychedelic synapse spasms and evocative drones. It's blink-and-you'll-miss-it stuff, commenting on a sound from decades ago without lapsing into sentimentalist nostalgia. Instead we're left with the gestures that makes Illbient an interesting proposal: the pitch fluctuation of vinyl, the hectic clashing of polar musical methodology, the heightened awareness that prioritizes sensation over repetition.
When Caveman LSD - aka uon, Special Guest DJ etc - emerges on the gloopy 'Forest Of Whispers' it makes total sense. His Experiences Ltd. / bblisss curation and output is firmly tied to illbient, with its almost eroticised fusion of dub, rave and ambient strands. Muir makes these connections vivid, and nods to avant practitioners like Christian Marclay, Philip Jeck and Marina Rosenfeld simultaneously. It's musical heavy lifting that's as listenable as it is thematically on-point; to put it another way, it's a sex soundtrack you could write an academic paper on, if you felt like it.
Roger Eno’s debut solo album 'The Turning Year', on Deutsche Grammophon.
"The Turning Year allows the listener to step through Roger Eno’s looking-glass, filled as it is with free-flowing, affecting compositions. A blend of recent compositions and live favourites from Eno’s concert repertoire, the album offers a comprehensive presentation of Roger’s solo work.
Roger Eno is a British composer and musician whose distinctive style as a recording artist has attracted a cult following. Last year he made his debut on Deutsche Grammophon with Mixing Colours, his first duo album with his brother, Brian, which was released to great acclaim."
Renowned Native American flutist Timothy Archambault adapts Anishinaabeg shaking tent chants on these stark, unaccompanied flute solos. 'Chìsake' is rare, deeply affecting music that arrives steeped in historical and cultural significance, singing of an age of North American art that's been sidelined for far too long. Transportive sounds for anyone who enjoyed Fis's collaborations with Rob Thorne or even Mary Jane Leach's "(F)lute Songs".
Archambault is a well-known and studied player, composer and architect who's recorded for the Smithsonian National Museum. "Chìsake" means to chant or to conjure, and on this moving selection of solos, he reworks Anishinaabeg ritual music used for divining. The Anishinaabeg are a group of indigenous peoples who now live in the USA and Canada, and would sing chants, accompanied by drummers, in shaking rituals performed by a shamen to connect the world of humans to that of meditating beings. The sounds were considered an aid in reaching the transcendent state, where the specially trained shaman, known as Chìsakewininì, could gain insight into the past, present or future.
Across 24 pieces, Archambault shares his understanding of the form, mutating chants as each is repeated seven times to represent the seven sacred directions: east, south, west, north, above/sky, below/earth, and center. Recorded on its own, the flute takes on an impressive characteristic, mimicking the rich tonality of the voice but retaining its own eerie resonance. And there's little else like it; Ragnar Johnson's recordings of sacred flute music of New Guinea, also released on Ideologic Organ, shares similarities, as does Rob Thorne's haunting Māori wind music, but what Archambault manages here truly stands on its own.
Laurel Halo lands on Latency with a cinematic suite featuring Oliver Coates on cello and drums by Eli Keszler.
Making her first move since 2017’s remarkable ‘Dust’ album, Laurel takes inspiration from her score work for Metahaven and Ursula Le Guin’s translation of the ‘Tao Te Ching’ in pursuit of a quieter, more tactile and elusive sound, moving deeper into a sort of twilight avant jazz realm that calls to mind the recently uncovered Luc Ferrari salvo on Alga Marghen as much as flashes of Conlon Nancarrow and the diaphanous swirl of Wolfgang Voigt’s Gas.
It's immediately obvious that this is a special release in Laurel’s catalogue. Two 10 minute works bookend the release; the sublime title track with its oneiric mesh of woodwind, early electronic music gestures, and almost funeral organ; and at the opposite end, a stunning symphonic piece that unmistakably recalls Gas, but also unlocks that sound’s potential from the grid thanks to Keszler’s free meter and an embrace of kaotic harmony deeply rooted in Derrick May and Carl Craig’s Detroit classics.
But that’s not to discount the bits in between; they’re also brilliant. From her pairing of Keszler’s inimitable snare rushes with dark blue keys and smudged, plasmic electronics in ‘Mercury’, to something like Mark Fell commanding an underwater gamelan orchestra in ‘Quietude’, and the rapid flux of keys in ‘The Sick Mind’, this one has us rapt from every angle.
Pop sensation Vunami's in-demand album Isiqedakoma, from 1986.
"Originally from KwaZulu Natal, Vunami made his way to Johannesburg in the mid 80’s to follow his dream of becoming a recording artist. He was able to make that dream come true when talent scouts from Decibel Music came across the charismatic youngster. At the time Decibel was still a small fish trying to make waves and the label believed in Vumani they had found the star they were looking for.
Up to this point Decibel had one major hit record. In 1986 they released a single by an artist named David Thanzwane. The music was a direct rip off of the first hit Single by Shangaan Disco pioneer Paul Ndlovu. Copying the music of both sides of the original single the “covers” offered different lyrics and hooks also sung in xiTsonga. This was enough to trick the masses and the single led to record sales for the small label. The unintentional outcome of the single was that from then on the producers and label had one sound they wanted to pump out in hopes of recreating that magic. This desire to create another Shangaan Disco hit would be the backbone of the Vumani sound and what makes his music so special and collectable after all these years.
Although he would sing in Zulu the music was unmistakable for Shangaan Disco. The synth heavy bass lines and happy melodies along with relatable fun lyrics were a perfect blend for an album that would make people dance if they were out at a Tavern or Shabeen on a weekend or just enjoying at home with family and friends."
Bohren & Der Club of Gore refine and expand their neon lit blend of midnight jazz and dark ambience, finding romance and a sort of redemption in the heart of the abyss.
Musically, the key reference point remains Angelo Badalamenti's scores for David Lynch; a combination of plaintive sax, ominous synth drones and electronic piano situated at the interzone between dream and nightmare. ‘Zombies Never Die (Blues)’ - the first of the three long, immersive pieces that make up the LP - is apt for midnight revelation at the Roadhouse or Club Silencio; but as well as Badalamenti we think also of Tom Waits at his most unhinged and atmospheric, and of The Caretaker's sweeping, serotonin-depleted excavations of memory.
‘Catch My Heart', an unrecognisable cover of German metal outfit Warlock, evokes the decadence and submerged anxiety of 30s Weimar cabaret; vocals come from the band’s longtime cheerleader Mike Patton, channelling Tuxedomoon, Bowie and even the Brinkmann of When Horses Die into a louche but tortured croon. The title track brings the suite to a close, unbearable tension wrought out of a sparse, repeated Rhodes motif and brushed drums, recalling early Tortoise, For Carnation and the desert-dried doom of Earth.
For all these comparisons, Bohren really are like no one else around, and Beileid is the kind of otherworldly, out of body listening experience we live for.
Posthumous testament to the peerless vision of Alvin Lucier, split with a work by Jordan Dykstra (Dirty Projectors, Atlas Sound), who also hailed from the same Middletown, CT where Lucier wrote his seminal piece ‘I Am Sitting In A Room’.
Linked by locale and a creative friendship forged during Lucier’s final years, the late, great composer and his youthful acolyte speak to a mutual pursuit of the predictable and the unexpected in their work on ‘Out of our Hands’. Both artists spent formative time in Middletown, Connecticut, perhaps most legendarily with Lucier’s recording of ‘I Am Sitting In A Room’, which was made in 1969 at the house referenced in his piece ‘Corner Church and High’ (2019), while Dykstra likewise nods to his address in the punning title of ’32 Middle Tones’, which also refers to his piece’s use of harmonic microtonality. While cleft by generations, they arrive at mutual, open-ended conclusions, respectively, with durational works that demand sustained pitches from the performers, Ordinary Effects, and open up uncanny psychoacoustic space for inhabitation and investigation by keener listeners.
“This is music that gently gives the listener a sense of predictability but always in an unexpected (and subtly indeterminate) shade. Speaking of shade, the album’s cover photo was taken in 2019 in Alvin’s backyard in Middletown. Alvin and Jordan sit with similar demeanors in front of his favorite tree — a crooked aspen which early on looked to be doomed — but which he would often saunter over to spend time with, giving it whispers of blessings and encouraging words.The world was blessed with Alvin’s presence and hopefully this album will whisper to you and yours.
“With Alvin’s recent passing I was overwhelmed with messages and calls from friends, collaborators, and his former students. Everyone had a heavy heart, no doubt, but were grateful for the memories and their gift to be around Alvin during his lifetime of prolific dedication to the arts, his fascination with poetic storytelling through scientifically-inspired minimalism, and his calm and warmhearted spirit. In his last few years on earth, Alvin was busier than ever — brainstorming new ideas, creating new pieces, and planning big things. While he was here, he was alive, and may his music — and spirit — live on forever, spreading from his corner of Church and High (where he recorded his seminal piece I am sitting in a room) to every corner, concert hall, and loudspeaker in the world. - Jordan Dykstra”
‘John Tchicai With Strings’ is a shocking slab of contemporary jazz from onetime sparring partner for Albert Ayler, Don Cherry and John Coltrane, among many others, here delivering electro-acoustic magick in-the-mix, released in 2005 and finally available on vinyl. It's a wholly unpretentious but quietly inventive classic of our time.
Danish-Afro-American saxophonist John Tchicai brings decades of experience playing with everyone from John Coltrane to Han Bennink and Derek Bailey to the table in a constantly surprising album that may well reconfigure what you knew about jazz. Here flanked by Treader’s John Coxon and Ashley Wales of Spring Heel Jack fame on piano, harpsichord, electric guitar and percussion, plus Mark Sanders (Jah Wobble) on drums for a trio of cuts, Tchicai’s sax is the connective tissue that fuses its play of themes and mood, from avian freeness to romantically dusky chamber styles, to heart-breaking tristesse and stately introspection.
Tchicai floats with an enviable, gravity-defying, figurative freeness that comes with a virtuoso’s ability to project and transcend themselves instrumentally. But he’s not playing solo, and the supporting cast all play crucial roles in establishing the conditions for noumenal flight, from the way Coxon’s swooping string and percussion samples buoy and egg Tchicai to unfurl his wings in ‘Lied’, to the haunting, red velvet Lynchian backdrops painted in piano behind ‘Test Piece 1’, and the beautiful play of fading light conjured by sallow strings and bowed cymbal on ‘Formalism’, while the remarkable closing couplet of ‘Lullaby’ and ‘These Pink Roses’, with its poem narrated by Steve Dalachinsky, surely seal the album’s absorbingly lyrical or cinematic nature.
Gorgeous, frazzled jazz flex from Norway’s rising piano star Anja Lauvdal and skilled sticksman Joakim Heibø in swingeing style on the Actions for Jazz series.
Norwegian freeform pianist Anja Lauvdal - who compiled the genius "Frijazz mot rasisme" set - mints a new series of albums with "All My Clothes", a collaboration with reclusive drummer Joakim Heibø.
Laudval comes full circle on this release - the virtuoso pianist grew up listening to Smalltown Supersound, developing an obsession at the age of 12 when she was living in the small town of Flekkefjord in the south of Norway. Since then, she's become an established force on the Norwegian scene, running the All Ears festival and collaborating with Jenny Hval, Hamid Drake and William Parker, among others. "All My Clothes" is the Lauvdal's first release under her own name, and serves as a springboard for her characteristic playing, backed up at all times by Heibø's seismic percussion.
On the opening track, Lauvdal beats harmelodic notes to mirror Heibø's frenetic patter. It's free jazz, but Lauvdal is never dissonant for the sake of it, she's not attempting to make unlistenable music, but marinate in the piano's versatility and timbre. The second piece is more restrained, and allows Laudval to trade intensity for smoky sensuality as she lets notes ring out over Heibø's rustling rattles, while 'Untitled 3' picks up the pace again, casting Heibø in the lead role for a modernist back-and-forth that allows Laudval to create movement and Heibø to squeeze color from his set.
If you enjoyed "Frijazz mot rasisme" compilation, "All My Clothes" is required listening. So good.
New avant-Americana horizons from Sam Wenc’s Post Moves, meshing folk music with aspects of spiritual jazz, post-rock and avant minimalism in a way that beautifully transcends the sum of its parts.
“‘Heart Music’ was recorded over the course of 2019 and 2020. The initial intention was not necessarily to produce an album, but rather to explore composing from a percussive perspective and trying to avert relying heavily on the pedal steel guitar and guitar as primary modes of composing. The pedal steel guitar lends itself to such a soft sound palette so even in pieces that are highly structured (Always for Pleasure, Going Right to the Praying Mantis), I wanted to avoid the propensity to let the composition amble along, and rather create a brisk, biting percussive component. This can particularly be heard on "Del Mero Corazon", which pulses along with the droning bowing of the banjo and marimacho before drums kick in and later on the vibraphone.
Thematically, much of the music (to me) takes on a somewhat ceremonial feeling and explores the trajectory of exploring intrapersonal contradictions and what it means to navigate a disharmonious public sphere. Films was also a major inspiration for songs and their titles: Wiilka & Phaxsi (named for the characters in the film Wiñaypacha), Always for Pleasure (named for the Les Blanks film) was an attempt at writing something akin to a processional march, "Going Right to the Praying Mantis" & "That's the Boss, Not Some Human!" was a quote of Milford Graves pulled from the film "Full Mantis". On that note, the title of the album, "Heart Music", is in recognition of Milford's exploration of the internal data, knowledge, and ultimately music that is present within our bodies. More so than on previous albums, I felt myself letting rhythm, intuition, and improvisation guide the work, often resulting in longer form pieces that allows myself (and hopefully the listener) to listen deeply, observing moments of tension and harmony tangled, dependent, and resolved by one another.
One other noticeable addition is the introduction of poetry into "Madness is a Fully Instrumented Score" and "Evidence" (both spoken by Anna Jeters of the band Ancient Pools). This was touched on in my last album on the track "David's Death", but by bringing in the voice to create both parallel and perpendicular narratives, it creates another line to follow and bring the listener into a deeper state of listening. I like playing with blurred narratives, homespun ideas of conventional thoughts that are ever changing in a climate where fixed ways of relating to sound and composition can become something new and mangled in its own right.”
If you dig the following then this is most certainly one for you… Susan Alcorn, Alice Coltrane, Phil Cohran, Bobby Hutcherson, Henry Flynt, Jon Gibson, Mind Over Mirrors, Natural Information Society, Johnny Coley, Oren Ambarchi, Tortoise, Yasuaki Shimizu, Califone.”
The Necks 18th album Vertigo is an eventful, kaleidoscopic tone poem set against a darkly shimmering background. Slowly but inexorably moving forward, it crosses many frontiers yet remains true to the mission and mood established in the opening stanzas of this cinematic 44 minute journey. A work able to be viewed either as a whole, or two symmetrical halves, Vertigo sees The Necks once again offer an excursion in sound that reflects both the light and darkness of some preternatural world.
In contrast to the sustained improvisations that are their live performances, The Necks’ studio albums take shape by way of intricate crafting brought to bear throughout the entire recording and mixing process. “The discussion this time really began in earnest in the session itself, where we started to pursue the idea of having a drone running from start to finish, off which we could hang ideas,” said bassist Lloyd Swanton “But like all Necks albums we ended up in a very different place from whatever our initial notion of it had been.”
Maintaining a teetering tension between suspension and collapse, Vertigo draws on a diverse palette of sounds created in the studio by Tony Buck (drums/percussion/guitar), Lloyd Swanton (bass) and Chris Abrahams (piano/keyboards), featuring everything from homemade instruments, extended instrumental techniques and marathon explorations of sonic textures.
One piece, at the same time two. Monochrome, yet multicoloured. Dark, yet incandescent. Expansive and still. Melancholic and exhilarating. The Necks. Vertigo."
Preeminant percussionist-composer Eli Keszler sharpens his cinematic vision in a compelling first solo soundtrack for Dasha Nekrasova’s award-winning debut feature film - a psychosexual thriller set in Jeffrey Epstein’s notorious Manhattan apartment.
With peerless credentials set on ’Stadium’ - our AOTY, 2018 - and chops in 0PN’s soundtrack to the Safdie Brothers’ ‘Uncut Gems’, Keszler now steps up as a soundtrack composer in his own right with a Giallo-tinted OST for ‘The Scary of Sixty-First’. Dasha Nekrasova’s debut film (winner of Best First Feature Award at Berlin International Film Festival) surely benefits from Keszler’s brooding mix of electro-acoustic Giallo touches and acoustic drone atmospheres, deftly and typically used to evoke the haunts of Uptown Manhattan depicted in the film, and the dread contained therein.
The soundtrack finds Keszler placing a singular repository of techniques and production knowledge at the service of a new paradigm in his catalogue. Maybe best to let him explain: “The score was built around the ‘pentagram melody’ as we called it, a seven-note symmetrical pattern that formed the sign found on the tarot card, a repeated motif of dread and premonition found in the film. In the Scary Theme and later in Tarot Theme three variations occur, where each tonal triangle is introduced individually, followed by it playing in counterpoint to each other to complete the symbol. I wrote the score keeping in mind what I saw as the two layers of the film. The physical reality of the story which I depicted through humor and the surreal - emphasizing the stories nonsensical quality. And secondly through the dream/horror space that blurs the line between fact, fiction and cathartic violence.”
Across the 17 cues and themes we hear Keszler’s unique proprioception of space and tantalising feel for tone deployed at its eeriest and most unsettling, reflecting the flick’s core matter with a contemporary sensitivity and classic appeal. No doubt comparisons with Goblin and 0PN are warranted, but Keszler’s fine grasp of electro-acoustic fidelity and texture really set it off and lend a clammy shiver of spirit that we can imagine many other directors and producers will be seeking.
Mutant footwork and psychedelic synthesis from Belgium’s Apulati Bien, delivered as co-release between Paris’ ace Promesses and, perhaps surprisingly, the roving label, (K-RAA-K)³
‘Azone’ is Apulati Bien’s five year album follow-up to ‘OO:NÉ’, which first placed him on the map in the murkiest interzones of post-grime, noise, and footwork proximal to the likes of Low Jack. His return is marked by a heightened appreciation of space and mercurial rhythm, as they more slickly navigate around the leftfield ends of footwork with more distinctly expressive, original synthesis that gels and perfuses the album’s 11 tracks.
It’s all there in the opening track ‘Indaway’, where he weaves elements of Raga-like synth tone and tabla or gamelan-esque drum flurries into nimble footwork, setting the tone for a variegated but cohesive batch that contracts and expands between the psychedelic 2-step of ‘Blé Noir’, granular ambient in ‘Pickpocket IV’, and into nervy darkside footwork on ‘Lobo 1’, with Vica Pacheco lending curdled vocals and colour to its ‘Lobo 2’ echo. For fine measure, there’s a fine piece of post-techno dream-pop in ‘Non Riesco’ ft. sultry vox by Radio Hito, and ‘Impulsion’ pushes footwork into cosmic psych realms, beside a frozen jungliest zinger ‘Indazone’.
A Bit of Previous is the tenth studio album by Belle and Sebastian and their first full-length in seven years.
"A Bit Of Previous is a classic Belle and Sebastian album preoccupied with songs and melodies that won’t leave your head and lyrics that can make you smile and ponder and sometimes be melancholic. The result is one the most diverse, hands-on and thrilling entries in the bands catalogue, self-produced and recorded (with contributions from Brian McNeill, Matt Wiggins, Kevin Burleigh and Shawn Everett). ‘Young And Stupid’ is a stuttering folk rock earworm that faces the passage of time with wry ennui, ‘Come On Home’ with its warm fireside piano evokes a handing over of the generational baton, while the deceptively feelgood, choir-backed ‘If They’re Shooting At You’ reads like a poignant ode to defiance and survival.
A Bit of Previous is also scattered with big, occasionally delirious pop moments. ‘Unnecessary Drama’ rips through a cacophony of overdriven riffs and a droning harmonica that borders on the unhinged and is one of the band’s heaviest outings since, well, ever. The 140+ bpm ’Talk To Me Talk To Me’ is ablaze with euro synths and keyboard horns as the voices of Murdoch and Martin intertwine on a breathless chorus. ‘Working Boy in New York City’ exists in a parallel universe where the band did in fact make it to California – such is the escapist bliss of its sloping flute and bittersweet funk. On the other side of the spectrum are some of Belle and Sebastian’s most moving ballads. Tender finger-picked paean to a lover ‘Do It For Your Country’ and doo-wop-inflicted ‘Sea Of Sorrow’ showcase Murdoch’s tenor at its most bare and affecting, while Stevie Jackson contributes lovelorn country waltz ‘Deathbed of My Dreams’.
So what is a A Bit of Previous? It’s a bit of everything, and a lot of what makes Belle and Sebastian so special and enduring. It’s a band tackling age and growing older with grace, irreverence, musical bravado and lyrical exactitude and emerging as an endless source of energy and reinvention."
Carl Erdmann’s late 70's album 'Bizzarrophytes', on Morning Trip.
"Carl Erdmann’s Bizzarrophytes was recorded in Roswell, New Mexico, during the final years of the 70’s. A desert-fried haze of buzzing sitar raga, shimmering guitar soli, and lonesome instrumental psych. Erdmann had been galvanized several years prior by witnessing an intimate performance by Ravi Shankar at Austin’s University of Texas. Erdmann spent the next several years with a sitar in the back of his pickup truck - teaching himself the instrument between stints working on an oil field as a geologist.
After settling in Roswell, Erdmann procured a Tascam 4-track reel to reel tape machine and began to experiment with recording. He played most of the instruments himself, and followed a fresh muse each day. One day his recordings would mine the same instrumental guitar territory as Leo Kottke and John Renbourn, like on Bizzarrophytes’ opening track, Majesty. The next day Erdmann might multi-track some bass and drums and end up landing in the same hazy psych-folk territory as Relatively Clean Rivers, as evidenced on album standouts Turritella Flats, and Portugal. And then, perhaps his Ravi Shankar influence would shine through, and he’d deliver a stirring sitar raga like Dhun. Erdmann explored all of these sounds without ever considering releasing them into the world. He was simply experimenting with his equipment and his instruments, and flexing his muscles with whatever kind of inspiration happened to strike. It wasn’t until 1980 that a friend convinced Carl to assemble some of these recordings into an album and self-release it.
Bizarrophytes was released in a miniscule private press run, financed and distributed by Erdmann himself. Most copies didn’t make it out of the southwest. And it has remained woefully hard to find until now. The disparate sounds of Erdmann’s experimentation hang together as a beautifully cohesive tapestry of home-brewed psychedelic folk. A menagerie of eclectic instrumental experimentation, baked in the desert sun, and captured to tape. Morning Trip Records is proud to present Bizzarrophytes."
The first release in a new catalog series dedicated to the 7".
"Here are two reworks produced between Italy and the United States, inspired by Italian cosmic atmospheres of the late 70s: “Cascades” by Stephen Schlacks (1978) and “Pulsazioni” by Filippo Trecca (1979).
“Cascate Emozionali Volume One” is a tribute to these two composers, and to all others that, just like them, have created immortal melodies and atmospheres. This project is also a work of sound archeology, of careful research of the synthesizers and the sounds that have given life to the original versions, here reproduced with a contemporary luster, honoring their original essence.
This music is a container full of emotions, of nostalgia for an era that no longer exists, of faded memories that are suspended in the cosmos, of moments that we miss. All of them connected to our childhood, our family, to our loved ones, and to the objects that were there all along, like the “Selene” chair of Vico Magistretti, redesigned for the cover by French illustrator Alexis Jamet."
Stockport label All Night Flight delves into the back-catalogue of respected producer Uwe Schmidt’s private label, Rather Interesting, with a vinyl sampler of the 1995 self-titled album.
"Previously released on CD only, Interactive Music came during a time of explosive creativity for Uwe Schmidt (also known as Atom™, Atom Heart, or Señor Coconut), where the German artist sought to release a new, individual album each month, each backed by their own design and conceptual structure with the goal of expanding the boundaries of technology, sound and electronic music as a whole. The motivation behind Interactive Music was to explore a new way of composing music, allowing both machinery and recorded elements to ‘interact’ with each other within a systems-based arrangement whilst incorporating any randomness and unpredictability that arose in order to create a sense of the organic or sentience within the machines.
The four tracks here plucked from the original source demonstrate the breadth of styles Schmidt covers under his intuitive systems approach, leading with the atmospheric slo-motion creep of opener ‘Dynamic Link’, followed by the spluttering, melody-rich, UK-techno indebted ‘Kinky Sky Candy Drops’ that pays homage to Warp’s legendary Artificial Intelligence series of the early 90’s. On the B-side, ‘I See No Evil’ unleashes a taut electro piece, heavily enriched with Schmidt’s intricate drum programming and unique ear for sound design, whilst the extended closer ‘Assembler’ sees the ‘Interactive Music’ system firing on all pistons with an array of percussive and melodic elements working in unison for a heavily textured, free-form, electronic free-jazz-jam. A pioneering and easy to overlook masterclass in electronic production, rightly framed in a fresh new context."
The third album from Afro-Cuban French twins Lisa-Kainde and Naomi Diaz who together are Ibeyi.
"Inspired by the Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, this is a record celebrating their multitudes are harnessing their power to heal others. Featuring collaborations with Pa Salieu, Jorja Smith, BERWYN, Dave Okumu, Ben Reed and Owen Pallett, with production by Richard Russell".
Serpente’s Afro-Latin rhythm-driven saga ropes in a strong cast of collaborators - Maxwell Sterling, Kelly Jane Jones, Pedro Sousa and Vasco Alves - for its most curious new chapter.
Since bifurcating from his Ondness project in 2018, Bruno Silva’s Serpente has reeled off some of the craftiest percussive exploits in circulation for the past few years. ‘Dias da Aranha’ is notably the project’s most layered, intricate and fractious new volley, surely benefitting from extra hands in the mix who faithfully subsume their sound to Serpente’s ancient-futurist agenda.
Setting its warped metric grid with a taut solo salvo ‘Nunca Morras’, the Portuguese artist spars with Maxwell Sterling’s double bass and wind to resolve from loose-limbed clatter and prang to elegant 4th world flex on ‘Meio Ondness’, before channelling more animalistic urges in the prowling, purring designs of ’Símbolo V’, which also features highly skilled improvisor Kelly Jane Jones lending to its nervy, asymmetric pointillism, before chiming in with Pedro Sousa’s extended sax tekkerz, Pedro Alves’ uncertain static textures and Serpente’s sloshing drums in the most peculiar whorl of ‘Vala da Luz da Manhã’. Finally, ‘Ritos de Poeira’ pushes the project farther than ever with Sousa’s smeared, Zummo-esque brass creating a warped bed for Serpente’s drums to unfurl and contract in a superb play of rhythmic anticipation.
!!!'s ninth record, "Let it Be Blue".
"'Let it Be Blue' takes that feeling of constant, radical transformation to new, untapped zones. It’s a record of sparse dance music. The kind of stuff you want to put on loud, let loose, go to the bar to get a drink only to abandon your plans because the song that just came on was too good not to dance to. Let it Be Blue is a computer record, but it doesn’t feel like it. Featuring production from Patrick Ford, Let it Be Blue is the product of file sharing, trading stems, song particles, little ideas on their way to being fully realized dance tracks. It was conceived during the past two years, with dreams of future dancefloors very much on the brain. The resulting 11 songs are some of the band’s most production focused offerings to date. They’re crystalline, full of sub-bass and drums. It evokes visions of clubs where a concoction of Dembow and acid house play at volumes so loud your ears hurt and you forget what day of the week it is. In other words, it’s a !!! album. It makes you freak out a little bit."
Uwe Zahn's turn-of-the-millenium masterpiece, inspired by a vacation in the south of France and rendered mostly on harpsichord and jazz drum samples. It's a world away from the IDM intricacies of his DIN output and still sounds peculiar and intimate over 20 years later, fresh with a new remaster at D&M. It was also the first album we ever pressed up and distro'd, so it'll always have a special place in our Herzen.
After a few years of acclaim for his hyper-focused and precision edited electronic productions, Uwe Zahn was craving something different. The idea for 'Tides' bubbled to the surface after Zahn had a vacation in France and was inspired by the peaceful landscape to make field recordings, which ended up forming some of the album's background textures. Zahn wanted to find a way to avoid the ultra-processed sci-fi IDM aesthetic, and bring some feeling back to his sound - and he did it with help from his friend Christian Kleine. Sifting through Kleine's record collection, Zahn found a handful of jazz records and set to work recording the drums to his sampler and assembling tracks around them. Using a hardware sequencer rather than a computer and a delay unit, the tracks ended up retaining an organic sound while displaying Zahn's outsized engineering skills.
For the instrumental parts, Zahn took an even weirder route than he did with the percussion, using both harpsichord sounds and guitar improvisations from Christian Kleine. The woozy synth textures that elevated his early productions are almost completely absent, replaced by Kleine's folk whimsy and the medieval clang of the spinet. If all this sounds hard to imagine, just take a quick listen to 'Theme', where thick, jerky drums are interrupted quickly by harpsichord riffs that aren't so very different from Zahn's memorable synth melodies, just tonally - and culturally - shifted. It's unexpected how well the sounds coalesce, and its to Zahn's credit that he managed to create such a coherent theme out of such disparate elements. When Kleine's guitar is introduced on the album's title track, strumming gentle yacht rock reverberations over loose, reversed breaks and seagull calls, the album's sun-bleached vacation mood is as clear as day.
When "Tides" was released, it felt like a reaction to the plateauing and self-cannibalization of electronic music - in 2022 that mood is still relevant. And it still absolutely wrecks us.
Felix Hall’s Chrome label throws down an ultra-sick new album of elevated, hybridised nite funk and Southern rap-informed psychedelics from NTS regular Mobbs. It follows crucial cuts on the label of ‘90s/'00s Dancehall instrumentals and a bounty of mixtapes that have earned it cult, buy-on-sight status, and is crucial listening if yr into anything from Hype WIlliams to Equiknoxx to Three 6 Mafia.
Five years since Mobbs’ first release for Red Lebanese, and chasing up notable interim productions for A$AP Rocky and Poison Anna, the South-London player comes properly ruff and ready with 14 tracks of coarsely textured, killer industrial noir sound design and cruddy slants on club music for the times. It showcases the artist heads-down inhabiting his sound, chiselling out a definitive statement of murky steez that echoes London's wickedly scuzzy underbelly in 2022.
If you've been paying attention, Mobbs should already be on your radar. The DJ and producer's regular NTS show introed us to his slop of UK-2-US regional dance ingredients - a dim-lit space where Houston's codeine slither exists alongside euphoric D&B intros, industrial noise gristle and drill wobbles. But it was 2017’s ‘OneLord’ mixtape that sealed the deal: 22 tracks of immersive contemporary noir flicker that burned hip-hop tropes into a widescreen burr of subversive dancefloor alienation.
This new album balances thugged-out club tekkerz with high PPM levels of atmospheric pollution and nods to classic Manga soundtracks as he toggles the pressure between stark grayscale and cybernoir brutalism, with panel-beaten mutations of dancehall, drill, trip hop and head-squeezing drug chug that draw on lessons learned over the past half decade. 'Clandestine' lodges itself in the same VHS-faded dimension as Actress or early Lee Gamble, but approaches sampling with RZA's loping, pitch-fucked methodology; 'Rook' fades the light up a notch, driving a pulsing 4/4 kick against low-n-slow synths and ATL hats. Later on, ‘HIT’ submerges vocal loops in overdriven Southern rap drums that take a left turn into Three 6 Mafia-style darkness before fading into the rude dungeon trap of 'Mase’.
The album’s also studded with choice club cuts for the DJs, such as hard driller ‘Rocco’ or even the gauzy acid dancehall grind of ‘Locust’, but we reckon it’s best destined for smoked-out skulking, measured with a beatdown pace and claggy, hungover sort of compression that really comes into play thru immersed listening, seeping from cranky illbient to the distant choral motifs of ‘Trad’ and even what sounds like David Tibet sampled in the lushly occluded closer ‘Laying in the Grave’.
If you can imagine what a fourth generation C90 of Aaron Dilloway played over a Shawty Pimp mixtape might sound like, or if you're into anything on the axis from Actress to Space Afrika to Lil Ugly Mane - this one’s properly electric.
After marinading in the archive for decades, Mats Gustafsson unleashes a definitive solo statement of smouldering contrabass improv recorded in a Gothenburg church during the witching hours. Highly recommended skronk madness, tipped if yr into Bendik Giske, Colin Stetson, Matana Roberts, Henri Chopin.
Originally intended for release with Table of the Elements (RIP), Mats’ ‘Contra Songs’ now yield a rare solo spotlight on the free-jazz legend found absolutely in his element, communing with the spirits. Playing against, and with, the cold, hard, stone and wood surfaces and vaulted reverbs of the space, Mats recorded some six hours of improv to DAT, tube amps, and two AKG 414 mics in “an extreme stereo set-up, close to the horn” of his monstrous, unwieldy brass instrument - prized for its ability to reach low end frequencies that others simply don’t touch. What came out sounds like a chimeric elk-man speaking to the moon in an ancient language, venturing an astonishing grammar of bestial bleats, shredded honk and percussive thwack best comprehended on the most primal levels.
If you're expecting an album of raucous free sax squeaking and ear-splitting runs, "Contra Songs" is gonna surprise you. Using a lux Tubax contrabass sax, Gustafsson sounds as if he's conducting a ritual, emphasizing his mastery of the instrument without any needless trickery. Opener 'Song for the Darkest Eye and Ear' might be the set's most abrupt, cutting thru the air with noisy blasts, wordless cries and dextrous taps. Over its seven minute duration, Gustafsson moves us from skronky freedom into gospel-like reverence, arriving on humming bass tones and fluctuating breaths by the track's final third. From here, "Contra Songs" sounds as if Gustafsson has slipped into an almost meditative space, mutating his amplified heavy breathing and staccato dinks on 'Song for Foreign Air' into cracking, rhythmic pops that echo through the Swedish church's hall.
The album's longest track 'Song for the Night' is gassy and percussive, sounding like Bendik Giske's rigorous rhythmic horn waves without the melodic element. Gustafsson instead lets the physicality and depth of the sounds themselves root the music, and it sounds like a gurgling organic alternative to oscillator-driven DIY tape noise, stripped down to preserve the sanctity of the sound itself. There are moments that dial Gustafsson's action down to a gesture - it feels as if he's communicating with an audience we can't completely perceive, and that gives the music a level of animation and tension that keeps you gripped throughout. At times, his technique shapes the contrabass into rubber-band pings that ring out through the church; on 'Song for the Canned Emptiness Inside' these bassy stings anchor the track with an almost "Assault on Precinct 13" level of cinematic moodiness. And on closing track 'Contra Song' they evolve into clicking cacophony, slapping back and reverberating, sounding breathy, metallic and slippery.
'Contra Songs' is a challenging listening experience but a rewarding one, deploying detailed music that demands focus, but not exactly the kind of free jazz tome that requires years of training to appreciate. Gustafsson's genius lies in his respect for the church's acoustic properties and the opulent resonance of his instrument.
The latest album from Matt Lord & dego on 2000black.
"Monsters are the result of the sleep of reason" said Goya, and today we live with its complete absence. Murder and grief, destitution and corruption surround us. War. Democide and the madness of the lies that adorn it - a casual dispersal of humanity and lives put to the fire. Where is joy? Where is hope? Music and Art are all that remain to salve the spirit, yet they are done. A Twentieth-century devotion that now only exists as an outfit, a thin layer worn as social currency. What was previously a mountainous range for pilgrims to climb is now a warehouse stacked high, lit by LED, every last shadow removed.
Served online as a superficial ghost, reanimated by computer in St.Vitus dance - those warm corners where we used to reside now stark and scratchy - no place left to hide, no orange glow to spark cognisance. Right against the wall, held by the throat, we are only free in dreams. Yet Music still lives here - in reverie amongst the world of spirits and memory, recharging and recuperating, awaiting rebirth. So let the psalms of decades past instead serve as armour - dress yourself with these plates and reside here while storms rage outside. Here are 12 dreams to serve as armour. Take hope with lord and dego, sit here with us in the warmth and dream again, for in the words of Hughes "if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly."
Dutch ambient master Hanyo Van Oosterom and Spanish artist Clara Brea reprise their pastoral ambient fusions with lush field recordings made in endangered and ancient wetlands
After lending cello samples to Son of Chi & Radboud Mens’ ‘The Transition Recordings’ in 2021, Clara collaborates proper with Van Oosterom’s Son of Chi in immersive, durational forms that render all the time and space needed to astrally project oneself somewhere much nicer, less anxious, than modern life.
Each artist brings a custom palette of field recordings, made in Ebro Delta nature reserve - one of the most threatened regions of climate change on the Iberian peninsula - and the Greek island of Patmos, to a wholly absorbing suite of sloshing hydrophonic recordings, bird calls, and sandy textures underfoot, woven with Son of Chi’s signature ambient synth diffusions and trace elements of Clara’s strings. Quite simply trust that it’s up to Astral Industries usual high standards, primed for cutting the anchor and setting yourself adrift.
Playing like a dream within a dream, Quiet music master Timo van Luijk provides a 10th anniversary reissue of his introspective, chamber-like masterpiece ‘Trois Mémoires Discrètes' (three discrete memories), deploying half-lit nocturnes played on flute, brass, organ and barely perceptible concrète treatments that make for some of the most effortlessly beautiful pieces in his esteemed catalogue. A real special one this.
Shrouded in atmospheric mist, over the course of 40 minutes Van Luijk manages to evoke an oneiric, forlorn sense of lost majesty that draws eyelids to half mast. Listening to it again for the first time in years feels like returning to a part-remembered dream, with a nuanced blend of instrumental haptics (English horn, flute, percussion, double bass, Hammond organ) and electro-acoustic sorcery practically altering your listening space’s lumens like a kind of barometric alchemy.
Performed, mixed and recorded between 2010-2012, the album's exquisite poise places it at the point where classical and contemporary circles bleed into their own form, and as with so many of van Luijk’s releases, it’s hard to quantify just what it is that makes it stand so far removed from material that ostensibly exists in similar dimensions. Perhaps it's the stark simplicity of the recording - that stunning, naturally reverberating English horn on the 18 minute opener ‘Sylphide’ - for example, or the bare flute that shapes ‘Taciturne’ - treated with just enough environmental pressure to imbue proceedings with a deep sense of uncertainty.
The three works are immersive scenes unto themselves, deftly fraught with a kind of shiver of materiality that has made all Van Luijk’s work - from solo Af Ursin to his duo with Andrew Chalk as Elodie - so damn special. Its smoke-curl horns and lyrical organ has transported us to a space of absolute mental stillness - even if just for a moment - in a way we haven’t experienced for a long time.
Piquant, enchanting rhythmelodic exercises by Japanese DJ, producer and rapper Taro Nohara, sweetly playing to his most melodic and experimental side for the Balearic types at Growing Bin
A sort of distant, instrumental descendent of YMO’s techno-pop and Kenji Kawai’s cinematic soundtrack architecture, and proximal at times to Foodman’s lively, animated rhythmelodies,’Hyper Nu Age Tekno!’ is pretty much exactly as its title implies. The 10 tracks place Nohara’s wipe-clean electronic palette at the service of a gently buoyant and bucolic conception of tekno that’s actually a million miles from the word’s use to describe fragged out hard techno, and better grasped as retro-futurist update of its roots in kosmic Teutonic electronics.
The 10 tracks feel to blur retro-futurist and contemporary styles, balancing classic technoid urges with a modern fluidity from the pointillist tuned percussion of ‘Space Debris’ to the ambient slosh of ‘Music For Psychic Liberation’, variously putting his sequencer thru its paces on the brisk iridescent shimmy of ‘Ill Eel’, and more genteel swinging electro impulses of ‘Baker baker Paradox (Acid Mix)’, and more urgent offbeat techno, proper in ‘Use Your Head’, with far eastern toned electronic ambient in ’Shikantanza’, or like Foodman soundtracking an Anime love scene in ‘Celestial Harmonia’.