Anthony Childs (Surgeon) and Dan Bean’s modular duo drone out into raga-esque meditation music zones on their 2nd side as The Transcendence Orchestra.
"In the process of relocating to Den Bosch's Willem Twee Studios, The Transcendence Orchestra let love slip deftly out of its gate and reverberate around the walls of the studio's main hall, a high ceilinged former synagogue in the city's old town. Working intensively to capture its echoes, they coaxed it to appear in pipes and strings, directed it through resonant circuits and shepherded it round the room with beaters, horns and rattles.
Having returned home with the recordings, a purpose began to emerge. Through a process of extensive reconfiguration and testing it became clear that the love contained within could transform perception. Under the right circumstances, and accompanied by appropriate technology, it could serve as a map for navigating beginnings and endings. Like some distant mesmerising chant or a psychedelic folk song, it could connect us and reassure us that we can pass through the boundaries and survive. Perhaps not intact but at least whole.
Here is that map, love soaked diligently into its lines, ready to guide those at a loss or reassure those willing to explore.”
A new, deluxe reissue of “Pow Wow”, the debut 1982 solo LP from Cabaret Voltaire’s Stephen Mallinder.
"Now expanded to a double-LP, and also released on CD/digital, it’s a definitive reissue which now includes Mallinder’s early solo discography in its entirety. This collection of mutant dub/funk/postpunk sounds just as fresh and contemporary in 2020 as it did in 1982 (note Autechre’s inclusion of standout cut “Del Sol” in a mix earlier this year), and highlights Mallinder’s crucial contributions to Cabaret Voltaire.
Some words from Mr.Mallinder on the scene and era from which “Pow Wow” was born: “It was an interesting, and inspiring, time. The primal caterwaul of punk was dying and lots of really significant things were emerging from the fires. Much looser vibes were in the air and there was a much more exploratory feel. Punk had championed a visceral, anti-intellectual approach but in truth the real characters brought so much more to the table, and what began to happen - from people like The Pop Group to Throbbing Gristle, and emerging scenes from No New York to Factory Records - is we began to embrace the art of it all. There was acknowledgement of the importance of books, films, graphic art, and experimentation with all those mediums. We were just as interested in turning over rocks to see what lay beneath, as throwing them. There was a sense of new magik emerging.”
“Pow Wow” was commissioned by the Fetish Records label, and recorded at the Cabs’ Western Works studio, where Mallinder would spend his days recording with Cabaret Voltaire, and continue on alone into night recording his debut solo material. “I slept very little in those days,” he adds, continuing: “It was done on 8 track and very multi-tracked, so lots of recording, then bouncing, and overdubbing, to get the integrated feel of the tracks. I became very adept at pressing record then jumping onto equipment to play it - it was actually a very 'live' record in that sense. I've always seen rhythm at the core of what I do so I loved the layering of counter rhythms. The sequence/arpeggiator parts were all drum machine triggers that were played live. It was about creating a distinct groove so arrangements came from weaving in and out of those linear grooves. It was fun to play everything from drums, guitars, keys, trumpet, percussion, tapes… and record and produce it all. Prince got it from me!”
Surprisingly, Mallinder’s first solo LP would also prove to be his last - that is, until last year’s critically-acclaimed solo return “Um Dada”, on Dais."
Several years in the making, and marking 20 years of the cult minimalist project, the richly intoxicating ‘Living Space’ sees Eleh pull back from physical pressures to coax out a more natural cadence and way of arranging that reflects the slowness of plant life and discreet, painterly forms of ambient composition, underpinned by those pristine, deadly subs. And yeah, that second track basically sounds like one long extended Reese Bass - we ain't complaining.
“Following ‘Slow Fade for Hard Sync’ (2009) and Location Momentum (2010), Living Space is Eleh’s third physical release for Touch. Seven years in the making, this new release consolidates the artist’s parallel narrative between a series of vinyl and CD releases for Important Records – where the emphasis is on a minimalist aesthetic – to a visual counterpoint that hints at the cinematic and painterly qualities of the music.
Sound, as a healing force, is an idea as old as the medium itself. Inspired by the legacy and above all the spirit of John Coltrane, Living Space features 5 new compositions that seek to express the beauty of slow change, not only through the microtonal shifts in sound that Eleh navigates but moving with the atmospheric and shape–shifting conditions that the music creates as it interacts with the listening space, whether bedroom or concert hall, each one of them unique.
If the ambition of Living Space is to reflect both personal and collective growth cycles, the experience of its audition has the effect of stopping time. Melodic and harmonic progressions are implied and not stated obviously, to enable listeners to apply their own emotions and feelings to the music.
Using modular and analogue synthesisers, piano, organ, bass and symphonic chimes, Living Space stresses the promise of the CD’s final track – ‘Lighter Touch’ – forsaking the forceful hand for an approach that mirrors the slower and softer exposures of plant life and leaf formations, slow moving waters, not flash floods nor forest fires.”
Pianist Bruce Brubaker and scientist-now-electronic-artist Max Cooper cover music by Philip Glass.
"Rather than just reworking or augmenting via traditional means, Max Cooper and Bruce Brubaker fundamentally rewire Glass’ forms in a manner that’s not possible with human composition tools. Max built a new system for musical expression through coding with software developer Alexander Randon, creating a tool for taking live data from the piano and transforming it into new but intimately related forms which drive his synths on stage.
Commissioned by and introduced at the Paris Philharmonie in 2019, Glassforms melds the acoustic concert grand piano with synths and the electronic sound world of now to create a dynamic experience."
Stefan Betke aka Pole’s holy trilogy of frayed dub experiments resurfaces for a 20th anniversary reissue, taking us back to smokey nights at the turn of the century and some of the finest post basic-channel dub echoes ever released. Essential listening if you’re into anything from Rhythm & Sound to Vainqueuer, Jon Hassell to Jackie Mittoo.
As legend goes, Pole took his name from a malfunctioning Waldorf 4-Pole filter which produced hisses and pops which weren’t really controllable or predictable, much like a living organism. Betke realised the potential and came to alchemically morph and render them with judicious FX dubbing into a groundbreaking sort of minimalist electro-dub that sounds exceedingly good with a spliff and glass of booze. Working somewhere between the variants of abstract techno on Chain Reaction and Mille Plateaux’s cutting edge minimalist strains, Pole’s first trio of albums inarguably helped lay the foundations for dub techno as it’s come to be known and are held in the highest regard by practically everyone who owns them.
The Pole aesthetic is patently laid out in ‘1’, where his organic clicks ’n pops come out to play accompanied by lilting organ and jazzy bass channelling Jackie Mittoo via Jon Hassell and Rhythm & Sound into a uniquely, gauzy, gaseous state. But for us, his sound really comes into its own on ‘2’, where the opening melodica motif still sends electric shivers down the spine and opens out into the kind of sculpted, layered dub bass that spawned dubstep, and flows out into myriad, mesmerising permutations, but this time swapping out the hazy licks for a cavernous, brooding melancholy (that really matched this moody teenager’s psyche at the time) and reverberated through into the more humid, drizzly and funereal atmosphere conjured in the equally spellbinding spectral dub metaphysics of ‘3’.
So strong was the impact of these albums on the late ‘90s underground, they even generated a “pastiche” that was unwittingly issued (and subsequently deleted) by Fat Cat on their split series, but was purportedly made by V/Vm in a snidey but frankly hilarious prank, albeit one that demonstrates just how ubiquitous and influential Betke’s sound was at the time. More than that, it’s fair to say the 20 year cycle hasn’t rinsed out the appeal of this triptych one bit; it remains one of electronic music’s most enigmatic and strangely moving, tactile bodies of work.
Much has been written about Young Marble Giants’ small, perfect catalogue, which contained roughly two-dozen songs, nearly each one a perfect gem. Less is known about his long wilderness years after the break-up of his first professional band. His next project, The Gist, chopped YMG’s minimalism into a new sound.
"This Is Love, Public Girls and Fool For A Valentine showed his songs to be razorsharp, but the album’s fragmented pieces were a step too far for some, though even the strangest, Carnival Headache, when cast in sunlight by Alison Statton’s combo Weekend, was as fine a song as any he’d written - and Love At First Sight became a million-seller when covered by Etienne Daho. Then Stuart disappeared. A mid-90s resurgence led to fine albums done on low budgets, before more silence followed. The Gist’s 2018’s release Holding Pattern - unexpected and then quickly followed by YMG singer Alison Statton’s first new album with her accompanist Spike in two decades, adding fuel to public interest.
The Devil Laughs, recorded a few years back, is a compelling addition to the canon of the 21st century songwriting. Stuart’s generally unadorned musical presentation does not hinder his appreciation for the skills of Louis Philippe, whose iconic arrangements across an array of Él label albums inspire the fierce devotion of aficionados around the world. Nor does the unvarnished solidity of Stuart’s arrangements deter Louis from hearing possibilities for their presentation in styles which take inspiration from the perfection of 1960’s studio technology that led to the rise of Brian Wilson, Burt Bacharach, along with less-recognised names such as Bones Howe and Roy Halee.
Tidy Away is Young Marble Giants redux, though the backing vocals hint at maturity which band didn’t live to see. Fighting To Lose, written with producer Ken Brake, would pass as a worthy b-side to Bridge Over Troubled Water, and although the songs are otherwise Stuart’s, Louis fans will delight at several, like Love Hangover and Sky Over Water, which display his style and production genius as succinctly as anything on his own albums. The Devil Laughs is as out of its time as Colossal Youth was - its subtle but immediate beauty, devoid of “rock”, is a recording best understood in the light of those obscure groundbreakers who inspired it - the faux barbershop vocals of Smile-era Beach Boys, the studio lustre of Tom Wilson’s work with Simon & Garfunkel, a dash of The Swingle Sisters and French chanson - along with enough hints of Young Marble Giant’s modernist folk abstraction to satisfy longtime fans. The Devil Laughs is a small masterpiece of pure expression."
In the wake of Young Marble Giants’ breakup, two camps were created, with Stuart Moxham taking the band’s minimalist, geometric play to extremes and Alison Statton adding more warmth and feeling to the same basic template and creating something stunning but based in popular forms.
"Those two opposing - almost knee-jerk - means of forging new paths away from one of music’s most astonishingly unique debuts both happened to include Stuart’s brother - Alison’s former boyfriend - Phil Moxham. In recent years, both artists have almost reversed course, with Stuart proving himself an ace songwriter in classic pop form, and Alison’s work again approaching a modern abstraction of quiet folk music - experimental but accessible. But that’s another tale. Without a real template to guide him, Stuart’s new form of music - as The Gist - was widely regarded as wildly uneven. Stuart admits that he didn’t know which way to go, so in perverse style, he decided to take all directions at once. The Gist’s original discography stood at a scant 18 songs, but only seven featured Stuart’s own voice, often in heavily processed and oddly mixed form. So while The Gist’s label, Rough Trade, had the widest array of unique voices in popular music, Stuart buried his own voice. Sales disappointed. The Gist were dropped. A decade later, starting with a critical reevaluation of The Gist’s sole album, Embrace The Herd, in an issue of Mojo, the tide begin to turn. Ambience in pop music had enjoyed a cult following from Eno on, but the non-linear structure of many of The Gist’s songs had certain parallels with the rise of artists such as Aphex Twin and Seefeel.
One song from the era was covered by Etienne Daho in France. Sounding rather advanced for French pop at the time, it ended up selling over a million copies and was later covered by Lush and sampled by DJ Koze with Lambchop singer/songwriter Kurt Wagner. The Gist’s story could have been different. Recent discovery of a trove of unreleased songs, versions and demos showed that Stuart had ample material on a par with his YMG work, sometimes in rough demo form, but often in five or six complete, entirely different arrangements. With the 2017 album of unreleased material by The Gist, Holding Pattern, a new audience discovered the band and the release sold out quickly. Interior Windows adds 13 new performances or alternate versions to the band’s catalogue, and does the service of finally making both sides of The Gist’s first 7” 45 (recorded at the same session as the final YMG single) available again, along with their contribution to the Rough Trade / NME classic compilation C81, and in keeping with The Gist’s tradition, at least one song on which Stuart does not appear."
Following the release of Relatives In Descent, the band’s critically acclaimed headlong dive into the morass of American life in 2017, Ultimate Success Today continues to further expand the possibilities of what a Protomartyr album can sound like.
"Ultimate Success Today was recorded at Dreamland Recording Studios, a late 19th century church, in upstate New York and co-produced by the band and David Tolomei (Dirty Projectors, Beach House) with mixing by Tolomei. Featured guest musicians on the album include Nandi Rose (vocals) a.k.a. Half Waif, jazz legend Jemeel Moondoc (alto sax), Izaak Mills (bass clarinet, sax, flute), and Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello)."
As a collective thought, Spice’s Self-Titled debut album offers a deliberate isolation of pain as interpreted through different vehicles.
"Less than 30-minutes in length, the record diverts from a singular mood, tempo, or delivery, instead focusing on orchestrating emotional drain as single impulses—fast, slow, driving, simple, and layered—that coalesce in their machinations. At its core, Spice’s Self-Titled album is wired together by brawny and brittle guitars, lock-groove rhythms, and vocals announce each moment and mood.
Formed in 2018 and based across California, each members’ roots are in the North Bay of San Francisco. Comprised of Ross Farrar (vocals) and Jake Casarotti (drums), both of Ceremony, along with Cody Sullivan (bass), Ian Simpson (guitar), and Victoria Skudlarek (violin), Spice’s sound pulls from the sense of melody and drive inherent to Bay Area pedigree, peppered with modernity and awash with an anthemic haze. The hook is in the connection as much as melody, with each song building its inner narrative and exploration of affliction.
Traversing guitar-driven indie-pop and call-to-action impulse, Spice balances their urgency by interspersing violin melodies and layers, creating depth without oversaturating the heart of each song. Building complexity with laser focus, Spice shares the authoritative drive of Jawbreaker, J Church, The Horrors, and Fugazi, set in their own world of unrest. The treatment of each song is a statement that informs the whole - anecdotes that can bleed slowly or swirl quickly. In a sense, the Self-Titled album itself is an entire song, with each track becoming the verses, choruses, and interludes that narrate its intent. Ending with the final track they workshopped for the album titled “I Don’t Wanna Die in New York,” the album ends with a punch before winding back into meditation.
Honed over late nights at Panda Studios in Fremont, California with producer Sam Pura (Basement, The Story So Far, Self Defense Family), Spice spent hours tweaking it until it became a little world formed by what they refer to as “the power of groupthink.” Sprinkled with field recordings—audio snapshots from the member’s every-day-lives—the record offers an intimate twist that builds on its theme of a single thread that connects everything with continuity, making it a single organism with as many depths as questions."
Steve Moore (synthesizers, guitars, bass) and Anthony Paterra (drums) return with their first Zombi record in 5 years
"From the pulse-pounding, dramatic opener "Breakthrough & Conquer", to the melodic bass whirls found in "XYZT", 2020 proves to be ZOMBI's most riff-intensive album. At first a soundtrack of driving musical euphoria, 2020 takes a sharp turn into uncharted waters - "Earthscraper" is reminiscent of a space where sounds of sludge and doomlike-riff crushers dominate the soundscapes. Synthwave and neon crescendos are furloughed in favor of Blue Oyster Cult inspired progressive epics. A truly therapeutic loop of immersive instrumental rock, 2020 might just be ZOMBI's most ambitious album yet."
Featuring Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Sarah Davachi, Felicia Atkinson, John Also Bennett, Christina Vantzou, Kelly Moran, Mary Lattimore, Machinefabriek, Eluvium, Taylor Deupree, Noveller, Chihei Hatakeyama and Ben Lukas Boysen in collaboration with the National Geographic Society and Grammy-nominated artist and musician Stuart Hyatt, all working with echolocations of bats as compositional source material.
The results can more or less be split in two, some of the personnel involved finding intriguing and inspirational pathways, while others opt for a more obvious and overly emotive reading of the brief. You can probably already guess who does what.
The good stuff; Christina Vantzou's remarkable "Music for a room with vaulted ceiling” slowly turns the source material into an elegiac rendering of choral vox mimicking bats captured in flight, Félicia Atkinson’s 'Night vision, it touched my neck’ draws on the very essence of the sound itself, where webbed wings become quietly amplified via a mesmerising use of spatial arrangement, and Sarah Davachi distils nature into a distant drone where echolocation and organ sounds coalesce to stunning effect. Elsewhere, John Also Bennett follows an astral path to cosmic sounds on "Indiana Blindfold", while Noveller gives it all some heft with a more menacing, gothic interpretation of "A Place Both Wonderful and Strange”.
There’s definitely some schmaltz thrown in too, you know - overly emotional advert music, but thankfully that’s kept to a minimum, making this an intriguing and worthwhile project.
In 2001, Phill Niblock wrote, "You should play the music very loud. If the neighbors don't complain, it's probably not loud enough."
"In 2019, Niblock can no longer host his annual 6 hour-long solstice concert at the Experimental lntermedia loft; not only did the neighbors complain, the landlord sued. But the validity of his prescription is undiminished, for it takes sonic volume and spatial confinement to unlock his music's true nature. Give the sound waves a boost and something hard to smack against, and they begin to shiver and multiply so that tones transform tones and every turn of the head (or every new room) yields a new listening experience. But Guitar too, for four is notable in Niblock's oeuvre for its independence from loudness. While it sounds great turned up, the additive process that yielded the CD's two versions has resulted in music that changes most rewardingly, even when heard at modest volume.
Victor Frankl opined that in the hierarchy of essential human motivations, meaning eclipses pleasure. In some ways, this music hews closer to the pleasure principle. Once you let go of the yearning for tunes and grooves, it's a sensuous delight to dunk yourself in the warm sound-bath of his music. And Niblock would be the first person to scotch any efforts to assign the sort of cosmic significance fhaf certain other drone-oriented minimalists did to their art. But consider this notion; Niblock's music is fundamentally social. It only truly happens in spaces where people gather.
While he does much of the composing and assembling of this music alone, Niblock didn't treat Guitar too, for four as finished until he got some more people in on the act. He asked Rafael ToraI and Jim O'Rourke to contribute to a CD edition. And when O'Rourke declined to play on his own production, but instead invited Kevin Drumm, Alan Licht, Thurston Moore, and Lee Renaldo to do the honors, Niblock's reaction was the more, the merrier. To the extent that connecting people is an essentially meaningful activity, this music is the connective tissue of meaning."
A guitar/drums duo (Randy Randall and drummer/vocalist Dean Spunt) with a penchant for self-recorded samples, No Age are mostly unconcerned with things like space or pause.
"Goons Be Gone is gorgeously thick - a hazy, delirious expanse that’s both comforting and disorienting. Opener “Sandalwood” begins and ends in murk, and in between Randall and Spunt sputter and twitch and pound, alternately revealing and concealing a sweet, taut melody - such is No Age’s agenda, burying an addictive little singalong in layers of effects and fuzz.
“Feeler” is more immediately user-friendly, opening with sunny guitar chirps and a knee-slapping drumbeat, before Spunt starts barking intelligible lyrics (“Attention feels overrated / Dismiss this crowded place / Come away with me / Disguise the impact from your face”) and the music goes steady and frantic. “Working Stiff Takes A Break” is a summer song in the sweatiest, most realistic sense - it’s not the Beach Boys’ gooey, über-idealized, convertibles-and-beach-volleyball version, it’s the waiting-for-the-bus, sweaty and desperate but still-sorta-excited-about-all-that-sunshine take. “Smoothie” is similarly exuberant, full of power chords and distortion; it’s arguably the poppiest thing No Age have recorded to date (all those cries of “Tambourine” are practically bubblegum), and accordingly, completely addictive. “Head Sport Full Face”, meanwhile, is the sound - both literally and metaphysically - of everything happening all at once, an ecstatic, feedback-addled lullaby."
Dallas Acid take their nuance for designing compelling soundworlds to offer the listener “a deeper study, a chance to feel the tones of the planet, and then exist for a while in the ether of synth and gong.” Or as described by Arrive Without Leaving LP collaborator Laraaji, “Majestically immersive sound spaces in which to float, wonder, move and trance.”
Dallas Acid are Christian Havins, Linda Beecroft and Michael Gerner. In their words: “We’ve experimented with remixing our own recordings over the years, but rarely has a piece come into its own, with a unique personality and such a distinct feeling from our originals. The approach we took was similar to when we were creating music for float tanks a few years ago: stripping it down to a select few tracks, affecting & manipulating the speeds, and then remixing them into a new composition.
“While The Spiral Arm focuses on the collective human experience: celebrating love and life, overcoming gut- wrenching tragedy, and coping with the increasingly bizarre, science-fiction reality we face as a species every day, The Spiral Ambience shifts perspectives, imagining the relationship from the planet’s point of view.”
Bing & Ruth, the ever-evolving project helmed by New York composer David Moore, returns with an excellent new album.
David Moore's last couple of high-profile albums as Bing & Ruth - RVNG's "Tomorrow Was The Golden Age" and the 4AD-released "No Home Of The Mind" - both hinged around a small ensemble, with piano guiding the mood. "Species" takes a different approach, concentrating on the sound of the Farfisa electric organ, punctuated occasionally with clarinet and double bass.
It's the most arresting material we've heard yet from Moore - blissful and cinematic but restrained, never falling into the usual traps. Fans of Sarah Davachi and Kali Malone will have plenty to sink their teeth into here, but where Moore differs is with his willingness to never shy away from abject beauty. These melancholy portraits are achingly lovely at times, not minimal as such, but layered and dense without losing hold of the unique character of the organ. At times, "Species" almost sounds like a 70s prog record with most of the recording channels muted - drums, guitars and vocals vanish like ghosts but leave traces in the mind.
It's painfully evocative, and somehow ideal for long stretches spent indoors, dreaming of aborted futures and a wasted past.
The first original music from Jarvis Cocker since the “Further Complications” album in 2009.
"JARV IS… a band featuring Jarvis Cocker (vocals, guitar, percussion), Serafina Steer (harp, keyboards, vocals), Emma Smith (violin, guitar vocals), Andrew McKinney (bass, vocals), Jason Buckle (synthesiser & electronic treatments) & Adam Betts (drums, percussion, vocals).
JARV IS… was conceived as a way of writing songs in collaboration with an audience. As the material they were playing was in a state of flux the band decided to record their live shows so that they could monitor how the songs were developing. After an appearance at the Desert Daze festival in California, Geoff Barrow (Portishead, Beak>) suggested that these recordings could be used as the basis for an album. Overdubs & vocals were added at Narcissus Studios in Neasden, London. Post-production work took place at Jason Buckle’s Place du Big Boss studio in Raynes Park, London. The album was mixed by Craig Silvey at Toast Studios in West London."
Bringing to a close a series which has frankly altered the way we listen to and perceive sound and music over the course of this decade, Jakob Ullmann seals his important Fremde Zeit series with ‘Solo V for Klavier’; a fascinatingly stark and spectral hour-long finale that sets the idea of ‘Foreign Time’ in its most minimalist and broadest setting.
Like the previous instalments, ‘solo V für Klavier’ is interpreted from a graphic score, this time formed from a series of abstract water-colours aleatorically overlaid with transparent sheets marked with black lines, scattered in the manner of oracle sticks to create a pattern determining the duration of sections, their colour and sequencing. Whilst patently super-minimal, the piece’s pianissimo nature is too demanding for just one solo performer, Lukas Rikli, who requires the participation of three assistants who use horsehair on the strings to sustain the soundscape.
So far, so concrete (and the above is only a skim of the full technical requirements), but what occurs arguably falls within the realm of the supernatural and metaphysical. Performed according to Ullmann’s uniquely conjured laws of physics, the work opens an uncanny valley between the object - the grand piano - and subjective perceptions of its sound. It takes several minutes before one might even realise a piano is at the centre of the soundstage - somehow all the action appears to happen in the meridian, in the timbral, in the liminal aura, almost frighteningly connoting a presence but not the actual body that produced it.
It’s only when identifiable chords and strings occasionally loom forward that we can just about make out the fixed physicalities in the room, but in the process we’ve already attuned to Ullmann’s laws of sonic democracy (if you’re doing it properly, the piece should play at just above the volume of environmental sound - hence it works best at night), which makes any instrumental gesture, no matter how slight, appear magnified, animating a microcosmos of sound at the molecular level.
The results highlight the effective warzones of sonic bombardment and “pollution” we’re all subject to everyday, and most intently offer the invaluable space for retreat we’re all clearly, increasingly in need of.
Originally this was only available for a short period of time before World Serpent went bust and is often thought of as a ‘lost’ Nurse with Wound work.
"As with any Nurse With Wound record, it's hard to know what to expect, except that it will be something completely out of the ordinary. Man With the Woman Face begins on the ambient side, with lulling drones pulsing in the background, but at the same time particles of rhythm begin skittering around at ten- or 15-second intervals. Other sounds are slowly weaved into the mix, a trio of xylophone tones and some indefinable noises that twitter and flutter, to create a multi-layered mosaic of dreamy and yet discombobulating sound. Surrealism and Dada have always been NWW's strong suit, and this album, like Spiral Insana, is one of the more surreal.
The second track, "Ag Canadh Thuds Sa Speir" (which in Gaelic translates roughly as "Up in the Sky, Singing"), is a bit more of a sonic collage with lots of abrupt twists, as ambient drones are disrupted by sporadic bursts of noise. A bomb goes off at one moment, and avant rock with Middle Eastern flare blazes up near the end. The final track begins like the opening piece with the subtle drones and tones, augmented by breathing noises and some vocal samples, and slowly morphs until about a third of the way in, when a remake of the original Amon Duul's "Paramechanical World," with clunky tribal rhythms and flanged vocals, stumbles out of the swirls of hallucinatory clatter and drift. The drumbeat continues through most of the rest of the track, while after a brief creepy organ solo the music becomes even more processed and weird, until finally you're left with just a subtle high drone and a voice muttering the song's title over and over again." All Music
When Erik Hall undertook his painstaking reconstruction of Steve Reich's 1976 masterpiece of minimalism, Music for 18 Musicians, it was as much an exercise in modesty as ambition.
"With its repetitions and complex constructions, the piece makes great demands on stamina and concentration, and Reich himself advised that these challenges meant it should probably be performed with more than eighteen musicians. Hall, however, recorded every part himself in his small home studio, playing instruments he had on hand, in live, single takes. Here, then is the ambition.
But here too is the modesty: by doing one section a day, one instrument at a time, he made his way through this monumental piece, building a faithful and loving re-creation, one sonic brick at a time. Xylophone becomes muted piano, violin becomes electric guitar and so it is that music for eighteen becomes music for one. "I didn't want the differences to be distracting, or gimmicky," says Hall, who's loved the piece for as long as he can remember. "I wanted it to be true to the timbre and spirit of the original recording," and he thought a great deal about, "how I would shape the tone of each instrument, to come across with the same impact that we know the piece to have." His methodology, as with Reich's piece itself, is workmanlike, and it's from this humble and steadfast undertaking that something honest and radiant emerges.
Steven Stapleton and Colin Potter with enigmatic transmissions made for Norwegian radio Lofotradioen in the Arctic Lofoten Islands, ten of which are included here spread across three CD's.
Released via Colin Potter's ICR label, the set includes Volume Two and the FInal Broadcasts in the Shipwreck Radio series, an eerie and interwoven series of longform ambient-industrial tapestries.
"It may bring to mind the isolation of The Residents' Eskimo, with none of the whimsy heard on those frozen transmissions. Nurse With Wound means it! The sound of sonic explorers who trudge forward into the cold and dark, knowing full well they may never make it back to civilization! They may not have. Bring a sweater and supplies. Permissibly extracted from W.A. Kelley's "The Frozen South - An Experiment in Terror."
wahhh, newish work from Graham Massey's Biting Tongues from The Wormhole, their first since that tape for the Tapeworm a few years back, and their first proper "album" since 1989.
"Clear Your Screens is a series of battle re-enactments from Manchester's least celebrated post-punk group Biting Tongues. Their tritone tribalism, mixed with intense language flow and layers of tape concrète was perhaps a bit too much for the early 1980s when they released records with New Hormones, Factory and Beggars Banquet.
"Always an astonishing experience live, the classic early line-up returned to the stage near the start of the 21st century with the musical and performance experience accumulated over another twenty years working apart. Applying modern digital mixing techniques ten years later to these live recordings reveals the rare blood chemistry of a team of specialists who have only grown more passionate over time. Surely a worthy part the 20th century musical canon even if they have handed in their homework late."
Dave NYZ makes his debut for the W0rmhole.
"Those wonderful people at The Wormhole recently got in touch and invited me to send them a CD album. So I had a bit of a think and then rummaged around in the studio and laboratory where I found a bunch of stuff done with cheap old ROMplers and my MANIAC cellular automata sequencer. After sifting through a few sessions I selected a variety of tracks and put them together for this release.
For process-inquisitive types, the generative composition techniques with cellular automata used various MIDI events including => note, velocity, mono / poly aftertouch, pitch bend, mod wheel, continuous controllers and various custom system exclusive encodings to change microtuning tables and various synth patch parameters. Sequences were generated and manipulated live at the sequencer interface and recorded direct to hard disc." – David Burraston, New South Wales, 11 April 2020."
Brigid Mae Power paints expansive songs that are effortless, hypnotic and folk-oriented like Judee Sill, Bill Callahan and Sharon Van Etten.
"The third album from the celebrated singer/songwriter, ‘Head Above The Water’ is a coming of age opus featuring a ground-breaking amalgamation of traditional folk and country - an engaging blend of strings, bouzouki, piano and Power’s distinctive vocal make this an achingly beautiful body of work. Recorded in analogue studio The Green Door in Glasgow with Alasdair Roberts co-producing alongside Brigid and Peter Broderick.
It’s a continuing tale of everyday survival; more diverse, different, a bigger canvas, with broader brushstrokes… Country and traditional folk rub shoulders, making for a juxtaposition of threads, with added instrumentation from five musicians lured into the studio to provide larger dynamics. “Power meditates on the dichotomy that’s always existed in her work, melding atmospheric bliss and stark desperation.” Pitchfork.
Excellent LP from Hedvig Mollestad, a "multifaceted and dynamic progressive jazzrock monster”, new on Rune Grammofon.
"In May 2018 Hedvig received an invitation from Vossajazz - the much loved annual festival established in 1973 - to write the commission work for 2019. This came at the right time, she had been thinking about writing for a bigger group than the trio, and this would be a good opportunity. To make it suitable for album release the full festival version was edited, sharpened and recorded from scratch in Amper Tone studio in Oslo. And this stunning album is the result!
"In addition to Hedvig on guitar, the line-up includes powerhouse drummer Torstein Lofthus (Elephant9) and percussionist Ole Mofjell, the youngest member, but with solid experience from the European improvisation scene. Keyboard duties are handled by Marte Eberson, probably most known from her five years with Highasakite, and Erlend Slettevoll (The Core and supergroup Grand General, Rune Grammofon 2013). Hedvig first met trumpeter Susana Santos Silva in Mats Gustafsson´s NU-ensemble.
This three women, three men lineup defies the general notion of progressive jazz as being a typically male activity. Maybe this is why it´s so multifaceted, rich on textures and melodically strong? Being the riffmeister Hedvig truly is, she has of course found room for some really strong ones, as well as some subtle and powerful soloing."
Massive beams of choral light and and cavernous shoegaze-ambient introspection from sylph-like spirit Julianna Barwick. Her fourth solo LP in four years is riddled with more nuanced electronic dream-pop and peppered with notable input by Jónsi (Sigur Rós), Mary Lattimore and Nosaj Thing.
“A distinctive meditation on sound, reverb and the voice, “Healing Is A Miracle” is a record built on improvisation and a close affinity to a couple of trusted items of gear, from which she spins engrossing, expansive universes. Additionally, Barwick draws on the input of three collaborators with whom she has nurtured deep friendships with over the years: Jónsi (Sigur Rós), Nosaj Thing and Mary Lattimore; who each gently nudge out at the edges of her organically-evolved sound.
Recorded in the wake of a seismic shift in her life following a move from New York—where she had lived for 16 years—to Los Angeles where she is now based, the title of the record came to her after thinking about how the human body heals itself, of the miraculous processes we pay little attention to: “You cut your hand, it looks pretty bad, and two weeks later it looks like it never happened… That’s kind of amazing, you know?” It’s a sentiment that feels particularly apt for the moment. From there, she conceived of the record’s simple statement title, ran it past a couple of friends, and it was settled. Like with the record itself, and all of her work, it’s about following her gut, and seeing where it takes her.
“Healing Is A Miracle” began life in spring of last year, when Barwick sat down with her vocal looping set-up and began sketching out some ideas for new solo material. “It had been so long since I had done that,” she recalls, “making something for myself, just for the love of it… it was emotional, because I was recording music that was just from the heart, that wasn't for an 'assignment' or project… it brought me to tears a little”.
Part of the joy also came from a small but significant switch up to her recording process: the addition of some studio monitors—a birthday gift from Jónsi and Alex (Somers)—having previously recorded all of her music on headphones. “The first song I remember making with those was the first song on the album, Inspirit.” she explains, “When I added the bass I really felt it in my body, you know, in a way you just wouldn’t with headphones… it was kind of euphoric and fun. I got really excited about making the record in that moment, and I think that really had an impact on the sounds I ended up making.”
A new edition of Pan Sonic's immense session recorded in Kiev in 2009 finally available again from Ukranian imprint, Kvitnu.
'Oksastus' (a Finnish word for the grafting of plants) documents Ilpo Väisänen & Mika Vainio's hugely influential Pan Sonic in aktion and the results are intense and rewarding. Recorded by Stanislav Lomakovsky and produced by Dmytro Fedorenko, it's a furnace blast of elemental voltage control, tempering furious noise, concussive kicks and icy electronics with unparalleled vision.
The album has been edited down to eight tracks ranging from five minutes to seventeen in length for an exposition of experimental techno and power noise at its most brutal and visceral. Proper head-wrecking material from two of the best in the game, ever.
Breathtaking new studio album from The Necks, saddling up for a glorious route taking in fast flowing polyrhythms and revelatory soundscapes - really one of their strongest in a flawless catalogue that now spans 30 years and with a closing track that once again taps into that Talk Talk thing they do so well...
The now legendary trio have always charted their own path thru the backwoods and wilds of jazz, krautrock and avant terrain, but ‘Three’ sees them head off across topographies that were previously only glimpsed on the horizon. In proper beginning, middle and end sections, they thrillingly cultivate and hack thru dense, lush new worlds of psychedelic sound before arriving at a third-eye dilating interzone, and relieving the psychic tension in a tranquil, bucolic final passage, leaving its participants ravished and refreshed.
Effectively 30 years in the making, if we take in their entire run from 1989’s classic ‘Sex’, via 1994’s ‘Aquatic’ and the singular roil of 2018’s ‘Body’, the triad of finely sculpted works in ‘Three’ are the ultimate combination of the instrumental intuition that binds Tony Buck, Chris Abrahams, and Lloyd Swanton, perfectly accentuated by studio processing from Tim Whitten (engineer) and Doug Henderson (master) that portrays their efforts in the best possible, impossible light and studio magick with frankly astonishing, practically psilocybic results.
It’s genuinely difficult to think of another band who could come up this sort of album after three decades together and for it not to sound like they were playing to hoary fans or trying to recapture something. From the barefoot scramble and cascading rush of ‘Bloom’ to the cavernous wonder of ‘Lovelock’ and bluesy resolution in the marshy delta sprawl of ‘Further’ The Necks effortlessly keep their sound flowing into oceanic, hypnotic grace.
On his panoramic first album in half a decade, Roly Porter turns speculative modern antiquarian, alchemising inspiration from neolithic burial sites into a ravishing mix of classical string orchestration, medieval vocals and elemental electronics.
First developed for AV performances with MFO at Unsound, Atonal Berlin, and Sonic Acts, ‘Kistvaen’ shapes up as Porter’s solo album follow-up to ‘Third Law’ for Tri Angle and marks distance travelled from his 2011 debut album, issued after cutting his teeth with Jamie Teasdale in dubstep duo Vex’d. Taking its title from the granite tombs found scattered across Dartmoor in England’s South West, the album in a concerted effort to look back and forward at the same time, creating a gulf of perspective between the “New Stone Age” and the Anthropocene that provides an absorbing framework for the grand scope of his sound designs.
The results are Porter’s finest-graded blend of tropes reaped from the fields of Black Metal, cinematic sound design, dark ambient and electro-acoustic music, mixed with the more mannered traditions of early medieval vocals and modern classical string arrangements. Working with singular vocalist Mary-Anne Roberts – from medieval Welsh music duo Bragod, Ellen Southern – of Bristol's Dead Space Chamber Music group, and Phil Owen – a singer and researcher in vocal traditions, the results range from wailing doom recalling Jani Christou and Ghédalia Tazartès in ‘Assembly’, to striking widescreen visions comparable with Jóhann Jóhannsson in ‘An Open Door’, and shoring up in the metaphorical waves of time that crash over closer ‘Kistvaen’.
Keleketla! is a collaborative project between Ninja Tune cofounders Coldcut and a cadre of South African musicians, including the raw, South African-accented jazz styles of Sibusile Xaba, and rapper Yugen Blakrok (Black Panther OST).
"From those initial sessions, the record grew to encompass a wider web of musical luminaries, including Afrobeat architects Tony Allen and Dele Sosimi, legendary L.A. spoken word pioneers The Watts Prophets, and West Papuan activist Benny Wenda.
Album collaborators include South Africa sessions with Yugen Blakrok, Nono Nkoane, Thabang Tabane, Tubatsi Moloi, Gally Ngoveni, Sibusile Xaba, Soundz of the South Collective, DJ Mabheko and London sessions with Tony Allen, Shabaka Hutchings, Dele Sosimi, Ed ‘Tenderlonious’ Cawthorne, Tamar Osborn, Miles James, Joe Armon-Jones, Afla Sackey, Wenda Family, Eska Mtungwazi, Jungle Drummer, DeeJay Random. Additionally, The Watts Prophets (Los Angeles) and Antibalas (New York) have contributed to the album."
Mulatu Astatke is the Father of Ethio-Jazz and one of Africa's most influential and enduring musical figures. Black Jesus Experience is a community of artists, centred around a twelve piece global-funk-machine born of Australia's vibrant multiculturalism. Mulatu and Black Jesus Experience met in Addis Ababa in 2009, embarking on both a musical relationship and a friendship that has led Mulatu Astake to describe Black Jesus Experience as, "My favourite backing band" and, “...they’re family.”
"A grooving transcontinental gem, recorded in Melbourne, Australia and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Filled with the warmth of the mentorship and friendship of their creative partnership honed over a decade of performing together in Africa, Australia and UK/Europe.
Mulatu's great contribution to music has been to to combine Jazz and funk grooves with Ethiopia's distinctive pentatonic scales. His musical genius is the sensuality and sophistication with which Mulatu contrasts these minimalist scales with richly chromatic harmony. But Mulatu’s equally great contribution has been to share both his enduringly unique modernity and Ethiopia’s timelessly spiritual music with the world. Black Jesus Experience treasure the special relationship of generosity, mentorship and collaboration they have been privileged to share with this master musician. ‘To Know Without Knowing’ is the product of this gift."
Hull/Leeds based five-piece bdrmm release their much anticipated debut Bedroom.
"The 10-track album was recorded late last year at The Nave studio in Leeds by Alex Greaves (Working Mens Club, Bo Ningen) and mastered in Brooklyn by Heba Kadry (Slowdive, Beach House). It’s a hugely accomplished debut and a real step up both sonically and lyrically from their early singles, which were rounded up on last year’s If Not, When? EP.
Musically, there are nods to The Cure’s Disintegration, Deerhunter and DIIV, while the band reference RIDE and Radiohead. There are also echoes of krautrock and post-punk, from The Chameleons to Protomartyr, plus the proto shoegaze of the Pale Saints’ The Comforts Of Madness, not least in the cross fading of some tracks, meaning the album is an almost seamless listen. As a result, Bedroom becomes an unexpected and unintentional concept album, running through the different stages of a break-up set against the backdrop of the ups and downs of your early twenties. “The subject matter spans mental health, alcohol abuse, unplanned pregnancy, drugs… basically every cliché topic that you could think of,” reveals frontman Ryan Smith. “But that doesn’t mean they ever stop being relevant. It’s a fucker growing up, but I’m lucky enough to have been able to project my feelings in the form of this band, surrounded by four of the best people I’ve ever met.”
And that band name, in case it needs explaining, is pronounced the same way as the album title. “I never thought I’d get to the stage where I would have to explain it so much,” says Ryan. “We have been pronounced as Boredom, Bdum and my old boss thought we were a ska band called Bad Riddim. We’re all sarcastic cunts, so Bedroom spelt correctly seemed like the perfect title.” He’s right. The perfect title for the perfect debut album."
Black Ark In Dub is another piece of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s limitless musical puzzle.
"Featuring a bedrock of deep and heavy rhythms recorded at the Black Ark just before its demise, Black Ark In Dub features bass heavy spooky dub deconstructions of ‘Jah Love Is Sweeter’, ‘Ethiopia’, ‘Lion A De Winner’, ‘Open The Gate’, ‘Guideline,’ and ‘Mr Money Man’, along with an embellished dub version of Ras Keatus I ‘Dreadlocks I’ and the much sought after ‘Guidance’ a longime Jah Shaka killer exclusive to this set.
Originally released in 1981 the hard to find Black Ark In Dub remains a frozen sonic timepiece, captured at the beginning of the end of one era and poised at the start of another. This re-mastered release adds Lackley Castell ‘Jah Love Is Sweeter’ (vocal cut to the opening track ‘Jah’) plus Black Ark Vol. 2 the follow up album to the acclaimed Black Ark In Dub that unsurprisingly for an Upsetter release took a different path. More vocal oriented the album features extended dubwise cuts of Caol Cole’s ‘Ethiopia’, The Originals ‘Got To Be Irie’, Junior Byles ‘Mumbling & Grumbling and The Inamans ‘How Deep Is your Love’, along with an alternate take of the Silvertones roots classic ‘Give Thanks’ with flute overdub and a couple of solid do-overs from Third World man Bunny Rugs."
Masaki Batoh’s 5th solo album, and second in the last two years.
"As long time listeners of Ghost and The Silence are well aware, Batoh’s music is of the world and for the world . . . it exists as part of the conundrum of the world, for us to hear and form thought or feeling. We have no way of knowing it, other than to listen. The defiance of a fixed notion in Batoh’s world and music is made clear, as with the ambiguities of last year’s mortality meditation Nowhere, by the title of his new album. This shouldn’t be taken at face value. It might be a politically bitter statement. It might not be political at all, in this time of insane corrupt leaders who clearly believe in nothing except what they can use. It is a question for anyone who believes, or doesn’t believe. Listeners must come up with their own understanding, based on their own sentiment and where they find themselves in their evolving form.
Following the mostly solitary activity of making’ Nowhere’, Batoh has invited several guests to play with him for parts of ‘Smile Jesus Loves YOU’. Like family members, collaborators from The Silence and Ghost make guest appearances, including, for two songs, ex-Ghost and legendary percussionist Hiroyuki Usui (Fushitsusha).
For the journey of this new album, Batoh takes us a great distance, singing in Japanese, English, Spanish and Latin, including an amazing cover of one of his heroes, Atahualpa Yupanqui, with lyrics translated from Spanish to Japanese, giving them a haiku-like feeling.
Batoh plays a variety of stringed instruments throughout, as well as mellotron and shanai, supported at times by the playing of others on flute, piano, lap steel, saxophone, contra bass and drums. The songs expand amoebically, with music styles of the world shifting and merging to form their whole. Through phases of dark and light, including some new musical discoveries in Batoh’s world, we travel through the multipart epic title track to salvation.
This world is a difficult place, whether or not the gods will come to save us, but there is a happy ending for us if we accept and make it so. As with all of Batoh’s recent releases, Smile Jesus Loves YOU is a 100% analogue recording of absolutely human playing, with no digital copying and pasting. This allows us to hear and feel the air around the recording as if it is our own."
Originally recorded in 1994 and released in 1995, Home is characterized by MASSAKER‘s ultra-refined riffs of shrieking, screeching feedback, and rattling machine gun staccatos.
"Exuding confidence, authority and a natural rapport that the musicians clearly had with one another. Certain songs from earlier records were revisited on Home including “The Tribe” and “Massaker” from The Tribe, and “Templehof,” “Hunter Song,” and “Böhmen” from Black Axis. These pieces had evolved following years of rethinking, rehearsing and reshaping them on stage, as well as playing with Danny Lommen, who had replaced Frank Neumeier on drums after Black Axis. These refined versions on Home raise the level of density and tension, the ominous evocations of impending doom, booming threat, and the grim determination that’s always driven MASSAKER.
The 1994 recording of Home at the Steinschlag Studio (of FM Einheit) features CASPAR BRÖTZMANN on guitar with Danny Lommen on drums and Eduardo Delgado Lopez on bass."
Black Truffle’s documentation of the prolific recent work of legendary American composer Alvin Lucier continues with a special selection of pieces written for the thirteen-member Ever Present Orchestra, formed in 2016 exclusively to perform Lucier’s works. It’s always the same for us with Lucier, the beating patterns suck us in immediately, like some colossal physical shock treatment, after which everything else starts to slowly sink in. This is truly transcendental music for our time - count yrself lucky to be alive at the same time as Lucier.
"At the heart of the ensemble are four electric guitars, an instrument Lucier began composing for in 2013 with Criss-Cross (recorded by two core members of the Ever Present Orchestra, Oren Ambarchi and Stephen O’Malley, for whom it was composed, on Black Truffle 033). Through the use of e-bows, the guitars take on a role akin to the slow sweep pure wave oscillators heard in many of Lucier’s works since the early 1980s, but with added harmonic richness. Like much of Lucier’s instrumental music, the pieces recorded here focus on acoustic phenomena, especially beating patterns, produced by the interference between closely tuned pitches.
The work presented here is some of the richest and most inviting that Lucier has composed. Though all of the pieces clearly belong to the same continuing exploration of the behaviour of sound in physical space and make use of related compositional devices, each takes on a strikingly different character. Titled Arc, for the full ensemble of four guitars, four saxophones, four violins, piano and bowed glockenspiel inhabits a world of sliding, uneasy tones, punctuated by a single piano note. Where Double Helix, for four guitars, rests on a pillow of warm, low hum, EPO-5, for two guitars, saxophone, violin, and glockenspiel possess a limpid, crystalline quality. Accompanying the four new compositions are two adaptations of existing pieces for radically different instrumentation, demonstrating Lucier’s excitement about the new possibilities suggested by this dedicated ensemble. Works for the Ever Present Orchestra is an essential document of the current state of Lucier’s continuing exploration, as well as offering a seductive entry-point for anyone who might yet be unacquainted with his singular body of work."
Crossfade Estate was a special, distinct project. It was made in November 2005. Recorded in 10 hours. Edited, mixed and collaged over 18 months. It was a development of Charles Hayward's long term relationship with The Albany in Deptford, London.
"They asked him to push their recently installed digital recording suite and see what he could make. The approach was a step further from the series Accidents+Emergencies which Hayward had curated in the late 1990's. It was a pulling together of different musics and strategies and the resultant material. Hayward thought of it like a soap opera, with characters reappearing in different combinations and in different scenarios, the market square, the living room, the mechanics' garage. But instead of people, themes and riffs and rhythms so that the music was constantly at the crossroads, at intersection points of its own devising. Charles Hayward, Ashleigh Marsh, Nick Doyne-Ditmas, Sean O'Hagan, Rob Mills, Orphy Robinson, Chris Cornetto, Sharon Gal, Simon King are playing on the album. Previously unreleased and now made available for the very first time!"
Half an hour of previously unreleased, heavenly doped muzak from Coil, featuring John Balance vocals including some which have never been heard before.
Here's Danny Hyde on the histroy of these tracks:
"In 1995 and before I was employed to take tracks home and manipulate the streams to create new content. The way I did this was a process I called “Rate/Stretch, I won’t go into details, but it was very successful at creating whole new content. From these experiments came the “scorn“ dreamspace mix, and much of Black Light District. After we came back from New Orleans working on the “Backwards LP “at Trent Reznor’s studio, Peter Christopherson, asked me to do the same to two tracks, "Heaven’s blade" and "Wir click Wir (Copacaballa)". This was 1998 (a year and a half after we left New Orleans). I started the project, but due to misgivings at the time with the whole music business, I left, and the tracks didn’t get a release.On thesetracks you wil get music unheard.
1. John Balance vocals some of which never heard before
2. The trumpet takes we recorded for Wir click Wir, but never had the facility to use"
New one from Alexandra Grübler's Baal & Mortimer project following collaborations with Black Merlin, Rupert Clervaux and a stint as a mentee of Laurel Halo for the Berlin Amplify program.
"Baal & Mortimer regularly presents her material in clubs, art spaces and festivals – such as Torstrassenfestival Berlin or Open Source Festival in Düsseldorf – approaching the sound of concrete potentialities in tone, body, and performance. The 13 tracks were written, recorded, and produced in bedrooms and studios throughout Düsseldorf and Berlin. Again and again, contrast and opposition are conjured up in a moment of eternal grip – the never-arriving: Atopos.
Fragments of voices emerging from a brittle fog, icy traces of human activity and its mistakes. German, English, machine, human, male, female: corresponding to the same origin, changed, subdued and always elastic. Prostheses and The Ship of Fangs were created during the Amplify Mentoring Program, in which Laurel Halo selected Baal & Mortimer to partake in a month-long residency.
Nathanaël and H/Délires summon an elegiac echo of Düsseldorf – where it all began at Salon des Amateurs – and its legacy seeping through. Texture and mood of a city and its history, pushed forward by a granular humming, interspersed with fading voices, caryatids that hold everything together and yet fall. A non-linear time oscillating between grainy rhythms and the melancholic pull of sound scapes, eternally pushed by choral echoes, singing against themseves."
Khruangbin has always been multilingual, weaving far-flung musical languages like East Asian surf-rock, Persian funk, and Jamaican dub into mellifluous harmony. But on its third album, it’s finally speaking out loud.
"Mordechai features vocals prominently on nearly every song, a first for the mostly instrumental band. It’s a shift that rewards the risk, reorienting Khruangbin’s transportive sound toward a new sense of emotional directness, without losing the spirit of nomadic wandering that’s always defined it. And it all started with them coming home.
By the summer of 2019, the Houston group—bassist Laura Lee Ochoa, guitarist Mark Speer, drummer DJ Johnson—had been on tour for nearly three-and-ahalf years, playing to audiences across North and South America, Europe, and southeast Asia behind its acclaimed albums The Universe Smiles Upon You and Con Todo El Mundo. They returned to their farmhouse studio in Burton, Texas, ready to begin work on their third album. But they were also determined to slow down, to take their time and luxuriate in building something together.
Musically, the band’s ever-restless ear saw it pulling reference points from Pakistan, Korea, and West Africa, incorporating strains of Indian chanting boxes and Congolese syncopated guitar. But more than anything, the album became a celebration of Houston, the eclectic city that had nurtured them, and a cultural nexus where you can check out country and zydeco, trap rap, or avant-garde opera on any given night.
In those years away from home, Khruangbin’s members often felt like they were swimming underwater, unsure of where they were going, or why they were going there. But Mordechai leads them gently back to the surface, allowing them to take a breath, look around, and find itself again. It is a snapshot taken along a larger journey—a moment all the more beautiful for its impermanence. And it’s a memory to revisit again and again, speaking to us now more clearly than ever."
Pinch deals in strictly Bristolian vibes on his first album in 13 years, from bolshy UK bass mutations to classic downtempo and smoked-out numbers.
"‘Reality Tunnels’ is a concept that was originally introduced by Robert Anton Wilson in his 1983 book ‘Prometheus Rising’. In essence, the concept of a reality tunnel relates to an idea on how we create our own perspective – the subjective filter that we each apply to the world around us; the things we perceive and what our consciousness deems worthy of attention, IE what we see and hear is entirely relative to what we do not.
"At points angular and uncompromising with levels in the red, frequencies pushed out and EQ curves stretched into strange new shapes, Pinch mixes both low and hi fi on this boldly distinct sonic statement. It sees him flexing years of production skills – but unconventionally so – knowing well that safe predictability and rounded polish don’t get the most interesting results.
Dark trip hop Bristolia segues into blistering jungle on album opener ‘Entangled Particles’, before planet-hopping onto the spiky insidious grimestep of ‘All Man Got’, featuring the rugged rasp of OG warhorse Trim.
Beginning a triptych of future techno, ‘Accelerated Culture’ offers the album’s most relatively straightforward moment, albeit one of scorching, anthemic dancefloor heat. Delving deeper into the vortex is the synapse sparking wobbler ‘Returnity’, before ‘Finding Space’ reaches to the cosmos’ far-flung, glowing outlands.
Back to an urban reality is ‘Party’, where a subtly menacing sense of dread is ignited by Killa P’s incremental flow, which ramps-up and pairs-back the intensity in unexpected ways. Still moving freely between different realities, ‘Back To Beyond’ is beautiful gloaming ambience, executed with equal fine-tuned grace as the genre’s masters.
Jamaican vocalist Inezi lends sweet tones to the slow burning, roots-meets-modern-bass spiritual ‘Change Is A Must’, and on ‘Non-Terrestrial Forms’ an atmospheric, misty steppers intro segues stealthily into fiercely dystopian, amen-fuelled jungle tekno; marking one of several surprise attacks on the album, where a subtle-slight-of hand shoots the intensity level dynamically up.Closing as it begins, the album is bookended by a piece that recalls the dark, intricate soundscapes of Massive Attack’s ‘Mezzanine’ and Tricky’s ‘Maxinquaye’ – found here in ‘The Last One’s scorched, smoky rocker."
Ambient pioneer K. Leimer dissolves stripped down solo piano in studio illusions on his most vulnerable and personal side in memory. Like a still life painted in sound, warmly recommended fans of Brian Eno, The Boats, Stephen Mathieu
“A Figure Of Loss takes K. Leimer’s music into highly personal terrain. Written and recorded during two dark years, the resulting work hovers in proximity of a calm and placid consistency, tenuously balanced on expanding and contracting foundations. Built mostly around modeled and treated piano and digital synthesis, a sense of coherence emerged from piece to piece during the recording and editing process, yielding a sustained, but disturbed elegiac atmosphere, seemingly content to meditate on its own specific set of limits. But A Figure Of Loss reaches from well-defined patterns to fragmented and shifting densities. This is a music of reflection, setting itself at a distance from loss in order to possibly comprehend it.
K. Leimer founded Palace Of Lights in 1979. Leimer’s work has also been issued by Autumn, First Terrace, Les Giants, Invisible Inc., Origin Peoples and RVNG. His early cassette work is included in the critically acclaimed VOD box set American Cassette Culture and is included in Cherry Red’s Noise Floor series. Leimer has been actively producing music since the mid 1970s—his current catalog includes eighteen solo albums plus collaborative albums with Savant and Marc Barreca. His work is included in the collection of The British Library.”
After years spent looking out at landscapes and loved ones and an increasingly unstable world, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever have turned their gaze inward, to their individual pasts and the places that inform them, on their second full-length, Sideways to New Italy.
"Led by singer-songwriter-guitarists Tom Russo, Joe White and Fran Keaney, the guitar-pop five-piece returned home to Australia after the relentless touring schedule that came following their critically regarded 2018 debut Hope Downs. Feeling the literal and metaphorical ground under their feet had shifted, the band began grasping for something reliable. For Keaney, that translated into writing "pure romantic fiction" and consciously avoiding the temptation of angsty break-up songs, while Russo looked north to a "bizarre place" that captured the feeling of manufacturing a sense of home when his own had disappeared.
The New Italy of the new album’s title is a village near New South Wales’ Northern Rivers – the area drummer Marcel Tussie is from. A blink-and-you'll-miss-it pit-stop of a place with fewer than 200 residents, it was founded by Venetian immigrants in the late-1800s and now serves as something of a living monument to Italians' contribution to Australia, with replica Roman statues dotted like alien souvenirs on the otherwise rural landscape. The parallels to the way the band attempted to maintain connections and create familiarity during their disorienting time on the road was apparent to Russo. "These are the expressions of people trying to find a home somewhere alien: trying to create a utopia in a turbulent and imperfect world." The record's geographic identity emerged from the band losing their grip on their own, whether that was through the pressure of touring, the dissolution of relationships, a frustrating distance from their daily lives – or some combination of all three – that came from being slingshotted all over the world, playing sold-out headline tours and festivals including Coachella, Governors Ball, Primavera Sound, All Points East, and Pitchfork Music Festival.
The notion of crafting, in Russo’s words, “a utopia of where your heart’s from,” permeates Sideways to New Italy, in which early attempts at writing big, high-concept songs about The State of the World were abandoned in favor of love songs, and familiar voices and characters filter in and out, grounding the band's stories in their personal histories. There’s something comforting, too, in knowing the next time they’re buffeted from stage to stage around the world, they’ll be taking the voices of their loved ones with them, building a new totem of home no matter where they end up."
Public Practice reanimate the spirit of late ‘70s New York with their playfully angular brand of no wave-meets-funk and dark disco.
"While magnetic singer and lyricist Sam York and guitarist and principal sonic architect Vince McClelland (who both played together as members of the meteoric yet shortlived NYC post-punk outfit WALL) take an almost anarchic approach to songwriting, Drew Citron, on synth and bass, and drummer/producer Scott Rosenthal (both previously of Brooklyn indie-pop favourites Beverly) bring a more traditional, pop sensibility to the table. These contrasting styles challenge and complement each other, resulting in a sound that is full of spiraling and exhilarating tensions. Lyrically, York explores the complexities and contradictions of modern life overtop grooves and choruses that disarmingly open up the doors to self-reflection. “You don’t want to live a lie / But it’s easy / Your house is important / Your car is important / Your shoes are important / Dinner’s important“ she sings on “Compromised,” begging the question: how does one balance material desires with the desire to be seen as a good person?
Changing pace, the supremely groovy “My Head” is about tuning out the influx of external noise and staying true to your inner creative force. But whether they are poking holes in commonly held ideas centered around relationships, creativity, or capitalism, Public Practice never lose sight of the fact that they want to have fun, and they want you to have fun too. After all, who needs a soapbox when there’s a dark, sweaty dancefloor out there with room on it for all of us?"
Nerve-jangling indie-pop sweetness and garage-rock scuzz by the long-running US unit beloved of Spanish phycists
“"Deerhoof is a weapon loaded with the future." - Agustín Fernández Mallo, Spanish physicist and writer
Normal is never coming back. Whether by a collective dismantling or sheer collapse, our old illusions are being hollowed out. Over the past couple of years, Deerhoof has been asking themselves if there was any music they could create that expressed how the rapidly changing future might actually feel. The finished product, Future Teenage Cave Artists, finds Deerhoof in a revolutionary mood, but also haunted by memories of a lost world and every failed attempt to save it. People already cut loose from the system, already surviving with new ways of life—these hopeful heroes are Deerhoof’s inspiration. These are the Future Teenage Cave Artists.
Faithful listeners will recognize a certain alienated but transformational figure who shows up in Deerhoof songs going back to their earliest days. Take the narrator of “The Perfect Me” from 2007’s Friend Opportunity: an orphaned but eager soul attempting to entice other wounded wanderers who might lack a home, a clan, a family, a history. But on Future Teenage Cave Artists our protagonist is threatened by terror lurking around every corner. Add to that the fact that our “cast-off queen,” our “maniac,” our “terrible daughter” are watching themselves get orphaned in real time by an older generation in power that would rather see life on Earth destroyed than give up archaic systems of capital.
Like a lot of the inimitable music they have released over the last quarter-century, the Deerhoof of Future Teenage Cave Artists (Satomi Matsuzaki on bass and vocals, Ed Rodriguez and John Dieterich on guitars, and Greg Saunier on drums, vocals and piano) stitches together fragments of R&B and classic rock and transforms them into a new language of revolution, forgoing verse-chorus structures for dream logic and blind intuition. But what makes this album different is its intimacy—the blues riffs and slide guitars are joined by soft, rickety pianos and whispered three-part harmonies.”
Since the early 90's, the Belgian duo Silk Saw has pioneered nearly unclassifiable electronic music at the forefront of experimental and avant-garde. Their 12th album is a contiguous expansion of the universe created in 'Imaginary Landscapes', the previous album published on Kotä in 2015, blending sweet and bitter in languorous and enigmatic melodies that float on intriguing pounding polyrhythms.
"With the release of 'Nothing is Finished' on Sub Rosa, Marc Medea and Gabriel Séverin are back home, since their very first trial, 'Musique du garrot et de la feraille' - under their strange 'modern dada' alias, Jardin d'Usure – was released in 1994 (followed by the first two Silk Saw albums from 1996 and 1997).
Now more than ever, without compromise, the duo makes full use of complex tools like Frequency Modulation, granular and morphing synthesis. In an array of delightful to jarring surprises, a sinuous ballad will be troubled with remote blasts, or abruptly interrupted by a collapse of the base. While the tracks resonate fundamentally with a feeling of falling, failing, decay, the sleeve picture conveys that destruction is in fact where everything starts."
Our album of the year 2019 is Kali Malone’s 'The Sacrificial Code’ - a major work featuring almost two hours of concentrated, creeping organ pieces. 'The Sacrificial Code' provided us with precious mental refuge just as the world started to spin out of control around us. It's an album that somehow slowed everything down, allowing us to take notice of every slight movement, as if every minute shift in sound became magnified through stillness. It's a stunning realisation of ideas borne out of academic and conceptual rigour, with a perception-altering quality that encouraged exploration without a preordained endpoint - the antithesis to the language of colourless musical platitudes we've become so accustomed to.
‘The Sacrificial Code’ takes a more surgical approach to the methods first explored on last year’s ‘Organ Dirges 2016 - 2017’. Over the course of three parts performed on three different organs, Malone’s minimalist process captures a jarring precision of closeness, both on the level of the materiality of the sounds and on the level of composition.The recordings here involved careful close miking of the pipe organ in such a way as to eliminate environmental identifiers as far as possible - essentially removing the large hall reverb so inextricably linked to the instrument. The pieces were then further compositionally stripped of gestural adornments and spontaneous expressive impulse - an approach that flows against the grain of the prevailing musical hegemony, where sound is so often manipulated, and composition often steeped in self indulgence. It echoes Steve Reich’s sentiment “..by voluntarily giving up the freedom to do whatever momentarily comes to mind, we are, as a result, free of all that momentarily comes to mind.”
With its slow, purified and seemingly austere qualities ‘The Sacrificial Code’ guides us through an almost trance-inducing process where we become vulnerable receptors for every slight movement, where every miniature shift in sound becomes magnified through stillness. As such, it’s a uniquely satisfying exercise in transcendence through self restraint - a stunning realisation of ideas borne out of academic and conceptual rigour which gradually reveals startling personal dimensions. It has a perception-altering quality that encourages self exploration free of signposts and without a preordained endpoint - the antithesis to the language of colourless musical platitudes we've become so accustomed to.
Showcasing a unique sound in the saturated world of electronic music, Jennifer Touch draws from electropop and disco influences, combining 80’s vintage synths with industrial soundscapes, delivered with a visceral post-punk snarl.
"Introduced to 80’s pop and new wave via her father’s extensive collection of Human League, Karat and Duran Duran, she honed her trademark sound with the likes of The KLF, Karen O and PJ Harvey motivating her early productions. The results led to releases on Catz ‘N Dogz’ Pets Recordings and Lunatic Records, as well as making regular ap- pearances on Riotvan, the Leipzig-based record label run by Peter Invasion and co-owned by Panthera Krause. ‘Behind the Wall’ opens with the dark and powerful ‘Imaginary Boys,’ a soundtrack to Touch’s long journey through the city to the studio each day. It is followed by ‘Attic,’ which she describes as the “driving point of the whole album.” It’s an invitation to dance with me, a lullaby, a consolation,” she says. “Like a mantra.” And that is exactly what this record feels like."
Boss lass Helena Hauff tears thru 31 hardcore electro-techno zingers on her keenly awaited addition to Tresor’s Kern series after ace instalments from DJ Stingray and Objekt.
Throwing back to a phase of fast, hard and scuzzy electro from the late ‘90s to mid ‘00s, Hamburg’s finest goes hell for leather in the style that’s practically seen her block-booked for DJ dates until 2030. It’s pretty fair to say that Helena has single-handedly revived attention to a style that was once core to clubs from Detroit to Berlin, Rotterdam and Manchester before prevailing trends diverged for bassier pressures by end of the ‘00s. However, whether you were there back then or not, Helena’s cherry-picked bombs and rarities are bound to plug gaps in your knowledge and, quite frankly, light your arsch on fire.
Packing exclusive heat from herself with Morah (the bezerker industrial-electro od ‘Segment 3’) and allies including Umwelt, Machino, Galaxian and L.F.T., Helena simply does not let up with the fire selections and militant pacing, dispensing banger-for-banger with ghetto-tech highlights from Detroit’s DJ Godfather & DJ Starski and O-Wells, old skool UK hardcore from Q.D.T., Nasenbluten’s ferocious ’Intellectual Killer’, and deep Dutch electro from Maarten Van Der Vleuten to join the dots between cthonic hardcore dance musics from the late golden era, and its long shadow, from across the globe.
Darkstar counterbalance observations of their home with those of the community surrounding it. ‘Civic Jams’ is a photonegative of a dance record shaped by a dialogue between shoegaze atmospherics and UK bass music’s ‘hardcore continuum’.
"Darkstar find themselves at once looking homeward and venturing further into their own psychic hinterland with each record. They’ve covered a lot of ground from the introspective expanse of their debut ‘North’ , to utopian visions of society in ‘News From Nowhere’  and the unique dynamics of a pre-Brexit northern England on ‘Foam Island’ . On their latest offering, home is within reach. Inspired by the intervening years, Darkstar (aka Aiden Whalley and James Young) show how the personal can be political and reveal more of themselves than they’ve ever done before. Imagine emotional realism built from spectral rave echoes, anchored in timeless songs of love and loss in the digital now and you’ve got it.
Patterns of isolation are increasingly easy to fall into, especially when public spaces where people play, socialise, dance and protest are closed. ‘Civic Jams’ is about reminiscing over loss, whilst moving forward with those we love. It offers an abstract look at life’s nuances and the search to find something to hold on to and enjoy."
A glimpse into Wire’s working practices, when Wire play live there are different 3 classes of pieces that are performed, new songs, old songs and “new old” songs. The latter often involves taking something that existed on a previous release and re-working it, very often evolving a stage highlight from it. There also pieces that have never seen a major release but for some reason never fitted on an album. The best of these ideas were recorded in 2 sessions - one relating to Red Barked Tree but recorded in 2010 and another relating to Wire’s latest album Mind Hive released in 2020. Incidentally celebrating the decade Matt Simms has been with the band. The album divides in to two halves - the 2010 side & the 2020 side - hence the title.
"Tracks 1 to 4 were recorded in the latter part of 2010 and feature contributions from both Margaret Fielder (of Laika) – who had been performing guitar duties with Wire on live dates the previous year – and Simms, who was on the point of becoming an official member of the band.Track 1 ‘Boiling Boy’ first appeared on 1988’s A Bell is a Cup… Until it is Struck. ‘Boiling Boy’ has gone on to become perhaps the most played Wire song ever. Throughout the ’00s, it became one of the acknowledged highlights of Wire’s live sets.Track 2 ‘German Shepherds’ is another late ’80s Wire song that has developed a second life on stage. The recording is also notable in that it includes vocal contributions from Newman, Lewis and Fielder. Track 3 ‘He Knows’ was developed back in 2000 when Bruce Gilbert was still with the band. It emerged in a reinvigorated form in 2008 when it became a staple of Wire’s live show. This is the only studio recording to have surfaced. Track 4.’Underwater Experiences’ was demoed for the band’s sophomore album Chairs Missing, but in the end was omitted. Having lay dormant for a couple of years, the song later appeared in two fast, abrasive, contrasting versions on Wire’s notoriously confrontational live album Document And Eyewitness, and a fifth iteration surfaced on 2013’s Change Becomes Us. However, the song has never sounded quite as it does here.
Tracks 5 to 8 were recorded more recently with the long-established line up of Newman, Lewis, Grey and Simms. Track 5 . ‘The Art of Persistence’ arrived fully formed when Wire reconvened in 2000. But it was previously only available as a rehearsal room run-through on long deleted EP The Third Day or as a live version on Legal Bootleg album Recycling Sherwood Forest. Track 6 ‘Small Black Reptile’ originally appeared on the band’s 1990 album Manscape. Of all the reimagined songs on 10:20, this is the one that has traveled the furthest. Whereas the original was a skeletal and arch computer-driven pop song, this new version sees the composition retooled as a piece of melodic rock. Track 7 ‘Wolf Collides’, with its warm synth tones and spindly lead lines, sounds as if it deserves to be sitting regally on side two of 1978’s Chairs Missing. In actual fact, it was written in 2015 and became a stalwart of that year’s live set. This version was recorded for inclusion on 2017’s Silver/Lead but was omitted due to lack of space. Track 8 ‘Over Theirs’ is the climax of the continuing reassessment of Wire’s 1980s output. Although the song appeared on The Ideal Copy and has been an intermittent component of the group’s live shows since 1985, its true power had never been properly harnessed in the studio – until now.
10:20 is that rare thing: an album that not only serves as a must-have for long-term fans and completists, but paradoxically also the perfect introduction for anyone new to the band."