Smoky, low-key, leftfield house and beatdown styles from dj sacom, Elise, Patrick Flint and HANAH on London’s Man Band rec.
dj sacommakes their recorded debut with the dusty, Dilla-esque lope of ‘Wisdom’, and Rinse France resident Elise sends smoke signals with the crispy, smudged house hustle of ‘Seropram’ on a Kassem Mosse or Parris-like tip.
Bristol’s Patrick Flint serves the EP’s 2nd recorded debut with a haze of trilling flutes and drum machines sounding out somewhere to the quieter side of Hodge or Kowton, and Parisian HANAH serves the record’s 3rd recorded debut in a sloshing, grubbing percussive workout that sounds like it was recorded in the roof of a public swimming baths.
All killer, no filler 4-way from Amsterdam’s Knekelhuis, turning out rugged, psychoactive dance music from Sabla,Patricia Kokett, Maoupa Mazzochetti, and Job Sifre
Presented as a “document of modern contemporary music”, all tracks could have feasibly been made at any point between 1980 and now, which is pretty symptomatic of these flatland times, to be fair.
Up top, Sabla follows a pair of strong 12”s with Gang of Ducks and Disk with ‘Chant’, a haunting rhythm excursion focussed on pure rhythmelodic cadence and possessed by elusive electronic duppies. Patricia Kokett follows with ‘Luxor’, flipping the script of their slow and heavy ‘Diabel’ 12” with pulsating drums and dizzy hi-register squeal.
On the other side, Maoupa Mazzochetti works a tangy sort of Arabic, aerobic mysticism with the psychedelic spin and bump of ‘644 Beauty Marks’, and Job Sifre leans on the downstroke with the On-U Sound-esque ace, ‘We Are Monsters’.
One of Coil’s most prized and distinctive albums, ‘Black Light District’ arises again on 2LP reissue with Dais Records, with all remastering and reproduction under the auspices of the group’s Drew McDowell. A phantasmagoric soundscape for those who shine darkly…
“During the transitional period in which Coil’s primary leadership, Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson and John Balance, reorganized their creative direction by taking on new membership in the group through their inclusion of Drew McDowall, Coil took a drastic turn towards the metaphysical unknown. Employing the subtle handiwork of Coil’s “real life” members, as well as the cleverly guised aliases and spiritual collaborators, the band chose to filter their identity through a the nome de guerre, Black Light District, setting the precedent of Coil’s future exploration of otherworldy influence.
Recorded during the Winter of 1995/96, Black Light District reflects more on their formal avant-garde pursuits and academic interests rather than their industrial pedigree resume. Starting off with an obvious nod to John Cage with their introductory “Unprepared Piano”, the tone is prepared in exactly the same way… unpredictable. Conceptually abstract, Black Light District shows Coil’s old guard disregarding the pop rhythms found on previous albums, such as Love Secret Domain, and fully embracing their experimental electronic trajectory. Subtle patterns of looping melancholy and malaise are placed delicately underneath ghostly electronic timbre. Approaching their creative method as something from the beyond, another realm in which sounds blur and performers seemingly appear from the ether.”
Mega digidub artillery form TNT Roots, backed with a spiralling version by John T. Gast, who’s also behind its release on 5 Gate Temple
Somehow manifesting as TNT Roots’ first 7” after more than a decade of CD releases via his Lion Musik label, and a recent 12” with London’s Bokeh Versions, the keen trample of ‘Chant Down Babylon Verse 2’ is a deadly steppers bullet eager for deployment on the biggest rig DJs can lay their hands on.
The British “neo-dub” producer finds a strong spiritual and physical ally in John T. Gast on the flip, who faithfully handles a ‘Gast Version’, running extra mentallic FX and extending the ting with an extra layer of gorgeous, dreamy ‘90s ambient pads, with no loss to the original’s heavy momentum.
‘Ambient 4: On Land’ is Brian Eno’s eighth solo studio album and the final instalment of his foundational ambient series that started with ‘Music For Airports’
Recorded between 1978 and 1982, ‘On Land’ sees Brian Eno take a decidedly darker turn, using samples and tape loops from the cutting room floor of previous sides to create a soundsphere of seamlessly shadowy ambient drift.
Perhaps most intriguingly here, Eno found the synthesiser to be of “limited usefulness”, and turned his attentions to physical objets, such as pieces of chain and sticks and stones, to shape what is effectively a form of ambient concrète music, rather than the gentle synthy lushness it’s more commonly associated with.
Featuring guest contributions from Jon Hassell (trumpet) and Bill Laswell (bass guitar), and engineered by ‘Danny’ Lanois, ‘Ambient 4: On Land’ is a total classic of eldritch-tinted, British ambient pastoralism, with all the dark underbelly that notion entails.
Mano a Mano, Kowton & Parris remix each other to the bone for Glasgow’s pivotal Rubadub gang
Both masters of economy, they pitch in super dank and restrained riddims raring for amplification on a proper system. Kowton’s is the most stripped down, with barely-there flickers of percussion trading space with air-shuddering subbass, always on a tense build into vacuum-like relief. Parris marginally fleshes out his side with spidery webs of dubbed drums and globular subs, but the tension is chronic this time, as the groove overpronates in spiralling forward motion until the bass/snare locks in for the final stretch.
Leading on from his sparkling debut album in 2017, Jacques Greene does his endocrine-tweaking dance-pop thing on the ‘Fever Focus’ EP
From the bittersweet curdle of ‘Convex Mirror’, thru the floating ambient rave of ‘Nordschliefe’, to his warmly melodic jacker ‘Perlant’, the MDMA-triggering acid of ‘Fever Focus’, and the trancey lift of ‘Avatar Beach’...
The new album Pastoral, by Gazelle Twin, exhumes England’s rotten past, and shines a torch over its ever-darkening present.
"Told through a troupe of multi-gender voices, in vernaculars old and new; from the shrill echo of folksong to tabloid-tinged jaunts, the artist aka Elizabeth Bernholz, presents the notion that “there is horror in every idyll, and danger lurking beyond the “quaint” ”. The village square - once host to centuries of public torture - becomes a floral framed postcard, dolled-up for the Summer Fête. A sunny, afternoon walk over the hills unsettles a cloud of angry flies feeding from unidentifiable remains. Bigoted vitriol gently murmurs amidst tearoom chatter, as the neatly framed pastoral picture dissolves into a solemn ennui."
Eiko Ishibashi & Jim O’Rourke gaze out of the front cover and provide the key lead interview article this month.
Elsewhere, the Global ear is cocked to Jinja, Uganda’s Nyege Nyege Tapes Festival, and Melvin Gibbs is quizzed in The Invisible Jukebox, alongside features on Jpegmafia; Michele Mercure; London Improvisors Orchestra; Deena Abdelwahed; Colin Self. Plus all the usual news, reviews, listings.
Squeaky clean and sharp dance drills from Local Action’s Australian ambassador
“Having spent the last half-decade honing his sound and earning a reputation as one of the underground’s finest club producers, Strict Face releases New Racer - a nine-track mixtape that marks his most ambitious and rewarding project to date.
As inspired by classic r&b as he is future-facing electronic music, Strict Face boasts one of dance music’s strongest recent discographies, releasing zero-gravity grime anthems on labels such as Mumdance and Logos’ Different Circles and Mr. Mitch’s Gobstopper, collaborating with Atlanta r&b artist K-Major on ‘Murderer’, and most recently releasing This Heat, an EP for Australia’s NLV Records that marked his most confident, all-encompassing work to date.
Although he wears his influences on his sleeve, Strict Face has developed a way with melodies that makes his music instantly recognisable - squeezing every last bit of emotion from them to ensure that they stay with the listener long after the track has finished, and that melodic sensibility runs through the veins of New Racer.
Bookended by two of his most emotive tracks to date in ‘Lethargic’ and ‘Starwipe’ - the first of which features his own guitar work on record for the first time - New Racer maps a tour de force through amped-up peak-time screamers (‘Viper Striking’, ‘Panther Pierced’), romantic r&b (‘Cherryhugs’, ‘Gold Citro’, ’Kiss Me Later’) and euphoric, trance-driven club workouts (‘Dial Fantasy’, ‘Crisis Combo’). Despite Strict Face’s rich history of collaborating, this mixtape is deliberately 100% instrumental and 100% him, showcasing his ability to creating unforgettable melodies and irresistible ear-worms on his own terms.”
An essential collection of work by pivotal writer Mark Fisher (1968-2017) spanning his seminal blog posts and essays through to his unpublished introduction for a new book ‘Acid Communism’, it comprehensively surveys Mark’s exhilarating dissections of modern culture during the period between his entry to the blogosphere in 2003, and up to his passing in 2017, weeks prior to the posthumous release of his book ‘The Weird and the Eerie’.
Over this period in particular, Mark offered a unique critical ballast for a whole generation via his blog posts and essays, and by extension via his academic work, as an editor of the Wire magazine, and co-founder of the Dissensus forum, and the Zer0 Books and Repeater publishing platforms. In these varying roles, Mark made us think about the world differently through his redefinition of Derrida’s idea of ‘hauntology’ - diagnosing a cancellation of the future through postmodernity and neoliberalism - while also leading us to the related question of ‘capitalist realism’, asking how the culture we all participate within relates to radical potential of counter-cultural ideologies. He was also instrumental in the emergence of some of this century’s most enduring projects - Kode 9’s Hyperdub website and label; Junior Boys ‘Last Exit’ album; and The Caretaker’s ‘Theoretically Pure Anterograde Amnesia’ boxset. His legacy and ideas remain an eternal source of inspiration. Please use them wisely and extensively...
“Edited by Darren Ambrose and with a foreword by Simon Reynolds, this comprehensive collection brings together the very best work of acclaimed blogger, writer, publisher, political activist and lecturer Mark Fisher (aka k-punk) who died in 2017.
Covering the period 2004 – 2016, it includes some of the most incendiary and influential posts from his seminal blog k-punk, as well as a selection of his brilliantly insightful film, television and music reviews, together with his extraordinary writings on politics, activism, precarity, hauntology, mental health and popular modernism for numerous websites and magazines. Also included is his final unpublished k-punk post, the unfinished introduction to his planned book on “Acid Communism”, and a number of important interviews from the last decade."
Out of print on vinyl since 1989, the award-winning Kronos Quartet performance of Steve Reich’s momentous ‘Different Trains’ is made available again via Nonesuch, backed with Pat Metheny’s recording of ‘Electric Counterpart’
“On Different Trains, which combines string quartet with taped speech, Reich evokes his American childhood during World War II while also addressing the Holocaust. The New York Times declared it "a work of such originality that 'breakthrough' seems the only possible description."
Electric Counterpoint was written for Pat Metheny, who gave the world premiere performance of the piece at Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival in November 1987. The guitarist performs against multiple pre-recorded tape of himself—and "splendidly," said the New York Times. The piece is "filled with jazz and funk-inflected rhythms, reveling in the spirit of American vernacular culture ... [and] finds Mr. Reich capitalizing on his strengths. Here, at the point furthest removed from convention, is where his creative juices flow most freely."
Unique psychedelic killers from Niagara, mounting a sterling debut album with Lisbon’s Príncipe five years after their first 12”, ‘Ouro Oeste’ . Trust that they have lost none of the weirdness that’s endeared them to freaks around the world ever since they emerged. If anything they’re stranger, more spaced-out and porous to wild influence...
Outlining Niagara’s definitive description of contemporary exotica, ‘Apologia’ limns a frayed, buzzing sort of “Fourth World PLUS” sound, where the “PLUS” refers to their embrace of noise as an agent of chaos. But it’s not necessarily malefic chaos, and should be taken as a smart acknowledgement of the overlooked yet crucial role that roughness of grain and construction play in contrast with so many clinically smooth and even anodyne efforts from the same, imagined arena of worldly music for a new age.
In allowing for the entropy of time and the inevitable infidelity of attrition to enter their soundsphere, Niagara’s organic machine music keenly reflects a natural world order without the need for algorithmic process. Their world is a fertile interplay of acoustic and electronic sources rendering hazy, fata morgana-like glimpses of musical possibility, practically triangulating the visions of likeminds such as Jamal Moss/Hieroglyphic Being and Dolo Percussion with the explorative precedents of Portugul’s Telectu to realise a fine expression of anachronistic modernism.
Most of the tracks loosely work around 3 minute timeframes, lending a zig-zagging mosaic quality to the tracklist in between its longer parts. Richly colourful spiritual jazz arps and raw machine grooves spring from opener ‘França’, triggering a cascade of ideas that bends between acidic kosmiche in ‘6:30’ to the heatsick boogie gliss of ’40’ and the stark emptiness of ‘Senhora Do Cabo’, to give up the gorgeous, extended flute and acid meditation ’Siena’, and mess with Vangelis-style synth majesty on ‘Via Garibaldi’, before spending their coolest energies in the drowsy Afro-latin swagger of ‘Cabo Verde.’
It’s hard to ignore the fact that Alberto, António and Sara a.k.a. Niagara have distilled their sound to imperfection on ‘Apologia’, resulting one of 2018’s most crucial and vital electronic albums.
Levon Vincent hustles two hypnotic charges on his Novel Sound label
Up top he delivers the swingeing, grubbing drums and nagging riff of ‘The Sound of People Moving’ on a deep, latinate, New York-styled flex, before the B-side brings booming kicks anchoring a lone vocal stab and sloshing triplets in a way that’s set to properly lave the big room crowds.
‘The Weird and the Eerie’ is the third book book by Mark Fisher. Focussed on a history of Horror in literature and cinema, it was posthumously published in 2017 and served to get further under the skin of certain ideas that were embedded and limned in Fisher’s revolutionary ‘Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?’ , and ‘Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures’ , an important set of texts that draws links between mental health, politics and culture.
"What exactly are the Weird and the Eerie? In this new book, Mark Fisher argues that some of the most haunting and anomalous fiction of the 20th century belongs to these two modes. The Weird and the Eerie are closely related but distinct modes, each possessing its own distinct properties. Both have often been associated with Horror, yet this emphasis overlooks the aching fascination that such texts can exercise. The Weird and the Eerie both fundamentally concern the outside and the unknown, which are not intrinsically horrifying, even if they are always unsettling. Perhaps a proper understanding of the human condition requires examination of liminal concepts such as the weird and the eerie.
These two modes will be analysed with reference to the work of authors such as H.P. Lovecraft, H.G. Wells, M.R. James, Christopher Priest, Joan Lindsay, Nigel Kneale, Daphne Du Maurier, Alan Garner and Margaret Atwood, and films by Stanley Kubrick, Jonathan Glazer and Christoper Nolan."
First ever pressing of a 1975 psych throw-down by soon-to-become important members of the Belgian wave underground; Alain Neffe, Guy Marc Hinant, and friends
“Something undoubtedly cosmic but with a DIY, home-made edge: a cosmos for sure, but dirtier than clean, noisier than technology-based. All songs are unreleased. Recorded and mixed in March 1975. After some years rather cosmic and raga-esque music, Kosmose slowly began to explore some more experimental and noisy sonic expression. At the time, the band only owned a few instruments and sound effects and, no drummer. They used to play long tracks in order to follow the trend of the alternative music of the period -- remember, this was 1975. The event was a total spectacle with an inventive light-show including a stroboscope and a frantic projection of strange abstract slides on a giant screen by Freddy Pourcel. Some incense was burnt time-to-time. Personnel: Alain Neffe - monophonic synthesizer, flute, primitive rhythm box, bell, clumsy voice, tarang; Francis Pourcel - bass, bass with violin bow, electric guitar; Daniel Malempré (aka MAL) - electric guitar, 12-string acoustic guitar.”
Tirzah pursues the slowest-burning soul feels on Devotion, the London-based singer-songwriter’s humbly singular début album, produced by Mica Levi and providing us with total life affirming summer listening - most probably the record we've listened to most this year so far, and one that lingers on and on...
Since her first solo 12”s and thru frequent collaborations with Mica Levi - including the Taz And May Vids  for DDS - Tirzah has quietly blossomed into one of the UK’s most precious and peculiar artists working at the fringes of experimental pop, post-grime and R&B, and Devotion is set to bring her love to a wider audience.
Plaintive and low key, Devotion presents Tirzah’s vocal in the most evocative light, framed by backdrops of bleary-eyed and bent vibes and the kind of half-finished, permanently work-in-progress production style that's become a calling card of her music and her tight knit crew including Coby Sey, Mica Levi and Brother May.
Album of the year? Aye, quite possibly.
What were the conditions of possibility for art and music-making before the era of neoliberal capitalism? What role did punk play in turning artists to experiment with popular music in the late 1970s and early 1980s? And why does the art and music of these times seem so newly pertinent to our political present, despite the seeming remoteness of its historical moment?
"Focusing upon the production of post-punk art, film, music, and publishing, Post-Punk Then and Now offers new perspectives on an overlooked period of cultural activity, and probes the lessons that might be learnt from history for artists and musicians working under 21st century conditions of austerity. Contemporary reflections by those who shaped avant-garde and contestatory culture in the UK, US, Brazil and Poland in the 1970s and 1980s. Alongside these are contributions by contemporary artists, curators and scholars that provide critical perspectives on post-punk then, and its generative relation to the aesthetics and politics of cultural production today."
First ever reissue of Indifferent Dance Centre’s post-punk bullet ‘Flight & Pursuit’, and the woozy dirge of ‘Release’.
The 2nd release on Ran$om Note’s Outer Reaches gives a new life to the eternal charms of ‘Flight & Pursuit’, a one-off beauty recorded and released by Chichester’s Indifferent Dance Centre in 1981 and treasured by heads ever since...
“Both ‘Flight & Pursuit’ & ‘Release’ were made in the midst of a ‘happy chaos’, on a day which IDC recount as one where demands for ‘more echo!’, the sound of whirring black effects boxes – courtesy of their producer Alan Williams - and of offhand laughter all ran across one another. Recorded live in only a few takes they both indicate a level of modesty, candour, independence and intuition that proved to be the defining traits of both the music IDC made and the outlook they adopted.
With only ‘Flight & Pursuit’ compiled on the Hyped To Death CD compilation ‘Messthetics #108: South Coast D.I.Y. '77-81’ back in 2011 the original 7” vinyl has begun to command inflated prices in the usual places. With this reissue on Outer Reaches that state of play is thankfully redressed.”
Camila Fuchs makes a head-turning debut on ATP with the cosmic pop of ‘Heart Pressed Between Stones’; a remarkably accomplished LP worthy of comparison with the best from Jenny Hval, her label mate Zoë McPherson, or early Fever Ray and Bjørk classics
Leading on from 2016’s ‘Singing From Fixed Rung’ and her ‘Opuntia’ EP as Camila De Laborde, the Mexico City-born, London-based artist truly blossoms on this, her 3rd release to date. It’s rare that artists of this calibre of vision and poise come around, and we reckon that ‘Heart Pressed Between Stones’ is a modern classic in waiting.
Taking her fair time to ease in with the screwed groove and wide open vox of ‘One-on-One’ and its searching, serpentine bassline, Camila maintains an impeccable poise throughout the album, threading from the veiled electronics and unmistakeably Bjørkian urgency of ‘Heatwave (Coming Towards You)’, to transition into stark, mutated psych rock in the tempered rush of ‘My Body’. She expertly plays with liminal tension again in the deliquescent dream pop friction of ‘Direct Truth’, before she gets mired in the deliciously viscous, screwed gloop of ‘Battlefield’, and totally has us by a thread with the nonplace acid-folk finale, ‘For All Stable Appearances, He Was Wild’, where her blend of organic and inorganic textures, dense electronics and spacious vocals most effectively transport and consume us.
After 23 years out of print, FSOL’s definitive early ‘90s ambient-epic Lifeforms now returns to its natural habitat. Serving near-dangerous levels of nostalgia for almost anyone who came thru in the ‘90s, Lifeforms is set to soundtrack myriad afterparties and claim its place on a whole new generation of record shelves.
Originally released in 1994, a few years after FSOL had become a household name thanks to their debut LP Accelerator and its standout rave anthem, Papua New Guinea (and not forgetting Humanoid’s Stakker before it), Brian Dougans and Garry Cobain’s project really blossomed into something else with Lifeforms, where they consolidated a wealth of esoteric ideas and philosophies into what was effectively a new manifesto for psychedelic electronic music.
Whether unconsciously and osmotically absorbed, or dutifully studied and cherished by those cognisant of its brilliance, Lifeforms was almost unavoidably ubiquitous at the time, and inarguably worked its way into the popular consciousness in a way that electronic records rarely do nowadays. It was definitely a product of its time, and now, 23 years later, we can safely say it’s kept its charms intact.
Riffing on then-emergent themes of cybernetics, amorphous androgyny and artificial intelligence, together with nods to classic ‘70s psychedelia and kosmische - it features guest spots from Ozric Tentacles and Robert Fripp, and sampled Klaus Schulze - the results tapped into the era’s undercurrent of aerobic mysticism and eldritch new age spirituality to locate an unprecedented confluence of those styles which has influenced swathes of electronic dreamers ever since.
It’s techno-romantic and tech-gnostic in the lushest sense, a utopian beauty flush with the thrill of unknown futures, yet fringed with an MDMA come-down melancholy that’s totally crucial to understanding that era’s play and juxtaposition of energies. Quite simply, though: Lifeforms is an incredibly enigmatic and life-affirming album awaiting your (re)discovery.
SHXCXCHCXSH go hammer and tongs on an outstanding 3rd volley for their Rösten label
In a masterful example of saying it without saying it, the Swedish pair skillfully swarm around techno’s 4/4 framework without ever landing on a rote kick/hi-hat pattern in all eight tracks.
Moving uncannily close to the rufige of Demdike Stare or the restless disruptions of Rian Treanor, the plough a singular path thru angular, stop-start loops and harsh textures with a cool tolerance for the kind of psychotomimetic repetitions that may drive some minds to despair, and others to utter wildstyle ecstasy.
If you’re game, these tracks have the potential to turn dancers and clubs inside out. Chow down and find your own madness in there somewhere. Best we’ve heard from SHXCXCHCXSH in their 6 years of ruffneck productions.
Beautifully haunted, tripped out and richly absorbing set of apparitions recalling the most sylvan shadows of Aphex Twin's ‘SAW II’, Leyland Kirby / The Caretaker at his creepiest and the spectres of Loren Connors “airs”, a huge recommendation to followers/fans of any of the above...
Blue Chemise is the alias of Australia’s Mark Gomes and this is his debut for Students Of Decay, recorded direct to Dictaphone with minimal post-production to convey something poignant and eerily intangible.
Following from two similarly etheric gestures, both self-released on Greedy Ventilators, and a 7” with I Dischi Del Barone, Gomes here supposes 16 new passages of time that hold the listener’s aural gaze with uncanny ability. Most effectively, they conjure the sensation of solitude shared with paranormal spirits,, drawing the listener into possible parallel dimensions with a dusky, autumnal subtlety.
If you've been charmed by the desiccated but richly absorbing atmospheres of fellow antipodeans such as F Ingers or LST, those early BoC wildlife documentary interludes, or even the creepiest stuff on Mark Harwood’s Penultimate Press, we wager this one will rule your world. We’ve been listening to it on a loop since early in the morning and really not sure if we’ll shake off that hypnagogic feeling for the rest of the day...
Ambient maestro Will Long serves a definitive Celer release with ‘Memory Repetitions’, rounding up five typically widescreen, gauzy works that can’t help but lull listeners into the lush, comforting states of mind. If you’re only familiar with his deep house excursions alongside DJ Sprinkles, this is a prime place to dive into Will's prolific and much-loved output as Celer...
“Operating outside the limelight in the underground, Will Long has produced prolifically across genres, monikers, and countries since 2006. Predating his minimal house contributions under his given name to DJ Sprinkles’ Comatonse label and Smalltown Supersound, Long has put forth over a hundred collections of ambient compositions in stream of consciousness fashion under the name Celer. A native to America, Long has been based in Tokyo since 2011, where he has continued to expand upon his vault of celestial arrangements, amassing a cult following over the years by releasing them on under-the-radar labels, his own Two Acorns label, and on his Bandcamp.
Memory Repetitions serves to reflect on the labyrinthine body of work that comprises Celer.”
American-born multi-instrumentalist, singer and composer Peter Broderick returns with the score for the award-winning animation of the same name, inspired by an early recording of his, plus a 9-minute electronic rework on the B-side titled Techno For Lemurs.
"Fairly often we see albums of “Music inspired by the film __”, but less common is a film inspired by music. Such is the case with Two Balloons. Director Mark C. Smith got the idea for his nine-minute stop frame animation film while out at sea, looking at a majestic funnel cloud in the distance. Shortly after he heard a song by Peter Broderick from one of his earliest recordings — 4 Track Songs — and the music struck a chord so strongly, he knew he wanted to make a film to fit the melody. And so began the five-year labour of love that would eventually produce this enchanting little film, currently circulating film festivals around the world and racking up countless awards and accolades including ‘Best Original Music Score’ at the New Renaissance Film Festival in Amsterdam.
Even though the film was inspired by an older Broderick composition, the score for Two Balloons was recorded from scratch, revised and expanded to fit each frame. The process of stop frame animation is a labour intensive and painstaking one, but the attention to detail didn’t stop at the picture for this film. The score was an integral part of the film from the very beginning, with both the director and composer going to great lengths to experiment not only with the composition itself, but also the fidelity. The first sound heard on the score is a piano playing a waltz figure, and the sound is noticeably lo-fi, but this isn’t just some modern digital trickery. This piano was recorded on a wire recorder, a recording technology that predates magnetic tape and has been virtually forgotten about.
In the process of recording the score, many different technologies were experimented with. In addition to purchasing and refurbishing several wire recorders, the director at one stage acquired several massive AM radio consoles as well as an AM radio transmitter, so that a digital recording from the computer could be broadcast through the AM radio waves and then captured through one of these nostalgic sounding old radios. A variety of these technologies from different eras were used to create a score that both sounds like it’s from several different time periods and from no specific time at all.
The B-side, if you will, is more than just a remix that recycles the original recordings. In fact none of the original parts have been re-used. ‘Techno For Lemurs’ is a homage to the two main characters in the story, the ring-tailed lemurs Bernard and Elba. Serving as Broderick’s first foray into the world of techno, this playful piece reinterprets the melodic themes from the original score by adapting them with electronic instrumentation. In Peter’s own words: “Let’s pretend for nine minutes that we’re ring-tailed lemurs and get this party started!”
Raw, Ur-primal improv from Dennis Tyfus (voice, tape) and Mette Rasmussen (sax, objects), rubbing out an inquisitive fuss for the latter’s exemplary Ultra Eczema label
Recorded at SIM Studio in Antwerp, Belgium, the results of Bazuinschal’s first session document elemental expressions that fall somewhere within the brackets of free jazz and experimental music.
Norway-based, Danish saxophonist Mette follows from her collaborative LP with Tashi Dorji for Feeding Tube Records to explore a more oblique sound here, no doubt encouraged by Belgium’s premiere freak, Dennis Tyfus to rinse out the brassiest parps and spittle-flecked sounds from her instrument, which is coincidentally recorded in the land of its origin.
In the first and longest part, Mette seems to match Dennis’ wordless chants thru her instrument, before they both trip hard into more hellish scenes, like the soundtrack to a demonic detail from a Bosch painting. A passage of bestial, tape-warped vox and plangent bleats then follows into the possessed styles of the B-side, slipping from throat-wrecking gargles and brittle brass scrapings to pranging metal percussions, gnarled parp and again, back to nightmare-inducing, animalistic connotations.
One for the quacks. You know who you are.
Jim O’Rourke returns with his first physical solo album since 2015’s Simple Songs, following a relatively steady supply of download-only releases via his Steamroom Bandcamp (over 20 of them since 2015) and collaborations with John Duncan, Keiji Haino, Oren Ambarchi, Peter Brötzmann, Merzbow, Fennesz and others in the interim. Anyone familiar with his exceptional Steamroom output will have an inkling of what to expect here; this is Jim O’Rourke at his most meditative, absorbing and quietly subversive, making use of little more than synthesizer, pedal steel, piano and shortwave radio for one extended 45 minute piece (punctuated by a few moments of silence) designed to mess with contemporary notions of “Ambient” music.
Sleep Like It's Winter took O’Rourke two years to construct after being approached by the fledgling Newhere label to submit an Ambient album. As he explained recently in an interview with ele-king: "I didn’t set out to make an ambient record but it’s sort of about making an ambient record more than it’s an ambient record (laughing) you know? Pretty much everything I do is about what it is as opposed to being it. Just making any record in terms of “make a record in this genre” is anathema to me, but I decided to do it because it was such a revolting idea! (Laughs) Not that I dislike ambient music – I don’t mean that. That’s just not the way I think when I make things, so it was such a bizarre proposal that I decided to do it.”
Citing Eno’s Discreet Music (as opposed to Eno’s work after the word Ambient had been adapted ) as well as Roland Kayn as influences, he goes on to explain "Roland Kayn was the biggest guy for me. Someone could call his music ambient but it’s way too aggressive for that. The idea of his music is you create the system and then you just let it go. The challenge is how can you create a system that still represents the ideas even though you’ve let it go. If you look at some of the last decade or so of Cage’s scores, like the number pieces, they create these systems. These later Number Pieces of his are really interesting because, if you do them correctly, they’re really constraining even though they don’t seem to be. Whereas someone like Kayn and what Brian Eno were doing, especially in the 70’s, they still want a result but they want to be hands off about it.”
The result is a layered and complex piece that takes multiple listens to fully get to grips with, revealing layers of detail deployed within a structure that seems to evaporate into its surroundings. In that respect, Sleep Like It's Winter subverts its brief with an incredible sleight of hand; a piece of music designed to actively, deeply engage but which camouflages itself into the background. It operates within the grid, however faint and hard to define.
"For me, in making this record, the most important thing was, “Where is a line where you decide to give up on formal structures completely?” and, “Where is a line where formal structures can still be perceived but they’re not being shouted at you? For me, in that way of thinking of music, which I’ve been moving towards my entire life slowly but surely (laughs)…"
The perfect companion to the David Hollander curated book Unusual Sounds: The Hidden History of Library Music, this 20 track LP encapsulates the niche and fascinating subculture of library music.
"In the heyday of low-budget television and scrappy genre filmmaking, producers who needed a soundtrack for their commercial entertainments could reach for a selection of library music: LPs of stock recordings whose contents fit any mood required. Though at the time, the use of such records was mostly a cost-cutting manoeuvre for productions that couldn’t afford to hire their own composer, the industry soon took on its own life: library publishers became major financial successes, and much of the work they released was truly extraordinary. In fact, many of these anonymous or pseudonymous scores-on-demand were crafted by the some of the greatest musical minds of the late 20th century—expert musicians and innovative composers who revelled in the freedoms offered, paradoxically, by this most corporate of fields. Unusual Sounds is a deep dive into a musical universe that has, until now, been accessible only to producers and record collectors; a celebration of this strange industry and an examination of its unique place at the nexus of art and commerce.
Genres were spliced, conventions dispensed with, and oftentimes hybrid music of astonishing complexity was produced. Elements of rock, jazz, soul, even twentieth-century avant-garde composition were all utilized, and no stone was left unturned. As a result, some of the best library music defies all categorization, reflecting the individualistic quirks and artistry of the various musicians who made it. This compilation includes compositions by Brainticket founder Joel Vandroogenbroeck, KPM Allstars John Cameron and Keith Mansfield, Montenegrin-born composer Janko Nilović, and the Italian film composer Stefano Torossi amongst others. David Hollander is a producer, music supervisor, writer and collector living in Texas. A lifelong record collector, his library music collection is considered by many to be one of the finest of its kind in the world."
Bright, colourful modular magick from Mountains’ Koen Holtkamp in BEAST mode
“BEAST is a new project by composer Koen Holtkamp, known for his sweeping, maximalist work with Mountains, as well as his labyrinthian solo recordings. While taking some time away from music to focus on working with light and color his approach shifted, opening himself up to new working methods which led to the creation of a virtual ensemble of sorts. The process of refocusing on music found Holtkamp gravitating towards pieces centered on simple rhythmic patterns which, when built upon one another, create elaborately intertwining castles of sound. On Ens, Holtkamp reins in his sprawling sound with new resolve, crafting tightly constructed pieces of engaging and ecstatic beauty.
Ens was made during a time of anticipation of change for Holtkamp: the birth of his first child. Having recorded and mixed the album late at night and at odd hours in the months leading up to the birth and during the early sleepless days of fatherhood, Ens (which means entity or existence) is a profoundly intimate and heartfelt journey into Holtkamp’s psyche. The constant motion created by the ebb and flow of rhythmic elements connects Ens’ diverse compositions and mirrors the building expectation of such a momentous change.
Holtkamp’s initial recordings as BEAST (Vol 1 & Vol 2) were mostly conceived for the immediacy and physicality of performance and were directly linked to a series of visual environments he created with 3D laser projections. As a purely studio project, Ens takes on a more precise and contemplative approach. Moments of blissful grandeur such as the convalescence of melodies in “Paprika Shorts” are at once overwhelming and crystalline in the placement and clarity of each sound. Deceptively simple pieces like “Boketto” and “Miniature” appear more sparse and subtle, but the arrangement of sounds reveal deeper levels of nuance with each listen. By carefully arranging and selecting each element, Holtkamp both references genre tropes, from classical minimalism to beat-driven dance music, and constructs a sound all his own. The intricately detailed depth of field gives the album an almost sculptural presence. This level of detail is underpinned by Holtkamp’s move towards more virtual instrumentation which he utilizes to push beyond the physical limitations of their acoustic equivalents, as well as to synthesize new instruments.
As BEAST, Holtkamp has nimbly altered his process of creating dense, immersive music. Ens stands as not only the culmination of his newfound methods, but also a deeply personal moment. In crafting the graceful and passionate sonic tapestries into compact compositions, BEAST’s Ens masterfully melds the earthbound and the ethereal.”
Supremely earthy, astrally inclined house, folk and soul blessed with guest vocal by Georgia Anne Muldrow. An outstanding session warmly RIYL Theo Parrish, STL, Beatrice Dillon...
“Klein worked for a New York church’s audio ministry; she mixed the choir, recorded the sermons and services, and later, knowing who was shouting, put parts of them in her MPC. Klein interviewed intellectuals in person to extract deep house messages from the conversations. Klein brought a close friend’s hypnotizing Detroit deep house beat to the patio of a Senegalese Sabar ensemble to ask if they wanted to respond to it.
Having learned the piano and jazz theory in her youth, Klein composes all the keys on her records. If a sound feels right, let’s go with it, is her position. Excellence of technique isn’t crucial for selecting sounds. Klein was tempted to study jazz though she ended up studying art. Her sound is a reaction to living in a world in which words are said to be powerful when they are far from adequate to describe many relations.
She was shaped by spiritual jazz, mostly from the 70s, polyrhythmic environments, and the Detroit sound at the turn of the millennium. On a scholarship in Detroit in 2005, she was welcomed by Aaron-Carl (R.I.P.) in his studio and witnessed studio setups used as tools for survival. Back in Germany, Klein missed hearing those forms of house on dance floors, so she started spinning as a kind of transatlantic communicator.
Community centers were turned into one night clubs quite a lot under the Bring Your Ass name of Klein’s celebration series, which brought the ambassadors of Detroit house in person. That’s how she gives thanks for the hospitality she has received in Detroit since 2005. One guest told her all Saturdays should be like that. Klein is an unofficial pupil of David Mancuso’s craft. We’ll take care of the details - come as you are.
Coming from Frankfurt, an early influence on her sound was her fellow student Frank Metzger, the former vocalist of Oval. After moving to Cologne in 1998, she was part of the record distribution Groove Attack for a couple of years. Stecken night club was the place for her regular DJ appearances. A-Musik is her adopted music family in her hometown Cologne.
When Klein is spinning records, she is used to going from Don Cherry to Detroit’s experimental house to Tama Walo to ESG to Jaco Pastorius to Wendy & Lisa to Aby Ngana Diop to a Salsoul Acappella layered on a rough bassline to Jaki Liebezeit to Justus Köhncke to Hypnotic Brass Ensemble to Yusef Lateef to whatever she wants to say - she is definitely not holding back.
Celebrating the openness of sound is what the new record and collaboration with Florent Kandety and Georgia Anne Muldrow does for sure. Like standing in a sound corridor between two or more clubs. Kandety gave a Senegalese sound expressing astonishment as well as his falsetto to Klein’s Zoom recorder and a personal chant through a long-distance internet phone call. The US American Muldrow tests the range of our perception with her interpretation of empathy. Klein composes keys, plays and arranges organ, bass and drums to cherish the vocals sung for her.”
Première release of a pivotal piece by important American composer, Julius Eastman.
After more than 40 years, Julius Eastman’s Femenine - a euphoric, colourful, and inventive work by the brilliant but criminally overlooked composer with the S.E.M. Ensemble - finally sees the light of day thanks to Finland’s Frozen Reeds, bringing to life a wondrous iteration of the highly fertile 1970s north american minimalist/modern classical nexus for a whole new generation of ears.
Notable not least as the only known recording of Femenine, recorded live in 1974 at Composers Forum in Albany, New York - which makes it only the 2nd CD with Eastman’s name at the top - this release also documents the composer on piano (whilst wearing a dress, as it goes) and features his unique innovation, a set of mechanised sleigh bells, rattling throughout the 72 minute performance, which, in a way, neatly characterises the artist’s wide-open, pioneering idiosyncrasies and dichotomies for anyone new to his work.
Un/fortunately, depending your perspective, far too many folk will be new to his work or even unaware of Eastman’s involvement in some true totems of the time; whether that’s as lead vocalist on Peter Maxwell Davies’ Eight Songs For A Mad King (1971), playing keys on Dinosaur L’s disco-not-disco classic 24→24 Music (1981), or conducting Arthur Russell’s Tower of Meaning (1983). And we say too many folk, because, all considered, until quite recently, Eastman has been long overdue the shine afforded to many of his peers and contemporaries.
As a Gay, Afro-American new music composer, pianist and vocalist in the ‘70s, Eastman’s work was innately politicised and exceptional by the nature of its provenance, not to mention the music itself, which pulled from his personal history as much as wider social movements to represent a uniquely fluid perspective on minimalist music’s rigid process and presentation right up to his untimely death, aged 50 in 1990.
With that in mind, Feminine stands at a crossroads between Eastman’s earlier chamber work Stay On It, and later pieces such as his iconic, majestic Evil Nigger and the ambiguous flux of emotions in Gay Guerilla; sounding quite unlike any of them thanks to its sense of communal joy (there were somewhere between 12 and 15 players) and the polymetric meter of his mechanised sleigh bells, coupled with a display of massed, pitching tonal colour that moves with the kind of deliquescent, flighty optimism that’s hard not to be wowed by.
Ultimately, it genuinely lives up to the mantle of “new music” and presents its ideas in a deeply refreshing, insistent, yet never-cloying manner.
A huge recommendation.
Jon Hassell’s entrancing Dream Theory In Malaya (Fourth World Volume Two) - the follow-up to his seminal Fourth World Vol.1 Possible Musics featuring Brian Eno - sees a much needed reissue, now expanded with a bonus track and available on any format for the first time since the early ‘90s.
Recorded at Bob and Daniel Lanois’s Toronto studio in 1981, Dream Theory In Malaya (Fourth World Volume Two) was titled after and inspired by a paper from visionary anthropologist Kilton Stewart, whose visits to a remote tribe, the Senoi of the Malay highlands, revealed a connection between their happiness and well-being and the tribe’s morning ritual practice of family dream-telling; sharing with each other and discussing the events of their previous night’s dreams, which they would also relay to other tribes in a process of mutual education and enlightenment.
Using this knowledge, plus samples of water-drumming by a tribe from the same region, the Semelai, and his patented, processed trumpet and electronics, Hassell created a definitively solo follow-up to his work with Eno, although as he points out in the liner notes, other personnel such as the Velvet Underground’s 1st drummer, Walter DeMaria also feature.
It all revolves around the central, 10 minute Malay, where a choir of his signature, warbling harmonics scat and flit over the sound of sloshing water drumming, cut-up and processed with soft gong hits in the kind of rhythms which Autechre would reprise algorithmically many years later. Either side of Malay is a series of lush postcards which come alive in your hands, ears, from the agitated fanfare of Chor Moiré to the lissom, plasmic regaling of Dream Theory’s bowl gongs and diffused hoots, thru mind-melting display of hypercoloured harmonic plumage in Datu Bintung At Jelong.
The only, beautiful, difference between the original pressing and this is the ending. Instead of passing out with the deftly genteel romance of Gift Of Fire, it’s now extended by inclusion of bonus track Ordinary Mind, relaying 3 minutes of windswept chants and glinting, liquid drumming that perfectly animates and articulates Hassell’s dream.
Rolling down from the heavens with a total shockout intro, Basic Replay dig deep into the vaults for another selection guaranteed entry into the front of your dancehall pile.
Legendary keyboard whizz Jackie Mittoo is on fine tinkling form, riding the Ayatollah riddim with some hazy synthetic electronical embellishments atop a heavy heavy digital subbass rhythm. Mittoo version's the alltime classic 'Mash down Babylon' on the flip, installing a lush lick of African guitars and working the rhythm up with some driving organ chords in his inimitable style.
Magisterial, glacial, attention-demanding and powerful exposition of Buchla 200 synth tones mapped to acoustic woodwind and brass by a promising young composer; Stockholm’s Kali Malone. A strong tip to fans of work by Caterina Barbieri, Emptyset, Sarah Davachi.
Arriving in the resonating wake of her self-released solo début Velocity of Sleep , and flanked by the recently issued Organ Dirges 2016-2017 tape for Ascetic House, the Cast Of Mind LP gently but grandly expands the constellation of Kali Malone's solo releases, next to her Upper Glossa collaborations with Caterina Barbieri, a tape with Ellen Akrbro, and acclaimed live performances.
Joined by Yoann Durant (Alto Sax), Isak Hedtjärn (Bass Clarinet), Gabriella Varga Kalsson (Bassoon), and Mats Äleklint (Trombone), Kali’s Buchla 200 Synthesiser forms the basis for a quartet of diaphanous and slowly unfolding electro-acoustic landscapes that externalise a highly personalised form of emotive topography.
In the titular opener, wood and brass trace the swooning ellipses of Kali’s Buchla contours in stately procession suggesting a sort of resigned march to battle, before the Buchla appears to dominate in the warped streaks of Bondage To Formula, but listen closer and it’s harder to tell whether it’s electronic or organic sources so fully lending flesh to her rich sound field.
The answer to that question is much clearer in Arched To Hysteria, whose keening, hunched electronic forces hold powerful potential to conversely induce paranoia and heavily hypnagogic effects, whilst Empty The Belief yields a lustrous, Raga-like drone capturing a marriage of Buchla and bassoon at their most transcendent and steeply attractive.
This one should be filed for reference and safekeeping beside recent transmissions from Sarah Davachi, Anna Von Hausswolff, and Catarina Barbieri = properly good.
One of the most influential, insular and multi-layered albums of the last three decades, created through endless hours of improvisation - involving almost fifty musicians and recorded in complete darkness, 'Laughing Stock' is an album that has attained almost mythical status since its release in 1991.
Following the commercial success of their singles "It's My Life", "Life's What You Make It” and album "The Colour of Spring”, Talk Talk retreated back into the shadows and produced two albums that defied categorisation. After the release of the first of these (Spirit of Eden) and a proolonged court case, the band parted ways with EMI and signed to iconic jazz imprint Verve who financed the long and complicated recording of Laughing Stock. Assembling almost 50 guest musicians, Mark Hollis is said to have demanded they record in almost complete darkness, improvising for hours to produce individual parts without hearing any backing tracks or surrounding material. Most of these recordings were discarded, but from what remained Hollis and producer Tim Friese-Greene pieced together a record that is essentially one long sequence of overdubs separated out into six long tracks.
Laughing Stock was to be their last album - on its release the NME described it as “horrible” and many listeners were left perplexed by its insular, unfathomable dynamics. But in the time since, Laughing Stock's legacy seems to have grown in stature with every year that has gone by. You can easily see the stylistic and conceptual markers left by Talk Talk in the way that bands like Radiohead went on to explore more open-ended, diverse sound sources and stylistic shifts - feeling able to experiment without fear of alienating a large fanbase as if it were the most normal thing in the world for a band with considerable chart success to do.
"Laughing Stock" is not only one of the most absorbing albums of the modern era, it’s also a masterclass of production and construction, a relic, perhaps, of an era when artists could completely disconnect from the pressures of their surroundings and dive deep into the wormhole...
At bleedin’ last, Cosey Fanni Tutti’s legendary solo album, Time To Tell  sees a proper, if edited, official vinyl reissue - MAGAZINE INCLUDED! - on her and Chris Carter’s Conspiracy International label. In fact, with Cosey’s utterly mind-blowing autobiography, Art Sex Music now in circulation, putting history to rights and stoking febrile interest around her inspirational, nonpareil oeuvre, the timing could hardly be any better to reissue her most sought-after and inarguably definitive solo release.
First issued on tape in 1983, some years after the initial demise of Throbbing Gristle and the start of of Chris & Cosey, and just prior to the emergence of their multimedia CTI alias, Time To Tell documents Hull’s greatest daughter, Christine Carol Newby aka Cosey Fanni Tutti, ‘fessing all about her long-running art praxis involving a deep penetration of the British sex industry - from nude modelling to striptease and transgressive performance art - all set to her signature, exploratory electronic sculptures and drily angelic delivery.
For this hugely important reissue of Cosey’s only solo record (yep, only!), she worked with husband and creative partner Chris Carter to edit the original two track release, trimming down some of the longer parts to optimise audio fidelity, and also incorporating The Secret Touch which was included on the Time To Tell (Special Edition) CD release in 1993/2000.
Thus the release spies three distinct strands or aspects of Cosey’s sound. The first, longest and most comprehensive is the LP’s title track, which, as far as we can tell, appears in a slightly abridged version, but still ties up all her key sonic themes, from pulsing, sensuous synths, sky-licking guitars and brittle drum machines to her achingly seductive Yorkshire accent, drily recounting her experiences and inside/out perspective in the sex industry. Tell us this isn’t one of the most alluring 20 minutes of the ‘80s ever recorded, and we’ll tell you to do one.
Ritual Awakening comes on the B-side. Here the drum machine drops away and Cosey’s hushed vocals take a new, diaphanous form, refracted in a diamond-cut prism of electronics with near-cinematic strings, feeling out unreachable edges of the lushest void. Then we’re stranded in The Secret Touch, where her sallow synth strokes hint at an aquarian sort of new age, melding with reverberating, Denny-esque guitar against an unfathomable backdrop of possible field recordings and almost raga-like drones on her signature Cornet.
We could hammer on about this one all day, but suffice it to say: this is a totally essential purchase!
A Late 80’s slow digital dancehall killer; malevolent, sick and paranoid - prob the most essential and sought-after selection of dubs you'll ever have the pleasure of copping.
Replay Version is basically like a JA variant of Ramelzee & K Rob's Beat Bop, Once Bitten is a deadly variant featuring more detuned-synths on top of a pure skank, while "Senci Pipe" on the flip is just out and out minimal digital sorcery.
"Sides like these announced a new era in reggae... Replay Version sets the mood - malevolent, sick and paranoid, but haunting, and funky like a train, with cruelly brilliant effects..."
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.
‘What Light There Is’ finds Janek Schaefer feeding off and disassembling Robert Wyatt’s ‘Cuckooland’  album in his sublime style, paired with seven new, original pieces that share a captivating eldritch aura. Huge recommendation if you're into work by The Caretaker, Philip Jeck, WIlliam Basinski.
Continuing a series of releases reverential of significant British composers, writers and artists such as J.G. Ballard and John Tavener, Janek treats Robert Wyatt’s material with the same poetic license. What follows is an immersive, hypnagogic episode from the mental realm between waking life and dreamspace, gently teasing the pastoral loveliness of Wyatt’s music into a woozy, heavy-lidded parallel dimension.
As always with Schaefer’s work, the idea of nostalgia and the fidelity of memory is also key to the appeal of ‘What Light There Is Tells Us Nothing’. In the 21 minute title piece, commissioned by the Sounds New Festival in Canterbury and presented as a multi-channel radio installation, Schaefer revels in the profundity of Wyatt’s work with poignant slivers filtered into gaseous shapes suggesting a fleeting mix of pastoral glory and somnambulant melancholy comparable with the most striking Philip Jeck works, or the trace echoes of memory supplied by The Caretaker.
The other seven pieces follow with a more cinematic appeal, as though we’ve dozed off during a midday matinee programme in middle England and slipped into a silvery phantasy of medieval gallantry and posh English gentry, before nods to Schaefer’s Polish ancestry flicker into his nostalgic reverie via the bobbling loops and glitching chorales of his three ‘Corah’ pieces.
Ryuichi Sakamoto expands on ‘Async’ album track ‘FF’ , along with a brand new piece ‘School in Paris’ on this audiophile quality 12”, cut at 45rpm for optimal sound representation (and time-slowing 33rpm options)
Picking up where the tremulous hyaline harmonics of ‘FF’ left off, ‘FF2’ coaxes trembling timbres from woodwind and synths into an intoxicating high register drift recalling shadowy moments of ‘SAW II’ or even the ghostly melancholy of David Lynch’s Eraserhead score.
‘School in Paris’, is, as you may infer from the title, a field recording of kids at play, albeit processed to lend a starkly detached quality, as though the kids are off out of sight somewhere while Sakamoto performs alchemical experiments or bumps into things in his kitchen and a synth piece plays from another room.
Sterling sophomore side of diaphanous dream-pop from Penelope Trappes (The Golden Filter), whose debut LP for Optimo was among 2017’s most haunting highlights...
On ‘Penelope Two’, Trappes takes us back to a misty space outta place and time, somewhere between the reveries of Julee Cruise and David Lynch, the shadowier side of Julia Holter, and Felicia Atkinson’s ambient chamber music.
“These distilled, rarefied creations take echoes as their starting point, with Trappes summoning swathes of tones, textures and emotions into something ethereal but also powerful, like an evocation of spirits. It’s also deeply melodic, with her intimate, maternally-tender voice floating in the middle of each three dimensional, womb-like sonic space.
Originally from the Northern Rivers of NSW, Australia before moving to New York and developing experimental electronic projects Locke and Priscilla Sharp, plus her best-known incarnation with partner Stephen –The Golden Filter.”
With the gauzy bliss-out, No More Dreams, Sweden’s Axel Backman a.k.a. 1991 reminds us that his run of sublime releases for Opal Tapes and Astro:Dynamics in 2012 weren’t simply a figment of our lushest reveries.
Issued on the new and tributarily-named, No More Dreams label, 1991's first release in four years courses with similar levels of intangibly gorgeous harmonies and ferric noise, although his rhythmic structures now feel smudged farther into the background, or even barely there at all, leaving behind a salty-teared water stain of synthetic shimmer.
We’re guessing it must just be incredibly beautiful where he lives, or he’s just one of those helplessly melancholy souls, but either way, there’s something unquantifiable lurking behind his sound that we can return to over and again, and look forward to doing so with No More Dreams.
Surprise drop from Shackleton, his first of 2018, following up ’Behind The Glass’ on this Woe To The Septic Heart! label
There’s a discernible Far Eastern bent to both tracks, nodding in the direction of Indonesian percussive styles from Uwalmassa or Senyawa, but still with that outernational nous that also lends it to comparison with Ekuka’s Ugandan thumb piano recordings or Psychic Warriors of Gaia style tribal techno.
‘Furnace of Guts’ is a mercurial, polychromatic flow of stuttering voices, glinting high register percussion and wriggling bottom end feathered into increasingly noisy, knotted formations, while ‘Wakefulness and Obsession’ is more potently hypnotic, droning and viscous.
A first physical release at last for this album inspired by Sergei Parajanov’s Armenian masterpiece The Colour Of Pomegranates — even if some of the music was composed before Jaar watched it.
"Already for Jaar a private emblem of change and upheaval, the fruit is broken open in the film: its juice seeps into a cloth, like blood, making the shape of ancient Armenia on a map. In hundreds of such moments of cultural and poetic saturation (including numerous different associations for the pomegranate), and in the film’s biographical, episodic form, Jaar found confluent ground for intimate, teeming musical reflections about his own life and Palestinian-Chilean heritage. “It gave me a structure to follow and themes to stick to. It gave clarity to this music that was made mostly out of and through chaos. It also gave me the balls to put it out.”
‘Much of Jaar’s most elegant and touching melodic work is nestled here, its power residing in its simplicity and willingness to speak to the heart and not the mind of the listener, in the language of lyricism, freedom, and emotional resonance held in common by his many paths and projects."
Laurel Halo lands on Latency with a cinematic suite featuring Oliver Coates on cello and drums by Eli Keszler.
Making her first move since 2017’s remarkable ‘Dust’ album, Laurel takes inspiration from her score work for Metahaven and Ursula Le Guin’s translation of the ‘Tao Te Ching’ in pursuit of a quieter, more tactile and elusive sound, moving deeper into a sort of twilight avant jazz realm that calls to mind the recently uncovered Luc Ferrari salvo on Alga Marghen as much as flashes of Conlon Nancarrow and the diaphanous swirl of Wolfgang Voigt’s Gas.
It's immediately obvious that this is a special release in Laurel’s catalogue. Two 10 minute works bookend the release; the sublime title track with its oneiric mesh of woodwind, early electronic music gestures, and almost funeral organ; and at the opposite end, a stunning symphonic piece that unmistakably recalls Gas, but also unlocks that sound’s potential from the grid thanks to Keszler’s free meter and an embrace of kaotic harmony deeply rooted in Derrick May and Carl Craig’s Detroit classics.
But that’s not to discount the bits in between; they’re also brilliant. From her pairing of Keszler’s inimitable snare rushes with dark blue keys and smudged, plasmic electronics in ‘Mercury’, to something like Mark Fell commanding an underwater gamelan orchestra in ‘Quietude’, and the rapid flux of keys in ‘The Sick Mind’, this one has us rapt from every angle.
Modus takes strong cues from Detroit on the 2nd platter from Outer Zone - a new label attached to famed Glasgow venue, La Cheetah
Nodding to classic UR, DJ Bone, Rolando, the EP kicks off with the infectious chromatic arps and haunting pads of ‘Fait Accompli’ at a 13-bpm+ velocity that carries thru the EP, into the Rob Hood-style organ vamps and lashed hi-hats of ‘People’s Perspectives’, the heavy-slugging rudeness of ‘Dreaming’, and the whirring quantum mechanics of ‘This Connects To That’.
All the fun of the brilliant original album, sans vox. A tenner bet says you’ll be singing along anyway!
Marie Davidson is a synth-pop star for our times. Her belting 4th solo LP, ‘Working Class Woman’ is a definitive reflection of her character and current sound, including road-tested zingers from her powerful live show along with genuine surprises, while introducing a whole new wave of listeners to her charms.
In hot pursuit of the more ‘floor-friendly styles on her ‘Adieux Au Dancefloor’, and marking distance travelled since her cinematically sculpted ‘Un Autre Voyage’ for Holodeck, Marie’s 4th album inseparably binds the sound designer and dancefloor aspects of her sound in a sleek, witty, and totally captivating album which, for all it’s vintage touchstones, feels very symptomatic of 2018.
Her grooves are firmed up to direct functionality while the arrangements are as varied as anything from her intricate earlier works, resulting in big highlights on her live show favourite, the playfully raunchy EBM of ‘Work It’, and the rabid drum machine razz-out ‘Workaholic Paranoid Bitch’. But the amazing late ‘80s synth-pop-house of ‘So Right’ and the album’s two bookends of sardonic and sensual vocals, set to respectively pensive and sublime backdrops, really set this album apart from the crowd.
Vessel returns to Tri Angle with ‘Queen Of Golden Dogs’, offering a crazed leap from ‘Punish, Honey’  into wild fusions of chamber music and outernational rhythms.
Crafted over the course of one and half years while sequestered in rural Wales, ‘Queen Of Golden Dogs’ is a logical, if somewhat hyper, steroid-fed, progression from Vessel’s previous album, his 2016 turn with Immix Ensemble for Erased Tapes, and interim joyrides with Chester Giles in ASDA (the band, not the supermarket).
If one could accuse previous Vessel outings as gothic or darkside, there’s a much finer play of light/dark, texture, pace and space in Vessel’s 3rd album, demonstrating in no uncertain terms an artist in hot, active pursuit of pushing his sound in new directions, and without losing sight of himself.
Riven with heart-bleeding ecstatic noise from nose to tail, the beats are also up-for-it in a way recalling North African dervish traditions or a playfully aggressive, boisterous Shackleton, with strong examples given in the opening clash of dissonant strings and pranging clatter on ‘Fantasma (For Jasmine)’, the restless razz of ‘Glory Glory (For Tippi)’, an escalating trance whirligig named ‘Paplu Love That Moves The Sun’, and the Art Of Noise on crystal meth styles of ‘Argo (For Maggie)’.
On the other hand, his choral arrangements and chamber music proclivities lend an exquisite contrast and relief between those prang outs, ranging from precise vignettes such as the tantalising ‘Good Animal (For Hannah)’, and the sore yelps of ‘Zahir (For Eleanor)’ to the elegant harpsichord aggression of ‘Arcanum (For Christalla)’, and most impressively on the cracked, off key cadence of ‘Torno-me eles a nau-e (For Remedies).
Grimy rap killers from two of Uganda’s finest MC’s, Ecko Bazz & Biga Yut, backed with remixes from Nihiloxica’s pq and new name, Ekhe, all doing it for Nyege Nyege Tapes’ sister label, Hakuna Kulala
Moving from strength to strength after shots from MC Yallah, Demaster, Slikback and Sleeping Buddha, Ecko Bazz takes the lead on ‘Tuli Banyo’, trading bars with Biga Yut, another MC from the Gabba ghetto surrounding NNT’s Boutiq studio in Kampala.
The energy and rudeness of the original recalls early UK grime, with pq’s Mr. Slash-like rhythm held tight for the rambunctious MCs, before Leeds/London’s Ekhe reworks the ting as a grimy stepper with serious hardcore techno intentions.
Fluxion meets minimalist Savvas Ysatis in their new duo, Soluce, for a fine session of dark, gruffly textured ambient and dub techno rollers
On the 7 tracks of ‘Birth’ they vacillate beatless and rhythmic structures, sometimes finding a unique space in the middle.
‘Open’ and ’Surface’ bookend the set with bleak, greyscale, textured ambient tones, while cuts like the Porter Ricks-esque ‘Regions’ and the muggy heave of ‘Center’ are rugged forms of dub techno. In the middle they plumb murkier midrange space with the silty current of ‘Birth’, and at best, in the sloshing electroid percussion and deeply submerged bass thrum of ‘Polymorphia’.