Impeccable, hi-res electronic pop from British-Canadian pop deconstructionist BABii. Like a radio-ready, defanged PC Music with occasional lapses into noisy punk and breakcore.
On her second solo album, BABii tears through fractured electronic pop with the help of regular collaborator Iglooghost and umru. Detailing her feelings of abandonment as she was dragged from Yorkshire to Kent and to Canada by her nomadic father, BABii ties sad songs up in a glittery bow of glitchy percussion and wheezing synths. Influenced by SOPHIE and the hyperpop set, BABii curves the glass shattering foley IDM into pleasing R&B shapes, emerging with singalong plalist pop songs that sound decidedly current.
Domino sign my bloody valentine, with the band’s seminal catalogue being made available digitally in full for the first time ever as of today. New physical editions for each release will follow on 21st May 2021 and are available to pre-order now.
"Isn’t Anything and loveless have been mastered fully from analog for deluxe LPs and also mastered from new hi-res uncompressed digital sources for standard LPs, with each being made available widely for the first time ever. Fully analog cuts of m b v will also be available on deluxe and standard LPs globally for the first time.
my bloody valentine, the quartet of Bilinda Butcher, Kevin Shields, Deb Googe and Colm Ó Cíosóig, are widely revered as one of the most ground-breaking and influential groups of the past forty years. During an era in which guitar bands denoted, at best, a retro-classicism, not only did my bloody valentine sound unlike any of their contemporaries, the band achieved the rare feat of sounding like the future.
With their debut album, Isn’t Anything (originally released in 1988), my bloody valentine revolutionised alternative music and heralded a new approach to guitar music for generations to come. The album birthed a sound which became a template for thousands of new subgenres, heralding a new approach to guitar music and studio production. Not only was it a new type of music, it paved the way for a new type of journalism; inciting comparisons to elemental phenomenon, tapping into how the music affected the psyche. Shields and Butcher frequently sang in a similar vocal range that allowed their voices to blend together. This had the effect of making their gender indistinguishable, to the point where their voices could be used as another melodic layer to complement the vertigo-inducing sounds made by Shields’ guitars.
The second my bloody valentine album, loveless, was released in 1991. Musically, it took an unexpected leap forwards, standing ahead of anything released at the time. Shields and the band moved further towards a music of pure sensation, creating textures and tones that could be felt as much as heard; with loveless the band created an album that overwhelmed the senses. loveless is widely considered a flawless whole and rightly regarded as a masterpiece; a 1990s equivalent to Pet Sounds, In A Silent Way or Innervisions, a record constructed by exploring the edges of what a recording studio is capable of. It is a record best experienced as a whole, in one sitting - a listening experience like no other and unmatchable in its sonic brevity.
ep’s 1988-1991 and rare tracks compiles the group’s four EPs, wherein many of their devoted fans’ favourite music lies. You Made Me Realise and Feed Me With Your Kiss both preceded the band’s debut album in 1988 in quick succession. In the gap between Isn’t Anything and loveless, the band released two further EPs; Glider (1990) and Tremolo (1991).
Finally re-emerging in 2013 after two full decades in relative hiding, their third album m b v is by turns their most experimental record but also their most melodic and immediate; proof real of their unerring desire for re-invention. Continuing to push boundaries of both music and genre, m b v is an album of astonishing music, some of which could lay claim to being of a type never been made before. Otherworldly, intimate and a visceral listen, m b v is a startling and beautiful metamorphosis of what was known of the my bloody valentine sound, pushing the boundaries of genre unlike any other band. The album’s closer, “Wonder 2” is an example of this, seeing Shields meld hypnotic guitar with drum’n’bass to astonishing result."
Piroshka’s second album ‘Love Drips And Gathers’, once again featuring former members of Lush, Moose, Elastica and Modern English.
"Piroshka emerged in 2018, four individuals with distinct musical identities but also overlapping histories - a combination that might have unsettled, or even overwhelmed, some bands. But in their case, the bond only got stronger. After ‘Brickbat’ explored social and political divisions by way of what MOJO described as “Forceful, driving garage songs and dream-pop epics,” ‘Love Drips And Gathers’ follows a more introspective line - the ties that bind us, as lovers, parents, children, friends - to a suitably subtler, more ethereal sound, whilst still revelling in energy and drama
“If ‘Brickbat’ was our Britpop album, then ‘Love Drips And Gathers’ is shoegaze!” reckons vocalist/guitarist Miki Berenyi, formerly of Lush, a band that effortlessly bridged the two genres like no other. “It wasn’t intentional; we just wanted a different focus. I’ve always seen debut albums as capturing a band’s first moments, when you really have momentum, and then the second album is the chance for a more thoughtful approach.” Bassist Mick Conroy (Modern English) agrees. “‘Brickbat’ was a classic first album; noisy and raucous. On ‘Love Drips And Gathers’, we’ve calmed down and explored sounds, and space.”
The way ‘Love Drips And Gathers’ changes shape and dynamic is less a reprise of Nineties Brit indie than a transformation into a more shivery, Euromantic version with glistening electronic filigrees. The opening ‘Hastings’ sets the tone. Luminous drops of guitar underpin Miki’s becalmed vocal before drums, bass and a Mellotron add pace while the decorative coda features their old pal Terry Edwards on flugelhorn. ‘Love Drips And Gathers’ - named after a line in a Dylan Thomas poem - was inspired by love, family, belonging, memory. Miki and Moose split the eight lyrics, with some poignant overlaps here too. Miki’s ‘Loveable’ looks to Moose; Moose’s ‘The Knife-Thrower’s Daughter’ looks to Miki but also their daughter Stella and his sister Anna; an empathic, touching embrace of the women in his life.
Staying within the family, Moose eulogises his late mother (the idyllic childhood seaside trip of ‘Hastings 1973’) and father (the more conflicted ‘Scratching At The Lid’). On ‘V.O.’, Miki pays fond tribute to Vaughan Oliver, 4AD’s legendary in-house art director who died suddenly in December 2019 and who had a particularly close relationship with Lush during their time on the label (like ‘Brickbat’, ‘Love Drips And Gathers’’ beautiful and enigmatic artwork is by Vaughan’s former design partner Chris Bigg)."
Darkside consists of Chilean electronic musician and vocalist Nicolás Jaar and American multi-instrumentalist Dave Harrington.
"Jaar and Harrington first met while studying in Providence through their common friend and saxophonist Will Epstein. In the summer of 2011 they toured Europe and Australia in support of Jaar’s breakthrough debut album ‘Space Is Only Noise’. Upon returning to Providence, they continued to write together, releasing their self-titled EP in 2012 and their critically acclaimed debut album ‘Psychic’ on Matador Records in October 2013.
The album was met with glowing reviews, including a 9.0 from Pitchfork and The New York Times calling it “the soundtrack to a lost David Lynch sci-fi movie.” In the summer of 2018, Harrington and Jaar rented a small house on Lenni-Lenape territory, which is present-day Flemington, New Jersey. The group spent a week there, making a song a day. While it would take another year and a half to complete their second album, six songs from the band’s new record, ‘Spiral’, were written and recorded during this initial session. “From the beginning, Darkside has been our jam band. Something we did on days off. When we reconvened, it was because we really couldn’t wait to jam together again,” says Jaar. Harrington echoes this, “It felt like it was time again,” he said. “We do things in this band that we would never do on our own. Darkside is the third being in the room that just kind of occurs when we make music together.”
RY X and Frank Wiedemann reunite as Howling to present ‘Colure’ the sophomore full-length record from their joint musical enterprise.
"RY X, solo alternative artist and member of The Acid, and Frank, one half of Âme, bring fans a bigger, sharper follow-up to their debut, ‘Sacred Ground.’ On ‘Colure’, the Berlin-based Wiedemann and Los Angeles-based RY X conjure transcendent creations out of their contrasting musical backgrounds and environments. The album is assuredly dualistic: electronic and acoustic sounds sit comfortably side-by-side, and big melodic hooks are laced into hypnotic club productions."
In January 2019, at the invitation of fiddler Hans Kjorstad, Alasdair Roberts travelled from his home in Glasgow, Scotland to Oslo, Norway, where the two men convened with five additional Scandinavian musicians at Riksscenen, Oslo’s centre for Norwegian traditional arts and music.
"Thus newly-formed, the group worked on arrangements of songs - self-written and traditional - from Alasdair’s back catalogue, in preparation for performances at Riksscenen as well as at ALICE in Copenhagen, Denmark and the bucolic western Danish island of Fanø. The group was named Völvur (The Seeresses), a reference to the ancient Icelandic apocalyptic text Völuspa (The Prophecy of the Seeress).
In January 2020, Völvur visited England and Scotland, to perform with Alasdair Roberts at Cecil Sharp House, London and at Platform, Glasgow, the latter as part of Celtic Connections festival. The group had new material - freshly written songs by Alasdair and several traditional Norwegian songs sung by Marthe Lea - and over a couple days at Sam and Rachel’s Studio in Hackney, laid down the music which now flows forth as ‘The Old Fabled River’. The musicians who make up Völvur - Marthe Lea, saxophone, clarinet and voice, Fredrik Rasten, guitars and voice, Andreas Hoem Røysum, clarinet, Egil Kalman, bass and electronics, Jan Martin Gismervik, drums, percussion and the aforementioned initiator of the project, Hans Kjorstad on fiddle - are a busy and artistically inquisitive group, involved in a diverse range of projects with a wide variety of musical interests, from folk and jazz to free music, modular synthesis, microtonality and beyond.
They make an ideal pairing for such voyages in the alchemical world as Alasdair pursues in his own music. On ‘The Old Fabled River’, Alasdair Roberts og Völvur meld their worlds: fiddle and vocal styles formed in the Norwegian valleys blending now with exploratory clarinet, saxophone and metallic bowed guitar drones, now fashioned into baroque folk arrangements. In one case, instrumental accompaniment is laid aside, as three voices locate a questing fullness harmonizing together."
Sultry, poised, gothic post-punk meets lilting dream-pop courtesy Anika, chasing up collabs with Shackleton and Tricky in a keenly awaited sophomore long player.
Officially the follow-up to her acclaimed, eponymous 2010 debut with Beak>, ‘Change’ arrives a decade later as a worthy counterpart brimming with the kind of melodramatic but droll delivery and classic-sounding chops that made her first LP so striking. On 'Change' Akina opts to work with Swedish producer Martin Thulin (Exploded View), who flew from Mexico to Germany during lockdown to enhance the album’s lustrous backdrops and shadowplay of styles, where Anika’s plaintive delivery variously reminds us of Nico, Trish Keenan, and Tropic of Cancer’s eerie drone-pop float.
Song to song Anika finds her shapeshifting style from the swaying post-punk stepper ‘Finger Pies’ to a meld of Julee Cruise and Nico on the mopey but positive title tune, while at the album’s apex ‘Sand Witches’ expresses her feelings as an immigrant in Germany in time honoured eldritch fashion, and ‘Freedom’ see her get down with scuzzy goth rock urges.
Utterly sublime R&B/Sade-licked late night slickness from Portuguese-Danish wunderkind Erika De Casier, deploying whisper-soft pop that's injected with the lurching club-adjacent snap of Timbaland, Neptunes, Teddy Riley, MJ Cole and Sunship > jaw on the floor, tear in the eye.
When Erika de Casier's debut album "Essentials" dropped in 2019, it felt like a hidden gem - it was only a matter of time before her silken bedroom soul was shuttled further into the mainstream. So it's hardly a surprise to see the followup on 4AD - and it's the best record the label's released in years. De Casier makes music that sounds private, lo-fi and intimate, but has the earworm-y bombast of Brandy, Destiny's Child or Amerie. Her influence comes from her early teens, submerged in MTV R&B to nourish her spirit - but as the label notes point out, she's as much influenced by Aaliyah and Janet Jackson as house, garage and techno.
This sensual escapism is the beating heart of "Sensational", as de Casier whispers over neo-retro production that sounds like early Sade instrumentals stripped to the bone and assembled into new forms by a supergroup comprised of MJ Cole, Timbaland and Sunship. There's a garage-flecked clubwise swing that speaks to de Casier's European roots, but the songs have more sugared hooks than a library of '90s MTV soul full-lengths. Trust us, leave this one on repeat for a few spins and you'll be humming songs like 'Drama', 'Someone to Chill With' and 'No Butterflies, No Nothing' for the rest of the week.
Ice cool summer special = awe-inspiring, honestly.
In 2020, 4AD turned 40. Never one to be on time for a party, the label is commemorating that landmark this year with the release of ‘Bills & Aches & Blues’. The compilation features 18 of its current artists covering a song of their choosing from 4AD’s past: a creative experiment rooted in the spirit of collaboration and a snapshot of 4AD, 41 years after its inception.
"‘Bills & Aches & Blues’ will be released on double CD and double LP. The first 12 months’ profits from ‘Bills & Aches & Blues’ will be donated to The Harmony Project, a Los Angeles-based after-school programme for children from communities and schools that lack equitable access to studying the arts or music. ‘Bills & Aches & Blues’’ 18 recordings contain fascinating connections between artist and track. The earliest song chosen (by U.S. Girls) is The Birthday Party’s ‘Junkyard’, from 1981; the most recent are the two Grimes covers (‘Genesis’ and ‘Oblivion’, respectively by Spencer. and Dry Cleaning) from 2012. Suitably, for the one band that bridges 4AD past and present, The Breeders are all over ‘Bills And Aches And Blues. They’re covered three times - ‘Cannonball’ by Tune-Yards, ‘Mountain Battles’ by Bradford Cox of Deerhunter and ‘Off You’ by Big Thief, whilst The Breeders cover ‘The Dirt Eaters’ by their ‘90s contemporaries His Name Is Alive. Landmark songs such as ‘Cannonball’, ‘Song To The Siren’ and Pixies’ ‘Where is My Mind?’ will feel comfortable to casual fans, however by contrast, much joy can be found in the album’s surprise choices, such as Air Miami’s ‘Seabird’ and the Lush B-side ‘Sunbathing’, covered respectively by new signings Maria Somerville and Jenny Hval. ‘Bills & Aches & Blues’ is named, arguably (as Elizabeth Fraser never published the lyrics), after the opening line of Cocteau Twins ‘Cherry- Coloured Funk’.
Perhaps too unique and uncoverable in their own right, their legendary take on Tim Buckley’s ‘Song To The Siren’, under the name This Mortal Coil (along with Buckley’s pre-Starsailor acoustic version) informs SOHN’s cover. Some tracks unearth hitherto hidden shared DNA, such as Future Islands’ and Colourbox’s ‘The Moon Is Blue’; other tracks are more akin to reinvention. Aldous Harding distils the melodic essence of Deerhunter’s ‘Revival’ and recasts it in her own uncanny image. U.S. Girls’ future-disco mn‘Junkyard’ and Bing & Ruth’s neo-classical instrumental ‘Gigantic’ are even more radical interpretations. Leading off the album, Tkay Maidza brings both her Art Rap and R&B game, but also an unexpected ‘80s synth pop template, to Pixies’ ‘Where Is My Mind?’, a perfect title for these chaotic times."
Soul Jazz Records reissue of this very rare album, first released as a private-press LP in 1978 on flautist Lloyd McNeill’s own Baobab Record label in Washington, DC. The album has been out-of-print for 43 years and is lovingly remastered by Soul Jazz Records.
"Tori is a stunning album that blends Brazilian and Latin flavours with deep Spiritual Jazz. The album features a strong line up which includes legendary Brazilian figures such as Dom Um Romao, Nana Vasconcelos and Dom Salvador alongside jazz heavyweights such as Buster Williams, Howard Johnson, John La Barbera and more. These A-team musicians were all regulars in McNeill’s long-running and highly successful resident live group in New York, all set up to blend deep jazz, Brazilian and Latin music together.
Lloyd McNeill is an African-American flautist, painter, poet, and photographer born in Washington, D.C. in 1935. His multi- disciplinary creative life led to encounters and friendships with Nina Simone, Picasso, Eric Dolphy, Nana Vasconceles and other legendary cultural figures.
Lloyd McNeill’s hypnotic ‘Washington Suite’ was originally commissioned as a piece of music for the Capital Ballet Company, in Washington DC. McNeill grew up through the era of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s and his life and work is a reflection of those ideals. In the mid-1960s he moved to France where he became friends with Picasso, working with a number of émigré-jazz musicians whilst living in Paris. In the late 1960s he taught jazz and painting workshops at the New Thing Art and Architecture Center in Washington. In the 1970s he travelled throughout Brazil and West Africa studying music and taught music anthropology in the US."
Hollie Kenniff makes up one half of the duo Mint Julep, and the album features performances from Keith Kenniff (aka Goldmund).
"Director David Lynch once said “I long for a kind of quiet where I can just drift and dream. I always say getting inspiration is like fishing. If you’re quiet and sitting there and you have the right bait, you’re going to catch a fish eventually. Ideas are sort of like that. You never know when they’re going to hit you.” Inspired by this quote in both name and spirit, Hollie Kenniff’s The Quiet Drift is an ambient gallery of cloudlike synths, seraphic strings, echoing guitars, and other celestial textures guided to cohesion by Hollie’s own wordless singing.
Though the album certainly creates (and originates from) the kind of space where Lynch’s proverbial “fish” can be caught, The Quiet Drift is a fitting title for Hollie’s own history, both recent and distant. During the course of the album’s creation, Hollie and her family moved cross-country from an island in Washington state, to an island in Maine before ultimately relocating to Canada. “As a child I visited Ontario year-round,” she explains in her own words. She continues “More than any other landscape, I think the lake, rivers, and woods there left the most enduring impression on me. The landscape and pace of life of these places will always stay with me.” But the reverberant spaces Hollie crafts need no physical headquarters. Instead of conjuring views of nature at the ground level, her sound more readily evokes a top-down perspective, with the distinct features of the land shrinking underfoot as the listener becomes untethered from geography altogether.
The Quiet Drift belongs more to the liminal spaces between life and afterlife, memory and fantasy, landscape and dreamscape, than any mappable locale. Describing her formative years, Hollie says “As a dual US/Canadian citizen who spent my childhood in a rural town one that I haven’t returned to in many years I have a sense of not entirely belonging anywhere. When I was a teenager my close friends were male musicians, so I was also an outsider to the degree that they were wild and anarchic in a way that I wasn’t. I was a quiet book reader and avid music listener who enjoyed being around a creative group. I was also a radio DJ for alternative and punk music throughout high school.”
In this light, The Quiet Drift attests that creativity is placeless, and calls into question the stereotype of artists as scene-centric city dwellers. Having come of age in the absence of metropolitan sensory overload, Hollie learned to spot the muse in nature, and within herself, instead of the echo chamber of a frenzied peer group. On The Quiet Drift Hollie Kenniff wholly escapes from such pop-culture feedback loops into transcendent, shimmering realms, and she brings the listener along with her. In this age in which we have all been called to reevaluate our relationship to indoor spaces, and seek refuge in the great outdoors, The Quiet Drift provides an apt soundtrack for such rebalancing."
Compiled by longtime Groove editor, onetime Sonic Subjunkie and now Beatport A&R Heiko Hoffmann, 'No Photos on the Dance Floor!' traces the history of Berlin techno, with classic tracks from MMM, Alec Empire, Monolake, Sleeparchive, Basic Channel, Ellen Allien, Barker, and everyone else you can think of. If you've been paying attention, you'll have most of these, if not - check in.
'No Photos on the Dance Floor!' was an art exhibition at the end of 2019 that illustrated Berlin's techno history. With works from Wolfgang Tillmans, Romual Karmakar, Sven Marquardt and Camille Blake, it detailed Berlin's club culture since the fall of the wall. This compilation attempts to do the same with music, charting the most important moments in Berlin techno that impacted the evolution of the sound, from early '90s pioneers like Thomas Fehlmann, Moritz Von Oswald, Mark Ernestus and Atari Teenage Riot's Alec Empire, through minimal innovators like Sleeparchive and Marcel Dettmann to contemporary heroes Avalon Emerson and Barker.
While many of the tracks will be familiar - some are gems that never received anywhere near enough attention. Substance's crushing mix of Monolake's 'Alaska' for example, or Errorsmith and Fiedel's 1997 banger 'Donna'. A history lesson.
After an absence of 13 years Stephen Fretwell announces his long-awaited third album, ‘Busy Guy’, released via Speedy Wunderground.
"Described by Fretwell as “a song cycle of sorts,” the album examines the seasons of a life, exploring fatherhood, grief and rebirth, with Fretwell’s trademark eloquence and wit. ‘Busy Guy’ was produced by Fretwell’s close friend and Speedy Wunderground label boss, Dan Carey. They recorded the whole thing one hot July afternoon in just two hours. “I was so fired up, I just rattled off the songs,” Fretwell says. “I assumed it was the run-through, but Dan said he thought we’d got it.” The next day, Carey assembled “a palate of sound” involving keyboards and an electric guitar. “Dan said, ‘I’m just going to react to the songs over the next few hours’, and that’s the finished record, besides some cello.”
The album title was also Carey’s idea. Fretwell explains: “Years ago, Dan asked why I always carried a copy of The Guardian, a notebook and a pen when all I did was go to the pub. I said: if you go to the pub at 11am with a newspaper, a notebook and pen, you look like a busy guy rather than a pisshead. It became a joke between us. The joke too is that I didn’t do any music for years.” The album was recorded at Dean Street Studios in Soho, not far from where Fretwell now lives, and London looms large on the record, in titles like ‘Oval’ and ‘Embankment’: stops on the Tube and urban images shimmer as Fretwell captures a city full of pride and secrets. He wrote most of the lyrics for ‘Busy Guy’ sitting in the British Library, “taking the songs to pieces and reassembling them, refining the words, thinking about the stories.”
There are moments of visceral delight, of ripeness and fullness in nature - blood, milk and honey, peaches and almonds - all set against the backdrop of the slowburn of long-term love. Fretwell is a true poet with his imagery - taking us on a tour of the universe as he tries to conflate the experience of loss and love on a major scale, yet never wanting to assume grandeur, always dancing that fine line between statement and question. He takes us right up into the cosmos, to “moon craters” and “crazed constellations” (‘Green’), to religion’s saints and angels, and right back slap-down down to earth again - in the grotesque detail of horseflies twitching in last night’s wine glasses, and the fridge-cold lagers the narrator of ‘Pink’ has brought for the beach: a peace offering but also an opt-out. ‘Busy Guy’ is a record that dips into darkness but ultimately shines in its own light. A record that symbolises a waking up. A fresh start. A newness that bears the weight of the past but uses it to great effect."
Big room tekkers from siblings Ed (Tessela) and Tom (Truss) Russell aka Overmono for the neverending Fabric mix series
The 22 track mix slickly spans their big room remit and tastes rooted in the last 25 years of UK raving, racking up a mix of classic garage, techno, and electronica to D&B with milimeter tight transitions and a few surprises strewn across the path. It’s very much built with pedantically neat southern bro’s cutting loose in mind, and primed to soundtrack weekend trade deals.
Expect some beaky Reese-driven garage-techno from them, plus Artwork, dubstep electronica from Milanese and Vex’d, ‘90s anthems by Antonio and Holy Ghost, with contemporary nods to Actress, Anz and Sockethead, plus a run of D&B.
Foodman spells out his adroit take on Chicago footwork mixed with Japanese environmental music in a curiously bass-less wonder for Hyperdub after establishing a nonpareil reputation over the past decade
Despite the lack of bass, ‘Yasuragi Land’ sweetly resonates with Hyperdub’s rhythm-driven fixations in each part, dispensing 17 bite-sized morsels that add up to a very satisfied belly. As one might be able to tell from the cover, if not his name, Foodman likes his grub and his music is deftly flavoured like a multi-course taster menu, keeping everything lightly fried and rhythmelodically harmonised for a sort of spirited musical nourishment.
While the rhythmic focus of his music can be attributed to the inspiration of late ‘00s, early ‘10s juke and footwork from Chicago, the atmospheres of his music specifically, metaphorically references eating at “Michinoeki”, the Japanese motorway service stations, and the ambience of local “Sento”, or Japanese bathhouses, places he goes to “enjoy the atmosphere” and which imbue the album a sense of peace and certainty in unsteady times.
Under lockdown like everyone else, Foodman also revived the spirit of his teenage days as a busker in ‘Yasuragi Land’ by effectively multi-tracking his guitar and drums to resemble the ping pong playfulness of band action. The results are charmingly breezy and light-footed, like a sort of midi jazz-fusion that echoes original footwork, but doesn’t demand your energy, rather it appears to dance off the walls and lend itself to be devoured in one sitting; it’s gently engaging, not engorging, stuff.
In 1996 Thomas Köner and Andy Mellwig’s resoundingly influential debut Porter Ricks album arguably altered the shape of techno as we know it. Now on its 25th anniversary, Mille Plateaux serve a timely reminder of its oceanic might, nearly a decade since it was last reissued by Type
Arriving in the wake of early deep techno explorations by Basic Channel on that duo’s Chain Reaction label, ‘Biokinetics’ made techno’s grid even more fluid and elusive, and in the process brought techno as a concept closer to the unquantifiable clinamen of communal drumming as much as abstract early electronics. The all important, driving slosh of their sound would ripple thru myriad strains of experimental techno ever since, and can be heard echoed in the seasick structures and submerged ambient plangency of everyone from later Richie Hawtin and Rrose to Cam Deas or Helm.
Sluicing material from three 12”s issued between 1995-1996, the album was practically unprecedented in its scope. This can be attributed to the visionary sound design skills of its navigators, combining Thomas Köner’s arctic isolationist sensibilities with Andy Mellwig’s fine-tuned tech-nous, as applied to earlier Async Sense 12” with Gerhard Behles (co-founder of Monolake and Ableton Live) and in his 1995-1998 day job as mastering engineer at Berlin’s D&M. This confluence of hardware knowledge and wetware intuition lead them to a remarkable synthesis of styles defined as ‘Biokinetics’.
Bookended by a pair of pulsating, 12 minute ambient masterpieces in ‘Port Gentil’ and ‘Nautical Zone’, the set also touches on something like a form of gamelan noise with ‘Biokinetics 1’, and the purest systolic whale heart throbs in ‘Biokinetics 2’, while containing some of the heaviest dub techno for clubs in the hypnotic writhe of ‘Port Of Call’ and the salinated steppers special ‘Port of Nuba.’
In the age of rote business techno played by freshly inked, black clad bores, it’s records like ‘Biokinetics’ that remind us of what techno was and can be - music to make you shut your eyes and move.
Long-in-the-making sequel to 2005's unsurpassed "Superwolf" is more "Godfather 2" than "Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties". Basically, way way better than it has any right to be.
At the beginning of lockdown last year, Matt Sweeney and Will Oldham shared a new song - their first since 2005 - promising a full-length in the works. They weren't kidding, after 15 years we're presented with "Superwolves", another collection of tangled jangle-rawk songs penned by Sweeney with lyrics from Oldham. Shockingly, it not only captures the rare, magical mood of the original album but surpasses it, adding a world-worn ease to everything without losing spark. Each song glistens and burns with an energy that's only really captured by artists confident enough in what they're doing that they no longer give a fuck what anyone thinks. Rather than just going through the motions, they play with form and expectation.
Songs are touching and melancholy ('Good to My Girls'), sugary sweet and unashamed ('My Popsicle), explosive ('Hall of Death') and stripped down to a whisper ('My Body Is My Own') and yet from beginning to end there's a coherence that allows you to read "Superwolves" like a good book. It's a timely reminder of the quality of Oldham's back catalogue, but he and Sweeney aren't looking back in time, they're offering us their own take on the state of the world right now, not just wallowing in doom and gloom.
Koreless returns with keenly awaited debut album ‘Agor,’ fine-tuning inspirations ranging from Benjamin Britton to UK rave within distinctive electro-acoustic sound designs.
Prizing the futureshock and enigma of electronic music as much as the immediacy of dance-pop and finesse of ambient classical composition, Koreless achieves a high watermarkwith ‘Agor.’ Arriving a decade since they debuted on Peckham’s Picture Music, which ultimately led to their appearance at Young Turk’s clubnight, and a small but promising clutch of singles for the label between 2012-2015; the album finally unveils a bold new sound at its fullest, calibrating instrumental flourishes with generative vocals and sheer computer music tekkers in plush, spacious designs that benefit from immaculate mixing and mastering.
The ten tracks of ‘Agor’ makes their 33’ run time feel even shorter thanks to the artist’s mercurial grasp of refractive harmonic colour and diffractive pacing. Synth-pop in effect, but soundtrack-like in scope, they cascade from the pendulous metric freedom of widescreen opener ‘Yonder’ to the valley sweeping choral majesty of ‘Strangers’ in measured turns that coalesce into a dramatic description of landscape, both external, hyperreal; and inner.
Previous single ‘Black Rainbow’ plucks the heartstrings with a piquant sort of hiraeth, bringing to light a remarkably precise, bespoke sound design that underlies its windswept highlights, from the Barker-esque weightless flight and choral dramaturgy of ‘White Picket Fence’ and digitized chamber music of ‘Act(s),’ thru to standout darkside bouts of droogy electro in ‘Joy Squad,’ crystalline AI R&B in ‘Frozen,’ and scalp-tingling elision of trance-pop arps and classical pastoral elegance in ‘Shellshock.’
Since their early singles, Koreless has been busy producing for FKA Twigs and Rita Ora, but ‘Agor’ sees them step from behind the scenes into the light of the uncanny valley.
Collection of unreleased demos written for the seventh PJ Harvey studio album White Chalk
"Including demos of ‘When Under Ether’, ‘The Piano’ and ‘The Devil’. Features brand new artwork with previously unseen photos by Maria Mochnacz. Artwork is overseen by Maria with Rob Crane. Mastering by Jason Mitchell at Loud Mastering, under the guidance of long time PJ Harvey producer John Parish."
Winding and mesmerizing vocal/guitar jams that fuse two of Niger's distinct regional musical traditions. Emotionally devastating and kinetic stuff.
'At Pioneer Works' documents a 2019 performance from Tuareg band Les Filles De Illighadad (the daughters of Illighadad). Their music is a smart blend of Tuareg's desert guitar sound that originated from young men in exile in Libya and Algeria in the 1970s, and tende, a form of folk music that was traditionally dominated by women.
The band was founded in Illighadad, a commune in Niger, by vocalist and performer Fatou Seidi Ghali, one of the only Tuareg women who plays guitar, and vocalist Alamnou Akrouni. A year later in 2017 they were joined by Agadez guitarist Amaria Hamadalher and Abdoulaye Madassane, a rhythm guitarist and also a son of Illighadad. They recorded "At Pioneer Works" after finishing a long tour of their debut album "Eghass Malan", celebrating with two sold-out Brooklyn sessions.
The recording captures the band's rare energy, as they bounce vocal call and response, mirroring this interplay with twisted thickets of electrified guitar. The blues-esque looping jangle of desert guitar sounds perfectly matched with Ghali and Akrouni's inviting vocal duets, and the music they create is original, hypnotic and packed with an unmatched groove.
Strut present the definitive edition of Patrice Rushen’s landmark album from 1982, ‘Straight From The Heart’.
"Recorded during Elektra’s drive for ‘sophisticated dance music’ as many jazz artists created their own arrangements of disco and boogie, the sessions marked a progression for Patrice as she began exploring sonics as much as songwriting. “I was looking at different ways to experiment with the sounds on my records. Synths widened the palette available to us.”
Singles from the album included ‘Breakout!’, ‘Number One’ and the global hit ‘Forget Me Nots’. “Bassist Freddie Washington played the bassline during a jam at my family’s house. I caught it, we kept messing around with the groove, then I developed the lyrics and chorus. It was just about recognising that moment when it came up.”
“When I delivered the album to the label, the A&R said, ‘we don’t like anything on here.’ I realised quickly that they would give us no support so producer Charles Mims, myself and Freddie decided to engage a promotion company ourselves to start working the single. Although it took a while to pick up support, it paid off.” The single hit no. 23 on the Billboard Hot 100 in March 1982 and the album became Patrice’s best seller globally from her time with Elektra / Asylum, securing a Grammy nomination. In more recent years, the album has become a regular source for samples in the world of hip hop and R&B. Most famously, Will Smith’s theme for the film ‘Men In Black’ and George Michael’s ‘Fastlove’ were both based, to varying degrees, on ‘Forget Me Nots’.
Strut’s new reissue of ‘Straight From The Heart’ is released on 9th April 2021. LP and CD are presented in their full original artwork and feature bonus 12” versions of the album’s singles including a previously unreleased extended mix of ‘Tired Of Being Alone’. Package includes rare photos by Bobby Holland and a new interview with Patrice Rushen."
Very canny french label, Dawn Records (Ronce, dodo) vertically integrate trap/rap with ambient, house, and dream-pop via 20 diverse cuts from frenz and fam including Bianca Scout, ZULI, Qoso and more.
Ahead of an ace new Ronce album following their release of her shocking debut 7”, Dawn’s Florent Hadjinazarian aka Hajj thematically arranges 20 cuts by the likes of Zuli, Xiao Quan & DJ Loser, Qoso, Bianca Scout and DivPro that demonstrate their slant on the trap/rap trends which are percolating thru the Parisian and wider french underground. From deadly crafty spins on the real thing to totally impressionistic takes, the artists explore the style at its most mutable, lending itself to headphone mooches as much as club play and hot-boxing car smoke outs.
The bossman Hajj turns up a big highlight on ‘Défonce Civile,’ a dank, drill-tipped ace with Jonquera, who also pushes the envelope weirder, EBM-like and spliced with jungle breaks on ‘Refluxus,’ while Brazil’s Xiao Quan & greek producer DJ Loser play it rude and rugged on ‘Trap Melee Rush,’ and Zuli skews it with an Arabic futurism in his remix of Haykal’s ‘Sot Ramallah,’ and Modern Collapse test out a killer mutant drill style in ‘Promesses Tenues (Ft. Jeune LXT),’ with Motherlurk hitting hard on the icy blast of ‘Broken Jaw.’ For the set’s deepest cuts, check for the deliciously brooding ‘Plafond’ from dodo and 737, the faded DJ Lostboi-esque atmosphere of ‘Siblings’ from Betty Hamerschlag.
The icon MF DOOM unleashes his wizardry and wordplay throughout the record, while CZARFACE (bolstered by the legendary Wu-Tang Clan's Inspectah Deck and Esoteric) slash through each of the Czar-Keys' produced tracks as the team raises the bar on their previous LP, Czarface meets Metalface (2018).
"Featuring golden-age superhero DMC (of RUN-DMC) and Hieroglyphics' leader Del The Funky Homosapien, with art by longtime CZARFACE co-creator Lamour Supreme, this album will bring all the thrills of a cosmic summer blockbuster. Recorded and slated for an early 2020 release, and paused while COVID raged, this collaboration of masked men is finally finding its way to you on all formats."
Expertly engineered synthscapes and tweaky rhythmic electronics from Scottish-Irish four-piece Island People. One for fans of early Helios, Kangding Ray, Arve Henriksen or Roly Porter.
Made up of musicians Conor Dalton, David Donaldson, Graeme Reedie and Ian Maclennan, Island People make cinematic electro-acoustic soundscapes that could have fallen from an award winning documentary series or indie movie. It shouldn't be surprising that Dalton is a mastering engineer and Donaldson a Grammy-winning producer, the sounds on "II" feel too expertly sculpted to be accidental.
They combine instrumental prettiness with tight electronic elements and billowing synths with subtle fluidity, skating through textured flourishes and simple rhythms with almost Scandinavian restraint. 'Far From Shore' is almost Smalltown Supersound-esque somehow, with a creeping disco flavor juxtaposing the billowing pads, while 'Ten Green Bottles' is more like ambient post-rock.
It's music for AI-generated sunrises - there's no edge, but you know, you wouldn't wanna cut yerself.
Detroit visionary Terrence Dixon scans stellar new horizons on the awe-inspiring 3rd chapter of his most cherished, foundational and inspiring album series.
Roughly once a decade since 2000 the pioneering Afrofuturist has offered a new landmark of deep, electronic music, and ‘From the Far Future, Pt. 3’ stakes one of 2020’s - and probably the next decade’s - leading examples of Detroit techno at its furthest, most experimental limits. This series of albums has consistently been the place to go for Dixon, and by extension the 313’s, most unruly but truest works, dashing between broken drums, dissonant alien synth tones, and the deepest recesses of the warehouse mind in a rudely distinguished calibration of Motor City mechanics. For us he’s right up there with the city’s deepest heads like Jeff Mills, Drexciya, Mad Mike, or Howard Thomas for producing some of that sound’s most vital, uniquely expressive machine music.
Dixon’s latest landmark sees him double down on the proprioceptive depth with acres of abstract, spatialised synth work while fine-tuning and ruggedly fucking with rhythmic conventions. From the black hole sensations of the album opener to abandoned space station ambience of ‘Found In Space’ and ‘Remarkable Wanderer,’ and the uncharted planet atmospheres of ‘By Land’ or ‘Rotation (Delay Mix),’ he has that side absolutely on lock, and in a way that lends proper cinematic cadence to the album’s flow of raggo muscle car drive between ‘Don’t Panic,’ the warehouse donuts of ’Spectrum of Light,’ a strobing deep technohouse centrepiece ‘Unconditional Love,’ and the widescreen warehouse-in-space scope of ‘Out of Darkness.’
Soul-slapping deep jazz hearticals from a key player in the Chicago and IARC cosmos, joined by Angel Bat Dawid and Ben LaMar Gay who help make up his 11-part Black Monument Ensemble - So on-point, this one!!! RIYL KDJ, Theo Parrish, Prefuse 73
Revolving Damon Locks’ sampler chops and electronics at its core and periphery, it’s abundantly clear to hear the band are in-the-zone on ‘Now’, which is practically the epitome of how to do forward facing music jazz with a deep appreciation of tradition. In their seamless and jagged elision of electronic and organic sources a real magick bleeds thru that’s got us standing up to give it some proper appreciation, and we imagine it will have the same effect everywhere else.
The bookending works with clarinetist Angel Bat Dawit are, perhaps predictably, the highlights, with her spirited freeness lighting up Locks’ patchwork of samples and a sextet of vocalists driven by dual percussionists, Dana Hall and Arif Smith on the swingeing West African styled downstroke of ‘Now (Forever Momentary Space)’ from start to the spine-chilling end and final exhortations of “Whew!”, and again in the rug-shredding wriggle of ‘The Body Is Electric.’ They’re both serious dancefloor cuts in the right hands, and perfectly characterise the album’s grooving nature that snakes thru the Theo-esque bustling metrics and hip-shot sampler stabs of ‘The People vs The Rest Of Us’ and lip-biting swing and parry of ‘Keep Your Mind Free.’
Use your ears, trust your body, you’ll know what to do next. No brainer!
Acclaimed UK shoegaze revivalists Sennen celebrate two decades of existence with an expanded reissue of their debut album "Widows".
Shoegaze really is the sound that can never die. A couple of decades ago, really not long after first wave shoegaze had petered out, Sennen jumped on the next wave train (pre Slowdive's reunion and MBV's return to center stage) and released 'Widows' in 2005. Now it's back with a few extra tracks, remastered by Slowdive's very own Simon Scott. It sounds decent too, and if you're into the Ride/MBV axis of dreamy shimmer you'll probably find plenty to hang onto here.
With three albums under their belts in less than five years, Hedvig Mollestad Trio return with a new album.
"Although there is enough riffing here to satisfy the headbangers, with "Black Stabat Mater" the trio are venturing into more free and open landscapes with Mollestad truly coming into her own as a solo guitarist as well as a riffmeister previously compared to the likes of Tony Iommi and Jimmy Page. It´s also notable that extensive touring has given them a confidence boost, and once again the tracks have been laid down live in the studio with only minor overdubs.The last few years have seen a thrilling new progessive wave of Norwegian avant jazz´n´rock or free metal energy combos like labelmates Elephant9, Grand General, Bushman´s Revenge and Krokofant, and not to forget the mighty Scorch Trio - led by Finnish guitarist Raoul Björkenheim - who can be said to have started it all some 15 years ago.
But it could very well be Hedvig Mollestad Trio that defines it all with their ability to turn the full force of heavy rock and electric jazz to demonic purposes.Hedvig first picked up her mother´s nylon-strung acoustic guitar at ten, before discovering a whole new world through her father´s jazz and rock record collection as a teenager. She translated a biography of Jimi Hendrix for a school project and was given her first electric guitar and amplifier as a confirmation present. The members of the trio are from the districts, but Hedvig met bass player Ellen Brekken and drummer Ivar Loe Bjørnstad at the Music Academy in Oslo. Hedvig asked them to join her after she received the Jazz Talent Of The Year Award at Molde International Jazzfestival in 2009. They have stayed together since, and their previous three albums have all been released on Rune Grammofon."
On the first of March, 2020, John Darnielle, Peter Hughes, Matt Douglas, and Jon Wurster, aka the Mountain Goats band, visited legendary studio Sam Phillips Recording in Memphis, TN. Darnielle armed his band with new songs and reunited with producer Matt Ross-Spang who engineered last year’s In League with Dragons.
"In the same room where the Cramps tracked their 1980 debut album, the Mountain Goats spent a week capturing the magic of a band at the top of its game. The result is Getting Into Knives, the perfect album for the millions of us who have spent many idle hours contemplating whether we ought to be honest with ourselves and just get massively into knives."
The debut album by The Holy Family, an intrepid voyage through sound-worlds, This Heat-esque polyrhythms, spidery zeuhl, oceanic kosmische, Robert Wyatt-via-Talk Talk pastoral and Lalo Schifrin-esque celluloid-score tension.
"The aesthetic of The Holy Family evolved naturally via first improvisation and then a very meticulous crafting of the raw material. Recording sessions involved Smith and his cohorts - including longtime collaborators Kavus Torabi, Emmett Elvin, Sam Warren and Michael J. York - retreating to “an old house in the country well stocked with the requisite fine wines and jazz cigarettes” to lay down tracks that were then sculpted into their eventual form by Smith and engineer/mixer Antti Uuismaki, for approval and final overdubs from the rest of the collective. Mercurial and mystical yet charged with primal energy, this is a classic double album as forum for chimerical experimentation - revealing more psychic landscapes with each listen."
Strut presents one of the most significant albums from the archives of Jimmy Gray’s Black Fire Records, ‘Bow To The People’ (1976) by theatre collective Theatre West, based out of Dayton, Ohio.
"Founder Clarence Young III was a US Air Force Vietnam Vet who had been part of a theatrical troupe entertaining soldiers in 15 countries during his tour. When he returned home in 1969, he started Theatre West in Dayton, Ohio as an outlet for inner city youth to come together and express themselves. At its height, the company involved around 27 members. “Everybody played everything and did everything,” recalls bassist Sigmond Dillard. “We all had to sing, dance and act all the time. If someone messed up, you came in. It was a tight unit and we were constantly helping each other out.”
“There were so many talented and gifted people in our troupe,” continues Dillard. “Rita Brown went on to New York, starring in the film Disco Godfather during the late ‘70s. Bruce Davis went on to work regularly on Broadway in Chicago, All That Jazz and more. Our Musical Director was Delbert Taylor and he also played with Gil Scott Heron’s Midnight Band and with Slave afterwards in the early ‘80s. Vibes player Ben Wilson and I also played regularly with Gil.”
Recorded at Arrest studios in Washington in ’76, ‘Bow To The People’ brought together songs from several of Theatre West’s best known plays including Bow To The People, The System and Black Love and unflinchingly explored serious issues around drug addiction, mental health and cultural awareness. “The whole idea of Bow To The People was to honour our black forefathers,” explains Dillard. “It was important to do that for the kids that didn’t know.” Shelved following the original recording, the Bow To The People album eventually surfaced on a limited CD on Black Fire in 1993. Now receiving its first full international release, the album features the previously unreleased tracks ‘Man Of Many Means’ and ‘I Don’t Know Much About Love’."
Snapped Ankles return.
"Forest Of Your Problems runs the gamut of modern woodwose emotions. In this neat human approximation of the forest, it’s an increasingly knotted affair. Despite all of this, Snapped Ankles haven’t lost their innate ability to make you want to move your feet - their Teutonic forest rhythms are still shot through with post-punk lightning. Whether they’re exploring those opportunities which might arise when a Nigerian prince emails out of the blue on ‘The Evidence’, or referencing the crooked woodwose attempting to go straight on ‘Rhythm Is Our Business’, this is music to lose your inhibitions to. The moments of pure elation on ‘Shifting Basslines Of The Cornucopians’ are worth the admission price alone - “It’s a great time to be alive!” …apparently."
Essential reissue of dark ambient deity Thomas Köner's icy 1997 Arctic expedition 'Nuuk' - a stunningly detailed sonic picture of alien territory: gaseous, minimal, foreboding and enduringly evocative. There are plenty of imitators, but only one Thomas Köner.
By the sheer volume of gloomy ambient records being squirted into the world right now, you'd think it was easy music to produce. One listen to "Nuuk" though and it's immediately clear that this isn't the case. Köner is one of the genre's foremost innovators, and his music still sounds complex, remote and completely unique, decades later.
Like many of his albums, "Nuuk" is influenced by Köner's time spent traversing Arctic landscapes. It's named after the capital of Greenland, and evokes that frozen landscape using deep, creaking bass sounds, blustering pads and crumbling environmental recordings. The tracks are surprisingly widescreen at times, as subtle harmonies emerge peek through the fog like cracks of sunlight.
'Nuuk (Night)' is as sensually psychedelic as it is glacial, revealing the textural potential of the genre and showing Köner's intense attention to detail as the track heaves and dissipates like icy breath. There are few other artists that come even close to Köner here - Lustmord, Deathprod or Basinski maybe - and even then, Köner's output towers over a land of its own. So essential.
Utterly spellbinding survey of John Cage’s late works, mostly focussing on orchestral pieces performed and recorded circa his 1990 visit to East Berlin, and including a stunning rendition of Some of The Harmony of Maine  performed by Edition RZ’s Jakob Ullmann, who coincidentally write the box’s lucubrate liner notes. If you’ve ever been intrigued by Cage but can’t see a way into his crenelated catalogue, we strongly recommend checking this set for some of the late, great thinker and composer’s most accessible and gratifying work.
The three discs of Klang Der Wandlungen feature five full pieces written between 1948 and 1992, just before the composer’s death at 80 years of age. By this point in the early ‘90s, Cage was already long established among 20th century avant garde heavyweights, having studied under Arnold Schoenberg - the inventor of serialism - and an extensive background in writing for modern dance with his longterm partner Merce Cunningham, as well as pioneering the prepared piano and penning the seminal 4’ 33”, perhaps one of the most important works of the 20th century.
Following an interest in eastern philosophy and anarchy from the late ‘40s, his work became defined by aleatoric music, or chance-based composition from then on, which came to define the sphere of Amercian avant-garde in opposition to the ‘new music’ coming from Darmstadt in the ‘50s, or European traditions and their focus on technicality or artisanship. These Cageian ideas had seeped into East Germany before reunification, and, in 1990, Cage was invited to East Berlin in the newly reunified German state at the behest of the IGNM (International Society for Contemporary Music).
The recordings in Klang Der Wanderlung were part of the programme or related to this visit, and, with historical context, came to show how his ideas had, over the preceding decades, become absorbed into European practice. We can hear striking similarities with the tension of Giacinto Scelsi in the remarkable opener Seventy-Four, and with Luigi Nono’s use of intangible quietness in 103, whilst the breathtaking Postcards From Heaven - here performed on harp by Gabriel Emde - is comparable with the feather-touch minimalism of Morton Feldman. Really, not what you may expect if you’ve only heard Cage’s famous, atonal early pieces such as Cartridge Music , a prototypical piece for adapted vinyl turntables, for example.
Another of Cage’s famous, early Imaginary Landscape compositions, makes up one of this set’s two biggest highlights. Gabriel Emde performs harp on a utterly gorgeous rendition of In A Landscape , a Satie-esque piece for dance presented here for the first time, whilst Jakob Ullmann’s organ performance of Some of The Harmony of Maine, renders the pioneer of Quiet Music at his loudest, performing Cage’s work in bold, striking gasps shattered by passages of near-silence.
Jakob Ullmann’s liner notes offer a lot more to sink your teeth into, alongside the music, which as always, is up to Edition RZ’s uncompromisingly high standards. Together with the delectable packaging, it makes up a perfect entry point to one of the most fascinating wormholes ever opened by art or music.
"Directly following an ambient collaboration with modular synth master Alessandro Cortini (Illusion of Time) and a club 12" with Roman Flügel as Noun (Meeting of the Minds), Daniel Avery finished a solo LP and spontaneously decided to release it with no advance hype.
"Love + Light touches on several sides of Avery's personality, delivering propulsive dance tracks as well as reflective experiments, and diverting into other modes that he hasn't explored as frequently. "Dusting for Smoke" and "Dream Distortion" are prime examples of the type of hissing, hazy techno he excels at, with heavy, pounding beats and tense, dreamy synth textures, all fine-tuned for major club impact. "Darlinnn" keeps up a steady beat but builds much more gradually, working up to a frothy peak and then simmering down. Surrounding all these tracks are experimental pieces like the distorted drone of "London Island" (echoing his work with Cortini) and the gentle, floating harp interlude "Katana." "Searing Light, Forward Motion" takes things in a much harsher direction, with clattering, distorted breakbeats reminiscent of Christoph de Babalon or DJ Scud, and furious acid synths sounding like an angry robot on the rampage. "Infinite Future" is much more serene, with shoegazey synths gliding over a slightly jittery post-dubstep beat, and other tracks like "Into the Arms of Stillness" and "A Story in E5" dip into swirling, tenderhearted downtempo IDM in the vein of Casino Versus Japan or Freescha. "Fuzzwar" is in a similar vein, yet somehow it's one of the least fuzzy-sounding tracks on the album. Wrapping it all up is "One More Morning," a light, shimmering electro piece perfect for greeting the sunrise. While Love + Light feels a lot rougher than Avery's first two solo albums, and initially takes a few more listens to fully appreciate, it's just as inspired and creative."
Strut presents the first international release for a lost classic from the Black Fire Records archives, ‘Southern Energy’, the only album recorded by R’n’B and jazz collective Southern Energy Ensemble in 1977.
"Trumpeter Marvin Daniels had been drafted into the US army in Germany during the mid-‘70s, playing in the military touring band 100% Pure Poison. Upon returning to Virginia State College, he met up with an old friend, saxophonist Al Clarke, and they began to form a new band, pulling together various students from the University including Nat Lee (keys), William “Spike” Johnson (drums and percussion) and Adolphus “Peddie” Maples (percussion and vocals). “As Southern Energy, we started playing the chitlin R’n’B circuit and ended up gigging most weekends at clubs, universities and military bases in Virginia and North and South Carolina,” remembers Daniels.
After meeting Plunky Branch and Black Fire Records MD and producer, Jimmy Gray at a JuJu gig in Richmond, Virginia, Gray signed the band and they recorded some high energy sessions during 1977. “Southern Energy was tight,” continues Daniels. “We had great musicians and great vocalists in Judy Spears and Garrie Wayne, both vocal majors from Virginia State College. The album was all about positive messages and celebrating real people.” Tracks include the storming dancefloor jazz workout ‘Third House’, the optimistic ballad ‘Looking Ahead’ and the extended funk anthem ‘F-U-N-K-Y ‘Til The Day I Die’.
The band would break up soon after the members left college. Daniels moved to Philadelphia to work with Evelyn “Champagne” King in 1978 before co-founding Chops horns who would go on to become one of the most in-demand US session units of the ‘80s, working with Sugarhill Gang, The Police, The Rolling Stones and more. Maples would go on to play on sessions for Oneness Of Juju.
Canned following the original recording, the Southern Energy Ensemble album eventually surfaced on a limited CD and LP on Black Fire in 1993. Now receiving its first full international release, ‘Southern Energy’ has been remastered from the original tapes by The Carvery. Package features unseen photos and brand new sleeve notes by co-bandleader Marvin Daniels. Released on CD, 1LP, digital and streaming."
After dropping our AOTY in 2018, extraordinary percussionist/producer Eli Keszler distills his feelings on Manhattan under lockdown in a killer new suite of noirish NYC jazz rent with electro-acoustic magick - RIYL 0PN, Kenji Kawai, Elodie, Rashad Becker, Aphex x Squarepusher
One of experimental music’s most dynamic figures of recent years, Keszler’s bevy of solo sides and collaborations with everyone from Skrillex, 0PN and Laurel Halo to Jandek and John Butcher have placed him at a captivating crossroads of electronic, soundtrack music, new jazz, and the avant garde. His first album in 3 years, ‘Icons’ is his most broadly appealing and subtly gradated, with a level of emotive nuance, diffracted pacing and vaulted spatialization that beautifully comes to reflect the slow/quick/slow flux of the city during lockdown. OK, ye ye we don’t need to hear anymore about lockdown, but we’ve gotta admit this is one of the coolest, collected musical thoughts on the subject that’s emerged over the whole blasted period, absorbingly transmuting and relating a classically inner city, avant jazz blues ambiance for a new generation in a way that really hits home.
During the past 18 months the usually itinerant artist and performer found himself staying in one place for the first time in a decade, and the sense of tension between stasis and an urge to travel is at the core of ‘Icons’ Replacing international dates with bike trips around Manhattan island, Keszler draws on the experience of carving around the city’s empty streets, as well as those moments when it erupted into activity with protests and ambulances, effectively oscillating across lanes, up the side of buildings, and even thru them, to present a gyring-eye’s view of Manhattan’s unstable reality. From the dawning clangour of ‘All The Mornings in the World’ to the album’s elegiac closure ‘We sang a dirge, and you did not mourn’ expect a completely absorbing day-in-the-life experience as Keszler cycles thru freewheeling gear changes and plays of light dancing between its sound architecture and vertiginous proprioceptions.
Pleasantly low-slung jazzy beat tape fodder from Aussie group Hiatus Kaiyote, who are best known for being sampled by everyone from Jay-Z and Beyonce to Kendrick Lamar and Drake.
'Mood Valiant' is the Melbourne four-piece's second album and follows up their successful 2015 record "Choose Your Weapon". While the backing tracks were pretty much finished back in 2018, Hiatus Kaiyote's vocalist Naomi “Nai Palm” Saalfield was diagnosed with breast cancer before she could record her parts. After receiving life-saving treatment in Australia, she and the band looked back at their work with a freshly altered perspective.
After working with Brazilian arranger Arthur Verocai in 2019 on single 'Get Sun', the album's mood shifted. Verocai added strings and horns to the tracks, and the band recorded two more in Brazil after being inspired by the sessions. The result is a record that's incredibly hopeful in the face of adversity, and goes beyond the jaunty jazzy sample material of its predecessor. Sort of like Stones Throw x tropicalia, arranged for a Hollywood blockbuster.
NYC drummer Kid Millions teams up with Mouse on Mars's Jan St. Werner here for an album of expertly tweaked surrealist electronics and blistering improvised rhythms.
John Colpitts aka Kid Millions has an impressive CV. He's worked with Laurie Anderson, Philip Glass and Boredoms, and played in bands like Oneida, Royal Trux and Spiritualized. Here, he's given space to really go balls to the wall, improvising wildly while St. Werner processes carefully, or adds bubbling oscillator squeal where necessary.
Kid Millions' drums play the central role here, no doubt, and St. Werner acts like a dub producer behind the mixing desk, fading Colpitts' virtuoso rolls into disorienting drones or melting them with mindbending fx. It's not easy listening by any means - it's a lot of drumming and occasional blips and squelches - but if you're into Han Bennink, Chris Corsano or Mouse on Mars's collaboration with reggae legend Lee "Scratch" Perry then check this without delay (cough).
Stuck at home for the first time in years, Wooden Shjips and Moon Duo's Ripley Johnson was inspired to form a "more mindful relationship with the natural world" and penned "Earth Trip" to express this feeling.
If it sounds a little hippy, then you're on the right track here. Johnson recorded "Earth Trip" at his home in Portland, Oregon, and wanted to infuse his psychedelic jangle with messages of interconnectedness and the environment. Honestly, he manages it better than most, building on well-worn alt country tropes with clear passion and positivity. At its best, "Earth Trip" sounds as elegiac as Mazzy Star - just peep 'Silver Roses' or 'Feel of Love'.
While it might dip into wheel-turnin' corniness from time to time, the mood is primarily almost Lynchian, offering a more complex taste of contemporary Americana.
It's the Matthew Dear album you never knew you needed: electrified techno country-blues for fans of Death in Vegas, Alabama 3 or Moby.
Minimal techno popstar Matthew Dear wrote "Preacher's Sigh & Potion" in 2008 and 2009, after the release of his acclaimed "Asa Breed". For whatever reason, the bizarre fusion of country and minimal was shelved at the time in favor of music that would become 2010's "Black City", but "Preacher's Sigh & Potion" remained in the back of his mind.
Now we get to hear it in full, and if you're a fan of Matthew Dear and ever thought to yourself, "why doesn't this guy make a country album?" Well, here it is. And that's really all there is to it. Dear is a competent producer and an adequate singer and songwriter, so we get decent pub country complimented by workmanlike minimal backdrops. Okay then.
LoneLady strikes out completely alone on "Former Things", welding New Order, Kate Bush and Neneh Cherry influences in a collapsing cityscape of DIY funk.
When Julie Campbell started writing "Former Things", it was going to be techno, but as she added elements it developed into an electro pop opus. She constructed the record after moving from Manchester to work at London's Somerset house, recording completely alone for the first time. The result is a laser-focused collection of songs that highlight Campbell's influences and eccentricities perfectly.
'The Catcher' is stiff and funky, loosened by unusual samples and Campbell's bright, lighthearted-but-deadpan delivery. 'Former Things' sounds like the minimalist demo for an '80s pop hit, like Prince stripped down to the barest elements. 'Fear Colours' is more in line with Neneh Cherry's fwd-thinking pop run, but disrupted with angular robot-funk grit. If the future sucks, it's probably best to look back, right?
Bay Area artist Chrystia Cabral (aka SPELLLING) orchestrates her quirky synth compositions with 31 (!) additional musicians on her ambitious and vivacious new album "The Turning Wheel".
Cabral's acclaimed 2017 debut album "Pantheon of Me" was a dark selection of contemporary synth pop that made her move to Sacred Bones feel well forecast. This latest record however feels completely unexpected, somewhere between "Hounds of Love"-era Kate Bush, Joanna Newsom and Chromatics.
The neon lit synth music of her earlier material is still present on tracks like 'Emperor with an Egg' and 'Queen of Wands', but fused with the quirky folk instrumentation of Joanna Newsom's post "Ys" records and chunky Fairlight worlds that Kate Bush created on her best known material.
"The Turning Wheel" is an ambitious undertaking for a solo artist, but Cabral leads the album with the confidence of a master conductor, twisting her powerful voice around virtuoso instrumental performances from her throng of collaborators.
When the Mountain Goats got together in March 2020, it was to make not one album, but two.
"The idea was to again work with Matt Ross-Spang, the dashing Memphis wunderkind. Matt pitched we spend a week at Sam Phillips Recording, his home base in Memphis, followed by another at the storied FAME Recording Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, a plan that dovetailed nicely with John’s notion of corralling these songs into two complementary batches: one light, one dark. The Memphis album Getting Into Knives, would be brighter, bolder, marked by rich and vibrant hues; the Muscle Shoals album Dark in Here, is quieter, smokier, but more deeply textured and intense.
We were all aware of the mythos surrounding FAME. The second you step inside you transport to its early ’60s heyday and its louche mid-’70s denouement. The room we set up in is the room where Percy Sledge sang “When a Man Loves a Woman” and where Aretha Franklin recorded “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You).” The Wurlitzer with which Spooner Oldham opens the last? It’s sitting right there. Spooner is living musical history, having played with everyone from Bob Dylan and Neil Young to Linda Ronstadt and Liberace, for crying out loud. And Spooner is all over Dark in Here any time you hear a bit of Hammond organ or electric piano chiming in without repeating a phrase. We tracked the album’s one outright banger, “The Destruction of the Kola Superdeep Borehole Tower,” live with Spooner, and “Mobile” and “Dark in Here” with guitarist Will McFarlane another local veteran who played with Bonnie Raitt for years. We only had Spooner for two afternoons, though, and Will for just one.
After it was just the four of us: John playing acoustic guitar and occasional piano, the rhythm section of drummer Jon Wurster and myself, and our jack-of-all-trades Matt Douglas picking up everything else. The result is something more stripped down and intimate than the lush arrangements of Getting Into Knives. Of “The Slow Parts on Death Metal Albums,” John concedes that the song is autobiographical. While the lines, “In a new universe / trying to find the mask that fits me” would take on a newly literal connotation in the weeks to come, the song is about going to late ‘80s metal shows at Fender’s Ballroom in Long Beach, and about seeking a sense of identity and community in strange and occasionally forbidding places. This theme feeling at once conspicuous and invisible, the frustrated craving for acceptance is echoed elsewhere. Then there are elegies to lost causes, some big and institutional (“The Destruction of the Kola Superdeep Borehole Tower”), some small and personal (“Arguing With the Ghost of Peter Laughner About His Coney Island Baby Review,” a tribute to David Berman, whose return from self-imposed musical exile had been cause for huge celebration in our camp). “Before I Got There” neglects to identify its victims, or the tragedy that’s befallen them. John writes in the liner notes that “if you’re looking for a governing theme here, it’s calamity, as all the songs are either anticipating one or reflecting one that’s already happened.” Peter Hughes, Rochester, March 2021.
Prolific Los Angeles beat scene / jazz scene staple Carlos Niño calls up friends Sam Gendel, DNTEL, Laraaji and others for a many-headed celebration of spiritual jazz. Absolute zoners for fans of Alice Coltrane, Matthewdavid, Dilla or Kamasi Washington.
'More Energy Fields' is yet another full-length from Niño and friends, following last year's "Actual Presence". Yet again, Niño calls on regular contributors Jamael Dean, Randy Gloss, Devin Daniels, Sam Gendel and Nate Mercereau, making room for DNTEL on modular synthesizer and new age legend Laraaji on zither and voice.
If you've heard Niño's previous recordings you should know broadly what to expect. He's an expert bandleader, and his particular brand of heady beat scene-doused spiritual jazz is a well-worn, proven concept at this point. "More Energy Fields, Current" is Niño's most confident material to date, and its high points - the giddy 'Nightswimming', Laraaji-touched zoner 'Ripples Reflection Loop, or lifted beatbox jammer 'Now the background is the foreground' - are worth the asking price alone.
Descendants of the original cold wave, such as Lena Willikens, Tolouse Low Trax, Job Sifre and many more tend to the sound’s branches in the modern day with stacks of grubby x scuzzy killers.
One of those rarer sets where Soul Jazz source from the recent, not distant, past, the featured artists all wear their influences clearly, offering a more streamlined answer to the late ‘70s / early ‘80s movement forged by the likes of Suicide, Patrick Cowley, The Normal, Martin Hannett, Laurie Anderson, or Public Image which has endured to inform the contemporary underground.
Where the original wavers used the machines at their disposal, all artists here make a conscious aesthetic decision to limit themselves to what is now lo-fi and ostensibly obsolete gear, location parks of invention and anachronistic energy between the hard nosed toil of Lena Willikens’ ‘Howling Lupus,’ the and tunnel drag force of ‘At Least We Try’ by Job Sifre, the humid tropical trek of Tolouse Lowe Trax’s ‘Rushing Into Water,’ Cosey-esque sleaze in ‘Hiding’ by Beta Evars, the slathering 16th note arp fangs of ‘Vacant Cars’ from Broken English Club, and a searing ‘Deserver Dub’ by Krikor Kouchian.
John Carroll Kirby returns with ‘Septet’, a live instrumental album.
"‘Septet’ sees the widely acclaimed keyboardist and composer lead a band to perform a new suite of works. Second album for Stones Throw following ‘My Garden’, released in April 2020. From the acclaimed musician John Carroll Kirby, a new electronic jazz album la Herbie Hancock’s ‘Head Hunters’. All tracks written and arranged by Kirby and performed by him and six additional musicians. Three bonus dubs.
John Carroll Kirby has collaborated with artists including Solange, Frank Ocean, Harry Styles, Eddie Chacon and Sebastien Tellier. For fans of Herbie Hancock, Floating Points, Four Tet, Sons of Kemet, The Comet Is Coming, Shabaka Hutchings."
If yr looking for a way to penetrate Sun Ra's intimidating catalog, "Lanquidity" is a succinct, precious wormhole that gives a taste of the jazz pioneer's astral weirdness without letting it overwhelm. Transformative shit, really.
Released in a tiny edition back in 1978, "Lanquidity" is Sun Ra's attempt at cultural reconciliation. It's the ultimate flex, finding the Arkestra alien absorbing contemporary pop elements (disco, funk, soul) into his canon, before spitting them out as further cosmic strings in his pan-universal bow. The playability of "Lanquidity" has given it legs: before its reissue in 2000, the album had hardly been heard, but was spoken about in hushed tones. A couple of decades later, it's an established classic, putting Sun Ra's talent into full view and quieting some of the sprawling galaxy-brain oddness that alienates some listeners.
Recorded by Philly Jazz boss Tom Buchler (who penned enlightening liner notes about the recording experience), "Lanquidity" has Sun Ra fronting a band of over fourteen players, including Marshall Allen on alto sax and John Gilmore on tenor. Intriguingly, he also ropes in not one but two guitarists, giving the album its "Bitches Brew"-adjacent fusion fuzz, but it's the overdubbing of disembodied voices and layers of Arp and Minimoog that puts these tracks into a category all of their own. The mood Sun Ra creates is truly planetary (just flick to the album's terrifyingly tripped 'There Are Other Worlds (They Have Not Told You Of)' for proof) and while he certainly makes concessions with his stylistic choices, the pop shell is merely a Trojan horse for his vanguard forms.
An unmissable piece of techno history, combining the talents of Basic Channel's Moritz von Oswald, early Tresor resident and Orb mainstay Thomas Fehlmann and Detroit pioneer Juan Atkins. Stargazing techno futurism that's rarely been bettered in the three decades that followed, it cemented an important early bond between Detroit and Berlin.
In the early 1990s, von Oswald and Fehlmann began working together, constructing remixes as 2MB (or 2 Men in Berlin) and then bringing Detroit pioneers Eddie Fowlkes and Juan Atkins into the fold under the 3MB moniker. '3MB feat. Magic Juan Atkins' was released in 1992, and captures Techno as it was evolving from the early no-holds-barred electro-sci experimentation of The Belleville Three (Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May) to include innovation from across Europe.
Few European contributors covered as much ground as Moritz von Oswald, who paved the way for Berlin's minimalist sound with his early productions alongside Mark Ernestus. With this short, sharp collection of tracks however, Atkins, von Oswald and Fehlmann made a direct link between the sounds developing in the USA and those booming from clubs in Berlin.
Opening with a synth-heavy Atkins edit of 'Bassmental', the album starts as it means to go on with Atkins absorbing the tweaky austerity of the German set and filling it out with flashes of energetic Detroit euphoria. 'Die Kosmischen Kuriere' is another high point, building a lithe 4/4 throb over a classic Model 500-style synth bassline and post-Göttsching chords. The most memorable moment however is 'Jazz is the Teacher', that gets both a von Oswald and Fehlmann version as well as a rework from Atkins. This track is one of the era's finest moments, and Atkins' version with its neck-snapping bassline and acidic ascent of heavily-phased percussion still sounds undeniably fresh; the Berlin remix instead digs further into the jazz canon, expanding the rhythm with swung rides and adding vibraphone action that von Oswald would continue to explore on his more recent trio releases.
Next level material that's an early indicator of the breadth of exploration techno would offer. It's dancefloor material that never stops reaching for the stars.