Doom/stoner rock titans Om run thru cuts from their Drag City albums ‘God Is Good’ and ‘Advaitic Songs’ for BBC Radio 1
They absolutely rip it with a crushing take on ’State of Non-Return’ leaving room for lush string breakdown, while ‘Cremation Ghat’ steps it up with hypnotic force and then takes it right down to the holy waters.
Hugely surprising turn of angular, playful algorithmic experiments by composer Ryan Teague, best known for his sublime ambient minimalism, but here upending expectations with a very canny jazz-fusion winks to 0PN and the kind of mutated film music made by Maxwell Sterling
“Bristol–based composer Ryan Teague presents Recursive Iterations, a suite of seven extended compositions that incorporate cinematic arrangements and cutting edge sound design within an algorithmic framework to striking effect. The resulting pieces combine elements of neo-classical, post– rave, and soundtrack music, to create an utterly compelling contemporary soundscape balanced by a calculated, almost architectural use of space and restraint.
The musical structure is derived from a custom–written algorithmic system that sequences harmonic and rhythmic events in ever–shifting patterns. Hyperreal electro-acoustic phrases and digitally synthesised fragments come and go in continual rotation, re-framed and re-contextualised by their proximity to other events in the sequence as the compositions evolve. The effect evokes a minimalist bricolage, hypnotic and kaleidoscopic in nature, and calls to mind artists such as Oneohtrix Point Never, The Haxan Cloak and Ital Tek.
At the same time, a core theme running throughout the record is a masterly use of absence and inertia influenced by the Japanese concepts of ma (間 – negative space) and the enso (円相 – circle), which serve to complement and counterbalance the diverse sound palette. By integrating these qualities, tension is built and resolved in equal measure, creating a dramatic sonic impression where fragmented rhythms, dynamic textures, subsonic basses, and delicate ambience all coexist.
Recursive Iterations is a bold, powerful, and unique work that pushes sonic boundaries whilst revealing more with each listen.”
Grizzly deep jackers from Rodion Stankevich on Gost Zvuk, the premier Russian powerhouse for new electronic music
Only available on 12” in 2016, now on digital formats, ‘Ada’ works up the strident title cut with wood-fired kicks, warm chords and frazzled lead, whereas ’21 gm’ spools off into scuzzy dub house and ‘Speed of Comprehension’ comms off like a ruddier Lawrence workout.
Top dogs Justin Broadrick & Kevin Martin meet Moor Mother to revive their Zonal alias some 20 years after the project’s CDr demo album first appeared on Avalanche.
Essentially conceived in 2000 as a follow-up to Techno Animal, the Zonal beast is now reawakened as a joint vessel for Broadrick & Martin’s grouchiest drones and bass with added vocals by an indomitable Moor Mother, who is right on the cusp of dropping her best work in the ferocious ‘Analog Fluids of Sonic Black Holes.’ In combination they amount to a proper force of nature, albeit a super slow and cantankerous one, creeping up from the peripheries to dominate the senses with their choking style of water-logged dub noise.
Broadrick & Martin’s scorched ground is now more dense and sodden, spreading out to uncertain ground which Moor Mother holds with glaring declarations of her signature blues and quantum futurism for the first half of the record. The 2nd half is then given to elemental instrumentals with heavy duty results, seeing Broadrick & Martin throw their full, combined weight in six speaker worrying trudgers laced with scathing levels of distortion.
We hardly need to stress that this is like manna for all red-eyed types who’ve never gotten over that late ‘90s illbient phase, as well as those who’ve picked up on its spirit thru contemporary echoes in Kevin Martin’s hybrids of industrial music, experimental dub, and cyberpunk dread as King Midas Sound and The Bug, or Broadrick’s JK Flesh and Jesu outings.
DJ Nigga Fox’s most substantial release to date sets a new benchmark for Lisbon’s revered underground ghetto dance scene, pulling traces of jazz, acid house and cinematic sound design into his deeply rugged and exceptional sound with effortless style...🔥🔥🔥
Highlighted as one to watch in Lisbon’s virulent club scenius since appearing on the ‘Bazzerk’ compilation which introduced many ravers to Kuduro in 2011, DJ Nigga Fox’s productions have become acclaimed for a mix of abstract weirdness and proper dancefloor impact that’s hit ‘floors hard across the world. Following 2018’s ‘Crânio’ 12” for Warp and remix of How To Dress Well, he now returns to the Príncipe powerhouse, home of his first trio of 12”s, with a definitive statement that arguably ranks among this year’s strongest rhythm-driven LP's.
In a way that mirrors UK dance music’s transition in the ‘90s from hardcore jungle to garage and D&B, or in the ‘00s from grime and dubstep to more “sophisticated” styles of deep house, broken beats and UK Funky, Nigga Fox’s album-length EP appears more layered, plusher and, ultimately “musical” when compared to his earlier work. Using sparing but knowing dabs of noirish jazz keys, live-sounding double bass and expressively off-kilter synth tones, he binds rippling, colourful flesh to his flexing, bare bones drums in a way that boldly blazes a trail for his local scene without ever losing sight of what makes it so thrilling in the first place.
This inch-tight refinement of Nigga Fox’s already distinctive style is characterised by the twisting, unpredictable arrangement of ’Sub Zero’, where stealthy waves of swingeing drums and vintage horror movie tropes are ramped with feral electro scuzz to killer effect, or equally in the freaky tension between lissom jazz chords, jaws-harp buzz and wild acid lines on ‘Faz A Minha’, and the way he meshes roiling drums with complex, asymmetric electronics on ‘Vicio’, or simply forges his own, outstanding form of slow, psychedelic dance-pop replete with his own, Quasimodo-Styled vocal in the shocking closer ‘5 Violinos.’
By any measure ‘Cartas Na Manga’ is a singular release that stands miles out from the crowd. Its only comparisons really lie within Lisbon’s club scene, with the likes of DJ Firmeza, Marfox or Nervoso. As such it’s best taken as symptomatic of their collective scenius, and is keenly ready to be mixed with music from all corners of the Black Atlantic.
In the 1950s, a few young men, known as Badius, embarked on a nearly 2,500-mile (4000 km) journey from the northern rural interior of Cabo Verde’s Santiago Island to the island of São Tomé off the Atlantic coast of central Africa. Incredibly, they made the arduous journey not to earn a better living or send money back home — but to simply buy an accordion, locally known as a gaita. They would work years in harsh conditions to earn enough to buy the instrument and a few more years to buy a ticket back to Santiago.
"Returning home, they slowly formed an elite class of self-taught gaita players who achieved a status similar to the griots of West Africa: venerated: wise elderly men archiving Badiu history in their diatonic button accordions. The gaita became the maximum expression of Badiu identity, one defined over centuries by a persistent culture of revolt and rebellion against domination and injustice. In a land lacking electricity, the acoustic instrument is king.
The gaita masters marriage to a hard-won instrument gave birth to raw Funaná music, undoubtedly a trans-Atlantic sibling of Colombian Cumbia. Hypnotic notes on aged accordions, tuned and flavored in ways found nowhere but Santiago, became infused with inviting baselines, raucous rhythms, blade-on-iron percussion and the bubbling lyricism and lament of the island’s finest ambassadors, their lyrics spoke of the trials of daily scarcity and playfully crafted whole metaphors within songs.
Their music was outlawed under colonial rule, with strict curfews monitored by the ever watchful eye of Portugal’s secret police to prevent gatherings since Funaná was dance music meant for large crowds, centered on one of the many star gaiteiros. Yet, naturally defiant, Badiu Funaná continued unfazed at the risk of arrest, detention, or worse.
Funaná remained an isolated style, largely an affair for Badiu ears only. But in 1991, Cabo Verde had its first democratic election. Elections are tricky business anywhere, let alone a state divided into several islands, each needing a tailored approach. Political parties found a novel solution, perhaps even a model, to successfully get their campaign messages out to large audiences with ears wide open: music festivals. Until today, Cabo Verde plays host to dozens of festivals a year, some sponsored by the government.
The music of the proud African interior became the soundtrack of choice at campaign rallies and music festivals. It drew large crowds, engaged the youth, kept people content, and undoubtedly won votes, setting the stage for traditional Funaná’s entry into the mainstream. But professional production and recording remained elusive.
Younger artists empowered by the politically-backed proliferation of Funaná in the early ‘90s began traveling inland to learn the trade secrets from the gaita griots, taking up the once maligned artform to counter what they saw as global pop sounds diluting Cabo Verdean output and preventing genuine local music from competing on the airwaves.
Another revolt was afoot, and in 1997, an “earthquake shook the country,” a Cabo Verdean newspaper wrote, when a group of youths, calling themselves Ferro Gaita, “dared to make a disc based on the gaita, ferrinho and bass guitar.” That best-selling first album -- 40,000 copies in a country of just 400,000 -- changed the entire trajectory of the country’s music.
Ferro Gaita’s success caught the attention of affluent producers based in Cabo Verde’s large European diaspora, namely Rotterdam. Widespread sentiment was to honor the old gaita masters from the small villages of Santiago by commercially publishing their work for the very first time, giving what was once hidden the bigger stage it deserved.
This compilation curates eight tracks from a short period in the late ‘90s when cherished pioneers, who risked everything to give their proud culture a sound, were finally put in recording studios; an album in itself a revolt in favor of the music of the most marginalized and once deliberately silenced."
Sound designer for blockbuster movie trailers, Anthony Baldino shows off his meticulous tekkers and dramaturgist styles in an IDM framework on a solo debut LP proper. RIYL Richard Devine, Venetian Snares, Æ
“Born and raised in New York, Anthony Baldino is an LA based composer and sound designer whose work spans an enormous range of production avenues. The likelihood that you haven't heard his work is nearly impossible, with music and sound design in too many trailer campaigns to list, including Prometheus, Interstellar, Ex-Machina, Star Wars: Rogue One, and Avengers: Infinity War and End Game just to name a few. From there, his work ventures to the opposite pole of production with custom sound design based compositions for Dolby Labs mixed in Atmos, beautifully glitched out remixes, and continues on to mind-bending modular synthesizer performances.
With his debut artist release, he delivers a devastatingly beautiful album grounded in IDM that focuses on modular synthesizers. While a vast amount of modular synth music is currently being released, this album goes far beyond the typical beeps and boops that one may expect when they hear “modular IDM record”. This record is as technical as it is emotive. Tasteful and incredibly detailed, “Twelve Twenty Two” bridges the gap between sound-design laden beats and cinematic motifs and ambiences. This record does not disappoint and is sure to become a favorite of electronic music fans.
The album opens up with a slowly unfolding melody that seems to be within grasp but never actually repeats itself. Incredibly tasteful glitchy sound design leads us in to a build that you’d expect to be in a movie and then drops us into a full-on sonic assault of impeccable drums and rich synths. From there, the record traverses a wide array of texture, time and technique. Closing with a track that makes you feel like you could actually reach out and touch the sound and float in its space, the sonic landscape created in “Twelve Twenty Two” is a true treat for your ears.”
Crest-swelling, crepuscular synth-pop with a strong hint of IDIB-esque ‘80s nostalgia - great stuff once again from Geographic North.
“Sandy is a Brooklyn-based trio comprised of Samantha Pathe (synths/vocals), Stephen Pathe (drum machines/samples), and Jeff Carter (synths/vocals). The trio arose from the devastation wrecked by Hurricane Sandy throughout the Jersey Shore in 2012. After the storm destroyed the house Jeff was living in and left him stranded, Stephen offered Jeff a room in his Manasquan, NJ house. Under the same roof, under unfortunate circumstances, the pair naturally started playing music together. They soon brought in Stephen’s sister Samantha to play and write music with them and Sandy – the band – was born.
Traces – the group’s first release since its self-titled debut on Night People in 2014 – is a work of duality. The band’s layered synths and beats build a richly woven tapestry of seemingly disparate and opposing forces that forge new ground in electronic music. The songs are both ambient and anthemic. And yet, they are anthems with restraint, always pulling back just before entirely breaking through the carefully composed tension. The lyrics are both mournful and hopeful, a binary that is embodied in the music itself.
Dreamy, overlapping synth parts wash over you while the songs take twists and turns that command your attention and get your foot tapping, if not your body moving. Specters and spirits abound, as drums appear and later disappear out of nowhere like an apparition, and haunting synth lines sound like they’ve been ripped out of a score to an eerie sci-fi film of your imagination. By Traces’ end, you feel like you’ve experienced something – something cohesive and whole, carefully built within the fabric of these four songs, as if Sandy has told the story they wanted to tell in the amount of time it took to tell it.”
Distracting us from another play of Shygirl’s ‘BB’, US rapper and cultural figure Brooke Candy has our attention on a debut album dripping with dutty bars and club-ready production
Revolving guest spots by Charli XCX, Iggy Azalea, Violet Chachki, Erika Jayne, Rico Nasty and Aquaria, the album stages Brooke Candy - a former stripper, daughter of the former CFO for Hustler magazine, and tourmate of Charli XCX - with bolshy, up-to-the-second production by Nuxxe boss Sega Bodega and Boys Noize, among others. Depending your level of prudence, this album will either push all your buttons or send you running.
We’re naturally snagged on her cracking use of Lords Of Acid’s new beat classique ‘I Sit on Acid’ in her ‘FMU’ banger, and also the absolute smut of ‘XXXTC’ with Charli XCX; the SOPHIE-meets-Lil Kim flex of ‘R.I.P.’; and the proper strip club banger ‘Cum’ (although we just got a flash of Alan Partridge dancing to this in his peephole sweater, and can’t scrub the image now).
Low-key lysergic ambient pop gestures from London’s Paper Dollhouse duo, riffing on nature, domesticity, ontological rumination, and sonic deep topography in a series of fractured studio snapshots, psychedelic spikes and lush, mercurial synth strokes
“The Walled Garden is the follow up to 2018’s neon-lit ambient pop album The Sky Looks Different Here, and its sister release All The Colours Align, to form the final part of a triptych set across the plains of rural Suffolk and London. Inspired by surrounding nature, domestic routine, Maggi Payne and Henning Christiansen’s The Executioner, the release was recorded on a portable 24-track recorder and holds up a mirror to autumn the dawn and early hours, an exploration of synthesiser experiments, field recordings and snapshots of conversations that quietly define areas of personal growth, patience, curiosity, understanding and freedom.
Where the group's previous album explored an audio journey from the rain-soaked streets of East London out to the now fast eroding landscapes of Suffolk, The Walled Garden captures the after-hours ambience that falls across Astrud's childhood surroundings within the ancient London borough of Southwark, an area with a rich but hidden music landscape home to the outer edges explorations of Coil and Derek Jarman. While field recordings from Nina's studio in the rural yet equally meditative oceanside pepper the long-form synth transitions and blurred recollections of conversations and early morning reflections.
The Walled Garden invites you to take a perhaps the furthest step yet into Paper Dollhouse's unique soundworld. While the final track, a lullaby that seems to disappear as each second unravels, tells us that 'This Is Not The End', the music points to brand new directions on the horizon, through the garden and onto the path ahead.”
TWINS’ tightens the screw of his ‘80s synth-pop homage for some of his sharpest, puckered productions in ‘New Cold Dream’ - a big look for fans of Simple Minds, John Maus, Depeche Mode, Body Of Light
“Though TWINS’ sound has always drawn on synth-pop, his second LP takes the ‘80s influence a step further, interpreting our current climate of fear and uncertainty as a direct result of the economic policies set into motion during the Reagan/Thatcher era. The conditions under which New Cold Dreamwas created serve as evidence that the New Gold Dream that Simple Minds were singing about in 1982 has coalesced into something much darker. In the 21st century, the idea of the “American Dream” has been replaced by a cold new frontier. If life in America is a new sort of Wild West, then Weiner is its gothic cowboy chronicler, staring into the vast expanse of rising inequality, social stratification and environmental collapse.
Still, NCD isn’t a pessimistic record - Weiner seeks to embrace the unforgiving nature of these realities. Balancing our optimism with cynicism, oscillating between hot and cold. This duality can be heard throughout the record - from the foreboding refrain of “Slow Decline” to the sublime choral tones of “Misuse.” Ominous, industrial beats offset dreamy synth melodies, while Weiner’s fervid vocals reconcile tensions throughout. New Cold Dream is a thoughtful yet heartfelt amalgamation of dark electro, synth pop, and industrial dance music. “Lie Awake,” an irresistibly classic dark-electro song underpinned by an infectious dance beat, embodies this balance perfectly. Past influences abound - from John Maus to Bauhaus, from Suicide to Depeche Mode - but this record lives distinctly in the present.
Hot vs. cold, fear vs. courage, light vs. dark. TWINS finds the similarities in what appear to be opposites, and invites us to do the same. “I want people to feel moved; both moved to get up and move and also moved in a deeper sense of connecting with ideas that may not have made sense before,” Weiner says of his project. It’s music for contemplating while dancing, for letting go while you hold on tight. As we grow tired of a world that deals in extremes, we wake up to a new cold dream.”
Black Marble nimbly bind new wave and indie-pop influences on their first album for Sacred Bones. Fans of Animal Collective, John Maus, Depeche Mode need apply
“When Chris Stewart set out to write and record his third album as Black Marble, he was newly living in Los Angeles, fresh off a move from New York. The environment brought much excitement and possibility, but the distance had proved too much for the car he brought along. With it out of commission indefinitely, he purchased a bus pass and planned his daily commute from his Echo Park apartment to his downtown studio, where he began to shape Bigger Than Life. The route wound all through the city, from the small local shops of Echo Park to the rising glass of the business district, to the desperation of Skid Row. The hurried energy of the environment provided a backdrop for the daily trip. When Stewart finally arrived at his studio, he’d look through his window at the mountains and the sky, seeing the beauty that makes L.A. unique — the same beauty his fellow commuters, some pushed to the edge of human endurance, had seen. That was the headspace he was in when he began to map out the syncopated drums and staccato arpeggiation of Bigger Than Life, an ode to his new condition and a shimmering synth-pop response to its cacophony.
“The album comes out of seeing and experiencing a lot of turmoil but wanting to create something positive out of it,” Stewart explains. “I wanted to take a less selfish approach on this record. Maybe I’m just getting older, but that approach starts to feel a little self-indulgent. Like, ‘Oh, look at me I’m so complicated, I get that life isn’t fair,’ It’s like, yeah, so does everyone. So with this record, it’s less about how I see things and more about the way things just are. Seeing myself as a part of a lineage of people trying to do a little something instead of trying to create a platform for myself individually.”
As with every Black Marble album, Stewart recorded, produced, and played everything you hear on Bigger Than Life using entirely analog gear, though the process was new. This time around, he wrote everything on his MPC and sequenced it live to his synths — only using the computer to record, not to create. “I try new approaches every time, which helps me stay engaged but also its kind of a trick I play on the creative side of my brain,” Stewart says. “Keeping one side of my mind busy on organizational creativity I think frees up the other side where the inspirational creativity comes from.””
"Another instalment of agro, ambience and head on rhythms on the Forwind catalogue coming from Distortion Of The Cell by Seasons (pre-din). The Manchester based artist is probably most commonly associated with his work in the ambient and drone fields having released a string of well received albums on his own Thy-Rec imprint, Mystery Sea and Type Recordings. Distortion of the Cell continues down the darker paths explored on his 2012 release Lesser and Still and 2017's hiatus ending Kill-Sweep.
The latest addition to the mysterious Mancunian’s catalogue is a varied release that takes in several stylistic approaches while remaining a coherent listen. Roughly half of the album is focused on a meld of post-punk and dingy club influenced beats propelling the atmospherics that range from warm and engaging to full throttle and abrasive. The beatless interludes and final stretch take in some more retrained ambience as well as some searing efforts in that cross section between drone and the warmer end of the noise spectrum. There's a thematic and musical twisting of the lines that hints at a corruption at source and of self, and if you're in a good mood an eventual dissolution in the soaring static."
Kepla frames his amorphous electronic noise collages in terms of myths and dreams on an excellent longform debut for Alien Jams.
“Yarn etches into patina Until each fibre thins, rusts. Kepla's debut full-length, and his first release for Alien Jams, is an album of two contrasting approaches to collage-making. Derived entirely from field recordings and salvaged audio collected from online sample libraries, Within The Gaze, A Shadhavar is an impressionistic statement inspired by narratives of alienation and ruin.
The title itself refers to the mythical creature Shadhavar, "whose horn of hollow branches sounded sweetness or discord depending on the direction of the wind." The album's two long-form pieces - “The Angel Is You” and “Latent Mirror” - are opposites on multiple levels. The opening track's cacophonous, full-spectrum sound is contrasted by the broad brushstrokes and the patient breaths on the second piece, and their themes - of “the ongoingness of life” and “a sense of resignation”, respectively - couldn't be more different. As a whole, they represent an astute aural meditation on perception, reality and our sense of belonging.”
Modern electronic music pioneer Peter Rehberg rubs a hybrid analogue/digital array the right/wrong way for the visceral thrills of ‘Get On’, his 4th solo album as Pita.
Landing squarely 20 years since ‘Get Out’, Pita’s influential solo debut LP proper, the 2018/19 recordings of ‘Get On’ see him perceptively inhabit and explore the uncanny valley between analog chaos and binary extremity with the same adventurous and inquisitive spirit that has informed all of his work: whether that’s solo; in collaboration with everyone from Mika Vainio, Charlemagne Palestine, Fennesz and Stephen O’Malley; thru to his improvised modular live sets, or his day job running the mighty Editions Mego label.
While Pita arguably made his name as a “laptop” musician in the mid ‘90s, pushing his machines to breaking point alongside the likes of Farmer’s Manual and Russell Haswell, he now favours a more tactile modular set-up that gives him more haptic freedom and uncertainty for live performance, which he has smartly incorporated into ‘Get On.’ The five tracks still bristle with caustic tang in the way we’ve come to expect and adore, but there’s now a nervier jumpiness and live-wire tension to his creations that feels as though he’s getting better to grips with a sort of cyborgian syntax and sonic language.
As always with Pita releases, rhythm is key. It’s exhilaratingly unstable in the combustible fireworks ‘AMFM’ and the tendon-sparking syncopation of ‘Frozen Jumper’, which soon enough introduces the other vital element of his sound; sheer caustic noise. As one of the artists to refine the idea of “noise” at its widest parameters, the glorious tonal abstraction of his following album centrepiece ‘Two Top Five’ can heard as one of 2019’s definitive noise statements, while ‘Aching Moth Pool’ is also one of the year’s most compelling expositions of rhythmic noise. However, if you really want to know where his head is at, the 15 minute ‘Motivation’ yields a transfixing, hallucination of spaces beyond common conception that evince the fact Pita is surely one of the visionary composers of his generation.
ANAMAI is the experimental folk project of Anna Mayberry and David Psutka (aka EGYPTRIXX).
"The music is naked and exquisitely personal, threatening banality, but mainly an embrace of the commune. Dramatic and confidential anthems of divine insignificance. Across three studio albums the project has explored the nature of intimacy with tiny confessions released into vast lakes of sound. Simple songs punctuated by clusters of detail. The project is built on contradictions: traditional yet modern; miniscule yet infinite; proud but deflated. Something for everyone and nothing to no one."
An album of new versions of classic tracks by a classic band – and yet so much more besides. Formed in Amsterdam in 1980, Minimal Compact were part of the original post-punk explosion. The band developed a unique mix of propulsive rhythms, spacious basslines, rich keyboard textures, mesmeric guitar lines, and vocal melodies with a Middle-Eastern inflection. They sounded like nothing that had gone before.
"Now they have reconvened, together with producer and long-time collaborator Colin Newman (Wire), to finally capture their music in its true brilliance. Several of the band’s signature songs have been re-recorded using a mix of live recordings and studio tooled performances. The result is an album that radiates vitality and class.
Highlights include live favourite ‘Statik Dancin’’ with its barbed hooks and irresistible groove. The bright, tender optimism of ‘My Will’ is especially moving, with Spigel’s vocal at the fore. Then there is ‘Take Me Away’, with its tightly coiled hypnotic guitar lines edging towards mania. The album climaxes with a brand new song, ‘Holy Roller’"
Psychedelic sprite Ka Baird chases her criminally slept-on ‘Sapropelic Pycnic’ LP with a deeply attractive follow-up of lysergic visions for RVNG Intl., paying extra focus to the rhythmic tics that made her solo debut LP such a surprising and enduring highlight of our listening pile.
Perhaps better known in her folksier guise of Sapropelic Pycnic (yep, same name as her solo debut album), Kathleen Baird has found an extraordinary musical voice under her birth name. Seamlessly combining instrumental touches of woodwind, vocals and percussion with supple electronic FX, she effortlessly prods the pineal with sparingly pointillist jabs arranged in crisp and cryptically geometric patterns that will be recognised by all psychonauts and card carrying trippers for their worldly capacity to hypnotise, enchant and transport listeners to *that* other place.
Fans of everyone from Breadwoman to Joan La Barbera and Decimus need to check this one, pronto!
‘Radum Calls, Radum Calls’ is Sean O’Hagan’s second solo album. His first came out in 1990, titled ‘High Llamas’. Nearly 30 years down that nonce-was road, 10-12 albums of the extreme pleasures that High Llamas song craft and sonic obsessions have provided (counting a comp and a remix record), here’s Sean again, with his second solo opus. Sean continues to modify, adjust, turn and amend aspects of his unswaying beliefs to produce sound fresh and new.
"In the past decade there have been two High Llamas albums. During that time, Sean’s day job has largely been in the studio, arranging and producing with other outfits - most recently, Mount Kimbie, Fryars, James Righton from Klaxons and Hockney. The ways of the new generation are reflected in the mix of ‘Radum Calls, Radum Calls’, with bold latest obsessions side by side with the grand old traditions. As the parts old and new rotate inevitably back and forth in cyclical perfection, we are reminded of the beauty and craftmanship of the old cuckoo clocks; an ingenuity of cogs and gears to express perfect time as entertainingly as possible. Threaded in with exquisite melodies are hardpunching drum sounds, low rumbling synths, an extra-sharp dubby sound-design for percussion. In moments of this concision of old and new, Sean’s goal is honestly to conjure a new musical language.
Sean’s approach to lyrics reaches for the deft, tongue-in-cheek understatement of a LeCarre or a Philip K. Dick - and as fantasia melts into social portraiture into out-there sci-fi, we discover some of Sean’s most toothsome topics - ‘The Paykan (Laili’s Song)’ tells the story of one of the Shah’s servants masking a dash for freedom at the dawn of the Islamic revolution in 1979 Iran. ‘Spoken Gem’ and ‘Candy Clock’ use the lyric interventions of Sean’s former Microdisney vocal-partner Cathal Coughlan to free-associate the listener into fantastic, elastic, unknowable worlds."
After 5 years on the downlow, Teebs returns with a 4th album of dusty ambient and dream-pop themes mixed with soulful hip hop for Brainfeeder
“The wait is finally over for new music by Teebs, aka Mtendere Mandowa. It’s been 5 years since his last body of work, but 25 October will mark the release of his next full length album “ Anicca”. With the help of a host of musical friends including Panda Bear (Animal Collective), Sudan Archives, Ringgo Ancheta aka MNDSGN, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Anna Wise, daydream Masi, Former Boy, Pink Siifu, Jimetta Rose and Thomas Stankiewicz, the 4 7 minute LP fuses Teebs’ signature bright and fluid productions with the grounded and colorful elements of his collaborators.”
New on Music From Memory: an expanded, first-time reissue of Ruins’ rare experimental ’84 salvo, corkscrewing away from new wave pop into sci-fi abstraction, knackered drum machines and microtonal drone. Original copies trade for stupid money - this one has a bonus 7” of shimmering gems to sweeten the deal!
“Piergiuseppe Ciranna & Alessandro Pizzin first conceived the "Sound and Image Research" series back in the early '80s, when they were involved in various multimedia projects in art galleries and unique exhibition spaces across Italy. In 1984 Ciranna and Pizzin came across the works of Italian artist Luigi Viola, a painter whose work was already known internationally and who was active in galleries worldwide. When the opportunity arose for the three to come together it quite naturally led to the creation and production of the album Marea/Tide; a record not only inspired by the work of Viola but evolved in symbiosis. It was to be the first and sadly the only volume in Ruins’ “Sound Image Series”.
‘Marea/Tide’ was released in early autumn 1984 and showcased on November 24th of the same year at an exciting one-off event, alongside exhibitions of the works and listening sessions at the well-known Villa Sagredo in Venice. Further showcases were performed at galleries across Italy by the duo alongside Viola’s art. The records, for the large part, being available solely at those events.
The first (and only) print of the album was limited to 600 copies, 200 of which also included an original screen-print of two different works by Luigi Viola; ‘Cuore veneziano/Venetian Heart’, numbered and signed by the artist. Due to poor management and disagreements with the label which produced the record, 300 copies were held for many years in storage and then later sadly destroyed, and ‘Marea/Tide’ disappeared almost completely without trace.”
The quietly visceral grip of ’Epistasis’ forms the keenly awaited follow-up to Maria W Horn’s ‘Kontrapoetik’, one of the most striking LPs of 2018. Rising to acclaim in recent years as part of a wave of artists exploring organ music in proximity to electro-acoustic techniques (namely her Hästköttskandalen bandmates Ellen Arkbro and Kali Malone), Sweden’s Maria W Horn has distinguished her compositions with a refined taste for black metal and minimalism.
On her follow-up to 'Kontrapoetik', Maria strips it all right back to keys and electronics in ‘Epistasis’ with haunting results that get right under the skin with a slow burning grasp of dramaturgy and precise tintinnabulation that leaves us mesmerised. Working with a 9-piece ensemble of strings and organ, Maria draws specifically on the sound and harmonic structures of early ‘90s doom and blvck metal in her majestic title track, where she pairs live string quartet with an electronically adapted counterpart to stately, anthemic effect, while ‘Konvektion’ takes a more low-key route to higher frequencies directly inspired by Arvo Pärt, leaving a glistening ringing in the ears as the result of two organists meeting in mid-air, neatly described by her label as “[combining] the subtle gravity of Phill Niblick’s work with the theatricality of Anna von Hausswolff’s organ pieces.”
The other half of the album is taken by two parts of ‘Interlocked Cycles’, which perhaps see the biggest shift from her previous records. Between the nightfall-on-the-plateau feel of Part 1’s pairing of keys and tidal subbass oscillations, and the midnight fugue of Part 2, which sounds like a corpse-painted Sarah Davachi piece, Maria hauntingly plays her part in evolving the emergent scenius of new, minimalist composition.
Emotionally tender ambient and IDM beats from Norway’s PAN-AL, debuting on R&S’s moody sibling, Apollo. RIYL Bjarki, Astrobotnia, Plaid
“"Starting this year, I re-discovered music making in a sense, as a channel for inner vision and method of connecting with oneself, at a time when I was doing a lot of thinking," Alexander explains. "I kind of just let things flow without a plan or agenda, and the result was this EP. "
PAN-AL's music is based around the core wash of ethereal synth pads and plangent synth melodies, bolstered by tastefully glitching beats that call to mind Selected Ambient Works dreamy rave atmosphere: "Combining light and soft synths with more intense beats adds contrast and interesting dynamics," Thorstvedt enthuses. "There's an androgynous character to it all."
A dedicated advocate of minimalism, Thorstvedt ensured that each song was constructed of a restricted number of elements, going as low as four tracks for the dreamlike opener 'Jár'. The beautiful simplicity is contrasted with layers of growling distortion which Thorstvedt marks out as a key technique: "Adding that bit of grit can really make sounds come alive and behave somewhat unpredictably."
With more PAN-AL music planned as well collaborations with other local creatives, the future looks bright for Alexander; "With this EP, I feel things are coming from a very natural place," Thorstvedt muses. "At least for my own sake, I find some calmness or escape in the PAN-AL music that is soothing. If other people can feel the same, that's amazing and humbling."
Unexpected, and ace, electronic deconstruction and rearrangements of acoustic jazz recordings from Berlin’s Grischa Lichtenberger on the very unjazzy Raster label. Somehow sounds like everyone from Shit & Shine to Squarepusher, Carl Stone and Patten.
“Grischa Lichtenberger's music stands for broken rhythms, for high-density manipulations that emphasize the digital and fractal nature of its working process. A mindset that grew closer to contemporary jazz in recent years. Since free jazz, this genre also sought to overcome musical standards and looked for possibilities of an individual artistic expression. Within this context, the collaboration between Lichtenberger and jazz saxophonist Philipp Gropper as well as the resulting album are documents of this development. It also offers both musicians the opportunity to expand their familiar environment by breaking with expectations. The foundation for Re: phgrp were pieces from the album Consequences by Philipp Gropper's band PHILM which Lichtenberger reinterpreted without giving up their original character. He rather looked for figures, subjects, and reference points in the compositions to reflect and condense them. As Consequences was recorded with all the instruments in one room at the same time (like a classical jazz recording from the 1950s), the extraction of individual instruments was a challenge which Lichtenberger took up with shifts, distortions, and rearrangements of the original temporality of the material. Except for a few synthesizer sounds and an additional piano recording, he remained largely true to the source material, even though the tracks develop their own unique voice throughout the album. Re: phgrp (reworking consequences by philipp gropper's philm) will be released in cooperation with Whyplayjazz in a limited edition of 500 CDs. The cover was screen printed and shows a compositional notation by Grischa Lichtenberger. The album marks the beginning of an encounter between Lichtenberger and Gropper that promises to continue in joint improvisational concert situations and further recordings in the future.”
Previously unreleased, scintillating free jazz from François Tusques’ archive circa 1969-71, documenting a pivotal period of creativity in post ’68 Paris around the time of Tusques’ classic sides for Shandar. The last track ‘Tout Le Pouvoir Au Peuple!’ is a cranky percussive belter!
“After "Le Nouveau Jazz" was released in early 1967, I worked for two years with Bernard Vitet, Beb Guérin and a few other friends on a happening loosely based on Lewis Carroll's "The Hunting Of The Snark". There was a strong element of theater to it and we presented it in playhouses, museums, public places, institutions... It never made it to wax and I gave up on the idea soon after when Sunny Murray and Alan Silva showed up in Paris in late 1968. I had meant to upend the conventions of performance with this happening: now I was fully part of a similar revolution, the "New Music", with its very originators.
Nevertheless, the "Snark" adventure was never over, and the bands I co-directed still used the musical themes (and methods) we had developped for the project. The headlines for the performances and the name of the band itself were still lifted from “fantastique fiction” works: for instance we performed as the "Boojum Consort" and used the title of the present LP was used several times at festivals. The music enclosed here is heavily indebted to Free Jazz but also retains various elements of the former happening (for instance I also play saw, marimba and organ and stray away from jazz references). My famous Shandar and "Dazibao" albums are partially made up of the same material and were recorded at the same period/momentum which lasted roughly from the Spring of 1969 to late 1971 when I started to distance myself from free music. The final macabre incarnation of this work was the show "Who Killed Albert Ayler?" whose political content stirred controversy. Gérard Terronès considered recording it, he even advertized it, but again nothing materialized.
We found these recordings in my basement. The old reels and cassettes were unmarked or the cases (and sadly some of the music) damaged by time, water and rats! To the best of my recollections, and from posters and advertising of the events, the artists who took part in the 1969-1971 concerts who make up this record are Ronnie Beer, Joseph Déjean, Claude Delcloo, Earl Freeman, Beckie Friend, Eddy Gaumont, Beb Guérin, Noel McGhie, Jouck Minor, Barre Phillips, Aldo Romano, Alan Silva, Kenneth Terroade, Jacques Thollot and Bernard Vitet. Who, when, where (American Center quite often), exactly, I can't say. Some of them are probably not even featured here. But maybe that's for the best, as we can now focus on the spirit of the times.
Mexico City’s keen-eared Umor Rex illuminate Sol Oosel’s physical, emotive style of synthesis for the latest addition to their swelling catalogue of great work by everyone from Kara-Lis Coverdale to Rafael Anton Irisarri.
“Sol Oosel presents an album with a complex mixture of tones and structures, striking a close relation between a sort of devotional music and a trancelike state. Beyond his own specific exploration of the possibilities of electronic modular synthesis, Sol Oosel searches for hacks in different states of consciousness by way of sound.
En allégeance à l'inconnaissable - Une étude en chorégraphie pour le flux d'énergie is meant as a musical aid for visualizing the ability to dance with and manipulate attainable flows of energy. Largely produced using modular synthesizers and the Roland SH-09, Sol Oosel stretches beyond the fields of ambient music, adding a special sense of drama to this psychoactive journey. Each song is built around solid structures and infused with a mystical atmosphere. Harmonically, this album is close to Hans-Joachim Roedelius' early works; it is emotionally positive, informed by pop nuances that are rarely found in this type of ambient music. Sol Oosel also owes to the works of Klaus Schulze; however, while Schulze was concerned with space and made music of the unknown but conceivable cosmos in his mind, Sol Oosel is more interested in Earth and the force that weighs us down in this complex physical reality. His music speculates on the relationships between inner and outer worlds. En allégeance à l'inconnaissable... is a soundscape and a choreographic exercise for relaxation, intentionally disrupted by "Here (Au Bord De L'Univers)", a deconstructive piece covered in multiple layers of repetition, progressive beats and kosmische pulsation which detours from the flow. In a way, it represents the bridge between all these cosmic and earthly energies.
This is Sol Oosel’s debut on Umor Rex. He previously self-released the album Janus, and was member of several bands and projects before focusing in Sol Oosel. He lives in the rural village of Tepoztlán, México, where he works as an artist, performer, sculptor, sonic landscaper, and dancer.”
Michael Gira and an epic caravan of players (Ben Frost, The Necks, Baby Dee, Anna and Maria Von Hausswolff ++) head for the horizon in Swans’ 15th studio album. Gira’s vocals rasp with muzzled ennui, while the music keeps in tow, striking on widescreen themes of big country Americana with typically discerning production.
“SWANS Leaving Meaning is the band’s fifteenth studio album, the follow up to 2016’s The Glowing Man. Written and produced by Michael Gira, the album features contributions from recent and former Swans, members of Angels of Light as well as Anna and Maria von Hausswolff, Ben Frost, The Necks, Baby Dee and Jennifer Gira.
Michael Gira explains, "Leaving Meaning is the first Swans album to be released since I dissolved the lineup of musicians that constituted Swans from 2010 – 2017. Swans is now comprised of a revolving cast of musicians, selected for both their musical and personal character, chosen according to what I intuit best suits the atmosphere in which I’d like to see the songs I’ve written presented. In collaboration with me, the musicians, through their personality, skill and taste, contribute greatly to the arrangement of the material. They're all people whose work I admire and whose company I personally enjoy."
Dread-filled grey area techno incursions by Japan’s Lemna for the Horo empire
Previously appearing as a vocalist on Naibu records, Lemna has more recently forged her own style of murkily fluid grey area techno that dovetails with Horo’s interests in this realm.
One of two sibling 12”s, Lemna’s ‘Retrocausality: A Priori’ spells out her sound in four parts, diffracting a dank negative energy between the viscous bass and cavernous space of ‘Nature of Karma’ and the nagging, monotone techno rolige of ‘Sattva’ on the front, then condensing that bad vibe into the pendulous writhe and clanking buoy sounds of ‘Bardo’ and, ultimately, the pooling in the strange physics of ‘Thusness’ with its percolated bass textures and haphazard, sparking percussion.
Nerve-riding, dread-filled grey area techno incursions by Japan’s Lemna for the Horo empire
‘Retrocausality: A Posteriori’ is the sibling 12” to the ‘Retrocausality: A Priori’ session, and is distinguished by a generally sharper focus on wriggling technoid rhythms over the other 12”s textural, spatial sensibilities.
The A-side gets into gear with foreboding, coruscating drones and smudged guitar riffs underlined by sluggish bass in ’Supervoid’, and soon finds its dancing feet in the hotcoal-stepping gait and wigged-out synth impulses of ‘Flatland’, which recalls Konono No.1 playing in Indonesia, while the B-side’s ‘Platonia’ unravels a knot of supple bass prods in wickedly tumbling asymmetry, and ‘Tesseract’ wraps up with a mighty battery of thrumming EBM arps and needle-point percussion in a highly distinguished style.
"Sleepmoss is a romantic eulogy to autumn and winter. A time for peaceful inner reflection, amidst the backdrop of British woodlands, dramatic skies and "turbulent storms. Finding peace with mental health and being mindful of the beauty in death and endings.”
"'Sleepmoss', the second album from Meemo Comma a.k.a. Brighton-based producer Lara Rix-Martin, is an adventurous, unusual and very contemporary sonic take on the impact of landscape. It’s a kind of storytelling, inspired by the shifting landscapes of her daily walks with her dog on the South Downs.
Discussing her under-the-radar debut album 'Ghost on the Stairs' with Aimee Cliff at The Fader in 2017, she noted how she is “drawn to eerie sounds in my work.” This fascination remains on 'Sleepmoss' but the context has changed from the interior and inwards gaze to a much wider, wilder viewpoint. Lara describes her new record as being “about getting lost in the sumptuous divinity of the dark months in Britain. It is in many ways the opposite reflection of 'Ghost on the Stairs' which was about internal processing of sounds, specifically human speech. The last album was almost an exorcism of issues troubling me but this album is about the glory of solitude and the richness of romance that can be found in nature.”
‘Sleepmoss’ challenges us to rethink our perceptions of the “pastoral” and to look at nature afresh with new eyes. For not only are the landscapes around us an escape: much more lies there, it's this turbulence we need to find peace with, and Sleepmoss grapples with the physicality of the landscape in a fresh and intuitive way.
Rix-Martin notes “Musically, we have never truly embraced rugged landscapes in their full glory and I felt this when I thought about the many different composers over the centuries, their work seemed uptight and far too human in scale. For instance Vaughan Williams had unquestionably beautiful moments in The Lark Ascending, but it's too clean, too controlled. I wanted to channel a take on classical music that was hyper-real, focusing on letting the elements speak to us, not the other way around.”
A visual influence is J.M.W. Turner - “his work with changing light and storms that are raw and expressive.” and the abstract way in which Turner boldly revealed both horror and beauty (some would say “reality”) is reflected in the sonic approach throughout Sleepmoss.
The album’s timeline starts out with summer's end, and the feeling of the air changing. Within this timeline, Rix-Martin describes the drama of her songs as visual stories. “The sounds around us are totally different depending on the season, I always assumed it was to do with the change in water vapour and heat in the air. Summer is much too high pitched and spiky.” To pull out a couple of our favourites, the songs 'Night Rain' and 'Murmur' are “the story of predator and prey, death and life, one fortifying the other while a storm rumbles. The next morning the woods are clear birds sing in the breeze from the night’s storm.”
‘Sleepmoss’ captures not only a unique perspective on nature but like nature itself, reflects the shifting times we live in. As Rix-Martin points out, Nature is often seen as “something to be controlled, neatened, conquered.” Sleepmoss interprets and admires nature in all its glory.”
This Instant classic solo debut of smoky vocal introspection and 808 heartbeats by Jonnine Standish (HTRK) really did stick in our head like nothing else in 2019. Featuring co-production from Nathan Corbin and guest input by Nigel Yang (HTRK), Conrad Standish (CS + Kreme), and Mona Ruijs, it's a properly stunning EP that comes with a massive recommendation if yr feeling Chromatics, Leslie Winer, HTRK...
Resoundingly adored for her ice cool poise and penetrative lyrics in noirish dub-pop duo HTRK, Jonnine's music has long provided a timeless, classic antithesis to modernity. She is a rare, anachronistic spirit within contemporary music and brings a signature sense of restraint and class to ’Super Natural’; her debut suite of solo recordings channelling the sass of Twin Peaks’ Audrey Horne as much as Leslie Winer’s elegant, druggy proto trip pop.
Recorded between Peru, Hawaii, and Jonnine’s native Australia, ‘Super Natural’ unfolds a succinct grimoir where she acts as liminal interpreter for immanent devotions that divine a poetic and romantic sense of mystery from the everyday. Encouraged by her therapist, who urged her to explore a solo identity for years, she here gives a confessional voice to ambiguous inner guides that have helped to prompt some of her best songwriting, as found here and on HTRK’s recent ‘Venus In Leo’ album.
In the deliciously woozy low pressure system of her opener ‘You’re Wanting It To Go This Way’, those spirits instinctively lead her down a path of self-reflective nihilism accentuated with curdled guitar and a thumping 808 heartbeat, before her partner and collaborator Conrad Standish (CS + Kreme) supplies backing vocals that tenderly accentuate the knackered tristesse of ‘I Don’t Seem Myself Tonight’, which is also buoyed by Mona Ruijs’ subtly plangent gong tones.
But it’s HTRK’s other half Nigel Yang that most distinctively underlines Jonnine’s mantric lyrics about the push/push of love in ‘You Can Leave The Vampires’ with patented, pensile sensuality in a manner we've honestly become totally obsessed with, before the EP shores up with ‘Scorpio Rises Again’, an instant classic framing Jonnine against stalking, plucked bass, finger-clicks and whistle by Conrad Standish, a denouement surely worthy of a closing scene in the next Lynch.
Formidable dark ambient se’er Deathprod returns like a rare comet with the keeling “anti-fascist ritual” of ‘Occulting Disk’ - his first solo album in over 15 years - offering a life-affirming warning to the power of negative energy.
Proceeding 2004’s canonical classic ‘Morals And Dogma’, the Norwegian sound design auteur here gathers his uniquely dematerialised productions made in Oslo, Cologne, and L.A. between 2012-2019 under the auspices of an “anti-fascist ritual.” While it’s tricky to identify how that admirable intent relates directly to the music, it’s safe to say that ‘Occulting Disk’ at the least suggests an ideally brooding headspace for reflection on that pressing topic, and, for that matter, whatever else is fuelling one’s existential angst.
Practically picking up where he left us at ‘Cloudchamber’, the incredible closing track on 2004’s ‘Morals And Dogma’, with ‘Occulting Disk’ Deathprod develops his mastery of elemental sonics with the vision of someone who has accessed an atavistic, arcane source of knowledge or energy. Working like an alchemist with his custom-built AudioVirus system, he divines and relays a deep sensorial clarity from a near-permanent state of occlusion, seemingly sharing the visions of a man who has spent the past decade growing his beard on an unforgiving mountaintop amid never-shifting clouds, but who can see clearer than anyone scurrying about, miles below.
Opening with the fog horn blasts of ‘Disappearance/Reappearance’ to continue a core Deathprod theme, the album’s seven ‘Occultation’ parts unfold in a series of dissonant aeolian synth howls that cast Helge Sten’s magick at its most elusive and yet present, tending as carefully to the music’s noisy pinnacles as to its deathly lacunæ, with the potential to turn your body into a massive resonating vessel until his incredible ‘Occultation 6’, and then dissolve your atoms into iridescence on ‘Occultation 7.’ And that all seems like preparation for the Copernican revelation of ‘Black Transit of Jupiter’s Third Satellite’, where he practically immanentizes the eschaton in a jaw-dropping display of electro-acoustic abstraction.
For both new lambs and long-time disciples alike, ‘Occulting Disk’ is an unmissable jump-off point into supernatural, metaphysical dimensions, and one of those rare records that really puts everything else into perspective in light of its radical nature.