Tranquillising pastoral ambient visions from the artist aka Boxcutter. RIYL Emeralds, 0PN, The Durutti Column
“After 2015's Esalen Lectures LP as The Host, Barry Lynn returns to Touch Sensitive under his given name with a twin set of ambient cassettes. The majority of the music on the Taurus Tapes results from live looping experiments using an electric guitar as the sound source, although a few tracks on Volume 1 were also created using synthesisers, and embellished with loughshore birdsong and fretless bass guitar.
The result is an intimate and evolving sound, sculpted live in the moment. Moving away from over-arching concepts, the tracks are mostly titled after the constituent stars in the constellation of Taurus, Barry's star sign, and a common sight in the northern winter sky. Shades of Fripp's experiments with Eno can be detected in the Gibson fuzz tone and drifting loops, as well as more Gottsching-styled exercises in tight repetition. “
JSMË catch Nina at her most viscous and unsettling with Uvijek; a strong new addition to the Golden Püdel resident’s illustrious streak of mixtapes including numbers for BEB’s Krokodilo Tapes and Id Mud series, and V I S - the Hamburg-based label she runs with Good News.
A descent into psychoactive darkness or an elevation of exploratory sound practice, depending on your perspective, Uvijek finds Nina defying any easy grasp of putative drone and concrète dichotomies by keeping everything in a constant liminal flux or state of mental mulch.
She spends the first 45 minutes dredging up sounds lesser heard (and even harder identified) into a reverberating, shapeless organism urged by a thrumming systolic pulse up to the mid-way point, when fractured breaks and rusty, shivering percussion begin to infiltrate its sound sphere, joined by fetid black metal and choked-up north american industrial tones which pinch on the nerves like imagined crack bugs swarming on their next puss filled meal, then proceeding to infect and inflame the senses with metastasising certainty.
If there was any doubt as to Nina’s indomitable skill as a selector and silent narrator of thee grimmest mixtape odysseys, this one will tuck you in, pat you on the brow, and then make sure the leather ankle and wrist straps are firmly locked in place. And you’re in for a sound night…
Sound Signature have rescued this classic Theo album from the neo-soul clutches of Ubiquity and given it a fresh 2017 edition packing some glossy new artwork.
The Sound Signature archive is so vast and consistently brilliant you are always discovering lost B-side gems that will blow your mind, but we all know about ‘Parallel Dimensions’, right? Arguably one of the defining albums of Detroit beatdown, this pivotal LP first dropped at the turn of the century and turned many a head to Theo’s innate class as a producer. Reissued and repressed in several different formats and configurations since then, Sound Signature have seemingly won back the license for ‘Parallel Dimensions’ from West Coast soul seekers Ubiquity for a 2017 edition featuring all-new art courtesy of the label’s in-house artworker Thomas Xu.
Presenting the nine tracks that made up the expanded and classic 2000 CD edition, what is immediately apparent when diving into this session is how far ahead of the game Theo was and still is. The way he flips and snips samples and lays down crunchy drum patterns that stick to their own rhythm is really quite untouchable.
Who are we kidding, you all know how crucial this is.
Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement is Dominick Fernow's most quietly intriguing alter ego. This immersive boxset commits a comprehensive survey of his sprawling output under this moniker from its inception in 2011 until 2013 which paved the way to the deforestation of Green Graves last year, effectively forming a proper grimoir of its accursed output for the first time, remastered by Paul Corley (Ben Frost, 0PN, Colin Steson).
While all of Dominick Fernow’s work is driven by a sense of puristic, tortured expression, his Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement output renders some of the most diffusive, abstract and enigmatic thoughts and feelings in his entire catalogue. Where his other projects are known for intensely saturated sound design, RSE dwells in fathoms of stark negative space; conjuring a rare and arcane kind of acousmatic magick that massages the temples and squeezes open the third eye thru its textured tonal sensitivity and heartrate-slowing temporal pressure, as opposed to anything explicitly aggressive or panic-inducing.
Collated as a sort of book of spells - Water Witches works best thru dedicated solo immersion and absorption - just as you would imagine with a mescaline or ayahuasca trip deep in the jungle - only with less physical sickness and actual mosquitos. Although you’re likely to encounter the sounds of parakeets, tarantula wasps and other hallucinatory creatures and tribes populating its dense drone canopies and humid, decaying surfaces.
Do not treat this release lightly, and it will reward you manifold in return. Cross its path the wrong way, in a narrow frame of mind, however, and you’re almost certain to get irretrievably lost amid its plasmic moire of recursive energy channels and unidentified spectres, because you’ll find there’s few souls willing to come and repatriate your quickly rotting cadaver from this devil’s lung of mental mantraps.
The set collates in their remastered entirety the following releases - Fallen Leaves Camouflaged Behind Tropical Flowers, Green Amulet Crafts Supernatural Qualities, Taking Place In The Foyer, Jungle Black Magic And Highlands Green Sorcery, Papua Land Where Spirits Still Rule, Black Magic Cannot Cross Water, The Plant With Many Faces, Folklore Venom and Water Rose Above The Head.
Chopped and screwed french hardtek and dutch/german gabber, Jean Carvel selects. Erwan Tarek (Low Jack) chops and dubs!
Next on the cultish Editions Gravats label, Low Jack slashes and burns thru a stack of choice french hardtek and dutch/ german gabber selected by his partner in crime, Jean Carval. Dissecting and then stewing the crusty scally sound of late ‘90s continental Europe in its own juices, the results are cooked up into 42 minutes of oblique, pulsating savagery bound to leaves bits in your teeth.
Swallowing the raver’s spine whole and spitting out the marrow, Nation De La Boue is a severely warped take on an already severe sound, masticating the rotten entrails of classic Cavage and Hangars Liquids-associated acts - UHT, Saoulaterre, Yann Dub, Bambule, No Tek - and transforming them into a disfigured and contorted mind gurn laced with lysergic voices, mutated hyper-rhythms and K-holing trapdoors.
If you’ve never heard a 3m tall, 12m wide soundsystem play 200bpm hardcore at 7 in the morning, you basically haven’t lived. However, as that means 99% of folk are effectively just walking dead, this tape offers scant opportunity to actually grasp life by the short and curlies, provided you have the required soundsystem and an abandoned airfield to run amok at daft O’Clock. Although your bedroom and a battered boombox with functioning tape deck will definitely suffice, too.
Keysound get reel with a superb mix by Parris, the pivotal, London-based producer highly regarded for his pursuits in the zone between rolling bass music, experimental techno and weightless grime styles.
Prefaced by glowing sleeve notes from Martin Clark in the J-card, TX280916 / TX111116 unfurls a expertly paced and mercurial narrative that speaks to Parris’ position as a DJ’s DJ, as Blackdown puts it: “the kind of DJ who comes to your house party and quietly mixes your records better and for longer than you, even though he has never even heard the tunes before. That guy.” However, whilst it’s one thing to beguile folk in various stages of inebriation at a party, it’s another to really prove it on a mixtape. So suffice it to say that we’re stone cold sober right now and this example is highly impressive.
Traversing various depressurisation chambers of vaporised, weightless R&B memes, free-floating ambient structures and wistful neo-noir synth tones at the front, the mix pensively gathers momentum without the immediate need of a dancefloor, stealthily knitting and dissolving the teeth of his cogged grooves into a low key churn prone to evaporate and remerge at another sluggish pattern with masterful groove control and discipline, subtly hingeing on a flux of dub, Afro-tribal drums and tangy electronics that feels like skanking in the run-off from a thousand London clubs collected over the last two decades.
It takes until two thirds of the way thru the first side for it to really lock into an upward groove - and no, we couldn’t name a single track apart from a few flashes of his own productions - keeping the momentum elevated and expanded thru mutant grime melodies, persistent daubs of subbass and tendrils of dub FX that step over each other toward a point between the eyes and over the horizon.
But even when it picks up energy, the groove control is immaculate, never testing but purely seductive, rolling and deep dwelling with a classic, in-the-pocket London style that resonates with early Mixmaster Morris or The Orb-style ambient mixes as much as Horsepower Productions and indeed, Keysound’s own radio shows.
Ran$om Note brilliantly head perpendicular to their previous form with Flug 8’s astral navigation, Leuchtkraft (or Luminescence); finding Frankfurt-based graphic designer and producer Daniel Herrmann veering from prior techno experiments into uncharted deep space located somewhere between the constellations of Steve Hauschildt, Conrad Schnitzler and Popol Vuh.
Lifting off from the saltier synth-pop and kosmiche inclinations of his Trans Atlantik  LP, Flug 8 plots out a wide-eyed yet introspective sound in his 3rd album to date, expanding his scope to absorb light from more distant, kosmiche inspirations, giving the sense of a search for some alien sensation that he knows is out there and must persist in discovering.
Initially he remains in contact with mission control in the scene-setting Rollfeld but soon enough the communication is severed as he enters the ice-fields of KristallPalast and the trip takes a starker turn to the isolated heights of Man High, coming to terms with the beautiful loneliness in Eisregen before the interception of jagged distress signals of acousmatic provenance steer the trip toward an unknown planet in Mittelwelle. On touching down he’s greeted by radiant light beings, distant relations of Popol Vuh in Wolkendecke, and joins their ritual dance in the jelly-limbed jig of Sierra Charlie until dawn, when Morgenstern breaks above the horizon with the radiance of five suns, and the doomy Solarwind blows our protagonist off course again, spiralling towards the melancholy resolution of Nordlicht’s creamy ambient hues.