We might be drowning in a sea of re-issues right now (not least ones from long-forgotten synthesizer pioneers) but ever so often something comes along that’s really very special indeed.
Laurie Spiegel’s ‘The Expanding Universe’ is hardly a forgotten or lost gem, but this new re-issue is without a doubt one of the finest things we’ve heard (and no doubt will hear) this year. The album managed to supplant itself in the subconscious of electronic music ever since its release in 1980, and in recent years it has gone from strength to strength forming the building blocks that gave us Emeralds, Oneohtrix Point Never, Rene Hell and so much more. Spiegel’s use of the interactive compositional software GROOVE formed the backbone of her works, and little did she know at the time that the fusion of live and software would become the norm in 2012.
That’s enough history though, the extensive liner notes should be able to reveal plenty to satiate that appetite, the fact of the matter is that it’s Spiegel’s music itself that has stood the test of time. Not quite as reckless and ominious as the blippy sci-fi of the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop pioneers and far more exact and economical than the oft-compared Terry Riley, Spiegel produced electronic music that was both fun to listen to and incredibly deep. It’s no surprise that Bach is mentioned on the record cover as an influence, as while the tracks are electronically composed and performed there is a clear backbone of traditional classical composition that gives her music the power to get the hairs on the back of your neck standing on end.
On top of the original tracks that formed the 1980 release, Unseen Worlds have done an incredible job of scouring the archives to provide a veritable treasure trove of additional material. So often the bundled tracks with reissues are simply a collection of crap demos and live performances, but not so here – there’s almost too much to go through and every single little bit is worthy of as much praise as the original record itself.
‘Rare Ravers’ is The Dead C’s umpteenth album of end-of-the-line Kiwi rock, and their 6th LP dished up by Ba Da Bing! following ‘Trouble’  and a 2013 split side with Rangda.
By now regarded among noise rock’s greatest exponents, The Dead C’s Bruce Russell, Michael Morley and Robbie Yeats continue to hack new paths thru thistly fields of guitar distortion in ‘Rare Ravers’, which, for the record, has nowt to do with glowsticks or warehouses, but everything to do with ideas of reverie and a lust for psychedelic transcendence.
“Disguised as the meandering outpourings of vacant thought and activity dialed simultaneously from zero and ten. Formed in the cauldron of a fevered mistake resolute. Surrounded by ignorance, dis-interest, and the attention of the carefully self-selected. Recorded and burned through a thousand galaxies of dust and doubt and endless infinite wonder, transforming both time and space. Forever exiled to the very bottom of the world to reflect on the struggling desperate pile above. Recognizing any contribution as minuscule and insignificant when placed within the greatness of the other, the dominant insolent preening satisfied, continually shouting the pre-eminence of the first world order.
It's a long player.”
Mirage-like new age and early-techno synth groves from Nigeria’s Hama on Sahel Sounds, the amazing label behind that sublime Luka Productions album and the ‘Music From Saharan Cellphones’ sets
Neatly summed up by the label as a re-appropriation of 4th world ethnoambient music, ‘Houmeissa’ lands on the mind’s eye like a lysergic dose. Hama’s ten instrumental songs re-voice traditional nomadic herding ballads, ancient caravan songs and ceremonial wedding chants with colourful synthetic means to resemble something like “a Saharan 1980s sci-fi soundtrack or score to a Tuareg video game.”
We advise running straight to the pulsating, ruggedly elegant charge of ‘Bororo’, the flooding chromatics of the title track, or the deeply trippy, off-key cascades of ‘Takamba’ for the strongest flavours. You’ll know exactly what to do next.
Massive tip for fans of Rizan Sa’id, Black Zone Myth Chant, early B12!
Ric Kaestner’s impossible-to-find, esoteric ambient gem surfaces on vinyl for first time, taken from one of only 2 known copies of the original tape. Happy endings for all collectors of obscure new age and under-the-radar ambient music! RIYL Dominique Lawalrée, Brian Eno, JD Emmanuel...
“Recorded and released in 1987, the original cassette bore a minimalist plum tree design on the cover and music soothing to match. There are only 2 confirmed copies of the original cassette, one of them was used in the restoration and revival of this classic new age album.
Five years after the New Age cult-classic album Music For Massage hit the shelves, it’s sequel was silently released. Never intended for consumer sale, Music For Massage II was only known to a select few masseuses and tape collectors. The very definition of esoteric. Musically, it’s both an homage to how far the genre had come in those five years and served as a predictor of what was to come. Comprising elements of Folk, Drone, Ambient, Ethereal, Minimal, Modern Classical, the recording is quintessential of all things New Age. These are sounds meant to induce healing, therapy, and relaxation. Hand crafted by Ric Kaestner and inspired in part by an encounter with one of the fathers of modern music, John Cage, for actual massage or for casual listening, it holds its own almost four decades later.”
The mothership has landed! Unseen Worlds finally deliver a premiere edition of Laurie Spiegel’s rare 1991 follow-up to ‘The Expanding Universe’ , filling a gaping hole in electronic music collections across the known world
The jaw-dropping ’Unseen Worlds’ was first released on CD in 1991 by Scarlet Records, but the label went defunct soon after, leaving Laurie seeing to any further pressings. She issued a 2nd CD edition on her Aesthetic Engineering label in 1994, but since that sold out, her amazing album has become very hard to find. Perhaps understandably, that scarcity is probably because nobody wants to sell their original copy, making this new pressing an invaluable window onto ‘Unseen Worlds’ in all senses of the phrase.
In the years between her debut and sophomore sides, Laurie moved away from the New York new music scene to focus on other projects, most notably the MusicMouse software; an “intelligent instrument” allowing for greater real time automation of her equipment. MusicMouse for Macintosh, Amiga and Atari gained a lot of traction with rock artists and paid her bills, and effectively allowed Laurie up to focus on the aspects of music which interested her the most - improvisation and artistic process.
Freed from the more laborious constraints of electronic music composition, Laurie’s artistic-technological breakthrough gave her greater tactility and control in the composition process. The result is some of the lushest and vivid electronic music you’ll ever hear. In the impossibly smooth pitch gradients and timbral complexities of the opening ‘Three Sonic Spaces’ trio, and the hallucinogenic harmonics of ’Sound Zones’ we hear the MusicMouse in blinding action, while the rest of the LP is no less impressive; leading us thru breathtaking black hole sonics on ‘The Hollows’; into mind-bindingly vast noise scapes on ‘Two Archetypes: Hurricane’s Eye - II’; while the shimmering beauty of ‘Riding the Storm’ are right up there with classics by Jean Claude Risset or Roland Kayn; and moments of exquisite beauty like ‘Strand of Life (*Viroid*) and ‘From a Harmonic Algorithm’ give way to the rarely paralleled scope of ‘Passage’, one of those epic electronic music works that makes wading through all the other stuff truly worthwhile.
RVNG Intl mint their promising reissue label, ReRVNG with the superb first anthology of Michele Mercure’s home-brewed synth-pop and electronic experiments circa late ‘80s/early ‘90s.
It’s actually a co-release with Freedom To Spend, the Pete Swanson and Jed Bindeman-helmed reissue label that Michele kicked off with her acclaimed ’86 debut ‘Eye Chant’ in 2017. Following the mood of that long overlooked side, ‘Beside Herself’ collects 19 further songs and instrumental pieces from hard-to-find tapes, documenting a creative development from her earliest, skeletal guitar, rhythm box and tape loop sketches through the era of her mutant, theatrical synth moves on ‘Eye Chant’ and beyond.
“Michele is a natural collaborator and has made music for all sorts of contexts, film, theater, dance, etc. You get that impression though this set, you hear different sonic collaborators, but you might also be able to pick up on one track being more kinetic, another more cinematic, another taking wild turns that may be due to edits or changes in a performance or just because she made some interesting choice here or there. Spend a little time with “An Accident Waiting To Happen” or “No More Law In Gotham City” and you’ll be taken on a bit of a ride through different movements, sounds, concepts, concerns, all in about four minutes. Some of this music is functional, some of it is dysfunctional, it’s all good.
For those familiar with Eye Chant, you’ll hear some familiar elements in Beside Herself. You’ll find the cool synthesizers and beautiful samples, storytelling through pop gestures, an apparent dedication to technological and aesthetic experimentation.”
Ambient maestro Will Long serves a definitive Celer release with ‘Memory Repetitions’, rounding up five typically widescreen, gauzy works that can’t help but lull listeners into the lush, comforting states of mind. If you’re only familiar with his deep house excursions alongside DJ Sprinkles, this is a prime place to dive into Will's prolific and much-loved output as Celer...
“Operating outside the limelight in the underground, Will Long has produced prolifically across genres, monikers, and countries since 2006. Predating his minimal house contributions under his given name to DJ Sprinkles’ Comatonse label and Smalltown Supersound, Long has put forth over a hundred collections of ambient compositions in stream of consciousness fashion under the name Celer. A native to America, Long has been based in Tokyo since 2011, where he has continued to expand upon his vault of celestial arrangements, amassing a cult following over the years by releasing them on under-the-radar labels, his own Two Acorns label, and on his Bandcamp.
Memory Repetitions serves to reflect on the labyrinthine body of work that comprises Celer.”
Venerable experimentalist Alvin Lucier keeps us beguiled with the high-register acoustic phenomena of ‘Ricochet Lady’, his first piece for Glockenspiel and latest significant work for Oren Ambarchi’s peerless Black Truffle.
Exactingly performed by Trevor Saint, the world’s preeminent specialist in performing experimental works for Glockenspiel, ‘Ricochet Lady’ is presented four times, each recorded in a dissimilar space with unique acoustic characteristics: an arts centre hall, a chapel, an empty forge, and a 36-metre tall grain silo (same site in Buffalo, NY, used in Sarah Hennies’ ‘Embedded Environments’). In keeping with Lucier’s earliest practice and ever since, the results speak to metaphysical perceptions of place, and embody his “…approach towards sound’s individual function and mobility within space.”
For each piece, Lucier instructs Saint to play his tuned percussion instrument while facing a wall or other reflective surface. While the exact same piece of rapid, repetitive patterns is played in each space, the results are the same yet remarkably different depending the space and the way it creates its own matrix of overtones. As the glockenspiel is already limited to higher registers only, and the piece itself follows a simply rising cadence from one end of the keyboard to t’other, the effect of Saint’s playing and the space itself lead to some seriously trippy results.
Likely psychotomimetic for some, and a pleasure for others (it’s both for us), the pieces’ visceral pointillism generates some deeply uncanny side-effects with the breathless, needling peal of the Blum Hall recording, compared with the wider plangency and head-squeezing squeal of the Chapel of The Holy Inncoents piece, and likewise between the increasingly broader dimensions felt out in the Basilica Hudson recording, and thru to the decidedly colder, spiralling scale and screeching buzz generated in the Marine A Grain Elevator part.
Expanded reissue with 3 new piano tracks recorded in 2018.
New edition of Steven Brown’s classic solo piano suite, including the bonus tracks from ’The Ghost Sonata’  featuring his Tuxedomoon bandmate Blaine L. Reininger, and now three tracks from ‘Belly Of The Whale’ .
First issued in 1983, ‘Music For Solo Piano’ found Steven Brown stripping back from Tuxedomoon’s no wave cabaret style to a more intimate, personalised expression of solo piano and clarinet melancholia in refined, chamber-like settings with hauntingly unique results that have lost none of their timeless charm.
The additional six parts from ‘The Ghost Sonata’ follow suit, accompanied by Blaine L. Reininger for a majestic and melodramatic “opera without words”, before ‘Belly Of The Whale’ brings us up to date with Steven Brown’s contemporary practice, some 30 odd years later, focussed on him and the keys in a jazzier modern classical fashion.
The Boats finally relinquish a standalone CD of the ‘Lost Ideas (Expanded)’ piece of their super ltd and sought-after boxset, ‘The Boats Archive’
Touted as “a collection of forgotten fragments, abandoned building blocks, loops, live recordings, rehearsal tapes and orphaned songs 2003-2014”, it’s effectively a treasure trove of impossible-to-find material by the Lancastrian small sound specialists, spanning ephemera from their inception and up until they turned industrial circa ‘Abstraction’ .
The piece plays through as a single, hour long collage of half-thought melodies, heavy-lidded murmurs, and burbling electronic pops where each part blurs or bleeds into the next, forming a tremulous cats cradle of sentimental gesture and quiet whims to get utterly wrapped up in.
Spread over a massive six discs and further bolstered by a pretty darn exhaustive book that interviews the surviving members (Williams passed away in 2001), 'Out Of Cold Storage' is testament to the unbridled virility of This Heat - with all the music very much rooted in its era, yet also utterly timeless. Comprised of their five studio albums ('This Heat', 'Deceit', 'Health and Efficiency', 'Made Available' and 'Repeat') plus an incendiary set of live action culled from their 1980/81 heyday, 'Out Of Cold Storage' allows everyone to get hold of these classic recordings in pristine form - a real treat given the eroded bootlegs and mp3s that have been doing the rounds for years.
Born out of the UK crucible that existed in the period immediately post punk (before it earned capitals and morphed into genre all of its own...), This Heat formed through the restless response of three twenty-somethings who felt impelled to document their corner of 1970's London. Already faces at the more severe end of the prog-rock scene, Charles Bullen and Charles Hayward were joined by non-musician Gareth Williams - a catalyst that would see them recording vast quantities of work then editing the results down into consumable chunks of aural fortitude.
Ranging in style from the avant-rock of their eponymous debut, through to the political polemic of 'Deceit', This Heat are spiky without the need to resort to high-kicking comparisons with the likes of Orange Juice et al., with their output always a couple of steps removed from their retrospective peers. Unafraid to disrupt their reputation through creative right-angles, the likes of 'Repeat' and it's central 20 minutes of looped drones and rhythms (think Can in a chiller cabinet) are seemingly at odds with 'Health And Efficiencies' melody etched high - yet rather than cause tension, these juxtapositions merely heighten the band's appeal and allow you a glimpse into moments of creative perfection.
Vast, comprehensive and thoroughly indispensable, 'Out Of Cold Storage' proves that the endless vault combing perpetrated by labels can sometimes come good. Six shades of fantastic.
First vinyl edition of Biosphere and Higher Intelligence Agency’s ‘Polar Sequences’ expedition - a dark ambient techno + electro-acoustic suite recorded in Tromsø, beyond the Arctic Circle in the northern extremes of Norway, during the depth of winter
Commissioned for the 1995 edition of the annual Polar Music Festival, Geir Jenssen (Biosphere) and Bobby Bird (HIA) made recordings of the local area’s industry and nature - cable lifts, ice and snow - and turned them into a towering black mass of an album that still holds its own more than 20 years later.
A perennial favourite of night owls and ‘90s ambient fiends since its initial release (on CD in 1996, 2003, 2018), ‘Polar Sequences’ marks an early high altitude pinnacle of the pair’s respective catalogues, with seven longer form works (each between 8 and 14 minutes long) that vividly evoke both their recording environment and the fertile period of electronica in which it was conceived.
The slow thrumming 13 minute expanse of ambient techno ‘Cimmerian Shaft’ is a perfect opener, widescreen, opiated and frighteningly eerie, while ‘White Lightning’ also impresses with prescient rhythm programming that could feasibly underline some Xanny rap joint nowadays, and Bobby Bird’s warm, Indian-derived drum trills still sound uncanny, replaced to the arctic circle in ‘Corona’. Suffice it to say that the ambient parts proper are everything you may hope for.
An overlooked gem, finally on the format it deserves, then!
First ever repress of Luigi Nono’s dedication to Marx and the Paris and Venice ’68 riots, uncannily echoing the Gilet Jaune movement and current European politics precisely 50 years later - reissued for the first time by die Schachtel in collaboration with Archivo Storico Ricordi.
Alongside Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen, Nono was an important innovator of tape music and one of the most important composers to emerge in the years following the Second World War – defining the zeitgeist, taking the his idiom into startling new territories, while standing decidedly apart. Unlike most of his peers, however, Nono was also highly political in everything he did - his music often described as a rallying call of the left. None of Nono’s works illuminate this radical consciousness and concern better than his seminal Musica-Manifesto N.1.
Commissioned and released in spring 1969, it ties all of the most important aspects of Nono’s work into a powerful political statement. Using recordings of the riots made in Venice, July ’68, together with recordings of Edmonda Aldini reading slogans painted on Parisian walls in Mai ’68, and the voices of communist leaders including Che Guevara, Ho Chi Minh, and Mao, Nono paints a plunderphonic collage evocative of the escalating struggle against the bourgeoisie.
Nono was a pioneer in the use and manipulation of magnetic tape, here providing a charged, disorientingly edited, unsettling and immersive record of the time, whose sentiments and inherent politics still ring true today.
Two masters of very different string instruments, Ellen Fullman and Okkyung Lee, colour in ‘The Air Around Her’ with beguiling microtonal timbres at a time-melting pace for John Chantler’s 1703 Skivbolaget, Stunning, highly absorbing recordings.
Setting up her famous long string instrument in the 26 metre length of Stockholm’s Kronobageriet - Sweden’s former royal bakery - Ellen Fullman brings a lifetime of dedication to her unwieldy and uniquely resonant instrument, while preeminent improvising cellist Okkyung Lee acts as a more agile counterpoint, subtly contrasting Ellen’s glacial cadence with a broader range of quicker strokes and pointed extended technique.
Produced by John Chantler and recorded by Maria Horn during the First Edition Festival for Other Music, Stockholm on 20th February 2016, ‘The Air Around Her’ takes its title from a quote in ‘Vermeer Interiors’, a poem by Margaret Rabb, from her book ‘Granite Dives’. In both parts, Ellen and Okkyung play with sound as light, conducting a tonal shadowplay of inherently vast scope and ambition that comes with any recordings of Ellen’s long string instrument, as it always requires a good deal of time and space to properly tune and set up.
The results are swept around the space of the old bakery, captivating in their keening swoons and nimble plies, and also the smoothness and friction of their flux of overtones, seeming to coruscate and bend in mid-air in tingling ecstasies, always pulling the ear to the full extent of the room’s parameters.
PAN’s butterfly net captures IRISIRI, the 3rd solo album by Alex Drewchin a.k.a. Eartheater, who provides the label’s first release of 2018, and one of its most sublime since Yves Tumor’s Serpent Music or the Mono No Aware set. Alexa’s first two Eartheater albums were released at either end of 2015 to critical acclaim - Metalepsis was Fact Mag’s album of the year, and RIP Chrysalis in its top 10 - and this follow-up is a majestic effort balancing a romantic, gothic sense of introspection with wide angled cosmic scope and intuition.
Where the first two Eartheater albums formed a tempered concision of her psychedelic improvisations as frontwoman of the Guardian Alien ensemble, IRISIRI offers a more shattered looking glass perspective on Alexa Drewchin’s personal sound, each track resolving richly colourful mosaics of strings, synths and electronics riddled with trance motifs and her own three octave-range voice, itself an instrument of myriad potential, morphing from xanny mumble to angelic ambient pop tropes and keening wails.
IRISIRI stealthily casts its spell in 13 succinct sections, seamlessly flowing in a deceptively freehanded style from the harp strokes and bubbling bong of Peripheral thru something like blunted rap on Inclined, then making canny use of a Robert Miles sample in the K-holed maze of MTTM, and meshing Harthouse pulses with harps in Curtains, before going full blown Clannad in Trespasses, and tagging in Moor Mother for the fractious MMXXX, and pulling out with the teeny American angst of C.L.I.T., and a computerised meditation on OS In Vitro.
The overall effect of IRISIRI is seductive and layered with enough detail to keep us heading back for further investigation.
Objekt returns with Cocoon Crush, his first LP since 2014’s Flatland. Over the past four years he has continued to challenge conventions with his club output, while maintaining his reputation as a DJ who deploys impeccable technical finesse in crafting elaborate narratives from a diverse and challenging palette of electronic music.
"Written between 2014 and 2018 in Berlin and on the road, Cocoon Crush once again sees the producer jettisoning the functional requirements of the dancefloor. Marking a further evolution from the youthful exuberance of Flatland, Cocoon Crush explores a more introspective side, with themes of human interaction resonating throughout the record as it ruminates on a spectrum of complex moods rooted in 4 years of sometimes turbulent personal experience.
Cocoon Crush represents an aesthetic departure from Flatland’s largely synthetic tonality, drawing from organic source material and natural textures to illustrate perplexing and unfamiliar sceneries in photorealistic detail. In Cocoon Crush, Objekt diverges further still from his musical influences to craft the purest manifestation of his own musical personality to date: an intriguing and enigmatic album whose reference points are hard to pin down, in which ghostly synth passages weave through mind-bending, weighty drums, and ASMR-triggering foley collages scrape and sparkle.
Through meticulous sculpting, Objekt traces a rich and impressionistic journey through claustrophobia, hope, guilt, anxiety and joy, nested in layers of sonic detail which reward with every listen."
‘Another Life’ is Amnesia Scanner’s hyperreal début album for PAN. The Finnish production/design duo’s most significant release locates their EDM/pop voice proper after a string of prism-pushing singles, EPs and mixtapes issued since 2015 by Young Turks and Gum Artefacts
Bending EDM pop with warped sound designer sensibilities and a sci-fi visionary’s lust for post-human possibility, Amnesia Scanner’s music has come to define its era with unflinching form. They embrace the most compelling, even grotesque aspects of hyper-commercial dance-pop with an accelerationist alacrity that’s also shared by the boundary-realigning styles of fellow artists such as Arca and Sophie, who, like AS, started out in the sound designer’s playground of mid-’00s electro and tech-house minimalism, but have evolved into something mutant, transcending and redefining conceptions of humanity in their music.
Informed by a singular perspective on technology and the way it mediates contemporary experience, ’Another Life’ is ostensibly binary in the extreme - you’ll probably either love or hate the upfront garishness and unapologetically cybernetic nature of their music. But on another level, the character of AS’ synthesised voice, known as Oracle, and their warped pop conventions, both inherently play with ultra contemporary ideas of ambiguity in a way that’s symptomatic of a socio-political climate dominated by notions of gender fluidity and fake news. In effect ‘Another Life’ can be heard as an attempt to locate the analog nature of human sensation within computerised systems.
The results are effectively an exaggerated, syncretic synthesis of current Caribbean dance-pop, nu-metal, and trashy electro-punk with all elements turned up to 11 on their virtual amp, presenting a shockingly surface level reflection of contemporary culture that’s revealed a line in the sands of time between listeners of differing generations, and how they read meaning into their music. In other words, AS are the ‘ugly’ sneakers of modern music.
Senyawa stir primordial spirits in the cosmically heavy doom and psych explorations of ‘Sujud’, the Indonesian duo’s stellar debut with Sublime Frequencies.
Since arriving to global underground acclaim in 2015 with the ‘Menjadi’ LP on Rabih Beaini’s Morphine Records, Senyawa have established themselves among the most beguiling acts in circulation right now by meshing traditional Indonesian music with elements of doom metal and free improvisation to realise a sound truly without precedent.
Judging by what we’ve previously heard from Rully Shabara Herman and Wukir Suryadi’s duo, ‘Sujud’ is unmistakably their definitive and most powerful album yet. Across seven tracks they explore phantasmagoric scenes of throat singing and abyss-staring doom guitars on the incredible ‘Tanggalkan Di Dunia’, alogn with paralysingly haunting psych-folk on the title track, before jamming gibber-jawed vocals and churning metal riffs on ‘Perjuru Menyatu’, and rounding out with the possessed vocals and grunting guitars of ‘Kembali Ke Dunia’.
“Sujud, their premier release on the Sublime Frequencies label, is the latest chapter of this very special and singular sound of the past, present, and future. The basic theme of the record can be summed up with one extremely powerful Bahasa Indonesian word, Tanah, which translates to "soil-ground-land-earth". Shabara's vocals are an expressive force, conjuring spirits from the soil with a deep humility and respect for the land and their existence in the universe. Suryadi has built a new guitar for these tracks and pushes the Senyawa sound into new territory, utilizing delay, loops, and other effects creating grounded backdrops of folk metal, punk attitudinal, and droning earthscapes - providing Shabara the perfect context to explore his whispering poetry and jagged, sharp-as-a-kris animistic powers. There is simply no other sound like it and Sublime Frequencies is thrilled to present this new direction in their discography.”
Chances are anything you’ll listen to after sitting through this half hour masterpiece will sound a bit lifeless - El Mal Querer is the most vibrant, layered and forward facing album of the year.
Rosalía Vila Tobella is already something of a sensation in her native Spain, but this new album looks certain to propel her into the stratosphere with its immediately accessible but multi-layered fusion of traditional flamenco with the swagger of modern R&B, a kind of minimal pop variant underpinned by what feels like an almost endless succession of clever hooks.
The opening Malamente is the most immediate and hard-hitting of the 11 tracks here, but the album is basically wall-to-wall brilliance, from the subtle, almost Theo-parrish inspired EQ cuts on Que No Salga La Luna to the super fwd juxtaposition of flamenco, auto-tune, pulsing subs and motorbikes revving on De Aquí No Sales to the ultra-ohrwurm Di Mi Nombre. Even the more traditional a cappela tracks edge into deviance - the eerie, layered vocals on A Ningún Hombre closing the album on a nervy, uncompromising note.
El Mal Querer really is a perfectly formed, hyper-modern vision of pop music; structurally daring, endlessly catchy, melancholy, introspective, bursting with charisma and more ideas than any other record we’ve listened to in 2018. Apparently there’s new music in the works from Rosalía with Pharell and Arca, you should keep a v close eye on this one...
ASC explores the depths of his sci-fi ambient imagination with part 2 of the steeply introspective ‘Trans-Neptunian Objects’ sessions
Trailing in the astral wake of his excellent 2x12” ‘The Outer Limits’, James Clements a.k.a. ASC returns to the farthest quadrants of his vast inner cosmos, where he takes as long as he needs (between 8-12 minutes) to fully scan his widescreen panoramas.
By jettisoning his percussive anchor, ASC frees himself up to explore heady, swirling scenes of shimmering tonal gradients and gaseous hues of colour. But, where so many artists working with these kind of palettes can tend to bore us to death, ASC imbues his scenes with a rich underlying sense of romance and sci-fi suspense, effectively exacting that classic idea of electronic music - a soundtrack for the mind’s eye, for mental travel. We’d wager it’s what NASA staff listen to on their days off.
Included in the five-CD collection are 14 of the revolutionary composer’s best known and most acclaimed pieces, including: Music for 18 Musicians, Different Trains, Tehillim, Eight Lines, You Are (Variations), Electric Counterpoint, Come Out, The Desert Music, and Drumming.
For new initiates and avant-garde fiends alike, this Xenakis collection renders a breathtaking survey of works by the radical composer, theorist, architect and engineer, spanning the period 1956-1974 and featuring some of the greatest works of the 20th century, including the awe-inspiring sonic architecture of ‘Persepolis’.
Inarguably one of the most important composers to blend electronic process and classical orchestration, Greek-French artist Iannis Xenakis made an indelible impression on the 20th century with his staggeringly complex feats of musical engineering. Regularly cited as an influence by composers ranging from Russell Haswell and Florian Hecker thru Autechre and Reinhold Friedl, Xenakis’s polymath pursuits in hybridising music, architecture and mathematics generated a bewildering array of sounds and structures which have rarely, if ever, been bettered in terms of their sheer scope, scale and technical ingenuity.
It’s possible to break down Xenakis’ approach to composition, and its results, as an extension of his experiences in armed combat, fighting for Greece’s left wing liberationists against the German army and later the British during WWII, with the latter leaving him blinded in one eye. He would eventually leave Greece in 1947 after graduating university with a degree in civil engineering, and before he could be conscripted into the Greek army, who didn’t look favourably on left wing sympathisers. Moving from Greece to Paris left him with a sense of guilt at betraying his friends, and a sense that “I had to do something important to regain the right to live. It wasn’t just a question of music - it was something much more significant.”
That significant something turned out to be a mind-blowing, multi-disciplinary oeuvre practically unprecedented in the history of music, architecture and art; a radical synthesis of ideas which embraced new technology and abstraction as a means to realise and create a new world in the aftermath of WWII. Like the Italian futurists before him, Xenakis would draw on the chaotic soundfield of war, and combined with a strong knowledge of experimental classical music and a special nous of maths, Xenakis’ subsequent studies with Olivier Messiaen and work with Parisian architect Le Corbusier would prompt him to composing groundbreaking new music during the 1950s.
This 2CD contains works from that era, stretching right back to the pranging clangour and jet-like eruptions of Achorripsis [1956-57], an early example of his stochastic style of composition, thru the dizzying, chronic dynamics of Syrmos , and to some of the earliest work composed by a computer, the 7090 IBM, in ST/48(St/48-1,240162).
But it’s Xenakis’ ’60s/‘70s work where his genius is mst evident, from the breathtaking scope of Polytope De Montréal  - written for four orchestras in the same space in the French Pavilion at Expo ’67 - to the gobsmacking dimensions of his seminal Persépolis , which was realised for the Shah of Iran, plus the frankly terrifying, computerised wormhole of Polytope De Cluny [1972-74].
We can’t reasonably describe this set as anything other than indispensable for fans of electronic music from its inception to the modern day.
A unique, prickly flora in the garden of Edition RZ, ’Klangregionen 1951-2007’ offers an unparalleled and riveting overview of Josef Anton Riedl’s pioneering concrète and electronic noise music; ranging from his time at the GRM c. 1950’s thru his later years, when he made important contributions, alongside Nikos Mamangakis, to the soundtrack for Edgar Reitz's incredible Die Zweite Heimat series.
Of proper historic pedigree, Klangregionen 1951-2007 renders a fascinating cross-section of Riedl’s oeuvre, collecting material previously released on vinyl, along with a number of premieres, which all make their first and only appearance on CD here thanks to the great Edition RZ. Frankly, it’s a treasure trove for adventurous listeners who hold an interest in any aspect of electronic and noise music, and where it came from.
As the set reveals, Josef Anton Riedl (1929-2016) was way ahead-of-his-time. After early studies in Münich, he began in earnest with electronic and concrète composition in 1952, charting a course that would take him to the GRM in 1953, to Köln’s NWDR studio in 1955, and Gravesano with the legendary Hermann Scherchen in ’59, before a spell as director of Siemans Studio for electronic music between 1959-66, and subsequently turning toward multi-media events, both in production and organisation, with the Musik/Film/Dia/Licht galerie in Munich, and the Kultur Forums in Bonn (1974-82), and since 1987 with the Bonner Tage Neuer Musik festival and Musica viva festival Munich.
The work he produced over this period is some of the most striking concrète and electronic noise we’ve ever heard. From the outset of this set, the shearing angularity of Paper Music I, 1961/70 sound remarkably fresh and distinctly prescient of music made 60 years later, while his later take on Cage’s Fontana Mix, here as Mix Fontana Mix, 1974/76/79 is one of the best, freakiest, we’ve heard - clearly pre-echoing the mad fuss of Russell Haswell and reams of Japanese noise music. Factor in breathtaking percussive workouts such as Silphium, 1969/70, the totally alien vocal diffusion of Leonce Und Lena, 1963/64, or the Roland Kayn-esque tonal warp of Studie 62 II, 1962 and you’ve got a truly astonishing, diverse body of work which requires much closer attention.
An added bonus for us is the revelation that Riedl was responsible for much of the experimental music in Edgar Reitz’s incredible second series of Heimat : Chronicle of a Generation, which we are only now realising was strongly related, or possibly even loosely based upon, Riedl’s own life; as the series follows a young composer who moves to Munich in the 1950s, undertaking classical piano studies which expand into experimental music as he looks to find a new musical voice and language for the generation of German youth who grew up in the shadow of WWII. The parallels are arguably striking and unmistakeable, and serves to render this collection in a fascinating new light.
For fans of anything from Daphne Oram’s alien abstractions to Gottfried Michael König’s harshness, thru their modern antecedents in Russell Haswell, Autechre or Emptyset - or indeed Heimat - this collection is utterly essential!
Chris Carter plugs a large gap in his discography with ‘Miscellany’, containing a previously unreleased batch of cosmic ‘70s synth abstractions, plus the first ever vinyl pressings of ‘‘Disobedient’ and ’Small Moon’, as well as a new edition of his classic ‘Mondo Beat’ . For any self-respecting fan of Throbbing Gristle, X-TG, Carter Tutti, or CTI, this is a genuinely essential motherload direct from source.
Arriving in the wake of the influential synthesist’s ‘Chris Carter Chemistry Lessons Vol.1’, this boxset extends a necessary catch-up to many listeners, as well as a salve to collectors who can now complete their Chris Carter vinyl collections. Between the four respective albums inside, Mute survey the years prior to Carter’s pivotal debut ‘The Space Between’ , which was recorded in the run-up to TG’s original demise, and the years post his participation in the short but extremely bright early phase of the world’s most notorious band.
The ‘Archival Recordings’ disc is perhaps of greatest interest, historically and artistically. Spanning 1973-77, it covers the years just before, and after, Throbbing Gristle’s conception, when Carter was clearly in thrall to kosmische and psychedelia, but not beholden to them. Across 13 parts, Carter’s take on space music and pulsing early electronics is definitely less whimsical, much darker than other music of that period, progressing chronologically over the LP to reveal a full embrace of electronic music’s dark allure by the time we get to the hellish miasma of ‘See Sick’ .
However, if we follow that chronologic logic beyond his years spent in TG (1975-1981), it’s clear to hear that Carter’s music becomes less dark and more sensual, funked and melodic with the languid lines and supple rhythms of ‘Mondo Beat’, including the classic ‘Moonlight’ which would become a dance anthem around Europe and the US (and reissued by Optimo in 2011). Skipping a grip of classic CTI and Carter Tutti material, that logic also extends to ‘Disobedient’ and ’Small Moon’, issued over 1998 and 1999, and exploring inquisitive strains of sound design more mystic/etheric, than outright dark, noisy or “Industrial” - all quite symptomatic of late ‘90s PMT.
The mid-90s were a period of going as far out in all directions as possible – and Luke Slater’s The 7th Plain tracks were certainly about exploration of the deep space of the imagination.
"Cosmic, analogue, orchestrated, they still represent some of the most emotionally intense music ever to come out of the techno realm. Whether built on percussive frameworks or sweeping nebulas of dissipated sound, Slater’s synthesizers still sing space-travelers’ tales compellingly and beautifully.
For this reason, Ostgut Ton sublabel A-TON launched back in 2016 with The 7th Plain’s Chronicles I, establishing itself as a platform for archive, ambient and art-related releases. This first eight-track compilation was split between classics from the albums My Yellow Wise Rug and The 4 Cornered Room on the one hand and previously unreleased tracks on the other, with the goal of providing a different, remastered framework for Slater’s futuristic visions from the past.
In contrast, Chronicles III is made up solely of music from the General Production Recordings label catalogue and stylistically skews less toward percussive techno-funk and more toward free-form broken rhythms – though tracks such as “Lost”, “Time Melts” or “Millentum” stand strong as hybrid pillars of both.
Luke Slater pioneered the UK's electronic landscape as Translucent, 4 Slots For Bill, Planetary Assault Systems, The 7th Plain, Clementine, and later as L.B. Dub Corp, by partly focussing on, partly bypassing the traditional, puristic values of techno. Together with Dave Sumner (Function) and Steve Bicknell he also operates as LSD.
Ultimately, when listening to all three parts of Chronicles, it’s apparent that 7th Plain music is cut from the same emotional cloth, one related strongly to the backroom, the chillout, the after-party, the solo headphone voyage. These weren’t and never should be considered separate zones from the dancefloor.
In other words, as Luke Slater puts it, in the mid-90s, they were “part of the night, part of the experience... where ideas could be shared.” And like Global Communication, Mira Calix, The Future Sound of London, the Artificial Intelligence generation, Slater's 7th Plain was a response to those hallucinatory, spiritual, but still social spaces at the heart of underground communities – and the magic is still strong in it."
‘1929 - Das Jahr Babylon’ is Thomas Fehlmann’s soundtrack to a documentary about Berlin in 1929, a time when the effects of the Wall Street Crash and the Young Plan for WWI reparations begin to crumble the Weimar Republic, hastening the conditions for Naziism to flourish
Employing his signatures of dubwise repetition, crackle, and woozy polka rhythms, Kehlmann’s soundtrack mirrors the good times of the 1920’s Weimar Republic, but also connotes something darker, lurking, foreboding, with both subtlety and tact.
“To compliment the internationally lauded TV series "Berlin Babylon", German director Volker Heise has created a documentary about 1929, the fateful year during Germany's "Weimarer Republik" in which "Berlin Babylon" is settled. Heise's stirring documentary portrays Germany's sizzling capital that is faced with radical changes by the dark forces whom are about to toss the world into the abyss we know as World War II. This marks the second time that Fehlmann is partnering up with Volker Heise after 2010's marathon documentary "24 Stunden Berlin" which was released as "Gute Luft" (KOM211, KOMCD81) in the same year.
Fehlmann's composition for "1929" consists of sample material taken from the era and thwarts the exaggerated lust for life with threatening undertones that anticipate the dawn of mankind's darkest chapter so far. Although all the sounds breathe yesterday's atmosphere this soundtrack bursts with modernity. Fehlmann accomplished the daring feat to musically render the unsettling resemblance between the political situation 90 years ago and our current time.”
Luke Slater rifles his archive of 7th Plain riches for a 2nd ambient-techno survey with Ostgut-Ton’s A-Ton sibling
Scanning a golden seam of mid ‘90s material, ‘Chronicles II’ parses cuts from Slater’s classic album ‘The 4 Cornered Room’ beside a handful of other gems off his General Production Recordings (GPR) label, and no fewer than four previously unreleased pieces.
Still phosphorescing from the rave explosion, Luke Slater was one of the key UK players to channel that energy into new forms, transmuting the initial impetus from Detroit, Chicago, Berlin and British fields into his own form of tactile, psychedelically sensitive ambient techno.
From ‘The 4 Cornered Room’ we find the soaring night flight of ‘Astra Naut-E’, and off the ’Shades Amaze Concept EP’ there’s the spangled beauty ‘Big Field’, while his 1993 EP ‘To Be Surreal’ supplies the floating suspension system of its title track and the UR-styled funk bent of ‘Convex’.
The others four cuts are exclusive to this 12” and made during the same era. They include the warm Martian winds of ‘Wand Star’; a lush kosmiche mission titled ’Silver Chinook’; and the unmissable ambient portal of ‘I Think Too Much’, which is bound to light up old raver’s pleasure centres like a vintage mitsi flashback.
Seasonal expansion pack of ‘Music From The Welsh Mines’, including the classic original LP plus a bonus disc of all your favourite Carols in Latin, Welsh and english - ‘Domine Non Sum Dignus’ , ‘Hen Don Llyfr Y Ficer’, ‘Ave Verum’ - and don’t worry, there’s Holy Night’, too
Making a fine accompaniment to Arc Light Editions’ recordings of Gaelic Psalms from the Hebrides, the Rhos Male Voice Choir’s ‘Music From The Welsh Mines’ offers another look at the way music and religion intersect in more rugged corners of the British Isles.
Hailing from Rhosllannerchrugog, a large, Welsh-Speaking village outside Wrexham in North Wales, the village’s choir carry a rich history and tradition in their massed chorales, and were widely regarded among the best in the highly competitive Male Voice Choir scene.
The first disc ‘Music From The Welsh Mines’  makes its first appearance on CD, including the Welsh national anthem, the haunting ‘Hiraeth’, and Schubert’s ’23rd Psalm’, and, ready for the coming weeks, the 2nd disc ‘Songs of Peace and Goodwill’  also appears on CD for first time, ready for sing-a-longs to ‘While Shepherds Watch Their Flock By Night’ and ‘Hark The Herald Angels Sing’.
New album by vaporwave pioneer Ramona Vektroid, aka Floral Shoppe aka Macintosh Plus.
"Vektroid (Ramona Xavier) is an electronic musician and artist based in Portland, but her reputation has hinged almost entirely on her hypertextual virtual presence. While she's most often pigeonholed as being a primary artist behind vaporwave—a net-based microgenre notorious for its wholesale appropriations and meme-like propagation—she has been releasing music since 2006 in a variety of styles and under a dizzying array of nom de plumes, from Vektordrum and Macintosh Plus to Laserdisc Visions and 情報デスクVIRTUAL.
Sleepline (released as New Dreams Ltd.), plays in the liminal space between states of consciousness, inducing a hazy, deteriorating quality that stands in contrast to Shader Complete's mostly hi-definition aesthetics. It was written in winter 2013-2014, but it didn't see an official release until 2016. Originally conceived as a Sacred Tapestry sequel called Transcontinent, the album saw Xavier returning to her plunderphonic tactics, looping and down-pitching what sounds like decades-old Japanese commercials. This time, Xavier sought out source material that would more readily fall under fair use, attempting to bridge the aesthetic gap between her works by foregrounding her editing techniques as much as transforming the source material."
Definitive version of the Shader album by vaporwave pioneer Ramona Vektroid, aka Floral Shoppe, aka Macintosh Plus.
"Vektroid (Ramona Xavier) is an electronic musician and artist based in Portland, but her reputation has hinged almost entirely on her hypertextual virtual presence. While she's most often pigeonholed as being a primary artist behind vaporwave—a net-based microgenre notorious for its wholesale appropriations and meme-like propagation—she has been releasing music since 2006 in a variety of styles and under a dizzying array of nom de plumes, from Vektordrum and Macintosh Plus to Laserdisc Visions and 情報デスク VIRTUAL.
Shader Complete is an exquisite, multi-faceted album that pivots effortlessly between widescreen electronic synthscapes, atmospheric drones, and claustrophobic appropriations. It's the latest permutation of a release that originally arrived in summer 2012 as Sacred Tapestry. That version, titled Shader, was written during the first couple months at her new home of Portland, marking a period of instability and existential confusion for Xavier. Concerned at the time that this was her final release, the record was paired with a cryptic note about body transmigration from fictitious Hong Kong company PrismCorp, hinting at the possibility of the album being her "final transmission."
It wasn't until 2016 when it was reworked to its current state as Shader Complete, which saw Xavier reinterpreting the album to include orphaned tracks from the Color Ocean Road (2012, as Vektroid) sessions. This makes Shader Complete something like a lost sequel to Color Ocean Road."
Collaborative 2CD album of a Japan noise legend Masami Akita alias Merzbow and a Czech seven-member ensemble Opening Performance Orchestra based in Prague.
"The first CD contains four compositions by Merzbow. 'Futaomote' means 'double face' and it was originally titled 'Janus'. 'Yasugibushi' is a Japanese old folk song which was sampled. The second CD contains two live tracks from Opening Performance Orchestra which were played live in Tokyo and Prague in 2017 and studio edited at the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018. --- no melody no rhythm no harmony - this is fraction music."
Cue gushing waves of nostalgia: Sandra Kerr & John Faulkner’s soundtrack forkids TV animation ‘Bagpuss’ is finally available on vinyl. It’s definitely one for the over ‘40s, and younger folkies who’re old at heart.
"Bagpuss, dear Bagpuss , Old fat furry cat-puss , Wake up and look at this thing that I bring, Wake up, be bright , Be golden and light , Bagpuss, Oh hear what I sing. 12th of February, 1974, and for an audience of small children at 1:45pm, a life irrevocably coloured by the wayward wonderings of one saggy cloth cat...
Some 44 years later and Earth Recordings opens the door to Bagpuss & Co. once again, revealing for the first time the original music in all its newly-mastered splendour. The 32 tracks that make up the main body of the compositions are – like all good folk music – a patchwork of traditional pieces, half-remembered tunes and pure improvisation. It's testament to Sandra Kerr and John Faulkner's musicianship that the recordings work so well, not only within the context of the television episodes, but as an album in its own right.
Of the recording, Oliver Postgate (in his exquisite autobiography 'Seeing Things') says: "Between them Sandra and John could play every sort of instrument from a mountain dulcimer to an Irish fiddle. They knew and could sing every tune in the world and didn't bother with written music, except as a last resort. They were exactly suited to Gabriel the Toad and Madeleine the Rag Doll and in those roles were happy to play whatever music and sing whatever songs would be needed." Those songs manifested themselves as reworkings of familiar tunes ('I Saw A Ship'; 'Row Your Boat'; 'Bucket's Burning'), takes on traditional ballads ('Brian O'Lynn'; 'The Frog Princess'; 'Weaving Song'; 'The Old Woman Tossed Up in a Basket') and delicious flights of fancy ('The Bony King of Nowhere'; 'Turtle Calypso'; 'Uncle Feedle').
The counterpart to Madeleine and Gabriel's more polished ditties are the interludes from the mice; a raggle-taggle chorus that accompanies the creatures' efforts of help (with the mice once famously going on strike when they were not permitted sang as they worked). Again, Postgate muses: "Once I had worked out a few episodes I would make a very rough list of the bits where I though music would be appropriate. I would send it to [Sandra and John] to think about. Then we would borrow a fairly silent room in a remote house and, taking the various articles that we intended to celebrate with us, would spend a happy day with a tape recorder, thinking up and recording whatever songs and tunes came to mind."
The outtakes provide an intimate – and often very humourous – insight into the trio's work ethic, if it can be called such a thing. (By all accounts they sound as though they're having a very jolly time indeed.) Highlights include alternative opening words and end music, as well as Postgate sound-checking in character as Bagpuss. This never-before heard audio provides a real treat for fans (and indeed those new to the Smallfilms stable) – affirmation again to the enduring quality of these special recordings, and the beloved programme that inspired them. "An accidental classic of the folk-roots underground that we never dared hope we’d hear with such clarity."Stewart Lee.. And so their work was done."
Richard Youngs and co’s Amor mount a full debut album of disco-not-disco with ‘Sinking Into a Miracle’, arriving 18 months after a couple of charmingly sore thumb 12”s. Imagine ACR entering the studio after binging on avant-folk and Liquid Liquid records
““Our time has begun…” Sinking Into A Miracle is the debut album by Glasgow’s AMOR, a quartet of musical travellers exploring the sonic open-ended-ness of dance music. Following two critically acclaimed 12” Single releases, Sinking Into A Miracle is a fully developed treatise on ecstasy and transcendence. Here, Richard Youngs, Michael Francis Duch, Paul Thomson and Luke Fowler are more honed, razor sharp in focus and timing, testing their instrumental prowess on condensed song structures and new, enlightened feelings of expansive hope and bliss.
From the outset it’s an ambitious yet ultimately inclusive journey they are embarking on. Recorded to 24-track tape at Chem 19 and mixed by Paul Savage and Richard McMaster (Golden Teacher), Sinking Into A Miracle retains the elastic grooves of Paradise and Higher Moment, the group’s previous single releases, but relinquishes the classic Philadelphia International tinged sound in favour of more looser rhythmic patterns. There are new depths to the compositions ; a more free-flowing approach to percussion and deft experiments in hybridity, making for a full and rounded, emotionally tinged record. Indeed, there are times when AMOR sound like the lost house band from David Mancuso's Loft parties: Richard Youngs’ uplifting, gospel tinged lyrics talk about moving beyond, universal truths, sailing through the horizon. It’s a wide-eyed optimism Mancuso would perhaps have approved of and which is embroidered with spectral details that begs to be auditioned on large, tweaked out sound-systems.
On Glimpses Across Thunder, Youngs’ piano chords echo early Blue Nile atmospherics before the band take the song into a funked, minor chord territory that feels endlessly searching, never to resolve. Opener Phantoms Of The Sun relies on Duch’s sublime bass line to drive a dubbed out track complete with a utopian flute refrain. Full Fathom Future stomps relentlessly forward on the back of Thomson’s percussion-heavy groove before collapsing into a moving three chord epilogue played on droning string instruments. Heaven Among The Days introduces a more robotic groove to the album, with a short bass refrain bouncing off stripped drum triggers, its dark rhythms reminiscent of the proto-House tracks that were trademarked by Chicago DJ Ron Hardy.
Whilst Youngs contemplates the prospect of heaven in our daily lives Fowler's gliding synthesiers chords underline the more devotional potential of AMOR's music. Sinking Into A Miracle ends with the sublime, Truth Of Life the most expansive and transporting of these compositions. Here the studio as instrument is used to full effect, with the rhythm section in full flow as the melodic elements are twisted, delayed, swaddled in tape echo, delaying gratification before a full, thrilling drop into blissful pleasure.”
2008 album making extensive use of digital guitar effects.
Regardless of how highly you might regard his lyrical, deeply melodic playing style, the very fact that everything is so comprehensively caked outmoded, often rather thin sounding production treatments can be something of a turn off. Still, it's very much Reilly's sound, and you could never fail to pick it out of a crowd.
In addition to the excellent guitar instrumentals, you'll encounter emotive beautifully dusky piano pieces ('Amanda') and most curiously, the like of 'Never Known Version', which sounds like it's taken a beat from a Sean Paul record, whilst heavily chorused and delayed guitars fill up the stereo field. Two of the album's standout tracks crop up towards the very end, and both are largely unadorned acoustic solos, recorded in very different ways: the skilful, widescreen flamenco of 'Cup a soup Romance' is a far more enticing prospect than its title would have you believe, whereas 'demo For Gathering Dust' benefits from the sheer rawness of its rendering, sounding all the better for being unburdened by excessive post-production.
A collection of odds and ends from The Durutti Column's archive.
The material here is culled from a number of different recording scenarios including four track demos. 'Dig A Hole' is one such Portastudio recording - with just a few layers of guitar and half-whispered late night vocal to its name, the track has a slow-burning power to it, thanks in part to Reilly's lyrical lead guitar. This is, lest we forget, the man who John Frusciante declared the greatest guitarist in the world.
In a similar vein there's the echo-drenched shoegaze minimalism of tracks like 'Trust Not The Artist' and 'Natural Mystics'. Showing another side of the project, there are pieces like 'In The City', commissioned by none other than Anthony H Wilson, who was looking for a Durutti Column work that incorporated snatches of dialogue from a debate at the In The City conference. Elsewhere, Reilly gives an impressively faithful nod to his old labelmates on 'New Order Tribute'.
Some of the songs here are improvisations, reworkings of art-installation soundtracks, and snippets of lyrics and musical passages from the past.
"Gone are most of the drum machines and much of the sampling, and in their place is more focused and intense guitar strumming. Tempus Fugit is an emotional, vibrant musical masterstroke from an artist who seems to never release anything less." ALLMUSIC
Released two years after their debut album, This Mortal Coil’s Filigree & Shadow (1986) was no less ornate than its predecessor; a double album with each of its four sides a self-contained unit. New faces joined the cast for this record, including a variety of singers Ivo handpicked like Alison Limerick, Jeanette, Dominic Appleton (Breathless), sisters Deirdre and Louise Rutkowski (Sunset Gun), and Richenel.
This Mortal Coil's second album is arguably their best, a sprawling double-LP expanding on the gothic intrigue of It'll End In Tears with even more widescreen production and symphonic grandeur; vocals are handled largely by Breathe's Dominic Appleton and the wonderful Rutkowski Sisters. This is tender, emotional music - sometimes cloyingly so - but by god, is it good, and unlike pretty much anything else out there thesee days. As before, and after, 4AD and TMC mastermind Ivo Watts-Russell delves into the songbook of West Cost American folk-rock - which, lest we forget, wasn't as well-documented and canonised in '86 as it is now - and comes up with gold.
A sepulchral version of Tom Rapp's 'The Jeweller' opens the album, Appleton turns Gene Clark's cocaine-strained love song 'Strength Of Strings' into a fire and brimstone epic, and Deirdre Rutkowski gives one of the finest vocal performances of the 1980s or any other decade for a soaring dub-pop take on Gary Ogan's 'I Want To Live'. Tim Buckley ('Morning Glory'), Judy Collins, Colin Newman, Talking Heads ('Drugs') and Van Morrison ('Come Here My Love') are also covered, but remarkably one of the album's most classic-sounding and resonant songs, 'Tarantula', was originally by 4AD's own Colour Box, whose own Martyn Young fronts a transformative, celestial chamber-pop arrangement by Watts-Russell.
And of course there's no shortage ncredible instrumentals like 'Ivy and Neet', featuring the unmistakably laconic saxophone of Dif Juz's Richard Thomas, the title track, and the incredibly grave 'The Horizon Bleeds & Sucks It Thumb'. The influence of this album, at once mournful and ecstatic, can be heard in everything from Massive Attack through to The xx and even the likes of The Haxan Cloak and Raime - and though not without its cloying moments, it remains an out and out classic, bound together by John Fryar's engineering and Watts-Russell's visionary gusto.
Next in the ongoing Holger Czukay reissue scheme, his 1991 live album ‘Radio Wave Surfer’, recorded live between 1984 and 1987 at the Can Studio, Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin, and Messehalle Frankfurt-Main
Out of print since ’91, now newly remastered, ‘Radio Wave Surfer’ finds the legendary co-founder of Can conducting his bandmates, Michael Karoli and Jaki Liebzeit, plus their Phantom Band’s Sheldon Ancel, in one-take performances, recorded on a single mic, with mixing, but lots of carefully editing.
Fallen Trees’ – the new album by Lubomyr Melnyk – known as ‘the prophet of the piano’ due to his lifelong devotion to his instrument.
"The album release coincides with Melnyk’s 70th birthday, but despite the autumnal hint in its title, there’s little suggestion of him slowing down. Having received critical acclaim and coheadlining the prestigious Royal Festival Hall as part of the Erased Tapes 10th anniversary celebrations, after many years his audience is now both global and growing. The composer is finally gaining a momentum in his career that matches the vibrant, highly active energy of his playing.
Cascades of notes, canyons and rivers of sound: there’s something about his music that channels the natural world at its most awe-inspiring. In ‘Fallen Trees’ the connection with the environment continues, taking its cue from a long rail journey Melnyk made through Europe. Glancing out of the window as the train passed through a dark forest, he was struck by the sight of trees that had recently been felled. “They were glorious,” he says. “Even though they’d been killed, they weren’t dead. There was something sorrowful there, but also hopeful.” That sense of sadness touched by optimism infuses the album, too: rarely has Melnyk made music so shot through with melancholy and regret, but which sounds so rapt, even radiant.
Drawing comparisons with Steve Reich and the post-rock group Godspeed You, Black Emperor!, Pitchfork praised his 2015 album ‘Rivers And Streams’ for it’s “sustained concentration and ecstatic energy”. That energy is present in ‘Fallen Trees’ too, but at points the tone is quieter, the mood darker and more wistful. At points elsewhere on the album, despite being rooted in the wonders of the natural world, there’s a kaleidoscopic quality in the fractal flurry of notes and the broad spectrum of colour they summon.
Critics have detected the influence of Ravi Shankar and other Indian styles in Melnyk’s music, along with the insistent, repetitive textures of minimalist pioneers such as Steve Reich and Philip Glass. Melnyk himself cites his debt to the American composer Terry Riley, particularly the legendary 1964 work ‘In C’, which he says “opened the world for me”. But he adds that if you listen carefully, you’ll also be able to hear the lilting contours of traditional Ukrainian folk music."
Following on from last year's collaborative release Find The Ways with Peter Broderick, the Californian singer and multi-instrumentalist David Allred returns with a first solo album on Erased Tapes out November 2nd, titled The Transition.
"Hailing from Loomis, a small town outside of Sacramento, via Portland, Oregon – David worked as a sound engineer and session musician, featuring on multiple recordings by the likes of Birger Olsen, Brigid Mae Power, Brumes, The Beacon Sound Choir, Chantal Acda, Heather Woods Broderick, Jung Body, Masayoshi Fujita, and many more. He quickly found himself touring Europe with Peter, culminating in a Royal Festival Hall performance, and contributing the arresting voice and double bass piece Ahoy to the Erased Tapes 10th anniversary box set 1+1=X; only to return to where he started, Loomis, and finally write and record The Transition as his first full-length statement in just one month.
“At 26 years old, I found myself back in the town where I grew up, feeling a bit like a failure for not “making it” out there in the years I spent living and working on my own. I picked up a job working in a retirement home, surrounded by those who are at the very end of their lives, and they’ve kept saying the same thing: that they had no idea life would happen that fast. So I decided to make an album inspired by my recent experiences and stories I heard through working with them,” he explains.
With the release of The Transition, David Allred takes his place among the classic American songwriting tradition whilst revealing a peculiarity to his storytelling. Isolated and cut off from the outside world, David began unravelling his life and putting it on record. With a double bass in his bedroom and a piano in a church across the street, the stories started to unfold until a set of ten songs came to life. Vignettes and feelings from his own experiences, as well as characters he met along the way, inspired a rich tapestry of stories and melodies.
“This record is primarily about change, coming to terms with it, and not getting too attached to any particular phase of life. I’ve experienced living in isolation at various times, and it lead to a sceptical line of thought, but I managed that through accepting change and feeling satisfied with where I am. The Transition is about acknowledging the sadness of change, whilst providing an escape from it.”
Landing at the start of a new decade, after much had happened in both producer Ivo Watts-Russell’s life and with his 4AD label, the fi nal part of the This Mortal Coil trilogy, Blood (1991), felt like a perfect conclusion. Meticulously orchestrated, vocalists Alison Limerick, Deirdre and Louise Rutkowski return from the second album with Caroline Crawley (Shelleyan Orphan / Babacar) and 4AD signees Heidi Berry, Kim Deal (Pixies / The Breeders), Tanya Donelly (Throwing Muses / The Breeders / Belly) and Pieter Nooten all signed up.
This Mortal Coil's final studio album is a classic; considerably more controlled and condensed than its wonderful predecessor, Filigree & Shadow, it's aged more elegantly, sounding very much a record of the 90s (it was recorded than '91) than of the previous decade. It's perhaps the most obviously feminine TMC record: Ivo Watts-Russell, presiding once more over the general vibe of love smashed on a rock, relies largely on female vocalists - with the veteran Rutkowski sisters joined by Creation chanteuse Heidi Berry, Shelleyan Orphan's Caroline Crawley, Anne Garrigues, The Venomettes' Gini Ball, Alison Limerick, and Kim Deal and Tanya Donelly of then recent 4AD signings Pixies and Throwing Muses respectively.
It's also the most covers-heavy LP that the collective ever cut, with transformative versions of folk-rock and psych classics by Chris Bell, Gene Clark, Syd Barrett, Emmylou Harris, Spirit and The Byrds, as well as treatments of more contemporary songs by The Apartments, Rain Parade, Pieter Nooten and Mary Margaret O'Hara. Supremely gothic original 'The Lacemaker' - a haunting, weightless coming together of chamber strings, Badalamenti-esque synth pads and heavily reverbed, Ophelia-ish vocals warning that "dreams are like water, colourless and dangerous" - sets the sombre tone. It's tracks like this, and the atonal ambient spiritual of 'Andialu', that will probably appeal most to contemporary heads curious as to why, for example, the likes of Tropic of Cancer and Raime have pledged their allegiance to TMC, but it's the songs - those big, grandstanding ballads cat in gossamer-thin, minimalist arrangements - that stay with you longest.
The Heidi Berry-vocalled 'Til I Gain Control Again' is simply heart-stopping, while 'Bitter' anticipates the mournful, dub-infused trip-hop balladry that Massive Attack would make their own over the course of the 90s, and 'D.D. and E.' could easily be mistaken for something made by Julia Holter today. By some way the most subtle, and most refined, of TMC's albums, Blood is also the one to have benefited most from remastering - if you've not heard it before, or just you just need reminding of how good it is, it's your time.
A single composition clocking in at 60 minutes, 'Silent Night' is a work from the veteran American composer William Basinski, wherein he embarks on an indescribably tranquil and variegated mediation which will submerge you completely.
Allowing aural tendrils to rise slowly (like smoke), what at first seems indistinct and untethered soon begins to take on a greater significance as structures loom through the shrouded, ineluctable broadcasts. Slow-motion it may be, Basinski nonetheless gets you where you're going in no time at all. Incredible music.
This Mortal Coil’s debut album It’ll End In Tears (1984) forged the template; helping to crystallise 4AD’s emerging signature sound whilst shining a light on some of their stable with Cocteau Twins, Colourbox, Dead Can Dance and The Wolfgang Press all involved. The line-up was completed by arranger Martin McCarrick, violinist Gini Ball, Howard Devoto of Buzzcocks / Magazine fame and Cindytalk’s Gordon Sharp. Pitchfork recently named it one of the best Dream Pop albums ever, a moment which “catalysed 4AD’s ascendance from the stilted poetics of goth rock to the kings of gauzy transcendence.”
Originally released in 1984, ‘It’ll End In Tears’ was the debut of ambitious 4AD ‘supergroup’ This Mortal Coil. Pieced together by 4AD boss Ivo Watts-Russell the project was more of a collective than a traditional band, and was used as a blanket name for anyone Watts-Russell felt like dragging in. Here we find the Cocteau Twins trio of Liz Fraser, Robin Guthrie and Simon Raymonde joined by Dead Can Dance’s Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry among other producers and musicians, and unsurprisingly the musical content veers towards these two bands particular strengths; emotive gothic pop. In the years since, This Mortal Coil have probably been most affectionately remembered for their cover versions, and the Liz Fraser fronted cover of ‘Song to the Siren’ is here in all its glory.
Sad and heart-breakingly beautiful this is a rare occasion where a cover version can better the original in almost every way. Elsewhere we find the collective wrangling with Big Star’s ‘Kangaroo’ and Holocaust’ as well as Colin Newman’s ‘Not Me’, and it stands as a testament to Watts-Russell’s guiding hand that what could have so easily have been a novelty record hangs together with majesty and clarity.
A timeless piece of 80s British music history, ‘It’ll End In Tears’ is a record that should be in any self-respecting music fan’s collection - essential purchase.
‘Light Pipe’ is a typically expansive missive by modular maestro M. Geddes Gengras, clocking in at 2.5 hours of abstract deep space ambience with traces of ‘70s synth epics and ‘90s chill-out functions smudged and teased into diaphanous new abstractions.
“To summarise the work of M.Geddes Gengras is no easy feat. A tireless artist, whose output sprawls across experimental dub, ambient and low key techno, his wide ranging discography reveals a curiosity that serves as a primary driver for creation.
Light Pipe is arguably Gengras’ most ambitious recording project to date. His 10th solo recording is an epic undertaking, spanning over two and a half hours. Across the two CD set, Gengras charts out evocative landscapes of texture and harmony. Working with very simple elements, he creates a tidal like sound space, where sound layers flow seamlessly, rising and falling with an ever-changing sense of motion.
These pieces were written across several years responding the site specific performance situations. These include a durational performance in Los Angeles at The Getty Center’s Irwin Garden, a special performance alongside the banks of the LA river and performances at the El Rey & Regent Theatres, Each disc in this edition focuses specifically on either interior and exterior spaces; the indoor and the outdoor, reflecting the specific conditions of how sound operates in these types of situations.
Light Pipe is a long-form work within which multiple states of listening are possible and moreover encouraged. It’s music that is ideal for deep immersion; for sleep, for flying and for any creative states within which a sense of expansion is needed.”
Smalltown Supersound celebrates its 25th anniversary with an epic new mix album of the Smalltown Supersound catalogue by Prins Thomas. Featuring artists including Sonic Youth, DJ Harvey, Studio, Yoshimi (Boredoms), Kim Gordon, Oneohtrix Point Never, Todd Rundgren, Stereolab, High Llamas, Neneh Cherry, Ricardo Villalobos, Four Tet, Bjørn Torske, Dungen, The Orb, Kelly Lee Owens, Lindstrøm, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Biosphere, Peter Brötzmann, and many more.
"I started Smalltown Supersound in 1993 while in high school in Flekkefjord, a small town of 4,000 inhabitants in the south of Norway. There was obviously no supersound in our small town. It was just an ironic name I came up with to release some tapes with lo-fi/noise/bedroom recordings by my brother and his friends. The name was inspired by my hometown and the catalogue number STS was a homage to SST, a label I deeply admired at the time (and still do). Little did I know that I would have to live with that name for the rest of my life.
I started the label before I knew what a record label was. So I gradually learned it by doing. And it was part of me growing up. It might sound like a cliché, but in many ways the label is the soundtrack of my life. Thomas has now made it into a mixtape.
We all hate to see photos of ourselves when we were younger, the bad haircuts and the strange clothes. It is the same thing when you run a label. You constantly look back on things you regret. This mix makes me see the label from the outside in a way I don’t think I have before. And to my surprise the haircuts and the clothes weren't as bad and strange as I remembered.
I have to admit that when I listened to it the first time, I was moved. First of all, because of the deep and true love Thomas has put into this mix. Second, because some of these tracks I haven't heard in 20-25 years. It really felt like revisiting the past. And in a very good way.
Thomas has followed the label since the early beginnings. Back in the days I was always thinking: “He’s a house/disco DJ – why does he want my noise records?”. I realize now I wasn't smart enough to understand his scope. I didn't understand it until his mix album Cosmic Galactic Prism, which is one of my favorite mix albums of all time. So for me it was very obvious that Thomas should make the Smalltown Supersound mix. I just couldn't imagine that he would go this beautifully far with it.
Since day one I have tried to have a red thread run through the releases and the label's DNA. Most of the time I am probably the only one who sees it. And many times I don't even see it myself. Now Thomas has found the spiritual unity.
While I have always struggled to describe what the label is, only now – with this mix – I can finally say: this is what it is. "
Joakim Haugland Oslo, August 2018
‘Body’ is the mesmerising 20th studio album by cult Aussie trio The Necks. It lands nearly 30 years into their singular run of sprawling, freeform yet coolly disciplined kosmiche jazz treks to prove, where needed, the timeless scope and appeal of Tony Buck, Chris Abrahams, and Lloyd Swanton in combination...
Unfolding nearly 1 hour of fluidly spaced and patiently timed drums, guitar, piano, synth and acoustic bass permutations, ‘Body’ is an instant classic in The Necks’ restlessly shapeshifting catalogue. As ever, their playing is modestly virtuosic and democratic. No one element dominates the others. Rather, they move as a feathered phalanx in dynamic murmuration, moving from breezy swirls of percussion over low-lying bass eddies in the first part, thru a passage of lysergic deliquescence, to a motorik post rock climax and far out into synth-curdled space jazz.
However, any literal description of ‘Body’ will fall short of grasping its full majesty. It’s an album that needs to be received with the patience with which it was made. Only by submitting to its intuitive quantum physics for the duration, and allowing yourself to roll with their unique syncopation and naturally unpredictable dynamics, can you comprehend their music’s full, transportive effect.
London’s experimental hip hop duo Farai follow drop their debut LP of punkish rap, indie-pop asides, and pointed social commentary. Check for highlights in ‘This Is England’, the hot-stepping ‘Love Disease’, and their autotuned synth-pop downstroke, ’Radiant Child’
“Farai’s debut album (a collaborative project between London based vocalist Farai and artist, musician & producer TONE) documents a process of recovery. For the eponymous vocalist of the project, Farai, music has always been personal. Born in Zimbabwe and raised in London, her lyrics are coloured by the different cities she’s lived in, and how that series of different homes has shaped her perspective. ‘Rebirth’ weaves together South East London landmarks, the bare-bones ethos of post-punk, and the experience of being part of the African diaspora. The record is the biggest stepping stone yet in a journey which Farai started in 2012. She hit a period of feeling burnt out, and started attending weekly music therapy classes, where she started writing poetry and music for the first time. It charted a new direction, one that’s brought her to the exciting point where she now stands.
The album follows their debut EP, ‘Kisswell’, released through NON Worldwide in 2017, the label-cum-collective co-founded by Chino Amobi, Angel-Ho and Nkisi. It attracted support from Dazed, CRACK, The Fader and Pitchfork, the latter praising their “rethinking of post-punk and new wave.” Additional support has come from Annie Mac on Radio 1 and a variety of shows on NTS. They’ve performed on Boiler Room and at the Tate, the latter as part of a special one-off connected to their 2017 Soul of a Nation exhibition.
Farai’s partner in creating both ‘Kisswell’ and ‘Rebirth’ has been TONE, a producer she’s worked with from the early on. They’ve carved out an alternative vision of pop together, distinctive and many-sided at once, poised between punk directness and flourishes of soulful warmth. TONE’s heritage is Afro-Guyanese and Welsh, and their shared pan-African heritage was one of the things which drew them together. He spent part of his childhood in Germany before moving to the UK when he was nine. He visited the Caribbean growing up, where he was introduced to his grandmother’s roots as a performer, hearing soca, dancehall and dub.
The album’s opener sets the tone with a short news snippet, situating the album in London: the pair’s common ground and the city where the album was born. ‘Punk Champagne’ nods to a homemade cocktail TONE mentioned to Farai, made of buckfast and prosecco, and is characteristically stripped back, composed of simply drums, vocals and synths. On ‘This Is England’, they adopt a looser structure still, an ominous synth line framing Farai’s reflections on work and hardship in contemporary Britain.”
Highly influential, singular sound artist and engineer Stephan Mathieu offers another heart-stopping compendium in ‘Folio’, collecting 5 albums worth of music, plus lots of bonus material, following his massive ‘Radiance’ boxset released earlier in 2018.
A lesson in the art of craftng patient, deeply absorbing drone and string panoramas, ‘Folio’ offers a fully zoomed out birds-eye view over reams of Mathieu’s more recent works (just shy of 8 hours in total), ranging from his haunting dedication to Ridley Scott’s original Alien crew in ‘Nostromo’ - arguably the last word in abandoned space station ambience - and thru to an expanded edition of ‘The Falling Rocket’ , a rework of the droning dream sequences off his 3CD set ‘Nachtstucke’, and a previously unpublished version of ‘Palimpsest’, the first Schwebung release, here retitled as ‘Folio’.
The ‘Nostromo’ disc is a big favourite for us, full of finely layered detail and subtle spatial dynamics in a way that perfectly evokes its subject matter. Likewise, we can say much the same for ‘Sacred Ground’, Mathieu's soundtrack to a film of the same name, where again his skills as a scene dresser and dramaturgist come into play, whilst ‘The Falling Rocket’ finds him tilted skyward, with attention given to a vertiginous sense of scale and heady movement in the mid-higher registers.
Once again, the slow gaze is key to this amazing suite, offering some of the most restrained and absorbing drone and orchestral minimalism you'll hear this side of Philip Jeck, Stars Of The Lid, Kassel Jaeger or Akira Rabelais. We urge you to spend time diving into its endless charms.