Death is Not the End follow their collection of Brazilian "música caipira" with another volume of hillbilly music from South America.
This set rounds up some of the earliest examples of música caipira, a stripped-back style that's seen as the forerunner to the popular música sertaneja - the Brazilian equivalent to US country that still dominates local charts. Folklorist Cornélio Pires made the earliest recordings in the 1920s, but the set stretches into the 1960s, grabbing recordings from small-run 78s and 45s.
The music was traditionally recorded by duos singing in parallel thirds and sixths, accompanied by a guitarist playing a ten-string guitar, the viola caipira. And the music was born in the Brazilian outback, using invented tunings and singing songs of betrayal, love and loss - the usual biz. If you enjoyed the first compilation, this one adds even more color to a genre that's not so well known outside of South America.
Pure pop magick. The Boats & Tape Loop Orchestra’s Andrew Hargreaves meets the elven Lancs voice of Beth Roberts on a gorgeous return - their first EP in a decade.
The Mistys return with a first EP, proper, of post industrial romance. Toned with timeless Manchester melancholy, their first set of dream-pop songs since 2018’s Pregnant Mannequin LP appear to linger in half-light between ‘80s synth-pop, late ‘90s trip hop and electronica, and the wist of ’00s witch house.
The duo’s titular lullaby pitches singer Beth Roberts as a naïf siren swaddled in soothing reverb and Salem-esque detuned synth, before the cinematic keys of Digital Mirror glance coyly at a gorgeous DX7-like bass coda. Controlled Absence’s stately swoon bears a shivering spine of influence from Kraftwerk via To Rococo Rot in its lust for nocturnal negative space and melodic resolution, while Sentimental Plastic poises Beth’s starkest, bloodletting lyrics velvet-stroked into contrails of elegiac decay and dewy detuned synth squinting at Boards of Canada.
The debut album from The WAEVE - composed of Graham Coxon and Rose Elinor Dougall, on Transgressive Records.
"Produced by The WAEVE and James Ford (Arctic Monkeys, Florence and The Machine, Foals, HAIM) and recorded in London in 2022, The WAEVE is a collection of 10 new tracks from songwriters Graham Coxon and Rose Elinor Dougall. Joining creative forces in The WAEVE gave the duo the opportunity to push past their instrumental comfort zones.
Many tracks feature Graham on saxophone, one of the first instruments he played as a young musician back in the 80s. First single ‘Can I Call You’ starts as a ballad then morphs into a krautrock-style motorik number with a sprawling Coxon guitar solo. ‘All Along’ features Graham on cittern, a medieval folk lute. Rose plays piano and an ARP 2000 modular synth. The heavy weather all over The WAEVE recalls the blustery folk rock of Sandy Denny or John and Beverly Martyn, while tracks such as ‘Kill Me Again‘ and ‘Over and Over’ recall the 70s rock of Kevin Ayers or Van der Graaf Generator, almost industrial in places."
Serious pressure from Príncipe, featuring Lilocox slickly cramming 43 unreleased cuts spanning over 80 minutes of relentless drums - a masterclass in early batida x house polyrhythms.
Ricardo Vieira aka Lilocox is as well known for his percussive solo productions as for his work in the Piquenos DJs do Guetto crew with Firmeza and Maboku. On ‘Drums (Lata)’ he raids his archive for a throwback to the days when Lisbon promoters termed the Afro-Latin sound of the ghettos as “Lata”, a derogatory word used to describe their “tinny” beats, as opposed to more rounded and “well produced” house and club music. In a classic act of defiance, Lilocox and his peers would come to own the term as a self-description in much the same way Jamal Moss flipped accusations of “the worst DJ ever” (rightly so, cos he’s one of the very best), reclaiming their agency and giving a frank f you to dogmatic doyles.
Mixing up rough-cut rhythms and sultry ambient pads with velvety weapons, the session is full of the “cargaa”, or charge - or even moxie - that makes batida/kuduro so damn effective in the dance worldwide. Drawing on his Cape Verdean roots, and a life lived in Lisbon’s margins, Lilocox speaks directly to the Black Atlantic dialogue between displaced peoples from West Africa, Brazil, the Caribbean, US, and their European nodes, that has resulted in the best dance music of the past century and longer. Liliocox’s mix situates those vital drum communications in the here-and-now with infectious offbeats splintering into myriad directions from UK Funky to gqom, amapiano, and singeli - all sharing a relentless, undeniable fire.
MJB back on his high grade b/s with a second Blood F.M. volume - once again spinning the dial between fantasy FM stations of astral synth noise, slompy beatdown, ghetto heck and boogie-soul glyders like Sublime Frequencies’ Radio series scanning Electrifying Mojo broadcasts from another planet.
The 2nd in his self-released series bends a uchronic timeline of Motor City machine soul and manc blues party soundtracks into a devilishly strong session. Unpredictable as f, it’s prone to flick across eras and styles with deep knowledge and a total disregard for expectation. Freaky fractals from his hard drive are jump-cut with samples of big tunes, lovers nuggets and snatches of talk radio in a properly wild style.
Keener observers of MJB’s work thus far, from his early tape blended by Tom Boogz aka Rat Heart and onwards will recognise the vibe and flow, with ruffcut gems referencing Thriller/Actress, Madteo and even SND tumbled in-the-mix effortlessly jumping between BPMs, but with all the care taken for keeping it wildly varied within a theme.
Like the last one, sleep and weep yeh?>>
Soul Jazz Records’ long out of print classic ‘Studio One Funk’ collection in an 18th Anniversary edition.
"Studio One Funk’ is made up of rare and unreleased reggae funk from the vaults of Studio One. Ever since the birth of funk in America, the sound has been an ever-present ingredient in the melting pot of Studio One’s musical output. The music on this release is a combination of originals, US covers and versions of existing Studio One cuts. Jackie Mittoo shows his appreciation for Booker T and The MGs, the studio group at Memphis’ famous Stax Records, with ‘Hang ‘Em High’, itself a cover of a film soundtrack by Dominic Frontiere. Incredibly this version has never before been released. Booker T’s super funky ‘Melting Pot’ is also covered by the little-known Underground Vegetables.
Other versions include Isaac Hayes’ classic Blaxploitation soundtrack ‘Shaft’, again by Cedric Im Brooks, another unreleased gem, straight from the tape master. Motown gets a look in with Alton’s stripped-down version of the Spinners classic, ‘It’s A Shame’, written by Stevie Wonder
and Syreeta. James Brown is apparent in spirit with the JBs-inspired groove on the super rare cut, ‘Now’, by Lee Arab. Lloyd Williams similarly does a fine Kingston-style version of the hardest-working man in showbusiness on ‘Reggae Feet’.
Version-wise, we have ‘Idleberg’, Cedric Im Brooks’ tough instrumental cut on Horace Andy’s seminal ‘Skylarking’. The little-known Prince Moonie gives us a rare DJ cut of another Horace Andy classic, ‘See A Man’s Face’. Pablove Black’s cut of Sidewalk Doctor (aka Poco Tempo) is one of a handful of Studio One releases featuring Augustus Pablo’s trademark instrument, the melodica, played by Black himself.
Add to these original cuts from Studio One’s heavyweight session players, including Leroy Sibbles, Jackie Mittoo, Leroy Sibbles, Eric Frater, Leroy ‘Horsemouth’ Wallace, Richard Ace, Vin Gordon and more, and you have one of the finest selections of reggae and funk you will ever hear."
Björk’s 10th studio album is a ravishing set tracing rhizomic lines of thought that link traditional Icelandic musics to contemporary classical, reggaeton, and Indonesian avant-club styles via collaborators El Guicho (Rosalía), Gabber Modus Operandi, and serpentwithfeet
After an unusual gulf between albums since the Arca-produced ‘Utopia’ in 2017, Ms. Guðmundsdóttir binds fundamentals and fantasy in ‘Fossora’; combining dedications to her mother, Hildur Rúna Hauksdóttir, and contributions by her children, Sindri and Ísadóra, within a conceptual framework involving themes of survival, death, and ecological meditation. Aye, it’s Björk, alright, but also informed by her collaborators, R&B innovator serpentwithfeet, El Guincho, and Indo-nutters Gabber Modus Operandi, plus bass clarinet sextet Murmuri, who lend a rich insertmental colour and ravenous fervour to her wildly disciplined arrangements and head-spinning self-production.
Framed as her return to earth after dealing with the trauma of her divorce from Matthew Barney on the Arca co-produced “skybound haven” couplet of ‘Vulnicura’ and ‘Utopia’, Björk here seeds ideas of mycelia as alien lifeforms and communication networks that reflect the psychedelia and flux of info woven into ‘Fossora.’ More than ever she effectively acts as a conduit or hyperconnector for myriad energies that come to fruition most definitively in the album’s (3rd eye) opener ‘Atopos’ and its titular denouement, where chamber-like woodwind, doble paso dembow-gabber and avant-folk rush up in glorious style.
The rest of the album breaks down between stirring choral and chamber dedications to her departed mother on ‘Sorrowful Soil’ and ‘Ancestress’, the latter featuring her dóttir Sindri Eldon, and most quietly on the curtain closer ‘Her Mother’s House’ ft. Ísadóra Bjarkardóttir Barney. We locate a highlight in the brooding might of ‘Victimhood’ with its spine-chilling string and clarinet arrangement, and the switch of energies between heart-in-mouth ‘Fungal City’ starring serpentwithfeet, and the uprooted hardcore techno touches of Kasimyn (Gabber Modus Operandi) lend a nervous, refreshing energy that sprouts up in wonderfully unpredictable forms.
A label sampler showcasing the best of Winspear’s releases.
"Winspear Volume 01 is a collection of standout songs from the label’s catalog, spanning from their early years to the present day. Featuring tracks by Barrie, Divino Niño, Slow Pulp, Video Age, and more."
Acclaimed DJ/producer Elena Colombi compiles an ambitious, multi-faceted tribute to Bell Hooks’ writings on love, heard via exclusive music from Christos Chondropoulos, Laurel Halo, upsammy, Coby Sey, Solid Blake, Brainwaltzera and many more...
The 21 track, 92 minute results of this first part selection place Colombi’s curatorial tekkerz at the service of world building and allusive narrative navigation, pairing her selection of artists in an immersively quizzical session that questions cross-gender solidarity through art and music with a richly engrossing flow of material that jogs the imagination along its axes.
Resembling a radio play or deeply personal mixtape, the mix follows a thread from the tensions of opposites in Olivia Salvadori’s angelic cooks and Coby Sey’s spoken word on ‘With all the Senses, Su Di Te M’Infrango’ thru absorbingly textured vignettes by Christos Chondropoulos unique to the set (‘The Spell’ and ‘Love Song’), and some breathtaking works by Laurel Halo on ‘Waves Goodbye’, to sidewinding sorts of Drexciyan electro-techno that each embody her thoughts in their own ways.
The tape's conceptual thrust gives ample food for thought, but it’s just as well enjoyed on its musical merits, covering ground between the peal of Ben Bertrand’s solo sax ‘What To Do With My Male Body’ and muscular variations of dance music, and highlight to our ears a number of new artists such as Galina Ozeran with the Drexciyan enigma of ‘DVizhenie’, or the skulking beatdown of Frank Rodas on ‘Dial Up’, to see more established ones like Solid Blake flexing their experimental side. Really good.
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.
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.
Grandly staged ambient/post-rock/noise scaping by Italian cellist Martina Bertoni, sharing a cinematic emotive thrust and plangent billow with artists such as Rafael Anton Irisarri, Richard Skelton, Hildur Gudnadottir
“Cello player and electronic artist Martina Bertoni returns with her 2nd album for Karl: Hypnagogia delivers six new, masterfully crafted tracks between experimental ambient, drone and modern composition.
Cellist and composer Martina Bertoni started playing the cello at a very young age. Classically trained, her career further developed around experimental and film music, for which her cello has been featured in numerous records, works and soundtracks for films and series. After two EPs and her debut full length All The Ghosts Are Gone (2020), Bertoni joined the Karl roster where she released Music For Empty Flats in January 2021 to critical acclaim (a.o. one of the Top Ten drone albums of 2021 / Acloserlisten.com).
On her new album Hypnagogia she continues to explore the sonic possibilities of her cello which she uses as primary source for composition and sound processing through reverbs, feedbacks and sub-bass frequencies, thus crafting sonic sculptures, rich of atmospheres and frictions, fed by ambient as much as drone and modern composition.
In the words of Martina Bertoni: "The six tracks that constitute Hypnagogia have been written during 2021 and partially inspired by the reading of Stanislaw Lem’s book Solaris. The title refers to a transitional state of consciousness from wakefulness to sleep, during which one might experience sensorial hallucinations and lucid dreaming, and can tap into the pristine structures of the subconscious. Hypnagogia portraits an imaginary cosmic journey of the Self that crash ends into a blinding sun.”
Marking 10 years in the game, Ecstatic compile a haul of exclusive new cuts from familiar faces and newcomers alike, on a limited edition tape released to coincide with label parties at Cafe Oto in London and The White Hotel in Salford next week.
‘Catch Feelings’ marks a decade and some 100 releases in the game with a treasure chest featuring label stalwarts Romance, Celestial, Spivak, Felisha Ledesma (appearing here with Angelo Harmsworth) as well as label owners Not Waving & Primitive World, alongside new faces Raw Deal, Horses, ’93 Til Infinity and ICARUS.
The label hit its strongest run of form these last 12 months - albums from Romance, Dean Hurley, Cucina Povera & Ben Vince all featuring among our favourite music of 2022 - so this glimpse at things to come opens their 2023 with much promise. Strongest of all is perhaps Not Waving’s blushing vaporwave beauty ‘Liberasi’, including a spine-tingling Saxophone coda, while Romance unveils yet another immaculately screwed inversion ‘I Close My Eyes’ into their pool of gleaming memories. Spivak’s slow-slugging ‘Overnight’ gets right under the skin with its slow strobe dream sequence woooze, and Felisha Ledesma’s iridescent ambient alloy with Angelo Harmsworth ’Silver Washed’ is pure ambient bliss.
From the new lot; Raw Deal deploy the sickest UKG x neon light atmospherics, 93 ’Til Infinity flip a strung-out, Basinski-esque inversion of a hip hop classic, Horses go porchside with a midnight Takoma special, and ICARUS loop a Bill Evans sample into the blue-est lament.
In all, 40 minutes of supremely evocative music from one of the best labels around right now, a strong prompt to go catch them at The White Hotel (Thursday, 26th January) or Cafe Oto (Friday, 27th January) , as well as a sturdy primer on what to expect from them in the coming year.
Glam to country, psych blues and motorik railroad rock - cult Chicago act Glyders do it all with classic panache and roadhouse sleaze on Country Thyme, a young sublabel of Drag City
Practically smelling like a backwater record retailer or thrift shop, ‘Maria’s Hunt’ picks up a lost strain of Chicago rock ’n roll and runs against the contemporary grain into a parallel timeline where this stuff never stopped playing under fizzing neon lights to Bud Lite-cuddling, sherm-huffing dudes.
Impeccably styled and executed, the results are properly infectious form the Bolan-esque hip roll of ‘High Time’ to its come down on the buzzing strum of ’Shoreline (Reprise)’. There’s nice ’n easy country sway flush with slide guitar for the slow dance in ‘Wrong Sometimes Right’, hustled next to the heads-down glam rock swag of ‘Geneva Strangemod’ and the sort of melancholic songcraft that can be found on the killer ‘Ghost Riders’ compilation in the LP’s title tune or ‘Can’t Beat The Heat’.
hey keep it mellow but motorik on ‘Golden Hour’ and the psych blues stride of ‘Inbound/Outbound’, and back on the glam stride with ‘Smooth Walker’ for the sort of record one could easily mistake for a lost-and-found private press grail.
Joyfully unblinkered dance trax by Strategy on return to LA’s Peak Oil for his 3rd and most effusive volley, arriving alongside the label’s aces by Topdown Dialect, Paperclip Minimiser, and Lamin Fofana.
Bare bones but buoyant in a dubwise style that has served Paul Dickow’s Strategy for over 20 years, ‘Unexplained Sky Burners’ flexes dextrous tekekrz in a volley of tried and tested mutant templates that edge on B-More/Jersey bumps, broken beat rave, Detroit techno and freestyling break-house.
Spongiform subbass and a sparing percussive palette propel nine variations within a theme of swanging, dipping dance music, each lit with instrumental licks of outernational strings and synthetic wind in a way recalling Beatrice Dillon’s ‘Workaround’ as much as early ‘00s Domu or Demdike Stare’s leanest Testpressings, with ripest rug-cutters lodged in the forward tumble of ‘Inside the Pyramid’, the double-dipped bass stepper ‘Frontiera’, his scudding choral cut-ups and garage-techno torque in ‘Blue Situation’, and the DMZ-style eastern dubstep gaze of ‘Santur’.
Heck peddling hardcore in the crosshair for Tom Boogz’s aka Rat Heart's 18th $hotta Tape, reeking of stale booze, whizz and unwashed band T-shirts for the headstrong!
After sessions of drill, road rap, dancehall, R&B, jungle and practically everything else in between, ’Hardcore’ is a bit of a curveball for Boogz. Sluiced from a grubby set of 45s accumulated over the years, it runs thru dozens of white hot shards of guitars and shouty vox thrown balls-to-the-wall and likely to make the rents blow steam out of their ears like in a Beano comic. It’s full gnarrr, and if you’re au fait with the pit and can still windmill, prob the most fun yr gonna have in ’22.
In a blizzard of energy the tunes come on short, thick and fast with no time to catch your breath, variously echoing styles found on those Moin mixtapes, but more often just going ham for the cruddiest and thrashiest cuts of crust, edging into deathrock and goth, but always with a foaming-at-the-mouth quality that we fucking love.
You’ve been warned; there’s no half-stepping here!
New edition of Lil Toby’s legendary dancehall mixtape, recorded in 2002, and released in 2009 to mark 1 year of The Trilogy Tapes - 100% killer!!!
Running nought but heavy duty tackle produced by King Jammy, his sons, and other associates of Kingston’s Waterhouse studios, ‘Waterhouse Watershed’ is a serious schooling in dancehall pressure. A must-cop for anyone who’s followed Toby's work on the pivotal ‘Now Thing’ comp for Mo Wax in the late ‘90s, and thru his knowledge chops on ‘Now Thing 2’ for Felix Hall’s Chrome in 2021, it runs after a stellar tape on the ‘Few Crackles Riddims’ and the classic ‘TBSO’ set to beg a spot on any dancehall fiend’s mixtape shelf.
Lil Toby is a doyen among UK and international dancehall diggers. ‘Waterhouse Watershed’ is among the hardest of his rare mixtapes, end to end brimming with diamonds dug at London’s Blacker Dread and Dub Vendor, and covering just one thrilling period when Kingston’s ghetto sound ruled the world, holding heavy sway on everything from US R&B and NYC rap to UK D&B, grime and beyond. If his ‘Now Thing’ sets focussed on the wildly futuristic instrumentals, this one’s the full fat sibling, juggling ruff-to-singjay vocals and cuts in a noughties mode. Strictly fire. Unmissable!
Sublime, sylvan ambient dream-pop and Cinéma pour l'oreille by shapeshifting Japanese star Tujiko Noriko, for the label that helped introduce her to the world at large some 20 years ago - doubling as a sort of elegy for the gone-but-not-forgotten Peter Rehberg
“In the early days of MEGO prior to it’s transformation into Editions MEGO a most unexpected release appeared amongst the radical roster. Out of all the twisted hard drive activity from PITA, General Magic, Farmers Manual etc appeared a very different kind of release. One made from a computer, but one with a softer atmosphere, cloud-like in sonic shape and even containing discernible melodies (!). This was the debut release from Japanese artist Tujiko Noriko which not only launched her career to a larger audience but opened the doors of Editions Mego to a broader range of experimental musical forms.
Noriko’s particular synthesis of electronic abstraction, melody, voice and atmosphere has few peers as sound gently circles her mystical words morphing into a succession of emotive aural experiments framed as songs. Noriko’s evolution since her debut Mego release has seen further solo works alongside collaborations as well as a shift into cinema, both acting and as director.
On Crépuscule one can hear the influence the film medium has had on her music as visual insignia are invoked in the evocative audio at hand. Instrumental interludes further conjure a film landscape alongside the titles which also reiterate the cinematic form. This is synthetic music with a deep human presence. The mind of a human captured wandering the fantastic realms of the internal sphere is exquisitely rendered through machines which usually prompt one to disfigure such humanistic tendencies. The warmth, serenity and dream-like environment that Noriko conjures from her tools is what makes her such a unique and outstanding artist and Crépuscule is an epic testament to these powers.
The title Crépuscule perfectly encapsulates the somnambulant nature of the music where the nocturnal shifts evoke a broad sense of calm. Crépuscule I features a selection of shorter ‘songs’ whilst Crépuscule II allows more room for these songs / moods to breathe with only three songs running at broader longer duration. Crépuscule allows the listener to view the world through Noriko’s eyes. With her cunning ability to humanise machines a world of calm wonder is allowed to take focus in the frame.”
Felix Hall’s Chrome set ’23 on a rude dancehall slant with Ojoo Gyal’s grungy-to-jiggy pick ’n mix spanning illbient to jungle and ragga instrumentals, after exemplary editions by Bempah, Simo Cell, Judaah and MOBBS on the label.
Born and raised in Morocco, and based in Brussels, Ojoo Gyal has established herself a mean reputation for mapping the modern dancehall rhizome in meticulous DJ mixes since 2019 at venues across Morocco and Europe and in a mixtape split with Manchester’s FUMU. Her Chrome session rides the rhythm in deadly cool fashion with masterful groove control, swilling nuggets from the past 30 years in a lowkey storytelling style that comes thru in its hour long arc peppered with surprising detours and rooted in a heavy swagger.
Introduced by an exclusive I Jahbar ident, the mix unfolds with equal attention given to atmosphere and groove, toggling the pressure between arid concrète abstraction, waist-winding meter and back again with a red eye-locked vision. On the A-side echoes of late ‘90s NYC illbient soundsystem crud give way to bouts of deep fried tabla and noise, into flinty jungle and street-side noise, digi-dub dancehall, and steel-toed industrial ragga.
Levels set, the B-side harnesses a tough run of turn-of-millennium dancehall mutations, shoring up hard in-the-present with flash chops of electroid madness that measure the distance between OG ‘90s styles and now.
Crushingly strong steez.
Stunning sub-aquatic tape music from celebrated engineer and producer Marta Salogni, working alongside sonic artist Francesco Fonassi on an immersive session exploring the mysteries of deep oceanic forests. If yr partial to a bit of Valerio Tricoli, Thomas Köner, Alvin Curran, Moondog or Spencer Clark - this one is just the thing.
Preceeding her work co-producing the upcoming Depeche Mode album, and in light of high profile work with Mica Levi, Holly Herndon, Björk and countless others, on ‘L’ebbrezza delle grandi profondita’ (‘The Intoxication of the Great Depths’), Salogni enlists Francesco Fonassi for a properly weirdo session playing an array of tape machines - Revox, Ferrograph, Akai, Teac - as instruments, in order to elicit a sense of wonder and romance associated with Cousteau’s 1956 oceanic documentary ‘The Silent World'.
The pair plunge in with murky echoes of Louis & Bebe Barron’s soundtrack to ‘Forbidden Planet’, making judicious use of their machines’ varispeed effects and feedback to conjure a range of sensations between the palpable feeling of dematerialisation and the truly uncanny in a way that really doesn’t sound moored to any specific period of time or technology. Loops waft in and out of the stereo field, submerged and unknowable - you could just as well be listening to something from the 1950’s or the 2050’s - such is their spirited unearthliness.
Whew! Death is Not the End mint their reissue label 333 with Devon Russell’s sweet-as-honey reggae soul tribute to Curtis Mayfield, replete with thizzing falsetto vox, swaying horns and proper, shiny early ‘90s digital production .
Originally issued in ’93 but containing songs written as far back as ’79, ’Darker Than Blue’ is full of smouldering late night blues whose appeal has perhaps only depend with 30 year of marination. It counts a stellar roll-call (Sly Dunbar, Aston "Family Man" Barrett, Earl "Wire" Lindo, Dean Fraser, Bobby Ellis, Leroy "Horsemouth" Wallace, Prince Lincoln Thompson and many others - plus production & arrangement from Earl "Chinna" Smith, Sly Dunbar & King Tubby's Firehouse Crew) backing Russell’s takes on the likes of ‘Move On Up’ and ‘Keep On Moving’, with particular highlights in the FM synth-toned shimmy of ‘Songs on Sirene’, the lovers sway of ‘The making of You’, and nice ’n easy stroller ‘Give Me Your Love’ which appears to channel Mayfield via Grace Jones.
“"The concept for Darker Than Blue dates back to 1979. Returning from South Amerrica with my partner (in duo Lloyd & Devon) Lloyd Robinson, we did "Red Bum Ball" which had been a massive hit in the 60's. It was around this time that Earl Chinna Smith (of The Wailers and Soul Syndicate fame) approached me with the idea of re-making some Curtis Mayfield songs. "Darker Than Blue" was the first track we did, followed by "Move On Up" in 1981, both of which received great reviews.
On returning to Jamaica from a UK tour in 1986, my good friend King Tubby had taken on five men from my school of music from which the Firehouse Crew were born. Within 3 years they had matured to become Jamaica's No.1 instrumental band, winning the Rockers award. Then in the spring of 1990, together we managed to record the album "Money, Sex & Violence", during a tour of the UK & France, on which we did Mayfield's "Give Me Your Love". The track was played to Steve Barrow who suggested we do more Curtis tracks.
Sly Dunbar and I have known each other for as long as I can remember. We grew up in the same hood and used to jam regularly in our youth. I told Sly about the further Mayfield tracks I wanted to do and he agreed that it would be a good idea. So Sly, myself and The Firehouse Crew went to work at the Leggo Studios in Kingston, Jamaica and created the remaining tracks for the Darker Than Blue LP, a tribute to Curtis Mayfield.
We grew up on the sounds of Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions. Everyone in Jamaica loved them. His death was a terrible thing, but while there is life, there is hope."
- Devon Russell, 1994.”
New age-toned ethnomusicological explorations by Florida’s Wave Temples, imagining a line of thought linking Peru’s Pacific Nazca Lines to the Bermuda Triangle and the balmy Swedish coast.
A charm for acolytes of Spencer Clark’s playful imagination or Mike Cooper’s mutated Hawaiian music, ‘Another Night in Peru’ follows from previous sojourns on Not Not Fun and Rainbow Pyramid with an effortlessly enchanting half hour of wistful rhythmelody and dream-textured atmospheres resembling ‘80s private press new age tapes or the soundtrack to a documentary on the Discovery Channel. Trust there are no shape edges inside, just lots of temple-nuzzling synth pads, trickling percussion and frayed field recordings of hyper-coloured fauna leached into a ferric gauze.
Strictly bashment and dembow murder from one of the UK’s leading dancehall DJs, throwing down a 90 minute mixtape on Tom Boogizm’s $hotta Tapes, after cultish razzes for The Trilogy Tapes and Cav Empt.
Nowadays also known as CEO of Chrome, the label behind that momentous ‘Now Thing 2’ retrospective, Felix Hall is regularly hailed as one of the key nodes between the UK and upfront sounds from the Caribbean and South America. Never one to blow his own horn, Felix has arrived at this point via obsessive attention to up-to-the-second club movements from Kingston to Medellín, and respect for the artforms therein - as opposed to social media posing - with a celebrated NTS show presenting the freshest rhythmic reportage to keen ears everywhere. However, it’s on his meticulous mixtapes where Felix’ tekkerz really come into focus, drawing for blue-rare cuts flawlessly stitched into a proper education.
Blow for blow, Felix’s $hotta Tapes 015 session is world class heavyweight. The A-side sees him go for the bashment jugular, juggling dancehall’s most upfront iterations in a pyroclastic flow of soundsystem melters, voiced by some of the dance’s biggest gobs and lathered with FX overdubs, and including some absolutely nutty, near-industrialised body music variants that go harder than your life.
Not letting up, on the B-side he fully embraces dancehall’s Caribbean cousin, dembow, bringing baga snares and fast chat to the table with equally on-point skills, only this time a little sexier and slinkier, with gnashing tresillo patterns helmed by hardcore, slamming bass direct from the source that has held heavy sway over club and pop paradigms since the turn of the millennium, and never more so than now.
what a fucking doozy‽‽‽
Seriously satisfying haul of deep & wavy ambient-leaning mood music from L.I.E.S. affiliate Krikor Kouchian, deploying 40 minutes of fizzing synths into clouds of smoke situated somewhere between Vangelis, Artemiev, Thomas Köner and 0PN.
Establishing quite a rep as soundtrack composer with his scores for ‘Building Arnold Schwarzenegger’, 'Six & Demi Onze' and ‘Saudi’ in recent years, ’Seven Hertz’ finds the ambidextrous Parisian producer push into deepest sci-fi-cinematic sound design in a classic mode somewhere between Tarkovsky’s ‘Solaris’, THX1138 and 2001: A Space Odyssey, albeit defined by a sort of gallic clinamen to mystery and romance.
You know the stuff, and it’s done here so brilliantly well, ranging from a dark ambient regression in ‘7hz intro’ recalling Delia Derbyshire’s ‘The Dreams’, to a soaring trance elegy somewhere in the vicinity of Malibu/DJ Lostboi in ‘A Short Cycle of Club Life’, and gawping ambient IMAX dimensions in ‘Merciless Retaliation’. ‘The Last Dream’ marries Eno-esque subtlety with samples of Picnic At Hanging Rock, and ‘Love Memorabilia’ switches to a Hollywood finale scaled like some Jóhann Jóhannsson work, and the supernaturally textured electronics of ‘Rotting Flesh Suit’ locate him on a line from JMJ to FSOL and the West Mineral lot.
Absorbing, flickering neon sorta gear.
Polish 3D instrument builder Wojciech Rusin’s 2019 album ‘The Funnel’ is the stuff of legend - an impenetrable but endlessly rewarding album of baroque chamber music, choral acrobatics and skewered electronics that completely baffled everyone with its illogical arrangements - the sort of record that people will prob write books about one day. 2022 saw the release of its followup - Syphon - deploying all of the above, with softer edges.
’Syphon’ is the second in a proposed trilogy of albums and returns us to Rusin’s highly personalised world of inventive tonalities and innovative blends of medieval and baroque classicism with European folk and oodles of imagination. The ten pieces are carefully concise in construction and effortlessly mesmerising in effect, with an emotional tenor that tilts between bucolic, funereal and utopian as Rusin oscillates gorgeous chamber vocals by Eden Girma and Emmy Broughton with a singular palette of bright, lucid field recordings, puckered instrumentation and sculptural electronics that suspend disbelief for the duration.
It’s an album that expands Rusin’s sonic purview to take in timeless songcraft and showcase a real knack for narrative arrangement. The handful of filigree songs are poised between sublime instrumental passages with an oneiric logic, conjuring an unearthly garden of wonders as you drift from the plaintive opener ‘Speculum Veritatis’ to the quizzical choral percolation of ‘Glass Coil’ via lush yet quietly unheimlich elisions of nature sounds and electronics on ’Swedenborg in the forest’ and the cosmic interruptions of ‘Origins of Pleasure’ to the resonant, arcane buzz of organ and bagpipe-like elegiac fanfare in ‘Destroyer of Worlds’ recalling Alex Zhang Hungtai’s end-of-world blasts.
Klein follows last year's dumbfounding "Harmattan" with a sickeningly dense lattice of corroded instrumentation and barbed, dissociated theorizing. Darkest, Blackest ambient moves, deranged lo-fi punk and completely unwound baroque soul - ridiculously strong gear.
'Cave in the Wind' is Klein's latest long-form tome, an elevated miscellany of confident gesturing that comes with the assertion that the only samples used are news snippets from the USA's Roe vs. Wade repeal. Those booming clips root the lengthy opening 'Fair in a minor' in 2022's precarious social reality, punctuating Klein's vocal and churning, euphoric pads. It's music that mirrors the chaotic feeling of scrolling thru social media with one eye on the television: cascading sonics that replicate our popped synapses and fogged memories without resorting to placid nostalgia.
Comfort is far from Klein's mind on this one - her string treatments chill to the bone as she slices into serial thriller drones and bends them into broad, almost hilariously unsettling portamento slides. This mixture of horror, reality and absurdity is where Klein sounds completely in her element, formulating a narrative that's got more tension and release than anything A24 might care to slide out. At the mid mark, the track situates itself in a cavernous studio somewhere, where twanging strings rub against boiling pipes and clipped acoustic drums, sounding like a dying steam train breaking down. Brassy Hollywood jingles and cut-n-paste firework cracks are spliced with chipmunked vocals and disquieting church bells, notched into computer keyboard clacks and general MIDI sputters.
Klein takes us to task, her music is so completely intentional and sharply fanged. While the majority of self-consciously "experimental" composers and producers seem content to rest on established pillars of respectability or cannibalize their nostalgic weaknesses, Klein sounds as if she's doing the exact opposite, challenging herself and her audience to consider what it is they're listening to. She pushes the boundaries of taste and toys with our perceptions of harmony and dissonance, rarely letting herself marinate in detachment.
'Saving Grace' is lighter, opening with birdsong and instrumental clangs before spiraling down the plughole into alien, screwed half-speed wails. It's a backdrop for Klein's vocals, dropping casual, wordless ad-libs across a bed of contorted klangs. She wipes the slate clean again with 'top shotta' and what sounds like instruments dropped into a skip. Viscous and hypnotically unsettling, it's somehow also one of Klein's most moving tracks, like a radical answer to AFX's apolitical ambient milestone "SAW II".
Once again we're floored by Klein's multi-layered messaging and clear musical gesturing. Her art is gleefully unbalanced, poignant and completely unforgettable - if yr out here looking for the intersection of Farrah Abraham, Dreamcrusher and the GRM, this is it.
PAN wait until the 11th hour - when most u lot have yr heads buried in a mince pie - to unveil the first-ish chapter in this brilliantly all-over-the-place project that may - or may not - involve ???
It’s an incendiary debut sermon from undercover operative Honour, who grabs tattered scraps of rap, blown-out rave, dissociated jazz, and algo-mangled drill, stitching everything into fresh shapes driven by DIY noise and crunchy electro-acoustic manipulations.
Who might Honour actually be, and does it even matter when the sounds are this turbulent? Clues are laid out like a breadcrumb trail on their labyrinthine inaugural dispatch, released as part of a cassette-only double header that initiates a bleakly cinematic open-ended narrative. Presented as a mixtape, it pays obvious tribute to hand-Xeroxed Chinatown boots, but it acknowledges the outsized influence of DatPiff and Livemixtapes on shaping a culture that went beyond rap, connecting the mainstream and underground in an anti-aesthetic bounty of unbridled free expression.
We open on a blurry haze of pistol clacks, piano stabs and barely-audible chatter - a space that feels familiar but defiantly current: serving dream dust that's mined from tweaky '90s R&B, jiggy rap, and the bits of the rave continuum that haven't been completely rinsed by Goldsmiths interlopers, muffling it all under thick blankets of half-heard vocals and abstract noise. Beats are slowed to a Houston crawl, spliced with dizzy loops; soul and disco cuts are forced thru ferric saturations and weaved into nice 'n sleazy chipmunked day-zero garage; trip-hop is reformed into baroque, cavernous neo-trap, driving us into darker, more politicised ends.
The second tape is more solemn but simultaneously more euphoric, skewering feeble landfill ambient with politically locked-in satirical cinematics, industrial drones, and shredded hoover bass. The opening moments sound as if they've been snatched from a melodramatic Western, stretched and reshaped to fit Honour's satirical expression. We're directed into delirious euphoria that handily swerves the expected "power ambient" factory, infusing noise-grated drones with bluesy nostalgia that sounds like a whisper from the past.
Splicing extended experimental jams with rugged drumwork, sirens and street-scene chaos, Honour saves the most startling deployment for the B-side, coming out with 'Untitled (trukfit)', a lengthy weightless noise subtraction that's so subtly affecting you might not even realise it at first. Made up of gnarled feedback and screaming noise but turned down to a hoarse crackle, it transcends entry-level modes of experimental music and reinforces a message that permeates every distorted kick and echoing squeal on the record: this is our house, and we're gonna do whatever the fuck we want.
Unmissable, and fucking immense.
The original soundtrack for Bladder by the Light.
"Bladder by the Light was shot on 35mm on location across the Pacific; including Anacapa Island, Sitka, Diomede, and Niue. The film – destroyed by arson - accompanies Professor Casella Lazarev, a reclusive scholar of Paul Klee’s Notebooks as she struggles to summon her dreams. That is until she peers into a laboratory webcam documenting a kelp forest off the shore of the Channel Islands.
Suspended in shadow and light, the epipelagic species begin to possess the professor, as her own circadian rhythms transpose across an elegiac dreamland where a cast of shades emerge out of the tidal canopy only to sink back into the abyss. Realising her life’s work was merely a crutch to access the ‘brood of night’ her dreamlessness previously denied, upon making contact with the seaweed-steppe and the parasocial relationships with its inhabitants, Lazarev shifts attention to archiving what the submerged eye captures.
Ultimately the archive’s impartiality distorts, unveiling false awakenings and the undulations of surveillance, the ghosts of reveries, and what the cacophony of memory and remorse tell us about departed strangers.
Alas, the original soundtrack – featured here in its complete form for the first time – is all that remains."
Japan-inspired album from Personas AKA Nic (Pleasure Cruiser) and George (Smoke Thief), with collaborations with Soichi Terada and Keita Sano.
"It’s 2013 in Tokyo. The second worst heatwave in Japan’s history blazes across the land of the rising sun, the Democratic Party of Japan have lost control of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly to the Liberals and somewhere on the subway Nic and George are meeting for the first time.
Nic (Chinese-Irish producer with releases on High Hoops, Step Recordings and a participant of Red Bull Music Academy) and George (Tokyo based soundtrack producer and saxophonist with an MA in musical performance) brushed shoulders on the Tozai Subway line, got to talking and have been best friends ever since. The pair created the production duo of Personas – an ambient, soundtrack-leaning moniker – and have been quietly working on their debut album – Zen Koans for Subway Commuters, which features a special collaboration with Japanese electronic composer Soichi Terada under his Omodaka alias – an album that very much does what it says on the tin.
Zen Koans for Subway Commuters plays out like the listener's own personal cinematic experience. It’s easy to draw comparisons with the lonerism scores of Tokyo based films such as the Scarlott Johanson and Bill Murray starring Lost in Translation (2003). There’s an isolated aesthetic to the album. It captures the melancholy and freedom that comes with a commute; catching the meditative relief of travel and channelling it into an inner-main character episode as we hurtle to and fro.
Floating from the beatless, contemplative pads of ‘Elevation’ to the live-sax of ‘Northside Hibiya Sen’ and the heavily field-recorded experimentation of Ayako and Omodaka’s collaborative ‘Shuuten’, Zen Koans for Subway Commuters maintains it’s interest throughout thanks to it’s variety of ambient sonics and real-life manifestation. Footsteps from heeled shoes clip-clop across sterile white tiles, trains rattle as they pull into the station, voices call out in greeting to friends and loved ones. It’s a trip in every sense of the word, a form of meditative therapy designed to think about nothing or think about everything.
Featuring live recordings from the pair's ventures throughout Tokyo, Personas have crafted a mesmerising debut album that pulls on the heartstrings whilst maintaining a complete sense of freedom. Getting on the train to go anywhere is exciting, not just because of the destination, but because of the liberation that comes with sitting down, reading a book or listening to music and knowing you can't do anything else apart from that for a few hours. Intimate, subtle and cinematic, it’s the perfect soundtrack to get lost to."
Pataphysical’s Matthew Linares debuts his Hidden Rung project for Good Morning Tapes with a beautiful 35 minute spiral into tripped-out ambient and narrative wooze, somewhere between classic 12th Isle, Current 93 x Blue Jam styles.
Leading on from last year’s Pataphysical album ‘Hapticality’, this new work ventures into more surrealist zones that manifest Linares’s thoughts on ambient experimentalism. It relates to his organisation of interactive sound installations in forests and other weird/abandoned locales around the UK, where he guides his audience, often blindfolded, to explore psychedelic paths that extend beyond the prosaic.
Working in the conceptual space between ambient as background music and atmospheric presence, Hidden Rung’s ‘Happier’ prizes the form’s shapeshifting nature and ability to both consciously, and unwittingly stimulate the senses, operating at a level of nuance that really gets under the skin and prompts peculiar responses over return listens.
Between the piano lines of ‘Cascasia’ and spangled, Current 93-like monologue of its closing title tune, Linares acts as shamanistic psychopomp, guiding searching souls from the voices-in-your-head mulch of ‘Another You’ to sublimely groggy states in ‘Phling’, and the lysergic deliquescence of ‘Peach Orielle’.
Tripped out bliss from the go-to label in this realm.
The Enmossed X Psychic Liberation series returns with a dense new session of blistering drone and smudged ambient romance inspired by the tempestuous and often clashing forces of our weather systems. Highly recommended if yr into Iancu Dumitrescu, Kevin Drumm, Lawrence English, KMRU
New Mexico-born // Berlin-based Angelo Harmsworth’s music could be said to marry the wide-open wilds of his formative US south west with an intently experimental approach familiar from his current home city. ‘Vent’ is his first for Enmossed X Psychic Liberation and is an uncompromising exploration of experimental electronics, continuing a line of enquiry from his cassettes for the likes of Opal Tapes, Total Black and Bathetic over the past half decade and more.
So while the A-side obliterates with visceral and layered drone-noise energies, the b-side finds us in wide-open, heat-hazed terrain, reflecting Harmsworth's roots in the desert landscapes of the American Southwest. The scene here is dominated by romantic swells that surge up from the shearing, chromatic dynamics of ‘Drag Net Capture’ and come to fruition over the 10 minutes of ‘Hands Like Vapor’, with its wide-eyed roil of aching, strangely physical abstraction seeming to model a chugging pressure front as viewed from afar.
Brazilian country music? Another incredible archive of historical finds that uncovers the early folk recordings that inspired Brazil's most popular contemporary forms.
Death is not the End continue their journey into the outer reaches with this collection of "música caipira", a form of Portuguese troubadour folk that later mutated into "música sertaneja", the Brazilian equivalent of US country pop. The earliest recordings here were made in the 1920s by folklorist Cornélio Pires, and sound as far from contemporary country music as you could imagine. Made up of gorgeous vocals customarily sung by a duo in parallel thirds and fifths, a Brazilian-Portuguese style known as "moda de viola", and the gently strummed viola caipira, a ten string guitar, the music is remarkable for its relative simplicity. There's none of the overblown hyper-emotionality that dominated US country music even at the very beginning, this expression, not unlike the music that bubbles from Brazil nowadays, is cheekier, more raw, and a lot more romantic.
Música caipira arose from north-eastern Brazil, the country's equivalent of an outback, and was routinely made by musicians using homemade instruments with ramshackle tunings. So when they sung stories of love and loss, the usual folk canon, they were granted an extra layer of artistic honesty thanks to this physical connection to the music they were making. And while it might not sound so linked to today's slick Brazilian pop music, we can still hear traces of this mischievous, DIY energy in plenty of Brazil's underground output - just listen closely and you can hear the same quirky attitude purposed slightly differently. Fantastic listening.
He finally did it! Finn’s xmas album is upon us, playing into a classic seam of seasonal schtick with the sort of instant club-ready charm, wall-to-wall hooks and bittersweet feels that the pivotal Manchester DJ/producer has made his name with since 2014, including a bunch of pals along for the ride. If The Other People Place and Kevin Saunderson made a xmas album...
Inviting guests I. Jordan and Martyn Bootyspoon to gurn in the grotto, ‘No More Coal (A Christmas Dance Record)’ also features nuff chimes for the silly season, all set to mutant hybrids of Jersey house, deep speed garage, old skool’ardcore and big ol’ piano house vamps. To be fair you could get away with rinsing it out any time, but there’s a cockle-warming vibe that lends itself well to dancing-instead-of-putting-the-heating-on, or shaking off a motherland of turkey and sprouts around ye traditional box o’ celebrations.
Finn’s longtime production spar I. Jordan helps make ‘Babybell’ a proper highlight with its carillon riff and cashmere Reese bass glyde brimming full of tingling synths, while Martyn Bootyspoon does his best Jamie Principle on ‘This Time of Year’. But our favourites have to be the happy-sad nostalgic 80’s synthpop melodrama ‘Wonderful Time’, the Todd Edwards-meets-Romance style sampler chops and spritz of ‘A Christmas House Track’ and his groggy beauty ‘Some Thing I Can Choose’.
A xmas album that isn’t shit, cheers Finn.
Kenyan sound artist KMRU pushes off deep into Berlin skool ambient on a richly layered and empathetic suite on a return to Seil Records, site of his debut album.
KMRU follows collaborations with Seefeel, Luke Slater/Speedy J, Echium and Aho Ssan for the likes of Editions Mego and Berghain’s A-Ton, with a bouquet of bittersweet synth meditations that return us to his most intimate side. Doing for ambient electronica what his fellow Kenyan artist Slikback did for techno, KMRU exerts an expressionist angle on the paradigm with a distinctive grasp of texture and tone mirroring aspects of 0PN or Emeralds’ capacity for evoking nostalgia and a sort of fraught sublime, allowing everything space in the mix to breath with an unhurried pace and subtly stressed tang that effortlessly enchants to his slant.
Now a resident in Berlin, KMRU implicitly echoes the spaced-out seduction of Conrad Schnitzler’s early work with Tangerine Dream and Kluster, and later works by Cluster or even Sun Electric, in his navigation of buttons, faders and wires. The silvery grayscale tone and warmth of ‘guise’ sets the mood for a drift between pastoral melodies and field recordings of ‘in pieces’, thru the serenity of ‘luminous beings’ and OOBE-like sensation of ‘resonant sharing’, to his most bittersweet use of texture on the edge of noise with ‘In new fields’. From there the album takes on a more rhythmic impulse with results recalling Lali Puna in ‘mood’, and even more eaze’s puckered suss in ‘other times’, thru to a heavenly airborne waltz titled ‘just’.
Berlin-based Australian sound artist Felicity Mangan amazes once again with this compact set, bending church bells and train noise into bizarre, symphonic patchworks that defy simple classification. RIYL crys cole, Francisco López, Lucy Railton or BJ Nilsen.
If you stumbled across last month's Warm Winters-released "Wet On Wet", then you'll already have an inkling ths one is gonna be strong. "Train Tracks..." is a more recent experiment from Felicity Mangan, developed sharply over the summer. The idea came to Mangan while she was on a 'green tour', choosing to travel slowly by train and ferry through Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway in June. With an excess of time to think about her surroundings and notice the unique sonic characteristics of places she ended up inevitably waiting for connections, Mangan was able to capture quiet moments that might usually go unheard while rushing from venue to venue. She forms these slow sounds into layered patchworks that broadcast her intention: it's like letting the mind wander when you're stuck somewhere new, and every sound - no matter how insignificant - is amplified into a surreal contortion of itself.
On 'Train Travel', Mangan plays with dour Scandinavian church bells - a single bell that marks the time of day - shifting the pitch so they ring out in joyful praise. Footsteps and the train's omnipresent whirr fill out the background, and a the high pitched electronic hum mutates into orchestral strings. These elements - the bells and the train's drones - are amplified further on 'Locomotion', where they stand for the absurd and the haunted respectively. Here Mangan makes the bells completely plastic, fudging their pitch as if she was working with raw tape, making the resonant clangs bounce, wobble and groan. And when the train sounds emerge this time, they're as fully formed as a de-facto quartet. She switches pace on the final track 'Stations in Between', phasing into psychedelic abstraction using whistling bird sounds and a thudding rhythm that smudges into echoing city sounds - snatches of music, car horns and muffled vocals.
Considering the amount of records emerging that use field recordings, especially trains, few of them come close to anything this unusual or graphic. Next level, seriously.
Cross-generational titans of noise and sound experiments, John Duncan, Joachim Nordwall & Henrik Ryland supply a proper drone zoner hashed from shortwave radio, no-input mixer and analogue synths on the iDEAL powerhouse.
Likely to have yr eyes rolling into the back of yr skull by the time it’s done with you, ‘The Welt’ combines the energies of notorious sound artist John Duncan and his spars after a congregation at a festival in Porto, 2019, hosted by the Materia Prima crew. Over the course of 30 minutes it ushers a subliminal segue from super spacious, intoxicating drone to denser, spongiform noise, all peppered with electronic scree inducing a bezzzzonked, liminal state of mind that’s right up our ginnel.
John Duncan has remarkably turned to the bleakest, most beautiful cover versions c.20th evergreens in recent years, brings his paranormal sound craft tekkerz to the post-everything duo of iDEAL boss Nordwall and his fellow Swedish noise artist Rylander (The Skull Defekts) in a perfect marriage of unheimlich forces. Neither side of the equation outdoes itself, but holds to a potent slow burn stasis that swerves the spectacular in favour of a clammy, amniotic effect with intractable grip.
Spot on, this.
Emulsified circuitry and nanobot rhythms by Joe Beedles & Guillaume Dujat’s WEȽ∝KER (pronounced “wet locker”), moving to to new strengths on a curiously expressive debut LP for reliable Florentine label OOH-sounds - RIYL Autechre, Farmer’s Manual, Active Listeners Club.
Making strange sounds listenable since 2020’s ‘Gulp’ for Calum Gunn’s now defunct Conditional, WEȽ∝KER take a marked leap forward with the world-building imagination and illusive technicality of their 2nd release ‘Enhancer’. As one of Manchester’s leading young acts for progressive contemporary electronic music, they hold to their own fiercer than ever and with a growing sense of development across these nine fleeting glimpses at the uncanny valley. At the intersection of generative and man-made music, they draw on multiple strategies of algorithmic and hands-on production to eke out their own space in the niche of computer music and the broader sphere of experimental sound arrangements.
If the “experimental” bracket begs the question, why are they doing it, what is the purpose of their music? The answer here is arguably to entertain and tickle the senses, juxtaposing a wide range of textures, shapes, tones and timbres that provoke unusual headspaces and baffle proprioceptions in those who like to question their sense of self. If it was held up to the critical values of noncy goblin rockists it would surely all collapse - where’s the lyrics, where’s the melody, it’s just not the fucking Beatles! *fleg* - but taken on its own merits there’s a uniquely engaging abstract narrative spelt out in synaesthetic terms to follow between the shearing contours and blissed but quizzical chords of ‘Gator’ to the knotted whorls of ‘J-pump’, with echoes of future folk music in ‘mcks_eeks’ and castles in the sky structures of ‘Ohmbase’, plus great, roiling psychedelic space for exploration on ‘VLAFh’, and electro-jazz-funk’s freakiest nightmares evoked in ‘nunnfir’.
D.K’s Worship label returns with a set of dank dembow x UKB hybrids on the line between ruder Downwards, ANA, early DMZ and Youth stylings, from Parisian lynchpin Louis Vial, aka Eszaid.
‘Encircled Earth’ taps into the Photek continuum on a downtempo set of neon-lit advanced/ardkore variations that sound something like Gescom via DMZ. 'Indraic Cut' lodges itself low-n-slow , arranging the kind of robotic vox and crushed drums you'd find on peak-era Ae/Gescom production around a fucked low-end wobble. He grabs from a wide range of influences, curving acid and grubby breaks around hard-swung dembow and omnipresent sci-fi pads on 'Zmej', and galvanised trills into dubbed-out minimal dancehall on 'Ophis Dub'.
The sound is most effective when he focuses on the mood: 'Chained' is like half-speed Photek stripped to a dungeon techno crawl, while ‘Kronstadt’ sticks to the shadows for the first half before erupting in a firework display of tweaky breakwork that never fully leans into IDM fuckery - thankfully.
New Wave hyper-connector Annie Hogan (Soft Cell, Deux Filles, Yello, Downwards) doubles down on her blink ’n miss ‘Batcave ’83’ edition, with an inch-perfect new double tape featuring a 3hr redux of her first ever DJ residency, at Leeds’ Amnesia in 1981 - chock with hi-grade bullets played just how she used to. Like the first tape, all label profits go to charity.
Swan-diving into a hugely inspirational era whose influence on successive waves of pop and dance, from Detroit techno to European club music and even hyperpop can’t be overstated; Annie Hogan reprises her earliest DJ role, at Leeds’ Amnesia in 1981, with a flawless run of cuts played at her first club residency. Start to finish it’s an utter joy for anyone who’s lived in the era’s long shadow, giving context to legendary tunes and highlighting lesser known bullets in a blow-for-blow account of what made, and still makes, that period so enduring some 40 years later.
While Annie is highly regarded by those in the know for her work with everyone from Simon Fisher Turner on the original, apocryphal Deux Filles project, to myriad Marc Almond projects, collabs with Regis and even as touring band member for the Style Council or on records by Nick Cave, Barry Adamson and Yello, her role as a DJ is only recently getting overdue shine. As a student in Leeds in 1980, she began booking and promoting shows by the likes of Depeche Mode, ACR and Soft Cell (evidence on YouTube!), where she also put her enviable record collection to use as the club DJ.
‘Amnesia ’81’ racks up too many nuggets to mention, pulling from NYC no wave, new romantic glam, Northern UK post-industrial funk, icy original synth-pop, proto-gothic post-punk, Teutonic machine music and sultry disco, she spotlights that period when rock ’n roll’s thrust became warped, modernised and puckered into new forms that set the stage for a whole other generation.
Ruthless, hi-NRG Dominican Mambo badness from scene legend Munchi, made circa 2008-2010 and absorbing sounds with a journalistic hunger for storytelling and contextual deconstruction that takes in elements from reggaeton and baile funk to Dutch bubbling and Chicago juke - bending moombahton into breakcore and curving bachata and merengue into something altogether new. Blogger and musicologist Wayne Marshall even coined a separate genre for Munchi's diverse spread of genre-agnostic productions back in 2010: Munchiton. Since then, Munchi has worked with M.I.A. and Pharell Williams among others, and remixed everyone from Skrillex to Nguzunguzu, Noisia to Buraka.
‘I Love Mambo’ was put together in 2010 for Dave Quam's notorious It's After The End Of The World blog and was Munchi's first proper mixtape, matching a handful of his own productions with tracks from the Dominican Mambo canon that had evolved throughout the 2000s. It showcases the febrile sound of Dominican Mambo at a crest of its rudely incendiary powers, emerging from merengue styles via stripped down productions made on FruityLoops, running at a 180bpm gallop akin to Caribbean soca, Portuguese batida, Tanzanian singeli or DJ Chengz’ St. Lucian Kuduro, for example, with an unbridled NRG that’s deadly in the club.
Munchi seems constantly aware of things existing in the same continuum, pulling connecting threads between Dutch bubbling and bassline womps on 'Luis Esta Seguroski VIP', and mind-altering 'Percolator' trills on the hypnotic 'Ayoba Mambo’, summing up the sound with a restive hour of pure velocity and attack tempered by the cross-rhythms of the MCs, holding his line with breathless parade of plaggy pianos, rattling snares, blazing horns and tonking kicks that know no chill.
For the DJs, it gets even better with his OG productions included on the tape, queezing off a full clip of madness between ‘Damu Mambo’ with its orchestral stabs and incessant one note piano jab, the detuned toy piano plonk of ‘Que Maldito Disco’, and wild donk mutation ‘Luis Esta Seguroski VIP’, or the footwork-adjacent trills and flickers of ‘Klk Frutilu’ with its surprise tempo drop primed for the canny DJs. Fire.
Pure pounders from Paula Temple, recorded live, vinyl-only, in Preston, 1995 as her entry for a Muzik magazine competition that ultimately earned her a day in the studio with Dave Angel.
Filling in gaps in Temple’s CV, ‘Live from the Mill, Summer of 1995’ heralds the classic youth pastime of making mixtapes to bash out in the motor with your mates on the way to raves. As proved by the mix, a then 18 year old Temple had patently passed her DJ proficiency test (administered by Judge Jules, the ‘Wheels of Steel’ test was mandatory for all British youth until 2000) and was on her way to becoming a leading figure for underrepresented women DJs everywhere.
Building on tekkerz honed over years of bedroom mixing and travelling to legendary northern english clubs such as Bugged Out (Manchester), The Orbit (Morley), and Voodoo (Liverpool), Paula absolutely twats it out on this mix submitted to Muzik magazine, landing her a day in the studio with techno steward Dave Angel.
The A-side is littered with high-impact bangers while the B-side yokes it back to a kinkier sort of sauce, spelling out the dichotomies of mid-‘90s dance music as it began to split, refract at the seams and reconverge in unruly form. Ah, take us back to the days of hot boxing a Fiesta with six other passengers and a pissed driver (eeh, don’t do this kids it’s dead naughty and you will kill someone!) on way to the best nights of your life.
Natalie Mering's fifth album is an open-hearted, devotional suite of dreamy, Laurel Canyon-inspired pop - one for fans of Joni Mitchell, Patsy Cline, or Aimee Mann.
2019's "Titanic Rising" launched Weyes Blood, aka Natalie Mering, into the stratosphere, whether she wanted it or not. But before the album had even had a chance to really settle, Mering was experiencing an unusual sickness (spoiler: it was an early case of COVID) and stuck in isolation. "And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow" is the second in a proposed trilogy, described by Mering as "an observation of things to come." And while that could suggest an internalized trek through the anguish of isolation, it's in fact relatively upbeat - Mering's songs are confidently open-ended, approaching tricky subjects - narcissism, Buddhism, imprisonment, pain - and infusing them with lightness and firm Californian musical history.
She might be based in NYC now, but Mering's music still sparkles with the kind of West Coast sunshine that made the music of Joni Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt, and David Crosby so endlessly enduring. Like her predecessors, Mering is able to buoy her anxieties and stresses with taught, breezy instrumentation and, if not a 'devil may care' attitude, then one that's lighter than you might expect given the material. It's actually uplifting to hear someone approaching pop music with so much emotional complexity, and while the songs are familiar - even the production throughout is a love-letter to studio standards that have long since declined - Mering's warmth makes listening unchallenging and deeply rewarding. File alongside last year's brilliant (and underrated) Marissa Nadler album "The Path of the Clouds".
DJ Florentino’s Club Romantico make industrial dembow power moves with a bolshy new one from Arca & Rosalía collaborator Safety Trance, top-loaded with guest bars and beats by Virgen Maria, Iceboy Violet, DJ Sustancia, and Brodinski.
Doing for reggaeton what Nazar did with his rough kuduro sound, Safety Trance brings a rude urgency to tresillo templates in a fierce attempt to revive the sounds of a youth spent in ‘90s Caracas, Venezuela. Galvanising formative styles with a sense of deep South American gothic-industrial, the eight trax hew harder to styles you might associate with Salem, Skinny Puppy, or Nitzer Ebb as much as old skool reggaeton touchstones such as DJ Blass, Ivy Queen, Don Chezina or Baby Rasta & Gringo, and its wild sibling in the Surinamese bubbling sound.
The results are built for shock and awe in the club, streaked with upfront sawtooth synths and gnashed by steel-tipped snares that give the sexy torque of reggaeton a much nastier, febrile bias. Trimmed to breathlessly tight time brackets, the tracks here rain down from the tempestuous, pitch-bent pressure of ‘AAAEFX’ (is that a sample of Smoke City's 'Underwater Love'?) to the recoiling ‘X Cantidad’ (ft. Brodinski) via epic highlights in the seething performance of Iceboy Violet on ‘Save Me’ and the explosive ‘Caracas Bubbling Militia’, with echoes of the producer’s work on Arca’s ‘KiCk’ amped to industrial degrees on ‘Ratatata’ (ft. Virgen Maria), and ‘Tusi En El Pussy’ (ft. DJ Sustancia), and yoked back into the Endgame-like martial swivel of ‘Destruccion’.
No doubt it all sets flames to what has become an over-polished sound, exerting an imaginative sidespin touching the archaeological dembow survey of Club Romantico’s DJ Baba ‘The Godfather of Raptor House’ session that speaks vividly to the mutability and rich spectrum of Latin America’s virulent dance sound.
A companion to “The Catburgers - Dreamworld Sessions”, this cassette-only release was recorded at The Rocking Horse Studios in Bathgate in Autumn 1986.
"The audio is restored from a demo tape owned by journalist Simon Reynolds and contains some of the tracks that made it onto the Dreamworld Sessions."
Simo Cell racks up heavvvvvvy lines of Memphis rap and new jack swing into trip hop, R&B and purple boogie on his TTT follow-up to 2021’s more club-based tape for Felix Hall’s Chrome possee.
Symptomatic of the hotbed of rap and related styles abundant in the french capital right now, Simo Cell’s selections run it raw as f*ck for 85 minutes of squashed and smoked-out pressure. It’s a satisfaction-guaranteed pick for anyone with a nose in this trough of tough and tangy downbeat styles, cueing up stacks of proper deep south tackle, all pinging 808s and double-time chat, on the first side, before winding yr neck/waist between haunted alterations of Janet’s new jack swang, Leila’s ohrwurming R&B trip-hop and Tirzah’s supine bedroom blooz on the 2nd side, which also dials up more up-to-date strains of (t)rap and gooey soul.
Japan’s KAKUHAN deliver a futureshock jolt on their incred debut album ‘Metal Zone’ - deploying drum machine syncopations around bowed cello and angular electronics that sound like the square root of Photek’s ‘Ni Ten Ichi Ryu’, Arthur Russell’s ‘World of Echo’, Beatrice Dillon’s ‘Workaround’ and Mica Levi’s ‘Under The Skin’ - or something like T++ and Errorsmith dissecting Laurie Anderson’s ‘Home Of The Brave’, her electric violin panned and bounced relentlessly around the stereo field. It really is that good - basically all the things we love, in multiples.
While "Metal Zone" might be their debut, KAKUHAN are hardly newcomers. Koshiri Hino is a member of goat (jp), releasing a run of records under the YPY moniker, and heading up the NAKID label, while Yuki Nakagawa is a well known cellist and sound artist who has worked with Eli Keszler and Joe Talia among many others. Together, they make a sound that’s considerably more than the sum of its parts - as obsessively tweaked, cybernetic and jerky as Mark Fell, frothing with the same gritted, algorithmic intensity as Autechre's total-darkness sets, stripped to the bone and carved with ritualistic symbolism.
The album’s most startling and unexpected moments come when KAKUHAN follow their 'nuum inclinations, snatching grimey bursts and staccato South London shakes and matching them with dissonant excoriations that shuttle the mind into a completely different place. It's not a collision we expected, but it's one that's completely melted us - welding obsessive rhythmic futurism onto bloodcurdling horror orchestration - the most appropriate soundtrack we can imagine for the contemporary era.
By the album's final track, we're presented with South Asian microtonal blasts that suddenly make sense of the rest of the album; Nakagawa erupts into Arthur Russell-style clouded psychedelia, while wavering flutes guide bio-mechanical ritual musick formations. It’s the perfect closer for the album’s series of taut, viscous, and relentless gelling of meter and tone in sinuous tangles, weaving across East/West perceptions in spirals toward a distinctive conception of rhythmic euphoria with a sense of precision, dexterity and purpose that nods to classical court or chamber music as much as contemporary experimental digressions.
Easily one of the most startling and deadly debuts we’ve heard in 2022; the louder we’ve played it, the more it’s realigned our perception of where experimental and club modes converge - meditative, jerky, flailing genius from the outerzone. Basically - an AOTY level Tip.
Ploy runs a cranky, screwball tempo special for Club Night Club with a 73 minutes session toggling the pressure between hardcore jungle, ghettotech, post-punk and favela madness in a set full of proper club thrillers.
An un-fu-ck-wi-th-ab-le testament to his esteemed skillz, ‘Live from Brooklyn’ seamlessly flows between styles with a fluid, reckless energy that runs like a blitzed drum anthology.
Zipping along at at fair clip, it cycles thru more permutations of style and pattern than we can fully list here, but trust it’s all gravy, and he knows when to temper the flow, switching to badfoot grimy drill, rap and dancehall around the halfway mark, and back onto the heel/toes by the end of the session.
Rampant, rampant gear // run to it.
Rowdy, celebratory snapshots of secret family life in Iran’s Islamic Republic during the early ‘00s. There’s a twinge of voyeurism listening into someone else’s life behind closed doors, but it also feels a privilege to be invited as an onlooker. A right mad knees up, this!
“Tehran-born, Manchester-based artist Parham Ghalamdar provides a suite of raw & candid amateur-performed Persian folk, pop songs and poetry - all pulled from the audio on his parents archive of homemade VHS recordings documenting intimate, joyous & illicit gatherings in turn-of-the-century Iran.
"Beautiful Apparitions is a collection of audio excerpts from digitized VHS tapes recorded by my parents in early-noughties Iran. The footage depicts the secret double lives of Iranians drinking, dancing, and singing to celebrate life when owning a VHS player was illegal in the Islamic Republic. The footage is an amateur performance of pop and folklore songs about love, loss and life. Although many Iranians must have recorded such vivid moments, they are rarely made available publicly. Such tapes would usually have been well hidden, lost, or purposefully destroyed."
— Parham Ghalamdar”
Long in the making debut album from Modern Love’s most elusive operator G. Howell. Recorded with a DR550, a battered Charvel guitar + assorted pedals, recommended if you're into Stephen O’Malley, Autechre, David Lynch, Shackleton, NWW, Demdike Stare...
From the disputed border somewhere between Lancashire and Yorkshire, G..H. claims a no mans land where he is free to decimate distinctions between black metal and concrète techno by drawing upon an elusive, metaphysical force that’s exclusively common to music rooted in that region; from Muslimgauze and Autechre thru Shackleton and Demdike Stare.
The inarguably mongrel Housebound Demigod is G.H.’s debut solo album, following the Ground EP (2011) and his involvement with the hexed Pendle Coven project & HATE, alongside Miles Whittaker and Andy Stott, respectively, between 2003 - 2009. It sounds like nothing out there; the result of countless hours at the grindstone, using sound as tonal therapy and a purely expressive sculptural material to best render the feel of his bleak but extraordinarily beautiful surroundings with all the rugged texture and captivating aesthetic of some ancient cave graffiti.
The album unfolds as a treacherous topography of boggy drones, entrenched subbass and deforested, windswept feedback, strewn with the charred remains of black metal in opener Screaming Demon Pickups and the hollow-eyed stare down of Angels & Doormen, or prone to bury the senses with unpredictable slow techno mudslides in Mickey Cosmos or the subsidence of Packhorse.
He often underlines that physicality with a drily ambiguous wit; check the bitterly clipped narrative on Yorkshire Fog, or, equally, when he puts all his weight behind the stylus-troubling, bestial shudder of Devils Bit Scabious, and you can’t shake the feeling that he’s gurning like an evil loon behind the rotten torque of the album’s titular parting shot.
While ostensibly monotone, overcast, the devil is found in the album’s subtleties of timing and mixing detail; riddled with phantasms that lurk and lash out from the crevices of its granite slabs and pitch black ravines, all placed at oblique angles in his surreally folded, labyrinthine and unheimlich soundfield.
The follow-up to 2019's dramatic debut 10", "hills/demons" continues Paul Purgas (Emptyset) and Imran Perretta's examination of diasporic musical vibrations, with help from Nabihah Iqbal and Bangladeshi singer Sohini Alam.
Another project that looks back to move forward, Paul Purgas and filmmaker Imran Perretta's AMRA establishes itself in earnest with this latest plate. More substantial than its predecessor and bringing in a larger group of collaborators, it features Nabihah Iqbal on sitar on opening track 'Toli Pir', alongside Bangladeshi singer Sohini Alam, both of whom add texture to Purgas and Perretta's reverberating atmospheres. The duo claim to be motivated by ancient rhythmic talas and syncretic mythologies, themes that are well conveyed in this opening intro.
'Rohtang Pass' is a more robust percussive experiment, that plays on Purgas's usual industrial grittiness, pulling the rhythmic focus towards South Asian stylistic templates; basically it's like Pan Sonic if they were motivated by tabla improvisation rather than hotwired drum machines. 'Brahmajuni' continues the experiments, building the tension into a Hollywood score-style crescendo, and closing track 'Srimangal' brings back Alam's vocals for a euphoric finale.