New album from sound artist and composer Bill Thompson.
"Bill Thompson's work is concerned with various aspects of perception and embodied presence. Using found objects, field recordings, repurposed electronics and digital media, his installations encourage active attention to each moment. He applies this same strategy within his compositions which often include sustained tones, densely layered textures and indeterminate or improvised structures.
Although trained as a guitarist, Thompson has worked primarily with live electronics for 20 years. In 2016, he returned to guitar (by Moog) combined with miscellaneous tabletop devices, found objects, flashing lights and the occasional vibrator.
"Black Earth Tongue" is based on material composed when working on the project Mushroom! with the contemporary dance group In the Making for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2016. Track titles are taken from (mis)translations of Japanese or Latin names for various fungi."
Julia Holter, Arca, Ana Roxanne, Kelsey Lu, Blood Orange, Joseph Shabason & Thom Gill, Jeremy Dutcher and Bon Iver & Flock of Dimes rework the resurfaced ‘80s gems of pioneering synthesist Beverly Glenn-Copeland
A cross-generational show of solidarity, ‘Keyboard Fantasies Reimagined’ draws connections between decades, genders, and continents thru the transcendent prism of synthesisers. It features Arca at her most sanguine, shorn of more typical manias in a trembling take on ‘Let Us Dance’, and Julia Holter projects some of her most voluminous strokes in a loud/quiet remix of ‘Fastest Star’.
Ana Roxanne shows why they’re often hailed in same breath as Enya and Eno with a hauntingly beautiful remix of ‘Old (New) Melody’, and Blood Orange blurs the lines between then/now with the sublime Afro-rhythmelodic lilt of their take on ‘Sunset Village’.
JD Twitch’s limited mixtape series comes to a close with a tenth and final instalment on 'Sketches For Winter’, yielding a wistful cartography of choral folk song, cinematic mise-en-scene, high tog ambient dub and seasonal string sections for the good of yr health.
Signing off with a flourish, Twitch ties a rosy red ribbon around his considerable collection, which once again provides a reliable source of good energies, twisting kaleidoscopic styles to land on fractal not fractional expressions of life-giving music at each turn, and providing a real education for diggers and lovers of all stripes in the process.
’Sketches For Winter’ is a sibling to his ‘Sketches For Summer’ tape, and a festive special all wrapped up in one. Taking inspiration from his daily walks, Twitch follows a cottony thread of logic from massed Gaelic psalm singing to flickering torchsongs across the mix’s 90 minutes, staying on topic with romantic sashays into ice-skating and heavenly pizzicato harps, sweeping shoegaze beauties, and then finally mooching thru stormier low pressure systems that ideally balance the mood.
oh my dayz this is unreal, keeling levels of radio and rave nostalgia with a cherry-picked volley of adverts from London pirate radio 1984-1993 somewhere between Mark Leckey’s Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore, Lee Gamble's 'Diversions' and Sublime Frequencies’ best radio surveys, except focussed much closer to home to capture an era that now seems like an entirely alternate reality.
Scanning the airwaves of a golden era in London history between 1984-1993 when dancehall soundsystem culture fostered the early stirrings and full rush of hardcore, Death Is Not The End turn their beady ear to one of the epicentres of UK rave music with stacks of raggo vignettes advertising everything from Greek salons to school reunions, video shops, datelines, drug helplines, and dances, each set to backdrops of contemporaneous club, rare groove, jungle and house.
As much as anything, the set speaks to London’s inimitable, cultural variegation, charting the myriad voices and flavours that make up the city’s stylistic mosaic, and would go on to deeply inform British pop and dance culture for decades to come. It’s as thrilling as Sublime Frequencies’ best radio surveys, but with an extra layer of familiarity for UK listeners, not just those who lived thru that era, but anyone who had the radio crackling as ambient wallpaper during that era. Unfortunately I can only recall RTE or jingles for South Cleveland Garages on radio from this era in our gaff, but if you allow for some vicarious nostalgia, this tape documents a rich slice of the collective cultural memory that we’ve all come to share.
YOUTH catch sculptor/painter/DIY free spirit Sockethead in scuzziest form, spanking his synths, drum machines & vox into the nuttiest freestyle session; a feral stream-of-consciousness that comes highly recommended if yr into owt from Michael J Blood to Madteo to Actress.
Delivered off-the-cuff in possessed hollers lathered in FX, ‘Auma’ is as close as you’ll get to the heart of Sockethead’s sound in its element. Sharing a mutual, blitzed soul spirit with his bredders Michael J. Blood and Tom “Rat Heart” Boogz, the proceedings often draw outside the lines, spieled with a proper mashed flow that’s a pleasure to follow if u skew to the left of centre: think Madteo meets Ossia at Urban Tribe’s gaff and you’re in the right echo chamber.
Blowing between hip-shot lazer dub chords, krooked Detroit beatdown and mazy reverbs, Sockethead toggles the pressure on and off the bad/good foot into doom-stepper momentum and frazzled drum machine blatz with a radgy flow that speaks to all angles of his influences, absorbed from years as a NQ rat and patron of Manni’s most enduring club nights. If u were feeling his standout ‘Harj-o-Marj’ album or his hookup with Rat Heart’s BodyTronixxx, this one will push yr buttons.
Aye, it’s a madness.
Florian T M Zeisig builds a physical long-form blend of, eerie fuzz and dubzone ambient. If you enjoyed recent deployments from Space Afrika, Jake Muir and the Experiences Ltd - this one's a shoo in.
Concepts have driven Zeisig's most successful releases: 2020's ‘Coatcheck’ was inspired by time working at Berghain, and this year's 'Music For Parents' was assembled after the producer was introduced to vibroacoustic therapy via his mother. 'Walking Mix' is on a more utilitarian theme, but no less rewarding as it trudges through Zeisig's archive, weaving fudgy illbient into neon dub hiss. It's the warmth that immediately hits - each selection sounds as if it's from a different musical zone - the unifying factor a burning humidity that sweats off each sound.
Fourth world exotica and grimy percussive instrumentals get spliced with haunted soundtrack vibrations, avant classical into dislocated R&B and skeletal jungle bass echoes thru ketamine wind tunnels. Zeisig is an impressive selector, and this extended journey into his musical world is the perfect accompaniment to a winter stroll in the dark early evening.
Baby its fucking cold outside.
Literally brain-tickling sonic magick here from Berlin's Zenxen in the vein of Coil's unsurpassed "Time Machines" but with an added ASMR kick.
Yeah yeah we've heard enough ambient sleeping aids to put an elephant in a 40-year coma, but Benedikt Ellebrecht’s research into neural oscillations and sleep cycles at least adds a bit of science to the equation. Using sampling techniques to recreate alpha, theta and delta waves to model the brain sonically as it changes sleep states, his lulling drones provide a backdrop for further exploration with environmental recordings and eardrum-fluxing rhythmic tricks.
At its best, it sounds like pure abstract psychedelia, fusing a hallucinogenic weirdness with a kind of narrative storytelling and pitch-black ambience - managing to escape the trappings of a well-worn concept. On 'Universal Immanence', with its pitch-shifted voices and caressing sub bass, we’re in a DMT-induced rave flashback, while 'Immersing Void' feels like a VR cryo chamber with classic Chain Reaction gear for its soundtrack.
Chilly, temporally-unstable music.
Sven-Åke Johansson performs Florian Bräunlich "Safe Crash".
"Evidence hints at the event. Parts of broken drumsticks, a sound recording, a photograph and a written approach. Traces, relics. The work Safe Crash by visual artist Florian Bräunlich consists of porcelain drumsticks, plastic buckets, a wooden platform, varnish, cymbals, cymbal stands, a floor tom and a spotlight on which the second release of „dispari“ is based.
A sound recording witnesses Sven-Åke Johansson’s performance of Florian Bräunlich’s Safe Crash at HFBK, Hamburg in September 2020. The moment Johansson begins to play with the porcelain drumsticks, he transfers them into another state. In the course of the performance, the melodic-rhythmic sounds shift perceptibly towards the material exploration of the porcelain. Johansson – a style-defining drummer of the German free jazz era of the 60s and 70s; from the 80s onwards, he pursued an artistic path as a music performer in the circles of fine arts and new music – works out all aspects and parameters of the material’s sonority, tries to make the objects audible in their quality. His playing is an immediate response to the sound of the things he is working with. Listening to the recording reveals the insatiable curiosity with which he explores the material before it breaks. It is a venture he undertakes, an experiment, an investigation. Little by little, he adopts the dysfunctionality of the drumsticks. Owing to the way the material is used, the minimalistic piece seems like an adaptation of the orgies of material destruction known from Fluxus, which were paralleled by a musicalization of the everyday world. Any object could become an instrument.
Johansson carries Bräunlich’s sculptural work forward; based on his touch, his play, he amplifies what is already inherent in the form. Though the function and materiality of the objects initially appear as a contradiction, it is precisely this contradiction that heightens their performative quality. The ephemeral nature of sound is set in relation to the supposed permanence of the medium of sculpture. The process of fragmentation leads to the final state, the final form – splinters all over the place. For each publication some of the relics are placed in a cardboard box together with a sound recording on a single sided C-28 cassette tape, a hand-printed letterpress poster and postcards.
It is a play with the immediacy of the performance, the lingering sound – the during and the after."
Legendary dub master Dennis ‘Blackbeard’ Bovell MBE does The Pop Group a dead solid version of their seminal ’79 side, ‘Y’ gutting and rendering their wiry post-punk in tightly rude but rambunctious form
Chasing up the band’s live rendition of 2020, the original 9 tracks appear here filleted for funk, with gristle tossed in the bin and Bovell effectively puppeteering their much younger limbs with specialist animist tekkers. In a proper livication, not dedication, to the band’s mutant avant dub-punk styles, Bovell bring out the studio duppies to play, finding and pronouncing the space in between the grooves in a way that totally reenergises his original work on the record while marking distance travelled from the 1979 studio sessions.
At its maddest on the likes of his GRM-style rendering of ‘Savage Sea’, the whole thing feels only just about tethered to reality, with no two bars left wanting for kinetic, corkscrewing details as Bovell’s deft hands flash across the desk. From the needlepoint step and razor cut parries of ‘Thief Of Dreams’ to the recoiling echo chamber abstraction and reggae disco thrum of ‘3:38’ this is no cursory “in dub” session, but a systemic overhaul of the album’s bones, muscle and sinew, with vocals like a possessed presence, dissected into shrieks, yelps that cut thru the smoke.
Expert-level dub punk business.
Sickest Kenyan drill/genge/rap crud from DJ Iche, racking up her first international release with Nyege Nyege Tapes’s rogue sibling, Hakuna Kulala
Unflinchingly upfront and echoing the viral US/UK sound, but mostly rapped in Bantu Swahili, ’Nai Yetu’ is an unmissable introduction, where needed, to the world of Kenyan urban music. It stars a stellar roll call of Mombassa’s hottest drill rappers; Natty, Buruklyn Boyz, Dyana Cods, Jovie Jovv, Da Vaji, Tulia, Wakandinali, Mbogi Genje - as well as select cuts of the more dancefloor-primed Gengetone sound from the likes of Mbogi Genje / SWAT/ Kenya Sihami/ Oksyde, and contemporary Kenyan “urban”, such as Nah Eeto / Monski/ Oksyde ft. Ares66 - BAZUU/ Mastar VK, for 74 minutes of properly crucial listening.
At the helm is DJ Iche, a central player in Mombassa, whose production and singing is heard across her mix, bridging the related but distinctive styles, and toggling the pressure in a way that mirrors the road-level heat and molten flows that links southside Chicago to London’s north/south sounds and Brooklyn right now. Like the Ghanaian drill styles showcased by the likes of Shannen SP in the UK, DJ Iche’s take on the genre portrays the young Kenyan sound at its most rugged, replete with icy minor key motifs and transfixing glyding basses, but also leaning into killlller bits juggling jungle and drill and its Gengetone parallels unique to Kenya.
Trust it’s 100% flames.
Raime + Valentina Magaletti's Moin project sum up their influences on a class 90 min mixtape delivered in the wake of a their ace debut album ‘Moot!'.
Marking nearly 10 years since Joe Andrews, Tom Halstead and Valentina Magaletti’s side-project emerged on their Confessions (a sublabel of Blackest Ever Black) split with Pete Swanson, the mix renders a scuzzy deep dive into their enviable record collections, racking up a feral selection of bullets that reek of beer-stained back room pub carpets, cigs and sweat. Beloved for their numerous mixtapes over the years, the group here fuck off the mixing in favour of a no frills barrage of angst-ridden, snotty vocals and wiry guitars delivered with armfuls of jittery melodies designed to an adrenalin rush. Aye, no need for ID’s on this one, just join the dots between their overarching love of underground energy in its myriad, direct and obtuse forms.
Ulla’s recordings of phone conversations and wildlife diffuse into the most vaporous and unsettling ambient dub textures on the third in our Documenting Sound series, recorded over the last few weeks in Philadelphia and recalling Sam Kidel’s ‘Disruptive Muzak’, DJ Lostboi’s ambient hymnals and Vladislav Delay’s Chain Reaction pearls.
Pieced together from airspun recordings made in Philadelphia during spring 2020, ’inside means inside me’ holds a subtle mirror to the new world’s psychic ambiance of existential, slowburn dread. Prizing the sensitively insightful, lower case manner that made Ulla’s recent 'Tumbling Towards A Wall’ album so memorable, here the sound is more poignant, the dissociative flux used to perhaps more therapeutic effect for an ephemeral reading of the times.
In the first half, Ulla makes a subtly heartbreaking use of crackling phone calls and dub stabs, but embedded in the music’s weft they take on an unsettling resolution that’s hard to place. On the flip, more entwined conversations snag in the breeze with location recordings and scudding hypnagogic washes with a signature low key movement that keep you feeling swaddled but uneasy until the end.
After releasing one of the year’s most remarkable records with ‘iki', Japanese pipe-organ builder and sound artist Yosuke Fujita returns with this remarkable 40 minute contribution to our Documenting Sound series, recorded in a cave at the foot of Mt. Fuji and featuring his custom-built pipe organ in duet with a colony of bats indigenous to the area. It’s a beautiful, quietly extraordinary trip.
Traditional Japanese gagaku, the slow and elegant form of classical court music extant since the 7th century, is once again at the heart of this material, but this time in a modulated, interwoven tapestry with what Fujita calls the "inaudible sounds” of nature around him. ‘KŌMORI.’ Named after the Japanese word for bats, revolves around three long pieces, including one for organ and bats, an organ solo, and one created solely from bat calls, all neatly captured using a Sunken CO-100K microphone capable of recording up to 100kHz, and therefore able to net the bats’ ultrasonic echolocation tekkers.
Furthering Fujiiiiiiiiiiita’s fascinations with sounds on the threshold of perception, in the first piece he presents a duet for organ and bats, tones turn to near silence, and then a strobing attack on the senses, while the 2nd part features organ solo around plaintively enchanting motifs, and the third, perhaps most moving part, commits 15 mins of totally otherworldly bat sounds ready to be deciphered by the keenest ears.
For anyone who copped ‘Iki,’ this will no doubt be a buy-on-sight item, and for everyone else, welcome to a world of utterly enthralling, surprising new sounds.
"I'm always looking for new sounds. That desire is at the heart of my life, so it remained the same in the turbulence of the coronavirus. And, I’m also looking for inaudible sounds, so it's natural for me to focus on the bat's echolocation.
Bats were the source of the viruses causing Ebola, rabies, Nipah and Hendra virus infections, Marburg virus disease, and strains of Influenza A virus. Interestingly, coronaviruses and bats are locked in an evolutionary arms race in which the viruses are constantly evolving to evade the bat immune system and bats are evolving to withstand infections from coronaviruses. My music also has to evolve."
Third and final part of Conor Thomas’ ‘nuum-scanning mixtape trifecta - 5 hours of late ‘90s/early ‘00s hip hop, ragga and mutant R&B thru 00’s broken beat, dark garage, grime, bassline, dubstep, and UKF dug from dusty boxes.
An unfettered exercise in nostalgia, Reel Torque Vol. 22 marks 20 years of Conor owning a set of decks, racking up lost favourites and greasy white labels before they become rinsed to death. It was recorded during the end of a 6 (month) stretch in the bowels of Boro, where he naturally found himself excavating tunes that were precious to him as a 17 y.o., but have since slipped into the mists of memory - from weirdo dancehall to obscure Japanese hip hop, mutant UK/US R&B and beatdown Braindance - before joining the dots of the subsequent decade; when he ran Manchester’s first dubstep events and was inspired by clubnights such as Sequence, Hot Milk and Swing Ting, and lurked hard on the Dissensus forum.
Following directly from the preceding volumes of Reel Torque Vol. Douzzze Pt. Deux, and the hardcore pressure of The Smoking Man Redux, the first tape racks up a load of c.90-100BPM styles, toggling the pressure between strains of hip hop and rap mutations, ganja-mad ragga, Miami oddities and major US R&B on one side, feeding into dark garage, broken beat and proto dubstep on the flip. Tape 2 commits to the pre-smoking ban early years of dubstep, back when Pelicanneck was the only place in MCR you could buy it (to snarky side-eyes from folk who’d get into it later), and then runs up on its grime and bassline sparring partners, before tape 3 goes all-in on the golden years of UK Funky, from its formative soca and US Afro-house flavours to its collision with grime and reams of golden late decade bangers - basically 2007-2011.
It’s not gospel business, but a rudely personal attempt to follow the evolution of the ‘nuum, as outlined by likes of Steve Goodman, Mark Fisher and Kodwo Eshun, and with nuff inspiration from bossmen Shlom and DJ Miles, Samrai DJ, and artists who played at Ploy and the long-forgotten Curve sessions.
Bliss-kissed balearic ambience from Mallorca’s Nueen, arriving on Quiet Time Tapes in the glistening wake of their gorgeous ‘Nova Llum’ turn for GMT. RIYL Huerco S., Ulla, Pataphysical
‘Circular Sequence’ sees Nueen take inspiration from their unusually quiet home island, which - depleted of tourists - revealed itself in new ways. While patently fitting of the balearic descriptor, the seven tracks of ‘Circular Sequence’ deftly sidestep that sound’s cheesier aspects to get right under the skin and experiment with its quintessence, resulting in a much more personalised and intimate conception of balearic ambient that may actually be too quiet and subtle for even chill out rooms.
The sound is unmistakably warm and woozy, synaesthetically connoting the feel of sun on skin and bright light gradating to dusk over its gentle narrative arc, with the gossamer pads of ’Soft Air’ melting into the vaporous contrails of ’Syn’ and feathered dance of ‘Moving II’ with sublime sensuality, before ‘the subtly frayed, lemniscate loops of ‘Decoding’ give way to heart-in-mouth crepuscularity of ‘A Pattern’ and the Ulla-esque temple stroke of ‘Wait Until Then’ parts to the puckered balearic guitar strums of ‘Departure’ and we’re ready to do it all again.
Properly smoked late night genius from an unholy triumvirate of mad ones doing things their own way - big RIYL Actress, Urban Tribe, Dopplereffekt.
Chasing up a pair of instantly sold out tapes from Michael J Blood x Rat Heart earlier in the year, plus the desiccated street soul of LGHTR KRU’s debut on the same label, the shapeshifting duo tag in YOUTH MVP Sockethead for only his 2nd razz after the ‘Harj-o-Marj’ album left everyone reeling in 2020. Their ‘True Volume 1’ is basically the sound of three likeminds getting slanted in the studio, each bringing a personal wealth of knowledge in the fields of deep US dance music, crooked UK soul, Afrobeats and dare-to-differ Manc steez to their fuzzy beatdown gumbo: a real one for the tokers and nocturnal cranks.
Sockethead’s blunted vocals lend the special ingredient to the trio’s rude production, voicing his bellyaches in a sort of cloudrap-adjunct mumble and half-cut song style perfectly complemented by the production’s furred artery flow that weaves in and out of the grid with effortless swing, one minute yr in a sort of alternate, slowed and f*cked manc version of Gerald Donald’s earliest output as Glass Domain, the next in an Actress-like fug of synths and smoke.
If you’re reading this, the previous MJB x Rat Heart collabs will have nicely set the scene, but this one's just on another plain of madness, squeezing permutations of gauzy dream house, jazz croon, lo-fi hyperboogie, and slo-mo electro into something pretty much indefinable, plumbing the depths of a now expanded freeform psyche on some of the most squashed, deliriously smashed electronic music you’ll hear from anyone, anywhere, any time.
A writhing hardcore masterclass from Nkisi. Recorded the same night as Elena Colombi's entry, it offers an inverted counterpart to that set's languid business.
"Nkisi wrings a supple and hypnotizing atmosphere from the most astringent and defiant selections, using 170+ bpm kickdrums and scythe-like percussion to envelop the listener. Creation and destruction merge in a fluid void state. NSFW."
Joyous rhythmelodic gems from outernational trio Asa Tone, meshing feathered gamelan patterns and fractal electronics in a refreshing exploration of new age, 4th world and minimalist styles - RIYL Steve Reich, Beatrice Dillon, Craig Leon, Visible Cloaks
After glistening introductions made on their debut ‘Temporary Music’ at the head of 2020, here Jakarta-Born Melati Malay meets NYC’s Tristan Arp and Kaazi in a live context, commissioned and recorded by Yu Su’s virtual online event for the New Forms Festival in Vancouver later that same year. Variously dialled in from their respective locations in CDMX, NYC, and the Aussie rainforest, the performance crystallises a pool of generative loops, field recordings and hushed vox into a gorgeous 30 minute flow of lilting metallic percussion and colourful 4th world plumage that was presented via Zoom, and later adapted and spatialized by Yu Su for a 4D sound / 32 channel audio system at Vancouver’s Lobe Studios, where it was accompanied by custom video from artist Nika Milano.
It’s a real pleasure for drum disciples; weft in hyperspace, the work unfurls a ribboning sequence of deftly dubbed out, iridescent patterning that lands effervescent on the mind, dancing on the pineal with exquisitely puckered footwork that barely touches the ground and operates according to its own light-headed logic. Although hyper-pointillist in construction the results reel with a sort of sublime tension and elliptical cadence that tempers the heart-quickening flux of extended melody between its quieter passages and strobing peaks in a manner that never feels trying, just effortlessly transportive and mesmerising.
‘Archive Series Volume no. 5: Tallahassee Recordings’ is the lost-in-time debut album from Iron & Wine. A collection of songs recorded three years prior to his official Sub Pop debut, ‘The Creek Drank the Cradle’ (2002). A period before the concept of Iron & Wine existed and principal songwriter Sam Beam was studying at ‘Archive Series Volume no. 5’ documents the very first steps on a journey that would lead to a career as one of America’s most original and distinctive singer-songwriters.
"‘The Creek Drank the Cradle’ arrived like a thief in the night with its lo-fi, hushed vocals and intimate nature, while almost inversely Tallahassee comes with a strange sense of confidence. Perhaps an almost youthful discretion that likely comes from being too young to know better and too naïve to give a shit. The recordings themselves are more polished than ‘The Creek Drank the Cradle’ and give a peak into what a studio version of that record might have offered up. ‘Archive Series Volume no. 5’ was recorded over the course of 1998-1999 when Beam and future bandmate EJ Holowicki moved into a house together. Beam had not been performing publicly however, he was known for playing an original song or two in the early morning glow of a long night. Holowicki - also in the film program and who would go onto a career as a sound designer at Skywalker Sound - had a mobile recording device and after some prodding convinced his friend to record these latenight meditations. Together they would record close to twenty-four songs, ideas and sketches, with EJ on bass and Sam on vocals, guitar, harmonica and drums.
The recordings - all captured in the house where they lived - have a ‘live in the room’ feel akin to say Neil Young’s ‘Harvest’ or Nick Drake’s ‘Five Leaves Left’, rather than the homespun lo-fi 4-track home recording experiment taking place at the time. These recordings, minus one track, have never been made available and were instead left preserved on a hard drive for the last twenty years. The one track that floated out there, called ‘In Your Own Time’ was shared without a title to childhood friend Ben Bridwell (Band of Horses) at some point. The song became known as the ‘Fuck Like A Dog’ song and Ben shared it with more than a few folks during the golden era of mix CDs. Two of those folks were Jonathan Poneman from Sub Pop and journalist Mike McGonigal, who included it on his best songs of 2001 mix CD, passed out to friends and acquaintances. And for many that is where the Iron & Wine story begins, until now. ‘Archive Series Volume no. 5’ is the foreword to your favourite book that you’ve somehow skipped over time and time again. It’s an alternative history mixed with some revisionist history told over the course of eleven songs. It’s also the debut record by Iron & Wine some twenty years after the fact."
Give the drummer some; JD Twitch hits a core influence with bags of rolling percussion and syncopated breaks on the penultimate edition of his limited mixtape sessions.
While all previous tapes in the series have shown off Twitch’s exemplary mix and blend skills, this is the one where he really comes into his own. Getting down to the roots of pure dancefloor music, he lets fly with subtly contrasting batteries of hands-on-skins and chopped up breakbeats bound to whip crowds into a spin. The first, entitled ‘Let There Be Percussion’ hails the African and Afro-Latin fundamentals in a seamless flow of human-played rhythmelody, prizing rare and brilliant selections that escape our ID abilities, transitioning between pure drum tracks, jazzier variants, and hypnotic melds of machine and manmade grooves on a real tour of the houses certain to loosen the hips, and the heads will follow.
The other side’s ‘There Will Be Breaks’ sees him deploy, in his own words “a mixed mix of drum heavy, syncopated music, much of of which was originally played by humans and then sampled.” With bodies primed by the A-side, he takes it out there with more layered, swingeing and cut-up tekkers, following lines into the likes of Psychedelic Warriors From Gaia’s tribalist early techno, Beatrice Dillon’s feathered UKFunk modernism, Carl Craig, James Brown, The Incredible Bongo Band, and early UK hardcore.
"The Nearer The Fountain, More Pure The Stream Flows", is the new studio album from Damon Albarn on Transgressive Records.
"The Nearer The Fountain, More Pure The Stream Flows was originally intended as an orchestral piece inspired by the landscapes of Iceland. This last year has seen Albarn return to the music in lockdown and develop the work to 11 tracks which further explore themes of fragility, loss, emergence and rebirth. The result is a panoramic collection of songs with Albarn as storyteller. The album title is taken from a John Clare poem Love and Memory.
Albarn says “I have been on my own dark journey while making this record and it led me to believe that a pure source might still exist.”"
Crucial drop of clockworked-hipped Kwaito from South Africa, 2005-06, scanning the playful precedent of Gqom over seven goodies out of Pretoria.
Perhaps best known to ravers outside SA for classics from DJ Mujava and DJ Cndo, Kwaito was the region’s dominant dance sound during the mid-late ’00s, and paralleled or even predated to some extents UKF up our way. ‘Drums of Pitori’ is a mesmerising survey of works by Machance and his spar DJ Abbas, who passed away in 2008. PSSNGR and Promesses jointly provide the first official international dispatch of their work, shelling seven proper heaters peppered with Machance’s call-and-response vocals charmingly time-stamped to that era with the likes of ’Nokia’ making use of ringtones on a wicked blend of minor key motifs and that signature martial machine drive.
For the DJs and dancers, this lot are low-key must checks. ‘He Kheya Ndon’ comes on a crisp, bubbling sort of ‘90s house flex with ohrwurming vocal stabs, and we're really partial to the gasping samples and splashy drums of ‘Kuku’, while the choral stabs and rolling snares of ‘Ledombolo’ can’t help but call to mind Belgian new beat to our lugs, and who can deny the similarities between ‘Thula Mazenke’ or ‘Mahwafa’ and UKF bangers from Mario, Scotti Dee or DVA - Just add garage subs?
Jon K lands on Tom “Rat Heart” Boogizm’s cult $hotta Tapes imprint with a sick, metamorphic mixtape running myriad permutations of rudeness for ravers of all persuasions including unreleased cuts from his just minted MAL recordings imprint.
Longtime allies, Jon K and Boogizm go way back, so this mixtape was kinda inevitable, with results that speak to their mutual thing for bass-heavy, spaced-out and style-switching tekkers properly rooted in Manchester’s weirding way of DJ martial arts. Dancehall, rap, grime, drill, UKG, hardcore breaks, serialism, electro, bleep techno, mutant business; it’s all there and then some, throwing down a serious masterclass in how to join dots across eons and geographies in a way that rings true with Tony Wilson’s insistence that “Manchester kids have the best record collections” - and know how to put them together.
Jon’s decades of experience picking up records since the ‘80s and spinning them since the ‘90s really burns thru in the selection and seamless sleight of hand transitions, as you’d expect if you copped his classic hard copies for Reel Torque, The Trilogy Tapes, Few Crackles and Cav Empt, or the ruck of them strewn online.
We don’t need to go on - but this one is pretty, pretty fucking good, like. Nose to tail it’s closest to one of his club sets, toggling the pressure gauge with a mesmerising metric magick where dancehall elides ghetto-tech and bleep techno melts into steppers dub, clearly staking out the rhizomic diaspora of contemporary dance music in a seriously unblinkered testament to his unfathomable collection and ‘floor faithful vision. Sleep and weep, chiefs; this one won’t hang around.
A new addition to the Hakuna Kulala family, Congolese producer Chrisman torches the borders between gqom, trap, taraxina and Afrohouse on his debut release 'Ku Mwezi' - a potent club cocktail that's one part Slikback, one part DJ Lag and one part DJ Plead = next gen dancefloor futurism.
Erupting in a haze of trance arps, gqom-influenced kicks and convulsing synths, 'Hewa' is an apt introduction to Chrisman's musical star system. Currently the in-house engineer at Nyege Nyege's villa studio - having recently replaced Don Zilla - he brings serious technical knowhow to the kind of cybernetic next-wave intensity familiar from Kenyan wunderkind Slikback, slowing gqom to a ruff crawl, cross pollenating it with Atlanta trap and double-timing it into frenetic hard dance.
The title track offers a curveball; a collab with Egyptian mahraganat alchemist Yunis that evolves from a molasses-slow Cairo template into eerie, synth-led 2CB nightmare fuel. It's a midpoint between 3Phaz's furious electro-mahraganat hybrids and Jasmine Infiniti's aerated, midnight electronix, but without any easy payoffs. 'Lamuka' and 'Mukwano Gwange' lock into a Durban rattle, slicing into the template and introducing weightless vocals and synths, anxious percussion and nauseous atmospherics.
Chrisman once again demonstrates East Africa’s rich seam of delirious club invention. The Hakuna/Nyege axis is basically untouchable, still.
Luke Owen expands his beloved NTS show and cult label into a full-fledged musical project with this hypnotic selection of turntablist blues, folk and gospel sounds. Like the Caretaker let loose on a box of American Primitive recordings - crackle blues!
For years now, Owen has been building a collection of crumbling blues, pirate radio hauntology, spiritual music, ghost folk and dusty proto jazz, sharing it on his excellent NTS show and via his eponymous label. Now, armed with a pitch-controlled turntable and delay pedal, he gives some of these sounds his own unique spin, piping the music thru a process that magnifies the feeling of melancholy and nostalgia.
Woozy and disorienting, each track highlights the imperfections in the recordings, allowing surface noise and tape hiss to turn into instruments of their own. It's like a hybrid of Philip Jeck and Leyland Kirby: ghostly and distinct, but deep and absorbing, re-contextualising old sounds without a shred of cynicism.
Christina Vantzou inaugurates Zin Taylor and Emilie Lauriola's newly minted Slow Moves label with this low key stunner of an album, once again throwing us into off-piste shadow realms through a use of veiled field recordings, padded synths and oblique, quiet instrumentation - a perfect follow-up to last year’s deeply hallucinogenic 'Multi Natural’ album and highly recommended if you’re as bowled over by Michèle Bokanowski’s film score work as we are.
'Releasing Spores’ is described by Vantzou as “…a soundtrack of events, composed and delivered as a documentary about a place…”, and blasts off into alien landscapes designed to confuse the senses: synthesizer sounds that mimic instruments, field recordings that sound synthesized - and so on. Each layer is designed to invoke a mental knot, fluxing between the digital sophistication of contemporary experimental electronics and the dusty nostalgia of old wildlife documentaries, Boards of Canada’s famed early interludes and dispassionate 1970s sci-fi sound design.
Evoking colours that lie outside our visible spectrum; Vantzou’s take on Minimalism is like one of those vast submerged cities, from the surface you observe little more than a ripple, but dive in and a whole world materialises before your eyes. This is music designed for immersive listening; offsetting subtle mood shifts with expansive sound staging and spatial shenanigans designed to heighten emotional rather than academic resonance - never succumbing to any aesthetic lowest common denominators. Much like Michèle Bokanowski, Vantzou manages to find that elusive spot between the overly emotional and the sterile, instead caressing the senses with sounds that at turns glow and disorientate. The trick is to submit completely.
New on Room 40's Tape series.
"It may sound implausible now, but in the early 2000s Australia felt a long way away from the rest of the world. Brisbane, where I still live today, felt even further removed. This remoteness had its challenges, but also its charms.
In 2001, Zane Trow then director of the Brisbane Powerhouse invited me to perform at an Open Day for the centre with my trio I/O3 and DJ Olive. I didn’t realise it at the time, but this engagement would spark a number of connections that tie directly into this edition. Following that live performance (released as Powerhouse Sessions in 2002), I was invited to curate a performance series, Fabrique, focused on new and emergent musics for Brisbane Powerhouse. At the same time, DJ Olive mentioned that he had started a new imprint, Phonomena, with Toshio Kajiwara and one of the first releases they were planning was from Aki Onda, whom Olive described as using a set of Walkmans that make a whole universe. I was intrigued.
The following year, Aki Onda not only produced Cassette Memories Volume I ‘Ancient And Modern' for Phonomena, but a few months later released a second volume ‘Bon Voyage!’ with the always inspiring Improvised Music From Japan label. Both of these editions marked out overlapping territories relating to tape music, field recordings and most of all perceptions of memory (how it is lost and then found again, how it can constructed and deconstructed - sometimes simultaneously). In early 2004, I wrote to Aki and invited him to Australia for a series of performances including two in Brisbane; one at Fabrique and another as part of NineHoursNorth, a dedicated program of Japanese music I was curating at the Judith Wright Centre Of Contemporary Art.
Each of Aki’s performances typified the expansive nature of his practice. Although the medium and tools may have been identical (cassettes, Walkmans, delay pedals and fender twin amps), the focus of each performance was markedly different. For NinehoursNorth, Aki deployed the approach he presented on 'Bon Voyage!’, long-form field recordings were re-amped and in the process of their unfolding a perception of time being bent in and out of shape emerged. There was a sense of the strange familiar, as bird songs, city scapes, voices, instruments and various environments were melted together and reconfigured through the intense volume produced by the amplifiers.
For Fabrique, the recording collected on this edition, Aki undertook a more performative method that reflected the sense of pacing and movement collected on ‘Ancient And Modern’. What surprised me most about his performance was how closely it resembled the compositional sensibilities captured on the record. In my mind’s ear I had heard ‘Ancient And Modern’ as a highly orchestrated work, a process of layering and transformation. Upon hearing Aki’s performance, it became clear what was captured in that recording was a transcription of an experimental and utterly personal performative language that had unfastened the walkman from its conceptual bounds as a device for linear acoustic playback.
In performance (and his recordings as I now realised) Aki Onda sought to bend, and break, expectations of time and linearity. In doing so he opened up new ways of appreciating themes of texture, pulse, rhythm and repetition. William S. Burroughs often wrote of the cut-up as a device for causing a rupture in time and that certain new ways of knowing and understanding might ooze out from these cuts, to my ears Aki Onda’s sounds were doing just this. He was taking elements from the world we collectively knew and he was refocusing them, cutting into them and removing their sense of ‘natural’ time, in doing so he allowed us all to forgo our desire for the familiar in favour of something unknown and perhaps even unknowable.
To revisit this performance nearly two decades on, I am struck by this same sense of reaching out into something that is not altogether clear, but maintains a deep invitational attraction, an acoustic allure that remains as compelling today as it did then…perhaps even more so."
Intensely quiet, artful improv duelling by Korean and Argentinian players, allowing for lots of pent lacunæ and often hovering on the liminal. RIYL Okkyung Lee, Keiji Haino, Senyawa
“The debut album by international power duo DASOMxVIOLETA, a virtuosic meeting of minds between Seoul's Dasom Baek (traditional Korean flutes) and Violeta García (cello) of Buenos Aires. <Absence> is the sound of two leading composers and improvisers pushing their instruments to the technical and creative limit, then beyond into places unnavigated, futuristic and often haunting.
Dasom and Violeta tussle with playful and brutal mastery between passages of sparse melody, acrobatic percussion and harmonic drift, while interjecting voices fracture and reassemble into intimate, improbable forms. It is hard to imagine an album more abundant in ideas and motifs, all atomised as soon as they are brought to life. The effect is a tapestry of rugged spirits - moving, and at times just plain beautiful.
Recommended for fans of Okkyung Lee, John Butcher, Messiaen, and Ernst Reijseger.”
Good Morning Tapes snag this ace chopped & screwed mixtape from "Californian artist & nomadic free spirit” Swampy, best known as a photographer and artist who's appeared in National Geographic, Time magazine & Juxtapoz.
Swampy's online diary/journal of his train hopping adventures set the backdrop for the mixtape, built around his own edits of everything from countrified railtrack blues to fuzzed out desert rock, bubbling 'soothing sounds for baby’ to slowed down gospel and squashed funk - all with evocative transitions and the littlest hobo vibes you just cant argue with. As the label put it:
“Swampy has an intuitive knack for not only capturing magical moments & incredible scenery on his travels, but also a gifted musical ear, crafting his own chopped & screwed edits to accompany these online visual diaries - which will melt any nostalgic heart that yearns to roam free.”
Aye, it’s a goodun.
"Work on 'Fragile' began last August at the height of lockdown. Grill locked himself in the recording studio where he found himself experimenting with new sounds and technologies and was able to learn more about the techniques involved in mixing, production and arrangement. "The aim was to write a physical album maintaining an energy throughout and utilising sounds and structures I'm interested in. Using limitation was a big part of the process to push what I used as far as possible. Reading about Robin Guthrie's breakdown of Cocteau Twins minimal setups across different albums and how Prince distorted the Linn Drum Machine were also inspirations."
Musically, 'Fragile' is a more dance-centric record than 2020's 'Ride', with eleven blistering tracks aimed straight for the dancefloor. From the lush, pulsing synths and blistering beats of 'Another Time', to the hazy, sun-soaked 'Wildflower', Grill seeks to create dance music that is endlessly catchy and hugely uplifting. He draws heavily on a Euro-dance influence in his search for pop perfection with melody instrinsic to each track. The Italo disco sound of Giorgio Moroder is never too far away, climaxing with the pumping 'Crash' while the emotive dance of New Order is echoed in 'Wandering Sky' and 'Romance'.
From a visual perspective, 'Fragile' is inspired by gothic, renaissance art and architecture. The album artwork is a photograph Grill took on Château d'If, a fortress and former prison located on the Île d'If, the smallest island in the Frioul archipelago, a short distance from Marseille in southeastern France."
Spellbinding, all-female selection from JD Twitch, realised as musical therapy during a bout of Covid and now making for a sterling 8th addition to his unmissable mixtape series
What was planned as a post-punk special became a very different affair when Twitch was isolating after picking up the bug during his first DJ set out of quarantine. Hard luck for him turned into a treat for us, ‘The Word Is Love (Women Of The World)’ features over 90 mins of peachy picks running the gamut of global styles penned over the past 75 years.
The vibes are exemplary, healing, enchanting; coursing from the blues to buddhist music, synth-pop to disco-not-disco, thru folk-rock and dream-pop, before ultimately returning to source in the blues, all guided by an expert hand.
On her fourth album, Maxine Funke makes pure, deeply memorable, deceptively simple folk music that will appeal to anyone into Sibylle Baier, Liz Harris, Bridget St. John, Smog , Harvest-era Neil Young or Vashti Bunyan. A proper special, once again, from A Colourful Storm.
'Seance' is an understated wonder; Funke has released an acclaimed run of low-key DIY folk records on labels like Feeding Tube, Next Best Way and Epic Sweep, and this latest is possibly her most concise and resolved to date. Stripped but never icy, Funke's songwriting is amiguous, tender and focused, but her voice is the key - using delicate tones to illustrate an internal world brimming with memories of love and loss.
Using just guitar and voice, tape hiss, location artefacts that waft into view (passing cars, life outside), some organ and a single metronome-like perucssive heartbeat, Funke meditates on themes using dreamlike imagery and tangled poetry - it all seems simple, but takes countless listens to unpick. There's euphoria, anxiety, romance and pain hidden beneath her wavering words, and - like all the best songs - all it takes is the slightest key change to turn you to cinder.
What a pleasure <3
Steven Raekwon Reynolds is a singer/songwriter and producer from New York City by way of Buffalo, NY. 'Where I’m At Now' is self-produced and self-recorded (save for drums on two songs, driven by the relentlessness of the East Village and the quiet serenity of Edwardsville.
"The abstractions of his earlier musings transform into a warm wave of genreless coherence, drawing influences from across R&B, rock, folk, and pop to build a record that shines in its quiet spaces as much as its sweeping movements. Simply put, Where I’m at Now is an album where S. Raekwon is no longer invested in hiding. These records don’t contain answers, but signals toward what feels like the right direction. This music serves as a gentle, yet intentional reminder that we only need to be who we are in the moment, and we’re worth becoming who we know we can be."
Deerhoof return with a studio album recorded in individual isolation, 'Actually, You Can', on Joyful Noise Recordings.
"Over eighteen boundless albums as experimental as they are pop, Deerhoof has continuously quested for radical sounds and daring storytelling. Galvanized by the challenge of unifying many styles of music, Deerhoof landed on their next record’s concept: baroque gone DIY. Actually, You Can is a genre-abundant record that uses technicolor vibrancy and arpeggiated muscularity to offer a vital shock from capitalism’s purgatorial hold. “In the United States now, to be a moral person means to be a criminal, whether it has to do with a general strike or forming a union or Black Lives Matter protests,” clarifies Saunier of the album’s countercultural embrace of liberation. “If you follow the rules, you’re guilty. That’s the spirit we were trying to express: an angelic prison bust, a glamorous prison bust.” It’s a condemnation of America’s mundanity, replacing violence with the heartfelt power of mutualism.
With state lines and oceans separating band members, Deerhoof not only reinvented their sonic and thematic credo, but also their recording process. Deerhoof’s players are not strangers to home-recording their individual parts, and have long embraced composing via file trading. But 2020’s halt to touring kicked off their longest separation from playing together, foregrounding new priorities. As the group’s combined demos became increasingly layered, bassist and vocalist Satomi Matsuzaki put her foot down, insisting the new album should replicate concert energy. Visualizing the quartet on huge stages with past tourmates Radiohead and Red Hot Chili Peppers, Saunier fugue-arranged his bandmates’ complex demos into songs to make an audience smile and dance. He sought out far-traveling delays, heavy playing, and unique panning to evoke the power of outdoor music. Matsuzaki scrutinized spots that would betray the conceit, eliminating anything that took away from the sound of onstage grandeur. “We spent so much time imagining playing together in the process of recording, it’s almost like a false memory of us playing this music together,” Saunier marvels.
For Deerhoof’s members to continually uncover new corners of their own talent requires deep wells of gratitude, not only for each others’ creativity but for the freedom their career affords. But by embracing each other’s art with curiosity, Deerhoof authors a musical alphabet that continues to astound and inspire, a unique lexicon expanding limitlessly with each album. For new listeners and decades-long devotees, Deerhoof’s electrifying, generous approach to collaborative worldbuilding on Actually, You Can is an emboldening call to support our communities with renewed strength, infinite love, and the resilience to keep exploring."
claire rousay debuts on Shelter Press with a stunning configuration of her unique dream cartography, weaving field recordings and voice notes with layered strings and synth work for a heartstopping deployment of ambient intimacy.
Preceding a debut album proper for the label due soon, '17 roles (All Mapped Out)’ takes us on a journey from a ringing railroad crossing and domestic rustle, thru quietly glorious inner landscapes and into reverberating x pastoral strings and lambent pads that coalesce to attune the ear to claire’s aural purview with half-heard riffs on friends, life in the digital realm, and the afterlife. Set to the slightest but most transfixing shifts in tone and texture that possess an incredible capacity to bring you to tears, often unexpectedly, her everyday sounds are magnified to gently distort their meaning and heighten their sensuality, effectively glimpsing the firmament from far away in a sort of waking dream gaze.
As with claire’s myriad releases during the past few years, her music’s low-key treatise on loneliness, friendship and existentialism has uncannily come into its own this year, appealing to atomised souls seeking connection thru music. This one in particular feels to strongly capture and characterise a mix of fleeting and torpid emotions in a way that evokes the passage of time and the fragile sense of place in the world like nothing else you’ll hear on the scene, like a rare orchid poking out from the crumbling facade of ambient convention.
Climate of Fear yield a properly up-for-it b2b session from DJ Python and Rotterdam’s Mad Miran
Joining the series of mixtapes by illustrious names including Nkisi, Vladimir Ivkovic, Shanti Celeste and many more, this one ranks among the most ballistic yet, racking up stacks of jungle, juke, hardcore techno and D&B for the headstrong and healthy raver. The D&B inspiration were clear to hear on DJ Python’s lauded album ‘Mas Amable’, so it’s good to hear those influences laid out and explored here.
Bristolian Artist, Illustrator And Toymaker Ed Cheverton Debuts As Earth Mother Spectral Pilot With A Cosmology-Inspired Melodic Ambient Album On SWIMS.
"Known For His Features In Publications Like It’s Nice That, Juxtapoz, And The Guardian, Cheverton Widens His Creative Scope To Music Via A Project That Borrows Its Title From A Series Of Comics Of His. Influenced By Ambient And Atmospheric Soundtracks, One Can Hear The Connection To Kawai Kenji, Vangelis, And To Japanese Environmental Music.
The Album Is A Musical Accompaniment To Visual Works That Spawned From A Period Of Deep Obsession With Cosmology, And The Sense Of Wonder, Scale And Discovery Evoked By That Journey. The Pieces On The Album Grew From Snippets Of Music, Loops And Improvised Explorations That Coalesced Into A Set Of Tracks That Sat Together As One ‘Project’.
True To His Craft, Cheverton Has Enhanced The Album With Thematic Art In The Form Of Series Of Illustrations Within The Tape Insert And Postcards Accompanying Physical Orders."
Pure 808 mindfuck from EVOL, cutting ’n splicing 364 Roland drum patterns from classic tunes for almost an hour-long torrent of boom clap badness for the freaks.
Veteran computer hooligans EVOL transpose the concept of their 303 megamix to another seminal Roland machine with predictably mad results. For almost an hour they keep the classics coming in a non-stop flow of bars bitten from the golden era of machine driven dance music, parsing chunks of Latin freestyle, Detroit and west coast electro, Chicago acid house and European techno on an unstoppably hyperactive session.
It’s predictably brilliant, divisive stuff, executed with a mix of wit and deep knowledge, indebted to the razor wielding styles of Omar Santana and Chep Nuñez et al, to faithfully highlight the infinite ingenuity of an underground wave of Afro-American and Latino producers during the ‘80s and ‘90s, and the way they persistently found the devil in the detail of their staccato code. In other words; it’s a madness.
Low's thirteenth album is a brutally overdriven, but slow-as-fuck offering from a band who resolutely refuse to stay still. Unlike 2018's "Double Negative" it's not soft and hyper-electronic, "HEY WHAT" is distorted but achingly beautiful - like church songs banged thru a broken radio and blown speaker cones.
We gotta admit we were pretty surprised when we heard Low's last full-length. The band has always played with perceptions of their influential slowcore sound, but "Double Negative" was a death-defying drop into territory usually inhabited by artists like Andy Stott and Newworldaquarium. "HEY WHAT" subverts expectations again: Low stick with "Double Negative" producer BJ Burton but drive him to hone in on a completely separate aspect of their sound.
Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker's dueling vocal harmonics are at the center of the album, spruced up by sparse sonic elements that sound so fucked they're almost completely unrecognizable. Is it guitar, drums, synth? It's hard to tell as chaotic, fractured sounds buzz and break off beneath Parker and Sparhawk's melancholy chorals. Opener 'White Horses' sets the stage, with mic hiss and axe fuzz slowly breaking into stuttering ear-bending electronics.
It's music that feels dangerously experimental, but never loses the magic of Low's idiosyncratic songwriting in the lead clouds of white noise, wobbling subs and ear-splitting fuzz. This time around Low have found a comfort zone making devotional music that forces itself thru our era's deafening cultural cacophony, finding a place of euphoric resonance. It's proof that a band can exist for nearly three decades and still find relevance in change, self-exploration and sonic rehabilitation.
JD Twitch leads deeper into the Jamaican hills and annals with a pucker clutch of personal and family favourites from his special wooden box of 45s
Drawing for cuts that have made it into his 60 strong box’s one in, one out policy, ‘Crate of Jamaica’ is a deep burning bonanza of heat from a lifelong devotee of music from the island. We assure you every one’s a doozy, ranging from angelic Chutney ska to Lee “Scratch” Perry nuggets and sweetest organ riders drizzled with syrupy sweet vocals, and weighty early dub dancehall hustlers. You know the score by now; these are all immaculately crafted and highly collectible dives into one of the most enviable collections around..
Glaswegish dream weaver Cucina Povera keeps the magick flowing with her 2nd album of 2021, following the outstanding ‘Lumme’ with a haul of tracks recorded while stranded in a scottish snowstorm back in 2017, tracing an icy path between ancient folk, choral music, Islaja, Lau Nau and Grouper - just next level really.
There's a weightlessness to Cucina Povera's music that’s inspiring and highly original; using little more than her voice, Maria Rossi forms soundscapes and song cycles that drag sacred music into personal new horizons with a depth of feeling and sense of succour in stasis, capturing lonely but quietly life-affirming expressions.
Povera’s music has a strong familiarity with the night; ‘The Dalmarnock Tapes’ are unmistakably made for nocturnal situations in a way that we imagine lonely Sub Arctic folk make music; as both entertainment and for spiritual elevation. Between the purring lilt of ‘Keruu’ and the nithered tone of ‘Olen oluen oljen’ Cucina grants access to this secretive practice, yielding private, if obfuscated, thoughts as meditative aids - building an atmosphere of measured resilience, looping phrases to create the illusion of a choir echoing internally/eternally like some spirit guide for the changing of the seasons.
Third and final Worst Edits session in the series from the don Jamal Moss, deploying an hour and a half of unmixed bullets made to let u LARP as The Sun God himself demolishing and rebuilding New Wave, Chi-house and Disco in that inimitable, deadly style.
Vol 3 deploys 1.5 hrs of his heaviest heat, executed in a style directly inspired by Ron Hardy DJ sets and the styles heard at Chicago clubs Jamal was a patron of during the late ‘80s and thru the ‘90s. As we’ve already mentioned, even eulogised; Jamal’s extended DJ sets are little short of life-changing/affirming experiences that make most other DJ sets pale in comparison, and that’s in part due to the devilish, unpredictable swerve of his edits, as you’ll hear here. Ye ye they’re rough and f*cked around the edges and that’s what makes them so untouchable.
Jamal brings a seriously deep knowledge and unique frame of reference to every edit in a way that just cannot be sniffed at. Yet again we’re mostly stumped for track IDs, but can guarantee they’re all zingers if you’ve a kink for this kind of thing (read: you love dancing), including unmissable chops of MBO & Klein and John Cooper Clark in it along with incendiary, tracky lathers, cavalcades of Afro-Latin percussion, and jaw-wobbling peakers, plus an incredible 15 minute disco-funk rug cutter, and machine gunned disco stutters to polish you off.
Written just a week after 2018's iconic "Make Me Know You Sweet", this surreal, tripped-out sequel from the headier alter ego of Brian Leeds (Huerco S.) is darker, dubbier and more alien than its predecessor >> over an hour of ultra immersive, brain-fluxing hybridized sounds somewhere between Chain Reaction vapourtrails and concrète dream-building.
Captured in one take shots during the weeks following the last album sessions in 2018’, Leeds’ second Pendant album treads a similar netherworld path, channeling a stygian dream-sick effect that effectively explores a flipside to the sunnier prairies of his Huerco S.’ works, shoring us somewhere gauzily redolent of early Wanda Group and the starkest Bellows emissions, but better defined by eerily processed vocals and Lynchian sensibilities that locate it to North America’s dis/possessed lands.
Ritualistic in craft and scope, the six extended tracks of ‘To All Sides They Will Stretch Out Their Hands’ are all titled in reference to indigenous American poetry and thus take shape as elusive, dream-like projections of Leeds’ subconscious and subvocalised thoughts. With a defocussed grain and swirl that perhaps emulates the effect of intoxication thru special herbs, the music acutely suggests altered states of mind, triggering meditations on memory and process reflected by a haphazard and impromptu recording technique. Leeds is a skilled producer, and working instinctively highlights a more fallible, arresting side to his sound - recording and processing vocals on the fly to control his machines less like a conductor and more like a sculptor. When the process hits complications - the DAW failing or outboard gear glitching out - his choice to leave these moments in the final cut allows us to consider the messiness and fallibility of art.
Leeds isn't interested in making aesthetically perfect potted ambience. His narrative is rough and expressive, just as focused on texture as it is tone or rhythm. It's a technique that suggests the heady cut 'n paste sound of musique concrète, but doesn't attempt to recreate it or position itself alongside that canon for academic gold stars. Firing his convulsing collages thru an array of effects gives his music the lively heartbeat of vintage dub, hidden under a fleshy DIY basement noise that could be traced back to Coil or Throbbing Gristle, mediating on memories with haptic strokes and a sense of inseparability between his layers of fuzz and physical actions that most beautifully speaks to a sort of interconnectedness that comes with mescaline, for example.
We’ve been spending considerable time guided by its dream logic - we strongly recommend you do the same, immersing yourself in its spongiform negative space, ruptured raptures and dank bliss.
Good Morning Tapes with another stunner, collecting outsider US new age from 1975 to 1995 as selected by Mark Griffey outta NYC who runs New Age website/catalogue Ultravillage.
Due to the nature of the material it seems likely that most of the material included has never seen the light of day before, and offers wall to wall padded bliss quite literally opening with sounds of crashing waves setting the scene for an hour of breezy vibes that will appeal to both GMT devotees and New Age heads.
As Griffey explains “…many artists from this era produced their music on cassette in small editions which were sold through a network of independent book shops and magazines. While collector interest remains high, much of the music is not well documented and Ultravillage aims to improve that by providing an in-depth look at these musicians and their music. For this mix, my theme was the elements - water, earth, air and fire, with the first two represented on side one and the latter two represented on the second side. Many artists here integrate the sounds of nature in their recordings, or use their instruments to evoke the elements."
Charming expo of mbira music from Zimbabwe, 1983, charting its symbolism during early years of the country’s independence and as a means of contacting the spirit world
Showcasing the playing of Ephat Mujuru, the descendent of a respected spirit medium and master of the mbira dzavadzimu - “a handheld lamellophone used in Shona region to make contact and receive council from deceased ancestors” - the four pieces on ‘Mbavaira’ document Ephat working with a newly formed band, The Spirit of the People on their 2nd album of acoustic mbira music.
While named for the Shona for something like “chaos”, the album was intended to foster unity between Zimbabwe’s two dominant ethnic groups, the Shona and the Ndebele, and arrived on the country’s only label Gramma Records as one of few commercially issued mbira recordings at the time, and was practically received as a pop record, an immediate quality that it carries thru into 2021.
Ephat tragically died from a heart attack at Heathrow Airport in 2001, aged 51, en route to perform and teach in the US, and ‘Mbavaira’ is a lovely testament to his legacy, flowing free with four tracks of complex rhythmelodic colour and soulful vocals by his uncle Mude, sweepign from he lilting dealign music of the title track to the trad hunting song ‘Nyama Musango’ (Meat in the Forest) via the swingeing hustle of ‘Kuenda Mbire’ *Going to Mbire) and the more brooding tone of ‘Mudande’, named for a remote northern village in Zimbabwe.
Labyrinthine and constantly challenging, "Bop 3" questions the usefulness of genre by slathering Sir E.U's complex vocal dexterity with equally genre-busting production from Tooth Choir. Seriously where else are you gonna hear acid-house gospel rap ('Untitled (2 Much)'), overdriven post-punk ('How Much Longer') and 20 minutes of Sprinkles-esque freeform ambient dance spiritualism? Severely next level music that characterizes DC's fertile contemporary scene.
Future Times has done us all another massive favor here, shining their estimable spotlight on the DC duo of rapper and multimedia artist Sir E.U and producer and bassist Julian Oliver aka Tooth Choir. The two both seem to share a disregard for established form, breaking down logic in tandem with Sir E.U mutating rap formula and Oliver meeting him in the middle with a set of truly out-zone productions.
Oliver draws a thick line between psychedelic dance formula and high-minded cloud rap vapor, letting his productions marinate in emotion and gesture without adhering to contemporary templates. This provides an ideal backdrop to the lyrically dextrous Sir E.U - he's a layered and multi-faceted rapper who sounds as confident rapping over pacy 4/4 krautronica ('Hey Mom') as he does throwing words into an echo chamber over distorted beatbox clatter on 'End Of Time'.
But it's the album's extended finale with 'MUA' and 'I Can't Stop Thinkin Bout My Baby' that has us reaching for the replay again and again. 'MUA' is a razor-sharp shard of contemporary cloud rap that reflects the short-lived microgenre and rebuilds it with sincerity and an acidic TB-303 squelch. Then Sir E.U offers his most impressive turn yet as he free associates over a slow, rattling 20-minute slice of muted piano, vaseline-coated kicks and bitcrushed claps. It's a performance that has to be heard to be believed - like Main Attrakionz collaborating with DJ Sprinkles.
DJ set from the unchallenged master of blunted atmospherics: Terekke.
"Ripped from a riverside warehouse party in the dog days of summer 2019, Terekke dials up the soulful, expressive house moods that undergird through his ephemeral productions. Digital pianos? Check. Vocal A1's? Check. "Let No Man Put Asunder" samples? Check. No need to strap in, this one's a cruise."
Hi, hello, and how do? This is the 2nd part in a trio of mixtapes released in 2016 by moi, Conor Thomas, following "At The Expense of Others" for the Krokodilo series and arriving ahead of a long overdue Reel Torque instalment.
It’s a tribute to a series of "free parties"/raves held in Manchester over ten years ago, including a lot of records which were either played there or that i used to cane in that era. Using the benefit of hindsight, it’s a sort of a snapshot or perspective of the era after the '90s "Madchester" and “sulphuric soul” (gip) thing. Of course there were other things happening, lots of techno/electro/breakcore/electronica and early dubstep, but for me, this was the sound of cracked warehouses and abandoned hospitals when I moved here in 2002, and it remained like that until dubstep really took a grip after 2007.
The mix was recorded on a suitably drizzly day in Moss Side, summer ’16, and all tracks are from original records released between ’93 and ’04 (apart from the Leckey snippet), with a healthy amount of vinyl crackle and particular focus on the darkside late ‘90s flex which bled from that era into a lot of what came after it.
I only found out years later that other people had nicknamed me The Smoking Man, prob cos i look a bit grey and tended to hang in the shadows with a big spliff when i wasn’t brukking and gurning. Not because i wore a flasher mac and had links to secret government agencies. Those days are long gone but I fucking loved them and all the people, raves of that time. Out to them.
Racking up 90 minutes of prime ’70s/‘80s pressure, plus a smattering of later, related cuts, ‘Caverns Of Dub’ is Twitch’s definitive deep dive into Jamaican music, following from excursions into post-punk, goth, ambient, and myriad other subgenera of late 20th century culture. Twitch acknowledges dub as a common denominator across the spectrum of styles he DJs, with foundational traces of its DNA found everywhere from ambient to post punk and industrial musicks.
Trust he’s really gone to town on the selections and the mixing, fundamentally focussing on the dub aspect but also cuing up plenty of vocal versions for good measure, all with judicious use of FX and immaculate blends. From digi to rootsy, steppers to skankers; he offers a clued-up outsider’s take on the style which extraordinarily punches above its relative weight (Jamaica has half the population of Scotland, and an inversely disproportionate influence on global trends), smartly spelling out links between the island node and its diasporic offshoots.
Expect everything from thunderous proto-techno templates to Rhythm & Sound inspirations via nuff melodicas, sufferation vocals, nyabinghi drums and the weightiest bass.