Deep, reticulated club-wired whitelabel from Felix Hall’s Chrome label, featuring Rat Heart’s first-ever remix and a strong swinger by Mad Rey, huge tip for the Actress, Aaron-Carl, Terrence Dixon, DJ Rush freaks!
Stepping on your expectations with big boned swivel, Heron Fischer’s follow-up to a 2019 debut on Promesses delivers a peak club anthem in-the-making. Following a string of exceptional mixtapes and compilations on the label, ‘Wish That You Would’ is only the 2nd original release on Chrome after Mobbs’ standout album, keeping one eye firmly on the ‘floor with coordinates wide open on its spaced-out set of remixes.
The OG banger ‘Wish That You Would’ comes on like a ruder answer to that ‘BOTA’ tune, swirling similar elements - organ vamp, bugged-out vocal, infectious garage-house swang - with a sicker, hands-on feel, road-ready foley and pitching drop guaranteed to get dancers in a lather, rather than line-dancing.
The remixes are the ones though. For his first ever flip, Rat Heart dresses down ‘Wish That You Would’ to the skeletal fundamentals of an empty warehouse beat track, headless rave vox and dubbed out dial tones with a sublime tension that echoes classic Actress in that simmering Terrence Dixon mode. Mad Rey rounds things off with a simmered down but still robust take, flexing like a clipped DJ Rush or Sneak butterfly rhythm.
Strictly for DJs and dancers!🔥
What a wild ride this record is - featuring music from a lost tape of devotional keyboard jams, field recordings of migrating birds, mysterious bells, meditative noise and crooked new beat/EBM, made god-knows-when and subsequently discovered in a Thessaloniki charity shop years later. It now somehow finds its way to vinyl, newly mastered by Rashad Becker, and sounding like a lost Hype Williams x Muslimgauze madness. Top of the line weirdo music? A total find!
Originally discovered in a musty charity shop by Live Adult Entertainment, and issued in minuscule numbers on CD in ’21, Christian Love Forum’s raverential debut ‘Naked Light’ documents the fraternal post-church jams of siblings, Scott, Kiro and N•X, plus their mate Steve, who would regularly channel the light and pain of Sunday mass sermons into their ecclesiastic crud.
As previously heard on their blink ’n miss ‘Unconditional Love’ tape, the trio express their higher purpose thru ribboning microtonal keyboard jams that sound like Gurdjieff with a Casio and a knackered drum machine after too much sacramental wine. They hit the strangest, most affective seam of religious cinematic epic soundtracks, gnarled noise and clandestine Belgian new beat that seriously pushes our buttons, sounding quite unlike anything in the contemporary sphere, but eerily also echoing sentiments explored on record by James Leyland Kirby or Bryn Jones.
Now reshuffled and clad in custom artwork, ‘Naked Light’ is unveiled to believers and skeptics as a definitive article of faith. The lord works in mysterious ways within, manifest in stages of sun-bleached post-church field recordings, whirligig melodies, blown-out bouzouki and choral tape howls and a Béla Tarr soundtrack-like campanology on the A-side, before letting their passions flow in ‘Wicked City (Parts I-IV)’; a spellbinding side-long collage of slurred synths, neo-noir hardbeat rhythms and speaking-in-tongues vox recalling V/Vm’s new beat apocrypha as much as bits from Hype Williams’ hypnagogic ‘One Nation’, thee dustiest gooches of Dirk Desaever’s archive, or even aspects of Rat Heart at his cruddiest.
‘Naked Light’ rarely fails to induce uncontrolled eye movement in susceptible skulls, destined to become an occult hit with lapsed churchgoers, new beat fiends and anyone missing the enigma and ineffable flavour of ‘00s underground noise tapes in this auspicious year of AD2023.
Numero Group continue their 90 Day Men reissue campaign with this 2003 single, that fleshes out the title track with two additional slow-burning post-hardcore grinders.
Chicago four-piece 90 Day Men might not be as well known as some of their contemporaries but they're a cult phenomenon, not least because their bassist Robert Lowe ended up metamorphosing into Lichens a few years later. 'Too Late or Too Dead' is a great reminder of why they're so highly regarded by those in the know: it's a jerky take on whatever post-hardcore may or may not have been, led by staccato piano stabs, marching band drums and the kind of sci-fi guitar FX that Radiohead might be better known for pulling out of a hat.
The other two tracks continue the themes - 'Harlequin's Chassis' is weightless and joyful with angelic chorals, and 'Eyes in the Road' submerges the band's sound in Seefeel-esque liquid electronix.
Black Rave Culture’s James Bangura twists out on mutant cyberdub steppers flex and deep techno stride that live up to his resounding reputation
The Washington, D.C.-based producer arrives at his !K7 debut via a steady stream of distinctive, heavy grooving releases over the past decade, most recently on a versatile showcase for Anthony Naples’ Incienso. His first move of 2023 plays to a fine contrast between the deftly rude hardcore tekkerz of ‘Harrar’, running mutant footwork dub at a brisk 155BPM like a caffeinated Martyn, beside the well-rounded and effortless deep house flow of ‘Witness Dub’, draping his lagging swang in melting chords like MJB meets Galcher Lustwerk.
Uwe Zahn returns with another weighty slab of waxy ambience that's rooted in his advanced sound design techniques.
Zahn has been prolific in recent years, collaborating with artists like Taylor Deupree, Mike Lazarev and Porya Hatami, and developing a style of composition that links back to his beloved early work without repeating it. 'Sinter' is a set of beatless tracks that don't completely avoid rhythm, but concentrate most on Zahn's obsessive sound design - a key feature of his music since the very beginning. On 'Glimmer' we can hear a flicker of the finely-tweaked romanticism that drew us to 'Atol Scrap' all those years ago, but Zahn has a more peaceful resolve at this stage in his career, and the microscopic whirrs and hip-hop inspired beats have been replaced by heaving clouds of white noise and crunchy waves of synth.
'Muster' is more in line with the faded output of Taylor Deupree's 12k imprint (where Zahn has released some of his most recent records), and 'Wendung' is a tearful and gaseous answer to Brian Eno's 'An Ending'. It's when Zahn punctuates the heady atmospheres with staccato sounds - a key facet of his beatless work since the legendary 'Minth/Neel' 7" - that we get weak at the knees. Just check the brief but beautiful 'Skaal' or the dubby and spinetingling 'Decay'.
Veteran Sicilian musician Lucio Leonardi pares down his setup to synthesize a meditation on abandonment and loss. RIYL Alessandro Cortini, Grand River, Abul Mogard.
If the One Instrument concept coaxes anything out of artists, it's focus. On "Distanze e Solitudini", Leonardi trains his creative ear on two synthesizers in particular, the Modal Argon8 wavetable synth and the Polyend & Dreadbox Medusa, a hybrid synthesizer and sequencer. Both synths are used separately, but create a harmonic interconnected landscape for Leonardi's vision. On 'Dentro', he uses the Argon8 to softly suggest Wendy Carlos's cinematic baroque treatments, and while the Medusa-led 'Distanze' is sonically different, the widescreen narrative focus is still lashed to Leonardi's compositional style.
Each track drips with an emotionality that betrays a strong inner voice: 'Rincorrere' is tense, anxious and at times terrifying, using rhythmic synth sequences to highlight movement and conflict; 'L'Altrove' is more romantic and pensive, decorated with glissando wails from the Argon8. It's the long-form 'Solitudini' that brings everything together though, using shrill, metallic distortion to enhance the synth's characteristic wavetable timbre.
Panel-beating techno turmoil by UK producer Conrad Pack for his new label Lost Domain with seemingly vague connections to Kiran Sande's Low Company.
Also known as Deathplate and Horizontal Phase, and for running the SELN label with DJ Gonz, Conrad Pack specialises in a form of propulsive techno stewed in rusty electronics. ‘DOMA4’ is a bristling example of the sound he’s been forging for the past few years, firming up as steely techno roll in ‘Influence’, and pounding to foundry tattoo in ‘Balane’, while ‘Gosplan’ cracks out the warehouse-strength kicks, ‘Paradise’ trades in guttural, unrelenting techno minimalism a la Thomas Brinkmann, and the Milton Bradley-esque swill of ‘Turn’ gives way to the oxidising industrial minimalism of ‘Process’.
Maryanne Amacher’s pioneering work with otoacoustic emissions and psychoacoustics inform these deeply uncanny pieces for voice synthesis and improvised electronics from Julia Holter collaborator Scott Cazan
For anyone scratching their head at the technical terminology; OAEs are “sounds given off by one small part of the cochlea when it is stimulated by soft clicking sounds. When the sound stimulates the cochlea, the outer hair cells vibrate. The vibration produces a nearly inaudible sound that echoes back into the middle ear.” While primarily used as a hearing test for babies (according to an audiologist who checked Maryanne Amacher recordings while I did a hearing test), OAEs have been artfully applied to music by the likes of Maryanne Amacher since 1991’s ‘Petra’ for two pianos, with examples of distorted combination tones also heard in Éliane Radigue recordings, and more brutally by the likes of Florian Hecker and Marcus Schmickler in recent decades. We can now add Scott Cazan, an LA-based composer, performer and sound artist with the otherworldly experience of ‘Three’.
Primed to practically freak out anyone who hasn’t heard otoacoustic emissions previously, the results of ’Three’ explore a spectrum of responses to the auditory hallucination reneging from subtly mesmerising to more aggressively invasive and bullish. The first half can be considered as softening up inquisitive lugs with the ringing tones of ‘Three 1’, shatterproof whistle of ‘Three 2’, and the insectoid ecology of ‘Three 3’, before its 2nd half really lets fly, holding a piercing, jagged tension between the ruptured vocals of ‘Three 4’ and wax-emulsifying noise of ‘Three 6’ that’s sure to pique interests of music’s outer limits explorers.
London house lynchpin, DJ IC of the Circle crew, measures out a weighty debut album of UK takes on amapiano, including a bonus track with Mellowbone SA.
Since the end of the 2010s, the hypnotic mid-tempo bop of South African amapiano has held strong sway over UK club music producers and dancers. DJ Supa’s Housupa label, along with the likes of DJ Polo & Razzler Man’s Renk Groove, have led the way for new Black British slants on ama’s prevailing motifs, giving a more spaced out, rolling slant on its signature log drum patterns and oozing subs that have packed out dances in London and across the country. ‘Aquarius’ is arguably this hybrid scene’s most substantial body of work, with a dozen solo aces plus a collaboration with Mellowbone & Blaq Reverse that defines the cross-continental, diasporic sound from a UK perspective.
Basically an up-to-the-minute iteration of deep house, trimmed of the classic sound’s fancier frills, DJ IC’s productions can be heard to resemble bleep techno’s soundsystem mutations of Chicago & Detroit, as much as UKG’s morphed-in-translation take on US garage, or the way OG South African township funk mirrored disco and the ‘780s house phenomenon. DJ IC ties up his bonds in sleekly minimal designs on ‘Aquarius’, launching with the unresolved trancey tension of its title tune and toggling he atmospheric pressure between the balmy’ Bounce’ to the darker, intensified tang of ‘Lekker’, the ruggedly toned bass of ‘The Drop’ and ‘Wooly’, and a big highlight on ‘Whistle Theme’.
Frankfurt standard bearer for sexy, noirish, industrial body music Benedikt Frey tweaks out class spins on early ‘90s darkside breaks, grungy electro and early techno with typical flair
‘Recall’ marks Frey’s full-fledged solo flight with Tel Aviv’s Malka Tuti after compilation and remix appearances. The four trax son a fine spectrum of recombinant, uchronic styles that reimagine original styles as they never happened. His title tune’s rolling breaks, Reese bass and gloaming pads feels like early ‘90s Joey Beltram recording for PCP, whereas the offbeat swag of ‘Wonky System’ tests out a sort of early/proto-Goa-adjacent blend of breaks and entrancing arps, and ’40hz’ lends a sexier, spiralling slant to that Frankfurt-via-Goa style, and ‘Troll’ leans toward a sort of Meat Beat Manifesto club style with sharp break and booming subs wrapped up in an aerobic mystic haze.