Gqom hybridists Phelimuncasi return to Nyege Nyege Tapes for a second album of purple-hued, darkside energies that cross galvanized futuristic productions with frenetic MCing in isiZulu and English. Imagine DJ Lag, DJ Menzi and Byrell the Great in a blender and you'll get a vague idea of what to expect.
Nyege introduced Phelimuncasi to the wider world a couple of years back with a career spanning sampler that was released to much acclaim, but by that point they were already a long-established fixture on their local Durban scene. 'Ama Gogela' brings us right up to speed, allowing everyone outside of their Mlaszi township a chance to experience the sound and energy of one of gqom's most relentless, uncompromising units. Vocalists Malathon, Makan Nana and Khera team up once again with Gqom's most innovative producers DJ MP3 and DJ Scoturn, joined by locals DJ Nhlekzin and DJ Ndakx, alongside South Korea's NET GALA, who dropped the ace "신파 SHINPA" last summer.
The album starts on a delirious tip with 'I Don't Feel Like Legs', a DJ Nhlekzin-produced trunk bumper that lifts Malathon, Makan Nana and Khera's circular chants above a mass of subby womps and party clacks somewhere between Miami bass and classic gqom, complete with frenetic thee-part vocals, police sirens and chat delirium. NET GALA throws down another early highlight with the squelchy 'Ngiphupha Izinto', blasting Phelimuncasi thru rolling ballroom-adjacent snares and bee-sting synths.
'Maka Nana' features guest vocalist Bhejane riding a more traditional gqom blueprint, balancing a slithering drone against a familiar 120bpm bounce offset by those neon vocal chants, while 'Dlala Ngesinqa’ percolates with menace, a winding synth ramping up the tension with increasing intensity, and they leave it to the clipped vocal stabs of 'Uyaphi WeNano’ to present the most unhinged darkside energy on show, deployed at half speed for a tempo madness.
Scribbly sound paintings from Japan’s Akhira Sano, leading on from albums with Sun Araw’s label and Cassauna to The Trilogy Tapes
Existing in a liminal cloud space somewhere between Tomoko Sauvage’s tinkling experiments with ceramics and water, the dust mite dances of Bellows, or YPY’ glitching pulses, ‘Particle Dialogue’ is all brownian motion and crackle coaxed from undisclosed equipment.
There’s a sort of Murakami-esque enigma at play in Sano’s groggy logic that lends itself well to drifting off and letting it colour your background and airspace like some playful augmented reality projection where your speakers spit flecks of paint in the air and on the walls.
Moonchild Sanelly's second album on Transgressive.
"Forming a sonic foundation that veers between Amapiano, Gqom, grime, pop, house and R&B while showcasing her vocal talents on more downtempo songs, Phases 19-tracks document the varying chapters of a toxic relationship and subsequent freedom. A double album, the first side is a journey through the relationship with production reflecting those different moods and aspects of her personality; the second side, meanwhile, leads into a clubbier amapiano space.
Collaboration has always been core to Moonchild’s alternate world. Since her 2015-released award-winning first album Rabulpha! put her on the global map, she has collaborated with local favourites Maphorisa, Sho Madjozi and Thandiswa Mazwai. In the years that followed, she caught the attention of a host of international superstars, leading to high-profile collaborations with artists including Wizkid, Beyonce (featuring on “MY POWER”) and Gorillaz (on “With Love To An Ex”).
Phases is a highly collaborative record, too, with production and guest features from Sad Night Dynamite (their track “Demon” is already a huge hit), Wesley Joseph, Xavier Thomas (Débruit), TOKiMONSTA, HOLLY and Aramboa. The album’s title takes on a multitude of meanings: via the range of genres covered across its runtime, the different sounds and styles that it encompasses and the personal journey that Sanelisiwe Twisha has taken to get to this point."
Raime’s Joe Andrews and Tom Halstead, plus Valentina Magaletti (numerous projects, solo and in collab - all of them worthy of yr time) come together once again as Moin to vacillate between bitter/sweet picks of post-punk, inebriated skuzz, cut-up WTF? joints and queasy ambient for their excellent 2nd mixtape for AD 93.
Penetrating the depths of their record collections, ‘Capable’ sprawls through an hour and a half that keeps their influences open and unpredictable in the maziest fashion, spanning puckered kisses of C86 x Wiiija pop, angular grot, modal rock and dream-sequence audities with a guess-again agenda that’s always half the fun with their mixes.
If u wanna get snagged on ohrwurms that might only reveal themselves years later on your digging journeys, this one has ample rewards in store - effectively a breadcrumb trail thru the recesses of experimental rock and related paradigms of the past 40 years or so.
If you lose yr way, go back to the beginning and do it all over again.
Another enthralling and nostalgic time capsule from the Death is Not the End crew, this time collecting rave ads from the era's nexus., 1991 - 1996.
Picking up just about where the "London Pirate Radio Adverts" comps left off, "London Rave Adverts" focuses specifically on pirate radio rave stings, described by Simon Reynolds in the liners as "the audio equivalent of a rave flyer". And while none of us were plastering our walls with shoutouts (or making tapes of 'em), he's right that there's a similar rush of nostalgia hearing gravel-voiced MCs shouting out DJs like Grooverider and Mickey Finn over shortwave-corrupted amens and canned piano.
Each ad is like a tiny echo of an era that's been so heavily mythologized by this point that it's almost entirely lost its connection to tangible history: voices are timestretched into robotic dipper wails or splattered into reverberating shimmers, euphoric fuzzed pads and wobbly subs are spliced with chipper cockney banter, sandwiched between radio static and breaks.
Ignore the tidal wave of regurgitated poshnob polite-n-bass rave flatcap-to-fitted doof, this'll remind you of a time when the genre represented change, independence, hope, and genuine progression.
Outstanding, darkly poetic collab from conceptual artist Richie Culver & electronic shapeshifter Pavel Milyakov (Buttechno) - a bloodletting for the times RIYL Blackhaine, Teresa Winter, TG
Landing in the slipstream of Culver’s surprise ace for Superpang, ‘A Change of Nothing’ presents the Hull-based multi-hyphenate meeting an ideally cranky foil in amorphous artist Pavel Milyakov, who relocated from Moscow to Europe with his Ukrainian wife earlier this year for obvious reasons.
Both artists bring their respective realities to the fore in utterly compelling style on ‘A Change Of Nothing’, meshing Culver’s spoken word observations and Max/MSP patches to Milyakov’s ravishing guitar and synth textures in visceral forms that speak vividly to their shared backgrounds in the brutalism of Hull and the former Soviet capital. It’s not a union that we might have readily predicted, but it proves a vital meeting of minds and energies, underlined by a soberly mature emotive intelligence and ability to divine beauty from harshness, or, at the least, a certain artistic truth.
As with Culver’s preceding Blackhaine collab ‘DID U COME YET / I’M NOT GONNA CUM’ and solo debut for Superpang, his lyrics are wryly realist, autobiographical observations on life in Hull, from the perspective of someone who grew up there, but found themselves rotting away, and moved cities to pursue his art, before moving back as a different person, sans addictions. Pavel’s perspective is similar but different, having grown up in Russia during the challenges of the ‘90s, then witnessing an autocratic ruler execute imperialist ambitions, effectively pushing him to abandon his home.
Where that combination of experiences could precipitate sentimentality, the pair hold a to a fine line between catharsis and disciplined restraint in five starkly evocative, open-ended works, with Culver’s unapologetically DOA Humberside vowels uttering junkie proverbs and punchily plaintive observations to Milyakov’s freeform textures. At times resembling the emotive orchestrations of Fennesz, at others like Kevin Drumm’s skull-scrape ambient tones, or with the bite and roil of Shapednoise; it’s a real deal expression of contemporary dread that’s going straight in our special folder of North Sea doom music.
Severely desiccated dub wreckage from iDEAL boss Joachim Nordwall, pushing the aesthetics and tekkerz of his records as The iDEALIST to extreme degrees comparable with Ilpo Väisänen’s Kangaroo turns, starkest Rhythm & Sound joints or the most uncompromising gear found on SM-LL
A big look for noise and industrial dub fiends, ‘Healing Music’ wounds and sutures heads in six spirit-grinding works defined by an obsessive sound sensitivity toward subbass and worn-out texture. We’ve heard artists explore this zone before, yet rarely to this kind of unyielding extent, where the principles of dub are factored by the industrial mindset into intensely sparse negative space. It’s a logical next step on from Nordwall’s work as The iDEALIST, effectively cutting the kick drum anchors to leave behind trace elements and after-impressions of dematerialised rhythms and sounds.
Frankly it’s a sound we could happily run all day, requiring little effort on behalf of the listener, yet helplessly snagging us in its spectral slosh and a sort of illusive ephemerality that leads yr mind off into space. While patently hard-bitten, there is a subtle declension of rawness and sensuality at play in the album’s arc from slow, seething scree of its first part thru the relative airborne lightness of its last. In between he opens fathoms of seductively gritty imaginary space, descending subs of ‘Healing Music 2’ and extreme high/low register tones of ‘Healing Music 3’, into empty-belly echo chamber resonance of ‘Healing Music 4’, and settling near Nate Young’s ‘Regression’ session styles on ‘Healing Music 5’.
Dub and Dilla-wise downbeat hip hop chops from OGs of the ‘00s wonky beats scene
Still going strong on their Wulf label, home to Letherette’s tubes for the past five years, ‘BL6’ continues the Brown Lounge series started in 2008 with a 19 track beat tape of loping rhythms shaped in sampler-tesselated cuts of boogie soul, dub-hop, and Dilla worship.
Respect for sticking to their thing and continuing to find their soul in that niche, with some tidy slices of velvet-clad late night music in ‘Armor’, dub-hazed instrumental drizzle on ‘Mell’, Madlib-adjacent bumps in ‘Tears’, RZA-esque loop slips on ‘Your Heart’, and the early Ye-esque sample flip of ‘Middy’, plus a continuous mix version that puts it all in context.
Hardcore jungle flashback from Demdike Stare, filleting ’93 madness heavily inspired by the cut-up rhythmic psychedelia of Tom & Jerry, Rufige Kru, A Guy Called Gerald, DJ Hype - yano it’s 100% deadly
One we’ve all been waiting for, ‘Physics’ is a tour de force of the most thrilling era in UK dance music. Dicing with late ’92-into-’93 templates, the hour-long selection cues up a barrage of classics and rarities that emerged following the accelerated rush of the hardcore years, ’90-’91, when tempos began to break the 150bpm sound barrier in a disciplined escalation and advance of Caribbean soundsystem culture’s style and pattern, causing an unprecedented rupture of the dancefloor space-time continuum.
Although emerging in the crucible of London dances during the late ‘80s, the music rapidly evolved and spread thru the UK’s rich diaspora of 2nd gen Windrush descendants to ravers across the UK, as far north as Kode 9 in Glasgow, and Demdike Stare’s native Lancashire, where it irrevocably infected a generation of players who rinsed it out at legendary warehouse parties.
‘Physics’ now drills deep into Demdike's memory banks and record collection for a ravenous reflux of the OG style, benefitting from razor-sharp edits and judicious FX to present the style (almost) as you would have got it in a cavernous warehouse surrounded by thousands of spring-heeled gurners. The mix shells pure stacks of badness, toggling the pressure gauge between toe-tip steppers, soulboy glyde and ballistic bruk outs with darkside switch-ups that leave no body still on the ‘floor.
While 30 years removed from that pivotal time, ‘Physics’ perfectly captures the frenetic energy of hardcore jungle for those who know, and those who’re about to find out, distilling its compound symbiosis of technological innovation and narcotic nuttiness at its most deadly effective, playful and game-changing best. Nowt quite like it, is there?
On her second full-length, Belarusian producer Lina Filipovich deconstructs baroque music, turning familiar compositions from Bach, Handel, Frescobaldi, Carleton and Couperin into tweaky, neo-electronic symphonies.
Driven by her memories of playing baroque music as a child, Filipovich decided to develop a suite of interpretations, deconstructing and re-interpreting pieces to "push the limits of performing classical music in the traditional way." The first example we have of this is 'BWV 534 Prelude Fugue in F Minor', an attempt to wrangle Bach into a glitchy 4/4 framework that's a hair's breadth away from early Murcof. But where Murcof used classical sounds to suggest space and darkness, Filipovich appears to have more of an interest in electroplating organ sounds and evoking a ghostly future-ancient tenor.
She approaches each track with vastly different energy, tempering Frescobaldi's 'Toccata decima' with filtered frequency fuckery and leaving little of the original composition untouched. Her version of 'Alle Menschen müssen sterben BWV 643' boils Bach into gaseous traces, filtering identifiable organ loops into blots of booming bass and vibrating oscillators. Most memorable is Filipovich's take on Handel's 'Sarabande' - widely known for its usage in Kubrick's iconic "Barry Lyndon" - where she dissolves the organ theme with crunchy overdrive and rolling synth scratches.
Mexican sound artist Concepción Huerta looks to the stars on her latest sludgy kosmische set, filtering weightless synth sequences thru fluttering tape processes.
A photographer and video artist as well as a composer, Concepción Huerta is also known locally in Mexico for her work documenting the country's growing experimental scene. "Harmonies from Betelgeuse" follows a run of releases on Static Discos, SA Recordings and Hole Records, and demonstrates the flexibility of her musical knowledge. Her inspiration here is the endless open void of the universe, and she attempts to represent space using analogue synthesizers and effects, keeping an eye on our 1960s/70s ideas of electronic music and science fiction, while simultaneously referencing contemporary tape-obsessed experimental heads like William Basinski and Nikolaienko.
Across eight woozy compositions, Huerta evokes the sensation of space, its constant weightless movement, its expansion and contraction and its ultimate mystery. "Harmonies from Betelgeuse" is almost a soundtrack to a lost sci-fi movie, or at least a documentary filmed using the very finest telescopic imaging equipment.
Yorkshire's Working Men's Club emulate early '80s electro pop on their sophomore album "Fear Fear".
The young band from Todmorden notched up plenty of acclaim for their self-titled 2020 debut, written when singer-songwriter (and de-facto frontman) Syd Minsky-Sargeant was just 16 years old. So "Fear Fear" is the sound of a band maturing; Minsky-Sargeant is now 20 and the sound of the band's second album is darker and more pointed. "I like the contrast of it being happy, uplifting music and really dark lyrics," he says. We don't know about that - the music presented here isn't exactly the Arctic Monkeys, although it was produced by that band's producer Ross Orton.
Nah, "Fear Fear" is rougher around the edges, all spiraling, broken oscillators and on-the-fritz drum machines with deranged acid squelches poking in-between the gaps. If you need a stylistic comparison, it's a bit like if the Lo Fidelity All Stars did a record of Depeche Mode covers. Yeah.
Best yet from Luke J Murray’s multiple, ‘nuum-surfing personas; a murky deep topographic reading of East London’s palimpsest of paranormal energies, hardcore and pubcore
Splicing fragments of overheard convos from East London public houses with a palette of sawn-off jungle, Eski grime, drill, UKG and plasmic ooze, Murray’s first act as Superior London Pulp is a logical successor to turns as Stonecirclesamper and with NONEXISTANT and The Iceman Jungliest Kru.
Coming into his own somewhere to the left of Moon Wiring Club anachronisms and Black Zone Myth Chant’s screwed psychedelia, Murray stitches 12 tracks into a groggy narrative that can literally be read thru its evocative track titles, such as ‘Haunted Cassette Spools From ’92 Jungle Tape Packs Washed Up On Bermondsey Beach Waste Away And Dissolve Into The Thames Like Nightmares’, or ‘This Is Where C. Wilson Wrote Ritual In The Dark’, or better taken as a headphone soundtrack to dérives around the East End on a sticky hot day.
Between the splice of Wiley flutes and field recordings in ‘Cold Water’ and the ambient fade-out ‘Have You Been To Derr Park’, Murray waves his divining rods over East LDN’s mazy hash of mashed memories and publore marbled with radical energies, with results ultimately resembling a regression session in the back room of an old boozer, prompting residual come-ups-by-proxy from decanted memories and Proustian, memory-jogging patchworked samepledelia.
Wistful, textured, plangent ambient scapes by LA’s Robert Takahashi Crouch & Yann Novak
“The four tracks that comprise "Giving Water to the Dead" were composed using sound materials originally recorded for the sound installation Histories of the Present, a public artwork commissioned by the City of Berkeley in 2019. But where the installation was about a melding of practices and sounds into a single gesture, Crouch and Novak wanted to take the opportunity of a split release to exploring divergent paths starting from common ground. For "Giving Water to the Dead", each artist started with the same source material and plotted their own direction without direct influence from the other. As artists in a relationship and sharing a studio this was no easy feat. Despite the planned divergence the resulting tracks compliment each other, as the artists do.
Yann Novak and Robert Takahashi Crouch are a creative and romantic couple living and working in Los Angeles. Their collaborative practice incorporates field recordings, photography, and video as tools to investigate the relationship between site and subject. Their performances and installations have been presented at the AxS Festival, Pasadena; California Museum of Photography, Riverside; Desert Daze Festival, Southern California; Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza, Berkeley; Gays Hate Techno, Northern California; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; LACMA, Los Angeles; PØST, Los Angeles; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York and others. Their compositions have been published by The Tapeworm, Murmur Records, Estuary Ltd., IO Sound, and Untitled & After.”
Laila Sakini fleshes out her Princess Diana of Wales avatar on a quietly stunning album of slowburn, coygaze dream-pop for the ever-wonderful A Colourful Storm.
Following a trio of wonders released last year - her AOTY contending ‘Vivienne’ and it’s endlessly layered 'Into the Traffic, Under the Moonlight’ companion piece, as well as a brilliantly distinctive submission for our Documenting Sound series, on Princess Diana Of Wales Sakini finds a contemplative and opaque downstroke, her forlorn vocals convected via radiant webs of reverb in an ephemeral style of songcraft that drifts effortlessly, like the sound of someone coming to terms with themselves.
Making use of negative space as an evocative ingredient, she keeps everything in a sublime tension between reserved emotion and the lingering decay of FX, effectively allowing us into her space but at arms reach, obfuscated by pink hued smoke and down lit in a manner that keeps her features oblique but tangible. And like everything we’ve heard from Sakini before - her work here is multi-dimensional, its emotional complexity taking a while to resolve, its impact multiplied in waiting.
Lulled into existence with the snoring bass and sleepy cicadas of ’Sleet’, Laila's voice comes to occupy a dreamily illusive mid-ground, smudged into whispers and drizzly atmospheres on the breathy country nocturne of ’Still Beach’ and plumbing rich depths of her echo chamber in the all too fleeting ‘Closer’. Flip it over and the kneaded bass presence of ‘Exhaust’ guides us into a sort of flinty 2-step dream-sequence, before that dream logic steers a lonesome post punk bass and dubbed snare rolls of ‘Fragments of Blue’. On the closing ‘Choir Chant’, harpy squeals ride against a low slung bassline, one part Coil, one part Joy Division, notched with a longing detachment.
Difficult to absorb and benefiting from attentive, repeat listens, Princess Diana of Wales resonates with these strange twilight times above perhaps anything else we’ve listened to this year. "What is real and how does it feel?" the cryptic press release asks. We're gonna be unravelling that for months.
Punk-rap spearhead Wu-Lu reps for South London in ’22 with a strong debut album, proper, for Warp after making waves with his self-releases and drops on CURL and Touching Bass.
Hailing from a fecund scene south of the Thames, Wu-Lu naturally weaves influences ranging from punk rock and rap to jungle and slanted soul in the swagger of ‘Loggerhead’. There’s a thousand other artists professing to do the same, but it genuinely works in Wu-Lu’s hands, in no small part due to his versatile vox which serve the coherent connective ligature between his disparate style hopping. At times those vocals remind of Dean Blunt at his most strung out, and especially when he’s joined by the harmonised backing vox of Asha Lorenz, Amon, Lex Amor and Léa Sen in a style shades away from Blunt’s work with Joanne Robertson.
Issued in the year that Disney released a TV mini-series about The Sex Pistols, the idea of “punk” is clearly up for grabs by whoever the fuck wants it. Safe to say we’re really feeling Wu-Lu’s rugged punk-rap slant, one informed as much by jazz and soul as it is by loud guitars and pugilistic percussion. There’s a direct rawness to the results that are in antithesis to Yves Tumor’s overwrought posturing, for example, and really gets under the skin between the Dean Blunt-esque intro ‘Take Stage’, his restless, tight take on jungle in ‘Facts’, and the killer post-punk holler of ‘Road Trip’, with downbeat highlights such as ‘Calo Paste’ and ‘Slightly’ even recalling aspects of Rat Heart’s lokey punk soul approach as much as Slauson Malone or Tirzah.
Bob on, this.
Pow wow singer and Bon Iver collaborator Joe Rainey directs his astonishing voice thru industrial grit, widescreen orchestrals and chaotic DIY synth noise on "Niineta", his debut for Justin Vernon's 37d03d label. Completely singular music.
Rainey was brought up in Minneapolis, with a heritage that links to the Red Lake Ojibwe - an indigenous tribe that has a sovereign state in northern Minnesota. And while he didn't grow up there, he long felt the pull of a culture that at various times has been blotted out by the USA. Rainey has been involved in pow wow singing since he was just five years old, and has performed in bands as well as building up an immense archive of field recordings. 'Niineta' is his debut album, but he's been performing for years - in 2016, he even brought Justin Vernon to tears during a festival show in Wisconsin. It was enough for Vernon to invite Rainey to contribute to his last album, and sign him to the 37d03d he runs with The National's Aaron and Bryce Dessner.
The record is an example of how pow wow traditions can be synthesized into different forms without losing their musical core; Rainey's range and vocal style roots the album in tradition, but his production and willingness to experiment fires "Niineta" into the future. With help from Fog's Andrew Broder, Rainey has put together a distorted, abstract backdrop that happily ducks from jagged beatscapes into luscious orchestral cinematics without any unintentional jerkiness. The music is consistent with Rainey's pow wow tradition, but acknowledges decades of music that too often has sat distant. 'b.e. son' loops vocal phrases across each other over blown-out percussion and sweeping strings, and 'easy on the cide' foregrounds a beat that sounds rougher than gravel, Autotuning Rainey's lead vocal and contorting it evocatively.
On 'no chants', a frazzled TR-808 kick booms beneath tape saturated pulses, creating a soundscape that's not a million miles from Kanye West's game-changing "Yeezus" - but this isn't homage, Rainey uses the distortion to hint at darker elements, a disturbance in his culture that's violent, deafening and charged with emotion. The album's lengthy finale 'phil's offering' is also its most impressive, building slowly over looped crackle that gives a rhythmic click to Rainey's unforgettable vocal performance - eventually the track disappears into an industrial blur as processed field recordings reveal Rainey's heritage. Trust us, this ain't like anything you've heard before.
The Glasgow underground stands up with a wavy set of aces from Helena Celle, Kavari, Kamus & PInballspider, Evanthéa and more, identifying the great city’s strength in diversity.
Centred around Glasgow’s notoriously fecund DIY electronic music community, ‘PINS’ maps out a guided tour between six of its vital nodes, spanning free-jazzed electro thru to balmy beatdown, hobbled rhythmic psychedelia, industrial dub and synth-pop sleaze. The cumulative effect of the music sends us groggy, pushing us into the imaginary thick of a Glasgow night.
In sequence, you’ll find Kamus & Pinballspider spinning a web of scuffed rhythms and almost post-Detroit jazz-techno atmospheres beside the swinging acid dub balm of ‘UR Welcome (Karaoke Mix)’ by Pigeon Steve ft. The Waffle, and a standout piece of warbling, one-leg-shorter-than-other rhythmic psych from the always excellent Helena Celle (Otherworld). Optimo alum WomenSaid follow with a wickedly strung-out sorta goth-rock creeper ‘Drowning in OHM’, while Kavari channels Salem’s classic witchhouse on the crunchy dembow groove ‘Deaf to Sirens’, and Evanthéa wraps up with the set’s other big standout, a syrupy slow synth-pop sashay ‘Stromm Cande’.
Milanese sound artist Boccardi explores eerie electro-acoustic interstices reflecting his time spent in Cairo, and move back home to Italy, for Room 40. RIYL Perila, Annea Lockwood, Félicia Atkinson.
‘Petra’ unpackages the artist’s mind in quiet, spectral designs after spending five years in the humid swelter and febrility of the Egyptian capital. Recording in a Milan studio he set up years before, Boccardi embraces silence after so long without, prizing his studio’s relative familiarity and controlled settings as a space to ruminate on his thoughts on Cairo from a distance. Ideas on subtraction were key to the process, informing the recording’s sculptural dynamic and slow breathing, quietly transient nature, with the presence of vocals by Cinzia De Lorenzi, a dancer/choreographer, and long time collaborator, lending a more curious spirit to proceedings.
Boccardi’s sound is full of shadowy inference and barely-there tones eked from a very minimalist palette. Cinthia’s vocals are credited on three of the five works, emerging from their strange fissures and folds in a range of processed whispers and purrs, but we can identify them on most if not all of the tracks, and most explicit on those not credited to her. For most direct taste of what to expect, we advise skipping to the sore thumb of ‘Silice’, where Cinthia’s tongue-tip phonemes introduce the album’s strange spatialisation and melted dub chords a la Perila, before getting into its more minimalist delicacies, from he ASMR-tactile purrs of ‘Arenaria 1’, thru the eerie nocturne ‘La Testa Cade A Piombo’, and groggy hypnagogic traction of ‘Una Variopinta Immagine Divisa’.
Finnish drummer-producer Teppo "Teddy Rok" Mäkynen of Helsinki jazz outfit 3TM impresses with an electronics-infused set of taut rhythm experiments on a Conjoint / Lifted tip.
Best known for his work in full-fledged jazz acts like The Five Corners Quintet and Platypus Ensemble, Teppo Mäkynen uses his Teddy Rok moniker to dig into electronic sounds. On 'Atonal Drums', he does exactly what the title suggests, using vintage electronic drums as the guide and fleshing them out with analog synths, field recordings and satisfying dub processes.
It's engaging stuff too, existing in a space between Conjoint and Lifted, blostered by rhythmic trickery. Good stuff!
Techno-pop shapeshifter KLO meets Lasse Marhaug for an absorbingly gauzy 3rd album of unbuckled structures and expressive sound design, marrying Celtic mysticism and industrial dream-pop experiments nodding to TG and Enya.
Five years since her eponymous debut of puckered dance-pop songs, KLO yields the loosest, dreamiest conception of her style in ‘LP.8’, a very easy-on-the-ear suite of exploratory, studio-as-instrument craft benefitting from co-production by Norse polymath Lasse Marhaug. The album’s nine parts gently but intently flip preconceptions of KLO’s style into more etheric zones somewhere between the enigmatic song crafts of Susanna or Jenny Hval, Julia Holter’s oneiric early works and more brooding technoid-cinematic horizons. This switch in stylistic direction can be attributed to Kelly’s spontaneous decision, prompted by the pandemic, to board the last flight out of London to Oslo, where she holed up in subzero midwinter to coolly reassess and approach her music from alternate angles. The result oscillates her most sanguine and spacious works with an agitated core, reflective of a burning but unhurried mind tapping into its creative subconscious.
Simply put, don’t expect ohrwurming club cuts, as with previous KLO albums, but do expect a strong quota of spectral energies at work that are sympathetic of needs for time and space to think. Her thumping opener ‘Release’ is a gritty red herring for the rest of the album, giving up the club ghost in its exhaustive mantra before conducting a cleanse of energies from the greasy slump of ‘Voice’ to the raw electricity of ‘Sonic 8’, meting out grizzled ambient gunk in ‘Voice’, and going like Nate Young channelling Welsh myths in ‘Anadlu’.
The centrepiece couplet of the soaring ’S.O.’ and the Reese-streaked ‘Olga’ depicts her most widescreen, northerly visions in a contrasting flip of the weather vane, with the lilting keys of ‘Nana Piano’ giving way to the mountaintop kosmiche vision of ‘Quickening’ and the album’s standout torch song of sorts, ‘One’.
Supremely fugged-out improv for gong, drums, guitars, samples, and electronics from pivotal Manc and rumoured onetime member of Gescom, Black Lodge and his Stockport accomplice, Jack Lever (Kiyoko).
Dan Dwayre aka Black Lodge is the mutual spirit to Gescom, The Trilogy Tapes, Chloë Sevigny, Mo Wax and the NQ’s finest drinking holes. Don’t ask.
With fellow chthonic spirit Jack Lever, he recorded ‘Enso’ for Teesside’s Industrial Coast, supplying a keenly awaited follow-up to his Bitter Blood’ album with Disciples, and ‘MWR157’ (2018) for Warp’s Arcola sublabel, which itself was a long-awaited pressing, proper, of a thwarted Mo Wax release from 20 years ago. Aye, time moves different in Dan’s world, as with this half-hour tape, which feels at least twice as long due to its potent levels of wooze and hypnagogic oddness.
‘Enzo’ lands 20 years since Black Lodge’s debut for Mo Wax, the marvellously daft ‘Horse With No Name’, which was coincidentally among the first records this set of ears picked up in Vinyl Ex as a spotty teen splurging McD’s wages earned in Boro. In a very circuitous way, ‘Enso’ now ends up coming from a label in the same ’hood and the synchronicity is just personally fucking uncanny. Or is that the music? Yep it’s dead uncanny too; a slow, sozzled daydream of regression-session drones, muffled drums and reverberant gong magick that really sets it all apart.
Apparently captured in one unrehearsed take, it all flows out/inward simultaneously from the speaking-in-tongues glossolalia of the first part, thru Burroughsian dictaphone cut-up and Coil-esque folk-drone undressed of posh affectations on the A-side, while Dan’s decade spent with his huge gong is evident in the spectral ripples that open B-side’s ‘UK82’, and melt out into slopped ’n screwed psych on ‘777 - My Sad’, ultimately passing out and reaapearing in a dream with the gibber-jawed ‘Stella’. To be fair, this bout of Covid is possibly affecting my judgement here, but fuck me if this isn’t Black Lodge’s best gear, and kudos to Jack Lever for bringing it out of him. Trust, it’s one that rewards with repeat listens.
Hakuna Kulala’s latest bomb introduces MB Jones (Feeding Tube) to the fold - appearing here alongside Rey Sapienz as Troposphere 7 for an immersive mix of propulsive Afro-futurist club music and sonic fiction dedicated to the Democratic Republic of Congo’s fledgling space program.
Working within a narrative framework akin to Nyege Nyege Tapes’ Metal Preyers, Troposphere 7 take inspiration from the story of Congolese scientist Jean-Patrick Keka Ohemba Okese, who, in 2007, established the DRC’s first space program, developing a family of rockets named ‘Troposphere’. Jones and Sapienz now look forward to Keka’s as-yet unmade rocket, ‘Troposphere 7’ with a soundtrack of spaced-out machine funk and atmospheric wooze that evokes feelings of anticipation and wonder on its jag from cuboid electro-funk to cosmic scree and UK Funky, via industrial and scrambled Korean vocal transmissions.
Revving into view with samples of the motorcycle taxis of Kampala on ‘Boda Boda Ride’, the pair switch strategies from stripped machine funk to lurching deep space techno on ‘Butu Na Moyi’ and cartoonish beatdown in ‘Mwinda’ with a biting character that plays out across the album. The teasing electro-jazz fusion lilt of ‘Isabyre’ comes to recall Pekka Airaksinen, and the wide-eyed gaze of ‘Atmosfer’ brilliantly plongs out into deep electro-dub space, with Eun Young Ju lending Korean vocals becoming rhythmically refracted in the mix, ultimately setting up the album’s closer and club standout, a sort of bolshy UKF mutation that takes the sound back upriver to its source = all pendulous log drums and humid field recordings riddled with kalimba and chattering bleeps that create a properly peculiar landscape.
An absorbing document of electro-acoustic improv from artist-technicians-teachers Craig Tattersall (aka The Humble Bee) & Steve Oliver, recorded at Salford University between 2011 - 2014 as a series of performances and workshops delivered to their students.
The first piece, ‘screens, coating troughs, microphones, tape looping system’ is an intently quiet room recording of workshop rustle and hum that’s one of the most intriguing pieces in Tattersall’s sprawling catalogue, building from scrapes and location sounds (coughs in the room etc) into an enervated but unsettling cacophony on the downlow.
In contrast, the B-side’s ‘turntable, speaker, microphone, tape loop system & piano’ feels more like a brass band slowed down 1000% as heard from the next soggy valley, gradually accreting distorted overtones, like some lo-fi echo of Ingram Marshall’s ‘Fog Studies’.
Tattersall's work as a tirelessly inventive arranger of small sounds and textures is pretty much unparalleled at this point in his career, not so much because he doesn't sound like anyone else, more because his work is forever evolving in a kind of creative isolation. It’s basically the sound of a guy in his workshop making all sort of things, recording it all, and then dismantling/assembling as the mood dictates. While his work as The Humble Bee fits in with a kind of Ambient zeitgeist, it’s recordings like this - often in collaboration with others - that make us appreciate his creative sprawl so much more: barely-there, but full of life.
Second tape in a series of six documenting Tom Boogizm’s legendary all-night set at The White Hotel’s reopening weekend in mid-summer 2021, this one spanning mutant kuduro to EBM disco, cosmic techno crud, Afrobeats x Amapiano, all multiplied by the power of supreme shotta skill.
‘All Night Long Vol.2’ slices out 90 mins from the middle section of Boogz’ 9 hour set, toggling it ruff and smooth around a serpentine, mid-tempo groove pivoting around his core interests in Black Atlantic styles and weaving a thread between them that’s a deeply, instinctively respectful echo of historic links between Africa, the US, and Lancastrian zones that has informed north west English style and culture for centuries.
Boogz settles heavy into a 110bpm swagger for most of the session, cycling thru strains of pendulous, syncopated body music rife with burning synths and an ideally tempered grasp of rhythmic psychedelia and sensuality. More than anything, he knows what matters to the ‘floor, and it would take some persuasion to convince us that he’s not one of the best and sexiest DJs on road right now - the total antithesis to a wave of IG-gurning dilettantes who spend more time preening and shitposting than collecting and honing their skills.
Soaring kosmiche synth saga by an alum of Kranky and Not Not Fun, wrapping up thoughts on life/death and the netherworld in proggy narrative longform - RIYL early 0PN, Tangerine Dream, Jürgen Müller
‘A Ragged Ghost’ is Reinhardt’s first full length outing since 2018, proceeding from a decade of work with likes of Trans Am’s Phil Manley and fictional new age figure Jürgen Müller to refine his solo vision as a fine balance of sincere pastiche. Exploring what the artist describes as “a dance of religious syncretism, navigating spaces between the living and the dead,” he matches his lofty concepts with super spacious synth designs that weave a plethora of classic strands - German kosmische, US new age, library music and Italo disco - with a transportive sense of motion and classic, wide-eyed emotion sure to ring true with more romantic synth fanciers.
A perennial, if lifelong, pursuit for most synth obsessives, the idea of crafting your own stellar journey catalyses Reinhardt to his most evocative and succinct work here. In 11 neat steps we’re guided from the lift-off fanfare of ‘Ape & The Universal Axis’ to the sublime glyde of ‘In Lotto Commodore’ and feathered pulses recalling Werkbund on ‘Earthshaking Patsy’, an Roedelius via Global Communication in ‘Oxus’, leading to a pinnacle of Vangelis-esque synth and sax by Maxim Starcke on ‘Wretched Orchestra of Armistice’. We can hear distant shades of Italo via Carpenter’s pulsating film scores in ‘Quest or Go Fanatic’, with glorious choral pads in ‘An Alleged Jeremiad’ trailing off into his sublime new age curtain closer ‘The Five Paper Tell’.
Thrilling Venezuelan hard dance pressure from Pedro Elias Corro, AKA DJ Baba, inventor of “Raptor House” - widely recognised as the first purely Venezuelan electronic music genre, here served steaming hot via DJ Florentino’s Club Romantico. An unmissable workout for hips and party bodies on the line from Arca to De Schuurman, Nick León to Príncipe - don’t miss it.
Galvanising prevailing attentions around c.21st Latin dance music, ‘Club Romantico Presents…The Godfather of Raptor House’ extends an incendiary introduction to Pedro Elias Corro, aka DJ Baba, and his conception of the Raptor House style hybridised from aspects of ‘90s dance music and sped-up rhythms.
Hailed as Venezuela’s first purely electronic music genre, Raptor House - or Changa Tuki as it was pejoratively known - emerged as the de rigueur sound of Catia in the western part of Venezuela’s capital, Caracas. Crucially driven by the hybrid productions of visionary dynamos such as DJ Baba and DJ Irvin, and replete with it’s own dress code (red trousers and sleeveless shirts, bleached ‘tache, and Air Jordans) it represented the sound of Caracas in a parallel to myriad regional working class club subcultures across the globe, and would come to international attentions via the likes of Buraka Som Sistema and Arca, both known to deploy the virulent style in DJ sets by the end of the ‘00s. By 2008, DJ Baba reached a point where he felt he had to put the sound on a back burner but he is now back to let you know that Raptor House is a proud chapter of his life - one that spans a catalogue of 500+ tracks and counting.
As one of the greatest champions of reggaeton and its diasporic spectra, DJ Florentino here illuminates DJ Baba’s input to Raptor House for new ears and longtime obsessives, rinsing dozens of tracks in a powerful 1 hour mixtape that builds on Club Romantico’s releases by Sangre Nueva and Bitter Babe & Nick León. In its pyroclastic flow of urgent tresillo rhythms amped by electro- and hard-house styled synth tones, we hear the perseverance of DJ Baba against snotty perceptions of the hard-ass sound as “scally” music from outside his ‘hood, much in the same way gabbers were denigrated in Holland, or, as memory serves us correctly, a lot of UK dance music was treated until popular perceptions changed around a decade ago, and tastes embraced the heat right under their noses.
The session is no doubt a deadly party mix, and, on another level, a brilliant study in the evolution of regional dance music as a fierce expression of folk and subcultural character, as much as the timeless need to get wild.
Sonorous psychoacoustic-geographic mapping of a Swiss village by electronic musician Feldermelder and percussionist Julian Sartorious - a collaborator of Valentina Magaletti
“Commissioned by the legendary concert venue Bad Bonn in Düdingen, Switzerland, and the KRAN project, ‘Bonn Route’ is a collaborative album by electronic musician Feldermelder and percussionist Julian Sartorius. A location- based sound walk that can be experienced both on-site in the village of Düdingen, and as a full-length album. The eleven tracks are a sonic homage to, and an artistic interpretation of, a small village in Switzerland’s heartland.
Building on his practice of site-specific performances and percussive sound walks, Julian Sartorius captured sounds and patterns at eleven locations: the train station and cemetery, on the banks of a stream, on a bicycle path, and in an intimate cavern above the village’s lake, amongst other locales. Sartorius documented the soundscape of the village in field recordings, recorded samples of objects and captured percussive patterns by playing on the architecture and vegetation found on-site.
Feldermelder then processed these recordings into eleven compositions, preserving the locations’ acoustic identities, but expanding on Sartorius’ material. Besides the bassline on ‘Veloweg’, Feldermelder used only sound reactive synthesis and resonators to create additional sounds, layers and tracks, thus multiplying the spectrum and rhythms of the original material. ‘Bonn Route’ is a musical journey rooted in the emittance of sound, and our resonation with the world around us.”
"Palaces began to take shape when Flume returned to his native Australia after struggling to write music in Los Angeles at the beginning of the pandemic. Settling in a coastal town in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, Flume quickly found the inspiration he needed through reconnecting with the nature around him—the rolling hills, walking around barefoot, the green colour the sky turns before a big storm, growing and eating his own vegetables, the smell of rain. He and his neighbour and long-time collaborator, the visual artist Jonathan Zawada, became fascinated by the local wildlife, in particular the birds, collecting field recordings that ultimately worked their way in to the album. As Flume continued to forge a strong connection to his surroundings, the album he wanted to make started to form, eventually adopting a title to properly highlight the luxury and magic of the natural world. Palaces is his most confident, mature and uncompromising work to date, a true testament to nurturing the relationships that make us whole and bring us peace.
The album features a host of vocalists and collaborators, its cast list spanning new and household names from around the world—breakout U.S. star Caroline Polachek, British polymath-icon Damon Albarn, Spain’s Vergen Maria, France’s Oklouand fellow Australian Kučka, who returns following her standout turn on Skin."
Following releases for West Mineral, Experiences Ltd and Good Morning Tapes, Brooklyn-based Ben Bondy lands on Quiet Time Tapes with his most understated and rewarding set to date; a shimmering collection of rustling environmental recordings, dubbed-out percussion and dreamy synths, smudging blots of electro-acoustic color into a pastel landscape of dub techno, ambient and modern classical.
Following the gloopy IDM of 'Glans Intercum' and the dappled hopefulness of its follow-up ‘Camo', Bondy makes a slide into more subtle, emotionally obscured wormholes on his eopnymous album. 'Everything I Can't Be' is light and airy, with resonant synths that evolve in a mesh of rainy environmental scrapes and scratches that feed into a kind of fizzing, simmering dub; it sounds as if we're poised in the deep wilderness, watching the world wash itself clean in the aftermath of a cataclysmic event.
The mood changes on the second side with animal calls that bring a psychedelic slant to 'Dream Bleed’, but the foreboding is cracked by saturated new age synths and ambience that bring us back into the peacefulness of the late afternoon. Nighttime arrives with a snap on 'Butterfly Chair’, as a fire crackles alongside acoustic guitar plucks and light synth fx.
'The Only Part of You That I Ever Really Needed’ ends the set with chirping crickets bleeding into message notifications and text-to-speech cuts that wrestle with contemporary reality, creating a sort of termporal disorientation that’s still somehow beautiful in a way you’ll likely most enjoy if yr into the diaristic worldbuilding of claire rousay, more eaze, or Ulla.
Subversive noise rap belligerence from Prison Religion on Lee Gamble’s UIQ, shattering paradigms with uncompromising blows of atonal noise, hardcore aggression and larynx-shredding vox. RIYL Slikback, Blackhaine, Death Grips, clipping, Dreamcrusher.
Presenting the duo of Parker Black & Warren Jones’ first fully formed work as Prison Religion after introductory mixtapes for Rabit’s Halcyon Veil, ‘Hard Industrial BOP’ yields a definitive statement of brutalist intent. Reading the room’s need for more guttural, truthful expression, the nine tracks were forged against a backdrop of uncertainty and panicked stasis, with the “arduous and scattered process” of recording becoming a commentary in itself.
The blistering results are borne as a historic parallel to jazz’s transition from bebop to its more uncompromisingly expressive strains at the hands of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers with ‘Hard Bop’ in 1956, effectively subverting the status quo of convention, as they put it, “in the face of overwhelming hypocrisy”, offering a palate-cleanser in the process.
While it may sound f*ck-all like putative takes on jazz, ‘Hard Industrial BOP’ undoubtedly shares a template-tearing energy with the original mode in its ruptured rhythmic attack and embrace of unusual tonality that speaks directly to the contemporary reality of an ever-degrading society. In short, sharp shocks, they offset industrial noise against mauling post-breakcore and something like early Arca in the rap roil of ‘Brick Dust’, turning to near screamo violence in ’Turret’, and unleashing all heck in the caustic barrage of sirens, white hot leads and bombed out destruction of ‘Survival, Leave Me Alone’, with ‘Torn Up Body’ pushing the wildest examples of Death Grips and Blackhaine to panic attack-inducing degrees.
Proper existential de-compression, essential listening for anyone left sweaty and breathless by recent deployments from Dreamcrusher, Moor Mother or Deli Girls.
NYC's Yaya Bey relaunches Big Dada with a convincingly emotional set of narrative-led R&B hybrids that should appeal to fans of Erykah Badu, Dawn Richard and Jamila Woods.
There's an unflinching honesty to Yaya Bey's music - you can hear it in her vocals as they crack with a rare humanity that's a far cry from the Autotuned polish of the established mainstream. "Remember Your North Star" is the Brooklyn-based New Yorker's second album, after 2020's excellent "Madison Tapes", and finds the vocalist reflecting on a life lived thru the unpacking of trauma and wading thru doomed romantic encounters. She wrote the entire record herself, producing the majority of it with assistance from DJ Nativesun and Phony Ppl's Aja Grant - and this is the key to its warmth. Handling her vocals herself, Bey is able to emphasize the qualities in her voice that she knows root her narratives, and as a keen jazz listener, she realizes that's her voice's human elements.
So although the standout tracks 'keisha' and 'alright' are tightly woven jazzy nu-soul groovers, it's Bey's elastic vocal acrobatics that keep you coming back for more. There's an elaborate and purposeful un-polish that keeps Bey sounding contemporary while harmonizing with classic neo soul material like Erykah Badu's "Baduizm" and Jill Scott's "Who is Jill Scott?". Her vocal cracks might be influenced by Bey's idol Billie Holiday, but it gives the music a contemporary freshness that feels in line with the chaotic messiness of 2020s life.
Hearty Andean guitar duets and captivating traditional vocals from ends of the earth, preserving pre-Hispanic culture via trad. Huayano melodies transposed to the Spanish guitar, with results likely to entrance lovers of Ben Chasny or John Fahey’s fingerpicking style.
“Gustavo Yashimura-Arce comes from humble origins in the Ayacucho region of the Peruvian Andes. He started playing guitar in 1987 and 2 years later he travelled to Montevideo in Uruguay to study music at La Casa de la Guitarra. After spending some years playing classical guitar in Japan, Gustavo returned to Peru in 2004 and began his intense studies of the Andean guitar styles of the Ayacucho region. Later, in 2008 he found the perfect teacher – 80 year old veteran guitarist Don Alberto Juscamaita Gastelú, known locally as Rahtako. Through Don Alberto, Gustavo was able to learn songs and styles from across the Andes, though the main focus remained on the traditional styles of the Ayacucho region.
The Ayacucho Province of Peru is mountainous and remote and mainly populated by indigenous people of Quechuan descent, with the main language remaining Quechua, or Runasimi ('the People's Language'). The Quechuan people of the Andes remained resistant to Spanish colonisation and fierce in their preservation of their culture but on this album you will hear one of those strange, hybrid artefacts that can arise when cultures meet. The Spanish guitar was taken by the Quechuan people of the Ayacucho region and employed as a new means to convey their traditional music. The melodies you hear are versions of the traditional Huayno melodies usually played on harps, Andean pipes, charango and mandolin. Gustavo is joined by Luis Sulca Galindo on second guitar and Greys Berrocal Huaya on vocals on 4 tracks on the album.”
Two compositions from Simon Pomery aka Blood Music, on The Tapeworm.
"Score for as many players as you like – the recording is for nine.
Play any frequency between 264.94 Hz and 277.18 Hz, held, bent or gliding, between B3 and C#4 – hold this note for as long as your breath and/or heart permits. If you feel you are in the same heart or breath rhythm of another player, cluster with them, or squirm out from under or over them.
Imagine a pink nerve inside your gut going up into your lungs, into your heart, into your reptilian brain, back into your gut. Imagine the colour pink on the inside of this nerve.
Stop when you feel your pink nerve is sufficiently soothed into rest and digest."
Epic 100 minute full-spectrum sprawl from Parisian label Promesses with an all-exclusive tracklisting featuring a broad range of talented weirdos including Slikback, Bearcat, Clara!, Oï les Ox, Brodinski, DJ Elmoe, Ronce and many many more, panning from screwed shoegaze wooze to dayglo dancefloor styles and flipped jungle - trust it’s a lot.
Squaring up longtime label fam beside a ruck of new names, Promesses Vol.2 casts its net over the space between contemporary club music and its experimental peripheries, checking for influence from mutations of prevailing Afro-Latin energies as much as screwball hyper footwork-jungle-IDM, and shapeshifting styles that don’t have a name yet.
Aye there’s a lot to get thru, ranging from the super crafty, diffracted arps and metric fucckery of Oï les Ox on ‘La Maj’ and the icy ricochet of Ronce in ‘My Anger has Roots’, thru to ace spots of shoegaze by eydn, Belgian reggaeton fiend Clara! links with tera Octe on the squirmy bump of ‘Monstrous’ and label regular Apulati Bien can be relied upon for the slippery dembow minimalism of ‘Uso Chulo’ beside more up-for-it variant by Sassyggirl produced by Plvybxy. Slikback slays in duo with Sebastian Forrester on a sweltering congo tekno dancehall tip, and Elmoe chips in a proper vintage-sounding footwork gem in ‘O Mey’.
All over the place, and really f good.
The Howling is a collaborative project started by writer Ken Hollings and sound artist Howlround devoted exclusively to their shared love of text, audiotape and trash aesthetics.
"An intense collision of spoken word and analogue tape effects, the Howling's first performance took place at the Iklectik in September 2019 as part of a special programme to celebrate The Tapeworm's 10th anniversary.
Despite the pandemic, they have managed to continue working and conferring together since then, sharing sound files, texts and mixes online, which has resulted in All Hail Mega Force, their first full-length release for The Tapeworm. The two extended tracks contained on this audiocassette reflect their shared interest in Fluxus and how informal rules and permutations can be set up to work themselves out through loops and repetitions. A straight line connects Terry Riley's tape experiments in Paris from the early 60s with their experimental recordings in the Wimpy Bar on Streatham High Road, one of their favourite meeting places. 'The idea of instant, disposable one-off creations appealed to us a lot at the time,' The Howling explain, 'particularly as both pieces were conceived and developed during different phases of Covid lockdown in the UK.'
The title and source material are derived from the kid's adventure movie MegaForce, starring Barry Bostwik and Michael Beck. Designed to sell a range of Mattel hi-tech action toys, MegaForce tanked at the box office but lives on in the collective consciousness of those who share with The Howling a special love for Trash and Trash Aesthetics.
The two tracks also share similarities in approach and realization.
'All Hail Mega Force' was created by reading combinations of the words 'All Hail Mega Force' into a voice memo recorder, transferring it to tape, cutting the whole thing as a single long loop and then stretching it across three reel-to-reel machines simultaneously, using two pencils and a pint glass full of loose change to try and maintain sufficient playback tension. Over time the loop started to degrade, which accounts for the increasingly slurry and unpredictable playback, plus frequent ruptures caused by the tape becoming jammed and having to be tugged through the machine workings by hand. Twenty-four minutes later and the result was a completed new work and a slight backache.
The text for 'Are You Man Enough For Mega Force?' was recorded live in the Wimpy Bar on Streatham High Road, 28 November 2021. It was cut to tape and looped on 3 December 2021 at Warrior Studios, Loughborough Junction. Dragged by motor and then by hand across two tape machines with copious amounts of closed input feedback provided by a third rushing in to fill the gaps. One take with no effects or overdubs, but one tiny edit in the middle when something fell over."
Midori Hirano embraces the EMS Synthi 100 at Radio Belgrade as her sole tool for generating complex, fractal, experimental ambient geometries in her latest Mimicof album
Like a synthetic chamber work viewed from the wrong end of a telescope, ‘Distant Symphony’ offers a richly peculiar and compelling vehicle for Mimicof’s experimental urges. Subtly contrasting the modern classical sound of her solo work as Midori Hirano, this album follows from her previous work, exclusively using the Buchla analogue modular synth at EMS Stockholm on ‘MNoon Synch’ (2017) with six parts that here delve deep into the classic EMS Synthi at Radio Belgrade, during a 2021 residency.
Arcing between the ripping gnarl that introduces ’Distant Symphony Ia’ to its sumptuous final ascent in ‘Distant Symphony III’ Hirano wrests a remarkable array of tones, timbres and imaginary spaces from her chosen instrument, cycling from the bittersweet and gently unpredictable bleep scree of the opener thru the shatterproof tension and quiescent goop of ‘Distant Symphony Ib’ and ‘Ic’ parts, to a relatively febrile display of pulsating arps with heart-in-mouth effect on ‘Distant Symphony IIa’, and the deep space roil of its part ‘IIb’. There’s a properly skilled hand at work here.
Clara! flashes her club grillz at the behest of Editions Gravats with a properly adroit mixtape diffracting the reggaeton spectrum, from cut-up DJ tools to sexy perreo, rap and raving madness, crammed with blends, edits and loads of her own productions. It’s a properly fluid Hype session - Tipped!
The ‘XXX Tape’ follows two volumes of Clara!’s ‘Reggaetoneras’ mixtapes with a set that speaks more directly to her club DJ tekkerz. The 40 minute session reflects her evolution as a solo artist and preps the way for an upcoming LP collab with Sky H1, produced by Low Jack. While rooted in Clara!’s formative love of reggaeton, stemming from teenage years spent on the beach in her native Spain, the mix shows she isn’t beholden to stylistic dogma, as she proceeds to dice with its DNA and parallels in wild style, running into swung breakcore, dancehall, cumbia, R&B and rap with inch-tight transitions and party-primed swagger.
Clara! reclaims a sense of play from more studious examples of dancehall/reggaeton fetishism, but the selection is also with one eye on the female-voiced and produced productions on the scene, putting her thoughts on “Woman as a subject of desire and not only as an object” into rude action.
If yr into Sangre Nueva (DJ Florentino, Kelman Duran, DJ Python) Arca, Rosa Pistola or Low Jack - this one’s on fire.
Berlin-based artist Alex the Fairy's debut for The Tapeworm.
"Alex The Fairy writes: "I had sent The Tapeworm tracks before, but I was being difficult so was asked to send a new bunch, with a deadline. I sent the new bunch, a fairly odd collection expecting perhaps some of them to be combined with the older stuff but not seeing any coherence in them. I figured The Tapeworm would find at least something. To my surprise the suggestion that came back was exclusively the tracks I had sent the second time, and, re-listening through the tracks in this new order after returning from a Christmas dinner lying on the floor of my nephews bedroom gave them a completely new context. Despite them being quite varied in terms of age (one had been flung together a few days earlier on the train while another was approaching Schulreife) they seemed to meld together in such a way that I hardly recognised them…
Last year my grandmother died. My last grandparent. I had put off seeing her during corona, as I thought it best not to put her at risk and had almost left to visit her days before her death but had delayed my departure because of a medical appointment. My failure to her weighs heavy on my mind - fates grimacing grin: too little, too late. The approaching march of death, one generation closer was a confrontation I wasn't prepared for.
While clearing out her flat in the following weeks I had kept some of my grandfathers cassettes, live recordings of jazz greats, Pink Floyd, Sade and some classical among them, none originals, several presumably from the radio e.g. a church organ rendition of Bach. At the time I wasn't sure why I was hanging on to them, other than the urge to hoard, and that it felt wrong not at least to keep some. Half a year later, half way through mixing this cassette, suffering from my first bout of COVID, I had the insatiable urge to hook up the cassette player I had received from my grandfather after his death around nineteen years earlier and had been dragging along with me since. I stuck a cassette in only to immediately return to the safety of my covers. I began to work my way into what I had saved, hearing the fruits of my grandfathers labour decades before. It felt like quite an intimate interaction with someone I had long lost contact to/was long gone. Quite a wonderful thing, these time traveling cassettes.
I returned to the tracks to mix them shortly before my corona/cassette experience, with a new mixing console at hand. I had been looking for one for several years, but nothing had ever clicked, until I found this old broadcast desk 30 minutes from my place (it also coincided with a payment from a job the sum of which matched the price identically… fates return). Installing became a massive hassle and I doubted my decision continuously, but the further it was implemented the more it made sense. The first track I recorded with the mixer is on this cassette. Shortly before the mixing I was introduced to an Effektgerät by a friend, Rapha. Another good friend Art lent me their one, and I ended up using copious amounts of it throughout mixing, alongside my usual space creators. All the tracks on this release were mixed again on this mixer and are in a sense all a bit of a dub of the originals. I wouldn't have worked this way without the mixer, and the effect gave me a dimension I hadn't had before, so, from a technical perspective, the mixer and this effect define this release, giving it a coherence, at least for me. Emotionally of course the chaos and turbulence of the preceding year and my newfound appreciation for the medium give it a meaning I will struggle to formulate." – Alex The Fairy, Berlin, 9 May 2022"
Spirited melange of kosmische psychedelia, ‘90s chill-out room downbeats, electro-dub and Eurasian folk from Novosibirsk, Siberia’s Misha Sultan, who has since left the country and will donate proceeds from this album to the Ukrainian cause.
“Misha Sultan is a multi-instrumentalist originally from Novosibirsk in the heart of Siberia. His hometown's location, in the hinterlands between Europe and Asia provides a deep well of inspiration for his music.
Hive Mind have been happy to work with Misha to bring you this stunning collection of recordings made between 2015 and 2022 which we hope will serve as a great introduction to Misha's unique sound which appropriates elements of Eurasian folk music, psychedelia, 90's chill-out, breakbeat, dub, and field recording to produce something stunning and singular.
Whilst we were working on this release P*t*n invaded Ukraine and Misha was forced to leave the country quite suddenly. All money from sales of the digital album will go straight to the artist in order to help through this difficult time.”
Cult/anonymous entity Remer Cier follows that super collectable debut for YOUTH with a new tape featuring almost two hours of absorbing, Eastern-facing and complexly interwoven collage pieces with London techno bod and painter Deepart, this time on a self-released tip.
A key figure in contemporary pop who shall remain incognito for now, Remer Cier served one of 2021’s most politicised curveballs with a collaged tapestry of original music and sampled vox from Mia Mottley and Trevor Noah. The follow-up ‘Échange 1-1’ only deepens the project's mystery with two sides of mindfully absorbing improvisation on subcontinental themes, subtly juxtaposed with samples of James Stinson's mother Helen Stinson, Fred Moten, YouTube summaries of Derrida, and Mantha Diawara preaching about Édouard Glissant on The Politics of Relation. Ayyye, it’s another unique proposition to say the least, and one surely destined for the most hard-to-file sections of your tape shelves.
The difference between the first Remer Cier tape and ‘Échange 1-1’ can be attributed to the presence of Deepart, a key London DJ/producer behind the first release on Rush Hour, and co-organiser of the seminal and hugely influential CDR events at Plastic People, where Remer Cier cut their teeth in the early ‘00s. After taking divergent paths over the decades since then, with Deepart graduating from RCA as a painter, and Remer Cier operating behind the curtain of contemporary pop and electronic music, their energies collided a few years ago during 3 days of spirited improv at Beaconsfield Gallery, Vauxhall, to produce this captivating swirl of just-intoned strings, dubbed tabla, and gauzy philosophies.
On the A-side we hear ‘Monolithe’, a single 50 minute improv for dubbed out, psychedelic raga tape loops and nehari-peppery pulses keening along their own timeline. Aesthetic comparisons with Alice Coltrane and Terry Riley are surely warranted as the piece proceeds, but its more fractal nature places it closer to an everywhere-all-at-once now with uncanny effect. It also feels like spiritual prep for the B-side’s series of more reflective, fractured vignettes of silver hazy and rhythmelodic music, underlining a procession of voices from US cultural theorist Moten to Malian polymath Diawara in the most beguiling manner - rewarding many repeat listens.
A genius play on dance music history and semiotics, Jack Callahan’s cult Die Reihe project lands on Demdike Stare’s DDS label with a mad deconstruction of site-specific House classics, backed with a side of properly uncanny distilled crowd noise from a 1996 revival of The Loft clubnight. Mindboggling, conceptual and thought-provoking gear thats highly recommended if yr into Terre Thaemlitz, The Automatics Group, Mark Leckey, Theo Parrish, Stockhausen, Sensate Focus, Sam Kidel, Klein.
Die Reihe has been used as an outlet for Callahan to explore his wildest ideas, examining and abstracting a different musical element on each release. 2019's "106 Kerri Chandler Chords" compiled chords from the house legend's extensive back catalog and arranged them to be replayed by the SEM Ensemble, mutating the concept into a brand new piece of minimalist modern composition; on 2016's "Housed" (released on NNA Tapes), Callahan chopped up 250 house tracks and rebuilt the chords into glitchy plunderphonic epics; before that, he put Lex Luger and Zaytoven drum fills under the microscope on 2015's all-timer "Trap Studies” - an album we’ve rinsed and sampled endlessly since it came out.
'Loft Classics Vol. 1' examines House music from two differing vantage points, zeroing in on the relationship between vocals, memory and crowd interaction. It follows directly from his 2020 release "Karaoke Darmstadt", a suite of "karaoke versions" of mid-20th Century German new music, where Callahan stripped away the vocals from pieces by Luciano Berio, Henri Pousseur and Pierre Boulez. This new tape adopts an inverted route, using the Spleeter source separation library to strip away the music from disco and house classics, leaving just the vocals in place, backed with a synthetic backbone of digital detritus.
The opening track is an interpolation of Bini & Martini's 2000-released Ibiza staple 'Happiness (My Vision is Clear)' that removes the powerful diva vocal from its slippery house backdrop and re-plants it in a juicy bed of filtered SuperCollider bleeps and whirrs. It sets the scene for the rest of the side, as Callahan extends his technique though Brainstorm's 1978 disco belter 'Journey to the Light', Andwella's 1970 single 'Hold On To Your Mind', Level 42's 'Starchild' and Trussel's Fred Wesley-produced 1979 hit 'Love Injection'. For each track, Callahan's process is broadly the same, but the mood of each piece is completely out on its own. According to the liner notes, it's Callahan's way to deconstruct the nature of the "classic" as it pertains to House music - the result reminding us of the way in which Mark Leckey’s 'Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore’ documented a history of dance and rave culture disembodied from the experience itself.
Side B is where things get properly unsettling and thought provoking - a room recording of a short-lived iteration of The Loft on Avenue A in 1996, processed by David Kant in Santa Cruz to remove [almost] “everything but the ecstatic sound of the dancers with special care taken so as not to incriminate anyone.” What remains is the captivating, residual thizz of bacchanalian babble harvested from sweaty bodies and yielding a strangely voyeuristic, displaced PoV on the party, and the inherently hauntological nature of revival night simulacra that have since become ubiquitous. The most intriguing moments are when we can just about perceive the crowd singing along to something that isn't quite there, bringing the first side's experiments into deeper focus.
"Loft Classics Vol.1" isn't so much about the literal aesthetic sound of classic House music, it's about the feeling in the room, the sense of togetherness, the interaction between the DJ and the crowd and the expectation we bring to our own listening. It's a sobering examination of the contemporary nostalgia fetish - and how it's used to limit and diminish progress - and points fun at the concept of cultural churn while simultaneously doing something risky, radical and surprising. It's deconstructed club music for sure, but you won't find any broken bottle sounds inside.
Gabber Eleganza’s Never Sleep hosts this ace 1992 mixtape of acid, dub, ragga, and techno-house by Optimo’s JD Twitch, recorded live at his seminal clubnight, Pure,
Issued in aid of Ukraine, and now sold out at source, ‘Live at Spirits of Jamaica July 1992’ serves a prime slice of nightlife from Edinburgh’s legendary club - notably the first to book Jeff Mills in the UK, and formative to early attendee Kode 9.
The 94 minute mix showcases JD Twitch coming into his own with flawless transitions between dub-inspired deep house, early breakbeat hardcore, E-music and techno during the years of acid house’s nuclear fallout. It’s a pleasure to ride with too, following a fine line of uptempo pressure on the A-side spanning cuts from Bobby Konders thru The Ragga Twins, to melodica-streaked UK soundsystem steppers, while the B-side plays it slower and heavy on the bass, budging between hip hop, digi-dancehall and acid jazz with masterful pressure control.
LYL's Vanishing Points radio show launches their label with a mixtape from Andrea Benedetti which pays homage to the 90's Italian IDM / Techno sound that he helped create.
"Intervallo, selected and mixed by Andrea Benedetti (New Acid Generation) pays homage to the 90's Italian electronic spectrum. Covering from 1993 till the turn of the millennium, the mix covers IDM and electro, exploring obscurities and rarely heard tracks from a sprawling, unique scene.
A key player as a producer, DJ and label owner, Andrea Benedetti was at the helm of Final Frontier, actively involved in the creation of a mass of classic material."
Berlin-based Alie illustrates selections from the Ashtavakra Gita with a sprawling excursion of narration-infused ambient and pointed club music selections on a fine primer for Enmossed, highly recommended if yr into anything from Perila to Nozomu Matsumoto.
‘Whole’ is Alie’s considered effort in modelling the 2500 year old Ashtavakra Gita, or Song of Ashtavakra, with a signature, broad electronic palette. The 70 minute work sees Alie placing a sumptuous range of textured, spatialized electronics at the service of describing an ancient story for the times. Where the original book is structured around 20 chapters, ‘Whole’ feels to move in as many parts as its arrangement shapeshifts from meditative to gently ecstatic via a first side of sixth sense-guided tones and vocals recalling Nozomu Matsumoto’s text-to-speech works mixed with Perila’s warped sensuality, before the other side elegantly spirals from spongiform new age electro-dub to baggy ambient house swagger and deep space techno in effortlessly fluid form that speaks to their background as a consummate DJ
enmossed boss Glyn Maier blends field recordings and new age passages culled from 1970-1980 cassette tapes on this deep-as-fuck near two hour mix of meditative brilliance. This is how you do it!
Winding up the ENMX series of 19 long-form listening mixtapes, "Environments Mix" captures Maier's dedication to environmental recording as an art form. To assemble his tape, he went back to 1970s/80s field recording series' - like Irv Teibel's "Environments" or Dan Gibson's "Solitudes" - and snatched a bunch of his favorite moments straight from the tapes. Splicing them together, he re-contextualizes the sounds and makes them a little more dense - more listenable - for the mix format, merging choral drones and new age bells with crashing waves and forest ambience. It's a novel idea for a mix, and translates into a deeply engaging couple of hours of music, whether you've heard the source material or not.
"Environments Mix" captures a time period when ambient music and field recording was in its infancy, not only is the material incredibly well recorded (seriously these are some of the best environmental recordings ever made) but they aren't weighed down by expectation, concept or cultural baggage. Maier is presenting them in perhaps their most digestible form, and the mix is an ideal way to remove yerself from the digital world for an hour or two. Meditate if you like, but it's not mandatory.
The third volume in a survey of the modern jazz & hard-bop scenes that emerged in the new cultural melting pot of post war London, with recordings from the end of the 1940s through to the early 1960s.
"Featuring representations from players whose roots lay in the East-End's jewish community alongside a wealth of talent of Caribbean and African descent playing and recording in post war London during this period.
Made in partnership with the Barbican to coincide with the exhibition Postwar Modern: New Art in Britain 1945-1965."
The third studio album by Sonic Youth, originally released in May 1986 on SST Records, shows the first signs that the band was ready to transform their no wave past into a greater alternative rock sensibility.
“EVOL … mark[s] the true departure point of Sonic Youth’s musical evolution,” says Pitchfork, who place the album in the #31 slot of their Top 100 Albums of The 1980s. “In measured increments, Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo … bring form to the formless, tune to the tuneless, and with the help of Steve Shelley’s drums…, [impose] melody and composition on their trademark dissonance.” Stereogum likewise praises the album as one that is “full of suspense…, the cornerstone [of] the Sonic Youth sound…, ground zero for the combination of chiming guitars and atonal skronk… [and] muggy delirium…. The virile ‘Tom Violence’ sounds less written than coaxed from a cauldron, the sort of song that fogs windows. The offkilter [droning love song] ‘Starpower’ … is sung [by Kim Gordon] in a frosty [Nico-evoking] monotone. ‘In The Kingdom #19,’ featuring Mike Watt on bass and … vocals [by Ranaldo]…, is a harrowing story of a highway wreck over a suitably edgy instrumental backing punctuated by … live firecrackers into the vocal booth.”
Hakuna Kulala return with a bit of a curveball on this new wave African modular synth thriller made in Uganda - a groundbreaking debut album hotly tipped to acolytes of Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, Craig Leon, Mark Ernestus' Ndagga Rhythm Force or Shackleton.
A key node of the East African new skool first introduced via the epic comp, ‘L’Espirit De Nyege 2020’; Brian Bamanya aka Afrorack is the innovative G behind the homebuilt modular synth of the same name - a hand-made array of boxes designed according to schematics available online.
Solving the issue of sourcing expensive kit and giving his machine a singular sound in one stroke, Bamanya's set-up is a huge achievement in itself, but the music is worthy of close attention too, manifesting a restless creative energy in its serpentine polyrhythms and circuit-bent fractals that surely resonate the musical traditions of the region, while also taking them somewhere quite unprecedented.
No doubt the sounds and structures bear some resemblance to Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe's concepts for polyrhythmic modular performance, however they ultimately map a more personalised rhythmelodic topography and tonal palette that reveals and comes into its own sense of physics.
With a canny wink at the well known EuroRack modular synth range, Bamanya’s AfroRack speaks it and its maker’s mind in nine parts that prove an intimate familiarity with the kit’s range, stretching out from the wobbling tones and crisp logdrum-like lilt of ‘Osc’ to arid baromatrix of ‘Desert’ via standout runs of Euclidean polyrhythmic permutation in ‘African Drum Machine’, the electroid muscle of ‘bassPlus’ and ‘Inspired’, or purist tonal flights such as ‘Rev’ and ‘Why Serious’ that can't help but recall Klaus Schulze and Conrad Schnitzler via Shackleton and Francis Bebey.
A marvellous achievement of resourcefulness and ingenuity with exemplary, expressive results that will endure in the history books and on shelves for time to come, The Afrorack is another eye-opening moment from Nyege Nyege Tapes’ intriguing Hakuna Kulala flanker.
Sockethead mints his new Poetry label with a barrage of rude x propulsive bezzonked electronics deployed in a frenetic style somewhere on the dial between his spiritual bredren Rat Heart / Michael J Blood, and a sort of freeform ghettotech madness. Anyone on that DIY mcr scene from $hotta to YOUTH to BodyTronixxx needs this!
‘Angels & Snakes’ was captured at the renowned Galeria Zé dos Bois (ZDB) in December ’21, on a bill shared with the Príncipe label bosses. The 50 min set follows a more fractious example of his tekkerz found on Youth’s ‘Auma’ tape with a more rambunctious focus on Tanzanian singeli-styled 200bpm hurtle, before switching to trampling mutant acid and crazed footwork. Trust it’s white-hot crucial listening - and especially so if you’ve been following Sockethead’s trajectory from the wig-flipping ‘Harj-o-Marj’ album thru his ‘True’ collaborations with Michael J. Blood and Rat Heart.
Firing off a reckless volley of insectoid polyrhythms and brutal bass that re-draws the sort of frenetic funk coming from Dar Es Salaam with the added X variable of his unhinged vocal blatz channelling MES, it’s a unique, unhinged sound that’s pretty much impossible to define and perhaps a perfect example of his native Manchester acting as a sort of mad nexus of styles.
Loose and deadly gear from a true outlier - don’t miss it.