Oblique, intense and spirit-gnawing electro-acoustic exercises from The Skull Defekts founder / Ideal head honcho Joachim Nordwall, presenting a brilliantly stark album of direct and gnarly Machine energy that comes highly recommended if you're into anything from Pan Sonic to Alessandro Cortini, Deathprod or Emptyset. So good.
Working with a bunch of tone generators fed thru a massive wall of amps at Elementstudion in Gothenburg, Nordwall isolates and fearlessly homes in on the recording space’s resonant frequencies until you can physically feel the room grinding, whining and shuddering in the kind of spasms that arch the spine and set your back teeth on edge. And he does it relentlessly for the whole record.
It’s what Nordwall in December, 2016 described as “…my ideal black. A place I enjoy to place myself in” and, by turns, appears to be a place we enjoy inhabiting, too. There’s really a lot to be said for the unadulterated pleasure of sustained atonal assaults, and feeling like you’re about to be asphyxiated from the sheer pressure of it all.
The only steady variable in this elemental organism is the sense of rhythm; a metric, pulsing heave that keeps each piece’s tangibly immense weight pushing forward from the crack’d slap of a drum that pins The Ideal Black into place, to the quasi-step lurch of Great Mind of Fire, thru the Alessandro Cortini-Like impulse of Extreme Solution for a Simple Problem to the palsied, cog-ground rattle of System For Psychic Expansion and Black Out at its nether limits.
In the rarest way, thanks to Joachim’s direct approach, the mixing of Linus Andersson, and Heba Kadry’s master at Timeless Mastering, Bushwick, The Ideal Black is about as close as you’ll hear to a 1-to-1 representation of pure, crushing tonal terror. A character-building exercise strongly tipped if you like the biting point sounds of: Kevin Drumm, Alessandro Cortini, Emptyset, Gottfried Michael Koenig
An absolute classic of the genre, this 2005 debut album from the Norwegian duo of Erik Skodvin and Otto Totland is a miraculous, hugely evocative blend and smoke-filled ambience and modern classical inversions that has more or less defined its own sub-genre in the decade since it was released. If you're into William Basinski, Lynch/Badalamenti, Eno or Harold Budd, this is as essential as it gets.
Over layers of fizzing aural sediment, Deaf Center build the kind of vista-expanding, piano tinged music that has you thinking you're in your own film. Manifesting itself in the stravaig and epic iciness of 'Thread', or the etiolated Nyman piano of 'White Lake', Deaf Center have a seemingly bottomless supply of pathos on which to draw.
For this new 2016 vinyl edition, Skodvin & Totland rappel deeper into the Pale Ravine to unearth a previously unreleased side D on occasion of the album’s 11th anniversary edition. All five pieces were made during the same 2003-2005 era as the rest of the album, yet didn’t make it onto the single, original LP edition. Now rejoined with their noumenal siblings, and, like the rest of the LP, they have more room to breathe and haunt, especially in the abyssal allure of Social Lucy Waltz, or the diaphanous, chiaroscuro pall of End Station at the album’s new final destination.
Just incredible music.
Song Cycle Records smartly expand our knowledge of ‘70s NYC’s incredibly fertile experimental cosmos with this essential reissue of Michael Snow’s Musics for Piano, Whistling, Microphone and Recorder; which was originally issued by Philip Glass and Kaus Kertess’s seminal Chatham Square Productions label, ran out of the Bykert Gallery on East 77th Street in Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
The Canadian artist and film maker Michael Snow was originally a jazz musician, and is perhaps best known for recording what’s come to be regarded as the first ever freely improvised recording, a soundtrack to his film Walking Woman a.k.a New York Eye and Ear Control (1965) starring Albert Ayler, Don Cherry, Sonny Murray, John Tchicai, Gary Peacock and Roswell Rudd. Around that same era, Snow also befriended Steve Reich and Philip Glass, and this remarkably unsung record is said to be a “happy by-product of their association”.
It kicks off with Falling Starts, split over two sides on the first disc. In the economical and innovative spirit of ‘70s minimalism, Snow juices a solitary piano phrase for all it’s worth, using a tape machine to methodically scale down that melancholy sequence from playful hyperspeed to a crushing, burnt out blur by the dead wax of side B, in effect recalling the resonant frequency reinforcements of Alvin Lucier’s I Am In A Room as much as The Dead C’s most primordial drone slugs or a bludgeoned Kevin Drumm piece. There is something deeply satisfying about hearing a concept played out like this, and coupled with corresponding liner notes - which diminish in type size over the front and first inner panel - it feels conceived with a refreshing lack of illusion that allows the music to speak unimpeded.
However, Snow’s idiosyncratic sense of freeness comes across most strongly in the subsequent side of W In The D, a twenty six minute recording of solo whistling, using a handheld mic as an instrument. Here, he cycles thru near infinite variations dependent on his lung capacity, wittering away alien, avian phrases punctuated by his own breathing. It was originally intended to be heard in a darkened room and we’d recommend you do the same. The LP’s most “difficult” piece is saved for last, rendering 23 minutes of eviscerating, distorted stride piano that sounds like an old skool V/Vm and Mrs Mills tackling Charlemagne Palestine rather than Tim Hecker.
A real find.
For anyone who knows these records already - you won't need much of a sermon from us about their stature and greatness. If you don't know them - fuck you're in for a treat.
Rhythm & Sound was the project that Mark Ernestus and Moritz von Oswald turned to after their seminal series of recordings as Basic Channel came to an end. From 1997 until 2002 the label released seven 12" EP's which pretty much defined the direction so much electronic music would turn to in its wake - and it still continues to exert a colossal influence, for better or worse. It's perhaps hard to remember over a decade later just how little these productions sounded like anything that preceded them - taking the essence of dub and breaking it down until all that was left was a vapour trail of melody and a colossal bass echo.
We could spend an hour listing all the music that basically came along and copied this template in the intervening years but, the thing is, none of what followed comes anywhere near these productions in terms of substance, none of it has aged in the same way.
Moss Garden is a stunning dark ambient opus from Erik Skodvin (Deaf Center) aka Svarte Greiner: collecting his soundtracks for two installation pieces commissioned by Marit Følstad, perfectly distilling the space between waking life and nightmare as uncannily as anything else you’ll hear this side of a David Lynch flick, or that recurring dream where you’re trapped going the wrong way down an escalator into an icy fjord. If you're into Mica Levi's unique string arrangements, this one's a must.
The album marks the return of Skodvin’s most prized solo alias, trailing in the smoky wake of a recent reissue of his Deaf Center classic, Pale Ravine (2005) to effectively resolve the three year wait since he left us dangling with Black Tie, which was also released thru his label; Miasmah.
As any avowed follower of dark ambient music will likely acknowledge, there’s a fine line between numbing tonal drift and genuinely enchanted sound, and it’s one which Skodvin is patently aware of both as a listener/consumer and producer/alchemist operating within those parameters, allowing him to skilfully navigate the sound’s most subtle aspects without ever being accused of being one-dimensional, as could be applied to many others in that field.
Crucially, like the best of Greiner’s work, Moss Garden strikes a balance of almost academic stoicism and expressive pathos, using rarified technique at the service of an instinctually guided tension. He commits something more akin to one of Harry Bertoia’s Sonambient recordings, revealing a widescreen, mazy field of convulsive, recursive metallic shockwaves that open out at unfathomable, horizontal angles whilst the centre ground gains a mass of blackened drone energy, as though we’re moving ever deeper into a space as long as it is wide until we’re greeted by a frost of sylvan timbres that seem to mimic the vocal tone of its translucent inhabitants.
Throbbing Gristle's second album, remastered - making for markedly superior sound quality to some previous editions - and reissued on Industrial Records.
This finds the band at their sleazy (no pun intended) and savage best, reaching an apogee of apoplectic rage on 'We Hate You (Little Girls)', and has to rank as one of the most brilliant British evocations of decay and dysfunction to appear in any art form, ever. For all the P.Orridge-helmed murk, you feel Chris Carter's presence more firmly on this album - as on the the steam-powered, laser-striped synth-wave of 'Dead On Arrival' and especially 'AB/7A', reminiscent of his recently canonized solo set The Space Between.
For all its electronic innovations, DoA also captures TG's oft-forgotten ability to rock, as heard on 'I.B.M.', 'Hit By A Rock' and 'Blood On The Floor', which locate and update the essence of the Stooges and Gen’s beloved Velvets. 'Five Knuckle Shuffle' is as disconcertingly, flagellatingly funky as it always was, and in 'Walls Of Sound' you see the roots of Whitehouse and pretty much all P.E. and harsh noise that's come since.
Never mind the bollocks, you've got Throbbing Gristle.
Autechre's classic debut album from 1993, reissued for the first time in 15 years...
Go on, blink; for the first time in fifteen years Autechre’s peerless debut album, Incunabula is reissued as a facsimile copy of the original, 1993 release, replete with silver-printed gatefold jacket.
We’re not going to bang on about this too much, but you should know by now that Incunabula is one of the cornerstones of modern electronic music, one of the pinnacles of the British rave epoch and among the most life-affirming records ever, bar none.
Aye, it’s 100% essential.
Hardcore techno pelters from NYC industrial survivor Collin Strange
Private Room is a straight-up, gristly wall-banger fuelled on bone-melting acid, thuggish kicks and razoring hi-hats; Private Lies throws down massive inverted kickdrums and 303s right between the eyes; Private Thoughts polishes you off with a kinkier sort of darkroom acid canter.
Room40 pair two much-loved and out-of-print Tim Hecker pieces on vinyl to mark the label's 15th year of editions and events.
The A-side finds Tim bunkered in the mine shaft at Sweden's Norberg festival on July 30th, 2005, where he coaxes out some 20 minutes of pealing chimes and reverberant cacophony making intrinsic use of the space's natural acoustics. After 10 years, thankfully 'Norberg' makes its first appearance on vinyl here.
On the other side we find the succinctly emotive eight minutes of 'Apondalifa', presenting its frayed ribbon of oxidising strings and electronics in its entirety for the first time (it was previously broken in two parts over a 7" in 2010).
If you're only familiar with Tim's better known work, this is a perfect stopgap in lieu of a new LP. Highly recommended!
K Leimer’s 4th LP Land of Look Behind is a genuine ambient pearl from the early years of his Palace Of Lights label. Remastered (by Greg Davis) and reissued on vinyl for first time since 1982!
It was originally conceived and deployed as the soundtrack to Alan Greenberg’s film of Bob Marley’s funeral, taking the film’s location recordings of crowds at the funeral and Rastas in Cockpit County - high in JA’s mountainous interior - as cues and raw source material for a sublime, rhythmelodic suite of 4th World Ambient themes. The result are totally absorbing, some of the most enduring music in Leimer’s revered cache.
Opening up the process-oriented approach of his then-previous album, Closed System Potentials (1980), Leimer’s 2nd side for PoL is a beautifully ethereal, pensile thing which bears an intrinsic link to the film, which, like the soundtrack, isn’t just a straight-ahead match of sound and image; rather it’s dreamily immersive yet detached, hovering between enigmatic and sublime thanks to the use of sampled and reframed dialogue, and most subtly, in the way Leimer and his quartet of drummers - Steve Fisk, Kevin Hodges, David Keller, James Keller - also use the dialogue and street noise as cues, trigger points for syncopated patterns and weightless tones.
Like his best work with Savant, both prior and post this album, the meeting of swaying, pointillist percussion and floating electronics is key to the magic of this one, too. At many times between the chiming instrumental call-and-repsonse of Two Voices and the mix of grubbing bass, pealing synths and patina of glossolalia in The City Far Below, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re in the midst of an Eno & Hassell record, but the distinction is clearly made by Leimer’s grooving suss and unfathomable sense of space, at its most compelling in the slow, crisply rolled Nyabinghi and keening pads of Testimony and Honor, or its widescreen partner piece, The Cockpit.
Colour us enchanted. This is a properly lovely record.
Smart survey of productions by members of New Order, including classic tracks released on Factory Records between 1982 and 1985. Bonus material on the CD includes the full 22 minute version of Video 5-8-6 and a Section 25 song produced by Ian Curtis and Rob Gretton in 1979!
New Order Presents Be Music is a compilation of productions by members of New Order, including classic dance and electro tracks released on Factory Records between 1982 and 1985, as well as more recent remixes for current artists such as Factory Floor, Marnie, Tim Burgess and Fujiya & Miyagi.
"The generic tag Be Music was first used in 1981 and covered studio production work by all four members of New Order: Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert. Sumner often teamed with Donald 'Dojo' Johnson of A Certain Ratio, including the pioneering electro cuts featured here by Quando Quango, 52nd Street, Marcel King, Paul Haig and Surprize. Morris and Gilbert worked with Thick Pigeon, Life, Red Turns To and also 52nd Street. Although more rock orientated, Hook proved he was no slouch on the dancefloor either with the mighty Fate/Hate by Nyam Nyam.
'Producing was a really important sideline,' recalls Bernard Sumner of the Factory era. 'It's OK doing it because although all the groups are skint, you learn a lot and you're helping somebody.'
After 1985 the band focused more on producing their own records, both as New Order and solo projects such as Electronic, Revenge, The Other Two, Monaco and Bad Lieutenant. However in recent years Stephen Morris in particular has remixed several newer artists, notably London industrialists Factory Floor, as well as former Factory workers A Certain Ratio and Section 25.”
Regis compiles a killer Downwards label survey for 2017 featuring excluisve new material from DVA Damas, Autumns, Grebenstein, Sefried and Layne, veering from dank EBM to collapsing industrial structures.
Downwards send their new vanguard on road with The Immortal Eye; the mood is intensely depressive and pessimistic throughout, but, in the classic sense of gothic industrial music, the impeccably maintained atmosphere conversely acts as comfort or redemption to those need it.
Berlin’s Jan Grebenstein remerges with Seefried on the tunnelling Wufferfraction only months after their excellent Strong Proud Stupid and Superior 12”. Imagine an anxious HTRK or ToC have just run out of downers and the technoid tension becomes palpable… before, the uncomfortably stark, empty-stomach concrète churn of Layne’s Love will put you back face down again.
Autumns have flirted with Clan Destine and CF Records since their Downwards debut of eviscerated shoegaze in 2014, but they enter the B-side with a markedly different silhouette, framing spectral electronics and unheimlich voices in acres of negative, miasmic space before slipping into a pulsing techno trajectory, whilst LA’s DVA Damas clear up with the erotic asphyxiation of Shortcut To X, which is effectively a crushing reduction of by now familiar sound...
Scott Morgan’s Loscil hovers back into view with a decidedly moody album of his patented dub and ambient productions for Kranky some two years since Sea Island.
Monument Builders is a nerve-riddled and unpredictable thing and perhaps not exactly what you’d expect from him. Where once there was a sense of blue optimism to his music, there is now a brooding pensiveness manifest in its minor key arrangements and bruised, textured tone.
The album perhaps betrays a return influence from his day job as a sound director for the video game industry, as Monument Builders could soundtrack a bleak first person immersion in some dark parallel world not too dissimilar to our own, patiently plotting a course thru the resonant, widescreen space and cracked ice patterns of Drained Lake to ascend a vertiginous vortex of throbbing synths - among the most kinetic piece in his whole catalogue - in the anxiously melancholy Red Tide, pausing for murky reflection in the title track, and raising the tension again with the frosty brassy swells of Straw Dogs and coolly baffling the senses with the headlong techno velocity and strangely static poise of Anthropocene, leaving with us the OOBE, swarmed by deliquescent, dying angels in Weeds.
You don’t usually expect an artist’s most powerful piece of work to arrive fifteen years into their game, but that what Loscil has arguably achieved with his 10th solo album.
First ever official reissue of John Bender’s seminal sophomore LP, originally recorded 1979-81 around the same time as I Don’t Remember Now. A none-more-definitive slab from minimal wave/post punk’s most fecund period of innovation/exploration!!!
John Bender’s earliest output essentially forms a metaphorical bridge between the original templates of minimalist, industrial and punk music from Terry Riley, T.G. and Suicide in a way that was previously unimagined in 1979-81, or, at least executed with such acute, idiosyncratic vision by anyone else.
Originally issued on the artist’s own Record Sluts label, the first 1981 pressing of Plaster Falling was notoriously housed in sleeves that were hand-dipped in plaster and hermetically sealed in latex, meaning that lucky owners had to break open the box to get at the record inside.
What lies within is a true testament to following one’s instincts, which history has proven to be utterly fucking correct in its assertions that previously, mutually exclusive bedfellows, weren’t that incompatible after all.
It’s easy enough to say that in the non-linear flatland of 2017, but back when this record was made, nearly 40 years ago, this was a major achievement, picked up on by those few in the know, but largely reserved to fetishists and collector’s lists ever since.
A masterful balance of intuitive experimentation and avant-pop yearning lies at the core of its allure, deftly mixing drily sparky drum machines with off-kilter synth hooks and his own observational, lyrical abstractions delivered in a patented, droll and robotic voice in a way that, with hindsight, clearly predated, if not directly influenced, a whole wave of mimetic interpretations. But most crucially, they’re tunes! OK, albeit strange ones, but proper tunes all the same, and with devilishly strong grooves to boot.
Plaster Falling is the sort of record which didn’t exist before it was conceived, and not many since have topped it for immediacy and enduring effect. An essential addition to any electronic or weirdo music collection!!!
Warm, spacious deep house trax from Vancouver’s Flørist and his alter ego, V. Rosso.
Classic import house vibes here, from the romantic yearn of Windows On The World and its sublime Moving Day Dub hustle to the weightless, Martyn-meets Chez Damier-esque swing of Down & Out, to the nifty, faded pressure of M-80.
Levon Vincent caps his most productive year since 2009 with the brassy club fanfare of Berlin and NYC’s deft minimalist sound design on NS 15.
Berlin is by far one of the brightest, most optimistic club plays in over a decade of LV’s productions, simultaneously drawing on his classical/minimalist studies and Berlin’s history of economic hedonism to hypnotise with a patented blend of subs-driven pressure, martial trills and heady lead horns that nod toward Steve Reich as much as Moritz Von Oswald’s reworks for Deutsche Grammofon.
Likewise, NYC links with a fertile history of downtown experimentation and deep Black dance music roots in its intricately pointillist, pizzicato top line whilst the pounding bass is physically fierce, irresistible in the right situations.
Mark Ernestus and Moritz Von Oswald’s sublime Main Street project was Berlin’s most beautiful contribution to bridging deep house and dub techno.
On the Round Two platter Andy Caine lends proper American soul/house vox vocals to the stepping’, swinging original, also trimmed to a natty New Day (Edit) and expanded to the horizon in a New Day (Dub).
After years of plaudits from all corners, Jacques Greene distills the ecstatic/melancholy sentiment of modern electronic house music within Feel Infinite, his debut album for LuckyMe.
Throughout the album’s 11 tracks, the Montreal-based producer synthesises the see-sawing feels of a night with pals, fingers tasting like acrid saffron and skin flush with water retention, using a range of contemporary house, R&B and electro-pop conventions to convey the warmest, user-friendly vibes.
Tom Krell (How To Dress Well) is partly responsible for one of the album’s highlights with pleading vocals on the swinging soft trance R&B gesture, True, and an uncredited female (or processed male) voice sparkles as an instrumental element across many other, with ear-snagging style in the filter-disco chops of Real Time, and cooing from the snappy 2-step structure of Afterglow.
Astral Industries complete the circle of Chi with this collection of previously unreleased island-dwelling ambient evocations from Hanyo van Oosterom.
After revisiting Kim Cascone’s sublime Heavenly Music Corporation project, London label Astral Industries return to scratch their archival Chi itch one more time. ‘The Kallikatsou Recordings’ is the second collection of music from the period prior to Hanyo van Oosterom and Jacobus Derwort forming the Chi project. Like last year’s ‘Bamboo Recordings’, inspiration comes from van Oosterom’s extended visits to the Greek island of Patmos where he developed a deeply personal connection with a mythical rock structure called the Kallikatsou.
This previously-unreleased collection comes from music van Oosterom worked on over several years from the nineties onwards, drawing peace of mind from the Kallikatsou and channeling it into drones, soundscapes, samples and field recordings. Collated together as two long form pieces rich in deeply-textured ambience, van Oosterom orchestrates a half hour journey through becalming, evocative waters that represent a fitting finale to the Chi archival saga.
Bambooman wickedly freshens up his palette to ear + booty-snagging effect on this winner for Matthew Herbert’s yung Accidental Jnr label.
Stepping out of the garage/hip hop paradigm and into a more inquisitive, new zones of polymetric measures and of kilter harmonics, yet without losing the subtly swung charm of his earlier releases, Bambooman embraces the present future with style in the four tracks of Shudder.
The title track lives up to its mantle with a lean display of nipped, recursive rhythms that sounds like a Beatrice Dillon groove filleted by Gábor Lázár. The combination of rude swagger, vocal stabs and slicing chords in Grasp is a little more conventional, perhaps closer to recent Joy Orbison gear, for example, whilst M1 turns back to the kind of fresh, metallic shimmy also explored by Björk producer, Spaces, and Kyrian also impresses with a bittersweet broken beat twyster that sounds like Dego with a ear-infection; all unbalanced swang and perfectly dissonant chord combos.
After an eight year break from releasing music, Scott Kannberg (founding member of Pavement and Preston School Of Industry) AKA Spiral Stairs releases his new album ‘Doris & The Daggers’.
"‘Doris & The Daggers’ was recorded over a batch of short sessions at Exactamundo studios in Eagle Rock, California. The band features Broken Social Scene’s Justin Peroff on drums, Kevin Drew sang on ‘Emoshuns’, Kelley Stoltz lent guitar to the summery chime of ‘AWM’ and The National’s Matt Berninger lends vocals to the bittersweet, zephyr-light ‘Exiled Tonight’."
Two celebrated veterans - anticon. co-founder Doseone and the esteemed underground rapper Mestizo - come together.
"A7PHA is the culmination of years of radical thought, lives lived on the knife's edge. Their self-titled debut record (anchored by production from Alias) absorbs that left-field energy, splinters it into component parts, and re-assembles it into something uniquely human.
Listen to "At The Altar": a song built on steely, industrial instrumental pieces, but in its final form, you can practically hear the track inhale and exhale. The breaths are strung together by Doseone and Mestizo's vocals, which flit back and forth from staccato and precise, to formless and gothic. Or check "99 Point Static," where the track builds such steam that when the bottom falls out on the coda, you get transported through to the end on raw adrenaline. A7PHA does this over and over - building massive tidal waves of raw, immovable emotions, then turning on a dime, and leaves you scrambling to keep up.
Few boast the pedigree to forge something so simultaneously listenable and invitingly bizarre. Doseone has spent two decades as one of hip-hop's most inscrutable talents, working with a who's-who of underground legends and establishing himself as one of the most dazzling technical MCs, chimerical lyricists, and creative visionaries. His contributions to A7PHA find him flexing all his undeniable vocal gifts: razor-sharp, rapid-fire cadences, an elasticity that unspools a vertiginous array of emotions. As a writer, he marries his cryptic strings of imagery to a frenzied search for something deeper. He pushes
A7PHA as far as possible into uncharted territory. For his part, Mestizo grounds the proceedings, filling the songs out with flesh and blood. His vocals on "Sicked" set the tone for the rest of the album: dense, punishing, and propulsive. If Dose is busy sliding around the seams of a beat, Mestizo cuts directly through. The Philly resident is the stone-eyed center of the record, the steady hand on the wheel while everything around him burns. But as "Hater Hate It" makes abundantly clear, he's not above some verbal acrobatics of his own. A7PHA isn't made for upscale bars or low-key gatherings. It's about shattering the facades around you, then staring, unflinching, and what's left behind. It's supposed to soundtrack minor mental breakdowns and house parties that permanently fuck up your security deposit. Doseone and Mestizo have something highly combustible on their hands, but for the time being, it seems that they know just how to handle it."
Matt Spendlove follows his Emergence series of Spatial experiments with a debut album on his own Infrasonics label.
‘A Music of Sound Systems’ expands on and deconstructs the algo-riddimic approach of Spatial’s classy Emergence series circa 2015-16, bringing forth a long overdue debut album steeped in meticulous attention to aesthetic detail.
Clearly paying dues to JA and UK system culture, Spatial also seeks out the artistic abstraction of El Lissitzky, a key figure in the geometrically-inclined Suprematism movement in early 20th Century Russia. He conflates concepts explored through musique concrète and the Darmstadt School, reducing their ideas down into a gloopy, amorphous whole that craftily creeps under your skin.
Implementing stereo panning to grant his music a tactile, structural quality, Spatial’s experiments have dub at their very root but he’s always looking to draw you in from different directions.
Each track here is like its own little microcosmic universe created by Spatial, whether it’s the chasmic void of sub bass and unsettling ripples of opener Doping Conductor or the deep Lissitzkian bleep abstraction of Proun. The latter is one of several extended productions where Spatial utilises the duration to really build a sense of escalating drama.
RIYL Lee Gamble, Mika Vaino, Alva Noto, Pole, Mix Mup.
Perc & Truss trample all over two bangers from Mumdance & Logos’ Proto LP, commanding Move Your Body to a nail-biting and noisey industrial techno agenda, then steaming thru Hall Of Mirrors with bullish, wall-banging form.
Proper mucky ruts, these.
The veteran mutant noise unit mint their new Lower Floor label with the 100th Wolf Eyes album.
Hurtling ever closer to their 20th anniversary as a band, albeit in various iterations, ‘The U$A’s longest-running homemade primitive electronic poetry & vibes trio,’ offer a semblance of hope 2017 will be alright after all with the arrival of their own label, Lower Floor Music.
Leading by example, this label - or ‘scotched taped nuclear audio radioactive front on humanity’ as they refer to it - is heralded by a new Wolf Eyes long player, ‘Undertow,’ which doubles up as the trio’s one hundredth album release by our estimations.
This is a real ugly bastard of an album, with Nate Young, James Baljo and John Olson intent on shredding minds from the off, adopting a free jazz approach to mangling discordant guitar beyond all recognition on Laughing Tides. From there, Empty Islands sounds like the heroic Pod Blotz attacking the classic shred metal sound of America and Texas spangles further, deeper into abstracted, wailing noise.
The metallic textures and Lou Reed-esque vocal mutterings of the title track are set to an irradiating metronome, setting you up for the near-fourteen-minute finale Thirteen which is Wolf Eyes at their absorbing, decimating best.
Logan Takahashi and Nick Weiss pitch up on Planet Mu with a belated third Teengirl Fantasy album.
First surfacing at the turn of the decade with the naive paean to Chi-town euphoria of Cheaters, Teengirl Fantasy duo Logan Takahashi and Nick Weiss have seemingly been chasing their own sound and sidestepping dodgy genre tags ever since. A prolonged bout of label hopping took the pair from indies like Milo Cordell’s trendjetting Merok and True Panther to a second album campaign for R&S in the label’s awkward A&R phase circa 2012. You know when they put out Vondelpark and Egyptian Hip Hop records….
8AM is Teengirl Fantasy’s latest creative statement, finding them back on a major electronic player in Planet Mu after a brief dalliance with North Carolina’s smartly-named Break World Records. Attempting to overlook their undercooked R&S LP Tracer, this 12-track collection picks up on the lineage of TGF’s 2010 debut album, 7AM, and veers off in a more introspective and abstracted direction.
8AM is a more confident glance into the Teengirl Fantasyverse, picking away at the burning embers of dance music history reinterpreting them in their own voice.
Masterful producer and mastering engineer, Stefan ‘Pole’ Betke, is next up for a creative undertaking of the Schnitzler archives.
By his own admission, a late adoptee to the sizeable canon of Conrad Schnitzler’s work, Stefan Betke is a fine choice to rework the late Kraut icon’s deep tape archive for the latest ‘Con-Struct’ album. Largely occupied with mastering duties since his most recent Pole LP, ‘Wald’, this six-track undertaking is perhaps the best ‘Con-Struct’ yet, offering a sharply-poised exercise in dub dynamics.
Betke coaxes you in with the first two tracks, Wurm and Sieht Hoch, which share the same lazy-eyed string refrain whilst subtly implementing an upwards shift in momentum. From here there is some real head-crushing moments. Lacht is a largely beatless affair that squeezes plenty of unease out through the queasy, sinewy dub FX, and the tripped-out Drachenbäume sind friedliche Wesen has a unique sense of continually fraying at the edges.
The brief Und fängt den Vogel! offers an interlude-shaped lesson in maximal sound design before Betke ends on an extended palate cleanser with a slab of classic Pole dub techno in the shape of Wiegenlied für Katzen.
The Macro man brings some mutant strains of tech-house to D-Edge subsidiary Olga.
Stefan Goldmann’s wayfaring spirit finds him pitching up on the OLGA offshoot of Sao Paolo’s D-EDGE with a pair of frisky, expertly-crafted minimal purrers.
Goldmann sounds like he had plenty of fun in the studio on Radiolarian, kicking out with a mucky dub techno groove then laying it on thick with fizzling pads and snaking pitch bent melodies. Streams offers a trippier side to the Berlin producer’s palette, the sort of thing you can see Ben UFO laying waste to a stadium-sized festival with.
Another icy Nordic beauty from one of Posh Isolation’s more broad-minded acts.
“'I Musik' is the third piece from Kyo, a duet of Hannes Norrvide and Frederik Valentin. With each release the pair make a shift in the project's aesthetic equilibrium, forcing a new constellation of resonances, handing us a new beauty.
'I Musik' presents another wondrous movement in the narrative, like discovering a secret escalator that passes everything you want from a new angle.
The melodramatic pause that their previous album circled with enthusiasm is now considered from a greater distance. Perhaps it is because we have now arrived somewhere? There is a hopeful melancholia that has come with this distance, and it is put to use to describe a scene that feels as human as it is synthetic, as if the world you know is now behind glass. Futures imagined are being recalled, futures undiscovered are being explored—Norrvide and Valentin manage to encode a sense of endlessness to such processes quite casually. The acoustic surfaces brush electronic reflections with an understated sincerity, all of which feels whispered to you by a familiar voice in familiar phrases.
There is such a quiet future being invoked on 'I Musik,' yet we don't know what this quiet may come to be defined against, or if it will come to be defined at all. It's a stillness that isn't fully grasped, and it needn't be. This is its beauty.”
Loke Rahbek’s Croatian Amor pulls together a disparate, motley crew of remixers to dissect and re-stitch some of his best solo work to date: Love Means Taking Action.
Packing ‘em in there, it yields no less than eight new perspectives on the record’s deeply human themes; ranging from the subbass-gilded but weightless new age dimensions of Brynje’s take on Värmland thru the fractured 2-step of Age Coin’s Refugee (ACCA version) and a balmy moment in Why Be’s Love 13 (Island Step) and the rattled jungle prang of Any Life by Yen Towers on the front.
Turn over for what sounds like an underwater Julia Holter in CTM’s Octopus Web and the unmetered pulse and whispers of Ma Langue La Premiere from Felicia Atkinson, which perfectly segues into the Lynchian miasma of Drew Mcdowall’s Love and the candescent ambient romance of Kyo ft. Health & Safety in An Angel.
A rare, beguiling solo outing from Swedish composer and electro-acoustic expert Mats Lindstrom, the current studio director of the revered Elektronmusikstudion (EMS) Stockholm, arriving some five years since release of МИГ, a collection of archival recordings released by Stephen O’Malley’s Ideologic Organ in 2012.
If you have any knowledge of the Scandinavian avant and electronic firmament, there’s every chance that you’ve intersected Lindstrom’s name or even his work on your auditory travels. For those unaware; he’s been integral to that region’s experimental scene since the ‘80s, applying his background as an industrial technician to the construction of unique instruments, and also in pivotal role as producer and directors Fylkingen society for new music and the Stockholm New Music festival. The EMS studio he hells has played hosts to reams of releases which pass thru these pages.
This 7” gives two captivating snapshots of his live electronic practice recorded at GRAD Belgrade in a One/Scratch Memory performance with Anna Koch. They result in two succinctly precise, air-slicing movements captured with the sort of clarity and stereo depth of field that sends eyes rolling around the head when consumed via headphones; eliciting an experience akin to hearing water falling upwards in an enclosed metal space, whilst one of the sentinel bots from the matrix scans for your presence. Funnily enough, that’s the sort of place and situation we dream about near nightly.
It’s only when listening to pieces such as this that you can properly appreciate the difference between composers who think and work in 3D, using every angle of the sound field available to them, and those who paint on 2D canvasses.
Japan’s Ena cuts loose into the grey area between noise, techno and D&B with four tracks taken from his Divided: Mind 12” on Horo.
As heard in the mulched dynamics of his Soil EP, the producer is now exploring more abstract, uncertain zones of inquiry, with what sounds like Wolf Eyes doing caveman techno on the front, plus a piece of Scanio-Style hypo-noise, and a head-swallowing cut of pure atonal abstraction.
Expertly-curated survey of Mali’s incredibly rich musical traditions. Includes gems from the region’s best known artist, Salif Keita along with plenty more nuggets such as The Rail Band’s AfroFunk zinger, Mouodilo; the mesmerising reverbs and distant drums of Worodara or the enchanting, reggae-tinged lilt of Bimoko Magnin by Super Djata Band; calypso from Le Ambassadors du Motel de Bamako.
“‘The Original Sound of Mali’ compiled by David ‘Mr Bongo’ Buttle, Vik Sohonie (Ostinato Records) and Florent Mazzoleni. As featured as 'Compilation of the Week' on Lauren Laverne's BBC 6Music show.
Malian music is arguably deeper, more sophisticated and lyrical than any other form of African music. Those of us deeply entranced by Malian culture, and, in particular, the immense hypnotic beauty of Malian music, have put together a selection of songs from across the country.”
Nuel, Yves De Mey, Orphx and Shawn O’Sullivan tease Wata Igarashi’s Ciphers EP into altered shapes for Berlin’s Midgar.
Noel supplies the biggest highlight with the grittily fluid, pendulous hydraulics of his take on Ciphers; Yves De Mey gives something for your body to chew on with a crooked and bendy remix of Hailstones; Shawn O’Sullivan rolls out for the blackout moment of the night with a grumbling monotone version of Mantle; Orphx reduce Lucifero to a writhing acid lead and glumly persistent bass groove.
First new Letitia Sadier album since Something Shines . Crammed with glittering Gallic pop suss
“Another New Year, and new shapes are forming — if only we are fortunate enough to notice them! As we spin through this world, we are witness to all manner of combinations unfolding before us — familiar arcs and breaking waves alike, upon all of which it is our choice, our chance and our challenge, to possibly ride. Find Me Finding You, the new album from the new organization called the Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble, manages to strike new chords while touching familiar keys in the song of life.
From its percolating opening beat, Find Me Finding You locates new systems within the sound-universe of Laetitia Sadier. This in itself isn’t a surprise — Laetitia has relentlessly followed her music through different dynamics and into a variety of dimensions over the course of four solo albums since 2010 (not to forget her three albums with Monade and the long era of Stereolab)—but the nature of the construction here stands distinctly apart from her recent albums. Laetitia was inspired by a mind’s-eye envisaging of geometric forms and their possible permutations. As she sought to replicate the shapes in music, this guided the process of assembly for the album.
Part of the freshness of Find Me Finding You comes from working and playing within the Source Ensemble and exploring new sound combinations via a set of youthful and evolving musical relationships. Laetitia recognized the energy of the tracks in their initial form, and sought to preserve their vitality by not retaking too many performances — instead, the rawness in the tracks was retained and refined at the mixing stage, maintaining an edge throughout. When we hear synth lines diving, lifting and drifting, unusual guitar textures, the plucked sound of flat wound bass strings or the bottomless pulsing of bass pedals stepping out of the mix with an exquisite vibrancy, this is the sound of the Source Ensemble.
Expressing great compassion and expectation with startling immediacy, as well as an abiding belief in an underlying unity that permeates and intimately binds all things and beings, Find Me Finding You combines a rigorous process for music-making with a deeply invested mindset, making captivating music that promises many stimulating spins to come!”
For reasons that will become lysergically clear once you’ve heard the samples, Midori Takada's sublime debut album Through The Looking Glass  is widely regarded the holy grail of ‘80s Japanese ambient & minimalist music. Perhaps it’s no wonder that 2nd hand copies are known to trade for over £600, and, therefore this deluxe reissue is welcomed by a whole new generation of listeners tracing this enchanted sound back to source.
Rooted in Midori Takada's fascination with Asian and African percussion traditions, Through The Looking Glass documents the Japanese musician navigating syncretic channels of practice between floating fantasy kingdoms and parallel ambient dimensions whilst guided by a deeply ethereal, oneiric spirit that’s utterly key to the album’s appeal. While it broadly falls under the ambient banner, the results are far too grand and ambitious to be considered sonic wallpaper - they’re more like widescreen tableaus that open out exponentially the deeper in you dive.
The image of a Lady Godiva-like character riding a hare-sheep-horse chimera on the cover symbolises the surreal confluence of ideas and gestures within; a Japanese musician translating Victorian psychedelic fantasies into a language of rippling rhythmelodies and softly pealing harmonics that nod to Pygmy music as much as gamelan traditions, the soundtracks of Cocteau films and precise marimba patter.
The rest, we’ll leave for your dilated discovery. Take it on trust that this is especially spellbinding and sui generis stuff without complete comparison. A dream.
Dead sought-after Library slab of wild and hairy disco drum rhythms and electronics from 1978. For use in pornos, sleazy bars, churches...
“The first ever repress of this Klaus Weiss musical masterpiece. And it's the first of the all new Trunk library series that is a coming this way. Time Signals is an incredible thing on many levels and for many reasons, and you will not find an original without a mortgage.
It's classic German experimental sounds and rhythms that only Klaus can really get away with, and over the years cues have turned up all over infamous hardcore porn as well as sports programming and maybe some sinister wildlife documentaries too. This is electronic, rhythmic, peculiar, and will make your brain hurt at times.”
The ‘queen outsider of Berlin Avant-Pop’ returns with a new album exploring social indignation and identity deconstruction for Klangbad. Think somehwhere between Space Lady, Inga Copeland and Ectoplasm Girls, featuring Faust's Joachim Irmler.
Berlin-based Russian Mariya Ocheretianskaya makes a swift return with a new Mary Ocher album following last year’s self-titled ‘sub-religious’ endeavour alongside her drum unit Your Government. The grandly-titled ‘The West Against The People’ was produced by Ocher in collaboration with Klangbad co-founder and Faust don Hans Joachim Irmler, with the aforementioned Your Government featuring heavily among the album’s thirteen tracks along with a guest spot from German wave icon Felix Kubin.
The grandiosity of the title and themes explored by Ocher is more than matched by the sweeping drama of the music, at times recalling the bizarre DIY stylings of Space Lady or Inga Copeland. For the most part however, this is Ocher’s eccentric story to tell, and it’s a wonderfully psychedelic and varied listen that retains a certain cohesion that has you coming back for more.
In the first few tracks alone, Ocher veers from Ectoplasm Girls-style spectral drone on Firstling, Pt. 2, to Avant poppers with allusions to psyche-rock. At other points, there are odd soundtrack compositions reminiscent of something you might hear on an Andy Votel mixtape, whilst Kubin seems to bring new levels of bizarreness out of Ocher on album closer Wulkania.
Brilliant and weird - highly recommended.
Thrumming techno polymetrics from the Grey Area already bigged up by Mumdance; recalibrating your roll with four monotone and undulating rhythms that teeter between needlepoint hi-hats and pulsating hydrolicks, cavernous reverbs, and underwater steppers.
RIYL Sigha, ASC, Akkord…
Sun Araw totes one of his most surreal, daftest fancies with The Saddle Of The Increate, despatching the band’s first new recorded material on Sun Ark Records since the psychedelic excursion, Belomancie .
With only a few trips made on Sean McCann’s Music For Public Ensemble and alongside Laraaji on Professional Sunflower and the S. Araw “Trio” XIII to quench our thirst in the meantime, this loosely strung and sprawling set renders Cameron Stallones and the gang at their most ir/reverent and dare we say, North American; delivering a subtly funny and playful suite that’s more Billy Crystal on magic beans than Alejandro Jodorowsky on mescaline, as far as desert trips go.
Incorporating a phalanx of drummers including Butchy Fuego, Jon Leland and Caitlin Mitchell, plus Dave McPeters on pedal steel, Sun Araw come off like a gang of cattle-ranchers who lost their herd a long time ago and subsequently decided to follow old dirt tracks deep into the desert, navigating their way by the stars and with only a batch of turnt haricots for sustenance. What ensues is a progressively light-headed and sorta-mystic journey of discovery following an unstitched narrative which leads them right up to a sincere yet lysergic cover of Bob Dylan’s I Shall Be Released - as previously worn by Jef Buckley, Joan Baez, The Deftones, Nina Simone.
As you might expect from a trip to the desert with Sun Araw, you’ll lose your own herd quite quickly, and mirages, fata morganas and the like become commonplace; with expectations perpetually teased and thwarted from the fusion of heat-warped synth strokes and pitch-bent steel licks in A Golden Boot thru the quicksilver clip-clop of A Chute, and the tropical, latinate influences that creep over the border into Orthrus, which also features McPeters’ pedal steel at its most plangent; with Campfires framing a charmingly ludicrous scene of quiet, acousmatic rustle pierced by parping modular spurts, and even allowing for a spot of sun-dazed native folk dance in the jerky boned jig and processed croon of 40 Hooves, serving Sun Araw at his most alien and yet uncannily familiar.
This is exactly what psychedelia should be for us; weird, silly, cryptic, inexplicable - not earnestly unimaginative and derivative. It would take a fool to accuse Sun Araw of the latter, and this album should hopefully be a smoke signal to all those pedestrian churners who call their music “psychedelic”.
The Salford collective return with an album length rebuke at the ever-growing shit-stain that is the current political regime.
With many modern day musicians content on stockpiling social media kudos or chasing sync money, leave it to Tesla Tapes antagonists Gnod to offer up a dissenting voice against the post-Brexit, alternative truth-heavy, fascist malaise 2017 is currently descending into. Never a band whose sound you should second guess, the clear anger and intentions of this album’s title is more than matched by the politicised fury and antagonism unleashed within.
“It seems like we are heading towards even more unsettling times in the near future than we are in at present.” reckons Gnodder Chris Haslam. “2016 was just the beginning of what I see as the establishment’s systematic destruction of liberalism and equality as a reaction to the general public’s loss of faith in their system.”
With this renewed creative focus driving the band, ‘Just Say No To The Psycho Right-Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine’ embellishes their hard-edged rock repetition and heavily-dubbed out underbelly with a darkly-satisfying new hue.
Amsterdam-based Japanese label Soundofvast hosts the return of Romanian producer, Sorin Rastoaca under his Vid alias with the rolling tech-house minimalism of Sunshineset and a bittersweet ambient interlude backed with the darker, rugged house heft of What Do You.
Joy Orbison makes up for five years of no solo releases by starting his own label, Toss Portal, with a brace of four sticky, bouncing UK techno experiments.
It’s hardly like he’s been asleep for the last five years - he’s kept his workmate up both in collaboration with Boddika on SunkLo, and with Herron as CO/R - but the last we him solo was on Ellipsis way back in 2012, so you can consider this one a tad overdue.
We can hear traces of the SunkLo sounds riddled all over the Toss Portal EP, but it’s also possible to see where Boddika’s Breaks-ier styles were holding him back, as the reticulated funk of Rid cuts loose with a proper feminine pressure that recalls his earliest Joy O work, while the grumbling, cranky Walworth Window morphs with a more messed-up, kinkier appeal of his own, and Rite Ov even introduces a lilting reggae vocal, Main Street or Rhythm & Sound style, on a sloshing steppers groove.
You need this one for the original "Produzione", originally released in 1973 on Piero Umiliani's LP "Problemi d'oggi", an amazing mix of acoustic percussion and electronic experimentation, considered by some as the first example of techno / trance music ever recorded.
The newer reworks by Gerardo Frisina are completely unecessaery.
Music From Memory follow up the enchanting Suso Sáiz retrospective Odisea with a far more recent survey of the Spanish ambient and new age pioneer’s contemporary output, Rainworks; spanning wistful ambient vignettes to mind-engulfing drone, brittle concrète and drifting solo piano studies commissioned and written in 2016.
Highly regarded for his work with Orquesta De Las Nubes and Música Esporádica for Grabaciones Accidentales (home to Finis Africae, Luids Delgado, Randomize) in the early-mid ‘80s, Sáiz has followed that path ever since, resulting collaborations with Steve Roach and dozens more releases over the interim.
Rainworks finds him still feeling out a sublime, etheric otherness, bringing to life a series of atmospheric pressure systems with a deft, elemental touch in key with the original commission from Hidraulica, Tenerife (Canary Islands), gradually expanding and contracting in ambition from the opening arabesque to the abstract yet richly evocative tract of A Rainy Afternoon at the album’s perimeter.
Steve Rutter keeps modulating his style with the latest B12 seemingly looking to Tricky and late period dubstep for inspiration in the vocal-fragranced downtempo trips of In Vain, at least his 10th release since remerging c. 2015.
Feels like 9am Sunday in a musty Chorlton flat surrounded by empty Oranjebooms and you can’t fight the feeling any more; it’s time to go home.