Ben Carey is a Sydney-based saxophonist, composer and technologist. His practice is profoundly informed and extended by technology, through the creation of audio-visual works, the development of his interactive performance software: _derivations and more recently, his fixation on modular synthesis.
"Ben's work is driven by a fascination with the symbiotic relationships that develop between human and machine in composition and performance. His work has been performed and exhibited at numerous national and international festivals including the Huddersfield Festival of Contemporary Music (UK), the dBâle electronic music festival (Switzerland), the New York City Electronic Music Festival (USA), IRCAM Live @ La Gaité Lyrique (France), the Festival de Mùsica Electroacùstica (Chile), the International Computer Music Conference (Australia) and the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression (USA, UK and Australia).
He is also a serial collaborator, working regularly with artists/ ensembles such as Zubin Kanga, Joshua Hyde, Ollie Bown (Tangents), Sonya Holowell, Kusum Normoyle, Alon Ilsar, Sydney Chamber Opera and others. Ben completed a PhD in interactive musical composition in 2016 and currently teaches and researches in the department of Composition and Music Technology at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney.
‘The three pieces on this record are the result of live interactions with complex and unwieldy networks of electricity, realised on a small eurorack modular synthesiser system in the studio sometime between late 2017 - mid 2018. Over the past few years this instrument has become a core part of my musical practice. For me, working with a modular synthesiser is about experiencing musical composition as an interactive process, where the lines between sound design, composition and improvisation are enticingly hazy.
The first two pieces are edited from longer improvised sessions on the instrument. ‘Peaks’ evolves from a single, restless microtonal line into a sea of metallic resonances and unstable bass snarls. Named after the Danish physicist Søren Absalon Larsen, the second work explores a gestural language based around audio-feedback, the acoustic phenomenon he discovered. Feeding the outputs of filters, oscillators and amplifier circuits back into their inputs, ‘Larsen’ exploits the resultant textural, timbral and rhythmic instability of these chaotic vibrations. Finally, the long-form improvisation ‘Networks Articulated’ drives relentlessly forward through active surface textures to arrive at a monolithic, suspended noise-scape woven from un-synced oscillators, swirling filters and crackling analog noise.’ - Ben Carey.
Steeply mystic/deeply cheesy (you decide) ambient, tribal and jazz hybrids from 1990 Germany, resurfacing on vinyl for the 1st time via Australia’s Isle of Jura. Private press/Library/soundtrack vibes abound on this one, spilling into zones also explored by Stroom
“The next official reissue is the sought after LP from Zann originally released as a private press in 1990. 'Strange Ways / Inside Jungle' has become something of a leftfield holy grail in recent years with copies changing hands for upwards of 150 Euros. The LP has middle Eastern instrumentation at its core particularly wind & string instruments such the Tabla and Gong, but is a melting pot of influences incorporating elements of Ambient, Jazz & Krautrock with strong synth programming on a number of tracks.
Zann started life as a 7-member live band in 1982. Founder member Udo Winkler had been a part of New Wave & Post Punk band Konec touring extensively and releasing one LP on Polydor titled ‘Schrille Blitze’. Zann was an outlet for more experimental works heavily influenced by Brian Eno's collaborations with David Byrne and Jon Hassell, German bands like Embryo and Dissidenten, David Sylvian and middle & far eastern music.
In 1988 Udo and Hjalmer Karthaus built a small basement studio with a 4 track tape machine and musical experiments began in earnest. After the limitations of playing live it was an acoustic wonderland and they gave themselves no musical boundaries. The unlimited studio time meant they could pick up ideas and develop pieces gradually, friends would come to the studio to play and songs evolved from extensive jamming sessions. Upon completion of the LP in 1990 the band pressed up a handful of copies and sold them exclusively at record fairs in Germany.”
Manny’s premier singjay/MC/toaster, Fox puts his name on top a classy debut album brimming with production by a close-knit set of collaborators: Sinjin Hawke, Famous Eno, Gafacci, Epic B, Zed Bias, SNØW, Equiknoxx, Murder He Wrote, Toddla T, Sharda, Finn, Anz, RTKal, Coco, Trigga & Shanique Marie
Perhaps best known for marshalling the monthly Swing Ting dance at Soup Kitchen, Fox is also a member of the Levelz crew and his vocals have appeared on countless recordings by everyone from Marcus Intalex to Zed Bias and Dub Phizix over the past 10 years. His debut LP ‘Juice Flow’ is primed as the ideal showcase of Fox’s versatility, proving his mutable ability to match any tempo and vibe (within reason) bar for bar and style for style under the dancehall spectra.
A fully-rounded and enjoyable album in its own right, ‘Juice Flow’ is bound to be prized for its big dancefloor highlights. His long-time brethren Swing Tign serve silky vibes for the plush opener ‘Day Ones’, while he plays a sweet foil to Trigga’s badboy bars on the sticky bashment ace ‘Imagine’, produced by SNØW & Zed Bias, and Equiknoxx’s Gavsborg really brings out his Jamaican heritage for the cold, hypnotic pressure of ‘Somewhere in Poland’, and you can trust his hook-up with Sharda (Murlo) on the speed garage burner ‘Hotline’ will retain its heat ’til next summer and beyond.
Charmingly fruity Japanese house from Shinichiro Yokota, a regular spar with Soichi Terada on Far East Recording, who comes with a similar sort of deep dancefloor suss.
“Shinichiro Yokota: “In the late 80s my obsession towards House music began and the biggest influence I had was through Soichi Terada. I went to his house almost every week, and watched him perform his magic with synthesizers, samplers, and sequencers. I soon learned how to use them as well and started producing a variety of tracks. Many of the tracks produced during this time were released on CD or vinyl through ‘Far East Recording’. This project ‘Ultimate Yokota’ is a careful selection of tracks from the early 90’s which haven’t been released on vinyl ever. It is my 30 years chronicle. ‘TOKYO 018’ is a track Soichi and myself collaborated on for the first time in 15 years. Not all the tracks on this record where produced with Soichi, but it’s safe to say that all my tracks have been influenced by and ‘created’ together with him.
Soichi Terada: ‘’Amongst the 90's Japanese house music that’s been re-evaluated in recent years, many people are highly recognizing "Do It Again". One thing that comes to my mind which I contribute to this song's producer, Shinichiro Yokota, is the excitement and cheers of the audience when I perform it in my live show. With just 7 notes of refrain making the dance floor really pop up. Thanks to that I had the opportunity to do over 120 live shows in various European cities. Many people mistakenly think "Do It Again" is a Soichi Terada's production because of the wrong credits on YouTube, but at least those of you who love this record will be reaffirming the beautiful sound that Shinichiro Yokota is creating. And Shinichiro Yokota, you "Did It Again"! That's what you are feeling.’’”
Vital reissue of Chris & Cosey's fourth album proper, 'Exotica', fully remastered by Chris Carter. Originally released in 1987 and pretty much unavailable on vinyl ever since, 'Exotica' sees a slight shift into more club-friendly EBM/Electro, especially with the definitively anthemic title track which has since become the duo's calling card as much as anything else they've released.
In the likes of 'Dancing On Your Grave' or the flashy machine funk of 'Beatbeatbeat' we can also hear clear precedents for the likes of Autre Ne Veut and Twins, but we should remember that all the technology that went into these tracks was totally cutting edge at the time, from samplers to new digital synths and drum machines, lending this LP a timely sense of dedicated futurism. The exotika of the title can be felt in the cyber-sensuous Latin percussion and haunting synths of 'Dr. John (Sleeping Stephen)' and equally the simulated fourth world ambience of 'Irama', firmly enhancing its milestone status for dark and unexplained 80s electronics and dance music in general.
Class new batch of low-key dance & pop cover versions by Nathan Jenkins (Bullion) and friends including Camila Fuchs, Georgia, Jovial, Kreme, Nathan Micay, C.A.R. and more
Proceeding from Jenkins’ loveably daft remix of the Blue Peter theme, the ‘4 Down’ set lives up to his Deek label motto “Pop, not slop!” in 11 parts sequenced to get under the skin and leave silvery ohrwurm trails inside your lugs.
Tasking each artist with “singing a song you wish you’d written”, the results return canny highlights in Bullion’s own dancehall/reggaeton-toned production for Joviale’s take on ‘Storm’ by Rare Silk, his lean groove for Westerman’s Arthur Russell-esque cover of ‘Kathy’s Song’ by Paul Simon, and Nautic’s gauzily harmonised flip of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Only Over You’, while other highlights come in Kreme’s bittersweet spin on ‘Missing You’ by Larry Heard, and the strung out System Olympia take on Mazzy Star’s ‘Fade Into You.’
Super sweet South African jive from the style’s royalty, The Mahotella Queens, surveying the dawn of electrified mbaqanga vibes circa 1964, all remastered from original tapes and dusted down for posterity
“The 1966 debut album from the legendary Mahotella Queens and the very first LP on the iconic MOTELLA label. "Not long ago - about two years - the country was swept by a craze for a fantastic new kind of jive. First presented and popularised by The Mahotella Queens, it shows no signs of decreasing - in fact it gets bigger and bigger with the release of each new "Queens" record. Demonstrating the dance all over the country, The Mahotella Queens (not to forget their "King", Mahlathini Nkabinde) have become the idols of the young "with it" crowd. Growing from original "Jive Motella" many other fads and variations have recently hit the scene - all of them introduced and demonstrated by The Queens and their King: Jive Mgqashiya (which is available on MO 33 and, incidentally, is named after the word meaning the Bantu traditional way of dancing), Jive Jibav (on MO 50) and most recently a wild, crazy jive called 'S'modern.'
The charm, vivacity and ultra-modern, go-ahead spirit of these vital young artists fully deserves to have captivated the country. Ever since they started, back in Johannesburg in 1963, their fame has been growing by leaps and bounds. Today they have no equal in their field. But although they are the ones who glory in all the limelight, they owe an enormous debt to the "man behind the scenes". He is the "brain" who guided, formed and trained the group - Rupert "Bops" Bopape."
Pharoah ‘Farrell’ Sanders (born 1940) is a leading figure in the world of jazz and one of the last living legends with connections to players like Sun Ra and John Coltrane. His tenor saxophone playing has earned him royal status amongst free jazz players, critics and collectors.
"Originally Sanders was interested in urban blues music, but his high school teacher exposed him to jazz and this took Farrell in an entirely new direction. Once completing high school Sanders quickly packed his belongings and headed to Oakland, where he got a chance to work with musicians of high caliber such as saxophone players Sonny Simmons and Dewey Redman (who were both later to be major forces in new jazz and free jazz). Soon the young Pharoah would meet John Coltrane and would feel being attracted to the life as a professional musician. By the early sixties Sanders moved to New York where the major jazz scene was happening. Here he’d spent most his time honing his skills at rehearsals with Sun Ra….sadly he was not making much money with the Arkestra and soon found himself living on the streets, trying to stay up all night playing and then scrounging for money during the day, often selling blood to eat.
Sanders recorded his debut album for ESP soon after, but it wasn’t until he started playing with his old friend John Coltrane that he would fully unleash the fury of his saxophone on the world of free jazz. The records Pharoah Sanders played on for Coltrane laid the foundation of what was to come for both the world of free jazz and for Sanders as a musician. After Coltrane’s tragic death Sanders would record further with Alice Coltrane, John’s widow, on the album Karma (1969 – Impulse!), which is universally accepted as Sanders’ masterpiece. Along with musicians Alice Coltrane and singer Leon Thomas, Sanders helped to create the genre of spiritual jazz.
By this point in his career & on the album we are presenting you today (Moon Child, recorded in 1989), Sanders had largely withdrawn from the kind of screeching avant-gardism on which he at first staked his reputation. Here Sanders plays with an all-star line-up consisting of Stafford James (Sun Ra) on bass, William Henderson (Roy Ayers) on piano, & Eddie Moore (Sonny Rollins) on drums. Moon Child, with its attractively spacy vocals, is reminiscent of the days of “The Creator Has a Master Plan,” and this mood is kept throughout the album and in the choice of cosmic tunes represented on it.
On this album the legendary saxophonist clearly reinvented himself as a more traditional improviser, capable of thoughtful and pensive deliberations. Catchy mystical New Age vocals, astrological references… Pharoah may remain an acquired taste, but few jazzmen can equal his unique formula of mastering the ‘groove’."
Chris & Cosey's 2nd album for Rough Trade, 'Trance' was originally released a year after their seminal 'Heartbeat' LP, in 1982.
The genius electronic auteur, Chris Carter, and the agent provocateur, Cosey Fanni Tutti moved into even darker territory with these eight tracks, using Chris's dynamic studio innovations and Cosey's notorious imagination to articulate unspoken feelings of darkest misanthropy.
The atmosphere of 'Trance' is unremittingly overcast and reassuringly darkside, from the cyber-tribal ritual sequences of 'The Giants Feet' and the immaculate electro sting of 'Impulse' to the opiated Arabesque 'The Gates Of Ancient Cities' maintaining a visceral tang and taste for the "other". Even when they go more poppy, like with Cosey's naif vocals and woozy cornet on 'Secret' or the jaunty gallop of 'Until', they're still ten shades shy of uplifting and pretty much define that feeling of dystopian futurism that so many look for in classic early '80s electro.
This really is one of the most future-thinking, incredibly produced and timeless artefacts from the early 80's cold-synth scene, and comes to you with our highest possible recommendation.
Originally released in 1984, Chris & Cosey's 3rd album proper 'Songs Of Love & Lust' contained two seminal moments in 'Driving Blind' and the timeless electronic thrill of 'Walking Through Heaven', both of which have cast a shadow of influence and inspiration on an entire generation of electronic artists and producers.
Both tracks became a staple of Goth and New Wave playlists, adopted as anthems as far afield as the gay clubs of Chicago, New York and Berlin and fairly defining the possibilities of new digital equipment for many. Deeper into the set we find chilling nursery pop like 'Lament' featuring an unnervingly plaintive Cosey performance, next to the caterwauling cod-oriental synths of 'Gardens Of The Pure' the vividly cinematic 'Raining Tears of Blood' and the cyber-sexual frisson of 'Tantalize'. This album should be considered a high priority purchase for any self-respecting electronic fiends who don't already own it.
Posthumous LP of lush Susumu Yokota sketches written around ‘The Boy And The Tree’ (2002), newly dusted down and issued to mark the 5th anniversary of his untimely departure.
Widely adored for his quintessential contributions to Japanese ambient electronica in the ‘90s and ‘00s, Susumu Yokota passed in 2015 after along battle with illness. His legacy is suitably sustained with ‘Cloud Hidden’, a lovely collection of 10 unfinished but charming works which are here adapted and remained by Jon Tye; proprietor of the Lo Recordings label behind many of Yokota’s most prized releases.
Following Mark Beazley of Rothko’s discovery of a DAT of sketches dating to before Yokota’s fan favourite ‘The Boy And The Tree’, Jon Tye has done his best to “honour the spirit and legacy of Yokota’s work by completing the tracks in a way which I thought he would approve”, resulting a 10 tracks suite that sensitively forms an illusive yet tangible bridge between the artist and his unfinished collection.
Working under a quote taken from Alan Watts’ book ‘Cloud-Hidden, Whereabouts Unknown’, the set comes together with a suitably dreamy resolution, drifting from frayed and gently febrile rhythm excursions to passages of schizoid carnival music and doom belch, and thru to Vangelis-like synth-brass scaping, desert-at-night guitar strums, and more psychedelic, pre-dawn ritual invocations.
“Daniel Pioro’s playing is the sound in my head when I write for the violin” Jonny Greenwood
"'Dust' is a collection of music for solo violin and electronics. Daniel describes the record as “a full exploration of the sound world a violin allows. The electronics meld with, lift, surpass and dance around the organic rawness of the strings. The piece is all my years of not conceding or diluting myself to the needs of others, compressed into one long musical expression. It is hope and birth and death and melancholy.”
A serial collaborator, album track Elsewhere was written for Pioro by renowned UK composer Edmund Finnis before its premiere at the Southbank Centre’s inaugural DEEP∞MINIMALISM Festival in 2015. Following a long period of close collaboration, Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood wrote Horror vacui, a solo violin concerto for Pioro and 68 strings, to be performed for the first time at the BBC Proms in September 2019. Pioro’s repertoire also includes contemporary composer Thomas Adès’ cosmic violin concerto, Concentric Paths. And through his close work with Icelandic composer and producer (and founder / creative director of Bedroom Community), Valgeir Sigurðsson, a partnership of mutually fruitful creativity has taken his deep, learned musicality still further, both in the studio and onstage.
It’s from this deep, resonant understanding of contrasting sound and frequencies and the balancing of a broad palette of textures and style that Dust arises. The stunning “Particles” bears witness to a dramatic staccato battle with powerful electronic spasms, before “Rest” provides a breath of hope and abandon. This isn’t a record that tugs at heart strings, but music that sears into the soul, finding more complex emotional relationships. Daniel’s music finds solace in the inexplicable parts of us, the scar tissue left when conflicting emotions collide, and the willingness to explore what haunts and comforts us, deep within.
Daniel Pioro is rapidly gaining recognition as one of the most groundbreaking violinists of his generation. Based in London and Edinburgh, he has performed as soloist with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic, the London Contemporary Orchestra, and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. His recording career has seen him collaborating with artists from different musical paths, and most recently he can be heard as soloist on Jonny Greenwood’s scores for Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master and Phantom Thread, and Jo Yeong-wook’s acclaimed soundtrack to the BBC’s adaptation of The Little Drummer Girl."
Riobamba gets her debut stripes with a killer trio of technoid dembow mutations for Apocalipsis - the label behind Kelman Duran’s amazing ‘13th Month’ LP
After doing the rounds of BR, Fact, Fader and DiscWoman mixes over the past few years, Riobamba burns thru with an efficiently lean and keen take on Afro-Latin rhythmic currencies; holding a tight line of escalating panic synth stabs and pelvic clockwork in the driving opener ‘Muerte’, along with the tumpin’, militant attack and scrappy-doo growls of ‘Inicio’, and what sounds like doing DMT in the middle of a Caribbean rave with ‘Grito.’
C & C's 'Heartbeat' is one of the holy grails of electronic music. Nearly 30 years after initial release, Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti's masterpiece is reissued on their CTI imprint, putting a mountain of recent dark/cold/new wave revisionism into much needed context.
The album was the first of C&C's post-Throbbing Gristle missives which would define the electro and synthpop underbelly of the 1980s and cast a towering shadow of influence over so much machine made music to come, from Juan Atkins and Drexciya to successive waves of synth music ever since.
'Heartbeat' established the duo outside of TG, further developing the careening sequencer settings which Carter had welded into the band, and feeding into a new wave of post-punk pop with uncompromising minimalist aesthetics and a darkly crooked intent. Between the sinister baroque paean 'This Is Me' and the foundational electro of the title track, these eleven tracks form a shadowy cornerstone of unterwelt electronic pop and dance music, and should be considered as creatively important as Kraftwerk's 'Computer World' or Human League's 'The Dignity Of Labour'.
Dub mutant Mars89 lights a rocket under Amy Becker’s Acrylic Records with two high-pressure rave steppers.
Following Mars89’s work on Louis Vuitton’s A/W19 campaign and his trio of shockout 12”s for Bokeh Versions, he comes straining at the chain on Acrylic’s first dip into the record industry, making for a logical transition from their club-night and “popular accessories brand” into a fully fledged label.
Both cuts are charged with the kind of rudeness one might expect to hear in an Amy Becker DJ set. ‘Successor Project’ is a merciless hardcore juggernaut ploughing the dance somewhere between original Reinforced jungle vibes and DJ Scud’s classic Yardcore pressure (check his remix of Nettle’s ‘Duende’), and surely takes no prisoner before ‘TX-55’ slows down but maintains the aggression in a rictus sort of junglist grime rollcage shot thru with whooping rave demons.
In advance of his London jazz don Kamaal Williams’ DJ-Kicks mix, three exclusive by the man, plus one from his bro Henry Wu
There’s an ace live version of his Miles Davis tribute ‘Snitches Brew’, the sanguine bliss of ’Shinjuku’, and the exclusive garage jazz stepper ‘Strings’, alongside the slinky tail feather of ‘Wivout U’ by Henry Wu.
Aquarian and Deapmash return as AQXDM for their Houndstooth debut EP ‘Infrared’.
"Written remotely from Berlin and Caen respectively, this five track EP expands on their now hallmark sound — hypnotic, big room, golden-era rave, 90s jungle and mind-bending techno n’ IDM filtered through a high-definition, cinematic lens. Massive kicks, quaking sub bass and blistering breakbeats converge with soaring atmospherics and throwback rave stabs in a wholly modern and heavy-as-hell package."
Debut LP from Daughter of Isabelle Antena, Penelope Antena.
"How could we describe multi-instrumentalist Penelope Antena ? From her Lo-Fi sounding EP ‘Down the Habit Hole “, to her soul infused duo “Honey Drips” with Swiss producer Deheb, to the fragile and tormented melodies of “33-1 Oak” her first single out on the new Parisian label Kowtow Records.
Penelope can proudly say she takes from her mother Isabelle Antena when it comes to cross musical genre. Though the commun thread between all the worlds she cleverly navigates, would definitely be her vocals. Experimenting instinctively with different techniques, Antena uses her voice as a harmonic lab of emotions. Sometimes intimate, sometimes haunted. Always Original.
Her first LP Antelope - entirely self-produced - comes as proof that the music she makes changes and evolves to perfectly match her personal story. After a painful heartache, Antena settles alone in her parents house, lost in the woods somewhere in the south of France. Surrounded by her grand father’s instrument (Marc Moulin- great Belgian Composer from the 70’s ) she writes this 10 tracks album field with melancholia and broken love. Like on the branches of the Cedars around her house, It’s a folky electronic breeze that hallows onto this record."
Visionary Italian composer and bass player Lorenzo Feliciati’s new album arises out of a long-sought after collaboration with Italian master percussionist and sound-designer Michele Rabbia.
"In Antikythera, named after the Greek 1st Century astronomical computation device discovered in a shipwreck early in the 20th Century, Feliciati and Rabbia coalesce studio improvisation with incredibly detailed post production work, to produce a ‘musical mechanism’ of rare elegance and precision, spanning a bridge between ecstatic electric jazz and exquisite soundscape design.
Special guests on Antikythera include trumpeter Cuong Vu, saxophonist Andy Sheppard, Italian pianists Rita Marcotulli and Alessandro Gwis and Feliciati’s Naked Truth and Mumpbeak bandmate, keyboardist Roy Powell."
Larry Gus releases a single alongside his ‘Subservient’ album, featuring ‘Kerkis (Judas-Tree)’ and ‘Foreign Steps’ from the same recording sessions as Subservient.
"Larry Gus (real name Panagiotis Melidis) returns to DFA with ‘Subservient’, his fourth release for the label. ‘Subservient’ sees more pop-oriented than his previous albums, a lush combination of “crisis funk pop and trad Mediterranean grooves.” Lyrics sung in Greek and English address Larry’s overwhelming struggles with being a father, husband, artist, and human in 2019. In the artist’s own words, this album is about “trying to understand empathy and act with it on everyday life,” as well as “the imperative of empathy above everything else.”
The music of Italian cellist Francesco Guerri obliterates the line between contemporary classical music and free improvisation, sculpting spontaneous invention into startling, unpredictable compositions.
"On his striking third album, Su Mimmi non si spara!, Guerri presents a dozen innovative pieces that span a wide range of stylistic approaches and technical challenges, invigorated by the physicality of his virtuosic playing and the deep emotional bond he maintains with his instrument. Su Mimmi non si spara! contrasts moments of ethereal beauty with visceral aggression, aching lyricism with abstract noise, whisper-quiet minimalism with rock-inspired power. His expansive attack on the cello incorporates such disparate methods as alternative tunings, percussive bowing, exotic preparations and electronic distortions. At its core is the tension between the cerebral invention of Guerri’s boundary-stretching technique and the passionate expression he conveys to his audience."
Ariel Archives revisits Ariel Pink’s historic run of albums as Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti with a series of definitive reissues and new collections.
"The first installment begins with Underground, the inaugural album in the series, Odditties Sodomies Vol. 2, a long-awaited second volume of outtakes and non-album tracks, and finally Loverboy, an exemplary disc recorded between October 2001 and July 2002, at which time Ariel also recorded House Arrest."
Following the aunch of his debut LP, Jack Sparrow lands on Coyote with two lurching dubstep mutations
‘Single Time’ swivels on the halfstep with acid washed synth dissonance and lagging 2-step drums, whereas ‘VHS’ sounds like he just finished the latest series of Stranger Things and was compelled to shape ‘80s FM pads and arps in the dubstep mode.
Born in 1981 in Detroit, MI, Negative Approach were the undisputed champs of Midwestern hardcore in the early to mid-’80s.
"Led by John Brannon’s hoarse wail, with OP Moore on drums and brothers Rob and Graham McCulloch playing guitar and bass respectively, the band concocted an extreme sound devoid of frills. This was first documented on their 10 Song 7” released on Touch and Go Records in 1982. The band released the more metallic-sounding Tied Down in 1983. Having disbanded in 1985, Negative Approach reunited in 2006 for Touch and Go’s 25th Anniversary and have been playing shows and touring ever since."
The rarest of all Vatican Shadow’s tape releases (only 25 were made), ‘Kuwaiti Airforce’ now appears on double vinyl alongside obscure cuts and previosuly unreleased collaborations with Silent Servant and Demdike Stare on the fourth in a series of first-time vinyl editions for Vatican Shadow’s sought-after early tapes.
Back at the start of this decade the underground conversation between noise, techno and ambient music manifested definitively thru Vatican Shadow’s eerily evocative glut of tape releases for Hospital Productions in a manner that resonated with the subversive post-industrial music of Muslimgauze and Whitehouse - who were both key touchstones for Dominick Fernow (Prurient, Vatican Shadow, Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement).
The ‘Kuwaiti Airforce’ tape which lends this set its title was only available in an edition of 25 copies at Vatican Shadow’s September 29, 2012 show in LA with Silent Servant, Demdike Stare, Andy Stott, and Kangding Ray. Its two bombed-out blasts of rhythmic noise are now available on the first disc here for the first time, backed with two previously unreleased works written in 2012: a deep, rolling techno collaboration with Juan Mendez, lodged somewhere between his Silent Servant output styles for Sandwell District and the seminal ‘Negative Fascination’ LP; and a more messed-up, subbass-mired rework by Demdike Stare, who were still clearly in the mood surrounding their classic ‘Elemental’ LP.
The second disc however highlights cuts from earlier and more obscure releases, rounding up two powerful, even darkly romantic pieces of sturm und drang from 2010’s ‘Around The Dragon’s Broken Neck…’ 2 x cassette, plus his opiated half of a split with Contrepoison, and a cranky grinder that was only found on the ‘White Eye Of Winter Watching’ compilation, both issued by Hospital Productions in 2011.
Charlie was Melt Banana's 3rd album and the first to be released on their own A-Zap imprint. The album marks quite a departure in the band's sound, with longer, and dare I say it, more accessible songs than on their previous recordings.
The recording is characterised by a heavier electronic presence. Just listen to the barroom brawl that is 'Spathic!', the track melds the band's aggressive guitar riffing with a verse part constituted largely by layered samples of breaking glass as the primary accompaniment to Yasuko's voice.
"Another all-out attack of scream-and-careen mathified skree core from Tokyo’s most tightly wound springs. Fourteen tracks of mind altering, brain boggling, and spine crushing shrapnel punk with vocals that hit your head like high-pitched knives and music that bores through your flesh like some kind of new super drill. Sure they look nice enough, but don’t get your ears too close, these yaros bite. Like getting stabbed in the face and bragging about the conquest later. Embarking right this second on a trans-continental tour that will bring them perilously close to each and every one of you. Our advice, go see them you obviously haven’t been using those ears for any good purpose anyhow. Guest appearances from MR. BUNGLE, the THREE DOCTORS BAND, THE WINTERMITTENS, and members of DIESELHED. Posters and promotional match books are yours for the asking, go ahead, ask..."
After charming everyone with two 7”s of mad Thai disco kinks, YĪN YĪN make it official with a debut album of East Asian influenced psychedelic, funk and beyond
Hailing from Holland and tracing tradewinds back to source, YĪN YĪN have minted a sincerely faithful yet canny spin on the outernational sounds they clearly adore. Slightly frustratingly the album doesn’t contain the heavily infectious ‘Dis Kô Dis Kô’ off their debut 7”, but it does revolve the driving disco killer ‘One Inch Punch’ off their 2nd 7”, along with some strong ‘Tears of a Black Tiger’ noodle-western vibes in ‘Pingpxng’ and the spicy jaws-harp twangs of ‘Thom Ki Ki’, plus some fruity Patrick Cowley vibes on ’Sui Ye’, and enough shimmering psych guitars in their title cut to keep you up and dancing all night.
4th album of puckered Scandi-pop by Denmark’s Heidi Mortenson
“Reclusive left field producer Heidi Mortenson releases her radical fourth album: Spectrum. The album marks the Woods-via-Barcelona-and-Berlin producer’s most intimate album to date, a kinetic, self-produced record flush with attitude, playfullnes and vulnerability. Spectrum offers up something brighter together with what characterizes Mortenson’s music: emotionally-charged, biographical anthems drawn from lived experiences as a gay, autistic, gender-non-conforming artist. An artist on the spectrum in all regards.
Spectrum was written and produced in Mortenson’s recording studio in the woods over the past four years. It waves like a neon green aurora, lighting up with the tape-delays and spring reverbs that have become Mortenson’s signature, though critics and fans will hear a subtle, ear worm-y shift in style here: from the openhearted and oddly swinging ‘Just A Feeling’ and the slow-dancing-in-the-dark of ‘The Fire That Keeps Me Alive’ and the gloomy yet hopeful ‘Time In Between’, to the substantial, 80s synth-laced ‘Illusion’. The big wondering and philosophical approach to feelings and situations is an ongoing process documented with music.
"Humans come in a wide variety of identities within gender and sexuality, just like people on the autism spectrum have something in common, but yet are very different. That is why it makes sense to talk about a spectrum which offers diversity instead of stereotypes.” Mortenson’s approach is emotion and commitment to detail and how the feeling of a situation translates into sound. Listen closely, for example, to the lyrics on ‘Paradise On Earth’ and you will sense the introvert and reclusive life style in the woods “If I’m the only human left on this planet / I’ll be just fine, it’s OK / Imagination, memories / Will keep me company”. Or take ‘Just A Feeling’ with a lyric reference to Cat Power and Nina Simone “The moon is full / Every night in slow motion / With Chan and Nina / Gently singing to me” stating a blissful solitude. Finding yourself on the spectrum also means getting to know and understand the essence of yourself better, what you saw as a weakness you may start to see as a strength. Take Spectrum’s ending track ‘Bring It On’: “Here comes abundance / Through nature’s gates and high water / I recognise this feeling / Bring it on, I deliver”.
Ultimately, Spectrum is a celebration of liberation, a melodic-filled record that sees Mortenson consolidating spectrum both personal and artistic.”
From the whip-like crack of Yako’s signature staccato vocals and impossible-to-memorize lyrics to the relentless overdrive tempo of their one-of-a-kind prog-core, Melt-Banana have long resided in a cybertopia of their own devising where the limits of technology and human capability are old-world concerns as quaint and cumbersome as bartering with a blacksmith.
"The demos for Fetch, their first studio album since the severely fried pop-punk of 2007’s Bambi’s Dilemma, were completed in March 2011, but the Fukushima earthquake changed everything, including their ability to concentrate on recording. Which stopped completely. Once they felt ready to return to their music, they decided to approach the songs on a sound-by-sound basis, choosing each tone with meticulous attention to detail, affirming their personal connections, being themselves naturally and openly.
Fetch scrapes glam shimmers off punk’s outermost fringes and forges them into a rather intensely technical Deanscape packed with fantastical hybrids. Agata’s guitar riffs, seemingly composed in tandem with skipping CD players, are more bad-ass than ever, bright and fractured like the soundtrack for a CC-Hennix-scored biker flick. The album is juiced with electronics and post-rock production, tempering what could easily be a tiresome and predictable frenzy, yielding unexpected associations: Kate Bush climaxing on Walter White’s blue meth; demos of late-period Wire playing metal run through Wasp synthesizers and Autotune; unripe wild lychees keeping time on an Ankgor Wat tin roof during a monsoon. They’ve been performing live as a duo since summer 2012, and will do the same for their “2 do what 2 fetch” tour in support of the album.
After nearly 20 years of playing with a live rhythm section, their use of a PC, while opening possibilities for a variety of drum and synth voicings, does not signal a move away from the traditional live band sound, as heard, for example, via the future transmissions from downtown Noiseapolis on 2009’s Lite Live: Ver. 0.0. Yako and Agata say they need to feel real band sounds onstage as much as someone in the audience. This is a group that routinely excels at several kinds of impossible simultaneously, so of course any new challenge they come up with for themselves is sure to blow the doors off your Mini Cooper."
Karl O’Connor (Regis) rallies the Downwards troops for the odd family portrait of ‘Let Love Decide’, including the first new Concrete Fence collab between Regis and Haswell since that killer PAN hookup, plus all new and exclusive tracks by label staples Mick Harris, Nick Dunton, Simon Shreeve, DVA Damas and Karl Meier, plus Rachel Aiello’s Layne, and Khrone/Mjolsness (Male) and various appearances by Regis himself in different formations.
‘Let Love Decide Pt.1’ is the first part of Downwards’ contemporary portrait series aligning veteran hands with the new class of mutant industrial disciples. The nine tracks include a strong clutch of exclusive projects such as the EBM supergroup You Hung - a quartet of Nick Dunton (vocals), Jim Siegel (drums), Simon Shreeve (Live mix and Studio), and Karl O’Connor (synth) - and Karl & Ken Meier’s “ambient” alias Obelus, cued up beside previously unheard Fret gear by Mick Harris and a Cub collab between Karl O’Connor and Simon Shreeve, to highlight the label’s strength in diversity and shared purpose.
Naturally, label kingpin Karl O’Connor is a constant throughout the set, a connective ligature that ties the slurred slow techno of Cub’s ‘Teenage Fists’ to the live band EBM praxis of You Hung, where O’Connor’s synth underlines Krishna Goineau-styled vox by Nick Dunton (65D Mavericks) and the gnashing drums of Jim Siegel (Raspberry Bulbs), as well as the welcome reappearance of his Concrete Fence duo with Russell Haswell in a sharp cut of pranging industrial funk that sounds like vintage Autechre, chopped and skewed.
Following his turn in Cub, Simon Shreeve also weighs in his powerful studio pressure on the soggy, gothic lurch of ‘The Space Between Cultures’, while Mick Harris ramps the distortion on a ravenous Fret cut ‘Helicopter Rig’. The rest is essentially a showcase of the label’s American ambassadors, taking in the scuffed modular dub brawl of ’Scale Reference’ by Karl & Ken Meier’s Obelus beside Layne’s blank-eyed swagger, and a stark shot in the ambient unknown by Jonathan Khrone & Benjamin Mjolsness (aka Male), while L.A.’s DVA Damas stretch out across the D-side on a stripe of sexy darkwave-techno rolige.
15 year anniversary reissue edition of a wild Melt Banana side taking in acid vignettes and deep space electronics alongside angular, mathy punk outbursts
The Japanese band’s 5th studio album is a lot of fun. It sees the band in transition from earlier avant-punk styles to more accessible “hi-fi” electronic sounds, epitomised in the 10 minute long ambient closing song ‘Outro for Cell-Scape’ and the fact that the album features no “real” drum sounds - they’re all programmed on a drum computer. That last track is practically worth the admission alone, if you ask us.
Ancient sounding folk music and Soviet songs from south of Russia, in the only region of Europe where Buddhism is the most practiced religion.
“In early November 2014 we went to Kalmykia. Our goal was the local “Dzhangar” epic. The epic genre, as one of the most archaic, can be called a basis for Kalmyk music culture. Not so long time ago among Kalmyks there were their own professional epic storytellers - Dzhangarchi who as a socio-artistic institute today are practically absent: repertoire of modern folk singers mostly consists of late folk art of the Soviet era. But as usual in our search we did not ignore these more recent forms of traditional music that allowed us to find very valuable material. One week spent in Kalmykia was filled with meetings and record sessions. And, as we see it, the most interesting and the richest one was the day spent in the village of Bulgun (officially known as Troitskoe).
We met up with Maria Beltsikova and Tatiana Dordzhieva in this village. The energetic and charismatic grand mammas are winners of various music competitions, in the recent past they have been frequent guests of national holidays and official events. In addition both of them are self-taught grown up in conditions of respect for traditions. On the day of our meeting we were able to record more than twenty songs. In the repertoire of Maria and Tatiana there have been religious Buddhist songs, droning laments, ceremonial wedding songs, heroic ballads about Kalmyks in the Patriotic War 1812, and, of course, Soviet folklore. The songs of the “red” period was presented with a variety of songs: praising the Communist Party and workers of the collective farms and songs about the deportation of Kalmyks in 1943-1944.
Tatiana and Maria know well this period of time - with their own bitter experience: with their relatives and neighbors they were deported to Siberia. Also this album contains several songs composed by Tatiana Dordzhieva. In addition to the a-capella performance, in some of the songs you can hear traditional Kalmyk dombra playing. Maria Beltsikova is the person playing this instrument.”
Melt-Banana describe their third self-released album as "pop and nice," a claim to which numerous incredulous subscribers to the band's mailing list have replied, "No pop!" and "Extreme, please!"
"This angular Pythagorean-core HC quartet supposes that the words "pop" and "nice" have slightly different nuances those outside their native Japan are failing to see; perhaps they mean "pop" not in the Celine Dion sense, but in the Andy Warhol sense, "nice" not as in smashing a bunch of garbage together and expecting fans to swallow it out of habit, but as in well-crafted, hairball mania.
Even as the band acknowledges that Teeny Shiny is punk, noisy, screeching, and fast, they steadfastly maintain that it is pop and nice for them. Though a mad scientist from 2788 has given vocalist / lyricist Yako a heart the size of a lion's (engorged with futuristic steroids) and her voice goes spitting and whizzing above it all as 5,000 volts surge through her skinny torso; and given that the mad scientist has screwed with guitarist Agata's brain so that his guitar-playing resembles a synth and two turntables; and taking into account the Melt-Banana rhythm section's ability to keep up with a machine gun demonstration without breaking a sweat - conditions that all apply to Teeny Shiny, fictionalized or not - they're not backing down from the assertion that their new album is pop and nice. Sometimes you just gotta trust people."
It's a veritable bonanza for all the Disco loving kids right now in a market flooded with edits, revisions and reissues. This is one of the strongest and most hilarious reissues we've had in recently with the irresistable NY '78 styles of Buari's 'Disco Soccer'.
Disco Soccer in Sidiku Buari's own words is "...a brand new dance - also called, THE SPIRIT OF SPORTS DANCE. The most important part of this dance is the footwork of the steps. Just Remember, the "Soccer ball" is the drum beat of every disco beat, as well as this new dance - so, follow the drum beat and you will find it easy to dance. Hand swinging, head shaking, body moving, slightly kicking, jumping and stepping is a part of this dance", who are we to argue? If this LP makes you half as happy as the guy dancing with a topless broad in football boots on the cover, you'll be having a disco orgasm.
Timely survey of early electronic wonders from Utrecht’s esteemed Institute Of Sonology, including pioneering pieces by Gottfried Michael Koenig and Konrad Boehmer that paved the way for future advancements by Roland Kayn, Jaap Vink, Leo Küpper
Originally issued on CD in 2001 and now on 2LP, ‘Institute Of Sonology 1959-1969’ covers the formative years of Utrecht’s famed facility for concrète and electronic music composition. Nowadays a part of Royal Conservatory in The Hague, the institute was founded on September 1st, 1960 with high end technical equipment from the electronic music Laboratories of Phillips Research, Eindhoven. Initially called STEM (STudio Voor Elektronische Muziek), the institute came into being under the artistic direction of Gottfried Michael Koenig (who had previously worked at Cologne’s WDR studio, assisting Stockhausen among others), and would be recognised among the premier European hotspots for advanced electronic music composition.
In recent years attention has been directed to the Institute Of Sonology via unarchived and reissued seminal works from Roland Kayn and Jaap Vink, who both made some of their most fascinating recordings at the institute during the late ‘70s and early ’80s. This set surveys the decade before that vital work, notably including a rare vinyl pressing of Gottfried Michael Koenig’s pioneering, 17’ computer composition ‘Funktion Orange’, as well as Konrad Boehmer’s 15’ microcosmic maelstrom, ‘Aspekt’, both of which patently still hold up next to modern noise musick, while the rest of the set rings from the slippery wormhole dynamic of Frits Weiland’s ‘Studie In Lagen Impulsen’, to Ton Bruyel’s ‘Reflexen’, which sounds like a Burmese drum falling down an endless Escher staircase, while Rainer Riehn’s 20’ ‘Chants Du Maldorer’ piece presents a wild belch of abstract concrète darkness.
RIYL AFX, NYZ, Russell Haswell, Pita, Jim O’Rourke, Kevin Drumm, Markus Schmickler.
Electro-acoustic explorer John Chantler expands his timbral horizons with a subtly dynamic suite recorded at INA-GRM, Paris; Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg; and 1703, Stockholm, in a commission for the GRM’s François Bonnet.
Chantler absorbingly pays attention to the nanoscopic and macro details of his sound here in a vast cosmic entanglement of subatomic chatter and arcing harmonic structures that describe a real head-fuck of awesome electronic abstraction. On the surface it can appear formidably alien, but those parts always lead somewhere sweeter and gratifyingly inquisitive.
“Australian born, Sweden based artist John Chantler returns to Room40 with his fifth solo edition. 'Tomorrow Is Too Late' was commissioned by INA GRM for their Présences Électronique festival in 2018 and sees Chantler significantly expand the horizons of his acoustic palette. Moving from subtle microtonal movements to passages of intense harmonic saturation, Tomorrow Is Too Late is his most dynamic work to date. A powerhouse of reductive intensity that bares witness to Chantler’s uncompromising sonic articulations.”
Singular Detroit soul and dancehall mutations from Omar S in his lesser-spotted ‘Side Trakx’ mode on FXHE
Following volumes of squashed hip hop, R&B, and disco-pop, Alex Omar Smith’s latest ‘Side Trakx’ serves a unique piece of reggae in ‘Love Me Like Cooked Food’ marrying Nardo Ranks vocal to a strutting groove spiced up with boogie bass and detonating FX, while the flip packs a killer R&B downstroke with John F.M. crooning over punchy, pendulous drums and a ripping guitar solo by Parliament/Funkadelic G, Andre Foxxe.
Phono Ghosts presents his fourth collection of cassette tape memories brought back from the celestial library of ferric dreams.
"‘Warm Pad, Sharp Stab’ sees Phono Ghosts delving deeper into downtempo territory with a heady concoction of night-swoon mood beats, portentous synth pulsing and DX-driven funk, mixed with drifting mystical atmospherics, ‘80s TV soundtrack melancholia, cosmic ceremonials and swirling fretless bass romanticism. Fuzzy analogue swells and digital fantasy bells. Warm pads, and sharp stabs."
One opera singer teams with one experimental musician!
"La Diva Christina Van Peteghem on voices and Pierre-Jean Vranken everywhere. They are Quasi Una Fantasia! Noise, classical guitars, exquisite melodic songs, minimalism, neoclassical, avant-garde are the medium and the message. There is no need of more explanation, it's Quasi everything!"