Shadowy Berlin techno stalwarts Pom Pom sell up to Ostgut’s A-TON with a typically enigmatic album of murky ambient, industrial and electronica
For years the preserve of techno neeks and anyone intrigued by the racks of identikit black labelled and sleeved 12”s in X-Berg’s Hardwax and Space Hall racks, Pom Pom has done well to maintain its anonymity in a the current, hyper-commercialised and surface level state of things in techno right now.
Still, nobody has a clue who’s behind the label, apart from maybe A-TON, who bring the artist(s)/label to a wider audience with ‘Untitled II’, which, to our ears, sounds like the work of more than one person, as it ranges from comedown drones to purring electro offcuts and arpeggiated nightflights with a subtle shift in accents that, to be fair, could be the work of one as much as many.
With "Smells Funny" being their sixth album in seven years, this explosive and expansive trio have gone from strength to strength, gathering respect from both rock and jazz camps.
"Although there is enough riffing here to satisfy the headbangers, with "Smells Funny" the trio are venturing into the more free and open landscapes explored on their previous album, "Black Stabat Mater". This new album also sees Mollestad truly coming into her own as an amazing lead guitarist as well as a dependable riffmeister. But let´s not forget how important the rhythm section is to make it all work so well. Ellen Brekken is an accomplished bassist, equally comfortabel holding down a groove and taking off on technically complex runs.
Then there´s Ivar Loe Bjørnstad, not your typical rock drummer, not your typical jazz drummer, but very comfortable in both areas and in possession of that loose swagger Nate Chinen mentions in his writing about "Black Stabat Mater in JazzTimes, and thus in many ways defining their common ethos: Her trio, which has Ellen Brekken on bass and Ivar Loe Bjørnstad on drums, caught my ear then with its audacious style references: the loose swagger of early Black Sabbath; the density and prowl of peak Led Zeppelin; the expeditionary urge of Jimi Hendrix; the incantatory fervor of John McLaughlin."
After no-wave legends Liquid Liquid broke up in 1984, singer Salvatore Principato took some much need to time to revaluate his musical direction. Renting a studio on the Lower East Side with Ken Man Caldiera. It was there that they started their next musical project, Fist of Facts.
"In 1985 Ken Man showed up in the studio with this IBM AT computer. It had a 1/2 MB of RAM and some Voyetra software that could sequence music, becoming the duo’s backing band. Fist Of Facts contributors included Mark Cunningham from Mars, Felice Rosser, Genevieve De Monvel Boutet, Carlos Vivanco, Scott Hartley from the Liquids and a whole host of others.
Fist of Facts expand the natural groove that Liquid Liquid established over their quick career, with a strong political message combined with abstract dub soundscapes."
Jordan GCZ (Juju & Jordash, Magic Mountain High) delivers with a proper Dutch/Detroit techno funk twang for Rush Hour
The A-side is a high velocity, hi-tech jazz ace in the model of Mad Mike / Juan Atkins / Orlando Voorn - all propulsive synth vamps and needlepoint 909 funk - whereas the B-side tracks were recorded at the WORM Studio in Rotterdam and take a tuffer tack into deep techno with ‘Yellow Jackets Descend’ (a premonition of the Gilet Jaune movement?!), and slo-mo cosmic chug with ‘Minor 7 Resin’.
Men of many monikers Jordan Czamanski and William Thomas Burnett cover a spectrum of styles with the rapidfire rhythmelodies, choral synths and dank ambience of ‘Setting The Scene For An Island Battle’
Adding up to something like a short-film soundtrack, the pair shape up a progressively pensive episode travelling from the fluttering, ritualistic charge of ‘Krazy Kalimba’ and the mesh of pygmy-esque electronics and bubbling choral voices in ‘Island Life’, to the reflective ambience of ‘Pitter Patter’, before matters take a dark turn into the Giallo-ish strings and slunking groove of ‘Incoming Fire’, and the cold palpitations of ‘Survey The Scene For Survivors’.
Potent midnight melancholy from Brussels, featuring Victor De Roo debuting under his own name after introductions made as Vanderschrick on a delectable 7” for Stroom
Picking up where his 7” left off, and with more room to play with on ‘Nachtdichter’, De Roo unfolds his sound along more lonesome, lofty lines with the chirruping tape nose and hushed downbeat delivery of ‘Gewoon’, before penning the kind of red-lit synth-pop we could imagine cropping up in a Gaspar Noé flick with the slick but brooding dungeon boogie of ‘Voorbenachte Rade’. On the other side, the artist’s Belgian synth heritage bleeds thru in the floating spectral figures of ‘Beland In Bed’, and the EP’s title cut regresses to a sort of smacked-out drone rock dirge recalling Clay Rendering as much as Pseudo Code.
Quietly unmissable, this.
Immense, churning debut from 55 y.o. Japanese producer Baptisma, backed with a badass Hodge remix for Don’t DJ’s Disk label
Baptisma is the production alias of 菊永洋, who runs an art space and concert venue called Spacio Rita. We’re not sure how long he’s been making music, but his first release is highly accomplished, sounding out a pure rhythm & noise session that echoes Cut Hands’ investigations of Congolese percussion and occluded atmospheres as much as Don’t DJ’s own tricksy rhythms or the Indonesian artists spotlighted on Disk’s celebrated ‘Animisme’ 12”.
In his three originals, Baptisma turns out a grittily fluid flood of drums and dynamic, layered atmospheres, carrying a heavy momentum from the voodoo of ‘Pes#1’ thru the militant trample of ‘Pes#2’ to a sublime mesh of war-cry horns and slow, keening gamelan structures in ‘Pes#3’. Hodge is honoured with the task of remixing ‘Pes#1’, returning a colder distillation of pinched modular bleeps, deadly bass drum and bodily cross-rhythms.
Sähkö’s Jazzpuu sublabel reissue a superb piece of post-Soviet “free jazz” electronics by Vladimir Tarasov, part of his long-running ‘Atto’ series
Originally dispensed by state label Мелодия in 1990, the 4th ‘Atto’ volume features Vladimir effortless rolling out on a 35 minute piece in two parts built from pranging percussion, hunting horns and electronics.
It’s a hypnotic study in sublime tension and spatial perception, with low-lying, distant bed of waltzing arps in the background, and sparing, pranging percussion in the foreground organically building to a pensive thunder and precipitous chime tree shivers in the first, before the rhythms double and triple up in the 2nd part, reminding us of Oren Ambarchi’s recent rhythms excursions with Ricardo Villalobos and co in the process.
Killer, deconstructed dance music from the late ’00s, dug out by Elon Katz (Streetwalker/White Car) for his Zero Grow boutique
Written in 2007 and released on his website in the same year, the 10 tracks that have become ZG004 were arguably ahead of their time, effectively doing to B-More what Lorenzo Senni has done with Hard Trance, and likewise Mark Fell with deep house and garage, or The Automatics Group with trance pop and electro-house anthems: extracting their essence and homing in on the styles’ structural tics and aesthetics.
However, perhaps a more acute comparison would be Co La, who has also also taken B-more as bedrock for some of his strongest, decimated workouts, but they differ in terms of sound design, as Zucconi’s work takes the rough along with the smooth, resulting in dead canny dance tracks on the likes of his jagged ‘Glasshouse’, the crumpled buck and strolling chords of ‘A.P.I.’, and the warped rave intensity of ‘In My Arms’.
A classic Legowelt adventure returns to circulation, for the first time available to officially download
This is Danny Wolfers a.ka. Legowelt at his pulpy best, evoking straight-to-video ‘80s slasher and action movie soundtracks with his trusted arsenal of era-appropriate analogue synths.
We recommend getting an 8 ball in, locking the doors, shutting the curtains and using this album to score your own Narcostate drama. Please record it to video and send us the results.
Tenderly sensitive ambient introspection from Belgium’s Milan Warmoeskerken, paying a 1st solo visit proper to Ekster after various, enchantingly melodic outings as Crumar Young and a part of the Mittland Och Leo trio in recent years
Last heard in highlights of Ekster’s EX02 and EX03 volumes, Milan W gives a much fuller account of himself here, sketching a sort of blue self-portrait in glistening arps peppered with nimble drum programming and gently resonating within spacious FX envelopes.
Most crucially, for us at least, is the way that that Milan W.’s take on ambient music actually speaks to us. In each part, motifs are recycled, but they don’t feel repetitive. Rather, his compositions burble and chatter in a way that feels like the wallpaper is gently coming alive, with its textured flocking designs blooming as colourful flowers and crystalline figures that catch the light in different ways as you move thru the LP, or appear to slide over each other in moire patinas of synthetic chorales and skin rippling rhythms.
“The harlequin turns the handle. The contraption sucks in air, and breathes. Blows out tone poems. Wordless ballads that soundtrack enchanted scenarios. Issues forth magic. A sorcerer’s apprentice casting its spell. Animating the inanimate. To everything a life. Sets the frozen fluttering / skipping. Pirouetting in red shoes. Illuminates what was dark. Astma sings a Gamelan lullaby. Summons comforting angels to a post-Industrial landscape. Glaasjes has Jazz ghosts inhabit an empty bar room. Spirits stealing excuse-me`s under its deserted spot. In Limbo amplifies their whispers. Lead soldiers court jewellery-box ballerinas behind shuttered shop fronts. OnHeraldic Snippets, a tin infantry marches. Ten thousand men up to the top, and back down again. Keys make-believing that they are massed brass and fife.
The bellows pump, and the pipes all the while wheezing. An automaton philharmonic at the bidding of a steam-punk master. Analogue and digital. Clockwork and glitch. Malady finds sounds isolated, extrapolated, mutated. Orchestral`s organ-grinder moves with urgency, and alchemy. Spinning straw into gold. Snare rolls become bubbling mercury. Metallic, yet fluid. Racing at the speed of flight and escape. Slope is the music of water chasing through crystal caves. Slow Runner, a funeral crawl. Shoved into motion by a drama of strings remembered.
Like the charismatic Rat-Catcher of Hamelin, the harlequin turns the handle, and we bang the cup. (Text by Robert Harris)”
The UK home of shoegaze and krautrock related goodness presents a bittersweet turn by Mexico’s Lorelle Meets The Obsolete aimed directly at fans of Stereolab, Broadcast, Mazzy Star
“De Facto is the Mexican duo’s fifth album and was recorded at their home studio in Ensenada, Baja California, mixed by Cooper Crain (of Cave and Bitchin Bajas) and mastered by Mikey Young (of Eddy Current Suppression Ring and Total Control). It will be available in the UK and Europe via Sonic Cathedral and everywhere else in the world through their new Registros El Derrumbe imprint.
It’s easily their best and most coherent album to date, and also the one that most fully explores the outer limits of their sound.
“There was a conscious desire to push further with what we were doing,” says The Obsolete, aka Alberto González. “One of our rules for this album was to go all in without middle grounds in terms of what we wanted the songs to be. We were committed to developing ideas that made our heads go ‘POW!’ from the beginning.”
The end result is somewhere between the brave experimentation of the new Low album, Double Negative, and Tender Buttons-era Broadcast put through a heavy psych filter. There are pure pop songs that come across like lost ’60s nuggets (‘Linéas En Hojas’), blistering white noise jams (‘Unificado’) and meditative incantations (‘La Maga’) – all of which will, indeed, make heads go ‘POW!’.”
Surprise new release on Low Jack’s much sought-after Les disques de la Bretagne series, a tropical spell from Dominick Fernow’s Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement on a lights-out dancehall voodoo tip - the first RSE release outside of Hospital Productions.
Dominick Fernow (Prurient) and Low Jack untie for this latest incarnation of Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement, after stumping one of 2018’s biggest surprises with their dread-filled collaboration ‘Red Ants Genesis’
On the A-side’s noxiously swampy ‘Bridgetown Dub’ they come to bury the dance with mesmerising chants and skeletal drums and powerful electro-dub subs - brought to life in-the-mix by Paul Corley - while lightning and thunder threaten collapsing skies. The synthetic vocal edits and drums take this deeper into steppers territory than any other RSE (or for that matter any of Fernow's many aliases) we can recall - proper vibe.
‘Price To Pay’ on the flip follows in bassy suit, starting off almost shorn of drums and licked with currents of tropical warm air chords that lull you into a state of a most welcome mental paralysis, before those kicks come in again for a delirious sense of momentum.
Powerful spells, strongly recommend to fans of Demdike Stare, Equiknoxx, Shackleton, Burial.
Venerable experimentalist Alvin Lucier keeps us beguiled with the high-register acoustic phenomena of ‘Ricochet Lady’, his first piece for Glockenspiel and latest significant work for Oren Ambarchi’s peerless Black Truffle.
Exactingly performed by Trevor Saint, the world’s preeminent specialist in performing experimental works for Glockenspiel, ‘Ricochet Lady’ is presented four times, each recorded in a dissimilar space with unique acoustic characteristics: an arts centre hall, a chapel, an empty forge, and a 36-metre tall grain silo (same site in Buffalo, NY, used in Sarah Hennies’ ‘Embedded Environments’). In keeping with Lucier’s earliest practice and ever since, the results speak to metaphysical perceptions of place, and embody his “…approach towards sound’s individual function and mobility within space.”
For each piece, Lucier instructs Saint to play his tuned percussion instrument while facing a wall or other reflective surface. While the exact same piece of rapid, repetitive patterns is played in each space, the results are the same yet remarkably different depending the space and the way it creates its own matrix of overtones. As the glockenspiel is already limited to higher registers only, and the piece itself follows a simply rising cadence from one end of the keyboard to t’other, the effect of Saint’s playing and the space itself lead to some seriously trippy results.
Likely psychotomimetic for some, and a pleasure for others (it’s both for us), the pieces’ visceral pointillism generates some deeply uncanny side-effects with the breathless, needling peal of the Blum Hall recording, compared with the wider plangency and head-squeezing squeal of the Chapel of The Holy Inncoents piece, and likewise between the increasingly broader dimensions felt out in the Basilica Hudson recording, and thru to the decidedly colder, spiralling scale and screeching buzz generated in the Marine A Grain Elevator part.
Exceptional hi-tech steppers and rollers from Paradon’t - the Black Forest-based duo of Florian Meyer (Don’t DJ) and Volker Weismann (Paraklang) - debuting with a distinctive take on experimental tribal techno for Disk, a new arm of the Diskant label. A very strong look for fans of Photek, Shackleton Pessimist, N.M.O., Cut Hands!
In hot pursuit of a polyrhythmic swerve that transcends techno, D&B, African tribal practice - all that good stuff - the Thrd Mpct EP delivers some of the sickest syncopation we’ve heard since Soul Jazz’s Voodoo Drums sets on both sides of this record.
Up top on Chunwangk Kyuh Hay (thru mpct) they unwind a venomous, reticulated roller coming off like Photek meets Optical at Shackleton’s hut - all wooden drums and noxious atmospheres pregnant with a lethal sense of dread designed to keep dancers well on their toes.
Down below, N Bun Kan Kan (bad rm) pushes farther into a noisy grey area with slithering, salty electronics setting a scratchy course for polymetric patterns pivoting off crisp woodblocks and shards of electronics, kinda like N.M.O. upping the ante for a fierce game of Kabaddi, then Gonyungk Wadt (mtrx) comes off like Marcus Schmickler rinsed out by Rashad Becker.
This is one mean platter, we’re telling ya!
Mellow, spirited Roots Reggae from modern day Accra, Ghana
“This time Y-Bayani has support from the great voice of Baby Naa. Baby Naa was just hanging out at the studio in Accra/Ghana when the recordings of Rehwe Mie Enyim took place. The crew was waiting desperately for a singer to back up Y-Bayani. After an hour of waiting the producer, knowing that she sings at church every Sunday, asked Baby Naa to do the missing part. Then something occurred that nobody was expecting and finally everybody was happy that the original singer hadn't made it.
Rehwe Mie Enyim is a unique example of how roots-reggae can sound today. Maybe it will be the very last recorded real roots-reggae song in human history?
On Mi Sumolo the Band of Enlightment, Reason and Love gives us a light and cheerful instrumental every DJ must have for his late night wedding set or any other high-class party.”
OG grime figurehead Scratcha DVA follows the idea of his ‘Interludes’ set with ‘Intros’
A smart collection bundling his idents for the Grimy Breakfast Show on Rinse along with vaporous R&B daydreams, prank calls, hyper synthfunk vamps, and guest appearances from Michael Red, Kush Jones, and Traxman.