Four songs and their dubs - slotting in lovers, bubblers and rockers, and well-charge dub, with great playing and Sugar brilliantly focussed throughout - which originally appeared in 1983 as a picture-sleeved ten-inch on the singer's Black Roots imprint.
Everyone played Informer, all the sounds,' recalls Rae Cheddie, who remembers selling more than five hundred copies straight from the Wackies office in Soho, London. 'It was international - a couple of boxes went to Japan, some to Mad Robbie at Fotofon...' 'Special dedication to all dancehall fans', it says on the label. Killer.
Factory’s mayo-loving subsidiary hail Bobby Gillespie’s first band and Scotland’s answer to New Order with a shuffled and expanded 40th year edition of their debut LP, augmented by an armful of singles. Do not proceed without checking their killer ‘Judas’ and prime jangle in ‘Patrol’, the brooding ‘Uniform’, or the spiky ‘Give Up’
“Factory Benelux presents expanded CD and vinyl editions of Harmony, the debut album by influential Scottish group The Wake, originally released by Factory Records in December 1982. The group formed in Glasgow in 1981 after singer/guitarist Caesar left Altered Images, and joined Factory the following year. Harmony was recorded at Strawberry Studios in Stockport with producer Chris Nagle (Martin Hannett's preferred engineer), by which time The Wake comprised Caesar (vocals, guitar), Carolyn Allen (keyboards), Steven Allen (drums) and Bobby Gillespie (bass). On release as Fact 60 the original 7 track mini album earned a 5 star review in Sounds magazine, hailed as the missing indiepop link between Factory and Postcard Records.
Bonus tracks on this extended remaster include dub-informed second single Something Outside b/w Host (FBN 24), and their popular John Peel session from July 1983 - the last recordings to feature Gillespie before his departure for The Jesus and Mary Chain and Primal Scream.
The 2xCD version is housed in a trifold digipack, and on the bonus CD offers 21 lost recordings from 1981 to 1983, compiled from demo and live cassettes located in the Rob Gretton tape archive.
The 3 disc vinyl version is packaged in an attractive trifold sleeve and includes 8 live tracks desk recorded at Ayr Pavilion on 15 April 1983, while on tour with New Order. The vinyl also includes a digital copy. The artwork for these 40th anniversary editions includes images of the band by photographer Paul Slattery, taken at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, as well as new liner notes by Caesar.”
Black World came out originally in 1979, on the Wackies' imprint Hardwax. (The original cover commemorated the first year of Honest Jon's new reggae shop Maroons Tunes, Bullwackies' UK distributor.)
It's an unbelievably sick album, with Sibbles guiding the selection as well as sharing bass duties - there are versions of his classic composition Guiding Star and stylish Wackies heavyweight, This World; and Tribute To Studio One reworks Heptones Gonna Fight / Hail Don D. as modern steppers, with the kit-drums - as throughout this album - supplemented effectively by the latest electronic innovation from Japan. Drifter and Skylarking put in appearances; and two full Joe Auxumite vocals from the solo album scheduled for release around this time, but abandoned when most of the tapes were lost.
A dub version of Delroy Wilson's Rain From The Skies rounds out proceedings. Check the tumbling drums on 'Skylarking' or the freaked electonics on 'Morning star' for some absolute shockers.
Magnificent dub album originally released on the Senrab label in 1976, when Lloyd Barnes' spars at the desk were Prince Douglas and Jah Upton, in the first months of the White Plains Road headquarters, and indeed as Upton - disheartened by the gang warfare that had crossed the path of the Bullwackies Disco sound - drifted away.
The selection commemorates a series of brilliant sevens and twelves on labels like City Line and Wackies, and sister labels like Upton, Versatile, and Munchie Jackson's Earth imprint. Core rhythm tracks from Jamaica - Treasure Isle mostly, and then mixed by Tubby - had been worked over at the Sounds Unlimited studio on E 24th Street in Manhattan.
There are few traces of singers, though: the Sylvester Brothers are singled out by the label artwork here. Baba Leslie's Black Horns - next piece to Wayne Jarrett's African Woman - is spun out of the opening track. The Love Joys are like genies in the stunning twin mixes of Disco Reggae. The track Dub Unlimited is John Clarke's Pollution (Unlimited Dub dubs singjay coverage of the Ali-Frazier Thriller In Manilla); Bullwackies Revenge is a version of the Chin Chow rhythm, a tribute to the restaurant next door; the Chosen Brothers' Talk To The Father is represented, and Andrew McCalla's Home By The Sea...
But it would be wrong to bog the album down in these details - an all-time great dub LP.
Rhythm and Sound freaks, take note - this album contains the original Chosen Brothers / Prince Douglas version of “March Down Babylon” - one of the heaveiest dubs ever made...
Engineer Douglas Levy was part of the original Wackies set up from 1974-75, alongside Lloyd Barnes and Jah Upton. For a while he would have his own label - Hamma - within the Bullwackies group; but besides Sugar’s International Herb, this 1980 dub album is his finest work. Wackies’ fans have been clamouring for its reissue ever since Rhythm & Sound began making the catalogue available again. Many of the rhythms are derived from a tape given to the studio by Sly and Robbie, containing their versions of recent Joe Gibbs hits. And there are brilliant treatments of Tribesman Dub - the rhythm for Tyrone Evans’ Black Like Me - and Wayne Jarrett’s definitive interpretation of Every Tongue Shall Tell.
Elsewhere Jah Batta takes deejay duties - likewise Prince Douglas himself. But the deadliest cut of all reworks another gift, Steel Pulse’s “Handsworth Revolution”, which arrived in a parcel of records from England the same weekend as the session: March Down Babylon Dub, with Bullwackie himself at the microphone in his Chosen Brothers guise, as steely and apocalyptic as Douglas Levy’s fabulous production.
Prime late ‘80s industrial synth pop and dance musick by Australia’s finest, produced with New Order collaborator Robert Racic, and reissued with nine bonus “lost” original versions and remixes RIYL Throbbing Gristle, Kraftwerk, Skinny Puppy and Cabaret Voltaire, Recoil.
‘Bad Mood Guy’ (1987) is the follow-up to Severed Heads’ evergreen ‘The Big Bigot’ and a genre classic of late ‘80s industrial craft, where synth-pop and EBM club musick were galvanised by new studio technology to steely late decade highlight of the artform when artists were caught between flash DX7 synths and knocking on new DAWs of perception.
Tom Ellard typically helms the recording, which also benefits from input by film maker/homebrew video synthesiser operator Stephen Jones, and effects producer Robert Racic in 1987, the same year that he remixed ‘Paradise’ off New Order’s ‘True Faith’ 12”. Personnel assured, the album is coiled with whirring club mechanics that lead off from Severed Heads’ all-timer ‘Dead Eyes Opened’ to a more quizzical form of dance-pop with a flash steely edge, cantering between the crisply shearing FM synths and punchy edits of ‘Nation’ and ‘Jetlag’ to slow grinding zingers on ‘Unleash Your Sword’ and ‘Heaven Is What Heaven Eats’, thru to a dead sexy title tune, and moody orientalism of ‘Dressed in Air’.
The alternate mixes are rawer, wickedly cruddier, taking in a sleazy spin on ‘Bad Mood Guy (Day 1)’ and the screwed DX7 bass of ‘Unleash Your Sword (Day 1)’, plus the superb proto-electronica designs on ‘Nature 10 (Terse)’, sequenced beside a live cut ‘I’ve Always Hated Severed Heads’ realign NWW of that same era, the hip-shot laser stabs of ‘Hot With Fleas (12” Remix)’ and, erm, what sound slick Joolz Holland doing EBM in ‘Nation (NYC mix)’.
Reissue of Hyd’s PC Music debut - produced by A.G. Cook, Caroline Polachek and umru - charting her metamorphosis from the QT avatar into Tay Tay-meets-Grimes style hyperpop grunge slay
An early fixture of PC Music as QT, Hayden Dunham has become one of its leading lights in recent years as Hyd, addressing the label’s aesthetic arrested development with a more grown-up style of pop songwriting that mixes chart-style chops with cannier traces of up-to-the-second electronic club music. Arriving elven and dreamy on the swole Reese bass ballad of ‘No Shadow’, the EP impresses with her quiet/loud electro-pop ace ‘Skin 2 Skin’, beside the ebullient electro-country twang of ‘The Look on Your Face’ and neuro-pop lullaby ‘The One’.
'Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill’, originally issued by Type in 2008, saw Liz Harris’ now much-loved project take a leap from the filtered, tape-fuelled obfuscation of her earlier releases into the sort of smudged dream-pop soundworld she's now best known for. Trust us when we tell you that - before this record came out - we struggled to sell Grouper albums no matter how much we loved them. This album changed everything.
'Dragging A Dead Deer...' is far more resonant and upfront about its songs than any Grouper material that preceded it. Opening track 'Disengaged' offers a segue of cloudy, amorphous output into a mass of mesmerising magnetic hiss and soft noise, before Harris' guitar and voice finally emerge, reverberant and phantom-like, and yet - finally - comprehensible.
If you've previously struggled to make out Grouper lyrics, 'Heavy Water/I'd Rather Be Sleeping' offers a way in. Those dense recording techniques had become a unique production signature to the extent that it was virtually impossible to separate Harris' creative identity from that uniquely ghostly sound of hers. But on 'Dragging A Dead Deer...’ it felt like a conduit to her songs, rather than a barrier.
There are echoes of earlier work too, on the wordless atmospherics of 'Wind & Snow', but the overall impression is one of inspired creative renewal, and the unveiling of a songwriting talent that was previously content to dwell in the shadows, deflecting attention with smoke and mirrors.
Belle and Sebastian's Late Developers, via Matador.
"Arriving almost back-to-back to 2022’s Top Ten album ‘A Bit of Previous’, ‘Late Developers’ comes on like its predecessor’s sun-kissed cousin. It is a full-hearted embrace of the band's brightest tendencies that is not only fresh and immediate but possessing of that Belle and Sebastian je ne sais quoi of a group that will always be there for you with the perfect word or melody for the moment, while admitting tunefully that “Every girl and boy / each one is a misery” (“When The Cynics Stare Back From The Wall”).
“Juliet Naked” channels frantic Billy Bragg-energy with rugged electric guitar and a football stadium worthy chant from Stuart Murdoch. The aforementioned “When The Cynics Stare Back From The Wall” is an unearthed 1994-era pre-Belle and Sebastian gem, with help from Camera Obscura’s Tracyanne Campbell. "So In The Moment” is breathless psychedelic pop that is arguably one of Stevie Jackson’s best ever songs. “When We Were Very Young” is Smiths-esque jangle rock that is bittersweet, devotional and yearning: “I wish I could be content / With the football scores / I wish I could be content with my daily chores / With my daily worship of the sublime”."
Groove collagist Romare goes it alone with the first LP on his new label, You See Records, duly getting down to his most personalised work after a decade building a rep with Ninja Tune and Black Acre
“Fantasy takes a more abstract approach to sampling than his previous work, bringing his own instrumentation and vocals to the fore, while folding elements from fantasy cinema into his distinctive strain of rhythmic, off-centre electronica and kinetic club music.”
The original motion picture soundtrack for Women Talking by Hildur Guðnadóttir.
"Women Talking is a highly emotive and inspiring story, based on the best-selling novel by Miriam Toews, that follows a group of women from an isolated religious community who grapple with reconciling their reality with their faith.
Hildur Guðnadóttir’s affecting, ruminative score captures the film’s emotional complexity. rousing guitar-led motifs underpin the folk-influenced score, punctuated by unsettling percussion and mournful strings."
Half a century old but still brimming with heartical force, Count Ossie & Cedric ‘Im’ Brooks’ heavy rooted classic of nyabinghi drumming and deep Jamaican jazz resurfaces as an entirely unique and fascinating example of post-independence Jamaican and Afro-diasporic consciousness beginning to thrive in their music. Choice pickings for anyone under the spell of Dadawah, The Congos, or Mabrak’s Drum Talk LP.
“Count Ossie is the central character in the development of Rastafarian roots music, nowadays an almost mythical and iconic figure. His importance in bringing Rastafarian music to a populist audience is matched only by Bob Marley’s promotion of the faith internationally in the 1970s.
Count Ossie’s drummers performed on the first commercially released single to integrate Rastafarian traditional music with popular music: the vocal group The Folkes Brothers’ groundbreaking song ‘Oh Carolina’, recorded for producer Prince Buster in 1959. In 1966 his drummers greeted the momentous arrival of Haile Selassie at Kingston airport.
His legendary jam sessions up in his Rastafarian compound in the hills of Wareika, Kingston, are famous for the many Jamaican musicians who attended including The Skatalites players – Roland Alphonso, Don Drummond, Johnny Moore, Lloyd Knibbs – and many others.
The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari formed in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1970, a union of Count Ossie’s Rastafarian drummers – variously known as his African Drums, Wareikas or his Afro-Combo – and the saxophonist Cedric Im Brooks’ horns group, The Mystics.
The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari are the defining group in bringing authentic Rastafarian rhythms into the collective consciousness of popular music, their unique music is at once rooted in the deep traditions and rituals of traditional drumming and chanting alongside a forward-thinking, even avant-garde, artistry influenced by the likes of John Coltrane, Sun Ra, Pharoah Sanders and other pioneering African-American jazz artists radicalised and charged by the civil rights movement of the 1960s.”
Singer-songwriter James Yorkston joins forces with Swedish band The Second Hand Orchestra once again, this time bringing in The Cardigans' legend Nina Persson to handle lead vocals.
Yorkston had never planned to follow up 2021's "The Wide, Wide River", a collaboration with the Swedish musical collective that features Peter, Bjorn and John's Peter Morén. But after a spell in his studio writing songs for piano, he sent them to The Second Hand Orchestra conductor Karl-Jonas Winqvist and the conversation began to develop once more.
A few conversations later, Nina Persson was introduced and "The Great White Sea Eagle" began to materialize. Persson's voice is the secret weapon here - it's not surprising given her history (we've all love The Cardigans, come on), but she elevates Yorkston and TSHO's sound effortlessly, sounding almost as if she's not trying at all.
Folksy, warm and surprisingly seasonal, the album's a mature collection that doesn't retreat into the shadows. Yorkston's songwriting is filled with life and has more in common with 60s psychedelic folk than the jangly pop he manufactured with the Athletes.
French electroacoustic veteran Lionel Marchetti returns to Room 40 with a special release composed in Australia and recorded telematically between three separate locations..
For his second Room 40 release following 2018's "The Last Days of Reality", Marchetti again collaborates with Aussie chamber ensemble Decibel. He worked out what he wanted to do in 2019 while visiting Australia, and devised a way of composing the piece that avoided a traditional score, instead working with conversation, listening and experimentation. After rehearsing with different instrumentation and imaginatively placed speakers, he adapted what he calls the 'partition concrète’ using his various studio techniques. But when he was due to record the final version of the piece, he was hit with a problem - Australia was in pandemic lockdown, and Marchetti was in France. So a special recording method was developed; some musicians were based in Melbourne, some in Perth, and Marchetti joined from Europe, everyone was connected via conferencing software that was adjusted to improve sound quality and latency.
Marchetti worked into the final recordings in his studio, adding the finishing touches and making sure it sounded as close to his original vision as possible. The final version clocks in at almost 37 minutes in length, and is as impressive as you'd hope from the story of its construction. Decibel's work from two different sides of Australia is at the center of the recording, but it's Marchetti's smart, restrained processes that have us coming back for more. If you're not completely concentrating you might miss it, but the small glitches and spacial effects that Marchetti provides gives the orchestral elements a distant charm. It's not completely acoustic music, and it's bending the possibilities of the sonic presentation just as Marchetti did with the recording process itself. He finishes off the album with a shorter two-minute composition recorded for Decibel's "2 Minutes from Home" project, a hand-scored piece that he wrote on crumpled paper using ink and white-out. Each member of the orchestra recorded their part separately in their own home, and the result is beguiling - otherworldly and tonally exhilarating without being overwhelming or overstaying its welcome.
One of Coil’s most fêted longform works makes its maiden vinyl trip, all 50 minutes of wormhole ooze, now smeared over two sides of wax.
Up there with Coil’s ‘Time Machines’ or NWW’s ’Soliloquy For Lilith’ in the post-industrial canon, and echoing the sanguine psychedelic scope of La Monte Young & Marian Zalzeela’s zoned-out ‘70s staple as The Theatre of Eternal Music, there are very potent reasons why ‘Queens Of The Circulating Library’ is hailed among Coil’s finest.
Introduced by opera singer Dorothy Lewis, who also happens to be Thingpaulsandra’s mother, it glacially shears off into Indian raga-like drones with a proper hypnagogic traction that’s likely soundtracked thousands of minds on the cusp of semi-consciousness during the years since its release on CD in 2000. With 2nd hand copies now pretty pricey, and YouTube compression only allowing for less-than-optimal potency, this edition is primed to take psychonauts where the piece was intended.
One of few Coil works without Sleazy at the desk, it features music by Thighpaulsandra and lyrics recited by his mum, especially written for “her and mothers everywhere” by John Balance, which perfectly teases minds into its amniotic suspension. Attentive pursuit may produce dreamlike effects, subtly generating fractal peripherals while the lustrous core absorbs deep into its whorls. It’s the sort of piece that warrants looping endlessly or until it takes ultimate effect and you’re bezonked on the deck/sofa/bed. A great way to while away winter.
Without question, some of the most absorbing Quiet music you'll likely ever hear, compiled in a 4 hour-long triple disc set.
'Fremde Zeit - Addendum' collects five pieces of etheric, liminal composition by Jakob Ullmann (1958), the widely acknowledged master of Quiet music. For us, as we'd imagine many others, it's a striking first introduction to the German minimalist's very particular body of work. Comprising 4 hours of barely-there strings, percussions, wind instruments and voices prefaced by the instruction "Please choose, for each piece, the volume settings of your sound system so as to just barely mask the ambient sounds in the room", this is music made for concentrated listening, recorded and specifically designed to give listeners "the opportunity to hear more, and better" by the simple but essential notion that "We hear better because we make an effort to hear better."
With this is mind, we're invited into a sound world which actively, yet effortlessly challenges our perceptions of space and time with a compelling, transcendent effect akin to that of listening to music by, say, Eliane Radigue or Morton Feldman, yet with an alien, detached appeal entirely its own. Due to their extended durations - no piece is shorter than 34 mins, and over an hour at the longest - we form temporal impressions which blur the boundaries between our immediate space and the apparent vastness of the recording, teasing our sixth sense to wander on a knife edge of trepidation and somnolence.
Once you've heard this music it should come as little surprise Ullmann studied sacred music in Dresden from 1979-1982 - his music could be the lingering resonance of an Arvo Pärt piece played in a huge cathedral, carrying the weight of history.
A revelatory package, whose impact will surely emerge and manifest as slowly, yet powerfully, as the music itself.
Another 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.
Editions RZ collect ten early works by Morton Feldman - largely his shorter pieces, spanning compositions made between 1952 and 1959 alongside esteemed peers including David Tudor, Cornelius Cardew, John Tilbury, and János Négyesy.
"In his compositions for piano, which make up a central part of his oeuvre and in which all of his experience is accumulated, it is the play of Feldman's hand whose touch is intended precisely for the 'untouchableness' of sound. The clear character of the 'attack' thus displays the paradox of such playing: it is just as much about concealing the idiosyncrasy of the piano sound, the precise point of attack while, at the same time, the structure and tension of those sounds are formed by the hand." --Stefan Schadler.
Includes the following works: "Piano Three Hands" (1957, performed by Feldman & Tilbury); "Intermission 5" (1952, performed by Feldman); "Vertical Thoughts 2" (1963, performed by Janos Negyesy: violin & Cardew: piano), "Extensions 3" (1952, performed by Feldman); "Four Instruments, 1975" (1979); "Intermission 5" (1952, performed by Tudor), "Piano Piece 1956 A" (1956, performed by Tudor); "Piano Piece 1956 B" (1959, performed by Tudor); "Intersection 3" (1953, performed by Tudor); "Instruments 1, 1974" (1975, 24 minute piece performed by Eberhard Blum: flute, Nora Post: oboe, Garrett List: Posaune, Joseph Kubera: celesta, Jan Williams: drums)."
Deep, vibrant ’79 jazz meditations helmed by Japanese drummer Masahiko Togashi and bassist Charlie Haden, lit with Don Cherry’s free spirt on wind and drums.
By this point playing without the use of his legs, due to an accident in ’69, Masahiko Togashi deploys his adapted drum kit in effervescent form synched to sinuous double bass, and Cherry’s modal tonal colours, overseen by Parisian producer Martin Meissonnier.
The session is generously warm with the vibes as they frolic between the breezy ‘June’ and its whisper of ‘Word of Wind’ parts, to gripping, rolling soundscapes of ‘Oasis’ and the richly atmospheric ambience infused with Eastern influence on ‘Rain’ and ’Song of Soil’. No doubt Cherry’s playing is a main feature of this one, but he always brings the best out of whoever he’s playing with.
Vinyl treasure. A heartbreakingly beautiful, eerie elegy to a tragic event, Gavin Bryars’ magnum opus - a pinnacle of the c.20th classical canon - is finally available on vinyl again via Superior Viaduct some half century since it was issued on Eno’s Obscure label.
Gavin Bryars’ Eno-produced ‘The Sinking of the Titanic’ artfully evokes the liner’s in-house band continuing to play as it sank into the North Atlantic Ocean in 1912. Its understated string arrangements and use of Cageian indeterminate strategy set a haunting precedent for later works by the likes of The Caretaker, Akira Rabelais and Stephan Mathieu, heralding the culmination of a phase shift between popular classical music, proper, and its experimental paths beyond convention into realms of pure sonification. No doubt it’s one of those works that simply stops you in you tracks and effortlessly holds the attention for the duration.
The B-side, ‘Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me’ is also deeply regarded for its ebbing tape loop of a London street singer set to strings by Derek Bailey, Michael Nyman and John White. Also of a immediately poignant register, the piece holds in subtle contrast to the tragedy of the other, gradually layering wind and strings to the central motif with quietly devastating effect that has prompted Tom Waits to claim it as his favourite piece of music.
Both pieces are a sterling early testament to Bryars' affective work since the ‘60s, tying up paths with fellow Yorkshireman and jazz-man Derek Bailey and future soundtrack composer Michael Nyman, and leading the way for his formation of the highly esteemed Portsmouth Sinfonia. We kinda hate to say it from this side of the Pennines, but this is truly music of God’s own country.
Galcher Lustwerk's legendary Blowing Up The Workshop mix is finally given a "proper" release and still stands as one of the finest deep house documents of the last decade - all syrup-laced grooves, honey-voiced raps and taut, dusted percussion that owes as much to '90s rap as it does vintage house. Essential listening for anyone into Theo Parrish, Moodymann, Omar-S, DJ Sprinkles - you know the deal.
Originally released in 2013, "100% Galcher" introduced US DJ/producer Galcher Lustwerk in the most virtuosic way possible - a mixtape of completely original material. Despite being featured as part of Matthew Kent's Blowing Up The Workshop series, which often featured more straightforward DJ mixes, "100% Galcher" functionally stood as an artist album, and in its repackaged form - split into 15 discrete tracks. Even at this relatively early stage in his career, Galcher's sound was fully formed; later records like 2019's slick "Information" may have been more lavishly produced, but "100% Galcher" already showed us exactly what the New York-based beatmaker was capable of.
To understand the context when it originally arrived, it's important to cast your mind back to 2013 for a second. Interest in classic deep house had been on the rise, and the dominance of "deep v house" was imminent: Disclosure's popular and vapid debut "Settle" was released that summer. Sanitized, shuffled deep grooves, cleaved from their original context, were now the soundtrack to finance industry parties and destination festivals. So when "100% Galcher" landed it was a blast of cool air on a humid day, a reminder that deep house could be sexy, urgent and impactful, draped in mystery and hard edged, but never losing the subtle shiver of funk.
Tracks like early highlights 'Put On' and 'Outside the Club' connect the past and present in a uniquely creative way, folding together hip-house rollage, p-funk, levitating synth/field recording ambience and Gemini-esque dissonant syn-drum fizz. 'In the Place' more forcefully points towards rap, with a syncopated groove and narcotic rhymes from Galcher, but it simultaneously never lets go of the deep house atmosphere, hypnotizing with jazzy pads and electroid rimshots.
The record is assembled from movements, or small thickets of tracks sequenced together using various "stems" to connect them. These stems are vibey, beatless electronic backdrops - the kind of sounds that usually lurk in the background on Galcher's productions, pushed into the fore. And it's by using these beatless intervals that Galcher connects his vast palette of influences, creating a discernible bridge from faded Detroit-esque burners like 'Enterprise' and 'Cricket's Theme''s jerky funk to the low-lit outro 'Lil Bit o Chocolit' with its "Artificial Intelligence"-via-"First Floor" sexiness. Too good.
Oiseaux-Tempête's sixth studio album, What On Earth (Que Diable), via Sub Rosa.
"Oiseaux-Tempête unveils a new facet of its mythology through a dense work that carries darkness towards the light of day, that rumbles, calms down and warms up again. Like the silhouette of a lighthouse that reveals itself as its torch rises and shines, the powerful beauty of WHAT ON EARTH (Que Diable) radiates into an expanding musical cosmos.
From the mammoth riffs of Partout Le Feu, progressively thickened by explosive sound textures and sirens ringing the alarm, we levitate on Terminal Velocity, a minimalist interlude with a crepuscular feel that is jostled by the hypnotic pulsations of Voodoo Spinning and then the call of the dungeon The Crying Eye - I Forget, an electro mystical trance that deploys its philters in a troubled moat haunted by the psalmodies of Radwan Ghazi Moumneh. The tempo speeds up in A Man Alone in a One Man Poem, a meeting of body and mind, of mechanical energy and burning breath where the spoken word of G.W.Sok sneaks in, before the pastoral crossing of Waldgänger and its forest of electronic chimeras. We dance naked under the comet, ridden by the whirlwind of piano and bass snaking over a drone before reaching the peak of this prophetic vision in Dôme, recorded live acoustic in Oscar Niemeyer's abandoned architectural complex in Lebanon. The echo of a last discharge before the collapse.
Featuring: Frédéric D. Oberland, Stéphane Pigneul, Mondkopf, Jean-Michel Pirès, Ben Shemie, Radwan Ghazi Moumneh, G.W.Sok, Jessica Moss."
To Move is a new project by the trio of Anna Rose Carter (Moon Ate the Dark), Ed Hamilton (Dead Light) and Alex Kozobolis.
"Four-handed piano meets analogue manipulations to absolute wondrous effect from the London based friends.
We're carried into a time and place not afraid to embrace a sense of optimism - even if it comes wrapped in a certain distorted shape. Transporting, blissful tones emanate free of concerns from the unifying keys; at least until the melodies are pulled and dragged from purity to become something wholly else – their own lived life; fitted with obstructions and unpredictability. The intertwining pianos linger like lovers in unison, full of drift, rhythm and life; all while analogue electronics and tape manipulations degrade and move them from their original form and closer towards earth itself.
The album came to light while Anna and Ed were temporarily residing in the English countryside between 2016 and 2019. Musical weekend visits from Alex turned into the fruitful collaboration presented here. 'To Move' is a compelling musical storyboard with a name that captures the essence of their music better than any written essay could do. This is music to resonate to, music to dance to, music to engulf your being. As for fans of the Sonic Pieces sound – if there is one – this record hits as close to home as it could do."
JK Broadrick’s lush dream-pop jungle project finds its target on LA’s Give/Take a decade since it was due for issue on AFX’s Rephlex (RIP), now beautifully finished with heart-in-mouth harmonic structures and thizzing breaks that hark to his classic Jesu gear.
Stemming from 2009-2013 recordings that followed the feel of Jesu’s ‘Pale Sketches’ (2007) set, the pioneering Napalm Death/Godflesh/Zonal co-founder really wears his heart on sleeve in this volley of uncannily seasonally appropriate gems flush with hip hop-meets-shoegaze sampling tekkerz prone to brukbeat prang-outs. While his music has long traded on a sense of brummie doom in myriad forms, ‘Golden Skin’ showcases the flipside of Broadrick’s crankiness with results that lean toward Clams Casino’s ebullient witch house or indeed AFX’s own brand of emotive tempest, harnessing his skills to a headier form of intensity that sounds particularly potent in midwinter and the accompanying feels that come circa this time of year.
‘Golden Skin’ executes its function beautifully well from top to bottom. ‘Today’ sets out its emotional brief with filigree vocal sampling and rearrangement set to sparking early ‘90s hardcore breaks, and we can’t help but compare the hip hop break and vocal chopping of ‘A Joy We Only Know’ with peak, contemporaneous Clams Casino cuts, while ‘Have Faith’ sounds like the shoegaze D&B ideas of Digital’s SOS peach ‘Lost’ merged with Broadrick’s late ‘90s tech step style. At its core there’s a fantasy for anyone who dreamt of MBV doing slow jungle in ‘Heart Beat’, and his ‘Golden Skin’ really lets loose with the fuzzy steppers pressure, and the loopy rushes of ‘Rollercoaster’ and ‘I’m Your Possession’ feel like Panda Bear gone ruffneck.
Not a bad tune on this one >> big tip for the romantics.
‘Electroacoustic Works’ is an epic undertaking compiling Iannis Xenakis’ earliest works (Diamorphoses / Concret PH / Orient Occident / Bohor), through his classic period (Hibiki Hana-Ma / Mycenae Alpha / Polytope de Cluny / Persepolis / La Légende D’Eer) and onto late works (Taurhiphanie / Voyage Absolu Des Unari Vers Andromède / Gendy 3 / S.709), all newly mixed by longtime zeitkratzer sound engineer Martin Wurmnest and mastered by Rashad Becker, with a Booklet of English / German liner notes by Reinhold Friedl (zeitkratzer) and rare photos from the Xenakis archive.
As one of the most revered figures of the twentieth century avant-garde, and surely the only one to have studied with Messiaen and worked with Le Corbusier; Xenakis redrew the boundaries of sonic possibility with his pioneering, mathematically sound arrangements and brutalist electronic tonalities. By teaching/osmosis, his work has exerted just about as much influence on the avant-classical paradigms as the more untrained worlds of noise and DIY electronic experimentalism, with his anarchitextural approach to form and function breaking ground for everyone from Roland Kayn and John Zorn thru Hecker & Haswell to Lee Gamble and Rashad Becker (who did this remaster, naturally) in the contemporary field.
The first disc (early works) stakes out Xenakis’ peerless approach to new music between the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, back when he began to combine his musical studies under Messiaen with his background in architecture as an assistant to Le Corbusier, and the facilities of Paris’ GRM. What is perhaps most striking about these works is their clarity and spatial definition, which never feels as murky or even messy as much early electronics. With thanks to Rashad Becker’s remastering, everything from the alien dynamics of 1957’s ‘Diamorphoses’ to the shattered glass synthesis of ‘Concret PH’ (1958), thru the rowdy percussive ruptures of ‘Orient Occident’ (1961) and the almighty, roiling keen of his masterwork ‘Bohor’ (1962) sounds uncannily modern.
The second disc covers a golden patch between between 1969-1972, taking in the jaw-dropping shearing string dynamics and febrile rhythms of ‘Hibiki Hana-Ma’ (1969)’ to one of his all-time masterworks in 1972’s multimedia installation soundtrack ‘Polytope de Cluny’ with its shattered polymetric percussions, and the uncannily future-proofed play of chattering electronics, swooping subbass and cyclonic hornet-like swarms in ‘Mycenae Alpha’ (1978).
DIsc 3 features ‘Persepolis’ - Xenakis’ longest electroacoustic composition. Commissioned by the Persian Shah, the piece was part of a multimedia performance which premiered in 1971 in Shiraz-Persepolis as a performance including light-tracks, laser beams, groups of children walking around with torches and 59 loudspeakers to project the music in an open-air situation. It was recoreded on 8-track analogue tape in the Studio Acusti in Paris and released as a stereo reduction on vinyl in the famous Philips series “Prospective 21e Siècle” in 1972, adding the new subtitle “We bear the light of the earth”, his most hymnal title ever.
DIsc 4 spotlights 'La Légende D’Eer’ - was made in an impenetrable thicket of versions, with this one selected here from the 8-track-version that Xenakis himself presented at Darmstädter Ferienkurse in august 1978. It's the only original version of this composition and is presented here (mixed down to stereo by Martin Wurmnest who tried to preserve the spatial movements as perceptible as possible) for the very first time. La Légende d’Eer not only became a milestone of electroacoustic music but is also an important reference for noise and industrial musicians of the modern era.
The final disc ‘Late Works’ opens with 'Taurhiphanie' - a lurching synthetic experiment that disorientates the listener with pitch-f*cked wobbles and sheets of glassy drone - anyone into shepard tone business or Florian Hecker's synapse-tickling experiments really should spend some time with it. Fifteen minute epic 'Voyage Absolu Des Unari Vers Andromède' falls even further into the abys - Xenakis disrupts his tonal experimentation with near-rhythmic tides of low-end movement. These sounds are expanded into fractal mayhem on 'Gendy 3', with almost 20 minutes of synthesized chirps that flock into dread clouds of unsettling vibration. It's tempting to call it industrial - Xenakis's use of electronics seemingly nods to certain corners of the industrial spectrum - but none of these works ever fall into a pattern. Just as you think you've got them sussed, they veer into fresh sonic territory, guided by foghorn blasts. There's nothing else like it - it's as foundational as it is puzzling, rewarding, and completely enthralling.
Taken as a whole, this is music that still beggars belief 50 years later, a remarkable testament to the Xenakis vision and diligence during an era when it was markedly more difficult to create music with such a bewildering dynamic.
Fuck what you know of Huerco S, 'Plonk' is his first album in 6 years and switches tack from house and groggy ambient touchstones to a more glassy, iridescent palette of juked electrosoul and chamber-like paradigms.
Touching minds 10 years since his cult early works graced the likes of Opal Tapes and Ukraine’s Wicked Bass, ‘Plonk’ finds him drawing on a formative love of rally cars and experiences over the interim for a more ragged jag that still prizes a sense of heady lushness, but more fractal and bittersweet with it. Of course he’s not been slacking since his now classic album ‘For Those Of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have)’, delivering ample goodies as Pendant and introducing key new artists via his curation of West Mineral Ltd. since 2017, but Huerco S. has taken a backseat until now, returning with a sparing, concentrated energy refracted into light-splitting ambient post-classical figures and splintered steppers that defy gravity with a cannily personalised sort of electro-dub physics.
We’ve long compared Brian Leeds’ work as Huerco S. with the likes of NWAQ and Actress, and those references still somehow apply, as he smartly moves parallel and perpendicular to those likemind auteurs’ evolutions across ‘Plonk'. They all share a patented sense of emotional intelligence and deep funk imagination that percolates their beyond-the-dance tekkerz.
The 10 tracks of ‘Plonk’ sensitively smash the template of ambient techno and IDM for a new decade, allowing new subtly mutated forms to emerge in the cracks. Between the first example of reeling extended melody in ‘Plonk I’ to the dematerialised tonal hues of the 11min bliss out ‘Plonk X’, he offers a thorough but faithful reappraisal of his style, tiling fleeting pieces of beat-less introspection rendered with electro-acoustic strategies, alongside nerve end-dancing, syncopated jitters and gyring hyperspace explorations such as the spine-licking bewt ‘’Plonk VI’ and smudged Autechrian functions on ‘Plonk VIII’, with a surprise turn of drawling cloudrap abstaction on ‘Plonk IX’.
The Dewaele brothers’ peak bastard dance-pop mash-up is now available on vinyl for the weirdos that need it like that.
Once ubiquitous at afterparties in the indie sleaze era that’s currently being resurrected by gen Z, ‘As Heard On Radio Soulwax Pt. 2’ throws down an hour of cut ’n spliced classic dance music from the ‘70s until 2002, including reams of millennial pop mixed and matched in the style of the day. It sold half a million copies on release, lol
Alongside the likes of Erol Alkan, Soulwax’s 2ManyDJs were among the most prominent, lauded party-starters of that era and this mix was their calling card, stemming from afterparties for their main vehicle, that would arguably eclipse their work as a band and endure in the befuddled memories of those who’d rather forget their Hoxton fins and drug habits at the time.
L'effet Rebond is not one album but two. Two parallel albums sharing the same title - one by Pierre-Yves Macé, the other by Sylvain Chauveau.
"Both works come from the same original material: a few tracks of guitar, piano, harmonium and vocals, initially recorded by Chauveau. The lyrics (in French, English, Japanese) are very short poems by or quotations from e.e. cummings, Thelonious Monk, John Cage, Basho, cult tennis player John McEnroe, Carla Demierre, Aram Saroyan, Joseph Guglielmi, and painter Philip Guston. From this common material, each of the two composers has built his own edifice, choosing the elements he keeps, the ones he abandons, adding little by little his own instruments, structures and ideas. In the end, two distinct and autonomous opuses are born.
Iridium version Pierre-Yves Macé has allowed himself to be guided by his long-standing obsessions: hybridisation of genres and formats, balance between lyricism and formalism, intersection of chamber instrumental writing and chiselled electronics. But this time he pushes his penchant for sobriety further than ever. Whether it is a song-haiku, a miniature for piano or a long repetitive and rhythmic piece, the simplicity is at the service of the clarity of the ideas and the beauty of the timbres - Maitane Sebastiàn's cello or Cédric Jullion's bass flute in mind.
Silicium version Sylvain Chauveau has surrounded himself with his friends Peter Broderick (backing vocals), Machinefabriek (electronic processing), Lucille Calmel (field recordings), Romke Kleefstra (electric guitar) and Rainier Lericolais (electronic sounds) in order to develop more than ever his love of repetition and the ultra-short format. Here, the pieces often last only the time of a breath, of a few heartbeats. A musical form rarely explored in any musical genre, but one that Chauveau has been fond of since his early days and whose quintessence he seeks here."
Timely reissue of Duster's self-titled 2019 return to the studio after an 18 year absence.
Following Numero's reissues of Duster's classic albums and previously unreleased material, it's fitting that they should eventually repackage the Californian three-piece's comeback record, released almost two decades after 2000's 'Contemporary Movement'. The slowcore-cum-indie rock band appeared back in 1996 after releasing the 'On The Dodge' cassette and winning acclaim for their gritty lo-fi moves that carefully fused emo and post-hardcore shakes. Always cult darlings, but never fully accepted into the mainstream, Duster's reputation grew in the period they were out of view, and their catalogue quickly became sought-after by collectors. The band eventually got together in 2018, and "Duster" was the result, an album that recaptured their magic - a tidy combo of Codeine's narcotic feels and Slint's melancholy knuckle cracking.
Thankfully, 'Duster' isn't an exercise in nostalgia and doesn't attempt to recapture the past, instead mapping out where the trio exists in the here and now. If you've exhausted the Low, Galaxie 500 and American Music Club catalog - this is well worth a peep.
Formed in the early 1980s, Phauss is Carl Michael von Hausswolff and Erik Pauser.
"Von Hausswolff and Pauser, who both operated across sound and installation, used Phauss as a means for deconstructing ideas of composition, situationalism, site-specific works and extended performance methodologies. Across the second half of the 1980s and into the early 1990s, they made connections, through their travels, outward from their homeland into scenes and communities that stretched from the Middle East, through North America and into Asia.
Like their travels, their ways of approaching the work they made was similarly wide-reaching and innately curious. They worked with often quite strict conceptual structures within which they were able to unlock entirely new ways of considering composition and also the material production of sound, through performance, through iteration and through considered experimentation which allowed for failure, just as much as success.
Nya Sverige - Nothing But The Truth is a recording made in the United States whilst the pair were undertaking an exhaustive tour in 1991 alongside Hafler Trio and Zbigniew Karkowski. This, now legendary, tour was both arduous and rewarding. Living in a van for many weeks at a time, travelling between cities with the most modest of means meant Phauss came to know a very particular vision of the United States, one that existed below plain view. Their’s was an experience had at the rawest edges of cities.
Equally the performances they gave, from which this edition is assembled, were raw and quite frankly dangerous. Fire on stage, sparks flying from short circuiting electronics and intense physical rituals guided so much of their work during this tour and looking back at bootleg videos from the time it’s difficult to imagine the work being able to be presented in the modern world.
One of the flyers from their tour reads ‘Extreme Swedish Industrial’, and as familiar as those words might appear now, in 1991 they held a very different resonance. They were unfamiliar terms of reference and the intensity of Phauss’s music maintains that unknowability to this day. This is a profoundly individual work and sets the stage for a generation of musicians who followed them."
Subtly hallucinatory, Burroughsian field recording collage by CM Von Hauswolff and Eric Pauser’s Phauss, stitching abstract meta-narratives from the ether of mid ‘80s Switzerland, Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Pakistan, India, Thailand, The Philippines and USA, Morocco, Algeria, Niger, Benin and Nigeria, with assistance of engineer Zbigniew Karkowski. Reissued for first time in 35 years.
“Audiodrome collects together two discreet works that sit somewhere between field recording, chance composition and experimental soundscape. Both pieces pre-date the widespread arrival of field recording as a creative practice, and expand outward the work that had been developed by musique concréte and other experimental music approaches concerned with the intersections of found sound and composition. Both works were devised using the same working methodology, whereby an alarm would sound every few days and wherever and whenever it sounded the pair would start recording their surroundings. Those raw material became the basis for the pieces.
The first composition Zürich - Zürich is a piece that traces a line around the world, Phauss travelling on a round the world air ticket stopping only in countries where conflict was present. This unsettling journey became a meditation on the evolving state of the world in those moments. Voices, traffic, cafes, radios, transportation system and other incidental environments float into one another in a kind of stream of (temporally incongruous) consciousness.
The second work Alger - Lagos brings to mind some of Brion Gysin and William S. Burroughs tape cut-ups. Street musicians are splice against bursts of radio, roadside conversations and searing blasts of industrial noise captured from aircraft and other unfamiliar sources. It is an unsteadying journey where even the sounds of the everyday feel alien and repositioned. The sounds call to us prompting a sensing that is at its heart utterly fascinated, and fascinating.
The edition includes a book featuring an exhaustive collection of photographs, documents and artworks made by Von Hausswolff and Pauser during their journeys undertaken to complete each of the compositions. Many of these images and artworks have never been published previously.”
Pick of the bunch from Rhodri Davies’ Amgen reissue programme is a mesmerising microtonal drone work on the tongue-tip cusp of works by Éliane Radigue or Elodie.
‘Over Shadows’ uses recordings made in Norfolk, 2004 and composed in March, 2006, under a title inspired by British poet Redell Olsen’s book ‘Secure Portable Space’, an ambiguous play on gender codes. Nipped in the edit by Benedict Drew and John Wall, the piece enacts a 36 minute transition between harmonically resonant feedback tones, overlapping in ringing and pulsing forms that lure us deep into their folds and coruscating shimmers. It feels as much like a plangent folk piece slowed 1000% as one of Éliane Radigue’s late ‘60s feedback works, pointing to a natural yet unearthly quality that has us rapt for its duration and showcases the endless variation of Davies’ tekkerz reaped from the harp.
Inimitable improvisor Rhodri Davies interprets Jean-Luc Guionnet’s composition for solo pedal harp in this barely-there but absorbing 40 min recording, made in Brussels, 2010
Like Davies, french sax player Guionnet has been prolifically active since the ‘90s as a solo improvisor and player for myriad others, from contemporary ensembles to jazz squads. Guionnet’s ‘Dyslexic Harp (Deciphered In The Dark)’ was written for pedal harp and dedicated to Davies, who performs the piece in in an exceedingly quiet and spaced out style where fragments of melodic thought pass out to lingering lacunæ and incorporate incidental sounds of turned sheet notation and aleatoric rustle.
It feels like a rawer parallel to the kind of extremely precise works found on Wandelweiser Editions or Another Timbre, also prising their use of silence and negative space, but with a grippingly looser nature where Davies’ gestures feel like autumnal leaves wilting off the branch in a gentle breeze or an archipelago of Scottish isles that come into view as the weather changes. Definitely one for gazing out the window while shivering under a blanket.
In advance of their first (and probably last) show at YOUTH's Cafe Oto showcase this week, Yugen Disciple returns with a rugged debut album of noctilucent greyscale hues and post-UKG mechanisms primed for heads into Shinichi Atobe, SND, Demdike Stare.
‘Ancestor Node’ dials up the bloozy late night sentiments to perfection across an hour of exclusive new material flush with a slowburn warmth and smudged but rudely insistent rhythms. Perhaps more than any release on the label since his debut, the dozen tracks here feel to echo a proper after-hours flex suspended somewhere between the balcony dancefloor and sofa gouch-out with a rare sensuousness that gets right under the skin and up the nose.
Flickering into action with the SND-like glitch shivers x subtle dembow on ‘Xerxes’, the set rolls tender bodies and minds on the offbeat between the wist of ‘Senecan Way’ and his MDMA-encrusted kiss-off ‘Unzen’. There are very canny cuts of AI electro in ‘Pleux’, and divine traces of 20 year old Pendle Coven or NMB works in ‘Pattern Recognition’, with strong turns to the darkside recalling Kareem and the Metal Gear Solid soundtrack on ‘Tactical Vest’. That darkness is balanced by absorbingly textured lushness of ‘Slow Parallax’ and the compression of ‘Volume Mesh’, plus a reminder of his discrete early beauty ‘First Sighting’ (from 2019’s ‘Sports’ comp) that help cement the nostalgic yen and timeless futurism of his sound.
Black Truffle follows its Alvin Lucier collection with this anthology of solo and duo violin work from radical New York School composer Christian Wolff, who studied with John Cage and collaborated with Morton Feldman.
Performed by NY violin duo String Noise, "A Complete Anthology of Solo and Duo Violin Pieces" covers the entire career of Christian Wolff, from his earliest published compositions to a new work penned especially for this release. The composer was considered by John Cage to be the most "musical" of his set, and fused a restless urge for boundary-pushing innovation with radical left-wing politics. Wolff became acquainted with Cage when he was just a teenager, studying with him for a short spell after being sent for composition lessons by his piano teacher. Later, he became a member of Cage's wider circle, working alongside Morton Feldman, David Tudor and Merce Cunningham.
String Noise approach Wolff's music in a non-chronological sequence, a choice that frames his constant metamorphosis. The earliest piece is 'Duo For Violins', a short composition written by Wolff in 1950 as a teenager to experiment with reduction, letting the two violins play against each other's pitches. Elsewhere there are two premiere recordings of two other duo pieces written at the same time, recently discovered by the composer. The longer 1970s-penned compositions - 'Bread and Roses' and 'The Death of Mother Jones' - are forcefully political, celebrating women activists by contorting traditional melodies into daring modernist forms.
The newest work, written in 2021, is a 16-part experiment entitled 'Small Duos for Violinists' and presents itself in an almost granular way, with sections ranging from just over 10 seconds to almost two minutes. Inspiring material, showcasing a complete overview of a composer's composer who's not nearly as well-known as he should be.
Aeolian Mixtape is the third feature album of experimental composer and multi-instrumentalist Quinta.
"During a recent period spent living in Greece, Quinta was inspired to design and hand-build Aeolian harps – harps which resonate with the wind. The sound of the Aeolian harp is ethereal and distinctive, characterised by the rising and falling of harmonic frequencies swept into life by the wind. The sonority varies according to the strength and character of the wind and the various materials used to make each harp, including string type and length.
In the tracks 'Meltemia' and 'Aeolus', violin arpeggios and minimal piano accompany the sound of the harps as it builds in intensity. In turn, the track 'Horologion' is decisively more experimental with re-synthesised harp frequencies generating a kind of tape warmth. The album is underpinned by field recording – nearby birds, barking dogs, creaking trees or a bee flying into a harp string – keeping the music close to the Greek landscape it was written for. The result is a meditative album, flickering between drones and strings and always with the unique sound of the Aeolian harps at its heart."
Originally composed for a dance performance and installation, 'Black Box 3' is an uncompromisingly reduced set of processed field recordings, drum skitters, and cautious synthetic minimalism.
Mads Emil Nielsen's first "Black Box" release arrived in 2018 on 7"; each edition presents music and sound that the Danish composer originally assembled for theater performances and installations, and the third chapter is no different. This time around, the starting point was material Nielsen had worked on for "Sprækker (Cracks)", a dance performance and installation that was presented in Denmark last year. Based on improvisations recorded with contemporary dancers, Nielsen wanted to guide the listener through a selection of sounds, from synthesizer experiments to everyday sounds and radio archives.
So we're presented with clever, precise tweaking on 'Installation - 2', that obscures chopped-up drums behind synthesized glitches and moonlit field recordings. It sounds like someone jamming in a remote marsh at night, and that's never a bad thing. 'Climbing Plants' is more immersive somehow, molding hissing environmental sounds into billowing dark ambience that sounds almost like dub techno at a quarter speed. Nielsen's command of microscopic percussive elements is impressive, and his ability to weave fine pinprick patterns with undergrowth crunches and insect calls is particularly hypnotic on closing track 'Vibrations'.
Experimental guitarist, sound designer and occasional Mika Vainio collaborator Franck Vigroux returns to Raster for an album steeped in 1980s nostalgia, influenced by Polaroid colors, VHS aesthetics, electro pop, and Vangelis.
According to Franck Vigroux, the 1980s was a "terrible time". I suppose we have to agree, even though it was a while ago and we were (mostly) quite young. To Vigroux, the era is best remembered via its most recognizable hallmarks, like the dystopian flicker of Ridley Scott's enduring "Blade Runner" - at the time a complete flop. Vigroux has mapped out his approximation of the 1980s aesthetic on "Magnetoscope", the latest in a proposed series of releases that includes 2020's "Ballades sur lac gelé". If you've heard that album, you'll have an idea of where this one is directed sonically - yet again he employs a tight palette of analog synths, drum machines, and Sähkö/Raster glitches. But on this one, Vigroux is careful to make sure his inspirations are rendered accurately, so we're immediately hit with electro-pop rhythms and synths, and coaxed into the atmosphere with the kind of romantic synthwork that Vangelis was eating off for years.
Opener 'VHS' does exactly what you'd expect, to the point where if you told us this was a horror/sci-fi soundtrack made in the mid-1980s and released it on Death Waltz we'd probably believe you. The glitches might be a little edgy but who are we to doubt, when Charanjit Singh was making acid ragas in 1982. Elsewhere, 'L.A.' sounds as rainy and windswept as the "Blade Runner" dystopia, and comes served with the exact Yamaha CS-80 sounds you'd expect to hear, backed by rolling glitches and twitchy kicks because it's Raster, so why not. It's on 'Station to Station' that Vigroux starts to wander outside of the popular nostalgiasphere for a second, dirtying up the electro-pop formula and capturing some of the loose masonry weight of his noisier material. Elsewhere, tracks like 'Cassette' and 'Nuit' offer spine-tingling minimalist horror vibes, while Vigroux flexes his ambient muscle on 'Steam', maybe the album's most moving track.
The 23rd edition of the Pop Ambient compilation, compiled by Wolfgang Voigt.
"A contemporary product of relentless capitalism has been a trend called slowness for several years now. In order to counteract the perceived fast pace of the times in which we live with a little deceleration, sustainability and relaxation, phenomena such as Slow Food, Slow Travel, Slow Fashion or even Slow Cruising, the tourist sailing of the world's oceans with somewhat smaller cruise ships "away from the mainstream", have been introduced into the world.
That slowness is more than the opposite of speed, that elements, things, sounds that move as if in slow motion unfold a special power, precision, aesthetics and beauty, doesn’t need to be explained twice to ambient musicians. The 23rd edition of the Pop Ambient compilation, compiled as always by Wolfgang Voigt, is no exception, but instead provides the proof."
Ex-Cocteau Twin Simon Raymonde's 1997 debut is repackaged here with three bonus tracks - unavailable for years, it documents the Cocteau Twins' final moments.
When Raymonde started work on "Blame Someone Else" in 1996, he wasn't sure if he would be working on solo material as Cocteau Twins was still a full-time concern. His bandmates were supportive, even going so far as to perform on a few of the tracks, but by the time it was released in 1997 Cocteau Twins had disbanded - a new era had begun. It was the first album to appear on Raymonde's Bella Union label, out of print for 25 years (it took Raymonde that long to feel comfortable with the songs being out there again), it's been repackaged as "Solo Works 96-98".
Musically it sounds very much of its time - just as Cocteau Twins embraced a more polished style in their later years (as evidenced on "Four Calendar Cafe" and "Milk & Kisses"), Raymonde continues the thought. Early tracks 'It's a Family Thing' and 'Love Undone' echo the popular indie of the day, and while Raymonde's voice is strong it's easy to hear how these tracks fell just outside of the timeline. 'The Seventh Day' is stronger for approaching the late Cocteaus style more wholeheartedly (you can almost hear Liz Fraser cooing the chorus), and the band's late-era drummer Mitsuo Tate shows up on 'In My Place' and a handful more tracks.
Robin Guthrie adds his characteristic shimmer to 'Muscle and Want', while Fraser harmonizes with Raymonde on the gorgeous 'Worship Me', an undoubtable standout. The new additions are surprising: 'Summer's Blue' adds rave-inspired drum loops, 'Left Untouched the Flowers Grow' sounds like it could have come from Les Disques du Crépuscule, and 'Let Love In' rounds off the set with haunted harmonies and a barely-present pulse. Lovely.
Geneva's Citron Citron's debut album on 'Les Disques Bongo Joe'.
"Chagrin Bleu explores the melancholy of the night and the joy of a flight under the sun. Songs with transcendent refrains, and synthetic laments with romantic melodies, carried by groove box-like rhythms. An album on the borders of chamber pop, medieval chants and ambient. The lyrics are at times poetic, angry or dreamy.
The first sketches of the album were drawn during the first confinement when time was slowing down. The songs were then recorded in a DIY way by the band in their studio in Geneva during the year 2021. The first sessions were recorded on tape with a Tascam 688, then expanded and edited on computer. Some additional recordings were made with the help of sound engineer Yavor Lilov (L'Éclair) and some guests : Fhunyue Gao on theremin, Sébastien Bui (L'Éclair) for some synth parts.
The album was then worked on and mixed with Jacco Gardner in his Antwerp studio. His analogue world allowed the sound of the album to grow and deepen. With his echoes and tape machines, the mix could be approached in an organic and evolutionary way."
Berlin-based Turkish sound artist Hüma Utku uses psychological research to inform this unsettling set of hybridized analog-digital electronic vignettes, based around doomy strings and Buchla 200 recordings made at Stockholm's legendary Elektronmusikstudion. Bleak, pitch-black shit - inhabiting the same universe as Muslimgauze, Roly Porter or even Silver Mt. Zion.
Described by the label as "a series of sonic essays", "The Psychologist" references Utku's studies in psychology, which she employs to fuel shadowy abstractions of strings and electronics that feel cinematic. There's a careful pace to her productions that sweeps up her influences - from electro-acoustic music to abstract techno and industrial sounds - into a coherent soup of dimly lit orchestral flourishes and gurgling analog electronics. On 'Fuel for the Flames', thick oscillator waves set the mood, before epic double bass strokes mire the track in arcane mysticism. Utku introduces a grinding electronic rhythm on 'Dissolution of I', referencing Muslimgauze or Pan Sonic's jerky noise-inflected industrial shakes, but matches it with grim, grinding strings you'd be more likely to hear in Montreal's Godspeed-adjacent zone.
Across the course of the album, Urku rarely lets up - the tracks reference Carl Jung's theories, and our mind goes straight to the nightmare realm on the foreboding 'Rüya', which literally translates to dream in Turkish. Acidic environmental recordings and witchy vocals are layered with uneasy modular electronic drones, while phantasmagorical scraped strings hint at a realm beyond the real. Elsewhere, Utku leans more confidently into experimental electronics on the lengthy closing track 'Chironian Wound', building a similarly nightmarish landscape from bleeping vintage oscillators and wailing harmonic bass synths. Epic stuff.
I Will Set You Free by Barry Admson, via Mute.
"Initially released in 2012, I Will Set You Free amalgamated elements of Barry’s previous work, resulting in an album that is unmistakably Barry Adamson.
Like many of Adamson’s records, the album is a genre odyssey that jumps from garage rock rock, to blues, to new-wave pop, with the adventurous brass section injecting an acid jazz touch. His overwhelming desire to examine cultural shifts and embrace them within the quest to improve oneself that often centres in Adamson’s art is clearly present in I Will Set You Free. This subsequently makes it a quintessential Barry Adamson record that fits right in with the back catalogue."
Ryoji Ikeda's latest follows a run of gallery releases, returning to the advanced frequency study of his legendary trilogy "dataplex", "Test Pattern" and "Supercodex". A lengthy, propulsive set of speaker-challenging rhythmic material, "ultrasonics" isn't what you might expect, veering from glitchy gear into industrial filth that has more in common with Skinny Puppy and Meat Beat Manifesto than Oval.
Few artists have managed to become as synonymous with a sound as Ryoji Ikeda, and on his latest release he reminds us just how much control he can exert over glitches and sine waves. The initial run of tracks on "ultrasonics" is a masterclass in the kind of Gen X-friendly hyper-digital sound that bounced around between early innovators like Carsten Nicolai, Frank Bretschneider, Oval and Mika Vainio. Lead single 'ultrasonics 01' isn't anything unexpected, just a brilliant rendition of the Ikeda process, with garbled voices, thick subs, and rattling hi-freq clicks that form uneven, even psychedelic staccato rhythms. Just like it did back in the early '00s, this music sounds lashed to our contemporary reality, a place where data dumping is now a part of out interaction with technology on almost every level. Ikeda's sounds are a vibrational reflection of both technology and our anxious contemporary philosophy - melancholy pads flutter across hyperspeed rhythms and nauseating subsonics force our brain to react to something, anything.
Things take a turn when we hit 'ultrasonics 07', and Ikeda's microscopic beats are dilated into thick, sampled EBM drums. The mood here is unexpected but not unwelcome, and while Ikeda's palette is widened, the underlying mood is coherent. 'ultrasonics 08' is another intriguing left turn, sounding like a hyper-digital approximation of Autechre's exceptional debut 'Cavity Job' (seriously - just listen). It's exciting to hear Ikeda subverting expectations like this; after years of gallery work and sound installations, his return to the album format is a place for some of his roundest productions in years. Later on, he experiments with plaintive ambience ('ultrasonics 10') and meets these textures with rapid-fire beats to realize some kind of fuzzy version of fast-paced dance music ('ultrasonics 11-13'), playing us out with glacial, minimal drones. The album plays like a retrospective of Ikeda's career that doesn't just focus on his own innovations, but the sounds of his influences too.
Know Where To Run by Barry Adamson, on Mute.
"Barry’s 2016 album, Know Where To Run, was produced by Barry himself and recorded in Brighton with Paul Pascoe, whilst WTNSS mixed and provided additional production at the legendary Dean Street Studios.
The concept behind the album emerged when Barry started taking photos during a Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds North American tour, playing with the idea of traversing different states of the human condition and different states across America. The result was an audio/visual project inspired by these pictures, with the record being presented alongside a curated photobook."
A beautiful new work for processed saz recalling Dariush Dolat Shahi’s Folkways classic, realised for Touch’s 40th anniversary celebrations at Iklektik in summer 2022 .
Working on ground prepared by ‘Arithmetic in the Dark’ (2019) and ‘Isoladrone2020’, pioneering Henry Cow member and art-pop maverick Anthony Moore presents a sensuous investigation of the saz, an instrument he’s “loved and lived with for the last six decades”, extruded thru the digital output of CSound orchestra software.
The results were meant to be performed live at Touch’s 40th anniversary gathering but Moore caught covid and recorded it at home, in preparation for playback at Iklekik. Presented as is, it awns a fine spectrum of the instrument’s tonalities and shimmering timbral properties in a keening formation that gives the impression of moving although ostensibly static, luring into eddying whorls, spiralling ascents and heavenly radiance as the 30 minute piece progresses.
Laura Cannell and André Bosman re-imagine Wintery musical canon that's a million miles away from the mall-poised cheese that haunts the dwindling consumer mallscape each year. Sobering expressive folk history.
Last seen together on 2018's ace "Reckonings" full-length, longtime collaborators Laura Cannell and André Bosman reconvene on "New Christmas Rituals" to imagine a seasonal spread that's significantly unhooked from the commercialised (and Americanised) traditions we endure during Yuletide each year. Europe's folk history is more complicated and far deeper than turkey, Hallmark cards and Bing Crosby; the Christmas we know was conceptualized in Victorian times: Santa Claus (or Father Christmas) was a 19th century import, and Charles Dickens' "Christmas Carol" was first published in 1843, showing the British public how they were expected to act. Long before this, the period was celebrated for 12 days of drinking, eating and dancing; the exchange of gifts was a hangover from the Roman occupation, and many customs pre-dated even that. Drinking alcoholic drinks and welcoming the midwinter period with fire was commonplace in pagan Yule celebrations, and music was undoubtedly another constant.
Cannell and Bosman's celebration of the "new" peers into this unfurling history, juxtaposing compositions like the Victorian-era carol 'Deck the Halls' with earlier standards like 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen' (from the 1650s) and Tudor standard 'Green Groweth the Holly', written by none other than Henry VIII himself in the early 16th century. 'O Come, O Come Emmanuel' is even older, translated into English from Latin and originating in Medieval monasteries in the 8th century. Each standard is reinterpreted by the duo in their particular style and performed without vocals; both are self-taught violinists and cut through the technicality of their performance with a familiarity with folk standards and a healthy interest in early music. It gives the renditions a freshness that feels vital, the stiffness that began to constrain church music in the Victorian era is nowhere to be found, and even when they're reinterpreting later compositions, Cannell and Bosman do so with the inebriated lilt of the distant past.
Just as our ancestors had to re-learn Christmas celebrations after aggy puritanism snatched it from our shores, it feels as if now might be a good time to find a new way of interfacing with a tired, deeply commercialised holiday. Cannell and Bosman's music is an antidote to both greyscale, Tory traditionalism and more recent hackery, and like Cannell's solo output this year, it makes fresh discoveries by re-examining the music of our past. If we're forced to memorialise this period and reflect on thousands of years of Northern European midwinter merriment, we deserve a soundtrack that acknowledges its long and complicated history. Sublime music.
Fifteen years after their last full-length, Montreal's Black Ox Orkestar return with a fresh cross-cultural dialog between Jewish and Arabic folk sounds that couldn't be more timely. RIYL Tindersticks, Nick Cave, A Silver Mt. Zion.
Thierry Amar, Scott Gilmore, Jessica Moss, and Gabriel Levine initially formed Black Ox Orkestar way back in 2000, looking to a way to examine their Jewish identity through folk music traditions, singing original compositions in Yiddish and interpreting music from Jewish, Romani and Arabic texts. After two albums, they went on hiatus in 2006, re-appearing earlier this year with a special flexidisc release that confirmed their reunion. 'Everything Returns' is the fruit of their labor, and it's as if they've never been gone. The band's careful, well-studied interpretation of klezmer via Montreal's avant indie-rock scene is still intact, and their political motivations are still just as sharp and incisive. Black Ox aren't afraid to shout loudly of the harmonies between cultures, showing the connections between Slavic, Central Asian, Arabic, and Jewish traditions.
All of this is bracketed by the quartet's seemingly effortless instrumental skill, introduced slowly on the low-key opener 'Tish Nign' with wordless choral vocals, melancholy piano, punctuating double-bass, and Moss's unmistakeable violin. Black Ox get into the groove on 'Perpetual Peace' and it's as if they'd never been gone at all - Gilmore's Yiddish vocals sound rich and emotional, and producer Greg Norman renders everything in such rich dimensionality that it's almost like having the band in the room with you. The most memorable moments feature Gilmore playing cimbalom, a kind of dulcimer; on 'Oysgeforn / Bessarabian Hora', the instrument is used to bring us into the right headspace before the Levine's clarinet takes over and the track fizzes into new-wave klezmer. On 'Skotshne' though it sounds more cinematic, accompanying Moss's teary-eyed violin and speaking wordlessly on themes of perpetual displacement and exclusionary nationalism.
'Everything Returns' is a darkly comic title. It acknowledges the band's long absence, but also speaks of the return of more unnerving elements in society. The album's mood reflects this perfectly, tying up the darkness of contemporary culture into a historical lineage that's grim, but never oppressive.
Midori Takada's "lost" 1999 solo album has been remixed by Takada herself and cut to vinyl for the very first time. If you've only come across "Through the Looking Glass", this one shines further light on her story, bolstering her usual percussion with a side-long team-up with Chinese erhu player Jiang Jian Hua.
When "Tree of Life" was released back in 1999, Midori Takada was a few years away from her YouTube algorithm-powered renaissance. The album was released on CD just for the Japanese market, and it's taken this long to reach the rest of the world. To make sure we get to hear it in its full detail, Takada herself has made a new audiophile mix, and remastered the album completely at half speed. We have to admit it sounds dazzlingly clean and clear - the first side is peak Takada, and shouldn't surprise anyone who discovered her via her bewilderingly popular debut "Through the Looking Glass". Playing marimba, drums, and bells, Takada constructs environmental structures that link disparate cultures via tonality and rhythm.
But it's the second side that has us completely giddy. Here Takada brings in virtuoso musician Jiang Jian Hua, a Chinese master of the erhu, the two-stringed bowed instrument that's commonly known as the Chinese violin. If you've spent any time watching Chinese historical movies or TV shows, it's a sound you'll be extremely familiar with. This material is incredibly unique, fusing Takada's percussive knowhow with Chinese traditional playing that bends to her open-minded approach. The blend of ideas and cultures is so simple and so complex simultaneously, always considered and always deeply moving. Sometimes the music hews closer to Chinese music, like on 'Modoki 1', and at others it drifts into Takada's marimba-heavy territory, with Hua following closely, mimicking Takada's staccato notes with quick, bowed flurries.
Hauntingly beautiful music - a true lost gem!
Attic-recorded folk tales about rural life, and elegies for the death of industry in early ’70s Hebden Bridge, surface for the first time with Basin Rock, who are located further up the Calder Valley in Todmorden some 50 years later.
‘Fireside Stories (Hebden Bridge circa 1971-1974)’ introduces an unheard talent for the first time with a bevy of solo guitar laments and gripping stories about the schisms of class, the trials of romance and decline of industry in a small working class town nestled in the hills between Leeds and Manchester. Written against a backdrop of post-industrial decline, long before Hebden Bridge became a mecca for queer folk and hippies, it’s quite an astonishing collection of work that hs somehow remained out of earshot until now, and especially so when considering the utterly classic quality of song-writing and playing, which recall the tenor of Arthur Russell’s down-home folk works, Robbie Basho’s folk blues, or stumbling across the greatest pub folk session and a pint after rambling in the drizzle. We can practically hear the beards sparking with glee at the promise of this one, and trust it doesn’t disappoint.
“Although you’d never know his age from the world-weary character of his voice, this is the work of a young songwriter seeking a musical identity by trying out several. He begins with dark and detailed narratives. Album opener “Marion Belle” is an evocative tale of mariners adrift upon the waves and within their own hearts; “Tell Me Now” is a harrowing one about a farmer’s son accused of raping and murdering the mayor’s daughter. His assumed guilt is rooted in the class divide: “Such a girl of respect would never have let/ A mere farmer make love to and court her.”
“Sunlight on the Table” is the opposite of a narrative, however, which is to say it’s a song in which nothing happens. Beales fixates instead on the minutiae of a single, interior moment: “Silence in the corridors, a slow tide in my mind/ A mist made up of memories of the ones I left behind.” A talented player by any standard, he attempts a playful Latin experiment on the instrumental “Braziliana.” But the energized album finale “Fireside Stories” may be the standout. He hits every impassioned downstrum with fervor and combines sharpened, singular stanzas—“If your jewels make you sparkle/ And your wine makes you glow/ And my words taste so bitter/ And you’ve learned all there is to know”—with a catalog of momentary images marked by a sensory vividness. It’s easy to imagine him, pen in hand, noting down the “creaking rocking chair and thick velvet curtains and the smell of the pinewood walls.” As such, Fireside Stories captures a gifted and otherwise-forgotten songwriter in amber. Finally dug out of the attic and dusted off, it shines in the light of day.”