Whew! Proper computer music ear candy from Ramtin Niazi & Parsa’s Active Listeners Club label; introducing Turkish born, Seattle-based Deli Kuvetti’s masterful diffusion of microtonal drone and polymetric tinfoil percussion
Hailing from the Aegean coast of Turkey, now based on the other side of the world, Deli Kuvveti here specialises in a skull-tingling style of microtonal complexity and rhythmic slosh that really floats our boat on ‘Even After.’ Like the best on the Active Listeners Club label by artists hailing from the middle east, Kuvetti thrills our ears with an exploration of non-western modes and scales that exert thee heaviest psychedelic, and even physiological, effect calling to mind wonders by everyone from Xenakis to Cameron Shafii, Sote and of course Parsa’s multi personas (1000PA, Ben & Jerry, Kahkli Cru), but also wider eyed westerners such as Jim O’Rourke and Marcus Schmickler.
When we immerse in works of mind-bending microtonal curdle such as ‘A Spectre Between The Notes’, or the cavernous metallic swarm of Xenakis/ELpH-like tones in ‘Upon a Shadow’, we can’t help but shake our heads at how tame and prosaic so much other experimental music appears in relief, and just don’t get us started on generic “psychedelic rock” bores who’re as trippy as a tea towel. Safe to say we’re feeling this one, and especially with the contrasting transition from lusher , floating harmonic layers and granular mulch to reverberating drone in ‘Even After.’
TSVI & Seven Orbits debut their Paraadiso project with a whorl of staggering rhythms and sweeping choral arrangements for Shanghai’s SVBKVLT powerhouse.
‘Unison’ is the Italian duo’s conception of ritual music for contemporary, collective physical experience, aka the rave. With a masterful grasp of technoid dramaturgy, its 10 tracks draw on ancient choral traditions as much as up-to-the-second rhythmic diffusion styles to suggest new ways of moving and being moved, with a pointed focus on synchronising social action and reaction.
Following their 2020 debut, Seven Orbits approaches the project from an audio-visual background, bringing a highly animated structure to TSVI’s rugged rhythmic proprioceptions. ‘Unison’ was created by the pair to be performed in live context with visual accompaniment, and clearly conveys a strong sense of movement through the audio alone, coming close to the kind of balletic dynamics of Jlin and Second Woman.
For the strongest examples we advise checking the lush choral lather and polymetric slosh of ‘Liquid Matter’ at their most uplifting, and the knuckled scuzz of ‘Berserk’ for their rudest workout, or the killer arrangement of haunting ancient chorales and bombed out dembow swag in ‘Riflesso,’ coming off like Laszlo Hortobagyi meets Paul Marmota at their darkest and theatric.
Surreal sound poet Francesco Cavaliere hitches his esoteria to Gang of Ducks with a charming album sculpted with medical software more commonly used for phonologic analysis
In a crafty sort of technical poetic détournement, Cavaliere repurposes medical software in an intricate system of numbering that, to be honest, leaves us a bit baffled, but results in a great arrangement of sounds. Like his pair of ‘Gancio Cielo’ albums for Hundebiss which introduced us to his work in 2016, ‘Tessera Alata’ also trades in a fine style of exactingly sculpted, minimal but melodic small sound gestures interspersed with vocals.
However here the vocals are used even more sparingly, sprinkled at opportune moments within the beguiling logic of the music, which owes as much to mathematical as artistic processes, and literally name checks figures such as Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdos, theoretical physicist Paul Dirac, and quantum computing pioneer Richard Feynman. Tracks mostly fall under the 3 minute marker, tiled in a mazy mosaic of ideas in a way that recalls some of Uli Rehberg’s cuter, elusive vignettes, and even the early electronics of Daphne Oram.
Encrypted post-dubstep and Bristol bassbin business from Skull Disco co-founder Appleblim, working up his 2nd album with Sneaker Club Social
As one of the early adopters of dubstep since his days DJing and raving at FWD>> and setting up Skull Disco, Appleblim has held a fine line of brooding electronic steppers on his Apple Pips label and the likes of Tempa and Aus.
On ‘Infinite Hieroglyphics’ he defines his sound with strong nods to the spectra of Torsten Pröfrock projects (T++, Dynamo, Log, Various Artists, Monolake), early ‘00s breaks, and the brooding spirits and production principles of Bristol dub, distilled in a spacious, rolling style that edges into house, electro and D&B experiments.
Thunderous D&B rolige and choppy breakage from top dogs at UVB-76 label Droogs
Toronto’s Gremlinz and Jesta tag team dial in vintage Renegade Hardware darkness on the spring-heeled rudeness of ‘Infinity’ and send us reeling back to early ‘00s warehouse rave styles. Overlook joins the fray on the flip with a return to more upfront drums after a string of rollers, firmly nodding to classic Paradox & Nucleus with wild jazz drummer breaks shackled to heavy duty subs, splashes of acid, diva shrieks and midnight jungle squawks.
Like father, like daughter; Lyric takes cues from her dad, Rob Hood for a pair of sleek minimal Detroit techno groovers
‘Not Enough’ holds to a cruising pace with rolling bass and stealthy chords and strings that never spill over but find a balanced tension. ‘Praise Up’ sees her step it up a gear with singing hi-hats and stabbing keys locked to a haughty bass drive in a subtle slant on her pops’ classic style.
Downwards descend on Mute’s legendary producer/engineer Paul Kendall, serving as the label’s in-house producer thru the 1980s and '90s, working with Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, Nitzer Ebb and Wire - for a new album of surgically precise and invasively curious post-industrial thrills and murky intrigue that comes highly recommended if yr into anything from Mika Vainio to Masami Akita, Recoil to Bruce Gilbert.
Kendall’s oeuvre has paralleled the alternative history of post-punk and industrial music for over 40 years; after crossing paths with Karl O’Connor (aka Regis) in 2018, Kendall now takes his solo bow, proper, on Downwards with the fiercely uncompromising and absorbing results of experiments executed during the pits of lockdown in 2020. They arguably resemble a form of disembodied industrial techno searching for a fleshly new host to inhabit, all amorphous and bristling malforms untethered from percussion and sent to rabidly gnaw the senses via various strategies of blizzarding attack, textural attrition, and structural abstraction which can be heard as a side effect of Paul’s ongoing hearing loss from too many loud studio sessions.
It’s not hard to clock why Regis was smitten with the material as the pair clearly share a lust for gristly scuzz and tempered, concentrated emotion. However Kendall’s music is more obtuse and comes from a warped perspective inspired by his fascinations with macro photography (magnifying minutiae), with his famously keen ear for detail leading the album into stranger spaces between the wires and noises. Effectively hashing the limen of perception, he invokes a spectra of ghostly, hallucinatory tones by combining recordings of his voice and a Leaf Audio "Microphonic Soundbox", an experimental wooden instrument with metal springs, rods, sand paper and a kalimba, and then funnels them through processors and FX.
The result is a sequence of layered, alien-sounding tracks that push thru industrial and harsh noise zones, yet sound as sonically focused as the heaviest techno - between the fetid clank of ‘Restless’ and drone rock torpor of ‘Are You In?’, drawing us into the gooch clammy integers of ‘InHarmonic’ and animated maelstrom of ‘Nowhere. Twisty,’ to recall the surreal insights of CoH Plays Cosey on the roiling sensuality of ‘Missing The Fence,’ and serve serious head swill material in ‘ReBurst.’
This deeply immersive first solo album by EMS legend Peter Zinovieff since 1974’s brief "A Lollipop for Papa" arrives as a posthumous testament to his probing research and practice, one that has informed several generations of synth-worshipers around the world via his Electronic Music Studios (EMS) which he co-founded with Tristram Cary and David Cockerell. It arrives just weeks after his death on June 23 this year, and is an "extended computer work" based on hydrophone recordings of blue whales, a time-warping excursion into an underwater realm essential for fans of Roland Kayn, FUJI||||||||||TA's "Kōmori" or Jana Winderen's complex, detailed field recordings.
After founding London's EMS in 1969, Zinovieff spent the rest of his life quietly sculpting the curve of contemporary music, developing game-changing synthesisers like the VCS3 and the Synthi 100, and working alongside artists ranging from collaborator Delia Derbyshire (White Noise, BBC Radiophonic Workshop) to Pink Floyd, Bowie, J.M Jarre, Todd Rundgren and countless others, as well as presenting the first ever performance of unaccompanied computer music during pioneering concerts in London in 1968. Legendary status assured, it’s all the more remarkable that Zinovieff released very few of his own compositions, with this recording marking up as his first since 1974’s ‘A Lollipop for Papa’ and 2015’s unofficial ‘Electronic Calendar’ compilation, and his more recent 'RFG Inventions for Cello and Computer' collaboration with Lucy Railton which was issued by PAN last year,
The material here was assembled between 2013 and 2017, and derives from recordings oceanographer Susannah Buchan made off the coast of Chile. For 30 minutes, the piece plunges us into a nuanced, prototypical sort of hybrid analog-digital soundsphere, drawing on the eternally mysterious sound of blue whale communications as the basis for an unusual work thrumming with natural sounds woven thru the magick of computer music, effectively conveying its ability to induce the strangest otherworldly sensations. It's only the occasional washing of salt water that brings us down to earth; the rest is fluttering and communicative, filtered and distant.
Never one to shy away from big ideas, the piece unfolds in five parts that practically document Zinovieff in a one way dialogue with the largest mammals ever to have existed on earth, rendering their cryptic comms in richly reverberating electronics of the sort that dreams are made of. Sadly, Peter passed away only weeks before its intended release date, but leaves behind an inspirational legacy, with this recording framing his work at its most timeless and transcendent.
Sparkling electric guitar duels that mingle Morton Feldman's avant minimalism with Roy Montgomery's delicate dream-drone.
'Visitations' pits London-based guitarist Leo Abrahams against New York legend Shahzad Ismaily and that's really all you need to know. The two are already so well established: Abrahams has collaborated with Brian Eno, Paul Simon and Imogen Heap, and multi-instrumentalist Ismaily, a member of Ex Eye and Secret Chiefs 3, has collaborated with Lou Reed, John Zorn, Laurie Anderson and Laraaji to name only a few. Together they make music that's notable for how effortless it seems; breathing in avant-minimalism but never trudging into awkward, stuffy territory, they seem to bounce ideas off each other with playful ease.
There's a cinematic quality to 'Visitations' with its tangled strings and sparse atmospheres. At times, it sounds as evocative as Neil Young's enduring improvised score to Jim Jarmusch's doom Western "Dead Man", but never dips too far into cloying darkness. Described by the pair as "anti-virtuosic", this surprisingly humble set should appeal to fans of Jim O'Rourke, Dylan Carlson, Nels Cline and Derek Bailey.
Mellow, warm spirited ambient groovers from Naarm duo OK EG; started in 2019 and completed in the aftermath of 2020’s historic bushfires that ravaged the region
Revolving Lauren Squire and Matthew Wilson, OK EG have worked in pursuit of an ecologically sound style since 2018’s ‘Pebble Beach’ 12”. Their music draws from the abundant natural landscapes of Victoria in deep south Australia that have since become a frontline of environmental catastrophe - 18 million hectares burned in 2020 - for a purposefully slow and contemplative sound shimmering in balmy proximity to styles explored by the Efficient Space label, or even by their regional neighbours CS + Kreme or YL Hooi.
‘Intertidal Zone’ follows with four tracks of melancholy Balearic moves, opening with the sparkling synths and lilting percussion of Phil Stroud on ‘Precipitation’ and snaking from the supple slow-mo acid of the title tune to a sort of windswept chug in ‘Littoral Drift’ and shoring up with additional licks of flute by Adam Halliwell, and Korg bass from Jack Doepel, on the pastoral bop of ‘Golden Hour.’
Legendary psychedelic guitar music from the Islamic Republic of Mauritania finally available on vinyl!
"Originally released as a double CD in 2010, Wallahi Le Zein! has persisted as a cult classic, a collection of a rarely heard and utterly unique underground music scene, raw and unfiltered. For fans of the more raw side of Sublime Frequencies, Sahelsounds, the ripping tape-hiss psychedelia of Les Rallizes Denudes, and anyone remotely interested in GUITARS.
The LP version we now present is intended as an immersive entry into this music: gnarled and virtuosic electric guitars weave hypnotically throughout melismatic sung poetry and exclamations, pulsing hand drums, party chatter, buzzing rigged desert sound systems, and all manner of the ambient sounds of Nouakchott wedded to oversaturated cassette in all its swirling, breathing, psychedelic glory. Operating entirely outside of any local recording industry, these songs were collected from bootleg tape stalls, wedding souveniers, and networks of musicians, expertly curated, researched and produced by Matthew Lavoie.
Drawing from the deep well of Mauritanian classical music, the gamut of musical modes and the tidinitt lute repertoire are transposed to the electric guitar - often with frets removed or additional frets installed, “heavy metal” distortion pedals and phasers built into guitar bodies, blurring the lines between Haratine and Beydane musical cultures, the ancient and the futuristic. At times transcendent and transfixing, and conversely a furious and cascading intensity that commands jaw-dropping attention."
Hard-body synth-pop genius from SOPHIE, cooking up the 1st of two face-glazing 12”s completing her Product album after the Bipp / Elle session and Lemonade / Hard.
From the initial rush and drip-off, Msmsmsm hits with ambassador-grade narcotic potency before launching into this year’s freakiest EBM trap bounce and coldest, clammiest peak.
On the flip, Vyzee is an el3ctro-house hymn to jackin’ off your nut, soused in fluoro alco-pop impurities and warped ‘floor suss.
Touted as the first book of its kind to give music artists practical step-by-step comprehensive instructions for setting up and running an independent music label.
"Features a detailed breakdown of how each part of the industry works, including copyright in the UK and US, record label set-up, record releases, and royalty collection. Provides in-depth guides on marketing, covering; traditional PR, Facebook and Instagram advertising, Spotify playlisting, and fan growth. Includes templates for record label and management contracts, marketing and promotion schedules, press releases, and fan email automation.
Whether you want to start a record label, self-release your own music, or are just an avid music lover, this book will give you information about the business of music. The Label Machine: How to Start, Run and Grow Your Own Independent Music Label is the first book to give music artists practical step-by-step comprehensive instructions for setting up and running an independent music label to successfully distribute and market their music.
You will learn all about the music industry business and how to navigate the tricky dos and don'ts. You will finally understand and take control of your music copyright and get to grips with the legalities involved. You will build your music business effortlessly, learning how to professionally market your music and artists - allowing you to reach thousands of fans. And essentially, you will learn how to create multiple label revenue streams to create an established record label.
It features a detailed breakdown of how every part of the industry works together, including copyright in the UK and US, record label set-up, record releases, and royalty collection. It also provides in-depth guides on marketing, covering; traditional PR, Facebook and Instagram advertising, Spotify playlisting, and fan growth. Includes templates for record label and management contracts, marketing and promotion schedules, press releases, and fan email automation."
Official reissue of Hiroshi Suzuki’s glorious jazz-fusion-funk holy grail Cat (originally released in 1976), sourced from the original masters and available on limited edition 180 gram vinyl mastered at half speed for full audiophile sound, as well as on digipack CD. Both versions come with liner notes by Teruo Isono.
"Celebrated in jazz collectors circles, in the lofi beat scene, and among music diggers around the world, Cat has become one of the most sought-after Japanese jazz albums of all time and, much like Ryo Fukui’s Scenery, has fascinated old and young generations alike.
Cat was recorded in October 1975 at Nippon Columbia Studio, while Hiroshi Suzuki was visiting his home country of Japan after moving to Las Vegas in 1971 to play with Buddy Rich and perfect his craft. Back on his old stomping grounds, the man known as Neko (Cat) immediately reunited with his dear friends for an epic two day session of groove magic. The chemistry was still intact. The skills and style had grown.
The result, Cat, is a smooth masterpiece, a deep and soulful affair where stunning trombone solos by Hiroshi Suzuki flirt with Takeru Muraoka’s heavenly saxophone and the sensual rhythm section of Hiromasa Suzuki (keyboards), Kunimitsu Inaba (bass), and Akira Ishikawa (drums)."
Sophie lands on Numbers with two razor-sharp shots of electro futurism.
'BIPP' comes off like the prodigious child of Miami Freestyle reared on AFX's 'Windowlicker' and a diet of sugar-glazed silicon; a stunning mutation of cybernetic pop syncopation. 'Elle' is its conjoined cyborg sibling, mute apart from the ability to whistle like Goodiepal's mechanical bird and so painfully beautiful that to experience it's saccharine, sliding string glissandi and elegant contours is akin to staring at the strobing eyes of a dancefloor medusa and exploding to a cloud of MDMA crystals and champagne fizz. Or something. We think it's really very good, you know.
Jamal Moss owns his mantle as The Worst DJ Ever with an absolutely deadly 2nd batch of The Worst Edits, tweaking out Industrial, Jazz, House, New Wave and Psych Rock nuggets in untouchable, incendiary style.
The title of Worst DJ Ever was bestowed upon Jamal by some sad pebble at a secret warehouse rave in Manchester many moons ago. In case it needs to be stated; Jamal is one of the best DJs ever, but some divvies just don’t get it. Allow it anyway ‘cos Jamal just keeps on keeping on with this return to his deeply cherished Members Only series, adding to a precious collection of percies plucked out from behind the ear of late ‘80s Chicago dance culture and treated to his special marination process for future-proofed effect.
On this session you’ll cop his re-cut of The B-52’s up in it along with a stonking take on Larry Heard & Robert Owens ‘Passion Track’ spliced with some super tight Hi-NRG bassline. There’s hyper freestyle-electro chops, strobing disco bouncers, and a very special strain of psych rock edits that we’ve not really heard from him before. The fidelity is all crud VHS and faithful to his beloved aesthetic, and if that puts off some of the club pedants, then all the better for it, as they can go whistle to some immaculately produced bobbins while heads get down.
Unmissable, u already know it.
Harvard architecture prof Robert Gerard Pietrusko looks to poems for inspiration on this blissful set for Lawrence English's Room40. Unsettling, textured drones for fans of early Tim Hecker or Celer.
Based on five piano motifs "repeated with constant variation and extrapolation across the album's nine tracks," "Elegiya" is barely recognizable as a piano album. Pietrusko granulates the sounds into chilly clumps of noisy drone, pushing and pulling the notes like taffy into poetic structures that sometimes sound harmonic and ambient, and sometimes veer into terrifying dissonance. If you enjoyed Tim Hecker's early classic "Radio Amor" with its stuttering granulation, this one's for you.
Like a cool breeze on a humid afternoon, Megan Alice Clune's "If You Do" is fresh, unexpected and welcome turn from Lawrence English's Room40 label. It's an operatic fusion of vocals and synthy electronics that's something like Grouper and Laurie Spiegel playing simultaneously.
In the summer of 2020, Aussie composer Megan Alice Clune had a dream that she wrote an opera. She'd been struggling to lift herself out of creative stasis after a long trip to Tokyo, but the dream offered her the push she needed. She began to sing melodies (quietly, so the neighbors wouldn't hear) and eventually an album began to take shape. Clune describes the record as "an album for solo voice and an ensemble of technologies" and that feels fitting. Her voice is the central instrument, but that's only part of the story; Clune's use of synths and effects gives the album a character that helps it shift thru genre, time and space.
It's a record that's intended to inspire through about our use of technology, and after well over a year of being tied to a computer screen, it's timely. The organic, fallible nature of Clune's voice is offset by the layers of electronics, and while the mood isn't combative, it's critical. Good stuff.
Celia Hollander's latest statement illustrates how the time of day shapes our listening experience. Using shimmering FM synth sounds and carefully recorded acoustic elements, "Timekeeper" sounds like a development of ideas explored by Japanese ambient pioneers Hiroshi Yoshimura or Midori Takada.
Beginning with a brief electronic yawn and peeking into the breaking dawn, "Timekeeper" starts slowly but purposefully. Each track is timestamped, so Los Angeles-based multimedia artist Hollander can whisk us through a day in her life, documenting the feeling of time shifting with sound. The construction here is hyperspecific: a palette that's recognizable from the glut of 1980s Japanese ambient or environmental music that surged in popularity a few years back. But Hollander has no intention of pastiching this music, she simply uses it as a reference point to launch into her own dimensions.
Oddly, the album isn't structured chronologically, so we jump from the relatively upbeat '12:55 PM' to the day's wind down into evening with '5:59 PM', or from the trippy awakening glow of '9:02 AM' to '3:34 AM' with its gentle FM croak, mimicking insects in the distance. The sequencing adds to an eerie feeling of disorientation that should be familiar to anyone who's spent time in Los Angeles's busy 24-hr fizz.
Impeccable, hi-res electronic pop from British-Canadian pop deconstructionist BABii. Like a radio-ready, defanged PC Music with occasional lapses into noisy punk and breakcore.
On her second solo album, BABii tears through fractured electronic pop with the help of regular collaborator Iglooghost and umru. Detailing her feelings of abandonment as she was dragged from Yorkshire to Kent and to Canada by her nomadic father, BABii ties sad songs up in a glittery bow of glitchy percussion and wheezing synths. Influenced by SOPHIE and the hyperpop set, BABii curves the glass shattering foley IDM into pleasing R&B shapes, emerging with singalong plalist pop songs that sound decidedly current.
Wandering mystic Jackson Bailey aka Tapes returns to Good Morning Tapes on a vinyl edition of his ’Silence Please’ suite, as found on a rare cassette edition in 2018.
After ticking off musical trips to Japan, the Caribbean, and Nebraska, we return to Tapes’ Indian sojourn for a hypnotic reminder of his omnivorous tastes, rolling out four cuts of balmy tabla and new age arp ragas that take on a new life on vinyl. It’s kinda mad how he applies a Midas touch to everything in earshot, always getting down to the quintessence of whatever style he picks, but always with a sort of necessary, raw vivacity that knits all his work together.
DJs, early morning dancers and Yoga enthusiasts will be in their element; the awning drones and rippling tabla of ‘Part 1’aligns the chakras for a supple session taking in something like Charanjit Singh-meets-Steve Reich in the phasing loll and harmonious choral motifs of its Part 2, before he brings the crunchy drums forward in Part 3 primed to get Goan sand tramplers going, and really pushes out to the stars in the supremely heady 7 minutes of Raagini Ni, with its lushly coruscating, just intonation tuned arps allowed to bleed into the red.
Enchanting introduction to the exquisite, smoky melancholy of a Japanese jazz and blues singer/songwriter/composer who collaborated with Ryuichi Sakamoto and penned some 30 solo albums, yet is scarcely known in the West.
Born in 1942 in a small, northern Japanese fishing village, Maki grew up during the era of American occupation and cultural imperialism, eventually moving to Tokyo and nurturing a passion for the records of Billie Holliday and Mahalia Jackson, which would lead her to perform on US military bases and cabarets and subsequently cover many US traditional folk and blues for the Japanese market.
With her distinctive voice she's seemingly possessed by the spirit of her heroes - Billie, Nina, Mahlia among them - and apparently had the mysterious countenance to match her unusual aesthetic.
We'll have to take that for granted from Hitoshi Jin Tamura's photos and Alan Cummings' enlightening liner notes, but Maki's music remains the best gauge of her character, taking in big band experiments along with an amazing, sitar-lead psych-out, plus runs into modal, spiritual jazz and the kind of lounge styles that prompt imagery of Bill Murray or some lonely salaryman clutching a single malt in the shadows of a Tokyo bar.
The sound alchemist behind Elodie (with Andrew Chalk), Af Ursin (on his own) and the Metaphon and La Scie Dorée labels mints a new one-off alias, Emma Tate, with an elemental, soul-wracking beauty for the Documenting Sound series.
An utterly arresting composition built solely from recordings of his breathing, ‘Ame Matte’ is perhaps the purest, most spellbinding example of Timo’s work that we’ve yet heard. It was recorded at his woodland home in Belgium and offers a rare glimpse of his solo practice for the first time since 2017’s ‘Ιτινερα = Itinera’ as Af Ursin, effectively pursuing that record’s appreciation of liminal tones and metaphysical presence to logical, immersive extremes that reflect his experience of lockdown. More often noted as a consummate collaborator with everyone from Andrew Chalk and Christoph Heemann to Raymond Dijkstra, Timo’s solo work is always really special and no less so here, providing the Documenting Sound series one of its most rarified and quietly critical highlights.
Getting right down to musical fundamentals, Timo judiciously uses layering and fx to turn his barely-there palette of sighs, gasps and wordless whispers into a congregation of ghostly inference, gradually feeling out a totally secluded space that could be in the woods as much as leagues underwater or stranded in deep space. It could hardly be more evocative of the stark loneliness experienced by so many of us during the past 18 months, yet for all its horror movie / concrète mise-en-scene, there’s something comforting about his reserved presence that makes his a cappella recordings so rewarding.
Considered in context of its title, ‘Ame Matte’ or ‘Matte Soul,’ and the track titles - ‘Atem’ is German for breath, and its anagrammatic B-side of reversed breathing ‘Meta’ - it feels as though Timo grants us access behind the veil of his sound, to some liminal, purgatorial mindset previously glimpsed in the likes of NWW’s classic ‘Soliloquy For Lilith.’
First vinyl edition of Scritti Politti’s hip hop-inspired 4th album, originally released in 1999 after a decade long hiatus, and to head-scratching reactions from longer term listeners.
After crafting some of the ‘80s most enduring classics, Scritti Politti’s Green Gartside ended that decade disillusioned with music, and retreated home to the Welsh Valleys where he spent years listening to US hip hop. By 1999 he returned with a hip hop-skooled album ‘Anomie & Bonhomie’ that boldly challenged the band’s legion fans, setting his unmistakably blue-eyed soul vocals to production that leaned almost into rap-metal and pop-punk, and even featured Mos Def guest spots, with one of its highlights ‘Tinseltown To The Boogietown’ being remixed by Pete Rock, Rob Swift and Ali Shaheed Muhammad.
2nd of two essential 12”s completing SOPHIE’s year-defining Product album, containing the blinding DJ tool L.O.V.E. and bon jobby stadium pop peak of Just Like We Never Said Goodbye.
The Evol-esque mentasm of L.O.V.E. is a staple of SOPHIE’s live shows, commonly used as a bridge between the big pop hitters but also more than standing out as a highlight in its own right.
Just Like We Never Said Goodbye is a stadium anthem for 2015; hopefully the kind that will be played in Wetherspoons’ in 20 years when all the old ale drinkers die and they reinstall jukeboxes.
Solid unreleased posthumous material from dance-punk mainstay Sam Mehran, who played in Matrix Metals, Curse, Flashback Repository, Explorers, Test Icicles, MELT, The Sweethearts and more.
Mehran passed away in July 2018, and he left behind not only a colorful 15-year recording legacy but a large catalogue of unreleased music. His father and friends have put together "Cold Brew" to celebrate his solo music, and this is the first time it's been released under his own name. The songs have been selected from over a hundred tracks, and are presented without any additional production or remixes. Mehran wanted to make an instrumental rock album, and that's what we're presented with - admittedly edged with the humid spikiness of beat scene hip-hop.
Xiu Xiu's Hyunhye Seo, aka Angela Seo, goes deep and dark on her debut solo album, flitting between subterranean Lynchian ambient and abstract solo piano. Foreboding and ambitious stuff.
Split into two parts, "Strands" straddles Hyunhye Seo's musical interests. The first part focuses on her interest in percussion and noise, and features processed gong sounds and rattling industrial dirt. In three long tracks, Seo builds an anxious narrative that sounds almost like a fusion of Thomas Köner's early dark ambient material and the Lynchian sound design of Dean Hurley or even David Lynch in the "Eraserhead" days.
The second part finds Seo experimenting with the piano, and she shows off her skill using the instrument alone, playing on its tone and dissonance to create a similarly dark mood.
Green Gartside and co’s addictively sugary turning point album crops up for a masterclass in blue-eyed soul styles.
Upon its release in 1985, ‘Cupid & Psyche 85’ marked a radical leap for the once squat dwelling communists from new wave dreamers to chart-worthy pop pucker. Prior to this record they had markedly political and philosophical leanings set to a mix of almost folksy whims, disco and reggae lite, as found on a handful of Rough Trade releases, but with ‘Cupid & Psyche 85’ they mounted a sly assault on the charts, drawing on Green Gartside’s love of Aretha Franklin’s aching soul for a far more polished sound that would parallel the likes of Prefab Sprout’s entry to the US billboard charts.
In many ways its not hard to draw lines between Gartside and the Sprout’s Paddy McAloon; both are reclusive genius types who saw the other side of the pop machine and disliked it, and both made some of the ‘80s greatest power moves, as Scritti Politti did with the likes of ‘Absolute,’ which now uncannily reminds us of trotting around Co-Op during early lockdown (it was on their in-store radio A-list), and the natty funk of ‘Wood Beez,’ their seminal prayer for Aretha Franklin, which is coincidentally co-produced by Arif Mardin.
Willow doubles her solo output with a keenly anticipated Workshop 30 cat# that was surely worth the wait
Leading on from Willow’s cult debut 12” of 2016 - and scarce cuts in between such as ‘Feel Me’ - she commits four subtle shades of her style to ‘Workshop 30’, swinging out for the late night/all-day crew between hypnotic minimal strollers and effervescent broken beats certain to slake a thirst for her deft, signature grooves.
‘Squirrel City’ trades in an effortlessly driving, dreamy strain of deep minimalism recalling early Cassy gems, whereas ‘Phoebe’ slows the tempo to a more dubbed out, MDMAde-up glow. ‘Sexuall’ makes more sensual use of her vocals, lathered and looped in a jazzier deep house style with slinky congas and warm-buttered chords landing somewhere between Gemini and Move D, while ‘Strawberry Moon’ comes with craftily coiled breaks and feathered phonemes primed to refresh the dance with a 2nd wind at the right time.
Kiwi singer-songwriter Maxine Funke makes ineffably pretty homespun folk that will surely appeal to anyone into Sibylle Baier, Liz Harris, Bridget St. John or Vashti Bunyan. A proper special, once again, from A Colourful Storm.
'Seance' is an understated wonder; Funke has released an acclaimed run of low-key DIY folk records on labels like Feeding Tube, Next Best Way and Epic Sweep, and this latest is possibly her most resolved to date. Minimal but never icy, Funke's songwriting is tender and focused, but her voice is the key here, as she uses delicate tones to illustrate an internal world brimming with love and loss.
Using just guitar and voice, Funke meditates on themes using dreamlike imagery and tangled poetry - they seem simple, but take countless listens to unpick. There's euphoria, anxiety, romance and pain hidden beneath her wavering words, it's a pleasure to hear something so uncluttered and free from posturing. <3
Tony Oxley : percussion, electronics. Alan Davie : piano, percussion, ring modulator .Recorded at Gamels Studio, Rush Green, Hertford, United Kingdom 1977 and 1978.
"Featuring never previously released recordings made by Tony Oxley and Alan Davie at Davie’s home during 1977 and 1978, Elaboration of Particulars offers us a vital insight into the development of this intriguing duo and it’s place within the history of Great British Improvised Music. Formed in 1970, by the time these sessions were made, Oxley and Davie’s duo music had metamorphosied into something totally unique and exclusively their own.
Oxley’s amplified frame conjures up oscillating currents and surging electronic shards that, together with his percussive counterpoint, play a perfect partnership with Alan Davie’s enlightened piano modulations. Listen also to Davie playing keyboard and tuned percussion simultaneously. The music presented here by Oxley and Davie echoes the electro-acoustic works of Stockhausen, Berio and Varese but it is delivered with an altogether different intent by two experienced and musically sophisticated improvisers. Elaboration of Particulars is the second release from Tony Oxley on Confront Recordings. The first, Beaming, was released in April 2020."
4 side long tracks from Shackleton, Deadbeat and Appleblim - 45 mins long = Dub Conference Vol. 1. Practically a Skull Disco reunion; Appleblim’s brooding originals come backed with Shackleton and Deadbeat remixes.
On the same release for first time since 2008, Appleblim and Shackleton dance around ‘Warsaw’, with the original’s wavy 0PN-like arps contrails, tinfoil patter and nightgaze bassline stretching out to a proggy 10 min horizon, before Shackleton’s remix realigns his vision with gamelan-like tuned percussions and spectral dubbing which, like Appleblim’s original, subtly marks distance travelled sine their seminal early works. ‘Bladed Shogun’ follows with Appleblim giving strong nod to T++’s metallic dub mechanisms, which Deadbeat tempers and extends across 12 minutes of vaporous dubbing and air-stepping bass.
LA and NYC-based percussionist and composer Booker Stardrum's third NNA set is hyperactive, mind-expanding and mouthwateringly elastic. It's like Supersilent, Chris Corsano, Golden Retriever, Eli Keszler and OPN in a hot tub filled with liquid MDMA >> basically fucking next level.
Recorded with Deerhoof's John Dieterich, "CRATER" is a bizarre and brilliant cosmic blast of sound that's focused around - but not limited to - percussion. Stardrum's background is in free jazz, which grounds the record, but it never feels tied to one discipline or another, instead dancing around dance music, experimental noise and ambient, soundscaping and improvised instrumental spontaneity.
This is physical music. Tracks like 'Fury Passage' and 'Bend' are jaw-unhinging splatterdrum masterworks that seem to explode from Stardrum's tactile performance. But then the 8-minute 'Steel Impression' adds a different element, burying the unglued percussive throb underneath cinematic brassy drones and looping noise.
'Parking Lot' is even wilder, pepping up percussive elements with anxious, minimalist electronics and sounding like a particularly chirpy SND in the process, while closer 'Walking Through Still Air' maybe accidentally mirrors the feeling of a club night winding down as horn drones slowly cave into rapid, rolling kicks. Well good.
Echospace returns with another deep transmission from the vaults, emerging here with vintage material culled from old tapes recently discovered by label head Steve Hitchell from "Intrusion", most likely another Echospace alias.
'Intrusion dub' is classic Echospace, all the requisite elements of sonorous bass, inpenetrable analog crackle and well crafted techno and house rhythms all in place. Hitchell's cv313 mix is a muted affair, boiling the track down to a glowing residue of padded kicks and static, while the Phase90 reshape is our favourite here, adding some kicking percussion to produce a narcotic and deadly club number that will destroy anyone lucky enough to hear it played out on a proper system. The final side winds things down into ambient bliss in classic deepchord/echospace fashion.
Irresistible ’71 Afrobeat classics by Fela & The Africa ’70 resurface for a 50th Anniversary chop up
Incendiary on any ‘floor, ‘Open & Close’ features all three original cuts intact, with digital editions revolving the complete 12 minute version of ‘Swegbe & Pako’ that’s usually sliced in half on vinyl pressings. Originally dispensed in 1971 as the curve of Fela’s powers was approaching take-off, the EP is revered for its driving, jazzy title tune - a proper floor filler in any hands - and also packs slower heat in the swingeing funk of ‘Swegbe & Pako,’ plus the UP stepper ‘Gbagada Gbagada Gbogodo Gbogodo’ for dancers with moves to burn.
Wanton Witch debuts with a brace of surrealist, haphazard airlock club deconstruxxions that sound as android and alien as SVBKVLT's treasured catalog and as mischievous and exuberant as Lotic, E-Saggila or Ziúr. Properly future, properly damaged, properly güd: grotesque electronix for fetish clubs, strip clubs or LAN parties.
Opening with the disembodied clatter of a distant Brazilian rhythm and a warped Ha crash that mutates into pressurized trap, Wanton Witch's self-titled debut album shouts is message from the rooftops. The producer and DJ was born in Malaysia on Borneo Island, in an isolated community where she learned to appreciate sound and performance. But it wasn't until moving to Bangkok that she would develop her taste for trap, techno and deconstructed club. There, she co-founded the NON NON NON queer collective, now a nightlife staple for the Thai capital. This thirst, passion and relentlessly brave expression colors every moment of the album, in its heaving, rapidly-morphing rhythms, its flickering synth melodies and its kinetic, body-shaking movement.
From the winking queer club references on 'Daddy's Girl' and the robotic chant of "IDENTITY" on 'Do I Pass' to the crawling neo-gabber intensity of 'Looping Projection of You' and the wonked Asian disco of closer 'The Beautiful Trauma of Being', there's a vivid humor to Wanton Witch's approach. Aware of the solipsism of so much queer art, the album almost lampoons the premise, folding Wanton Witch's experience into the music but razing it to digital dust in the same breath. It's self-aware music, that's been assembled with a DJ's mindset and the sensitivity of an artist who has an intimate relationship with the sensuality of sound and the nature of presentation.
These are tracks we can imagine seeping from the cursed speakers of some sex dungeon in Central Europe just as easily as they could be poised on the main stage at Unsound or a catwalk in New York City. It's transgressive, cynical and deliriously psychedelic music, a molten cauldron of IDM, R&B, hard dance, techno and foley noise. And with Wanton Witch guiding the rudder, it's never merely an exercise in aesthetic. In fact, it makes us crave a dark room more than we have in ages.
Hypnotic proto-Raï from Algeria circa 1979-1989 by Drissi El-Abbassi, a pioneer of the style who bridged its early roots with the era of multi-track digital recording during the sound’s rapid evolution, making for an insane set of microtonal synths, psych guitars and drum machines for fans of Cheb Khaled, Omar Khorshid or Omar Souleyman.
‘Rai Sidi Bel Abbes’ plays deeply into one of the core influences of borderless Algerian/Egyptian label Nashazphone, highlighting a figure relatively unsung beyond the North African Arabic diaspora, introducing his unusually balmy, soft-voiced take on a genre that came to be known for its harder edges. Set to a mix of microtonal Roland synthesiser leads and swaying drum machines, El-Abbassi’s vocals emote with particular clarity and sensuality, carrying the jazz and psych rock-inspired early sound into a prototype of its current form across eight songs that chart his transition from working with principal group Les Freres Zergui, to selections from recordings by his own band’s influential releases during the mid-late ‘80s.
Drissi El-Abbassi was 17 in 1978, when he joined one of the main groups in Oran region, Les Aigles Noir, working as “stage animator” - a sort of hypeman, also responsible for relaying lyrics to the lead singer, at weddings and parties - and by 1979 he was a member of Les Freres Zergui, who pioneered the use of wah wah pedals and drums in the style of Rai; a new sound established by Messaoud Bellemou and his troupe, that incorporated trumpets and sax into a distinctive new Algerian genre. He cut his teeth playing two shows a night at the weekends with Les Freres Zergui, and his first solo tape came out that year with Zergui on guitar. Following Zergui’s passing in 1983, and the dissolution of the band, El-Abbassi set up his own group, embracing new technology and helping progress the style alongside legendary producer Meghni Mohamed for labels such as Editions Anwar, Editions Maghreb, and Editions Saint Crepain.
The eight songs on ‘Rai Sidi Bel Abbes’ cover a spectrum of El-Abassi’s work during 1979-1989, from the mouth watering microtonal psych licks and nagging machine grooves of ‘Zedti laadab aliya’ to the lissom guitars and accordions of ‘Khalouni neck’, showcasing his smoothly contoured vocal cadence in finest style on cuts that resemble melodic Lovers Rock vibes in ’Trig maaskar’ and intoxicatingly sensual highlights ‘Jat jat’, plus the passionate, psychedelic ache of ‘Manetzouedj manebni dar’, or ‘Djibek liyam’, which should appeal to fans of Omar Khorshid as much as Omar Souleyman.
Earlier this year The Caretaker provided closure to a 20 year-long act that has uncannily lurked in the shadows of so many of our listening lives. Clad for the last time in Ivan Seal’s specially commissioned artwork, ’Stage 6’ found The Caretaker mirroring the ultimate descent into dementia and oblivion, using a patented prism of sound to connote a final, irreversible transition into the haunted ballroom of the mind that he first stepped into with 1999’s ‘Selected Memories From the Haunted Ballroom’. This final dispatch is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the most immersive and intangible of his two-decade arc, not to mention one of 2019's most moving records.
Invoking Jack Nicolson’s caretaker in Stanley Kubrick/Stephen King’s ‘The Shining’ as metaphor for issues revolving around mental health and a growing dissociation/dissatisfaction with the world, the project really took on new dimensions in 2005 with the 72-track, 6CD boxset ‘Theoretically Pure Anterograde Amnesia’, which was accompanied by an insightful unpacking of its ideas by cultural critic Mark Fisher aka K-Punk; a stalwart of the project who identified it (alongside music from Burial and Broadcast) among the most vital, emergent works of Hauntological art - a form of music often preoccupied with ideas about memory and nostalgia (but one distinct from pastiche), and the way that they possibly overwhelm, occlude, or even define our sense of being; ideas that resonate with Fisher’s own assertion that capitalism essentially undermines collective thought, distorts the individual, and has tragically lead to a worldwide increase or even ubiquity of mental health-related issues.
By using fusty samples from an obsolete analog format, and by doing so in the 2nd decade of the 2nd millennium, The Caretaker perfectly and perversely bent ideas of anticipation/expectation with his arrangements, playing with notions of convention and repetition with effect that would lead some listeners to wonder if the same record was being released over and again. When combined with Ivan Seal’s bespoke painting for each release from 2011’s ‘An Empty Bliss Beyond This World’ onwards, the project crystallised as a real gesamtkunstwerk for these times, and one arguably defined by a stubborn and intractably chronic drive against the grain of modern popular culture, or even a refusal of it.
And so to the project’s final goodbye. Drifting from the silty departure of ‘Confusion so thick you forget forgetting’, thru the smudged anaesthetisation of ‘A brutal bliss beyond this empty defeat’, and the abyssal, distant echoes of ‘Long decline is over’, to the increased pauses that punctuate the final side’s piece, ‘Place in the World fades away’, it eventually leads to a final coda that breaks the fourth wall.
Here, with the outside world muted and only the timbral residue remaining like smoke, everything moves as slow as a Lynchian dream sequence - until a conclusion so ineffably sublime occurs that we can’t mention it for fear of waking up.
Jonny Trunk draws an astute link between ASMR and ‘Mechanical Keyboard Sounds’ in this perfectly peculiar side of recordings by bespoke luxury mechanical keyboard maker, Taeha Types, featuring Recordings of 12 bespoke mechanical keyboards.
Up there with the oddest and most brilliant Trunk sides, ‘Mechanical Keyboard Sounds’ takes a closer look and listen to the ubiquitous tool found on desktops everywhere, and may even make you develop a newfound appreciation for the humble keyboard. Prompted by a neighbour - Stuart London aka futurecrime - to check the growing online scene for bespoke and customised mechanical keyboards, Trunk was struck by how satisfying the sound of a well-tuned keyboard could be. A conversation was started with ‘tuber Taeha Types, who is recognised as the go-to guy for this sorta thing, and the result is this uniquely gratifying slab of 12 recordings of rapid taps made on some of the finest keyboards money can buy.
If one weren’t told otherwise, the recordings may well resemble close-miked documentation of insects, some esoteric ritual, or a game of backgammon sped up, but closer inspection reveals sequences of these flurries that are possibly identifiable as furious delete keying or hammering a return button. And this is where it gets interesting, as each recording reveals to the listener the idiosyncrasies of each keyboard and its custom parts which, like custom built cars, use a huge spectra of parts both vintage and bespoke to achieve the users’ dream build and preferred levels of tactility and clickiness.
The models all range from customised 1986 vintage to bespoke 2019 models made with milled aluminium and lubed with the same grease that NASA use. Stuart London highlights the Nixdorf switches on the ’TGR 910 RE’ as particularly satisfying to his ears, and they are to ours, too, but the ‘IBM P70’ with its tinny plate spring switches is also tickling our fancy, but christ that ‘Chicory KB5160AT would get on our tits if we had to use it all day. Like customised keyboards themselves, this record ain’t for everyone, but you don’t need to like them to enjoy this record, much in the same way we’ve previously enjoyed C Spencer Yeh’s recording of an unplugged RCA Mark II Synth.
Cellist Judith Hamann yields an absorbing elegy- a haunting grip from an artist who is sought-after by everyone from CS + Kreme to Oren Ambarchi, and has seen her perform notable works by Alvin Lucier and Tashi Wada in recent years
“Drawn from breath work with the cello on the occasion of a friend's coffin decoration, 'A Coffin Spray...' arrived that afternoon like a gift almost fully formed, moving through an intuitive uncovering of intervals in a responsive unfolding. Parallel long form materials here combine into almost a composite instrument at times, alternately merging and phasing. In thinking of a mentor's adage, "just one breath in front of the other," here bow, breath, and entangled bodies of instrument/performer set in motion a sort of reiterative grounding, a leaning into material solidity or transparency of tone, following a path carved out by the sonorities of the cello: its whirring, humming and spectra; momentum and flux; moving from a grounding, into the air.
My friend Jeff died on a winter blue moon in the midst of Germany’s winter lockdown. Jeff was a freelance sound designer and artist, and like so many of us who choose this way of living (oh, the precariousness) had no financial buffering post departure. Friends are trying to raise funds to hold a proper memorial service and cover crematorium plot costs, and so as this gift from/to Jeff goes out into the world, all my bandcamp revenue will go towards this, so that we can finally gather together to send off and hold collective space for our dapper, hilarious, oh-so-dry-witted, james bond-like, plane flying, whisky (and all things good really) connoisseur, brilliant brained, generous, and much missed, trench friend.”
The fourth release of the thru the cosmos series, Eta/Aquariids commemorates sensational astronomical events that occur in the summer night sky.
"A sonic travelogue for the ultimate immersive experience for all stargazers and imaginative persons alike. This project consists of newfound sounds and 7:1 field recordings specific to our observation locations. In echospace, we pride ourselves on the many years of unique experiences that culminate from our deep love of astronomy. We have special plans to watch these meteorites grace our atmosphere, and not just as mere observers on Earth, but of whom believe in connecting with those from the future and the ones before us.
It is known that ancients partook in this experience, dating back as far as the Egyptians. These space particles disintegrating from Haley's comet are stunning, and simply provide us all with an exceptional human experience. It is advised that anyone watching be placed in complete darkness. And in this darkness, we are surrounded by light. This epic sound world was created to score as a soundtrack for the multitude of otherworldly cosmic events and features what we would consider some of the most engaging sound designs to date. A sonic universe all its own."
Ulla & Perila’s newly formed Log duo arrives on Experiences Ltd with a sublime full-length suite of dubbed-out, warm and fizzing energies, reminding us of Vainqueur’s classic Elevation productions for Chain Reaction, and the most dense, tranquil moments from Wolfgang Voigt’s GAS excursions. Ulla and Perila have each supplied us with some of the most rinsed and satisfying records of the year, this one might just be the best of the lot.
‘LOG ET3RNAL’ sees the pair building on a blossoming creative synergy formed over 2020 lockdown, which resulted in a pair of low-key trips for Portugal’s silence box, and now this full suite of peaceful gestures inspired by rambles in the forest. An obvious reference point is Wolfgang Voigt’s GAS recordings transmuting the feel of the Black Forest into ambient gold, but Ulla & Perila’s take on this timeless notion is detectably more fractured and frayed, textured like fruiting brambles that gently snag the ankles, and decayed with a beautifully deciduous tone ripened for autumnal immersion.
Weaving synthetic micro-fibres and burnished pads into 11 gauzy visions, they coax a palette of iridescent melodies, ephemeral vocals and organic rhythms into scenes that suggest a sort of sleepwalking sojourn into the woods, or a simulacra thereof. Their patient approach is enchanting, allowing their synthesised, micro-fibrous forms to naturally grow and sprawl, but with careful hands pruning the results into bonsai-like vignettes that absorb listeners into swirling dioramas of the real thing, bringing the outdoors inside.
Timely reissue of Herbert’s classic concrète house potterings with Dani Siciliano, still sounding as warm and groovesome as it did on its release back in 1998. A true evergreen
Back in print for first time in 20 years, ‘Around The House’ returns slightly abbreviated and reshuffled but in essence the same, hearty album of deep house with a subtle experimental edge, placing Matthew Herbert’s patented domestic sampling tekkers at the service of richly soulful songwriting and dancefloor readiness.
Herbert’s catalogue may have proliferated in every direction since this album’s release, but it remains a true touchstone in his catalogue and even in the wider sense of UK house music, marking a high water mark of the scene’s creativity and one of those records that has transcended boundaries between the club, living room, bedroom, and headphones.
'Mas Amable', our record of the year 2020.
Call it deep reggaeton, avant-dembow, whatever; Mas Amable was easily our most rinsed record of the year, a sidewinding trip through slippery, mutable 90/180bpm metrics for lovers of rhythm and sound of all shapes and colours.
Following the reticulated deep house-paced hybrids of his acclaimed 2017 debut, 'Mas Amable' displays a serpentine guile that surely lives up to Brian Piñeyro’s moniker. Through 50 minutes, he dangles the dance by a fine conceptual thread that ties a constant rhythmic skeleton to subtly shifting tonal and textural variables. We start from shoreside ambience and lush field recordings, into hip-gripping dembow permutations and tripped-out vocals, elegantly and rudely shifting the pressure gauge from a gentle propulsive sway to darker steppers and wavey, whistling melodies, before neuro D&B stabs light up the dance and it all fades out on a deep blue reggaeton tip.
Like a mutable organism imperceptibly transforming before our eyes, ‘Mas Amable’ is both effortless and unfathomable, a heady trip through liquid, morphing tressilo drums and junglist markers that, at their peak, provide ample space for LA Warman’s vocal narration, imbuing proceedings with an eerie prescience and an existentially weary message. It all makes for a unique and richly immersive experience that we said back in April would rank among the definitive records of 2020. And at the end of this brutal, relentless year... here we are.
Ambitious, genre-melting, world-building, poetic Black sonic confuzzion from Brooklyn's L'Rain. "Fatigue" refuses to stay still for a moment, dissolving blues, gospel, jazz, experimental electronics, prog, new age and psych rawk into a luscious, theatrical production that practically jumps from the speakers.
'Fatigue' is multi-instrumentalist producer Taja Cheek's second album and sounds like a fully-realized work in a way that few albums really do right now. Cheek makes pop music, but it's shot thru with a thirst for experimentation that feels vivid, unhinged and completely absorbing. Refusing to stay in a single place for long - her songs are broadly influenced by vintage R&B, classic pop and high-minded prog or jazz fusion, but each is dipped in the sparkling essence of a plethora of wide-ranging sounds and ideas.
'Find It' is bluesy, soulful and driving, but mid-way through melts into screaming ambience, with haunted vocals, distant choirs and lifted horns. 'Suck Teeth' is gauzy, psychedelic and jazzy, with funk bass underpinning Cheek's sensual vocals, but gradually increases the pressure until it bursts into almost vintage metal by the final squeak. 'Two Face' might be our fave, all kaleidoscopic Stereolab-esque wyrd funk, that drifts thru clouds of noise and echoing vocals with surprising grace.
"Fatigue" is charming, smart and brilliantly realized. It sounds huge and shows Cheek's impressive production prowess, but retains a memorable pop simplicity while tackling heady, visceral subject matter and experimenting with wildly divergent production. It sounds like the rich history of Black American music but refuses to be constrained by its legacy, letting loose through culture and pointing to the future with eager caution.
Though it's hard to pick a winner among the estimable Black Jazz catalog, this 1972 release from bassist Henry "The Skipper" Franklin would have to be near the top of the list.
"Franklin got his start woodshedding with Latin maverick Willie Bobo in the mid-'60s and went on to play with The Three Sounds, but probably his most notable gig prior to this debut album was his stint in Hugh Masekela's band (that's Franklin playing bass with Masekela at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival). For The Skipper, Franklin assembled a crack outfit that included a horn section of trumpeter/flugelhornist Oscar Brashear (Bobby Hutcherson, Ry Cooder, Donny Hathaway) and tenor & soprano sax man Charles Owens (Buddy Rich, Horace Tapscott, John Mayall) along with a Masekela bandmate in electric pianist Bill Henderson and ace drummer Michael Carvin (Pharoah Sanders, Lonnie Liston Smith, Freddie Hubbard).
This is such a unique, organic recording that it's hard to make comparisons; definitely a little fusion, a little '60s Blue Note feel, and the usual Black Jazz journey to the more lyrical, pop-inspired ("Little Miss Laurie") and funk-infused ("Plastic Creek Stomp") sides of jazz, but perhaps the best comparison is late-'60s Miles before he went electric. In any case, The Skipper is just a joy to listen to from start to finish, beautifully recorded by Black Jazz producer Gene Russell and blessed with some really fine writing, most of it by Franklin himself. First-time LP reissue and a must-have!"
Penultimate, 5th Stage of The Caretaker’s ‘Everywhere At The End of Time’ series charting severe levels of musical/mental deterioration and sensory detachment through four extended, smudged and hallucinatory side-long pieces.
As we near the end, ‘Stage 5’ sees our protagonist enter a near-permanent state of confusion and horror. Mirroring the endemic deterioration of dementia’s latter phases, were pulled through the most extreme entanglements in the series so far; repetition and ruptures, barely maintaining a connection to waking life and a sense of self.
In the most classic sense, we become witness to an abandonment and dissolution of ego, as the mulch of bygone ‘78s totally loses itself in a way that connotes misfiring synapses failing to properly relay information at advanced levels of the disease.
It feels as though our skull is being scraped out, uncovering hellish layers of accreted sensation and mulched imagery, occasionally recognising calmer patterns, only for them to fray into the ether before it’s possible to parse and dwell on them.
At this point it’s also perhaps worth pointing out the uncannily profound synchronicity between the timelines of ‘Everywhere At The End of Time’ and Brexit, which both started in 2016 and are due to wrap up in spring 2019. It should be no stretch of the imagination to read into their parallel progression from nostalgia and historic/collective amnesia, to progressive dementia and complete obliteration of (the) sense(s).
D.K.’s blissed performance at intimate S. Korean venue The Edge becomes the latest LP on 12th Isle
Following in a familiar vein to D.K.’s enchanted fortcoming Good Morning Tapes EP ‘The Goddess Is Dancing’, the Paris-based producer of Vietnamese descent spies a rolling soundscape of lissom rhythmic contours and finely graded harmonic humidities across the tranquilising expanse of ‘Live at The Edge’.
Everything inside feels to float gradually higher from the ground and hold a mid-air conference of chirruping avian electronics, wilting gamelan-like tones and DMT-breath synth chorales on the A-side, while the B-side introduces purring low end and nimbly stepping percussion until it wins up in massage chamber ambience.
The fourth in a series of six albums from The Caretaker cataloguing the effects of early-onset dementia. Featuring four extended, smudged and hallucinatory side-long pieces - the darkest and most immersive music from The Caretaker to date.
The Caretaker slips into the first “post awareness” stage of Everywhere At The End of Time. The ability to recall singular memories gives way to confusions and horror; the beginning of a process where all memories begin to become more fluid through entanglements, repetition and rupture.
Leyland Kirby connotes the transitory cognitive breakdown of moderate into severe late stage dementia; memories of the good times are recollected in picnoleptic flashes as the music struggles to follow consistent trajectories, instead fluctuating between a fractured mosaic of ideas and elusive emotive gestures, still occasionally able to gather coherent thoughts.
In aesthetic, the sieve-like mindstate of stage 4 vacillates a serene sort of psychedelia with utterly paranoid and petrifying mental subsidence. Smudged traces of sublimated music hall memories give way to shocking tracts of atonality and discord with runaway logic, perpetually tumbling farther into states of mind perhaps best compared with K-Hole-like dimensions or the babble of after-hours psychonautic journeys.
The concision of previous stages is here replaced with wandering, side-long tracts. Three of those are titled Post Awareness Confusions and correspondingly explore and reflect agitated mindsets as they navigate an ephemeral, confusing complexity of structures. The other piece is called Temporary Bliss State and starkly contrasts the other parts in a coherently lush traverse of ambient crackle and glittering melody…
Heartsick boogie aces from Anthony Naples, poking out his first release of 2016 as a sort of autumnal toddy for chapped dancers and reveries of warmer times.
Leaker swivels out on a slow, shifty electro boogie glyde with a steady core of phasing bass and ticking rimshot smudged by psychoacoustically shifty pads; sounds sorta like a sharpened NWAQ joint.
The sluggish jack of Moments Magicos feels more sore, blue, like one of V/Vm’s saltiest new beat tributes, early trance on 33-not-45, or Pye Corner Audio at their gauziest.