Baroque Sunburst co-founder Dario Picchi aka Soreab modulates slow, molten electro-dub in a vein shared with certain Muslimgauze or The Bug grooves, capped with the powerful traction of KRSLD’s remix.
On three original cuts Soreab marches head down into the murk with turgid bass weight and brittle snapping drum machines rendered spaciously absorbing in-the-mix. ‘Maschera’ tenderises club flesh with spiny drum machine locked a 90bpm trudge embedded in swole bass, seared with saltily distorted arps like John Carpenter’s dancehall club entrance music.
‘Trappola’ keeps the chug suppressed to a stealthy creep, foregrounding a throaty midrange lead over rolling hand drum trills up to its furtive, Giallo-esque conclusion, and ‘Speccio’ invokes a sleepwalking in a wind tunnel motion, summoning phantasmic synth apparitions at a screwed pace. Tom Jucla aka KRSLD chases chops on Estranged Records and a 2020 cut with Flowdan to emphasise the heavy pressure of ‘Maschera’, brightening the drums in the gloom and heaving to a thunderous bass kick.
Quick on the heels of his outstanding debut 12”, Shifted’s Carrier deploys a knife-point brand of futuristic D&B pointillism on Perko’s Felt with results strongly tipped to fans of Nebuchadnezzar, T++, Rockwell, Alva Noto
Since emerging with a tape on TTT and resetting his own game with the exceptional ‘Neither Curve Nor Edge’ EP already in 2023, Guy Brewer (Shifted, Covered in Sand, Commix) wiggles even deeper inside his thing as Carrier. Bored with previous textural explorations, Carrier signifies a renewed focus on rhythm that echoes the producer’s original D&B impetus as Commix way back at the turn of this millennium, placing a finely picked palette of precision tooled percussion at the service of obsessively detailed and restless minimalism that thrills in the same way as Nebuchadnezzar’s offset techno rolige, but with the keenest sidespin derived from and extending the UK hardcore continuum.
All effortless momentum and nerve twitch alertness, this is the sort of dance music that we’ve been hungry for for too long and simply not hearing from myopic producers who struggle to join dots between eras and progress beyond “aesthetic” echo chambers. ‘Fathom’ sets the parameters with turbulent subaquatic dynamics of springheeled subs and coruscating percussion in fast fwd vortex, while ‘The Cusp’ dries off to a gummier bass residue and flickering pulse, before ‘Trooper; comes closest to Nebu’s suss, but more reserved and in-the-pocket, squirming with organic details, and likewise ‘Markers’ tightens the screws on a lip-bitingly sharp, aerodynamic 160bpm rollcage.
Jeez this is strong.
Fabric hand the reins to Palestinian producer/DJ and Circo Loco affiliate Sama’ Abdulhadi for a set of chunky tech-house cycling thru its electro, Goa trance, and harder techno variants.
Internationally renowned since her Boiler Room Palestine set went viral in 2018, Sama’ has built on that acclaim with a BBC Essential Mix and sets between Beirut, Ibiza and across Europe. Her fabric mix plots a steady line of weekend or gym-ready chug across 22 tracks that escalate in intensity from wiggly pace setters to hard Goan trance inspirations inflected with Arabic scales and culminating in the rousing cry of ‘Laba Staifia (Ammar 808 Remix)’ by Acid Arab.
Debut album from UK jazz saxophonist and composer Miles Spilsbury, featuring Carlos Niño. Produced by Slugabed.
Light Manoeuvres is about warmth, generosity and openness. The music which would become Light Manoeuvres was sketched in fragments, but began to take shape in earnest during a period of living under the Marseille haze in the South of France.
The specific character and opacity of the light in Marseille inspired the album title which imagines the movement of light passing over different subjects and spaces in intricate motion. Sand blows over from the Sahara on the Sirocco wind and is whipped up by the Mistral, the Marseille sky becomes golden and vapoured, then intermittently pastel blue. That image stuck while shaping this body of work, and became integral to the function of the compositions - which act as jumping off points for the players and myself, vehicles for improvisation and gateways to something else entirely.
Miles Spilsbury is a saxophonist, composer and multi-instrumentalist. Light Manoeuvres may be Spilsbury’s first full-length as bandleader, but the Brighton-based artist brings more than a decade of experience to bear on this record. In addition to a list of collaborators which includes Carlos Niño, Iglooghost, Nate Mercereau, Surya Botofasina and Yasei Collective, Spilsbury has been a permanent member of celebrated avant-rock experimentalists The Physics House Band since 2018. He has performed at prestigious UK venues such as the Southbank Centre and the London Jazz Festival, and has toured extensively throughout North America, Europe and Japan.
In time between other musical projects, Spilsbury spent several years sketching fragments of solo material. The music which would become Light Manoeuvres began to take shape in earnest during a period of living in Marseille. The specific character and opacity of the light there inspired the album title, which imagines the movement of light passing over different subjects and spaces in intricate motion."
The none-more-keenly awaited vinyl debut of Japan’s inimitable goat is a 10 year anniversary reissue of their acclaimed first album, featuring YPY aka Koshiro Hino (half of KAKUHAN) in nanometric syncopation with the exemplary no wave/experimental quartet - Huge RIYL Moin, Klaus Dinger, Wharton Tiers, Mark Fell.
Arguably the tightest band we’ve ever seen play live, Osaka’s goat are the definition of a cult property, beloved by the likes of Mark Fell and Rian Treanor, yet unfathomably little known beyond the heads. As their maiden international release, the decade anniversary vinyl edition of ‘New Games’ should go some way toward rectifying that matter with its utterly captivating display of needlepoint-precise drums and flinty guitar prioritising pure percussive sound and propulsion over melody. In a sense, they operate in a tradition that reaches back to experimental rock forms pursued by Klaus Dinger with Neu!, Wharton Tiers’ catalytic work in the NYC no wave underground, or indeed the uncompromising, pointillist percussive bias of Mark Fell, but all with an in-the-moment agility and airtight precision that’s pretty much breathtaking if you ask us.
With the scene now prepped in recent years by band-member Koshiro Hino’s stream of rhythmically compelling sides as YPY and Hinosch on his birdFriend & NAKID labels, the rest of the world is set to catch up with the might of goat’s ‘New Games’. Typically taking up to and over 10 minutes to cycle thru their permutations per track, Hino, Ando, Tatami and Nishikawa pucker up the sharpest rimshot and neck-top interplay in the LP’s title piece, rupturing the sheer latticed patterns with stop/start punctuation that lets you know they’re doing it live, and subtly but exactingly shifting patterns between the panic-attack of ’STD’, to more lissom evocations of Asian and African rhythmelody in ‘Solid Eye’ or the sinuous muscularity of ‘On Fire’, while unravelling a wickedly knotted miniature ‘Ghosts (Part 1)’ primed for DJ and radio use.
Playing right on the sweetspot where experimentalism yields to propulsive purpose, goat are uniquely worthy of their moniker in its acronymic sense, practically showing up everything either side of them as lazy and uninspired in relief of their meticulous drills.
Stephen Hitchell’s strident 2010 dub techno masterclass is back in circulation, remastered and replete with a waterlogged STL remix going on like an underwater Theo Parrish - his first ever! RIYL Maurizio, Basic Channel, Chain Reaction, Echospace/Deepchord
CV313 give cause for contemplation across two mixes of 'Infinit-1' backed with the first ever STL remix on the flip. Both of the original mixes were recorded at Leipziger Platz Studio in Berlin using a prototypical hybrid form of waveshaping and subtractive synthesis called "Carriershaping".
Their original is our preferred choice, using their advanced tools to create something tangibly classic, squaring the Detroit spirit with deep yet sprightly chord licks and a heavy, heavy bass catalyst made to drag you deep under. The remodelled version is a more muted affair, featuring an ultra low-cut bass grumble and ghostly dub apparitions gradually revealing themselves. STL's remix is just immense, plunging into the deep-end head first with meditative, laidback arrangements and a drawn-out dreamy quality to levitate the dancefloor. Dub house heads will fall in love with this!
Senegal’s master mbalax drummers are rendered in killer electro dubs and club rub ’n tug by Valentina Magaletti’s Holy Tongue trio, Beatrice Dillon and Lamin Fofana, for an instant Honest Jon’s classic
Brewing since 2020, ‘Labour’ shells eight diffusions and variations on the deadly detonations of traditional mbalax drumming; a scintillating, traditional sound highlighted to the western world in recent years by Mark Ernestus’ work with the ensemble Jeri-Jeri on Ndagga. ‘Labour’ finds mbalax’s thunderous, rolling and swingeing percussion pulled in four distinct movements by a coterie of UK, Euro, and Afro-American artists who all share a rhythmic fascination from varying perspectives, and with incendiary results for discerning dancers and drum fiends who can hear the links to West African drumming disciplines strewn between ‘80s post-punk (23 Skidoo, On-U Sound, the Pop Group), ‘90s jungle, ‘00s post-techno and broken beat mutations, or 2010’s electro-dub deconstructions into 4th world ambient and experiments with rhythm.
The big one for us is the set’s most radical engagement with the style, where Beatrice Dillon carries the crafty conceptual energy and bodily-attuned results of her ‘Workaround’ album into the razor-cut chords and sinuous rhythmic grammar of ‘2020’ - whose title refers to her time in Senegal, recording with master drummers. Closer to the tradition, the Holy Tongue (Valentina Magaletti, Al Wootton, Susumu Yokai) versions go wild like a ‘phet-fuelled post-punk stepper on ‘Dey Say’, and wider, deeper in the echo chamber in consequent, hands-on dubs, while Sierre Leone/Guinea-originating, US-based contemporary pioneer Lamin Fofana - who introduced the world to Lotic on his Sci-Fi & Fantasy label - turns out driving and trippy acidic variants for the club.
It all comes back to root in extraordinary fashion on the two parts of ‘Etu Keur Gui’, featuring input by some 30 sabar drummers of Doudou Ndiaye Rose’s family distilled, computerised and electro-acoustically diffused in a spiralling 10 min excursion, and pared back to pure, fluid rhythmelody and slashing synth menace on its 2nd part.
‘Sign’ is Autechre’s first new album-album proper since ‘Elseq’ and contains some of their most emosh compositions in eons, perhaps since ‘Tri Repetae’.
Practically pocket-sized in comparison to their sprawling torrent of live material and radio recordings in recent years, ’Sign’ is a return to the sort of concision found circa ‘Exai’ and their earlier albums. Effectively they’ve gotten better to grips with their live set-up, and the hyper ideas found in their work-in-progress demonstrations on the five volume ‘Elseq’ and 8hrs of ‘NTS Sessions’ have been refined into moments of crystalline ambient baroque beauty and liquid-limbed swag on ’Sign’.
After their music has undergone what could be called a growth spurt in recent years, the acrid plasma of their complex, hyper-inorganic systems feels to congeal, create more intricate snaps across the album, from the lush cosmic collisions of ‘M4 Lema’, to the rhizomic arp weaving on ‘F7’, while refining their tendons and muscle in the gyrostep of ‘au14’ and ‘such.mefd2’. The anthropomorphisation of their synthesis accelerates with the album’s 2nd half with the elegiac catharsis of ‘Metaz form8’ displaying a greater emotional intelligence, while their shapeshifting synthesis grows semblances of glowing hair and teeth and skin in ’th red a’, and even a plaintive human heartache in the systolic thud and bloo pads of ‘psin AM’ that rawly bleeds out in the album’s future classic closer ‘r cazt’.
This LP was hinted at by Autechre as one of two albums ready for 2020, so we’ll take it this is their “U Ok Hun?” one to some possibly more hardcore turns in the future. Have it.
The tune that floated a million gurns returns on a 32 year anniversary reissue.
Little introduction is surely needed for FSOL’s 1991 rave calling card. It is one of UK dance music’s most instantly recognisable anthems, adored for its magpie-picked collage of vocal samples from Dead Can Dance and Circuit, alloyed to rolling breaks, dub bass and pill-belly synth surges whose effect endures to this day. Even ubiquitous use in synch for film and TV and elsewhere has done nothing to dull the tune’s shine over the decades, and this reissue may well stoke the rush of a new generation.
The original (and best) 12” mix is fully here and ready for duty, along with its nipped 7” edit, while those looking to extend the impact should look to FSOL’s own, spaced-out mix as Dumb Child of Q, or the dub miniature. Honestly don’t ask us about passable and tedious Weatherall mix, but Graham Massey’s take is worthwhile for its kinkier reshuffle, and Hamish McDonald pushes it deeper along the Goa proto-trance dub axis.
Don’t fight the feeling!
1997’s range-finding, psychedelic masterwork by members of Spacemen 3, My Bloody Valentine, and Porter Ricks, plus Kevin Martin (The Bug) and Eddie Prévost (AMM), returns to circulation on its 26 year anniversary vinyl reissue
Graced with a who’s who of sound sculptors respectively regarded for some of the heaviest drone-rock, shoegaze, techno, dub and free musics in existence, EAR’s ‘The Köner Experiment’ is a high water mark of contemporary electronic music. Since its original release it has become a touchstone for multiple strands of experimental music, renowned for bridging the gap between studio-as-instrument recording process and live performance via its more-than-handy coterie of collaborators, helmed by Pete Kember aka Sonic Boom ov Spacemen 3. It effectively converges a number of recording disciplines - from Conny Plank’s keening krautrock and kosmische productions, to textured avant-rock, the sensual spatio-temporal fuckery of dub and techno’s aerodynamic pulse - with a hands-on, live momentum that swills head/body in its oceanic moiré of swelling, semi-organic patterning in constant, forward, outward chronics.
‘The Köner Experiment’ would appear as EAR’s 4th release, and, as the title implies, was strongly guided by the radical dub techno principles of the eponymous Thomas Köner, who by this point in ’97 had conjured a stream of definitive deep ambient solo sides, before forging the Porter Ricks duo with Andy Mellwig for a clutch of seminal, subaquatic dub techno excursions on Basic Channel/Hardwax’s legendary Chain Reaction label, surmised in the ‘Biokinetics’ compilation. Köner’s feel for filtered brownian slosh is key to the album’s enduring appeal, as he distills the various inputs such as Prévost’s bowed cymbals, Kevin Shields’ guitar, Kevin Martin’s processed sax, and Sonic Boom’s array of synths, into a holistic, desiccated but ethereally resonant pulse for the ages.
Peak Detroit x Berlin techno fist-bumps on first reissue, proper, of Juan Atkins & Moritz Von Oswald’s 1995 evergreen, replete with Moritz’s sumptuous dub techno remix.
Basically canonical gear for Detroit and dub techno disciples, ‘Starlight’ was originally issued on Juan Atkins’ Motor City bastion Metroplex in 1995, and has notably resurfaced in remixed forms by Mike Huckaby, Echospace and Convextion over the decades. This is the first reissue of the original 12” on the OG format, hailing the foundation of a formative creative relationship that has since spawned numerous LPs and sessions over the interim, and highlights a high water mark of the deep links between Detroit and Berlin.
Their original is a supremely elegant iteration of the more effortlessly aerodynamic Detroit techno that Juan Atkins pursued in the early ‘90s after sowing the sound’s ruder electro-techno templates in the mid ‘80s. Purling bass and glancing, spherical chords dance on tongue tip hi-hat thizz for the original’s duration, before Basic Channel and Maurizio co-founder Von Oswald tweaks the filter envelopes to allow for intoxicating analogue noise in-the-mix, most subtly opening out into psychoacoustic warehouse space for the dream dance at a time when he was also busy ushering the future in the studio alongside Mark Ernestus. God tier business.
Faith was released in 1981 and is the second and probably the best in the 'Fatalistic kingdom' trio of albums from The Cure. Fuelled by Simon Gallup’s Fender bass - in turns deep, angular, growling and comforting - for our money it's one of the most sparse and singular albums to ever edge into the mainstream.
The monochromatic cover image (a picture of Bolton Priory in the fog, painted by The Cure’s Porl Thompson) gives away the mood here; funereal, downcast, brooding, containing some of Robert Smith’s most unashamedly morose songs. But it’s the production, influenced by Joy Division, that’s a complete revelation. ‘All Cats Are Grey’, as one example, does a thing with synths, bass and percussion that could effectively have been the blueprint for much of the last 4 decades at the fringes of electronic music. ‘Faith’, the closing, title track, repeats the trick - but this time with a treated drum track so delicate and forward thinking we could listen to it on a loop for eternity.
All of this would be for nothing if it wasn’t for Robert Smith’s songwriting - here in fine form on the hooky ‘Primary’ and ‘Doubt’, as well as the foreboding ‘Funeral Party’, but this is The Cure album that is, above all, defined by its sound and production. ’Disintegration’ (which appeared almost a decade later) is far more grand and ambitious in scale and has understandably become the go-to The Cure album for those looking for a depressive fix. But, for us 'Faith' (and to a slightly lesser extent, ‘Seventeen Seconds’), feels like the most conceptually tight and age-defying work in their enviably deep catalogue, and the one whose influence we hear most often at the margins.
‘Arc 1’ is the first posthumous release of Mika Vainio’s solo material, taken from a large collection of his unreleased music. The archive series will present pieces which can be considered as completed works rather than unfinished fragments, and ‘ARC 1’ is a fittingly contemplative artefact - preserving Mika’s patient, sensuous minimalism released under his solo moniker, Ø.
Made up of two selections from an untitled recording Vainio did as Ø for the radio project Ambient City at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki in 1994, the 34 minute work can be considered a complete, singular work, and one of the purest in Vainio's catalogue.
Working at the threshold of perception in a way comparable with fellow minimalist masters such as Eliane Radigue or Kevin Drumm, ‘ARC 1’ follows a glacial transition from elemental subbass pulses through sustained, hovering drone before almost imperceptibly changing state half way, when a field of static disruption re-organises the piece’s atoms, only for the noise to recede and reveal a more complex timbral aurora, and a final tract of isolationist ambience flickering like northern lights.
Purest dub house from Stephen Hitchell’s beloved CV313 for anyone hankering for Maurizio, Basic Channel, Chain Reaction, Echospace/Deepchord, newly remastered and reissued.
Dancefloor weighted dub-techno and house from Steve Hitchell's CV 313 project. 'Sailing Stars' is a fathoms-deep groove for the floor, setting subbass tones at the threshold of human hearing capabilities to unnerving effect while crisply spacious percussion and currents of analog ephemera cruise the surface.
On the flip Hitchell takes the reins with an Intrusion Twilight Dub of the now classic 'Subtraktive', massaged and ready for the floor with a shorter playing time and concentrated vibes before his reformed version of the A-side travels to the edge of space with exponentially echoed atmospheres. For the dub-techno dreamers - an absolute must.
Outstanding work by deep house maverick Theo P, custom cut for Maurissa Rose, whose vocals oscillate smoke infused honey and Tiger balm soul in a style that’s served them beautifully well over the years
While both have been operating in the belly of Detroit house since the ‘90s, the duo only first started working together on Alton Miller’s ‘Bring Me Down’ 12” in 2017, sparking a creative relationship that has borne singular fruit ever since. ‘Free Myself’ follows their anthemic ‘This is For You’ (2019) and ‘It’s Out of Your Control’ (2022) with 10 new cuts exclusive to their debut album. It feels like Theo’s exemplary ‘Cornbread & Cowrie Shells for Bertha’ was an entrée for this heavily satisfying main course, with Maurissa acting as a muse that most beautifully brings their circles together. An instant classic in our books.
Believe us this one’s a lot. Between its purring, very KDJ-esque title tune and the 12 minutes of bluesy jazz-soul bliss in ‘Once I Been Gone’, Theo underlines Maurissa with bags of sick drums and overproof keyboard vibings, with his patented, skudgy bass at its most spongiform and edible. But it’s Maurissa's vocals that really steal the show, matching Theo’s locked-in looseness with a style of half sung glossolalia in proper jazz-soul style that simply melts the mind.
The rude hump and ragged Rhodes of ’The Truth’ is pure sex music, and the 9 minute ‘I’m Done’ turns us to mush with its bittersweet chord progression and Rose in full voice. Theo’s ricketiest drums and angular slants are in effect on ‘Spiral Staircase’ and its instrumental, and we could munch up that seasoned bass on ‘Purify Me’ all night. Jazz-dance clubs are served with the LP’s most up and bustling number ‘Everything You Want’ and the strutting ’Surround the World’, while ’Snakes’ takes it porchside with Theo’s twanging blues going hard on the downstroke. Untouchable.
Detroit’s most thrilling unit chase one of 2022’s hottest debuts (and our number 3 album of the year, 2022) with a hard second album starring Fullbodydurag, Dastardly Kids, QuikKash, Link Sinatra and more.
Helmed by King Milo & Milf Melly,, Hi Tech epitomise the early 2020s sound of jit/ghetto-tech/rap from the Motor City. ‘Détwat’ is their awesome follow-up to ’22s eponymous debut, shelling 12 tracks, half an hour, of quick, soulful, and rugged club musics that feed forward the 313’s unique ‘90s jit sound into now. Also influenced by deep house and jazz as much as up-to-the-second R&B and hip hop, their sound is distinct and peerless, and here pays up dividends on the promise of their debut for anyone who’s followed the history of Detroit music or the prevailing influence of regional US rap since the late c.20th.
Just like ‘Hi Tech’, their ‘Détwat’ (we’ll leave pronunciation to you) album is a heavily satisfying set catapulting bodies between ruddiest Jersey/Detroit club styles on ‘Nu Munni’ and ‘No Games’, via proper 150bpm+ jit bangers that refract a spectrum of Motor City soul. On the noir bent , ‘Clap That A$$’ is a clear standout, and ‘Takeoffinnaporsche’ hits a heavy, sped-up seam of Future-style rap, while we find more typical 313 soul-jazz finesse in the raw loops of ‘Money Phone’ and the melancholic lilt of ‘Glitch N Ass’ ft. Cheapskate Skutta (what a name!) and Dastardly Kids, and wicked light/dark oscillations on ‘Birthday Pearls’ ft. QuikKash, with strong feminine pressure on ‘Pocket Pussy’.
If you copped their debut, you’re probably bashing the buy button already, but if not trust it’s a no brainer and you slept on the first!
Back by demand for its first reissue, Heinrich Mueller & Sherard Ingram’s sought-after, 2013 Detroit electro-techno salvo holds its own among the best in class for deep, dark, propulsive Motor City LPs
Alongside its preceding, equally brilliant ‘NRSB-11’ EP, the full course of ’Commodified’ amounts to the entirety of Gerald Donald (Heinrich Mueller, Drexciya) and Sherard Ingram’s (DJ Stingray, Urban Tribe) work together. It is hands-down one of the best album length works to emerge from the 313 in the c.21st, with a dozen tracks that spell out the spectrum of the duo’s mutual tastes for ‘80s sci-fi inspired electro, warehouse techno, and Teutonic-Japanotronic synth tones, galvanised with a steely sense of futurism and conceptual thrust from contemporary economics.
As with their self-titled EP, the album hails a fine line of beatdown electro besides its girder strength bangers. It plays out like the soundtrack to a cyberpunk sci-fi, replete with killer scene-setting intro giving way to the stop/start Arpanet tekkerz of ‘Consumer Programming’ and intricately woven arps of ‘Bioethics’, and appearances of Zwischenwelt’s Penélope on supplying iciest gynoid vox on ‘Living Wage’, and Stingray’s Urban Tribe swag apparent in ‘Laundered’ and ‘Dead Civilization’, while the stepping warehouse pounder ‘Globalisation’ and aerodynamic electro of ’Shadow Corp’ are clear standouts for the DJs/dancers. A near perfect album for headphone moochers and NRG drink-guzzling hackers.
New edition of the Andrzej Korzynski score to Andrzej Zulawsk’s ‘80s horror, including that harrowing subway scene, revolving 25 cues of which only less than half would appear on the finished film. Now a classic Finders Keepers number. RIYL Kryzstof Komeda, Jan Hammer and Zdenek Liska
“As our maiden voyage into an expansive vat of unreleased music by Polish composer Andrzej Korzynski, Finders Keepers Records presents his previously unreleased electro/orchestral/experimental score for Andrzej Zulawski’s surrealist 80s horror classic, Possession. These 25 cues were written and recorded exclusively for the 1981 award-winning film starring Isabelle Adjani and Sam Neil, but due to the progressive, stark and modernist nature of the finished film less than half of them made it on to the actual director’s cut – leaving many of the tracks on this package totally unheard outside of Korzynski’s studio.
The intended Possession score in its entirety marks an important axis in Korzynski’s career where his various musical disciplines overlap. In one respect it marks his first forays into to synth driven electronics and disco drum machines, while other tracks epitomise the well honed techniques used in previous Zulawski scores, such as Third Part Of The Night and The Devil, which rely on his inimitable orchestral arrangements and combination of clavinet, Rhodes, piano and electric guitar.
This is the first time any of this music has been released outside of the films original context and is packaged on CD, 12″ vinyl and conceptual green compact cassettes housed in miniature clamshell cases reminiscent of the films original VHS release that briefly adorned UK video shops in the early 1980s (before being banned by over excited censors as one of the unproscecuted ‘video nasties’ in the infamous 1983 tape cull). The important restoration of Korzynski’s music aims to shed new light on the seldom manufactured productions of the composer whose vast cinematic catalogue warrants overdue global status alongside other golden era Eastern European composers such as Kryzstof Komeda, Jan Hammer and Zdenek Liska – not to mention the best of the French and Italian soundtrackers, such as Roubaix, Vannier and Nicolai.
Duplicated and carefully remastered directly from Korzynski’s original master tapes this album boasts the uninhibited studio experiments and retains the pre-cut ambience.”
Waldemar Bastos' Pretaluz was recorded and produced by Arto Lindsay and David Byrne in New York.
"It's title, which means “blacklight” in portuguese, is a hint to the powerful sorrow the music holds: pretaluz is an elegiac response to the angolan civil war, drawing on influences near and far like the fado, semba, zouk, and morna, to create indelible songs."
Príncipe zoom out from dancefloor immediacy to dreamiest zones with XEXA's outstanding debut of world-building wanderlust, oscillating between bloozy ambient intimacy to lilting rhythmelodies and widescreen modern classical tipped if yr into Emeka Ogboh, Laurel Halo, Rafael Toral, David Toop.
A reminder to never second guess Lisbon’s brilliant Príncipe, ‘Vibrações de Prata’ (’Silver Vibrations’) showcases the sparkling imagination of new signee XEXA. Her striking debut began life as part of her studies at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, where she developed a compositional style of organic electro-acoustics woven into impressionistic storytelling, deploying original instrumental performance and nuanced sound design at the service of immersive, poetic aural environments.
Across its nine parts, smeared vocals meet raw soundscapes and rustling polyrhythms as the album blossoms along axes of cosmic and 4th world ambient, dancefloor levitations and richly imaginative, etheric pop that draws on her heritage, rooted in the natural world and musics of São Tomé and Príncipe islands of West Africa, as much as modern day Lisbon and London. It’s a gorgeous, colourful sound, and perhaps one that we were not expecting from a label best known for their inspirational club music.
‘Vibrações de Prata’ follows a gently mercurial flow from her synthetic emulation of a dragonfly’s wingbeats on ‘Libelula’, to the wilting solo piano keys of ‘SectionAudio’, via lathered and diffused rhythmic impulses of ’Nha Dêdê’ and the more urgent, metallic tang to ‘Fragmented Breath’ and ’Silver’, with its beautifully woozy 4th world intimations recalling Jon Hassell, to smudged, spiralling plumes of chamber pop in ‘Assim’ and the disembodied chants of ‘Sisters Dancing’.
XEXA’s intangible appeal is most seductive on the keening, melancholy lament ‘Prendes Nh’Alma’ - a real vaporous wonder to file next to Laurel Halo’s stunning ‘Atlas’, while ‘Clarinet Mood’ ends the album on a real oneiric note, where she daringly weaves through nine minutes of diaphanous diffusions that will take more than a single sitting to fully fathom.
Nídia's third full-length is a future-facing suite of mutant Afro-Portuguese rhythms and wormy melodies rooted in Guinea-Bissau's anti-colonial history. Like everything we’ve heard from Nídia, it’s an effortless but deadly amalgamation of peak-time curveballs and gloriously catchy hooks - essential for anyone into DJ Danifox, Nazar, DJ Lycox, Matias Aguayo.
'95 MINDJERES' ("95 women" in crioulo) is Nídia's most charged and unforgettable album yet, taking its cues from the women freedom fighters - like Titina Silá and Teodora Gomes - who helped bring Guinea-Bissau to independence from Portuguese colonial rule in the 1960s and '70s. Nídia braids lilting, West African rhythms into multicoloured electronic prangs, sharpened to a knifepoint that cuts straight thru the heart. She asks "it's like?" on opener 'É COMO?', goading us into a search for comparisons. The truth is she's completely out on her own, screwing with the form as she waltzes with familiar elements - hand drums, woodblocks, neon stabs, vibey hooks.
On 'Caiomhe' she pushes resonant, clattering percussion into focus, before embracing a warehouse groove on 'To La', shattering its darkness with wafting guitar licks and zig-zagging shakers. She displays a deep knowledge of Euro-washed club forms and pierces them with conspicuous emotion: joy, melancholy and indignation. There are traces of Detroit's sci-fi-minded futurism left in the DNA of 'Sukuku', with its rolling synths and euphoric pads, but Nídia shuttles into a different zone, chopping the rhythm and never dragging things out for longer than needed. We can hear echoes of Innerzone Orchestra's epochal 'Bug in the Bass Bin', split with Afro-Portuguese rhythms instead of jazz, the result fully transcendent.
We're treated to a rare DJ tool with 'cp', and Nídia's club skills are fully on show on ‘Pose’ too, where she refracts the House blueprints of Lil Louis into a martial, horny banger. On 'Mindjeres', she uses invigorating flute and mbira-like chimes to suggest a more downcast mood, before dialling serrated FM synths into tremulous thuds on 'abcd'. And to close, Nídia deploys her most widescreen cut to date - ‘Paradise' - a slow-paced epic that opens with a wash of Art of Noise-style pads and builds to a low warble with trapdoor kicks and pointillistic stabs. Tense but deliriously heady, it's the perfect finale to an album that's immensely uplifting, energising and unforgettable.
Príncipe’s best in class.
The second of two limited edition 7" whitelabels from Sam Morton, for XL.
Where their surprise debut stepped off from Sam Morton’s praised appearance on BBC’s Desert Island Discs into creakiest fantasy zones, the duo’s EP2 follows with more sinister whimsy, webbing wheezing analog synths to cracked and screwed downbeats with the groggiest appeal. The Oscar-nominated actress sounds somnambulant and mantric set amid Richard Russell’s eerie reflux of ‘70s folk horror intimations and hashed out ‘90s head nod, ideally setting the scene for a proper body of work on the horizon.
'Supplication' finds Morton listing, swaying on wooden drums and gently febrile, hallucinatory instrumentation - fairground organs, chime trees and lysergic sax leaching into a late night wooze elegantly led by her half sung/half spoken delivery lingering like phosphorescent light trails in the mildewed air. Their B-side tingles with a spangled psych-folk appeal, with Russell’s sampledelic tekkerz in effect under Morton’s switch between naif-like and rudely soulful vocal personas that get right inside yr skin...
Perfection from Tirzah once again with perhaps her most loosely structured and hard hitting album to date, as usual produced by Mica Levi, whose chaotic but deeply schooled energy elevates the material here to genuinely all-timer status, using weirdo reverb and doubled up vocal phasing to turn simple hooks into screwed and unforgettable earworms, surrounded by compressed, almost clipped rhythms (the same beat on every track 🤯) stretched over lilting piano motifs that’ll have u covered in goosebumps from seconds into the thing. You’ll likely then spend hours/days/weeks trying to figure out how such bare, seemingly throwaway components can add up to something so profoundly impactful and unforgettable, before remembering that some music is just inarguably, inexplicably, touched by genius.
“trip9love…??? is the third album from Tirzah, produced by long-time musical collaborator Mica Levi. It was written and recorded at both their homes and various corners of South East London and Kent.
After several recording sessions over roughly a year, eventually the music suddenly came into a sound that they wanted to follow. The tracks were built using piano loops on top of one beat, distortion added, then romantic vocal toplines. Poems centre on themes of love, both real and imagined. The world the record finds space in is a lazy club fantasy zone.
The speed, the connection and similarity between all of the instrumentals led the record to feel like one song, a diary entry of a moment or a fascination with one sound that they felt was important to go with. The nature of trip9love…???‘s release reflects how it was made.”
This is a special one! It's taken over three decades, but Fuzzbee Morse has managed to dig out the long lost 'Ghoulies II' soundtrack from the archives, restoring it to glory for the first time. It's VHS-era gold too, one for fans of Richard Band, Fabio Frizzi or even Frank Zappa.
WRWTFWW Records released Richard Band's original 'Ghoulies' soundtrack back in 2020, but the prospect of a 'Ghoulies II' OST release has always been precarious. Morse's original recordings have been lost for years; when the film was released in 1988, horror soundtracks, let alone 39-track ones, were not exactly a commercial proposition. But he persevered and eventually tracked down the master tapes, and this special limited-edition release is the first time these compositions have ever been assembled on record. The only trace of the soundtrack until now has been W.A.S.P.'s campy 'Scream Until You Like It', the movie's de-facto theme.
Anyone who's got a soft spot for the film - a corny VHS horror cult fave that's mostly unrelated to to the first installment - will no doubt dive on this one. Multi-instrumentalist Morse has played with a shocking number of artists in his career, everyone from Daniel Lanois and Frank Zappa to Harry Dean Stanton and Robert Wyatt, but he cut his teeth making cheap, eccentric soundtracks for Charles Band movies. His first was 'Dolls', another cult favorite, and his treatment for 'Ghoulies II' might be even better - it's certainly more expansive.
Over 39 cues, Morse flexes his musical knowledge, capturing the essence of the fairground where the movie is set and folding in the influence of Bernard Hermann, Jean-Michel Jarre and, of course, Richard Band. The most arresting moments come when Morse is able to experiment freely, unraveling doomy sustained tones on 'Sex Critters' and creating a pitch-fucked, baroque nightmare on 'Mazel Tov, Molotov'. Horror fans, you know what to do.
Cypress Hill's DJ Muggs joins forces with Lynch wingman Dean Hurley to fabricate a suitably lysergic soundtrack to Eddie Alcazar's soon-to-be-cult psychedelic sci-fi odyssey 'Divinity'. Features a guest spot from none other than Kool Keith!
Produced by Steven Soderbergh, 'Divinity' is a surrealist, dystopian trip that imagines a barren planet far from earth where the titular immortality drug has diverted the course of society. Muggs and notorious David Lynch-collaborator Hurley work with vintage samplers, wavetable synths and lush orchestral elements to create a score that's out of time, using contemporary alien-world sci-fi moans to root us in the present, and VHS-era drums and synths to help us recall the boundlessly creative recent past. The soundtrack's 'Main Titles' sting is particularly effective, using cripplingly distorted hardstyle drums to form a machine-strength industrial theme with Goblin-like ghost choirs and scratchy noise. On 'Brothers', Hurley's contribution is more noticeable, with its Romance-style stretched ambience and dream pop bassline, and 'Drone Interrogation' is stylishly Lynchian, obscuring its Tripod bellows with woozy analog fluctuations and lightly cabaret-styled Badalamenti touches.
For a film that bills itself as mind-bending, it needs a suitably eccentric aural accompaniment, and Muggs and Hurley manage to capture the fractal motion without stepping too far into abstraction. Flimsy, Richard Band-style moments ('A Symbol of Life', 'Reflective Dreams') offer us something comfortable to hold on to, while tracks like 'Final Fight' and 'Escape Suite' use the full weight of a Hollywood orchestra, splitting Bernard Herrmann strings with pulsing, Carpenter-esque bass zaps and queasy pads. The duo find their ideal intersection on 'Ascend Finale', that fuses soapy romanticism with buzzing strings and Ligeti-inspired choral blasts - it's already spine-tingling and we haven't even experienced it with visuals yet. Then, just as a treat, psych-rap legend Kool Keith shows up on the credits roll with 'Divinity 2 Infinity: The Odyssey', free associating over Muggs and Hurley's waterlogged, bitcrushed trap.
A sought-after 2001 Yyga soundtrack by musical polymath Wally Badarou makes its first vinyl appearance.
‘Colors of Silence’ was first commissioned to score a yoga instruction DVD cooked up by Nathalie Delon, a pal of Island Records founder Chris Blackwell. Time constraints meant that Wally Baradou dialled in a suit of “quality demos”, and, thanks to little promotion, the subsequent release largely bypassed wider attention, slipping into the annals of Balearic obscurity.
The album has since been hailed by Balearic face-on-the-scene Moonboots as one of his most sought-after numbers, cherished for its broad spectrum covering airport reggae bob (‘Where Were We’), Larry Heard-alike sultry downbeats (‘Amber Whisper’), soukous shimmies (‘The Lights of Kinshasa’), solo keyboard wist (‘Pictures of You’) and a general floral waft that perfuses and colours the whole thing.
“There can be few artists more under-appreciated given their vast influence than Wally Badarou. His solo work practically defined the sound of the Balearic DJs of the 1980s, and thus the more sophisticated sound of dance culture thereafter. A synth specialist, Badarou was the long-time associate of Level 42. He was one of the Compass Point All Stars (with Sly and Robbie, Barry Reynolds, Mikey Chung and Uziah "Sticky" Thompson), the in-house recording team of Compass Point Studios responsible for a series of albums in the 1980s recorded by Grace Jones, Tom Tom Club, Mick Jagger, Black Uhuru, Gwen Guthrie, Jimmy Cliff and Gregory Isaacs. Badarou's keyboard playing could also be heard on albums by Robert Palmer, Marianne Faithfull, Herbie Hancock, M (Pop Muzik), Talking Heads, Manu Dibango and Miriam Makeba. He also produced Fela Kuti. Phew!”
JEKS boss Jaakko Eino Kalevi lands on Weird World again with another library music inspired psych-prog/pop fantasy - one for fans of Kalevi's countryman (and collaborator) Jimi Tenor.
Kalevi's first love was the notorious US prog metal band Dream Theater, who he discovered at the tender age of 11, learning to play the complicated riffs on guitar. When he began making beats on FL Studio (then Fruity Loops), his tastes shifted, diverting to hip-hop, techno, disco and dub reggae, but the interest in lushly orchestrated, high-minded prog remained like a specter. The Finnish artist is based in Athens now, where he devised 'Chaos Magic', his fourth album for Weird World. It's quirky stuff too, a strangely earnest fusion of library music, experimental disco, krautrock, synthpop, and of course, prog rock.
What you get out of this one depends on your tolerance for bargain bin cheese. Kalevi straddles the line between Ghost Box's dusty hauntology and Jimi Tenor's eccentric radio pop - he's clearly got a passion for '70s and '80s music, but it's the stuff that mostly missed the critic's lists and probably missed Eurovision too. He might be referencing Vangelis on 'Hell & Heaven', but Kalevi doesn't evoke the Greek master's ambitious album, sounding more like Animal Collective covering Gary Numan. On 'Night Walk' he conquers tinny, analog disco, something he handles better with Alma Jodorowski on vocals on 'Palace In My Head'.
Donna Summer's 'I Feel Love' is the template for 'Galactic Romance', a collaboration with vocalist Yu-Ching Huang, and lengthy closer 'Let's See How Things Go' is a rumbly, psychedelic epic filled with neon-lit electric guitars, sax solos and dusty breaks.
Solo electronic album from producer Gifted & Blessed aka Gabriel Reyes-Whittaker – his first full-length under that alias since 2016.
"Heard and Unheard was created using a semi-modular synthesizer, several effects processors and a pair of analogue drum machines.
The album is made up of ten reflective and hypnotic tracks with emphasis on texture and atmosphere – both music to lose yourself to, and music to get lost in."
Swiss-Nepalese club mutator Aïsha Devi’s hyperpop-pitched vox ratchet the urgency of her takes on hard dance, drill, and alien dream-pop in an intense 3rd album with Houndstooth
‘Death is Home’ continues to expand upon themes of nostalgia, provenance, and futurism that have informed all Aïsha Devi’s work since the debut LP ‘Of Matter and Spirit’. Her 3rd album advances a personal philosophy with reflections on her late father, a Nepalese drummer, B.K. Gurung, whom she never met, and traumatic formative experience of isolation and abuse, into a music primed for the club as site of therapy and healing.
The album notably features Kenyan whizz Slikback on its standout number, ‘Dimensional Spl;in’, with tremulous, high-pitched voice over hybrid Kongo Tekno x Drill motifs, amid its jagged topography of trancey rush-ups and pelting rhythm programming. It’s most effective tour lugs on the likes of her electrifying ‘Immortelle’ with its hip-shot laser stabs and guttural drill bass, and lyrically gripping in her revelation of trauma, ‘Lick Your Wounds’, with traces of video game soundtracks and ‘80s synth bombast finely sculpted in the tension of ‘Mind Era’, while ‘Prop[het Club’ hails some of her sharpest hyperpop chops.
The record that first got us snagged on Kara-Lis Coverdale’s unique future-primitivism, “Sirens” was made in collaboration with LXV aka David Sutton, and is an album of ambiguous sonic dreamweaving, blooming eight strange and often incredible flowers that shape voice and various electronic inputs into vaulted harmolodics with a mesmerising, sweeping quality.
Recorded over the course of 14 months between 2013 and early 2015 at studios in Jersey City, Philadelphia and Montréal, ‘Sirens’ was inspired by “the link between seduction and violence” a theme which Coverdale has explored elsewhere and which seems to underpin much of her musical Weltanschauung; finding extreme, rarified beauty in the gaps between the sacred and the profane, between early music and synthesised modernism. Traditional choral and sacred motifs coil around extreme sample sources - “war chants, punchbags and bodies slamming against wrestling mats..” In an interview with The Guardian around this album’s original release, Coverdale gives memorable expression to these ideas:
“Classical music is understood as cerebral,” she says. “You’re sitting in a chair, your body is still, you close your eyes and it’s a mental activity. Whereas dance music is seen as more physical, where your mind is shut off. Both assumptions are oppressive and awful. It goes back to Descartes, the division of the mind and body – but maybe there isn’t a division after all.” She cites Stravinsky as someone who appreciated the blurring of the two: “He can oscillate very quickly between contrapuntal, hysterically mathematic segments, then move into paganistic dances that make you want to pull your hair out.” “Violence is all over the Bible,” she says. She incorporates the choral style of religious music to express “really aggressive sounds with more ethereal ones”. “The joy of violence is something that isn’t much discussed, but the call is strong,” she says.
In the years since “Sirens” Coverdale has only released one album, the stunning “Grafts” on our own editions label, but has been involved in numerous projects collaborating with the likes of Yasuaki Shimizu and Tim Hecker, as well as composing her own major solo works for performance. Sutton has released for Anòmia, Warm Winters, enmossed and the Psychic Liberation labels, among others. Almost a decade on, ‘Sirens’ remains a true outlier, its potent immersive/subversive energies resonate with the cinematic qualities of 0PN and the liquid shapeshifting of T C F, but with an elusive spectral sensitivity all its own. If you’ve not heard it before - buckle up, it’s quite the ride.
Naarm’s fertile hotbed of spirited ambient energies spurts this milky gem by John Jones (AV Moves, Geo Rip) and Jesse Sapell (Motion Ward) for fans of the quietest fronds from Perila to Ulla and Craig Tattersall.
Like a dream bath that never loses its warmth, ‘peeled’ proffers space to sink in and soak up sublime good vibes with its stillness and spirit cleansing suds. No moulds are broken, but they are refined to a T inside, sustaining an atmospheric sort of psychic nourishment that appears to genuinely care for your well-being.
Safe of sharp edges, but providing for a fine balance of oily and coarse textures, the album proceeds from gossamer fine strokes of electric ambient blues guitar and murmuring rhythms on ‘6AM (Iris mix)’, thru Eno-esque choral motifs and mumbient bath time feels on ‘Lily Pad (with Izelia)’, across broader expanses of sail-away isolation in ‘Low Western’ to Robin Guthrie-esque washes in ‘Meetings and Partings’. They evoke the quietest passages of Burial’s UKG reminiscence on ‘Meshing’, and you can almost feel the soul rising up with the bath steam in the convective pads of ’Syntropy (with J)’.
Generous package of bleep, acid, deep house and early techno pressure by Cheshire’s Tom Carruthers, operating at the delta of late ‘80s/early ‘90s Staffordshire, SoYo, and Manc-y rave flavours on his 3rd LP with L.I.E.S.
Since 2020 carters has consistently served some of the strongest emulations of golden era early rave styles on his Non Stop Rhythm label under multiple monikers to acclaim from heads old and young. ‘Future Wave’ is the most significant and in-depth showcase of his vintage hardware tekkerz in effect, nailing every style he turns a hand to with the sort of hands-on, detailed arrangements and flow that made the original stuff endure so strongly in the underground club imagination.
It would be easy to mistake carruthers as a producer twice his age, who was there at Shelley’s or Thunderdome back in the day. But, nay, he’s just a whippersnapper who knows how to do it properly. The likes of his square based banger ‘Voltage’ could almost have come out on Catt Records in 1989, and ‘Cytoplasm’ is a sterling piece of 808 State worship, whilst ‘Mission Control’ salutes Juan Atkins and the harmonic bleeps of ‘Dissolution’ and LFO-esque rhythm machine attack of ‘Textures’ sound like they would have been played at Leeds’ warehouse way back when. His Chicagoan steez is also on point in the rude jack of ‘XXX’, ‘The Future’, or ‘darkside’, and ‘House Authority’ pumps like vintage Burrell Brothers or Bobby Konders.
Flume's surprise package of unheard music from the last decade Things Don’t Always Go the Way You Plan on, via Transgressive Records.
"The album features tracks with Injury Reserve, Panda Bear and Isabella Manfredi - with whom Flume previously collaborated on “The Greatest View” and “TRUST.” The collection is an immersive dive into the various eras of Flume with a combination of experimental and vocal material. There’s uplifting cinematic moments, “Close 1.2 [2016 Export Wav],” wonky mixtape era beats, “Nice 2 Know U 1.5.3 [2020 Export Wav],” a return to hip hop, “Counting Sheep (V2) [2018 Export Wav],” and classic song driven material, “Rhinestone 1.7.2 [2018 Export Wav].” It’s all very Flume and consistent with the eclecticism that has earned him his unique lane in electronic music and popular culture."
Having grown accustomed to the endless procession of reissues, remastering and reduxes that are the lifeblood of modern record companies, it came as some surprise to discover that 'White Bread Black Beer' from the erstwhile Scritti Politti wasn't some scratchy 'lost' studio recording, but a full-fat new LP.
Their first new material in seven years ('Anomie & Bonhomie'), 'White Bread Black Beer' sees the 1980's hit-machine returning to their poptastic roots - with Green Gartside eschewing the easy root of resurrecting the glass-scratched post-punk that has fallen back into fashion in favour of a lustrously produced selection of all-out crowd pleasers. Whilst this doesn't tell the entire story (Gartside pulls chunks from the spiky side of his past oeuvre throughout...), 'White Bread Black Beer' is nonetheless saturated in unfettered pop acumen - a fact that the brusque swearing of 'Cooking' can't even sink.
Gliding along with a level of polished ease that belies some intricate melodies and complex song structures, the likes of 'Dr. Abernathy' and 'Snow In Sun' are slivers of unfettered pop nourishment that sound how you imagine the eighties heard through rose-tinted earphones. Fabulous.
A fantastical forest of ornate and uncanny instrumentation feature on prolific sound alchemist Piotr Kurek’s stunning new album, commissioned, curated and now issued by Unsound’s label division. It’s a sprawling, instrumental delight, overgrown with harp, woodwind and glassy FM bells, essential listening if you're into anything from Martyna Basta and Wojciech Rusin to Talk Talk or Pharoah Sanders.
Piotr Kurek's last album 'Peach Blossom' wowed us with its scientific (and charmingly absurd) study of the human voice. On 'Smartwoods', he opts for a far more painterly blend of baroque, early music, jazz and subtle, dreamworld electronics. Gradually, Kurek creates a contemporary fairytale; building imposing, but alluring ecosystems where natural and computer generated organisms happily coexist. It’s like a cunningly cerebral soundtrack to an AI-assisted Disney movie, hiding its wiring in thickets of familiar but enigmatic musical bracken.
Collaborating with harpist Anna Pašic, woodwind player Tomasz Duda and bassist Wojtek Traczyk, Kurek plays electric guitar and keyboards, mimicking Duda's seductive clarinet, sax and flute puffs with MIDI woodwind instruments. It's not entirely obvious which sounds come from where; Kurek's digital processes are clandestine, teasing the notes rather than blotting them out - a harp twang stretched out for longer than it should, or slapped into a screwed echo, or peculiar, rubbery vocals that appear so fleetingly you wonder if they were even there at all.
Kurek's skill lies in his ability to gently screw with familiar motifs in a way that’s hard to identify, so the music on ‘Smartwoods’ is ostensibly as lush as Pharoah Sanders in full bloom, and as evocative and quietly complex as Talk Talk’s ’Sprit of Eden’s improvised passages, sprouting ornate instrumental flourishes that only reveal their artificial components if you listen extremely closely. Here, double bass can suddenly wind through celestial harps, electrified horns bleat an unexpected punctuation, and ingenious digital sound design tears through time without leaving much more than the tiniest temporal ripple.
Espiritu Vivo by Susana Baca on Luaka Bop.
"The tracks on this album may arouse a number of emotions; they were not sung purely for the pleasure of making music, but to convey, with drama and joy, that life is stronger than ever and continues with a live Spirit...
Recorded in New York after 9/11 in front of a small audience, Espíritu Vivo marries Susana Baca’s wonderful vocals and Peruvian backing band with the downtown sounds of John Medeski and guitarist Marc Ribot—for a recording that transcends time and place, with Baca giving every iota of herself to the music."
Described as "krautfolk" by Sonig, long-running duo Workshop have their catalog cherry-picked on 'WORKSHOP 1987-2004', a collection of highlights that works as a great introduction for newcomers to their whimsical sound.
Formed by visual artist Kai Althoff and Stephan Abry in 1985, Workshop have long been making "the music they wanted to hear", despite describing themselves as being "musically quite limited". The result of their experimentation was an assemblage of acoustic instrumentation and electronics that gestured towards Faust and Neu! as much as it did The Magnetic Fields or Yo La Tengo. 'WORKSHOP 1987-2004' sweeps up some of the highlights from their seven album catalogue, trimming the fat and providing a starting point for anyone intrigued by their innovative sound.
The excellent 15-minute 'Fabienne' starts us off, snipped from their unreleased album 'Mudwinkelplage', that was eventually bundled with their first two records on the Ladomat label in 2000. Recorded in 1992, it's a foggy, lo-fi jam that immediately gets to the heart of the Workshop sound, with repetitive, lulling drum patterns and delicate riffs that remind us of later German indie outsiders like Tied and Tickled Trio and The Notwist. Elsewhere, 'The House of Marvick', the brief, disco-referencing opening track from their '95-release 'Talent' full length pre-empts what Farben would be doing only a few years later, and 'Luke's Boutique' from their 1990 debut reminds us how funky Althoff and Abry can be when they put their minds to it.
But the standout moments here are undoubtedly the extended freak-outs, like 'Schlehe' from '97's 'Meiguiweisheng Xiang', a 10-minute collapse of angular drums and razor-sharp guitar vamps that dissolves into stopwatch beeps, screaming feedback and operatic vocals.
Early brought together a series of formative recordings from the late 70s and early 80s, for an America-only vinyl release in 2005. The collection, accompanied by sleeve notes from Green Gartside, included the band's debut single Skank Bloc Bologna, along with seminal tracks including The "Sweetest Girl", 28/8/78 and Lions After Slumber, and offered a stunning chance to enjoy the long-overlooked musical foundations of Scritti Politti again.
"Emerging from the scene around Leeds Art School, with fellow travellers The Mekons and The Gang Of Four, and recorded while the band were residing in a Camden squat organised along Marxist principles, these post-punk rallying cries which prefigured Green and co's pop-leaning rebirth several years later, were the songs that grab the attention of John Peel, Rough Trade founder Geoff Travis and a generation of music fans who helped bring the indie music scene – and the labels that accompanied it – into existence. A musical community in which Scritti Politti played an influential and formative role."
Iron & Wine's ‘Who Can See Forever,’ an accompanying live record to a film of the same name.
"The film was captured by director Josh Sliffe at Haw River Ballroom in Saxapahaw, North Carolina. The soundtrack features nineteen songs record live from the twenty-plus-year career of singer-songwriter Sam Beam.
Initially intended as a live concert release, the film evolved into a visual portrait capturing Beam during a creative outburst that earned him four Grammy nominations in four years. Like his music, the film touches on universally personal themes as Beam tackles managing his personal and professional life as an artist. Taken as one, the soundtrack and film are a fascinating first-time glimpse behind the scenes of Iron & Wine."
Flume's surprise package of unheard music from the last decade Arrived Anxious, Left Bored, via Transgressive Records.
"The album is work reflective of the eclectic nature of Flume’s output over the past ten years since his 2012 self-titled debut album, which launched the iconic producer's career. Spanning from underground house to atmospheric ambient tracks, Arrived Anxious, Left Bored features collaborations with celebrated producer Emile Haynie (Dua Lipa, Lana Del Rey, A$AP Rocky) and Jim-E Stack (Bon Iver, HAIM, Sudan Archives), as well as his first foray into using his own vocals with “All There 1.9 [2019 Export Wav].”
Schmaltzy emulations of late ‘90s/Y2K Eastern European chill out music in a library style by Poland’s Bartosz Kruczyński aka Pejzaż for the K&D fiends or lovers of CDs from car boots
‘List I’ follows in the mould of Kruczyński’s ‘Baltic Beat’ series for Growing Bin with further approximations of an exotic and breezy sound harvested from hundreds of samples, finely tiled into seamless collage. Chill out grooves nuzzle cod-classical themes and contemporary muzak in a in such a faithful way that we’re not sure whether it’s tongue in cheek or was actually intended as a library CD for Polish call centres, bright lit shopping malls and massage parlours.
While ostensibly sun drenched, there’s also a certain melancholy under the hood that links the ambient funk lite of ‘Directions’ and languid guitar lines in ‘Reguly Gry’, to its sequences of billowing string arrangements in the ‘Barwa’ parts, and thru to the silky hold music of ’Szepty’, or what could be the soundtrack to an open day at the local observatory in ‘Mikrokosmos’.
Clara!'s spine-tingling latest rewires sensual reggaetón and cloudy trap with expert production assistance from SKY H1, Low Jack and Pearson Sound. Mystifyingly plastique and deep as fuck, it shares space with recent gear from Florentino, Arca, Nick León, DJ Python and Kelman Duran.
Clara! has had us glued to her output since the crucial first installment of her 'Reggaetoneras' mixtape series dropped on SoundCloud way back in 2015. Since then she's kept up the momentum with genre-dissolving collabs with Maoupa, Low Jack and Pearson Sound, among others, and on 'Pulso', she circles back once again, calling on a few of her friends to help craft an asymmetric reggaetón statement that's steeped in sexual desire. Deviously poppy, it's a unique take on the globally dominant sound.
Horizontal and lusciously dreamy, 'Brillo' gets 'Pulso' off to a heady start, with SKY H1's slippery atmosphere's smoothly couching Low Jack's jerky, skeletal rhythm. Clara! meets her co-producers with a robotic lullaby that mutates into jagged rap; she's keen to stress that although reggaetón is a genre that was imported to Spain from Puerto Rico and Mexico, it's music that's deeply nostalgic for her, reminding her of parties she frequented as a teen. And she's able to put her own spin on it - 'Pulso' isn't a strict reggaetón record by any means, but takes its familiar accent as a rhythmic root, crossing it with whispered R&B, uncanny club deconstructions and woozy, overcast trap.
She invites Hakuna Kulala's Kabeaushé into the fold on the ornate 'Elle', looping their schoolyard vocal hook around lounge-y drums (from Hessle's Pearson Sound) and Middle Eastern string cuts. It's one of the EP's subtlest but hardest hitting bangers, showing off the range of her voice and the power in her motion: less is almost always more. And Pearson Sound shows up again on the trance-infected 'Gotas', a slow burner that's balanced around a piercing snare and subtle dub-rave siren mutations. But it's the sing-along 'Charcos' where Clara! seems most at ease, curling her pillow talk around ratcheting hats and narcotic synths.
Bristol’s Hodge shells ballistic breakstep rave and writhing club music at multiple tempos and styles of pressure for Batu’s label
In the wake of his split with Shanti Celeste, Hodge takes his Timedance call-up as an opportunity to cut loose with devilish production detail and turbulent results. ‘Voice Crash’ is the big one, syncing drop-forge percussion with scything hardcore rave stabs in aggy parries and chromatic whorls made to mess the dance up.
‘151’ follows at the titular tempo with scuttling insectoid drum programming, dive bombing synth sounds and chirruping bleeps like a haywire 33EMYBW or indeed his label boss’ own brand of badness, before ‘Fussyhead’ locates the sound back in the bowels of Bristol’s bassbins on a knees-up steppers momentum.
Maiden vinyl issue of enchanting Palestinian protest songs, performed and recorded in late ‘80s by acoustic Kuwaiti quartet Al Fajr Group; Sima Kanaan (Vocals), Bashar Shammout (Guitar) Jameel Saraj (Oud and Guitar) and Nizar Alyan (Percussion).
“Al Fajer Group was established in Kuwait in 1987 and became known for their unique frequencies and the transparency of their sound. The band is rooted in acoustic oud, guitar and percussion and they never used any electronic equipment during their sets. When they were first established they would perform Palestinian patriotic songs, related to the Palestinian liberation struggle. They released their launch album, recorded on reel tapes, during the First Intifada in 1988, after which they began composing and writing their own original music.
They were unable to release this due to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, when all the band members were forced to leave the country and could not reunite to release the second album. During the limited time in which they were able to work together, they participated in multiple tours in Kuwait, Iraq, Germany and other locations. This is the first vinyl release for the band and includes original music, which has not been available until today.”
Sierra Leone and Guinea-raised, US-based artist Lamin Fofana does wickedly gunky acid house and mutant dancehall on an ace debut for The Trilogy Tapes
A longtime figure on these pages since his early works on Team Shadetek’s Dutty Artz, and via his Sci-Fi & Fantasy label (home to early bits by Lotic), Lamin Fofana says his piece with characteristically playful skews of convention in ‘It's Only a Matter of Acceleration Now’. The titular lead cut works up a trippy acid funk like some stray Rephlex oddity, revelling in the tweakiest 303 gunk and slippery polyrhythms wrapped to a pulsing 4/4 in the manner of an Africanized Analord or Aleksi Perälä, while the sampled voice of Sun Ra, set in beat-less cosmic electronics, on ‘Lines and Speed Decay in my Voice’ roots his work in deep Afrofuturist concerns, and the sloshing acid dancehall of ‘Alter-Destiny’ stakes it out in step with prevailing dancefloor currents.
Brooklyn’s Ayesha expresses her Indian heritage in the blocky, rhymelodic pressure and acidic electronic tunings of her first album for Kindergarten Records
‘Rhythm Is Memory’ reflects on cultural muscle memory in universal club formats through 10 dance-dedicated workouts. Initially slow and pendulous and recalling aspects of DJ Smiley Bobby’s ‘Dhol Tasha Drum…’ soundsystem music in ‘Pre Dawn’, she dovetails with hard drum trends on ‘Tactilla’ and pushes harder into a common club language between the 4/4 face of ‘Play’, and the bucklng electro-punk sysnthliens of ‘Buzzz’, variously pronouncing her heritage in tough styles with the table-inflected ‘V7’, bouncing 160bpm dancehall-tekno of ‘Roll’, the throaty acid swill to ‘Tunnel Vision’, and rambunctious roller ‘Mother Tongue’,
For Now I Am Winter is Ólafur Arnalds' third full-length studio album.
"His earlier albums, soundtracks and EPs, have been released through the Berlin based cult label Erased Tapes. Building and expanding on his previous more minimalist work, Arnalds' new album is his first to involve a full orchestra (co-arranged by Nico Muhly) and a vocalist (Agent Fresco lead singer Arnór Dan) on selected tracks, making it his most broadly appealing work to date."
Newly expanded edition of a timeless Quebecois folk gem issued to hushed acclaim in 2014 and sure to pique attention from new ears to Myriam Gendron’s livication of Dorothy Parker’s poetry
Remarkably, considering its accomplished air, ‘Not so Deep as a Well’ features Myriam Gendron’s maiden solo home recordings. Put to tape with no prior knowledge of recording, the 9-song suite depicts Gendron alone in her apartment. Taking the poems of Dorothy Parker (1893-1967), discovered in a Montreal bookstore, Gendron inhabits and imbues their words with a uncanny familiarity that faithfully brings Parker’s sense of melancholy to life as we’d like to imagine they were intended.
Framed with her dusty, plaintive guitar, they resemble a long-lost and found artefact as she lists from the elegance of ‘Threnody’ to the gentle setting of ‘Song of Perfect Propriety’, enlivening the folk-blues of ‘The False Friends’ and wistful ballads with an ideal balance of old soul and fresh bittersweetness.
Remote Echoes from Duster, via Numero Group.
"Culled from half a decade of home four-tracking, Remote Echoes is a hissy, crumbly, and ungrounded expression of Clay Parton and Canaan Amber’s ongoing Duster project.
A mix of cassette only demos released under the banners Christmas Dust and On The Dodge, this 14 track album also includes a bevy of previously unissued stragglers. Duster’s unique blend of fuzzy guitars, bargain synths, muffled percussion, and hushed vocals anticipated chillwave, mumblecore, and corecore, elegantly illustrating the holy trinity of slacker vices: cigarettes, coffee, and the weed supreme."
Jules Reidy follows last year's astonishing 'World in World' for Black Truffle with two turbid sides of just intoned dream folk, using a custom-made hexaphonic electric guitar to guide meditations that crumple our perceptions of pop music. Indescribably singular, we'd say it's essential gear if you're into anything from John Fahey to Arnold Dreyblatt, Popol Vuh to Slowdive.
Last year’s 'World in World' sounded so familiar you'd swear you'd heard it before. Focus your hearing a little, however, and you soon realised everything was a bit unbalanced: the vocals didn't quite make sense and Reidy's expertly picked guitar phrases were tonally off-kilter. They lean into this phenomenon wholeheartedly on 'Trances', concentrating on the music's mantra-like qualities without losing the peculiar familiarity that made its predecessor so invitingly disconcerting.
The guitar is at the heart of the album once again, but Reidy disrupts strums and arpeggios with smudgy, sampled washes, field recordings, synths and, of course, AutoTuned vocals. Although it's split into twelve sections, the composition plays like variations on a central theme that wrings out emotionality using repetition and stylistic coherence within a well-defined framework.
If you're new to xenharmonic tuning, 'Trances' functions like a welcoming party. Over the first side, the compositions bubble like a stream, juxtaposing folk-picked guitar phrases and resonant harmonics with tense, low-end rumbles and shimmering electronic washes. When Reidy’s voice enters the picture, it's hazy and indistinct, the AutoTune making it sound even more uncanny, highlighting the ephemeral quality of contemporary playlist music. Reidy gradually layers more oblique elements: tempo-fluxed sine wave sequences, rubbery harmonium-style drones, tremolo and almost imperceptible 12-string guitar samples. The momentum never flutters, swirling into a vortex of wobbly tonality and pure feeling.
The second side plays like a broken mirror of the first, bringing back the dreamy vocal passages and bleepy synths periodically and building them into a thick, syrupy whirlpool of triumphant, mysterious expression. Occasionally, Reidy's voice rings against the guitars almost conventionally, soon engulfed in noisy washes or exaggerated drones, bringing us into a fugged dream state that encourages us to embrace the fantasy.
Like Florian Fricke's later Popol Vuh recordings, it's music that burrows deep under the skin, its directness as deceptive as its tonality. Needless to say, it's a great, great thing.