A whirlijig of chromatic melodies and keening harmonics harnessed to folk dancing drums played by imaginary AI, Music From The Early Robotic Societies of The Basin forms a mesmerising introduction to Christos Chondropoulos’ world, offered by perennial subterranean diggers, The Tapeworm.
Wrought from alien synth voices in a cadence of queered scales and punctuated with elegant, swaying rhythms, Music From The Early Robotic Societies of The Basin feels utterly, spellbindingly ancient yet simultaneously futuristic, wrapping up a wealth of influences that make up the Athenian sound image into a steeply enigmatic tale of East meets West, North and South. Having been lucky enough to visit Athens recently, this writer can only confirm that Christos has beautifully distilled the magick of that city into these recordings. As we’re going to do, his Fingerpainting  and Athenian Primitivism tapes are on the list of what to check next.
Alicia Matthews ov Golden Teacher-associated LAPS gets right down to the weird and salty bones of it with her uncannily perceptive diagnoses of the modern condition, beamed direct from Glasgow on the city’s Domestic Exile. RIYL Yeah You, Ectoplasm Girls
“The key to Sue Zuki’s music is her vocals where she misanthropically preaches the records themes of psychological alienation and despair, trapped within an augmented virtual reality. Whilst trapped and unable to properly function inside this distorted simulation there are the bewildering sounds of a thousand voices and ‘every conversation’ unhealthily looping inside you’re mind, through the echo chamber. Manifesting into a bleak neurotic obsession and feelings of inadequacy, a desperate plea, blinded and fatigued by the unnerving glare of the computer screen, processing too much information and not knowing if the human ‘interactions’ you’re experiencing are genuine or artificial.
The trauma of this hollow existence is further emphasised with the combination of fragmented and jarring rhythmic grime percussive kick drums that is boosted by the metallic coiling density of detached, propulsive industrial structures. Synthetic frequencies writhe, becoming more lysergic as they progress. DnB tempos accelerate and shift in pitch as if in an erratic state of panic, dissonant foreboding drones absorb you as if drowning under the hypothermic pressure of the deepest, coldest and darkest frozen oceans. Throbbing sub bass fuelled with dread and agonising noise grips you into a suffocating claustrophobia, compressing further and further.
Rather than suppressing these feelings of insecurity and affliction there is a degree of exaggerated, self-deprecating sardonic humour that gradually unravels helping to confront the despondent nature of the record. Accompanied also by subdued, fragile and sunken RnB / Rhythm and Gloom vocals with desolate acoustic guitar fusions which overall provides an empathetic tone. Sue Zuki’s music is a profound and startling glimpse into the growing cultural discomfort and paranoia of the conscious state of the human condition in the 21st Century.”
Raw as hell electronic experiments right here from Olfactory Nerve aka Thessaloniki’s Photis Houliaras, who also goes by names of Le Fonte Son and Ulmus Fagaster.
Being on Details Sound, you may have some inkling of what to expect from Orfeo, which is essentially rhythmic noise. However, that descriptor falls short of the more absurd, phantasmagoric spirits at play inside, which smartly manifests the album’s titular reference to the mysterious Thracian musician and prophet of Greek religion and myth.
“Influenced primarily by synth electronic music and psychedelic mysticism, the Greek electronic composer is injecting new ideas into something in the ballpark of the unknown rarities from the underground cassette scene. “Orfeo”, his first album for Details Sound, offers a diverse range of original and magnetic output with a naive experimental heart.”
Following his Pacific Alley album for L.I.E.S., Krikor Kouchian serves this killer soundtrack to the documentary 'Arabie Saoudite: Les Liaisons Dangerousness' on a deluxe presentation for Jean Carval and Low Jack’s Editions Gravats. Where the French TV program focusses on the Saudi royal family’s support of Wahhabism and the West’s appeasement of Saudi foreign policy, Kouchian underlines and accentuates the content with a brooding blend of mirage-like electronics and drum machine geometries that take on a gauzy new life thru the tape format.
In tone and aesthetic Kouchian’s soundtrack feels close to the use of melancholic ambient motifs in Adam Curtis documentaries on the same subject, as the Parisian artist conjures a sort of furtively ephemeral and mystic feel that matches the clash of ancient religion and crude oil-soaked modernity explored by the documentary. However, where Curtis’ soundtracks tend to collage recurring motifs, Kouchian’s emotive nudges are perhaps less ambiguous, lending a decidedly dark, looming shadow to proceedings.
Highly Recommended if you're into Gigi Masin, Low Jack, Terekke, Newworldaquarium, Boards of Canada!
Laraaji brings his cherished Vision Songs to life, playing zither, Casio keyboard, gong and vocals interspersed with charming anecdotes, all documented live at London’s Brilliant Corners, September 2016. Reissued for the 1st time by Numero, Laraaji’s Visions Songs  was the sublime, gospel and soul-infused follow-up to his Celestial Vibration  and Ambient 3 (Day Of Radiance)  collaboration with Brian Eno. Blessed be the listener who gives some time to this one.
“A live, 92-minute improvised session by Laraaji based on his 1984, Vision Songs material. Until now only fragments of Vision Songs have been released, tracks such as “All Of A Sudden” found their way into the New Age / Ambient music scene. Owing to it’s unique sound, it became an underground hit and there’s more where that came from. This crossover of New Age and Gospel Soul, led by Laraaji’s vocals – channelling meditations of new thought - is distinctive in his discography. Here, you'll find a recording capturing the spirit of a particular moment in time: of Laraaji playing Vision Songs to an intimate audience 32 years after it was first recorded in his Manhattan bedroom.”
Call Super cocks a 2nd album of increasingly squirrelly electronics for Houndstooth, secreting the glittering nuts and bolts of his sound in a more fluid and dynamic brand of ambient techno mechanics.
Arriving three years on from his Suzi Ecto album, and a string of well-received DJ sets, solo 12”s and a collaboration with Beatrice Dillon over the interim, Arpo gathers Call Super’s recent studio thoughts in one place, coursing from mercurial IDM to jazzy flights of fancy and oneiric electro with a meticulous production style that’s become his trademark.
The ghosts of the 4th World, Red Planet martians, Irdiallian enigmas and golden era Warp haunt Arpo’s diffuse dimensions from the first chimes and clarinet plumes of Arpo thru the smoky electro-jazz of Out To Rust, following a silvery thread of logic that weaves between early hours dancefloor mindsets and late hours home listening from the glitchy hunch of OK Werkmeister to the sloshing brownian glitter of Music Stand, embracing Ethiopiques jazz in Arpo Sunk, and gently insistent future electro-funk with No Wonder We Go Under, and the hyaline electro-soul rubs of I Look Like I Look In A Tinfoil Hat.
Jim Jupp (Belbury Poly) and Jon Brooks (The Advisory Circle) metamorphosize into The Belbury Circle, incorporating their pal John Foxx on two tracks of Outward Journey.
Pulsing with proggy soft trance riffs and draped in nocturnal atmospheres, it’s one for driving your car late at night thru the conurbations, commuter villages and gentrified docklands of a pensive Brexit Britain, turning up two standout moments in the John Foxx-led highlights of Forgotten Town and the beautifully wistful Trees, with plenty of time of reflection over your milky tea on Café Kaput and the twinkly gaze of Departures Inc, with a wistful guitar solo worthy of an Alan Partridge-style despairing breakdown in a lay-by.
Penultimate Press bossman Mark Harwood takes a cross-continental trip as Astor, traversing sanguine solo piano pieces, haunted train toilet recordings and death croak noise gasps. All very uncanny and lo-fi, pocked in the space between reality and dreams, as you might well expect from this artist and label.
“The fourth Astor offering presents itself as a limited cassette, intended to fill the vacuum prior to the next full length LP expected to hatch in the year of 2018. A self titled diary-esque offering, this collects recordings made in the UK and Europe throughout 2017 – from a toilet on a train in France to a piece played on Henning Christiansen’s piano on the island of Møn in Denmark. Here we embark on a journey of sound that travels through a vast terrain which holds itself together through the sheer audacity of outre elements and unusual construction. From organ jams to syncopated screams, from absolute beauty to unbridled terror, Astor takes a magnifying glass to reality and unfurls it as an uncanny audio essay.”
Alex Zhang Hungtai explores forlorn, strung out avant-industrial and rhythmic noise feels as Love Theme for Luke Younger’s Alter after laying his Dirty Beaches alias to rest in 2014, and more recently guesting on Dedekind Cut’s American Zen album
“If there's a single guiding motif to this debut recording from Love Theme, it's the melancholic throb of love learnt and love lost, a descent that tumbles and slips through the overall feeling of looking back. As intimately and carefully as its parts cohesively lament a narrative, it's the after-image that catches your breath, like a memory morphing as it is observed.Comprised of Alex Zhang Hungtai of the now defunct project Dirty Beaches, along with Austin Milne, and Simon Frank, 'Love Theme' is arranged from an improvised session with twin saxophones, synthesizer, percussion, drum machine, and voice.
Over the course of a year the material was edited remotely from the members' home cities of London, LA and Taipei.The record's sullen ambience is never left too long to set in. The aching wane of the saxophone arrangements frisk the propulsive aggro of the mixed percussion, forcing a melancholic halo upon the queasy stupor of the synthetic swing that closes each side of the record. It's a bizarre lust for life that's being divined from equal parts dislocation and invigoration, a potent remedy which perhaps Love Theme can call their own.
Percolating and finding form over time, the record instinctively follows a travel narrative, moving across a series of landscapes, reflecting the innate experiences of the expressions and voices that were first collected in South London back in February 2015."
Steve Goodman and Toby Heys’ sonic research cell AUDINT disclose their 3rd and final tape to Reel Torque in a special edition package. The material on this one sounds something like Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement meets Apocalypse Now. Listener discretion advised...
Following the magnetic burial loops of Chilean performance artist Magdalena Parker (1964-72) and the funerary rites/financial forecasting experiments of Vietnamese bio-acoustician Nguyễn Văn Phong (1958-79), this final tape documents rogue agent Marshall Spector adapting and deploying Parker and Văn Phong’s techniques in the field with evidently petrifying results during the US military’s 1966-68 Urban Funk campaign. As AUDINT explain...
“The material on this cassette was selected by AUDINT from the archives of former member Marshall Spector. After a chance meeting with founder of the First Earth Battalion Jim Channon in a Berkley coffee shop in 1965, Spector co-opted the bio-acoustic techniques of AUDINT’s Nguyễn Văn Phong and the tape experiments of the research unit’s Magdalena Parker. Having left AUDINT for the promise of a position backed by the resources of US government in Vietnam, Spector played a crucial role in training the 6th PSYOP Batallon and special units of the US Navy; his most telling contribution happening during the formulation of the infamous audio harassment tactics of the Urban Funk Campaign.
Opting to chase a recurrent, bombastic dream of holding a rock concert in the jungle, Spector betrays his former AUDINT colleagues, and yet illicitly keeps them updated on his experiments by posting back extracts from his ‘sonic assault’ research. The tape contains material recorded between 1966-68 on high fidelity recording equipment, that at the time, was only available to the US military. Side A, features his low frequency experiments on animals carried out around the Mekong Delta. Side B, features excerpts from the ‘Wandering Soul’ tapes and recordings of their deployment into the jungle canopy from helicopter-mounted loudspeakers often referred to as ‘Curdlers’ or ‘People Repellers’.
These ‘Wandering Soul’ or ‘Ghost’ tapes were composed of montages of local music and folklore, tapping into Buddhist belief systems regarding the afterlife, cries and wails emanating from the souls of dead comrades who had failed to find the peace of a proper burial, spliced with Western music and sound effects. In practice, the deployment of these tapes rather than inducing surrender, proved provocative for the Vietcong, drawing unfriendly fire. The death cards in the boxset are copies of the designs that Spector would come up with for troops on and under the ground. Given that the ‘Wandering Soul’ recordings also penetrated the earth itself, with reports that VC hiding out in the labyrinthine underground tunnels could still hear it, the cards became the visual aspect of the US military’s cultural warfare, which was literally the sound and vision of hell on earth"
Special xmas edition of offcuts from Claude Speeed’s Infinity Ultra album
“Speeed says "I see this mainly as an alternative take on how the album could've turned out, one of the many paths it might’ve gone down. But it also serves as a neat ending, closing off that period by releasing the other material that's been kicking about my mind and harddrives for the last 5 years."
The material on ‘Other Infinities’ reaches into the darker corners of the world portrayed in ‘Infinity Ultra’, the uncanny valleys of the near future. Obliterated rave sits alongside twisted computer-generated prog rock; cathartic noise is pitted against submersed piano and dreamy, night-time synthscapes. New age meditation and lonely autumnal sadness compete with the intense drumming of a neo-tokyo cult.”
Nick Edwards fudges out a crusty new batch of Ekoplekz misshapes for Planet Mu with Cassettera, standing firm against the grain of trend to keep curiously picking away at a micro-modular mesh of lo-fi boxes and machines in his own style, shaped as a special xmas addendum to his Bioprodukt album.
“The beats are still to the fore, even incorporating elements of techno and house, but the mood is darker, with a heavier emphasis on noise and drone textures resulting in a more uneasy listen. This greyscale outlook is reflected in the monochrome variation on Bioprodukt's sleeve art. 'Bass 2 Dank' and 'Jacktrak' apply solid kicks and grooves for moody dancefloors, whilst 'Formative' and 'The Imperitive' combine convoluted percussion and cloying sub-bass with eerie atmospherics. 'Tactile' and 'Nitrate Abuse' offer minimal user-unfriendly experimental textures and the set ends with the extended grinding dread of 'The Outlook Is Bleak’.”
London’s Nokuit impresses a viscous drone distillation of broken Britain, melding dense, keening electronics with TV, Radio and YouTube samples to give a choking/absorbing, abstract/hyperrealistic and largely unsentimental perspective on blighty from the inside, looking in - conveying a sense of entrapment, paralysed by forces beyond control. Crushingly strong and kinda unmissable for heavier heads, especially fans of Stephen O’Malley, Dave Phillips, Lawrence English.
“NKT presents 'Patterns of Instability', a work of freeform experimental electronic music that moves through dense noise textures, visceral sound design and time-stopping ambient suites. Unfolding over 45 minutes, the new Nokuit album is an absorbing soundtrack probing the pervasive bewilderment of society. It’s a relentless journey where blurred melodies and abrasive soundscapes unsettle our most buried dissatisfactions and inner rebellions.
Swirling drones become a sonic lens which drifts and roams through the currents and threads within the contemporary landscape. Mingling amongst the town square demonstration, flipped upside down through the cameras into the news media rooms and editing suites, dragged up into helicopters looking down into streets and homes, then bounced across the globe by satellites floating in the atmosphere. Spam bots and malware, encryption data, analysis of YouTube uploads and text messages. Rather than focusing in on any specific geographical event, ‘Patterns of Instability’ takes a widescreen approach to our contemporary age of discontent and digs deep into timeless feelings of frustration.
Expanding the peculiar set of expressive tools built over precursor works ‘Analysis Paralysis’ and ‘Reality Disappears After Waking’, here Nokuit’s music reaches its most defined and highly evolved form yet. This is an observation on how we deal with and perceive our reality - whether or not we are in control of it - and our level of acceptance of the constant brainwashing that affects our lives. Each time Nokuit’s music faces the struggle from different angles and in ‘Patterns of Instability’ it zooms in on collective, political and individual battlefields.”
After crossing paths with Kate Carr’s preternaturally sensitive field work on Helen Scarsdale Agency, the sound artist now presents the engrossing 2015 travelogue from a wind turbine to vultures (and back) on her Flaming Pines label.
Recorded during a residency at Joya arte ecologia in Velez Blanco, a mountainous region in S.E. Spain, Carr’s latest offers an intimately close reading of the landscape describing daily journeys trekking up muddy paths with little accompaniment other than distant bird calls, the beating of vultures wings, and inclement, wintry weather conditions, with a steeply immersive and unexpectedly evocative outcome.
Using her ear and by extension the microphone with the precision of a nature photographer, Kate zooms in and documents those sounds that more casual hikers will also encounter, yet may not pay so much attention to without enhanced technological means. Once stitched together in post production to form the two pieces on tape, those sound journeys are recollected as dreamlike trips, segueing from ghostly, windswept harmonics and passages of Áine O’Dwyer-like vox at the start of Ascent, to spots of unnerving lacunæ where you can almost feel the infrasonic heartbeat of trees and the mountain itself, ending up somewhere more light-headed, widescreen at the top.
Likewise, her Descent poetically conveys a sense of strangeness in its description of the mountainside, which feels to come to life with flurries of bird calls, imagined boar growls and barking dogs, vacillating between sensations of relief and caution.
If you’ve enjoyed BJNilsen’s Massif Trophies for Editions Mego, Felicia Atkinson & Jefre Cantu-Ledesma’s Comme Un Seul Narcisse, or Giuseppe Ielasi and Ricardo Renaldi’s Alpi, you’re bound to appreciate Kate Carr’s elevated, surreal perspectives here, too. Sublime.
Alex Menzies persists in pushing Glasgow’s experimental envelopes with Other World Music Vol.2
It's an unsettling, immersive suite of psychoacoustic electronic projections that perhaps pessimistically suppose new sonic terrain beyond the new age and modern world music zeitgeists. Some of his most impressive work to date. Comparable in theme and aesthetic with recent works by Sote, Cam Deas, Rashad Becker, Autechre.
Ferric experts Hospital Productions host this, the tape edition of Godflesh’s latest sludgy slapdown Post Self, following its LP and CD issues on Justin K Broadrick’s Avalanche Recordings.
This is Godflesh in beast mode, bullishly churning a slightly abbreviated tracklist of 10 tracks (there’s 13 on the formats) that kick off with the feral lurch of Post Self and variously take in Metal club dancefloor juggernauts like Parasite, No Body, and the outstanding, even sexy roiler Mirror Of Finite Light, before taking the vibe downwards, inwards on the spirit-sousing Be God and the dirge of The Cyclic End, before properly baring their gnashers in the diesel-spitting chops and hackle-raising synths of Mortality Sorrow and the grunting tackle of In Your Shadow.
Heavily satisfying. You’ll be picking bits out of your teeth for weeks after chow down.
Cooper Crain, Dan Quinlivan, and Rob Frye head for the horizon on their newest Bitchin Bajas buggy, leading on from a 2016 tour and series of collaborative live releases with Bonnie “Prince” Billy and Olivia Wyatt.
Sharing its title with a chain of Tex-Mex restaurants in the USA, Bajas Fresh catches the trio at their earthiest and lushly psychedelic, naturally sprawling their classically-schooled, dilated vision of krautrock, kosmiche and North American drone and space jazz traditions across seven tracks.
Notably, they embed a beautifully sanguine cover of Sun Ra’s Angels and Demons at Play in the album’s sequence, sweat-lodged among the astral coordinates of Circles On Circles and the windswept jazz of Yonaguni featuring Ghost’s Masaki Batoh, before syncing with a rich history of transcendental drone exploration in the magnificent, side-long and sidereal scope of 2303, where they consolidate contributions from Nick Broste (Trombone), and Ben LaMar Gay (Cornet) into its deeply anaesthetising harmonic smudge.
Hayley Fohr tends to her Circuit Des Yeux alias after last year’s country excursion as Jackie Lynn, returning to relay a compelling tale about a pivotal, existential awakening she experienced in early 2016, all delivered via her signature vocal - somewhere between Nico, Diamanda Galas and Scott Walker - against a varied topography of brooding brass, stirring folk strings, arpeggiated keys and synths, and intermittent rocking squalls.
Reaching For Indigo is arguably set to become a modern classic in the same vein as her In Plain Speech [2015, Thrill Jockey] record, mostly thanks to a number of standout songs such as the plaintive power of Brainshift and Black Fly at its prow, and the natural, dreamlike possession of her swelling Geyser beauty and the free-floating kosmiche elegy, Falling Blonde.
It takes some sort of special virtue to make an indie-folk record that doesn’t sound super cliché nowadays, and evidently Circuit Des Yeux has it in abundance.
The Peckham/Paris-based Panatype label scoop another lovely debut with Bernard Baum’s curious offering of small sound ambient scrabble and drizzly dub-house environments following up Home, the sublime first release by Newcastle’s Schuttle. In a similar, drowsy late night style, this one nestles somewhere between the sweetly decayed ambient foliage of Huerco S, Phil Struck and Cotton Goods.
With only a two hour soundcloud mix to his name prior to After, Bernard Baum arrives hazily formed from the internet ether with a gently intoxicating suite of rustling ambient textures and drizzly environments, drifting half-consciously from the anaesthetised atmosphere and stumbling dub groove of Cromis, to feel his way thru gently textured tracks with a really intimate sort of tactility, from the woolly chords of Onra, to the gently coruscating metallic tang and bittersweet underwater melodies of After, before coming up for air with the Huerco S-like dub house buoyancy of Atoll. The B-side then leads back inside, introspective into the haptic rustle and buzz of Cold Agriculture, to float Enter The Void style on the slow ambient jazz chords of of Coming Down In SE5, then stranding us at the ambient outlasting Atoll (Beatless Mix) in a sort of palindromic, Moebius strip resolution, ready to go from the top again.
Mumdance, Logos and Shapednoise reconvene as The Sprawl with a 60 minute mixtape recontextualising William Gibson’s Neuromancer with fragments of the audiobook narration mixed with exclusive, original new solo and group material by all members, plus implanted flashbacks of hardcore techno and mutant musique concrète. The mix simultaneously elucidates and obfuscates The Sprawl’s sci-fi rave hauntology in advance of the imminent arrival of the second in their 12” trilogy.
Triangulating the three conspirators’ vision between Mumdance’s hardcore bruxism, the cinematic imagineering of Logos, and Shapednoise’s clinically atonal/arrhythmic noesis, Reel Torque Volume 17 induces a synaesthetically-enhanced spectrum of cyberpunk sensation and intrigue. In effect they emulate the psychological, neurological, and physiological effects of a consciousness uploaded to the weightlessness in hyperspace and how that relates to the narco-auditory complex of rave and electronic music which is so unavoidably influenced by Gibson’s prophetic tome.
Adapting the visual language and syntax of film and computer games, rave tapes and radio plays with an acutely, synaesthetically heightened impact, the mix flows from future primitive vocal rituals to new age tropes shaped as seductive commercial idents, while shocks of shuddering noise black out the senses with picnoleptic overloads of data and muscle memory-triggering jolts of jungle virtually render and reprogram the body cyborgian.
Reel Torque Volume 17 is a visceral and delirious experience, vividly expanding the The Sprawl’s abstract world and perfectly setting the scene for imminent new chapters in their ongoing saga.
‘The Greatest Gift’ is a mixtape of outtakes, remixes and demos from Sufjan’s 2015 album ‘Carrie & Lowell’. This collection serves as a companion piece to the ‘Carrie & Lowell Live’ album (and as an expansion to the original album).
"In the same way the live show featured re-interpretations of the songs from ‘Carrie & Lowell’, the mixtape unveils new remixes by several longstanding collaborators including Roberto C. Lange (aka Helado Negro), Thomas Bartlett (aka Doveman) and James McAlister (aka 900X). The album also features Sufjan’s own remix of ‘Drawn To The Blood’.
‘The Greatest Gift’ features four previously unreleased new songs, ‘official’ outtakes from ‘Carrie & Lowell’ (they were recorded at the same time as the album). These include ‘Wallowa Lake Monster’, ‘The Hidden River Of My Life’, ‘City Of Roses’ and ‘The Greatest Gift’. This new material, in its investigation of love, life, death, God and the beautiful state of Oregon, serves as a contemplative companion to the original album."
New Atlantis co-founder Deadboy inhabits his J.V. Lightbody alias for the label’s lush 2nd release with 12 beams of golden, shimmering vibes exploring “the inner realms of consciousness, space and time” under track titles referencing the 64 hexagrams of the I-Ching, the ancient chinese book of changes whose wisdom still resonates with the modern day.
Tapping into a new age zeitgeist which has bubbled up strongly in recent years, possibly thanks as much to a swell of reissued classics as a societal need to assuage anxieties imposed by the modern world, Inner Work arguably serves its purpose in a beautifully absorbing manner. Working to a similar brief as Yamaneko’s recent Spa Commissions for Local Action, Lightbody offers the listener tender space to unravel thoughts and dreams thru sheets of diaphanous, pastel-hued harmonies and wistful melodic flocking which, at best, offer transcendence from earthly matters, and at the least a very sweet distraction from what ails ya.
Effectively an antibiotic for SAD, or a magnetic dose of vitamin D for overworked souls, Inner Work gets right under the skin with assured efficacy, and should be warmly recommended to anyone who has encountered and fallen for the likes of Laraaji, Pauline Anna Strom or K. Leimer in recent years, or likewise been smitten by Yamaneko’s gorgeous new turn.
Seekersinternational serve intoxicating tropical ambient dancehall chutney with the Gunman Cult Classics Mix for the the’ ICS Library Records label. If you put this one side to side with their cultishly loved output from the last few years, the SKRS effectively have your whole summer seleks sorted out for 2017.
The new age badmen twist and dub convention inside-out here, meshing a slew of dancehall and R&B acapellas with lush ambient strokes, rudest boogie and sidesteps into subcontinental and far eastern sounds to coolly put a fresh - yet, crucially, faithful - spin on the dancehall/dub prisms which they’re clearly infatuated with.
Absorbing heat by everyone from Gappy Ranks and 1991 to Tom & Jerry and O$VMV$M, and rubbing in special oils from Gwen Guthrie to Jody Watley and Luciano, the results are stewed in fuzzy dub FX and practically melt before your ears, ready to spread on balconies from Hulme to Barbados.
Trust this is no dilettantish half-stepping or stylistic dabbling; their picks are pure gold and the way they put them together is just A++, primed for a long, hot summer...
Class debut of lucidly imaginative and abstract electroscapes from Manchester’s Andy Brown aka AB2020; making his maiden mission on Sheffield’s Computer Club with the Cybotronian industrial sci-fi soundtrack styles of Sagittarius.
Built atom by atom in his hardware-filled pod and conducted with a proper, late night sense of dramaturgy, Sagittarius covers a lot of ground within AB2020’s chosen dimension - taking the listener from Alice Coltrane-like string sweeps and alien bleeps in Lacu to the Carpenter-esque finale of Nuworlds via the synaesthetic tweaks of Permafrost and pulsating Drexciyan techno in the two parts of Subsurface Ocean plus a smart dose of clipped electro acid on Terraform and some excellent pieces of chromatic techno mystery in Cogewn and Exic that recall Jeff Mills’ recent deep space explorations.
Two birds, one stone: BAT brings his Excavated Tapes 1992-1999 to a close with Vol.3, which also appears as the last release on Astro:Dynamics, who’ve delivered some choice releases from 1991, Samoyed, Dynooo and El Kid/Sam Kidel in their seven years of activity.
They’ve clearly saved BAT’s best for last with six of his quietest, seductively uncertain hardware improvisations, covering Actress-gone-Memphis knocks in HiFi 120 Side A CJa, thru to barely-there, Bellows-style crackle in Lesson 15 Side A Chmycncrt, the fractured ambient crumbs of Voice Thing Side A Crck, and a lushly knotted, curdled dub chords in 94 Side A Twentyish.
Toodle pip, Astro:Dynamics. Was lovely listening to ya.
What does the sun sound like? L’Orange, L’Orange, Gregg Kowalsky’s (Date Palms) first solo album in eight years, might have the answer.
"Its vivid music – sourced from analog synths and mixed on a laptop – arrives in rays of sound that shine skyward. There are many moods in each track, but the overarching aura is one of brightness and optimism. Hence the album title, which nods toward the radiant hue of our life-sustaining star.
The warm atmospheres of Miami (his birthplace) and Los Angeles (his home of 3years) infuse the luminous ambience of L’Orange, L’Orange. Kowalsky points to the album’s second track, “Maliblue Dream Sequence.” Its lapping synth waves mirror the time he spent working on the record at a friend’s home in the beachside city of Malibu. But you can hear echoes of blue “Tuned to Monochrome,” to the rising rhythm of “Pattern Haze,” to the sandy layers of “Ritual Del Croix.”
L’Orange, L’Orange isn’t just about brightness and bliss. It’s also about engrossing your mind – creating an omnipresence not unlike that shiny orange orb whose ubiquity defines our days and whose absence fills our nights. For Gregg Kowalsky, music can have that same kind of overpowering effect. The sounds of L’Orange, L’Orange can calm your nerves, warm your mood, and maybe even enlighten your mind."
Dâm Funk does it with serious finesse in his debut Garrett outing for Music For Memory, who’ve managed to coax out a sublime insight to his Private Life from LA’s most fêted funkateer. Best believe this is the slickest thing you’ll encounter all year - like glyding on rainbow in silk underwear.
For Damon G Riddick’s legion fans it doesn’t come much better, especially seeing as he’s been shy on the release front since 2016’s DJ-Kicks and the odd short format serving in recent years. Anyway this makes up for that gap in spades, swooping in with the gilded dawn of Apocalyptic Sunrise and taking it there with track, from the pointillist drum patter and arcing chords of Right Now thru the loose and sprawling vibes of Slow Motion, to chrome-squirting G-funk on It’s Time, with 12 minutes to cool out in the serene waters of Angel Reflections, before taking it Home on the downstroke to the sun-warped bliss of The End Theme.
Summer 2017 is officially heya.
Echanting, fascinating collection of Chilean folk songs, mostly vocals and guitars, with introductions by Violeta Parra, but also some ace runs into accordion and music box melodies and martial percussive pieces. Interesting for anyone looking to the Bolivian folk roots of Elysia Crampton
“Death Is Not The End reissue a rare early LP from Chilean songwriter, folklorist and visual artist Violeta Parra.
In this collection, Volume III of Parra's Folk Music of Chile series, Parra introduces us to the Cueca, a traditional folk music style and Chile's national dance, which is sung and danced at parties and festivities. Although Cuecas were played on the radio, Parra introduces listeners to popular forms of Cueca she recovered in her field work collecting traditional songs. Navigating Chile's thin land mass from Santiago to Concepción, Parra heard people in the countryside performing these songs. In her introduction, Parra identifies four types of Cueca: the short Corta, the waltz Valceada, the long Larga voluntaria, and the Balance/obligatoria where the singer individually calls on a man and then a women to dance. Casting herself in the role of ethnomusicologist, this intense musical investigation of Chile's popular folk song traditions went on to greatly influence Parra's own songwriting. The connection with her country's traditions earned her the reputation as Chile's foremost poet and folk singer.”
Yamaneko, aka Talbot Fade, bravely tackles a most painful subject in the best way he knows how: the emotional, metaphysical transcendence of organised electronic sound.
Written in the year following the death of his mother, and mantled in reference to Meiro Koizumi’s succinct and quietly traumatising video installation, My Voice Would Reach You can be taken as a bardo or form of keening music, rendering a beautifully elegiac lament for a beloved soul, described in diaphanous ambient chorales, textured field recordings and oceanic drones with often gut-wrenching effect.
Broaching a subject that still, unusually, prompts uncomfortable reactions in the western world, My Voice Would Reach You conversely seeks to offer comfort and solace through an abstract exploration of “grief, acceptance, dreams, maternal influence and communication across astral planes.” Drawing on the titular installation, as well as his mother’s record collection and the immersive depths of RPG computer games - specifically FromSoftware’s range of Souls and Bloodborne titles - Talbot Fade suggests space for reflective mediation. But, like those games and the album’s subject matter, don’t expect it to be an easy experience.
In its four movements, My Voice Would Reach You occupies wide-open yet elusive ambient terrain with Gas, Tim Hecker and The Sight Below, yet when taken with the album’s themes of loss and nightmarish conditions, its isolationist detachment adopts a sincere gravity of meaning in the plangent pall and cinematic strings of Red Jeweled Brooch and chokingly so by the time you catch windswept tears in Forgiven by the Light of Spring, whilst the entire B-side’s is spent on the arcing consolation of Depths of Spring, “ushering lost souls into a new childhood”.
Compilation of new music from GETME! artists old and new including Lil Jabba, Becoming Real, Hello Skinny, Kit Grill and more.
"A mixed bag of sounds and genres with the likes of Kit Grill delivering his signature minimal sound, Hello Skinny jamming out with a jazz / funk flare, New York's Lil Jabba delivers his sinister mutant take on club music, Becoming Real takes us on a techno led work-out, Lixo explores tribal percussion and heavy grooves, Nicky Otter experiments with squelchy arpeggios and progressive synth lines whilst Erosion Flow soothes with ambient nuance and stripped back drums. Ten new tracks for ten formative years.
Run with love by Alex Hislop(AKA producer LIXO) GETME! has always been known for their brave and eclectic output. From it's humble beginnings as a club night in a West London pub in 2006 to now being one of the most well respected alternative institutions in the city, GETME! have long been pioneering music that isn't so easily definable."
Bristol’s No Corner celebrate 5 years of singular-minded dub mutations with a killer gangbang of classic and new, exclusive gear from El Kid (Sam Kidel), Asda, Seekersinternational, Spiritflesh, October, Jabu, Andy Mac & Ossia, Lurka, Lily, Hodge, October, O$VMV$M, Mark, Japan Blues and more.
Since its inception in 2012, No Corner the label has been a wide open meeting place for contemporary dubbers of all stripes, setting a rooted yet loosely mutable precedent that strongly echoes Bristol’s sound system heritage and is best defined as a product of that city’s post-punk, house and dubstep-drenched environment.
At 28 tracks wide, there’s a lot to take in, so we’ll head to our highlights. The Asda tracks by Seb Gainsborough (Vessel) and Chester Giles (Jabu) exemplify the breadth and dilated focus of the label somewhere between dub poetry, chamber music and concrète, best in the wist of The Desire for Light and Stars and Jubilant Songs, and no less in Japan Blues’ cracking, dub-weighted remix. Filter Dread’s Oddity meanwhile renders lushly vaporous traces of techno and up-to-the-second electronica, and Vessel’s Psychosis remix of We Need Mirrors by El Kid (Sam Kidel) spies a lesser heard, cranky niche of their industry-dub aesthetics, whereas Seekersinternational dub it hauntological on TekWeh.
However, the main thrust of the set leans towards recent, new and upcoming No Corner sounds, taking in the elusive smoke curls of Hodge’s Body Drive along with new introduction to the label such as Kinlaw with the hall-of-mirrors chords of d.3 Hash and Lurka on the weightless pressure of Friday Night Sit In The Dark, plus highly promising new projects in Spiritflesh’s echo chamber excursion, Ever Impending Doom, an exclooosey SKRS dub, TroubleRoundDiCorner, a steeply abstract one from Robin Stewart (Giant Swan), and the gully drill of Wu-Yen’s Splurge.
Cooked up especially for Samhain ’17, Croww nests a vanta-black tape of alchemical blends, special edits and original material with 'Heal Then Maim' for Faktion’s Reel Torque series.
Leading on from the decimated Slipknot mutations of Croww’s debut LP, Prosthetics for The Death of Rave, the mix encrypts a puzzlebox of ideas and themes ranging from British Murder Boys’ dalliance with Jim Jones, thru collisions of Mayhem and Conrad Schnitzler with Chino Anobi, to raging flashcore and junglist ballistics, wretching a phantasmagoric demonstration of the Manchester-based artist’s fiercely unique DJ style.
It simultaneously looks within and beyond the dance in a way that echoes the brvtalist tapestries of Rabit’s Halcyon Veil cohorts as much as the alternative timelines of Manchester’s afterhours culture. It’s a visceral meditation on body horror/body politics that crosses serrated lines between the dance, headphones and supernatural, noumenal dimensions, boldly following a non-linear path between expressive, out-of-body abstraction and kinaesthetic physicality with a confidence and vision beyond his years.
In a contemporary scene flooded with marketing/business students-as-artists and careerist DJs treating dances as focus groups, more power to Croww for having the nous to see thru it all and carve his own meta vectors across time and style. It ain’t for everyone, but those that know will go nuts for this tape.
After a long hiatus, Hyetal comes of age as a dance-pop artist in the mould of Jam City with ‘Youth & Power’, incorporating synths and songwriting by Gwilym Gold and post production by James Ginzburg (Emptyset).
"Coming together over three years since his critically acclaimed last album, Hyetal completes his transformation from off-kilter dance music producer to futurist pop visionary on Youth & Power. 'Previously my approach to writing music was very rooted in escapism,' says David Corney aka Hyetal. 'I began experiencing a sense of detachment in my life which led me to question how healthy this approach was. I wanted music to help me feel connected again.' Wrenching his music free from the 'confines of computer grids' and pushing melody to the forefront, Youth & Power's texturally rich, psychedelic palette is littered with live played synths, electric guitars, drum machines, processed noise and 'some under-loved 70s home keyboards' recorded at Hyetal's South London home studio.
'I'd describe it as experimental pop music,' says Hyetal. 'the sound is in part a return to music I was listening to as a kid, more song- and instrument-based.' Youth & Power is Hyetal's debut as a vocalist, also scrapping samples in favour of live instrumentation and hook-laden songwriting laced with myriad influences. 'I took some time out to teach myself how to sing using an app on my phone. At first I found my vocals worked best for me when there was some distance from the natural sound of my voice so everything was abstracted through a few different processes.' he explains, 'As I became more comfortable singing I decided I wanted to contrast this approach and use some natural sounding vocals that embraced the imperfections'. The album strikes a balance between robotic Kraftwerkian simplicity and soulful organic pop, contrasting the various pitch-shifting and abstracting vocal effects with sharply concise lyrics. Semblances of Hyetal's origins in Bristol's early dubstep movement are still present too, deep inside the album's meticulous rhythm beds. Elsewhere chiming retro keyboard notes and drum machine beats at times recall the likes of Yellow Magic Orchestra contrasting against waves of guitars and noise which bring to mind the influence of Bauhaus and other post punk experimentalists.
Written as a form of catharsis for Hyetal in his search to return his music from detachment, Youth & Power seeps a sense of hope. 'I found from a distance the most immediate workings of humanity can appear extremely brutal', says Hyetal, 'but when looking through this lens you miss the beauty that happens in the moment.'
After a period of silence and despair, British synth-wave group Natural Assembly returns and this time for Hospital Productions.
"The band has developed in their time off, pushing the atmosphere with the welcome addition of foreground cold guitar background-gaze vocals. A new version of their amazing underground classic track ‘When We Two Parted’ appears here reworked with new guitar modes. Natural Assembly has returned and the malaise carries on. You can see it in the eyes."
After almost a decade in incubation this incognito down-time project from two of the UK's most esoteric and fastidious purveyors of the "absolute obsolete" finally comes to fruition via a handful of club-recordings from carefully selected European events which were open minded enough to de-robe the audio-visual theatrical-trash / industrial-post-punk / battered-disco of La Stanza Nera.
Scraped from the shelves of hundreds of Minimal punk 45s, free-jazz unknowns 8mm reels, VHS tapes and repetitive mechanical funk Canty and Votel reveal an inverted side of their combined personality which has previously taken projects like the euphoric modular-electronic Neotantrik (featuring Suzanne Ciani and Bruno Spoerri) and longstanding Demdike Stare / Votel art collabs to almost every major city on the map.
Conceptually based around obscure art-house theatre and black-room cinematic dream sequences La Stanza Nera draws from a bottomless well of restrained uniformed film collages meshing trash cinema, agit-theatre, high-art and low-fidelity (in collaboration with Neotantrik's Andy Rushton) complete with a drum-heavy soundtrack of irreverent metallic disco and plastic punk... not exempt from the duo's stylistic bolt-holds of avant-garde noise and fringe-giallo sound effects).
Exacted with typified trail-and-error technique from seldom aired vinyl and cassette sources splicing treasure to trash and channelling tequila and tin-foil this series of unique one-off sporadic events and recordings come as a much welcomed outlet for Canty and Votel to combine the sleazier corners of their enviable record collections and provides an extra glimpse into the uncompromised reaches of this longstanding duo's private inverse-pop penchants.
Bombed-out power electronics by Rusty Kelley in his Country Club manner, new on Hospital Productions.
Launching combustible kicks against a wall of sampled voices, sirens, banking distortion and his own, throttled vocals calling for (or denouncing, we’re not sure) genocide and such. Proceed with caution!!!
Bittersweet, downbeat electronica ushered in careful, minimalist style with a pop appeal betraying the artist’s indie-pop background
““By restricting myself, I feel like I'm connecting with a larger arc of producers throughout time,” explains Leo Maymind. “People who were crammed into a corner of their bedroom with headphones on while the rest of the world was out gallivanting.”
Following nearly a decade entrenched into the Brooklyn DIY scene, a move to Los Angeles signalled a change in approach for Maymind, limiting his gear to a small tabletop hardware setup, sometimes as little as a single drum machine and a rackmount effects unit. Illumina is Maymind’s first full length release since this change of location and approach, focusing in on the liminal and transitional moments within the musical spectrum. The limited timbres across Illumina shift and evolve before your ears, each track unfolding at its own pace. Sometimes they reach a resolution; other times simply fading off into the ether.
“I think the commodification of music and having streaming available at all times has made listeners very impatient,” says Maymind, “even when it comes to ambient or drone music.” Illumina battles against this, the deep buried rhythms consistently getting disrupted by stray new percussive notes, or the gently sketched melodies getting spliced overhead, mutating into new textures. Inspired in part by his own stuttering problem, this element of aleatory interruption informs Maymind’s adroitly crafted minimalism on Illumina. “I wanted to make music that mirrored life more closely,” says Maymind. “Things cutting off sharply—life is full of twists and turns.””
Pompin’ teutonic techno riddled with playful nods to classic krautrock and Kölnisch ‘90s dance music...
“Hailing from Cologne, Mikrovolt is the nom de plume of music journalist and radio author Veit König. Recorded sporadically over the last six years, his first release I is the culmination of a hitherto undocumented musical journey. König has always made music for the last two decades, initially starting more pop-oriented before heading into a space disco direction, ultimately arriving at the retro-robotic synthesizer kraut of Mikrovolt’s I.
Assembled in his DAW from a host of vintage organ, mellotron, drum machine, and rhythm loop samples, König stays true to this music’s cybertronic roots, locking into epic robotic pulses that sprawl into futuristic jams. König colors the synthetic palette with guitar, harmonica, or other percussion when necessary, but it’s his dab-hand for driving grooves that defines the music here. While the influence of classic German acts like Neu!, Cluster or Kraftwerk is discernible, Mikrovolt’s sprawling minimalist grooves owe just as much to composers Steve Reich and Philip Glass, Italian horror movie soundtracks and the era of techno and electronica in which he grew up.”
Low-key, decayed and moody ambient electronica from Switzerland via Mexico City and Chicago.
“Recorded with a modest hardware setup in Geneva - one drum machine, a few synths, a sampler, plus effects - the ten miniatures on LEVELS’ debut S/T are nonetheless dense in atmosphere and mood, often immensely beautiful beyond their means. As suggested by the project’s name, each track has the feel of a new level on a video game; a new environment to explore, to feel around for new clues, and ultimately to conquer.
Referencing classic anime, movie, and videogame scores, LEVELS’ willfully minimal sound palette is designed to give the listener a cinematic sensation. The sparser and more lo-fi sounds on side A have the listener tentatively exploring futuristic new spaces, wandering hallways of ambient beds and kick drum heartbeats. However, the busier rhythms and crisper melodies of the second side tell of the action that happens next, picking up the pace for keyboard-heavy chases, drum machine action sequences, and some gorgeously redemptive emotional peaks.”
Following a decade playing bass for Disappears, Damon Carruesco aka TüTH forwards a more expressive solo sound with the meterless greyscale prangs and looming drone shadows of Transgression
“Aiming to search out his own limits, potential, and abilities as an artist, the atmospheric sounds on Transgression are Carruesco’s attempt to make atmospheric electronic music that exists outside of "the grid". Transgression draws from field recordings and hand-made sounds, taking key inspiration from brutalist architecture, the acousmatic music of Romanian composer Iancu Dumitrescu, and the passing of somebody very close to the artist. Throughout Transgression throbbing tones play out into cavernous otherworldly atmospheres, while bass demons collide with far icier synthesizers issuing moody melodic patterns.
The references for this deeply abstract music are few and far between - the most fractured and sparse dub, Tangerine Dream’s earliest primordial trips, György Ligeti’s creaking galactic symphonies - so with Transgression, TüTH has appeared as his very own, unique, and fully fledged new voice.”
Ólafur Arnalds and Janus Rasmussen's Kiamos duo follow their 2012 debut 12" with a fully fledged LP of posh dance music.
Both artists approach the project from similar angles, marrying mutual taste for mnml tech-house rhythms with more mannered neo-classical sensibilities. It includes the previous single track, 'Thrown' plus seven new compositions, at best in the elegant swing of 'Swayed' and the melancholic electro-house shuffle of 'Bent'. "“We decided to start almost completely over with this record, so most of the material is written this year with the idea of making a record that can stand as one piece rather than a collection of songs. I am very excited to get a proper record out exploring a different territory than I am used to. I touch a lot on electronic genres in my own music but never have the opportunity to go full out electronic like we do here.” – Ólafur Arnalds. “
The Kiasmos project has been around since 2009, but because of all our other projects we never really got the time to sit down and write all the tracks we always wanted to. So when we early this year finally found the time to sit down and make a full length album there was so much we wanted to try out. The result surprised us a bit, it's deeper and more emotional than we imagined it to be, but that's the beauty of being able to make an album.” – Janus Rasmussen"
A 45 minute mix of previously unreleased Untold productions with a 45 minute studio-recorded live PA by Duckett, following on from Hodge and Don’t DJ’s initial edition.
Untold runs the gamut of lop-sided techno, digi-dancehall drops, pneumatic grime and deconstructed club stuff drawn from no less than 25 unreleased dubs on his side.
Duckett draws for a special, studio-recorded live PA on his turn, wiggling thru spades of slinky minimal tech-house and bleeping, grubbing electronic mutations.