Maestro of the sampler Carl Stone goes on a mad joyride with his most hooligan-friendly decimations skidding wildly into drill ’n bass territory
Ever unpredictable, but predictably brilliant, Carl Stone has evidently had something of a second wind in recent years with a rush of amazing new works and retrospectives that set him out as a truly overlooked avant-garde innovator of a singular calibre with a bold catalogue stretching back to the early ‘80s. From beguiling pop cut-ups to glitching transformations of South East Asian folk, his music knows few bounds beyond what is possible with his sampler and software, resulting some of the most spellbinding contributions to the glitch/electronic/avant garde world out there, and this new one is flipping outstanding.
Booting off with something like a $hit & $hine hoe-down in the smashed Bonham break ballistics of ’Pasjoli’, he cuts loose between something like Squarepusher-meets-Coil in ‘Huancho’, and one of his masterfully twisted pop chop-ups in ‘Au Jus’, and does the same with folk music in ‘The Jugged Hare’, while drawing out something deeply uncanny from whatever pop tune he’s razzing out in ‘Ganci’, and pretty much emulating the effect of listening to the Panda Bear after a balloon and big slug of K in the mind-bending ‘Saaris’. It’s all more than our RDA of psychoactive sonic substance and we love it.
A high water mark of ‘90s UK culture returns on its 25th anniversary, reminding older heads of the best times, and a history lesson for the critical mass of junglists developed during lockdown
Produced in 1995 by the gold-grilled hardcore/jungle/D&B pioneer, engineered by Rob Playford, Dillinja, and 4Hero’s Dego and Mark Mac, with vocals by the legendary Diane Charlemagne (R.I.P.), ’Timeless’ was and still is an ambitious and enduring example of British Afrofuturism. The album’s sense of discipline and crucial style was symptomatic of the scenius developed by a tight circle of mostly Black and mixed race British artists who drew on their African and Afro-Caribbean roots to develop a unique artform that expressed their identity, which would in course become adopted by a wider generation as their own.
A pinnacle of its artform, arguably never bettered, the album was practically ubiquitous during the mid-‘90s, with its introductory anthem ‘Inner City Life’ - part of the album’s opening three-part suite - a staple on MTV2 and mainstream radio, which helped transcend its urban roots and infect a whole generation beyond big cities and their clubs. It’s almost hard to imagine such a futuristic album quite like this appearing and exerting so much effect on the popular consciousness in 2021, but the ‘90s was a very different place and time, and we can only live in hope that the next decade will foster the next Goldie.
Oh, one last thing - AGCG's 'Black Secret Technology' came out almost exactly 5 months before 'Timeless', it didn't quite have the same promo budget behind it, but it's legacy seeps even further and deeper than 'Timeless' - and is perhaps, on the quiet, the most influential electronic album of the late 20th century. Just sayin.
Reissue of Goldie’s dud 2nd album, augmented with a bonus disc of remixes by Martyn, Grooverider, Optical, Gremlinz & Jesta, and Djrum that are worth a peep
We’re not going to waste time adding to the critical bricks lobbed at this album, but we will give a run thru the bonus CD of remixes and rare cuts. From the D&B nu skool, Gremlinz & Jesta work a tuff update of tech-stepper ‘Demonz’, and Martyn teases out the same track in a killer, signature 2-step woodblock style.
‘Crystal Clear’ provides contrasting results ranging from former Need For Mirrors producer HLZ’s smooth liquid rolige to a crafty transition of slow/fast, viscous soul to paso doble rushes by Djrum, and Optical revamps ‘Temper Temper’ with gnashing hardstep pressure, unfortunately keeping the vocal though. There’s also a 13 minute ‘Strings’ version of ‘the 70 minute+ ‘Mother’ 2nd disc off the original release.
Finally available once again, "Keyboard Fantasies" was originally self-released on tape in 1986 and contains some of Beverly Glenn-Copeland's most fascinating material. An FM-synthesized combo of new age private press eccentricity and accidentally prophetic Detroit techno futurism. So good!
'Keyboard Fantasies' was entirely recorded using a Yamaha DX-7 synthesizer and a Roland TR-707 drum machine, giving Glenn-Copeland's third album a glassy, robust character that sets it apart from many of its contemporaries. Tangentially, he was working in the new age sphere, but his eerie homespun compositions pointed at far more more mind-expanding, idiosyncratic places.
While opener 'Ever New' (a highlight of last year's fantastic Glenn-Copeland primer "Transmissions") is charmingly light-hearted, with Glenn-Copeland's vocals layered over chiming BBC Radiophonic Workshop synths, 'Slow Dance' sounds more like slow techno, operating in the same realm as Yellow Magic Orchestra with synth bells and voices spun around a grinding 707 beat. Elsewhere, the jazzy 'Old Melody' sounds like a discarded cue from Angelo Badalamenti's "Twin Peaks" soundtrack, or an interlude from Air's "Moon Safari". Lovely.
R.I.Y.L. Brian Eno, Jon Hassell, Beverly Glenn-Copeland, Laraaji, Robert Rich, Harold Budd.
"Across eight tracks that mesh spacious, jazz-laced composition with fourth-world and adult-contemporary tonality, Toronto saxophonist Joseph Shabason sketches an auditory map of the transcendence, unity, conditioning, and eventual renunciation of his upbringing in an Islamic and Jewish dual-faith household. The resulting album The Fellowship bears the name of the insular Islamic community Shabason’s traditionally Jewish parents belonged to from a time before he was even born; a mental and spiritual push-pull which continued shaping, even controlling, his outlook well into his adulthood. As a listening experience The Fellowship follows a chronological arc that spans three generations covering his parents’ early lives, his own spiritual and physical adolescence, and his subsequent struggle to eschew the problematic habituations of such a conflicted past."
Mass-rock mainstays Dinosaur Jr.'s twelfth (!) studio album is expectedly reliable collection of air-fried indie rawk and familiar 1990s jangle. If it ain't broke, etc.
Lou Barlow, J Mascis and Murph are back again with "Sweep it into Space", their first new album in five years. This time it's produced in collaboration with Kurt Vile, but don't expect the singer-songwriter to have had too much impact on the sound: this is still very much the Dinosaur Jr. we know and love. Vile was initially due to have more of a role, but was held back by COVID-19 restrictions. The result is a more traditional record that captures a band that know each other so well (they're 36 years old this year) that it's almost on autopilot.
That's not to say "Sweep it into Space" is dull, far from it - tracks like 'I Met the Stones', 'Garden' and 'And Me' are the sound of a band still more than capable of capturing the bottled lightning that made them such an enticing prospect in the first place. When you get bored re-listening to old Pavement albums or avoiding Weezer clips on Instagram, this should hit the spot.
Industrial music and bleep techno legend Richard H. Kirk is back with a long-form synthdrone experiment. Dark, dystopian heaviness that serves as a bleak reflection of a complex era.
Sheffield's Cabaret Voltaire reappeared last year with "Shadow of Fear", the first proper album in 26 years. Originally a trio, the act is now a solo project of founder member Richard H. Kirk, who bleep techno lovers might know better as Warp Records OG Sweet Exorcist. But don't expect a selection of minimal 4/4 jams here - Kirk has fully leaned into the industrial mode on "BN9Drone", a single hour-long track of wobbly synth, crunchy distortion and searing noise.
It's engrossing, pineal-tickling stuff, hinged around a single synth tone (maybe the "drone" in the title?) that Kirk molds and pulls like clay, embellishing it with radio static, voices and chimes. Kirk has long been an innovator, and this harks back to his industrial roots, reminding of Maurizio Bianchi, early Merzbow, Prurient or other disintegrated fuxxed electronix.
Recorded in 1995-96, "Mutator" is Suicide don Alan Vega's attempt to reflect the energy of East Coast rap, draping his words around loose beatbox rhythms and industrial ambience. Unique, powerful and absolutely bonkers.
'Mutator' is the first in a series of archival releases from the Vega Vault. Vega was a ridiculously prolific artist, and many of his records were shelved not for any reason in particular, but just because he was writing so much. He penned "Mutator" alongside his regular collaborator Liz Lamere, who handled the synths and drum machines while Vega manipulated the sounds and added words.
The recordings from this session were dug up by The Vacant Lots' Jared Artaud in 2019 and were subsequently mixed and mastered by Lamere and Artaud. The resulting album is a window into Vega's mind in that era; he was fascinated by the sound of New York's streets, and pre-gentrification that would have been traffic noise, police and hip-hop.
These sounds are the backbone of "Mutator": funk-fuelled machine beats, wailing siren synths and surrealist rhymes that echo the cadence of 1990s rap. It's music that feels a million miles from his relatively poppy 1995 full-length "Dujang Prang", and shines a spotlight on a fearlessly creative mind operating in one of New York City's most fertile time periods.
Dream pop darlings Ulrich Schnauss and Jonas Munk return for their most celestial collaboration to date, a sublime soup of kosmische, shoegaze and new-age moods that shimmers with emotion.
'Eight Fragments of an Illusion' is Schnauss and Munk's third collaborative album, and was recorded over the last three years at Schnauss's well-equipped studio in London. In the time since the duo's last record (2017's "Passage"), Schnauss has spent a significant amount of time working as a member of Tangerine Dream, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that this has impacted the direction of the music.
Where its predecessor had an almost soft-rock maximalist approach, "Eight Fragments of an Illusion" is more markedly minimal, eschewing percussion almost entirely in favor of slow-building tracks that accent the interplay between Schnauss's synth and Munk's guitar. Opener 'Asteroid 2467' is hypnotic and melancholy, softly shuttling from reverberating Cocteau Twins-esque guitar into '80s Tangerine Dream-esque OST-synth bliss.
'Return To Burlington' features a brittle drum machine that reminds of Schnauss's hallowed debut "Far Away Trains Passing By" and chiming mallet sounds that create a wall of harmonic haze. The album's extended centerpiece is 'Perpetual Motion', and hinges around a muted dub techno rhythm, tangling Munk's guitar into looping synth echoes and shuffling beats. It's an unexpected diversion for the duo that shows their ability to evolve as they develop their sound. if you've ever wondered what Slowdive and Seefeel might sound like reworking the soundtrack to "Risky Business", this might help point you in the right direction.
First new LP in 14 years by Kosmische pioneer Michael Rother (Neu!, Harmonia, Kraftwerk), painting elegant pastoral scenes and lolling synth-pop accompanied by a new vocal muse
Like the soundtrack to an air-conditioned bar at a Goan retirement village for krautrock kosmonauts, ‘Dreaming’ may well please the happiest old hippies but may taste a bit too like specialist German cheese to others, depending your tolerance for milky arps, motorik chug and breathy valium vox.
Presenting richly detailed hydrophone recordings of algae development in the rapidly depleting Arctic, Jana Winderen’s latest research is a fascinating and acutely topical study of ‘Spring Bloom in the Marginal Ice Zone’.
Prefaced by a sobering interview with world-renowned Professor of Marine Science, Carlos Duerte, the album presents headphone and speaker mixes of the title track, offering an immersive sonic inspection of the transitional area between open sea and sea ice, where the world’s biggest bloom of phytoplankton - the micro-organisms that produce half of the oxygen on the planet - accounts for the most critical CO2 sink in the biosphere.
The results are unmistakably foreboding, layering the sounds of blooming plankton with the tense cracks, pops and creaks of sea ice, and the subaquatic sound of bearded seals, migrating humpbacks and orcas, crustaceans and spawning cod, into a properly suspenseful and eerily alien experience.
Outstanding introduction to Amapiano, the hypnotic house sound of Guateng, SA with feet in Kwaito and deep house styles. Proper dancers’ gear, dead compatible the deeper ends of Gqom, and new London sounds on Housupa. Tipped by Tom Booigzm, Black Mecha, and us, at the least.
“The past five years have seen amapiano, South Africa’s electronic music movement born in the townships of the country’s Gauteng province, evolve from an underground sound to a nationwide mainstream staple. Even with its commercial success though, amapiano’s DIY ethos has continued to disrupt music creation and distribution in the country. Most amapiano commercial successes today began their careers on cracked versions of production software like FL Studio, distributed their work through file sharing platforms like datafilehost and marketed it using social media pages they controlled and influenced.
Amapiano is partly a tasting menu of South Africa’s musical history, a lineage that has been as much a backdrop to the times as it has been a catalyst for change in the country. South African jazz has thrived pre and post-democracy, contributing international stalwarts of the genre, notably Miriam Makeba, Abdullah Ibrahim and Hugh Masekela. Kwaito music—which itself borrowed from other genres like marabi, kwela, mbaqanga, maskandi, bubblegum and others—was created and proliferated in the 90s partly because of the newly accessible House music imported into the country. In the early 2000s, Deep and Afro House dominated, to be followed by the rise of diBacardi, a percussion—heavy electronic music genre most popular in the city of Pretoria and its surrounding townships.
Amapiano Selections, the debut album by DJ and producer Teno Afrika, gives listeners outside the movement’s online release economy an insight into the high-burn nature of amapiano that has spawned a distinct typology under its larger umbrella. Nineteen-year-old Lutendo Raduvha has spent the bulk of his life moving between different townships on the outskirts of Johannesburg and Pretoria in the Gauteng province. The palette of amapiano styles on the album reflect these influences.
But at first, South Africa’s youngest electronic music movement lived underground with a small, loyal following. “Amapiano is a genre that I chose because I have a passion for it,” says Teno “I started following amapiano in 2016 because I wanted to explore how it’s produced. It was not taken seriously in our country. By: Setumo-Thebe Mohlomi”
Influential Seattle-based ambient visionary Kerry Leimer returns with a crackly set of homespun electronics and placid ambience.
'Found Objects' is the umpteenth album from the prolific composer, assembled after almost a year of experimentation with studio serendipity. Built around glitchy recordings of piano, synthesizer and strings, it's a cloudy collection of whimsical ambience that reminds of Taylor Deupree or Machinefabirek, but retains a particularly individual sense of purpose. When skeletal drums appear on 'Opulent Lyricism' there's a breath of The Remote Viewer's City Center Offices material and that's no bad thing at all. Lovely.
AJ Tracey assumes the character of a rising young basketball player appearing in a livestreamed press conference to reveal his next move: a lucrative deal with major franchise Revenge Athletic ahead of a crucial playoff game.
"The broadcast ends with the true reveal: AJ’s highly anticipated sophomore album ‘FLU GAME’ will finally arrive. Always pushing boundaries with his creative output, AJ’s campaign draws influence from the story of Michael Jordan and his Chicago Bulls team in the late 90s, with ‘FLU GAME’ referencing one of MJ’s most memorable championship games where he overcame a nasty bout of food poisoning (brought on by a dodgy takeaway pizza) and took the Bulls to the championship. Revenge Athletic are a franchise on the brink of a massive championship win and AJ is their new star. All we know for now is that AJ is about to take us into this new world, as he dons the number 10 jersey and states he’s “ready to get going [and] do what I’ve always done.”
‘FLU GAME’ sees AJ showcasing twelve brand new tracks, with tantalising features including Kehlani, T-Pain, SahBabii, NAV and Millie Go Lightly. On the production front, AJ calls on regular collaborators Nyge, The Elements, Kazza, AoD and Remedee. The project also features the UK Top Five singles ‘Bringing It Back’ with Digga D, ‘West Ten’' with Mabel and the Platinum smash ‘Dinner Guest’ featuring MoStack. AJ Tracey is a man on an unstoppable, independently built trajectory. 2020 was his biggest year to date, with (certified Gold) single ‘West Ten’ alongside Mabel landing in the wake of chart-scaling ‘Dinner Guest’ featuring MoStack (Platinum), Number 1 charity single ‘Times Like These’ (alongside Dua Lipa, Rag & Bone Man and The Foo Fighters) and the Platinum-certified TikTok sensation ‘Rain’ with Aitch, which went on to become the most watched UK YouTube video of 2020. AJ finished the year with a stand-out feature on Headie One’s enormous anthem ‘Ain’t It Different’ alongside Stormzy, a Platinum certified track that peaked at Number 2 in the UK Singles Chart."
Snap on your lycra - Kraftwerk are back with their first release since 2004; across-section of live performances captured in world-renowned museums and galleries across the world between 2012-2016. OK, it’s not a new album, per se, but it does feature new recordings of total classics rendered in all new psychoacoustic 3-D to sate the fan’s thirst for something, anything after ten years of no releases from the world’s greatest man-machine band.
So, the 3-D thing, a sales gimmick or additional dimension to Kraftwerk’s sound? Listening on headphones right now, it’s definitely not a gimmick; the sound is super wide and lustrous, vividly swirling the head along multiple planes of geometry, making us involuntarily do that thing with our eyes, trying to pick out where the sound is coming from, just like someone trying to do mental arithmetic or retrieve forgotten information from your clump of grey matter between the eyes.
Like we said, there’s no new material, but every track is an alternate take on their, by-now, very familiar song structures, re-cycling the internal mechanisms of each piece into dynamic images of themselves, ranging from an abridged, 14 minute version of Autobahn and a glorious rendition of Radioactivity to hyper crisp, almost DJ style transitions between Trans Europe Express - Metal on Metal - Abzug - The Man-Machine on disc 1, and then strafing another ruck of classics from he Numbers-Computer World one-two, thru the ricocheting, extreme panning applied to the Boing Boom Tschak-Techno-Pop-Music Non Stop jabs, and finally onto a reorchestrated mix of the strings for the Prologue to the original Tour De France and its breezy, gear-shifting components from the 2003 release.
Damaged industrial noise techno experiments that sound like a collapsing cyberpunk dystopia. You already know! Think Pan Sonic, Pharmakon, Merzbow and latter-day Prurient.
Japanese noisemaker Yuko Araki was raised as a pianist, but as a teen found herself fascinated by the dynamic sound of metal and hardcore. After playing in rock bands for a while, she joined acid house duo Yobkiss on vocals and electronics; a few years later in 2017, she began experimenting with experimental music and noise, combining her love of sonic intensity and rhythmic pressure.
"End of Trilogy" draws a line under Araki's solo work, distilling her interest in prog rock and kosmische music into short vignettes that push at the boundaries of extreme music. The most obvious comparison would be to Mike Vainio's pioneering analog sound worlds, but Araki's unpredictable intensity isn't cold, nihilist or emotionless - it digs into almost surreal, hedonistic playfulness.
MFM smoothly shift their frame of Japanese references to the CD era with a clutch of synthesiser jazz, ambient, and genteel Pop strokes including a bounty of Haruomi Hosono productions.
In the works for some years now, ‘Heisei No Oto’ corrals 14 leftfield Japanese pop charms created 1989-1996, charting a pivotal phase when Japan’s music market fully embraced the CD format over vinyl, and which also coincided with both the culmination of Japan’s rapid economic growth during the ‘80s, and the beginning of the Heisei era - marking the reign of Emperor Akihito until his abdication in 2019.
Compiled by MFM’s pals, Eji Taniguchi and Norio Sato of Osaka record stores Revelation Time and Rare Groove, respectively, and including nuggets picked by Chee Shimizu, the set spans those years in the wake of a wave of records that have resurfaced over the past decade thanks to YouTube algorithms; plunging deeper into the warm currents of post-new age and corporate ambient, taking in lilting home-grown jazz, ambient, and pop records of a rare, visionary calibre that have remained overlooked within and outside Japan.
Our ears are drawn to the quiescent FM fantasy of Jun Sato’s ‘Iorang’ at the front, and likewise to the tropical breeze of popstar Yosui Inoue’s ‘Pi Po Pa’, as well as the gossamer vocals and brooding wooze of ‘Nobody’ by Poison Girl Friend, or the steel drum sensuality of ‘Phlanged Vortex’ from Eiki Nonaka; but it’s plainly evident that Japan-o-philes and diggers of all stripes are going to be up to the gills in the good stuff here.
Ultra-minimalist explorations of space, tone and the act of listening itself, from ever-perceptive Angeleño, Richard Chartier (Pinkcourtesyphone), who typically lurks at the threshold of the listening experience.
Appearing one year on from his digital album with longtime accomplice William Basinski, Chartier is left to his own devices here with signature, beguiling results that fascinate the ears as only tends to. The title ‘Interreferences’ succinctly defines his interest in music at its broadest and most specific, with what is perhaps the most enchanting definition of his intentions to “explore the inter-relationships between the spatial nature of sound, silence, focus, perception, and the act of listening itself.” We’re sure that my of you are well aware and appreciative of Chartier’s role as a key modern minimalist, but if you’re new to his work, and/or perhaps growing tired of “ambient” music’s limits, you would do very well to check in here for a portal to other vital planes of atmospheric music.
The six part, hour long work arrives in the wake of the artist’s 50th birthday, and finds him pondering fundamental, even existentialist, questions about his work. “Why these sounds? What is the attraction to these sounds? How did I arrive at these compositions and their placements?” While we haven;t got the answers, we can comment that the purpose and meaning of Chartier’s music, to us at least, still beckons the mind to rarified headspaces, suggesting a slowing or calming of time and expansion of personal space that encourages thoughts to occur in a way so much other music doesn’t. It’s a music of presence and inference that will sound different to each user, and from day to day, and feels like a sort of sacred invisible mountain that one doesn’t climb but rather circles from the base.
Gigi Masin’s 'Plays Hazkara’ album alongside a book that collects introspective stories and intimate lyrics by Mirco Salvadori, choosen among released and unreleased material that he produced in last years.
"Salvadori is well-known for his work as music journalist, as well as active producer for new sonic experiences as co-owner and art director of the indipendent netlabel Laverna. The writings are accompanied by the presentation of his friens Fabrizio Loschi, artist from Modena, coupled with the intense pictures by Stefano Gentile and Monica Testa, and the music themes written and performed by Gigi Masin who, in the enclosed "Harzarà" CD, offers 8 new tracks in the unmistakable style of the Venetian ambient master musician, already coupled together with Mirco Salvadori in InfanToo art project... a sound path that starts from ambient atmospheres to gather rythms and sonorities perfectly lined and interpreted by them, as the images, the intese writing of written. Total music beyond each stylistic cataloguing... pure poetry."
Finnish future jazz eccentric Jimi Tenor collects a bevy of unreleased tracks from his fertile Warp era on this fun, free and funky set.
Between 1993 and 2000, Jimi Tenor was composing and recording music at an alarming rate. His bundle of Warp albums was honored on last year's "NY, Hel, Barca" set, and "Deep Sound Learning" goes deeper, exploring the Finnish multi-instrumentalist's extensive vault of unfinished demos and unreleased material.
Anyone who hear Tenor's classic run with albums like "Organism" and "Out of Nowhere" should know what to expect. Brittle tropicalia, leftfield jazz, sweaty library music funque, eerie Italian giallo vibes and slippery acid house. Tenor inhabits his own universe completely, not lifting music styles but folding them into his peculiar, effervescent and unashamedly passionate celebration of sound.
A standout in Chris Abrahams’ (The Necks) catalogue from 2005 returns for a 16th anniversary reissue reminder of its supremely odd organ and DX7 whorls.
Sketched out on his trusty piano, plus a positive organ (small portable organ), and spattered with DX7 scree, ‘Thrown’ is Abrahams 5th solo LP since his landmark debut ‘Piano’ (1985) and sees him veer off at angles from his previous works. It’s far more succinct than its sprawling double disc predecessor ‘Streaming’, and also more explicitly electronic, creating a bewildering tension between physical haptics and digital synthesis that really prizes a strange and surreal sort of sensuality, at times OOBE-like and at others remarkably recalling the pure electronic oddness of another Aussie resident, NYZ (although afaik there’s no tangible links between the two.)
Future-proofed by its unusual combination of tones from archaic and contemporary machines, the tracks variously and brilliantly buckle any timeframe you may chuck at it. ‘Bellicose’ sounds out something like a medieval psychedelia that wouldn’t sound out of place i a scene from ‘A Field In England’, and he really gets us with the reeling keys and subtly keening dissonance of ‘Remembrancer’, while ‘Coins In Vinegar’ could almost be the result of a complex synth system set up and animated by Dave Burrston, and the wickedly zonked drone of ‘Car Park Land’ makes our eyes go funny.
Max Eilbacher sprouts wildly variegated blasts of intensive computer music process for Barcelona’s indomitable Anòmia
The sometime member of Horse Lords has been especially busy in the past 12 months, spraying his material between a GRM split with Lucy Railton, and the likes of Superpang and Ultraviolet Light, run from his native Baltimore, MD.
His eight helpings of digital scree and fractals in ‘Here A Peak, There An Abyss’ were recorded in 2017/18 using prebuilt VST synths, and pay homage to the paintings of French-Swiss architect, writer and deconstructivist Bernard Tschumi. Can’t say i’m familiar with Tschumi’s work, but a cursory look tells us that Eilbacher’s results sonically resemble the oblique masses and angularity of Tschumi’s architectural drawings to many extents, with some real hard nosed computer music fukkkery and frolics between the construction site drills and recursive blatz of ‘EAT’ and the lushly giddy dynamism of ‘CH003.’
It was in Benin City, in the heart of Nigeria, that a new hybrid of intoxicating highlife music known as Edo Funk was born. It first emerged in the late 1970s when a group of musicians began to experiment with different ways of integrating elements from their native Edo culture and fusing them with new sound effects coming from West Africa s night-clubs.
"Unlike the rather polished 1980 s Nigerian disco productions coming out of the international metropolis of Lagos Edo Funk was raw and reduced to its bare minimum. Someone was needed to channel this energy into a distinctive sound and Sir Victor Uwaifo appeared like a mad professor with his Joromi studio. Uwaifo took the skeletal structure of Edo music and relentless began fusing them with synthesizers, electric guitars and 80 s effect racks which resulted in some of the most outstanding Edo recordings ever made.
An explosive spiced up brew with an odd psychedelic note known as Edo Funk. That’s the sound you’ll be discovering in the first volume of the Edo Funk Explosion series which focusses on the genre’s greatest originators; Osayomore Joseph, Akaba Man, and Sir Victor Uwaifo: Osayomore Joseph was one of the first musicians to bring the sound of the flute into the horn-dominated world of highlife, and his skills as a performer made him a fixture on the Lagos scene. When he returned to settle in Benin City in the mid 1970s - at the invitation of the royal family - he devoted himself to the modernisation and electrification of Edo music, using funk and Afro-beat as the building blocks for songs that weren’t afraid to call out government corruption or confront the dark legacy of Nigeria’s colonial past. Akaba Man was the philosopher king of Edo funk. Less overtly political than Osayomore Joseph and less psychedelic than Victor Uwaifo, he found the perfect medium for his message in the trance-like grooves of Edo funk. With pulsating rhythms awash in cosmic synth-fields and lyrics that express a deep personal vision, he found great success at the dawn of the 1980s as one of Benin City’s most persuasive ambassadors of funky highlife. Victor Uwaifo was already a star in Nigeria when he built the legendary Joromi studios in his hometown of Benin City in 1978. Using his unique guitar style as the mediating force between West-African highlife and the traditional rhythms and melodies of Edo music, he had scored several hits in the early seventies, but once he had his own sixteen-track facility he was able to pursue his obsession with the synesthetic possibilities of pure sound, adding squelchy synths, swirling organs and studio effects to hypnotic basslines and raw grooves. Between his own records and his production for other musicians, he quickly established himself as the godfather of Edo funk.
What unites these diverse musicians is their ability to strip funk down to its primal essence and use it as the foundation for their own excursions inward to the heart of Edo culture and outward to the furthest limits of sonic alchemy. The twelve tracks on Edo Funk Explosion Volume 1 pulse with raw inspiration, mixing highlife horns, driving rhythms, day-glo keyboards and tripped-out guitars into a funk experience unlike any other."
After releasing their 17th album 'Abolition of The Royal Familia' earlier this year, The Orb are back with further guest appearances on their remix album 'Abolition Of The Royal Familia - Guillotine Mixes'.
Including mixes from David Harrow, Moody Boyz, Youth, Violeta Vicci, Andy Falconer and more.
Xiu Xiu makes beautiful music for hard times.
"For nearly 20 years, the band has a track record of crafting experimental music for moments when life’s harsh realities meet its existential mysteries. On the latest album, Jamie Stewart explores a recent revelation and is reminded of the power of the band’s music to surprise and connect. Listening to the songs on OH NO, it is hard to feel truly alone. Instead, it is a reminder that even when we’re alone, we’re alone together.
OH NO, the group’s newest album, is an album of duets, with Stewart sharing the stage with an array of guests who have made an impact on him personally and musically. This is the first Xiu Xiu album where every song spotlights Jamie Stewart and a collaborator. The album features artists across the musical spectrum, including Sharon Van Etten, Circuit des Yeux’s Haley Fohr, Grouper’s Liz Harris, Alice Bag, Chelsea Wolfe, Owen Pallet, and Twin Shadow’s George Lewis Jr., all drift into Xiu Xiu’s distinctive soundworld. The album was born out of anguish and isolation, but exists as it does because of a profound rediscovery of community and friendship. It is the sound of finding one’s place in the world after the destructive powers of jealousy and mistrust make any map seemingly unreadable."
It’s been a decade since Andy Stott released ‘Passed Me By’, a radical re-imagining of dance music as an expression of “physical and spiritual exhaustion” (Pitchfork). What followed was a process of rapid remodelling: ‘We Stay Together’ (2011 / slow and f*cked, for the club), ‘Luxury Problems’ (2012 / greyscale romance), ‘Faith In Strangers’ (2014/ destroyed love songs), ’Too Many Voices’ (2016 / 4th world Triton shimmers) and ‘It Should Be Us’ (2019 / the club, collapsed) - a run of releases that gradually untangled complex ideas into a singular, chaotic body of work - somewhere between sound-art, techno and pop.
In early 2020 - with a new album almost done and an offer to produce for a mainstream artist on the table - personal upheaval and a pandemic brought everything to a sudden standstill. Months of withdrawal eventually triggered a different approach. recording hours of raw material; slow horns, sibilance, delayed drums, wondering flutes - whatever, whenever.
With vocals recorded by Alison Skidmore, the album was finally completed late last year- taking on a different shape. Its songs desolate, melancholy, defiant, beautiful - often all at once. The sounds echoed music around Stott during those months: Prince, Gavin Bryars, A.R. Kane, Bohren & der Club of Gore, Robert Turman, Cindy Lee, Leila, Catherine Christer Hennix, Junior Boys, László Hortobágyi, Nídia, Prefab Sprout - the unusual / the familiar.
Echoing that mix of new and old, each of the songs on ’Never The Right Time’ is woven from the same thread despite following different trajectories; from the lovelorn shimmer of opener ‘Away not gone’, to the clattering linndrum pop of ‘The beginning’, through ‘Answers’ angular club haze, and the city-at-night end-credits ‘Hard to Tell’. These are songs fuelled by nostalgia and soul searching, but all hold true to a vision of music making as a form of renewal and reinvention. A 10 year cycle, complete.
"One would think that after the “Gullvåg Trilogy” - two double and a single album in a mere three years - this ultra productive trio might be in need of a break of sorts... but on the other hand, riding a golden wave like never before in their 30+ year existence, why stop now? Especially when constantly upping their own quality standards.The bulk of the album was recorded in France back before the pandemic, but was added to, expanded, tweaked and eventually finished last year. The initial idea was to collect big riffs on one album and do a pure hard rock record, but the objective changed along the way as they rediscovered their folkish bent and how this lighter touch gave it all a nice contrast. That said, the main musical thrust is pretty full-on, even by Motorpsycho standards.Kingdom of Oblivion was mixed by Andrew Scheps and produced by Bent Sæther.Reine Fiske guests on several tracks.Cover art is by Sverre Malling and cover design is by Håvard Gjelseth."
Christian Fennesz relays four compelling deep space images from his unique electro-acoustic microcosmos in ‘Agora’, the Viennese artist’s first album since ‘Bécs’ 
Borrowing its title from the ancient greek word for a gathering place, ‘Agora’ finds Fennesz creating highly detailed, alien ecologies of sound riddled with myriad, interlaced dynamics, but each singular in their scope. They variously transition from wide-open to busy, hyper-populated zones of enquiry and back again, but paradoxically enough all come as the result of one man in his spare room, composing inside a pair of headphones.
Change of circumstances meant that Fennesz couldn’t use his usual studio and by necessity was limited to what was at hand in his spare bedroom-turned-studio - just like the old days when he wrote his first record. These limitations pushed him further to explore worlds of possibility contained within his guitar and computer, with drily functional titles such as ‘In My Room’ invoking ideas from both Alvin Lucier and J.G. Ballard to explore vast realms of reverberant, imaginary space, while ‘Rainfall’ feels to emulate a lush spring downpour over bust city streets, all splitting greys and oil and concrete reflection, and ‘Agora’ radiates into every corner of the synthesised soundfield with gloriously detached, isolationist effect, alongside the bittersweet then and coruscating texture of ‘We Trigger The Sun’.
Jim O’Rourke pushes Apartment House to test their limits via an open-ended score for string trio requiring the players to whistle and sing wordlessly, with absorbing, minimalist results.
Commissioned by Anton Lukoszevieze of Apartment House, who also perform the work with exacting patience and nuance, ‘Best that you do this for me’ is a 50 minute work for string trio (featuring Lukoszevieze alongside Mira Benjamin and Bridget Carey) that also requires the performers to work out of their comfort zones, with additional instructions for them to whistle and sing, as well as play their instruments (violin, viola, cello.) The piece was originally performed in a 15 minute iteration for the BBC, but in this new expanded version its wider scope leads the players to unpredictable harmonic junctures as they work their way around its cyclical indications, overlapping into achingly mournful and sighing cadences with a glacially time-slipping quality.
O’Rourke was inspired to incorporate whistling and singing into the piece after re-listening to a few choral works by Martin Smolka, and was struck by how this relatively simple and always “on hand” instrument is rarely used. In the context of highly skilled instrumentalists such as Apartment House, the simple gesture of whistling and singing becomes a radical one, encouraging the trio to offset and balance their skills and intuition in a sometimes unnerving way that lends the work a beautifully uncertain character, unfurling like an archipelago of islands illuminated by moonlight and punctuated with gulfs of dark, pregnant silence.
Jangling, mostly instrumental bluegrass and country variations from Chicago-based acoustic guitar maestro Bill MacKay and Durham, North Carolina-based Appalachian folk player Nathan Bowles. Quite lovely!
'Keys' is MacKay and Bowles' debut, and is a plaintive horseback ride into American folk music. Both players have trad chops, and flesh out their playing with virtuoso flourishes giving their music a haze of Fahey-esque experimentation. But this is more melancholy and more immediate than anything Fahey ever meditated on - MacKay and Bowles aren't afraid of scratching the country itch and teasing out a tear or two.
Imagine Bonnie "Prince" Billy covering the "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou!" soundtrack and you'll have some idea of where this one's headed.
Thomas Fehlmann returns to the sediment of ages, drawing from a similar lexicon of sounds to that used on 2018's '1929 - Das Jahr Babylon'.
"Like that album, Böser Herbst was produced as the soundtrack to a documentary made by Volker Heise, Herbst 1929, Schatten Über Babylon, which offers historical insight to the third season of the television series, Babylon Berlin. It adds yet another string to the bow of this most forward-thinking and creative artist, whose history takes in NDW (Palais Schaumburg), techno (3MB) and psychedelic ambience (The Orb), plus a clutch of gorgeous solo albums that explore wide terrain, from the dancefloor through supine home listening to compelling soundtrack work.
Fehlmann's approach here was to "capture" samples of contemporaneous music, "picking up the dirt and dust of original 1920s archive sound and music excerpts and shaping the essence into this selection of tunes," he recalls. After delivering the material to the editing room, Fehlmann "threw all the pieces up in the air, deliberately lost the overview in consequence, researched the atmospheric thread and assembled it for this album."
"In an industry always pinning its hopes on the next big trend, Benny Sings is in it for the long haul. The Dutch artist has honed a signature sound while creating a colorful catalog of essential pop gems that have led to loyal global following.
Benny’s songs are sophisticated and easy to fall in love with, ear-worming melodies and sticky choruses the result of years of craft that have made him the ultimate songwriter’s songwriter. Rex Orange County, with whom Benny wrote the platinum hit ‘Loving Is Easy’, says, “In my opinion he’s one of the most underrated producers and artists going.”
Benny cut his teeth as a studio collaborator and to this day is as comfortable working with a huge range of musicians as he is writing his own distinct songs. He says: “I’ve learned along the way that working with other artists enriches my music. I’m a bit of a loner, and because of that I’ve always had more affinity with songwriters than with musicians. Over the past few years I’ve been actively chasing collaborations with kindred spirits.”
Some of those kindred spirits bring their talents to new album Music. Mac DeMarco lends deadpan vocals to ‘Rolled Up’; Tom Misch contributes a blazing guitar solo to ‘Nobody’s Fault’; the title track was written with songwriter P.J. Morton, and ‘Kids’ features L.A. rapper KYLE. Cautious Clay appears on the laid-back pop song ‘Run Right Back’, and Kelsey Gonzales of The Free Nationals and Emily King contribute vocals to the ecstatic, gospel-influenced ‘Miracles’. Music was engineered and mixed by Renaud Letang, of the famed Studios Ferber in Paris.
Before Benny even started working on the album, he had an idea for a song that he knew would be a perfect fit for Mac DeMarco. When the two artists met up in L.A., they wrote ‘Rolled Up’ together almost effortlessly – even its opening lyric came about by happenstance, overheard from someone in the street. A song about feeling down without any reason, ‘Rolled Up’ is a counterpoint to the album’s generally upbeat tone."
R.I.Y.L. Jason Molina, Bonnie Prince Billy, Bill Callahan, Damien Jurado.
"The raw inspiration for Vague Tidings came from a 2006 DIY tour of the 49th state. It was a trip that went off the beaten path sometimes a bit too far for comfort. Now, over a decade later, listeners find Joe O’Connell aka Elephant Micah stationed at a creaky spinet piano, singing about the Alaskan sky. Throughout, his lyrics take a new angle on a pet theme: human encounters with the natural world. Vague Tidings places these encounters in the American West and, at times, in its sci-fi corollary, outer space. Its imagery draws from the allure of Alaska, the idea of Western prosperity, and the human relationship to wilderness more broadly. Often, O’Connell sings about the goal of capturing and commodifying nature. In poetic sketches of resource extraction industries and dark sky tourism, frontier lust runs amok. Pipelines catch fire and stars disappear, all to the tune of a stark, uncanny Americana.
Vague Tidings is a sustained, hallucinatory rendering of this theme. In style, its eight songs follow a switchback path between foggy incantations and mountain anthems. Made with a small cohort of acoustic instrumentalists, the record is rough hewn, but easy on the ears. To put Vague Tidings down on tape, O’Connell assembled some of his favorite musicians in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina area, where he’s lived since 2015: Libby Rodenbough (Mipso) bows and plucks a detuned fiddle, Matt Douglas (Mountain Goats) breathes life into various woodwinds, and Matt O’Connell (Lean Year) sets the pace on a two-piece drum set. Their loose, imaginative playing pushes Vague Tidings beyond the singer-songwriter genre into something richer in texture. Ultimately, this is foreboding but spacious music, with plenty of room for reconsidering life on earth."
'Synopsis Seriation,' Hecker's latest release with Editions Mego, draws upon current research in machine listening and music information retrieval, where the 'ghosts in the machine' are unsupervised, engineered operators designed to extract auditory features from a signal.
"The album advances a general research programme Hecker initiated through various projects. In 'A Script for Machine Synthesis' (EMEGO 226, 2017), the third chapter in the trilogy of text-sound pieces in collaboration with Reza Negarestani, both a resynthesized and a computer-generated voice modelled after the narrators voice, reflect on systems of language, automatons and chimerized synthesis. 'Articulação Sintetico' (EMEGO 180C, 2017) — a complete resynthesis of 'Articulação' (EMEGO 180, 2014) — features synthetic voice models of Joan La Barbara, Sugata Bose and Anna Kohler. Central to 'Inspection II' (EMEGO 268 / UF047, 2019) is a bespoke computer-generated voice, reciting Robin Mackay's libretto — by means of deep neural networks and machine listening computation, perpetually crossing formal anticipations of sound analysis to the unexpected artefacts of synthesis**.
'Synopsis Seriation' does away with such staging of computer-generated speech. It dramatises synthetic sound in all its unnameable intensities and detail by transforming four multichannel pieces Hecker produced since 2015. These have been analysed, dissected and reconstructed utilising information geometry, a subfield of mathematics at the interaction between statistics and differential geometry, designed by Vincent Lostanlen. Similarities and logical segmentation, partly accessible to the human listener, partially exclusive to virtual listening agents, open a dialogue with these spectral operators. Moving between analysis and synthesis, they render audible their intelligence signature, the signal trace of their nonhuman brain-ear, between discriminative and generative models. This newly seriated arrangement of 'Synopsis Seriation' further abstracts and detours the appearance of specific motifs, sequences and characters, into a hallucinatory gaze. Remembrance of what has just been heard, in which formulation and mode of synthesis continually navigate between sensible and highly formulated registers. Resembling George Seurat's perception of the Seine, 'Synopsis Seriation' is a streamlined, structured whole. Yet, by embracing time, succession, and sound as an immaterial, its multitude of auditory perspectives and encoded logic challenges a traditional synoptical overview of analytical architecture and resynthesized sensation."
A surprise cassette released April 2020, Songs for Pierre Chuvin is the Mountain Goats’ first all-boombox album since 2002’s All Hail West Texas.
"After selling over 4000 cassettes in a matter of minutes, the avid Mountain Goats fanbase has demanded more and we are happy to acquiesce! Songs for Pierre Chuvin will be available on CD and LP on March 26, 2021. Praise for Songs for Pierre Chuvin: “Recording on the same boombox that launched his career, John Darnielle returns to his lo-fi roots for an album of alienation, ancient pagans, and making it through the year together.” Pitchfork
If you ever wanted to know what the music of an unborn fetus sounds like, here is your answer! It's apparently cod-Maurizio Bianchi industrial soundscapes. Who fucking knew?
So the story with this one is that Elizabeth Hart and Iván Diaz Mathé hooked up a biosonic MIDI device to Hart's stomach, and piped the data through Mathé's synth rig. They claim to have let these "free-form meditations" flow without interference, so they would more accurately translate the sound of their unborn child Luca Yupanqui. Honestly we're not so sure how this would be possible unless the amniotic sprog had a working knowledge of her dad's synth collection and the general principles of MIDI.
Anyway, the record sounds like a long, messy industrial synth jam - fancy it?
'Described by Richter as “a place to think”, VOICES was a response to our tempestuous political climate and the enduring need for compassion. VOICES 2 develops this principle, continuing and intensifying the “place to think” concept.
"While the first part of the project focuses on the text of The Universal Declaration Of Human Rights and its uplifting vision – opening with the 1949 recording of Eleanor Roosevelt reading the Declaration, and including excerpts read by a global community of 70 voices – VOICES 2 opens up a meditative musical space to consider those ideas raised by the first record,"
Southern gothic shoegaze soul from Sharp Veins, debuting on Andrew Lyster’s YOUTH with a sorely affected album distilling aspects of A.R. Kane, B.o.C, and SALEM with fugged-up bedroom atmospheres in a brittle but tender style.
Finding his place on the Manchester label between Sockethead’s cranky blatz and the smoked-out downstroke of Dijit, ‘Lips The Same Colour’ reveals Sharp Veins’ burned-out soul at its most vulnerable and absorbing. It’s a lushly depressive come-down from the giddy rush of his self-released album ‘Armor Your Actions Up In Quest’ in 2020, and previous excursions on Different Circles and NYC’s UNO, betraying a syrupy emotive core dematerialised in clouds of reverb and harmonised pads, anchored in some of his most disciplined nods to rugged US hip hop drums and emo rap tropes.
In slowing down and opening up his sound to downbeat, pop-wise levels, Sharp Veins comes into his own amid a new wave of artists expressing the melancholy of modern life, with a personalised sound design that says as much as his bleak lyrics and ohrwurming melodies. Everything feels eviscerated and held in suspended animation, attempting to expunge ubiquitous emotions.
Between the numbed doomy tension of ‘Unless’, with its plagent vocal lament, to the gutted cry of “what the f*ck am I doing here?” in ‘Bastard Swarm’, Sharp Veins strikes a nerve on the tinny shimmer of ‘Glue Forest’ and continues under the skin with the B.o.C.-like wooze of album centrepieces ‘Paste 1’ and the Paddy McAloon-on-blues screw of ‘Paste 2’, with a deeply disarming moment to be discovered in ‘A Promise’ and unmistakeable echoes of A.R. Kane on the radiant elegy ‘For Gigi.’
Tune-Yards' fifth studio album, ‘sketchy.’
"Tune-Yards’ last release, ‘I can feel you creep into my private life’, was a self-reflexive question mark at the end of a decade of outspoken, polyphonic indie music. From 2009 to 2018, Tune-Yards (both Merrill and her partner and collaborator Nate Brenner) released four critically acclaimed albums, travelled the world relentlessly to play live shows and composed the psychedelic score to Boots Riley’s surrealist cinematic masterpiece ‘Sorry To Bother You’. “We had really been non-stop hustling,” Merrill reflects. “And when we’re hustling, we’re complicit in all of the systems that I really don’t believe in.” Interrogating these systems and her role within them had left Merrill feeling heavy with grief and lost about how to move forward.
The duo pressed on, inspired by the Beastie Boys Book and Questlove’s Creative Quest and began jamming daily for hours in their home rehearsal studio “like athletes.” They ditched computer screens for live instruments (Merrill on drums, Nate on bass) and before long full songs started to emerge. Unlike the lyrical introspection of previous outing ‘I can feel you creep into my private life’, on ‘sketchy.’ Merrill balances self-inspection and reflection with bombastic rallying cries, reminiscent of the furious tones of early days Tune-Yards. The result is a colourful and joyous record with lyrics that cut to the bone. “I started remembering that people come to us to be entertained, to move, to feel joy. And together, I think, we can wake up.”
NWW’s 2009 recording resurfaces, backed with Colin Potter’s exclusive new iteration distilled from multiple versions by the band’s visionary synthesist.
‘Cabbalism III’ was the result of NWW meeting Blind Cave Salamander in Venice, where the latter were playing support for them at Teatro Fondamente Nuove.’ NWW thought that Blind Cave Salamander’s set sounded a bit like their classic ’Soliloquy For Lilith’ and suggested recording together. Two years later the final piece was conceived in Turin and the limited edition release quickly turned into a collector’s item. Due to demand the piece is now available again, backed with an extra track made by Colin Potter using sources from all three previous ‘Cabbalism’ recordings, completed at IC Studio, London 2020.
It’s not hard at all to hear how the original ‘Cabbalism III’ resonates with the legendarily spooky presence of ’Soliloquy For Lilith’ - arguably thee blueprint of dark ambient music - and it’s easy to understand how it became a fan favourite. It’s equally apparent that Colin Poter’s new megamix, of sorts, will deeply satisfy those fans’ cravings, too. For 45 minutes the master synth alchemist generates a gloaming cloud system of layered drones and trembling strings tones recalling the heights of Deathprod circa ‘Morals And Dogma’, with imperceptible transitions between unfathomably wide, steep and keening masses of synthesised electronics.
‘Island’, the latest album from Oscar-nominated composer and songwriter Owen Pallett.
"Almost entirely acoustic, ‘Island’ begins with 13 darkened chords and was recorded live at Abbey Road Studios with the London Contemporary Orchestra. The introduction is the sound of waking up alone and on the shore of a strange land. What follows is a shimmering and luscious orchestral album that draws across the full breadth of Pallett’s discography, from ‘Heartland’’s Technicolor to the glittering, fingerpicked guitar that marked Pallett’s first records with their trio, Les Mouches.
In addition to Pallett’s Grammy Award-winning work with Arcade Fire, Pallett’s commissions have included string, brass and orchestral work for Last Shadow Puppets, The National, The Mountain Goats, Christine and arrangements for Frank Ocean, Caribou, R.E.M., Linkin Park, Sigur Rós, Taylor Swift and the Pet Shop Boys. Since the release of ‘In Conflict’ (2014), Pallett has earned an Oscar nomination for their film scoring work on Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’ and an Emmy for Sølve Sundsbø’s ‘Fourteen Actors Acting’."
Dry Cleaning release their debut studio album ‘New Long Leg’ on 4AD. The 10-track long-player, which includes ‘Strong Feelings’ and last year’s single ‘Scratchcard Lanyard’, was recorded over two weeks last summer at Rockfield Studios in rural Wales with producer John Parish (PJ Harvey, Aldous Harding).
"Following on from their thrillingly taut 2019 EPs ‘Boundary Road Snacks and Drinks’ and ‘Sweet Princess’, ‘New Long Leg’ is more ambitious and complex, with Shaw’s spoken vocals tightly intertwined with the band’s restless instrumentals. With lyrics preoccupied by themes like dissociation, escapism, daydreaming, complicated feelings of love, anger, revenge, anxiety, the kitchen, lethargy, forgetfulness and survival, Shaw says, “the title isambiguous; a new long leg could be an expensive present or a growth or a table repair.” Dry Cleaning was formed by friends Tom Dowse, Nick Buxton and Lewis Maynard after a karaoke party in 2017 inspired a collaboration.
They wrote instrumentally to begin with until six months later Florence Shaw, a visual artist, university lecturer and picture researcher by day - with no prior musical experience - turned up to a band rehearsal armed with reams of her own collected writing and a copy of Michael Bernard Loggins’ Fears Of Your Life to read out over the music. Before long she was the group’s frontperson, contributing words of her own and serving as the perfect foil to the band’s music."
Trust Montreal's anti-capitalist post-rawk heroes to rustle up the ideal soundtrack to global collapse. It's their most charged material in years: raw, deliriously cinematic and rich with serrated urgency.
New albums from Mogwai and Godspeed in a matter of weeks? Is it 1998 again? We're not complaining - this flickering, silvery opus from GY!BE is among their most satisfying sets to date. "G_d's Pee AT STATE'S END!" finds the band in an awkward comfort zone, inspired by 2020's pandemic and subsequent global collapse to dust off their shortwave radio and compose a fuzzed-out response to the failure of the state system. It makes a lot of sense; since they debuted with "F♯ A♯ ∞" they've never been quiet about their anti-fascist, anti-corporate, anti-state views. With this in mind, "G_d's Pee AT STATE'S END!" is almost a "told ya" moment, or a euphoric apology for decades of prophetic post-rock doom-saying.
Weaved together with crackly snippets of shortwave hum, the album almost begins like John Carpenter's "Prince of Darkness" with spine-chillingly indistinct chatter that signals isolation, desperation and media distortion. From there, the band allow their glacial compositions to hiss and crack through each distinct movement. At this stage in their career they have nurtured a rapport that sings as loud as any instrument, and twinned with their timely creative surge this has led to tracks that feel like a distillation of GY!BE's best qualities. The thrumming crescendos, Kraut-fed percussion, thick walls of layered feedback, near-classical compositional care and an unashamedly widescreen grasp of narrative. Godspeed sound heavier, tighter and more vital here than they have in ages. Who else could craft such elegiac, melancholy doom for the end of the world?
Rod Modell's Deepchord follows on the 'Hash Bar Loops' session with a more detached serving of 20 washed-out and introspective 'Electroacoustic Soundfields'.
These tracks epitomise Modell at his most intimate and fascinating, using granular synthesis and generative software to unfold his analogue hardware source material and field recordings into ghostly clouds of hiss and morphing bass geometries perfect for late night immersion. Those looking for his signature dub house anchors may be disappointed, but if you've always wanted to hear Rod float off like some metaphysical spirit over nocturnal inner-city nightscapes like something out of Gaspar Noé's 'Enter The Void', this one's for you...
Drummers Lee Buford of The Body and Zac Jones from Braveyoung conjure dubbed out illbient spells from spacy, overdriven breaks on their debut full-length. Proper grotty goodness like We TM, DJ Spooky or I-Sound.
Buford and Jones have been collaborating for years, but "World Vision Perfect Harmony" is their debut as a duo, assembled as a way for the two drummers to explore a shared interest in creative percussion techniques. Illbient is almost the perfect mode, and the two create a deliciously eerie atmosphere, combing their drumming with electronics and blurring the line between live performance and sampling.
Abstracting rhythms that have sat at the root of jungle, no-wave, dub and hip-hop, Manslaughter 777 make a compelling noise that feels surprisingly contemporary. With the resurgence of interest in trip-hop, surely illbient is due a revival some time soon? In the meantime, this is exactly what the doctor ordered.
Pleasantville electronics and piano for fans of Helios, Tycho or Boards of Canada.
LA composer and songwriter James McAlister is best known for his work with Sufjan Stevens, but he's appeared on records with Lorde, Taylor Swift and St. Vincent, among many others. Here he goes it alone on a deeply personal collection of shimmering instrumentals that fit into the hazy, meditative world you might expect to encounter on a Helios record: thick sub bass, emotional piano and the kind of emotive synth pads that Steve Roach has made his calling card over the years.
"Scissortail" is a feel-good record, despite being somewhat melancholy. It's made up of sounds that are engineered to bring a smile to your face alongside a requisite nostalgic tear. The emotional world shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who's listened to Sufjan Stevens - there are certainly parallels - but anyone looking for more hazy soundtrack music to wack on in the background that isn't going to have you climbing the walls, this is a safe bet.
Reissue of a cult LP by master Japanese drummer George Otsuka and his quintet, recorded live on 19th July 1975 at the Nemu Jazz Inn.
"A unique time capsule, the album finds the quintet on fire and “Loving You George” is a vivid testimony that Otsuka and his musicians were at the top of their game and one of the best groups in Japan, playing a mix of modal and groovy tunes full of exciting and inspired solos. The album “Loving You George” is comprised of four superb performances fuelled by Otsuka powerful drumming and Fumio Karashima’s fender Rhodes. It also includes a wonderfully funky take on Minnie Riperton’s ‘Loving You’. It comes with original artwork featuring OBI strip and audio remastered from the master tapes by King Records in Japan."