Contemporary genius James Ferraro pushes his hybrid electronic/classical style to beautifully elegiac effect with the 1st of four main musical parts in the ‘Four Pieces For Mirai’ series, following from 2018’s ‘Overture EP’
Presented as a “57 minute long opus into ecocide and planetary divorce”, Ferraro’s ‘Requiem for Recycled Earth’ strikes an elegiac nerve of soundtrack music that short circuits the difference between Philip Glass’ music for ‘Koyaanisqatsi’, the kind of schlocky tones you might expect on a Graham Hancock video about ancient civilisations, and some Hans Zimmer score for a wide-eyed Spielberg epic. It’s executed to the extent one might expect David Attenborough to crop up in one of its lulls, gently guilting listeners for living in the toxic run-off of his generation.
The 61 minute piece breaks down into 13 parts, conducting a spellbinding traverse from the primal, metallic noise and buoyant chorale of ‘Embryo’ thru to the bittersweet curdle of ’Spawn of Hate’, taking in spectacular FM synthesis sound designs with the transitions between ‘Omega Generation’ and ‘Cyber Seed’ or the perceptive depth to ‘Recycled Sky that show off a newly enhanced grasp of production nous, all while still allowing for that Mona Lisa smirk to his sound with the title and EDM nods in ‘Gaia Wept Effluent’.
We’re sure that the artist, presumably like most of us, is worried about climate change and the state of ‘Recycled Earth’. However, in his very particular way, Ferraro’s music here highlights an ambiguity between the objective reality and its mediated, subjective reflection, with a music that speaks to the impending, heightening drama of the situation, but also the saccharine melodrama of weepy emoji-adorned social media statuses (#Attenborough) and the well-meaning but ultimately piecemeal measures taken to avoid the inevitable.
The long awaited debut full length has finally arrived. And the wait was well worth it. Diät have worked, worked and reworked these 8 songs until they were perfect. Who is this band you ask? Let us introduce you: "Brought together by a shared enthusiasm for bleak UK punk and a history of playing in hardcore bands, Berlin based DIÄT have created a sound that they have described, perhaps not entirely seriously, as ‘tough new wave’.
"Fans of Crisis, Killing Joke and The Mob (UK) should be pleased by the band’s unlikely synthesis of depressive drift and cranked, accelerated energy. ‘Positive Energy’ was recorded last Winter while huddled in a practice space overlooking the industrial landscape of frozen East Berlin, the album finds Diät reining in the threads of malignant enthusiasm still peppered throughout their earlier recordings (both 7"s previously released on this fine imprint) to focus on the cynicism and dejectedness that binds them as a band. Intending to create an album that showcases each song individually and plays out like a mixtape, Diät have boldly created a sound all their own - the sound of checking your account balance to see if you’ve been paid yet…but you haven’t."
Holly Herndon returns with the conceptually top-loaded ‘Proto’, an interesting and multi-layered attempt at humanising technology, featuring her A.I. “baby”, Spawn, and a stacked ensemble of guests including Jlin and Amnesia Scanner’s Ville Haimala, plus co-production by Mat Dryhurst.
With one eye on her background in East Tennessee, and the other tracking a future where A.I. aren’t feared but integrated into society, ‘Proto’ is heavily focussed on the voice, both Holly’s own, that of Spawn, and also 16 guests including Stine Janvin, Colin Self and Annie Garlin, in a fusion of folk-wise, hymnal arrangements rendered with computerised tunings. As you can see from the massive list of guest contributors, the hi-def glossy artwork, and an “emphasis on alien songcraft” and existential questioning of “who we are, what are we, what do we stand for, and what are we heading towards?”, a lot of time, thought and effort has gone into this one...
"Holly’s third full-length album ‘PROTO’ isn’t about AI but much of it was created in collaboration with her own AI ‘baby’, Spawn. For the album, she assembled a contemporary ensemble of vocalists, developers and an inhuman intelligence housed in a DIY souped-up gaming PC to create a record that encompasses live vocal processing and timeless folk singing and places an emphasis on alien song craft and new forms of communion. ‘PROTO’ makes reference to what Holly refers to as the protocol era, where rapidly surfacing ideological battles over the future of AI protocols, centralised and decentralised internet protocols and personal and political protocols compel us to ask ourselves who are we, what are we, what do we stand for and what are we heading towards?
You can hear traces of Spawn throughout the album - developed in partnership with longtime collaborator Mathew Dryhurst and ensemble developer Jules LaPlace - and even eavesdrop on the live training ceremonies conducted in Berlin, in which hundreds of people were gathered to teach Spawn how to identify and reinterpret unfamiliar sounds in group call-and-response singing sessions; a contemporary update on the religious gathering Holly was raised amongst in her upbringing in East Tennessee. “There’s a pervasive narrative of technology as dehumanizing,” says Holly. “We stand in contrast to that. It’s not like we want to run away; we’re very much running towards it, but on our terms. Choosing to work with an ensemble of humans is part of our protocol. I don’t want to live in a world in which humans are automated off stage. I want an AI to be raised to appreciate and interact with that beauty ”
Just as ‘Platform’ forewarned of the manipulative personal and political impacts of prying social media platforms long before popular acceptance, ‘PROTO’ is a euphoric and principled statement setting the shape of things to come."
Anthoney J. Hart (East Man, Imaginary Forces) pushes the prism of UK garage, grime and jungle further in his own image with the first Basic Rhythm album, ‘On The Threshold’ for Planet Mu. Sounds a lot like Werk Discs’ Grim Dubs series c. 2005.
"Recorded primarily with the DJ in mind, these tracks are colourful, brutalist and adventurous. Contemporary hybrids constructed from blocks of sound, their angular rhythms draw on Britain's dance music past, but with an eye firmly on the present.
The album starts with 'St. Fabian Tower', named after the now demolished tower block in Chingford where Anthoney used to DJ for Rude FM. The track's lush detuned synths and syncopated drums are girded by stern low end frequencies. Drum and bass, jungle and hardcore are the touchstones here, but the forms he creates make no attempt to imitate the music of those eras. Take the rolling, bubbling, almost jazz-drummer patterns of 'Yeah, I Like It' and 'I Want You' where strange pops and bubbles seem to be forced through the grid almost like they're an effect of pressure. It's an odd juxtaposition next to the soulful vocals but an effective one. 'Edge Of Darkness' meanwhile, is an intense, rough ride of sliding rhythms and elephantine bass. Elsewhere, like on 'A New Consciousness', things are tempered into a more streamlined techno-like hybrid. He lets loose in the claps and kicks banger of 'Fi Di Gyal', but even here there are neat sonic tricks that sound like nods to minimalist composition.
On The Threshold is a balance of smart and energetic, non linear thoughtfulness and makeshift experimentalism that does away with boundaries, but is very much its own self contained world."
Cologne-based pop group Von Spar rope in guest vocals by Eiko Ishibashi, R. Stevie Moore, Laetitia Sadier for their 5th LP of sugary songcraft
““Under Pressure” is Von Spar's fifth album, not counting their homage to Can (recorded live with Stephen Malkmus). 15 years have passed since their debut “Die uneingeschränkte Freiheit der privaten Initiative”, five since the “Streetlife” album. On closer examination, there is a somewhat chameleonesque quality to Von Spar’s discography. Their records are the result of continuous metamorphosis, opening wormholes to post punk, krautrock and 80s art pop. The constants: rhythmic refinement and harmonic quantum leaps, swirling synthesizer arpeggios, backwards guitars with no hint of retrogradation.
The eight songs on “Under Pressure” were recorded in Von Spar’s Dumbo Studio in Cologne, with guests from Toronto, Tokyo, New York, London and Nashville adding noteworthy contributions. As on “Streetlife”, the formative voice belongs to Chris A. Cummings alias Marker Starling. His distinctive falsetto graces over half of the songs, asking: “Is there a cure for this / Unhappiness, happiness?”
On the opening track, Cummings is joined by Eiko Ishibashi (Kafka's Ibiki, Jim O'Rourke, Merzbow) in a Japanese dream sequence exploring where they might get to if the shackles of the flesh are cast off. Punk and reggae professor Vivien Goldman (The Flying Lizards) picks up the thread and liberates herself from the ghosts of the past on “Boyfriends (Dead Or Alive)”. Lætitia Sadier (Stereolab) sings on the album’s kraut-pop hit “Extend The Song” which could run and run for ever, powered by motoric energy: “If someone would ask me / Could I go on?””
Tim Hecker returns with a companion piece to his recent Konoyo album.
"Anoyo (“the world over there”) draws from the same sessions with members of Tokyo Gakuso which led to the 2018 work Konoyo, but rendered starker, solemn, and stripped back, with more of a naturalist tint. Hecker’s processing here moves in veiled ways, soft refractions and whispered shrouds woven within improvisational sessions of traditional gagaku interplay, evoking a sense of vaulted space, temples at dawn, shredded silk fluttering in the rafters.
This is boldly barren music, skeletal and sculptural, shaped from wood, wind, strings, and mist. Modern yet ancient, delicate and desolate, Anoyo inverts its predecessor to compellingly conjure a parallel world of illusion, solitude, and eternal return."
A’dam’s Tom Rejig aka Tracey opens Dial’s 2019 account with an inquisitive debut album of sweetly decayed, off-kilter electronica and low key, supple, grooving hustle that falls neatly in line with the label’s charming style
“In the tradition of established Dial artists such as Lawrence, Roman Flugel and Efdemin, Tracey’s immediately apparent strength is an almost supernatural ability to conjure affecting and memorable melodies with minimalist intent, often just utilising the raw textures of his machines.
From album-opener ‘THRRVL’, Tracey tracks the initially gentle undulations of his studio seemingly waking to life, plotting a neat melodic shuffle on ‘TRR’ and then, by, ‘CCLRT’, something dense, trippy and yearning. From hereon in, ‘Biostar’ plots an intriguing course through hypnotic, clockwork crunch (‘THWRD’), to Drexciyan submersion (‘HDRCSTCS’) and rhythmic experimentation on ‘PHTCPHRK’.
Some of the more affecting moments on ‘Biostar’ emerge from it’s more obtuse sections; ‘DTFNK’ deciphers a surprisingly catchy melody among waves of scrambled signals, while the initially skittish ‘DRMRBT’ blossoms into an electro lullaby at 126bpm. By the arrival of wistful closing track ‘CLSTLBNG’, listeners are likely to emerge content from the deepest exploration yet of Tracey’s unique analogue ecosystem.”
Alva Noto’s 2000 debut album ‘Prototypes’ is finally, officially available to download for the first time, with a bonus track to boot.
Upon its release, ‘Prototypes’ marked a new high water mark of precision tooled electronic minimalism. Recorded 1999-2000 in Berlin, it morphed inspiration from sculptural work by Austrian artist Walter Pichler, known for his radical architectural work, into a series of ultra sparse, spacious arrangements of icy rhythmic pointillism, dense subbass, and barely there tonal presences for the Mille Plateaux label.
19 years (jeeeeez it’s never that long?!) later the album still sounds exceptional. It’s patently a product of the glitch era, yet future-proofed by its meticulously minimalist, near-elemental approach to the fundamentals of sound and music. Carsten Nicolai aka Alva Noto’s solo music has remained mostly minimalist ever since, but has taken on some more fleshly body over the years, leaving ‘Prototype’ as a skeletal Ur-text reminder of where he and electronic music have been and gone over the past 2 decades.
Like a rare comet, Suicide and Talking Heads producer Craig Leon returns nearly 40 years after his ‘Nommos’ and ‘Visiting’ LPs with their widescreen conceptual follow-up; ‘Anthology of Interplanetary Folk Music Vol.2: The Canon’. Apparently John Malkovich makes an appearance too...
Comprising all new material recorded over the past 2 years, and made using similar technology and tekkers as his ‘80s classics, Leon’s sequel finds him riff deeper on the cosmic lore of Mali’s Dogon tribe of Mali, whose exhibition of art at the Brooklyn Museum in 1973 first inspired him to make ‘Nommos’; a visionary piece of NYC’s new wave/downtown puzzle released by John Fahey’s Takoma, which has re-emerged among the most crucial, revelatory reissues of this decade via everywhere from Volcanic Tongue to Superior Viaduct, and RVNG Intl’s deluxe ‘Anthology of Interplanetary Folk Music Vol.2’.
The ‘Nommos’ Leon refers to are part of the Dogon tribe’s creation myth revolving visitations by an amphibious alien race from the white dwarf Sirius B who came to impart their wisdom on humankind. Resonating with then prevailing new age thought and conceptually pre-echoing Rashad Becker’s ‘Traditional Music For Notional Species’, the project sincerely speaks to electronic music’s ideals of transcendence, both (meta)physical and spiritual, beautifully employing the use of synthesis as a means of divination and hyperstition,
‘The Canon’ leads directly on from ‘Nommos’ and ‘Visitation’, tracing the alien knowledge/arithmetic/energy’s journey from Mali to Egypt and Greece in a narrative arc that unfolds like a map for inner exploration, coursing from the ceremonial chorale of ‘The Earliest Trace’ thru glyphic drum communications in ‘The Respondent in Dispute’, and the panoramic beauty of ‘Four Floods of the Point’, before opening the tantalising wormhole of ‘The Gates Made Plain’, and atomically diffusing into ether with ‘Departure’.
Including contributions from folk sorceress Cassell Webb and apparently even John Malkovich in there, somewhere, the results are worth the wait for any believers who look for signs in the skies.
Foundational, 1989 UK house pressure from Tony Thorpe’s Warriors Dance posse, reissued 30 years later for the good of the dance
Leading on from the equally crucial reissue of No Smoke’s ‘International Smoke Signal’ LP compilation, ‘The Tuffest of the Tuff’ leans back to 1989 and a time when UK soundsystem culture was splicing dub dynamics with soulful deep house, rugged breaks and acid, birthing a uniquely mutant sound that laid the roots for hardcore rave and jungle.
The 8 tracks of ‘The Tuffest of the Tuff’ are kicking testament to the irrevocable Afro-Caribbean influence on British dance music and popular culture since the 2nd half of the 20th C. From the effortless, swinging soul flow of ‘Africa’, starring ace vox by Sharon Hammend & Allison Gray, thru to Addis Posse’s acid breakbeat rave killer ‘Let The Warriors Dance’, to the New Beat-compatible electro of ‘Je T’Aime’ by Housemaids, in their subbass-heavy spin on Larry Heard-like Chi-house in James Harris’ ‘Tuffest of the Tuff’, and the beautifully prescient vision of new age flutes, vocals and rolling lushness in Watts Noize’s ‘It’s My Life (Dub Mix)’ classic, this is pretty unmissable gear for anyone tracing the Afro-futurist roots of UK rave and techno beyond Warp and back to source.
Including two pieces premiered for first time, ’Chamber Music: Alvin Lucier & Morton Feldman’ highlights contrasts and mutualities in the pioneering music of 20th century avant-garde titans Alvin Lucier & Morton Feldman through a compilation curated by Anthony Burr and Charles Curtis, who have previously worked on production for both artists. Lovers of quiet minimalism will be in their element with this suite, spanning nearly 50 years of recordings by two artist musicians whose influence has shaped generations after them, and continues to resonate throughout many forms of minimalist modern classical and the avant-garde.
““For Feldman, dynamics serve an acoustical function. When he mitigates a piano attack he reduces that spike of noise that’s at the onset of every piano sound leaving only the sinusoidal pure after-sound. It’s as if he invented electronic music with the piano.” Alvin Lucier from liner notes.
“Lucier manages to hear a layer of acoustical physics in Feldman’s music that perhaps no one else would hear. He’s hearing something in Feldman that is actually coming from his own musical world; in a way, hearing his own music in Feldman’s, and drawing inspiration from that.”
More of the drum, the whole drum, and nowt but the drum from Andrew Field-Pickering’s Dolo Percussion - packing four new hotshots alongside all cuts from his preceding trio of 12”s
Holding 16 shots of rhythmic heat in total, ‘Dolo 4’ is the project’s definitive release following from a highly sought-after L.I.E.S. debut and further volumes divvied between his Future Times and The Trilogy Tapes, which are all coveted by righteous DJs and dancers.
If we could show ya, we’d do an interpretative dance to try and describe each groove, but we’d all look like tits so suffice it to say there’s some proper wrigglers, sidewinders, brukkers and freakers on board, each making scintillating use of the drums’ cadence as instructional rhythmelody for interpretation by limbs and torsos.
Across the set traces of house in its myriad forms - from Jersey to Chicago - tesselate with tropes from Afro-Cuban, jungle, Washington Go-Go and old skool hip hop styles in stripped down, skeletal styles just gagging to drive a club wild. In the set’s final four previously unreleased bits however he allows a more judicious use of FX, resulting some squirmy acidic bass in the slinky carillon shimmy of ’Dolo 13’, the spidery trails of ‘Dolo 14’, and in the decaying contrails of ‘Dolo 15’, and quite noticeably on the rude aerial architecture of ‘’Dolo 16’.
KLO chases up her acclaimed, eponymous debut LP with two gently insistent dancefloor workouts
Emphasising the groove over songs this time, the London-based singer/songwriter/producer uses her vocals to classically instructive and textured effect in ‘Let It Go’, accentuating the rub and tug of her house groove with whispered insistence and heady reverbs, whereas she steps back form he mic to go more introspective with the writhing, dubbed-out electro-house hustle of ‘Omen’.
Promising first sign of a compilation of collabs inspired by the life and work of Jean-Michel Basquiat
‘No Gangster’ hops fences between jazz and Afrobeats with Shabaka Hutchings supplying sax to a crimped groove, vocalled by Afrocentric, London-based rapper, Kojey Radical.
The Baron departs with a sodden swan song for Mordant Music’s ‘Travelogues’ series
“...Chalking up its 22nd beano & buffers bookend the series finale cuts loose ohm the Hastings baize & within Melinki’s miasma…we’ve been far & wide, I’ve soMetiMes lied…the unicycle is complete…all that’s left are the pipe & shiMMers…salut IBM”
A proper rootsy charm from Reginald Omas Mamode IV, channelling rich vibes from his family’s Mauritian heritage along with very strong nods to J Dilla and Madlib, and a ear attuned to sounds from Caribbean, South London, and the US
"Where We Going?" was partly recorded on a journey to the Mascarene Islands in search of family roots. 'he album is reflective of the search for this lineage, which branches from ancient Mauritian Maroons - whose rich heritage, music and culture includes an unrecognised, undocumented resistance to colonialism - though Swahili and Malagasy to sugarcane plantation Creole slave descendants.
Influenced by golden era hip-hop, jazz, soul, Afro, funk, Sega and Maloya, and music from Africa, the Caribbean, South London and US; it is in part an attempt to evoke feelings of universal love and compassion. Mamode recorded the album using various drums and drum machines, percussion instruments, Fender Rhodes, and Roland and Korg synthesizers.”
Paleman properly puts his back into a pair of warehouse pounders for Nonplus Records
Rolling on from his self-released white label ace in 2018, the ‘Sweltering Rain’ EP is galvanised with a steelier technoid impulse than his previous outings, especially in the prime big room buck of the title track with its bolshy kicks and nagging vocaloid, whilst ‘Cells’ rolls off the bone with offset bass and crackbug percussive textures in killer style, and ‘Titan Vulture’ takes the vibe dank and dungeon style for the last ravers standing.
White vinyl edition of Vektroid’s Vaporwave classic, Macintosh Plus’ Floral Shoppe (フローラルの専門店) now in stock, in our mitts, scorching our retinas.
Originally issued towards the start of the Vaporwave craze, in the wake of seminal early efforts by 0PN as KGB Man & Chuck Person, this album by Ramona Andra Xavier turned a playful idea into a formulaic and frankly pretty annoying style which has been riffed on by any kid with YouTube and a copy of audacity.
In some ways, that’s a great thing, but in others, it became a shit meme far too quickly, but has persisted this way ever since with little or no change to the formula. For our money, you’d be better off schooling yourself in DJ Screw, V/Vm and those early 0PN offshoots, but collectors and vape scene types surely won’t be able to resist this pink vinyl pressing - with poster - even if it means cutting down on avocados for a week or two (give the Chileans a break, eh?).
A synth-pop zinger from 1984 Slovenia pipes up on necessary reissue from Rush Hour. While little known outside of the former Yugoslavia, Videosex’s self-titled debut album from 1984 sold in significant numbers, making superstars of the young Slovenian musicians responsible for making it. The set not only helped turn Yugoslavian teenagers on to the possibilities of Western-style electronic pop, but also inspired them via satirical, often explicit lyrics.
Revolving often satirical lyrical content about erotica, lesbianism, voyeurism and sadism, set to some of the poppiest production you’ve ever heard, it’s perhaps no wonder that the original pressing was a massive seller in the former Yugoslavian country.
After being signed following a performance at Novi Rock festival in Ljubljana, the band spent over 200 hours in the studio exacting their diamond cut sound, resulting super punchy, sprung machine rhythms, glittering synths and ohrwurming vocals, which, while sung in their native tongue, surely and playfully connote all the lascivious content of the lyrics to all listeners.
A pretty much flawless gem.
Celebrated cellist Oliver Coates beautifully expands upon his blink ’n miss 2018 release of ‘John Luther Adams’ Canticles of the Sky’ with a further three takes on pieces from the same John Luther Adams release, plus an alternate version.
Originally issued by RVNG Intl in early 2018 as a primer for their release of Coates’ ’Shelley’s On Zenn-la’ album, the RSD pressing of 1000 copies flew out, so it’s a mercy that he’s now returned to delve deeper into the same album, with results ranking among his most definitive solo recordings.
In contrast to Coates’ other solo records, there’s no discernible electronics in the album, bar one obvious omission in the ‘(Alt FX Render)’ of ‘Above Sunset’. That one aside, the others effectively reveal what myriad other artists - from The Corrs to Radiohead, Actress and Mica Levi - have been privy to in the studio: simply Coates’ untreated cello in its naked form.
Currently based in that Cairngorms, in the northern Scottish Highlands, it’s maybe easy to understand why John Luther Adams’ musical transcriptions of the Alaskan wilds appealed so much to Coates. In a way intended to mimic or emulate the music of an Aeolian Harp, he plays open strings that reflect the “untouched” nature of the Aolian Harp - a wind-blown instrument often found on hill tops or open spaces - and describe the sun’s slow, low arc as viewed from northerly latitudes. The four ’Sky’ pieces are each as sublime as the next, while the new parts - form the same original Adams album - feel equally natural, elemental, especially in the head-thizzing, elegant dynamics of ‘The Wind at Maclaren Summit.’
Zane Reynolds aka SFV Acid slydes onto Ekster for his 1st vinyl LP since 2014’s ‘Amber Stuff’ for UNO turned a wave of heads onto his dare-to-be different style
A fringe but key early player in the whole phase shift to weirder, off-road house around a decade ago, SFV Acid’s sound has remained a trusty, persistent cult concern ever since, working his IDM/jazz-loose, lysergic thizz at the liminal edges of club music in turns for BAKK, Post Present Medium, 100% Silk and a brilliant recent 12” for the ‘Dam’s Congee Discs.
For Belgium’s Ekster, he wraps up a super juicy collection showcasing his playfully frayed and over-microdosed style at its most colourful and dextrous, and all sealed for freshness by his own sleeve artwork. It’s a proper album in an old skool sense, toggling the tempos and vibes for a charmed narrative cadence, but there’s also a subtly virulent, unpredictable gremlin in the works that characterises his project’s surname and serves to place his sound in the flatlands of here and now, where late ‘80s FM styles modulate late ‘90s IDM into fractal mutant modernism.
James Blake does melancholy luxe on his 4th album, singing about the tribulations of life in LA over properly American hip-hop/R&B-styled productions featuring guest spots from Travis Scott, Rosalía, André 3000, Moses Sumney and Metro Boomin
Landing the opposite end of the decade to his debut album, and 10 years since he emerged to acclaim with the post-dubstep-defining debut 12”, ‘Assume Form’ is James Blake’s defining opus. In 12 songs it surely outlines why his services are in demand by everyone from Beyoncé and Jay Z to Kendrick Lamar and Oneohtrix Point Never, with the sort of hook-riddled songwriting that could appeal to the whole nuclear family in a marketing man’s fantasy.
At it’s worst, Blake’s lip-wobbling affectations here sound like folksy whimsy for a teen drama soundtrack or a dating service advert for posh people. But at best, on the smudged dembow drums and glassy baubles of his exquisite ‘Barefoot In The Park’ collaboration with Rosalía, or in the chamber-like mesh of classical keys and minimalist hip hop swing on ‘Where’s The Catch’ feat. André 3000, and the warbling introspection of ‘Don’t Miss It’, or his tender ‘Mile High’ slump with Travis Scott, he’s still the sweetest blue-eyed soul boy on road right now.
After a 5 year pause for breath, Rainer Veil return with their debut full length for Modern Love; an immersive, kinematic tumble through electronic forms from hyper trance to tape dub experiments and loose polyrhythms - a summoning of ‘ardcore spirits in flux. Big RIYL: Photek, Caterina Barbieri, SND, Lee Gamble, Gábor Lázár...
A hypnotic soundworld tempered by weighty bass and angular construction, ‘Vanity’ marks a breaking away from the binds of overthinking, an embrace of imperfection. It’s a brighter set of tracks then anything we’ve heard from them before, discarding the fog of filters and guitar pedals in pursuit of a more loose-limbed and swung ideal.
Opening on the skeletal Trance vapour-trail ‘Sim Screen’ and the agitated ‘Repatterning’, we head into a ferociously asymmetric warehouse swerve ‘In Gold Mills’ conjuring an uncanny, nighttime vision of suburban bass riddled with tension and bliss. ‘Shallows’ retreats through isolation dub, echoing ‘Change Is Never Easy’, a re-worked House template fractured to its bare percussive core, while ‘FM2’ entwines a double helix of DX7 patches with a heart wrench, and ‘Gauze’ dismantles a mosaic of Kwaito patterns, buried under a haze of smoke.
Tracing rapidly mutating electronic forms, from ringtone hooks to latinate rhythms and Razor synth edits, ‘Vanity’ explores an instinctive swell of ideas and influences in perpetual and unstoppable forward motion, a sequence of flash frames captured and distilled for posterity.
This is a total find - ‘Tanz Und Andacht’ (Dance and Devotion) is a mouth-wateringly rare and otherworldly missive from Hamburg’s cult, highly enigmatic label/band Werkbund, a bizarre, crazily ahead-of-its time project that finds the sweet spot between Coil and Torsten Pröfrock's work as Dynamo / Various Artists, now reissued on vinyl with two bonus tracks to the pleasure of weirdos across the world, more than 20 years after the long sold-out original 2x7” release.
Since 1987, Werkbund have remained a riddle to practically anyone outside their studio. Between the late ‘80s and the ‘00s, they released a handful of LPs and CDs on the enigmatic Walter Ulbricbht Schallfolien and the related Abraum label, including some extraordinary electronic recordings by Mechthildt Von Leusch, a properly shady character, who, if Google is translating correctly, would also appear to be behind this 1997 album, ranging from beautifully windswept synths and airborne waltzes to deeply creepy horror themes.
We won’t front - Werkbund and their related projects are relatively new to us, but we could tell from only a few bars of this LP, which somehow fathoms everything from widescreen ambient to proto-T++ style metallic dubs, that they’re a seriously special project, and the kind of stuff we dream about discovering every day. And in the strangest way, to our ears their music feels uncannily familiar, like the illusion of Déjà entendu, yet somehow utterly fresh and unique at the same time.
‘Tanz Und Andacht’ very much plays into its own schism with one side full of inquisitive and rhythmic electronics, and the other dank and cranky as your life. Spine-chills cascade from the front in ‘Lichtregen’ triggering a surreal, warped side that bends between the sort of slow, minimal but generous polyrhythms favoured in Vladimir Ivkovic DJ sets, and pockets of genuine mystery such as the head-licking ‘Allseele’, which is perhaps best compared with the best of Leyland Kirby’s ‘Intrigue & Stuff’ volumes.
The flipside however is much starker, traversing the vinegary, vintage Lynchian tone of ‘Perl Weiss’ and ice palace harmonics of ‘Im Heiligen Hain’ alongside the carmine seep and trailing fade-outs of ‘Eine Von Diesen’ and the chthonic breaths of bonus piece ‘Die Abendburg.’
Fair to say that with original copies now going for the prices of a week’s rent in Manchester, there’s probably a lot of industrial/ambient fiends gleefully rubbing their hands over a pot of beans right.
UVB-76 offshoot The Stone Tapes diversify their bonds with Chafik Chennouf & Katsunori Sawa’s splayed rhythms and grey area keen
Chasing up the label’s introductory 12” revolving Karim Maas, Pessimist, Overlook and Talker, ‘Fragments of Reference’ sees Chennouf and Sawa pushing the hi-tech dirt of their Opal Tapes releases down darker ginnels to claustrophobic, anxiety-raising effect.
Up top their ‘False Paradigm’ sounds like a recording of aliens scuttling around the belly of an oil tanker while you shit your gruds waiting for them to suck your brains out. ‘Growth of Inequality’ follows with a turbulent sort of acid rolige, and ‘The Jonah Complx’ takes it danker with muffled alarms and threatening bas detonations, next to the bestial growl and lumbering structure of ‘Heat Death’.
My Disco finally unveil their debut album for Downwards, a brilliant rendering of concrète/industrial styles recorded in the same Berlin studio often frequented by Einstürzende Neubauten, Pan Sonic and Keiji Haino, somehow channelling the spirit of all three. It’s an intensely rich and wildly unexpected trip that takes in the ragged intensity of Suicide alongside gong recordings and a kind of isolationist ambient spirit that resides somewhere between Selected Ambient Works Vol II and Raime.
‘Environment’ finds My Disco in the midst of deep synth despair, leaving behind the gnashing guitars in favour of cold metallic percussion and gloomy pads reverberating in derelict, factory-like space. Gutting out the driving, mathy repetition of their prized early work (2010’s Steve Albini-produced ’Young/You’ is a favourite of Karl O’Connor/Regis), the Melbourne-based trio now recall the ungodly offspring of Raime and Swans, operating with an increased appreciation of space, rhythm and tone that will shock even the hardest to please explorers of avant-rock and industrial fault lines.
In no uncertain terms its 8 tracks plumb the depths of a foul mood, strafing thru a series of antechamber-like stations like some inelegant beast encumbered with clanking manacles and ankle restraints. Thanks to the visceral, vivid nature of the recording and production, the devil lies in the synaesthetic sonic/visual detail, riddling a mostly wordless narrative that perfectly says it without saying it.
Biting down first with the jagged metallic klang and gnawing drones of ‘An Intimate Conflict’, the album continues to fetishise both bleeding-raw and cinematic themes thru the torture chamber ambience of ‘Exercise In Sacrifice’, and the red-lining tone poem ‘Act’, leading into belly of the beast bass growls on ‘Rival Colour’, before the dissonant, keening might of ‘No Permanence’ calves off into a closer to end all closers, with the band’s Cornell Wilczek feeding Buchla Easel tones into the empty tank strikes and fetid atmosphere of ‘Forever’ with a febrile effect worthy of Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement.
By any measure, ‘Environment’ is one of Downwards’ most singular albums, and a must-check for disciples of proper, unheimlich sonics. Trust it’ll wipe that art school smirk right off your mug.
Crafty mix of dream-pop vocals and supple, slow grooves nodding to witch house, R&B, trip hop
“"Our Love Is The Gold" is the third proper studio album from Paco Sala following "Ro-Me-Ro" & "Put Your Hands On Me". Written over 4 years it marks a return to song-writing for the duo, employing fever-dream melodies and synth drunk hooks, balanced against off-kilter production that sets them apart from their peers.
Intense, impassioned, guttural yet enigmatic - the album documents the process of leaving London and the empowerment a new life inspires. The opening & title track is a statement of intent “are you aware of my power?” repeats Garza, leaving us in no doubt that we really shouldn’t doubt her.
Tone set, what follows is gloriously idiosyncratic and deeply personal pop, presented without compromise or concession. Direct, confident, articulate - gone are the the opiated improvisations of 2017’s "The Silent Season", though the wilful sense of adventure remains throughout. "Our Love is The Gold" is a record of awakenings and self-discovery.”
Classy dream-pop from London’s Greg Hughes, Tessa Murray and friends, the follow-up to their widely acclaimed 2011 set Creatures Of An Hour.
The album kicks off with ‘The Trip’, in which Murray invites you to “pack your bags / hit the open road”, and she could be describing the band’s own creative trajectory: this a far airier, more widescreen LP than its predecessor, with a clarity to the production and songwriting that surely will surely lead to daytime radio play and festival ubiquity (if it hasn’t already...we’re not the people to ask). We don’t say all this to denigrate Still Corners: you have to take your hat off to such finely crafted AOR missiles as ‘Beginning To Blue’, a bruised, synth-daubed ballad easily the equal of Feist in full flight, and very much in her patented mature, melancholic, electro-organic style.
The guitar parts are lovely, variously invoking The Police’s slick minimalism, Twin Peaks roadhouse twang and Paisley Underground jangle, and Murray’s voice is pleasingly gossamer-thin without being substanceless; she has the versatility and gusto to handle gnomic, near-abstract miniatures (‘Beatcity’) and forays into full-on, bouffant synth-pop (‘Fireflies’) alike. Quality alert for the pop-pickers and fans of Feist, Ashrae Fax, Chromatics, etc.
Without a doubt one of the tightest bands we’ve ever seen live, Japan’s Kukangendai jump onto Stephen O’Malley’s Ideologic Organ for their first release easily available outside Japan. Played with unreal timing and precision, Kukangandei’s pointillist chops and stop/start rhythms aren’t just mathematically sound as fuck, they’re also riddled with curious melodic sensibility and funk that generally escapes math rock types, effectively making a lot of other stuff seem sloppy, boring and ancient by comparison.
Ideologic Organ boss and Sunn 0))) legend Stephen O’Malley tells us why he signed them for this release: “Kukangendai is a kick ass rock trio from Kyoto (Tokyo transplants). When I first hear this band live I was instantly transfixed by their minimalist yet illusory primitive, polyrythmic and structural, memory evoking rock narratives. Their energy is completely and transparently palpable yet handled with restraint of the pleasure of a disciplined form dealing with time and articulation. They are a power trio of bass, drums and guitar but the music they play is as much the limbic system of a forest than it is a geode. They started in 2006. They left Tokyo to Kyoto and started the cult venue Soto (“Outside”) “to listen to music they hadn’t heard yet” a few years later. They collaborated with Ryuichi Sakamoto last year. They reminded me of James Brown on a heavy binge of Bastro, there’s a deep current of both archaic musical tastes and the human desire for articulating that archaism in there, but you shake your ass and get the shouting in… in a punk basement … 13th century version of Breadwinner, the bare soul version. I’m honoured and proud to work with this tribe, and to count them amongst friends.”
First vinyl reissue since 1987 - contains two bonus tracks never before released on vinyl...
"Tidal Waves Music now proudly presents: the official reissue of this fantastic album, back available on vinyl for the first time since 1987. Available as a deluxe 180g 2XLP set, with TWO bonus tracks from the same session that were not featured on the original vinyl release. This album is limited to 500 copies worldwide and comes with an obi strip + liner notes by American jazz critic & author Kevin Whitehead.
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.
On the album we are presenting you today (Africa from 1987) Sanders plays with an all-star line-up consisting of Idris Muhammad, John Hicks and Curtis Lundy. Muhammad brings his trademark tight sense of timekeeping, but with a looseness that we love – and Lundy’s warm soulful bass does more than enough to give the set a sound bottom- all this while Hick’s free lyrical piano works nicely with Sander’s spiritual horn.
The brilliant ‘Africa sessions’ features the quartet at their best...soulful but also searching for a strong groove at the same time. The music here is less ornamented than on most of Sanders’ studio recordings, where sextets, septets or larger lineups have been the norm, but this brilliant effort here remains every bit as compelling. Pharoah and his crew play with the utmost sensitivity and give a demonstration that shows us the full extent of their skills."
Of all Jan Jelinek’s formidable output, this album has always been t-h-e o-n-e for us. More resolved and driven than 'Loop-Finding Jazz Records' (which appeared two years later), less reliant on glitch than Farben, it was essentially Jelinek's most satisfying and complete prototype for a new kind of sample-based music deeply immersed in the spirit of Jazz, without making any direct reference to it. Finally, 20 years later, here’s another chance for the unfamiliar to join the dots.
Originally released via Move D’s Source imprint back in 1999, 'Personal Rock' is one of those albums that no one seems to ever talk about but which has resonated over the years with anyone lucky enough to have encountered it. Situated somewhere between 'Loop-Finding Jazz Records', his Farben output, Move D's Conjoint and Atom Heart's most immersive work for Rather Interesting, it's an album full of subtle production flourishes within deep House structures that belong to the pre-millenial IDM heyday, but which transcend its overly-fussy, masculine templates.
The music is brooding and deep, designed for late night immersion without resorting to cliché, bolstered by what we reckon is the most forward thinking and timeless production of Jelinek’s output over the last two decades. Impossible to pull highlights, it’s an album best experienced from end-to-end through multiple listens, drawing you into a quietly euphoric, deep blue mood.
NYC’s artist-led Wild Flesh Productions label showcase a highly variegated mix of avant-songcraft, ambient sculpture, and hard-to-categorise integers by 21 mostly non-musician artists: Gabe Rubins, Felix Bernstein, Whitney Claflin, Park Mcarthur, Izzy Occampo, Paige Lillian Walton, James K, Gobby, Martina Gordon, Amanda Harris Williams, Kayla Guthrie, Alex Fleming, Candice Williams, Clara Lou, Christina Croll, Speaker Music, Crawlspace, Eve Essex, Cammisa B and June Junior
Conceived in the independent spirit of art labels such as Berlin’s Gelbe Records, crusty stronghold Crass Records, or the No Wave survey by Just Another Asshole, Wild Flesh’s Various Artists compilation speaks to a shared sense of mission between all on board, while embracing their expressive diversity. Expect to meet myriad voices you wouldn’t hear elsewhere, ranging from the prim but coruscating dream pop of Martina Gordon with ‘Arc Minute’, to June Junior’s Mica Levi + Tirzah-esque ‘Dick Trap’, to the druggy Dome-like drowse-pop of Kayla Guthrie in ‘Erotic Death’, label owner Cammisa Buerhaus’ hazy sunset stroller ’Schizovztt’, to spoken word pieces by Clara Lou, and the burnished amp fuzz of ‘A Habit’ by Eve Essex.
Kampala, Uganda’s multi-faceted Faizal Mostrixx serves a craftily organic electronic spin on the kind of rhythms and vibes found on Nyege Nyege Tapes/Hakuna Kulala with he ‘Ghosts’ EP
A breakdancer, choreographer, social worker and producer with a keen interest in preserving and developing African cultural heritage, Faizal Mostrixx possesses a breezier, gentler and more poetic sound than we’d associate with recent, exhilarating finds from Uganda. But make no mistake; he still knows how to kick it.
The A-side is the one for us, striking out with the loping, tarraxho-compatible drum patterns, rudely plucked bass and warped vocal motifs of ‘Chicken Groove’ before a single-string fiddle refrain opens the titular EP highlight, a deeply unique fusion of swaying plainchant giving way to scatty chat and smacking drum programming that could easily be mistaken for Jlin. Factor in the grimy low end strings and brooding atmospheres of ‘Icy Forest’ and the slinky slow/fast gear shifts of ‘Flute Cry’ and you have an exceptional EP from any angle.
Not Glass is the hugely immersive, often surprising debut collaboration between Alessio Natalizia (Not Waving) and his longtime correspondent Dimitris Papadatos (Jay Glass Dubs), deploying a sublime and unexpected line of mystic, ambient dub and tribal rhythms to reconfigure what we know about their respective outputs. If you regularly join dots between Eno & Budd, Sylvian & Sakamoto, Peter Gabriel & John Carpenter, and crave that sweet spot where pop and ambient archetypes reach an unsteady equilibrium, this one’s spectacularly satisfying.
Paying tribute to Latin and Greek authors Ovid and Heraclitus in a suite of sublime electronics and cryptic rhythms comparable to a theatrical soundtrack, ‘Forma’ is the result of years of daily chats between the London and Athens-based artists where they cemented the album’s concept around key quotes by the legendary poet/philosophers, who hail from their respective homelands of Italy and Greece.
On this timeless plane, Natalizia and Papadatos spaciously consolidate their contrasting, rhythm-driven approaches in a reverberant, often beatless sphere of exploration. Removed from their usual handrails, the artists operate at their most open-ended and suggestive, amorphously shapeshifting from gloaming shadowplays of synth and keys to investigate arcane percussive impulses and iridescent ambient whorls.
The result is a perfect, finely shaded marriage of their mutually esoteric, outsider Southern European energies, which intuitively acknowledges and inhabits the paradoxes of their respective styles. The illusively static yet mercurial ebb and flow of the atmospheric intro ‘Fallite fallentes’ sets the scene, where ‘Dum loquor, hora fugit’ invokes a viscous but brittle tangle of wide bass and pointillist rhythms beside a stately cello vignette ‘Ludicrum’ that recalls aspects of Scott Walker’s mystic charm ’Soused’.
The rapid arps and slow moving, glassy pads of ‘Pauper ubique iacet’ conjure a sublime tension that becomes diffused into the cavernous, hollow dub dread of ‘Ut ameris, amabilis esto’, possessed with its throaty, processed vocal, and the lonely strings and plasmic electronics of ‘Forma bonum fragile est’ connotes a psychedelic coming-to-terms with their artistic/philosophic duality. Total pearl this one.
Lone reworks DJ Haus’ big-boned jacker ‘See U In My Dreams’ with a patented bag of tricks and lip-smacking MDMA flavour
Where the original is stripped to the essentials, Lone adds loads of new ingredients to the mix, adding restlessly killer, early ‘90s AGCG-style breakbeat torque and samples, turning the vocals into scudding, flyaway thought-bubbles, and licking it up with deft daubs of Radiophonic-like analog synths. You don’t hear this kinda break chopping every day. It’s very well done.
Debut release from award-winning violinist and member of The London Contemporary Orchestra Galya Bisengalieva, occasional Radiohead, Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Frank Ocean and Actress collaborator. On this EP she performs her own work as well as pieces composed by Claire M. Singer (Touch) and Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch, another award-winning artist who records for FatCat’s post-classical label 130701.
The A-side's ’tùs is a majestic piece written by Singer, a soaring, widescreen drone inspired by Glencoe, an extinct volcano in the Highlands of Scotland. At 10 minutes it’s the longest piece on the record, and uses a mixture of strings, organ and electronics to beautifully limn an awe-inspiring sense of space. What starts as a barely-there wheeze of bowed strings builds into an almost grandiose, panoramic soundscape that will be easily recognisable to anyone who has visited or even seen the breathtaking, rugged wilds of Northern Scotland.
On the other side Bisengalieva opens with ’TULPAR’. in a marked contrast to the A-side’s billowing, sustained drones, she here uses her violin rhythmically to animate the winged horse of Kazakh mythology, connoting the sensation of quick, galloping hooves and massive, beating wings in the lower ends. More complex and insular, this is the sound of the violin as pitched at an atomic scale; intimate and alien.
Emelie Levienaise-Farrouch seals the EP with ‘Oparin’, which takes inspiration from Alexander Ivanovich’s theories about the origins of life in the primordial soup. Her vision takes flight here, conjuring a hugely dynamic play of stereo strafing strings and breathlessly high register electronics that connote chaos and tension in the first 2/3rds, then bloom into wilder discord and romantic sweeps implying danger and beauty in the final section.
Gassed on analogue synths after a trip to Japan, Synkro renders a newfound fluffiness to his sound in his lovely sophomore album, landing half a decade since his debut, also on R&S ambient wing, Apollo
“Since his last album ‘Changes’ released in 2015 Synkro has been exploring more ambient influences and introducing new studio techniques. ‘Images’ is heavily inspired by the 80s-90s new age/ambient movement and artists such as Andreas Vollenweider, Jon Hassel & Marc Barreca (as well as some Japanese ambient techno influences such as Susumu Yokota & Ken Ishii's early work), most of the music uses a full analogue set up, moving further away from McBride's earlier sample-based work.
Following a long trip to Japan, McBride became "addicted" to vintage synths, and returned to his studio in Derbyshire to write the album. The twelve-track long player still contains his trademark rural soundscapes suspended in a rich seam of hooks and emotive synth arrangements but this time with focus on more weightless, looming melodies that extend throughout the album.
‘Images' distils the pure essence of the Synkro sound, a step in a different direction from some of his more beat led releases and an alternative from his collaborations with Liam Blackburn (as Akkord) or more recently with Arovane. Yet the music is still immediately recognisable and it’s an album in the old fashioned sense that is best consumed whole.”
Hypnagogic raga drone electronics and mutating, distorted rhythms from L.A.-based experimental musician Byron Westbrook, yielding two compatible improvisations that have stood the test of time in his archive. RIYL David Behrman, M Geddes Gengras, Matt Carlson
“Nearly all of my recorded music is pieced together from organized edits of various improvisations of some sort, via a composition process that generally involves cut/paste and superimposing those to a point of precision. Over time I’ve been curious about what gets lost in that process, in terms of representing how things develop over time and spontaneity. In 2016, I found myself with a 20-minute improvisation that felt distinguished in it's raw form, mistakes and all. It felt like a more guttural, gritty approach that represents how I actually “play” as an instrumentalist, which is something I’ve consciously downplayed in previous work out of preference for spatial and environmental elements. I sat on the piece for a while, then a year and a half later, when a second improvisation materialized that felt familial to the first, it seemed that a work had completed itself. Voice Damage is a bit of an exposure of the exploratory aspects of my process, where I’m not really thinking in terms of music composition or preconception, just playing in the moment as an instrumentalist.”
Blisteringly heavy yet glacially poised black metal galvanised with towering synths
Golden Ashes are yet another excellent new discovery by London’s Aurora Borealis, following from their ace Primitive Knot release into the steepest valley of despair and hopelessness where the sun never penetrates.
“A dreamlike descent into the realm of death. A mystified swansong to the days of hope. A dark return of myths through dying light. Eternity admired through the eyes of the dead. A restorer of all things abandoned by light and life.”
Kode9 flips 4 X 8bit and 16bit video game soundtracks in his 80/160bpm hyper cubist footwork style
Long a key part of Kode9’s sound, the influence of Japanese computer game soundtracks has also perfused the history of rave music, so it’s interesting at the least to hear him fuse the source with its echoes.
With Soshi Hosoi’s flighty ‘Mister Diviner (The Mahjong Touhaiden)’ he wields glittering arps up and down a footworking spine, while he salvages fluoro rave licks from Koichi Ishibashi’s ‘Bad Data (Dezaemo)’ and synchs them to rapid, needlepoint 2-step and jungle breaks in pretty much unprecedented style. Yes Koshiro’s ‘Temple (Actraiser)’ is then turned into something like the soundtrack for a Giallo set between South London and Tokyo, and Tadahiro Nitta’s ‘An-Un (Ominous Clouds)(Xak II)’ pushes that vibe farther down carmine stained platforms.
Blinding Sun Ra reissue, finding Ra on his newly acquired Crumar Mainman synth (with early drum machine!) in stellar 1978 recordings from the same Italian sessions that birthed ‘Disco 3000’ and ‘The Sound Mirror’
Well known to Ra disciples, but not as much to everyone else who stands by his catalogue and doesn’t know where to start, ‘Media Dream’ is a massive highlight of Sun Ra’s fecund period circa 1977 and 1980 - the peak of his output of new LPs.
Recorded live sometime in January 1978, the album is really most distinguished by Ra’s inimitable use of the Crumar Mainman keyboard, which was then - and still is - a rare model of “string synthesiser” that was only manufactured between the 60s and ’84. It captivatingly lights up the whole LP, from the super dark and grungy blasts that open with ‘Saturn Research’ thru its application as bubbling groove box underlining Ra’s hieroglyphic riffs and Michael Ray’s sharp trumpet in ‘Constellation’, to the wigged out blatz in ‘Year of the Sun’, before spiralling out into gobsmacking double helixes of synth and trumpet and collapsing into alien squabble on the title tune.
A legendary wig-flipper, this!
Ron Trent and Kuniyuki supply neatly contrasting remixes of songs by Amsterdam’s Azymuth-esque, 9-piece Jungle By Night outfit
Our pick of the pair is Ron Trent’s take on ‘Spending Week’, turning the swaggering OG into a more uptempo disco workout switching back and forth between rudely dubbed-out bassline and more rootsy hustle for 10 minutes of patented Trent suss. Kuniyuki’s remix of ‘LoveBoat’ is more rapturous, winking and slinky, leaving less to the imagination.
Q’s fruity 1982 ohrwurm is relaunched into disco orbit on its OG, 7” format following a 12” repress, also from Isle of Jura, in 2017
A-side is the original 7” mix with that memorable vocoder vocal and whistling hook, while the flipside is the instrumental 7” mix, highlighting the trilling hi-hats, popping claps and chunky bass fretless bass vamps.
Hieroglyphic Being and Vakula kick Pedro Vian’s ‘Vacant Boat’ song into deep and psychedelic house styles
Jamal Moss aka Hieroglyphic Being vibes out with ‘Flexible Girl’, turning in a restlessly sparking and gasping piece of raw Chicago house nous whereas Vakula opts for the slow burn with his low-key and ruggedly offset spin on ‘Darwin’s Nightmare.’
‘I’m Not Always Where My Body Is’ is the lead single and a highlight of Aïsha Devi’s upcoming ’S.L.F.’ EP for Houndstooth
Over 4 minutes of percussive and etheric vocals, guttural bass jabs and thizzing dream-pop melody, Aïsha puts her kinaesthetic sorcery to fine use as a spiritual rallying cry to likeminds and familiar spirits.
Shelter Press’ remarkable run of 2017 releases ends in deep contemplation with this beautiful exploration of traditional Northern Indian classical music recorded with an experimental emphasis, carrying out the aural equivalent of zooms and close-ups, weaving between the minute details of sound and the more expansive effect on the listener. Recorded by artist Darren Almond, each of the pieces here corresponds to imagery from his eponymous video installation, shot in Rajasthan, 2012.
Revolving around recordings of Fateh Ali (Santoor, Manjira), Ghulam Gouse (Tabla), Roop Singh (Manjira), and Zakir Hussain (Bansari), All Things Pass seeks to connect the ancient Indian artform of the raga, whose time-based structures link the movement of the stars to earthly events, with the individual player’s emotions.
In this complex feedback loop of cosmic information and terrestrial expression, Almond operates as a sensory relay or transducer, using a shotgun microphone to document the instruments and synaesthetically offering a sort of sensory lens that regulates the liminal link between the macrocosmic, or universal, and the molecular, more human level of existence.
From its meter-melting Tabla drum pulses, to the refractive metallic shimmer of dulcimer-like Santoor and the Maniira hand cymbals, threaded with airborne stripes of flute-like Bansuri, the naturally fluid but closely disciplined results can be heard as a prism for realigning our Western-based and shaped perceptions of time. It’s really only when you fully comprehend how closely these things are linked in Indian classical culture that you may realise how restrictive and naive so much Western instrumental music, with its minor and major modes, and reliance on fixed time signatures, can be.
By that token, it’s not difficult to hear why the plasmic, meter and scale-dissolving possibilities of electronic music - when applied inventively - appeal to listeners who’ve become bored with the arrogance of Western convention. Effectively, All Things Pass ties all these ideas in a way that is self-evident, requiring the listener to simply allow themselves to interpret its expressive mathematics in their own way, and real unto themselves maths as the universal language.
It offers a soothing, thought provoking end to a tumultuous year, and marks Shelter Press as one of the most rewarding and diverse labels on the contemporary scene.
STL weaves his low-key house magick in three dusty, trippy, liminal zoners for Echocord
In fine tradition, he comes on like Theo Parrish’s brother from a German mother on the A-side, melding ruff-cut, Theo-styled rhythms with a patina of pastoral scenery - creaking field gates, sloshing troughs, and breezing cowbells - in the gently dazed, 10 minute stroll of ‘Lost Harbour’, while the effect is tripper on ‘Mr. Sinister’, as brooding tendrils of acidic dub chords infiltrate the sublime field recordings luring us into twilight states, before ‘Sensemilla’ beckons the night properly with reverberating kicks carrying filtered blue noise and barely-there, ghostly chords.
Pacific Breeze documents Japan’s blast into the stratosphere. By the 1960s, the nation had achieved a postwar miracle, soaring to become the world’s second largest economy. Thriving tech exports sent The Rising Sun over the moon. Its pocket cassette players, bleeping video games, and gleaming cars boomed worldwide, wooing pleasure points and pumping Japanese pockets full of yen.
"Japan’s financial buoyancy also permeated its popular culture, birthing an audio analog called City Pop. This new sound arose in the mid ’70s and ruled through the ’80s, channeling the country’s contemporary psyche. It was sophisticated music mirroring Japan’s punch-drunk prosperity. City Pop epitomized the era, providing a soundtrack for emerging urbanites. An optimistic spirit buzzed through the music in neon-bathed, gauzy tableaus coated with groove-heavy strokes.
Pacific Breeze is an expertly compiled collection of choice cuts that range from silky smooth grooves to innovative techno pop bangers and everything in between. Long-revered by crate diggers and adventurous music heads, this music has never been released outside of Japan until now. Including key artists like Taeko Ohnuki and Minako Yoshida, as well as cult favorites Hitomi Tohyama and Hiroshi Sato, the long-awaited release also features newly commissioned cover painting by Tokyo-based artist Hiroshi Nagai, whose iconic images of resort living have graced the covers of many classic City Pop albums of the 1980s.
Many of the key City Pop players evolved from the Japanese New Music scene of the early ’70s, as heard on Light In The Attic’s acclaimed Even a Tree Can Shed Tears: Japanese Folk & Rock 1969-1973, the first release of the ongoing Japan Archival Series. In fact, you could say City Pop set sail with a champagne smash from Happy End, the freakishly talented subversives who included amongst their ranks Haruomi Hosono and Shigeru Suzuki, both featured on this compilation. As Michael K. Bourdaghs noted in his book, Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon, this music was, “Deconstructing the line between imitation and authenticity.” Some of the best City Pop teeters in this zone—easy listening with mutant exotica, tilted techno-pop, and steamy boogie bubbling beneath the gloss."
Strapping, mid-tempo, cosmic disco and EBM knockers from San Fran’s C.L.A.W.S.
Marking C.L.A.W.S.’ solo debut proper on his own label, ‘the ‘Splat City’ EP is squared up for sweaty, amyl-reeking nights under the strobes in four parts, delivering heavy club traction in the bolshy bruxist EBM chew of ’Slug Bait’, the swivelling ‘80s power move of ‘Pacific Fog Authority’, and what could be the soundtrack to a boss-level dancefloor battle-scene in ’Splat City’, while ‘Into The Eyes of the Zombie Queen’ lends a dose of sleazy cosmic disco swagger.
Fine slices of aerobic mysticism from Parisian producer D.K. on his spiritual home, Zaltan’s Antinote
Jacking deeper down the path that lead to this year’s ‘Mystic Warrior’ EP, D.K. pulls from restless NYC house rhythms and harmonious Detroit and UK techno synth styles in the enveloping atmospheres and crisp but fluid flow of ‘Voices’ which orbits the A-side, while the flip’s ’Shoubuari (Battle Mix)’ drops the pace a little and widens, rudes up the bass to accommodate pendulous tribal drums and a dazzling display of synth auroras in a style recalling early PWOG and proto-Goa trance, while ‘Riding For A Fall’ sees the EP off with a crimped ambient dancehall hustle shaded in warm pads and hypnotic flutes.