Anther heavyweight haul of slow techno mutations from Mike Jefford’s Positive Centre, coming quick on the heels of ‘The Leaf Switch’ album for Opal Tapes with a stark, grungy, grumbling batch for Horo
“After making his initial mark with a grinding fog of slowed Techno on Sigha’s Our Circula Sound label, Michael Jefford aka Positive Centre has traversed the electronic BPM scale with a sonic signature of ghostly synthetics that make the switch between industrial aesthetics and illusory soundscaping.
Within this nucleus, Jefford’s recorded history as a Live Performing Artist, DJ and Producer has always reflected what at once can be microscopic whilst still being the largest object in view. Each track on Forever Optimum sets a different location and perspective on an active set of mechanics - like watching fragments in motion, reacting to different forces.
Having previously released for a range of Techno’s more adventurous labels includingSNTS, Stroboscopic Artefacts, Opal Tapes and not forgetting his own In Silent Series label. Positive Centre’s 3rd Album ‘Forever Optimum’ stands as a beautiful anomaly in the 2018 HORO catalogue. Continuing the point of the HORO label: being open to the beguiling musical arcs that keep us redefining our sound.”
Fractal, electro-acoustic improv from NYC’s Marina Rosenfeld and Ben Vida, conjuring a steeply layered investigation of proprioception and dreamtime psyches...
Marking Marina’s first appearance since the resoundingly unusual electro-dub of her ‘P.A. / Hard Love’ [Room 40, 2013] recordings with Warrior Queen, and also Ben Vida’s follow-up to ‘Damaged Particulates’ [Shelter Press, 2016], their probing collaboration is a wicked exercise in vivid, abstract terraforming.
As they both hail from NYC, it’s possible to hear the 8 parts of ‘Feel Anything’ as a gyring, topographical reading of their environment. In bifurcating formations they strafe and wind thru varying densities of tone and space in sloshing meter, scaling the listener’s focus from vertiginous showers of sparky electronic scree to demolished string orchestrations and wide, abyssal bass in fractious permutations.
We can instantly recognise some of Marina’s signature, eerie dub touches carried over from her ‘P.A. / Hard Love’ EP, but here they are unsettled, unstuck by Vida’s nervy tics and persistently amorphous electronics until they both effectively form a sort of vaporous free jazz describing the waveform-like outline of urban panoramas and the insectoid scuttle of busy populations, scurrying up and down and thru skyscrapers, subways, lofts and streets.
Breathlessly tight, shiny UK shunt from Murlo, whipping synthetic marimbas, quicksilver leads and coke bottle percussion into the garage-techno-footwork mutation of ‘Evaporate’ on his Coil Records label
Weighty wanz from Drone on Coyote
Cold shifting weight from the natty grime instrumental ‘Narroways’ to dubbed-out sinogrime in ‘Light Speed’, moody blue grime in ‘Probiscus’, and the flickering, skeletal drums and swollen bass of ‘Fangz’.
Hypnotic grey area incursions from ASC, the master of this sound
Taking all the time he needs to take us there, he unfurls some of the longest, most epic tracks in his catalogue across ‘The Outer Limits’.
All reaching over the 11 minute mark, at least, the 4 tracks are exquisite showcases of ASC at his most expansive, emotive, and rhythmically complex, ranging from swirling deep space polymetrics and vast drone shapes of ‘Arrival’ and the sloshing rolige and vaulted pads of ‘Redshift’, to 17 minute breadth of ‘Blueshift’ with its uniquely tucked percussive permutations and tumutuous synth arrangement, and the waning beauty of ‘Departure’.
One for the techno/bass dreamers.
Aggressively charged mutations of IDM, EBM, and EDM
“‘Calibrate’ proffers the highest of fidelity, with blockbuster sci fi levels of production value and bombast. Donoso channels sonic spirits across fluro pointillism, futuristic industrial tribalism and more serene moments of synthetic reflection.
Having never courted accessibility, Donoso remains as unbending as ever in his approach and unwavering in commitment to his craft. Calibrate takes Donoso’s polymetric abuse and sound design to all new extremes. Conflicting rhythms and swathes of electronic debris move in tandem, to create pieces that expand and contract in on themselves.
A journey through Calibrate is an exercise in instability and failure; its aggressiveness serves as a warning against the urge to seek safety on common ground, and its entire approach seems to display a hostility towards the increasingly homogenized nature of new electronic music.”
Holy grail German post-punk zingers reissued via Stefan Schneider’s TAL, following on the heels of their killer Konrad Kraft reissue
Originally issued as one disc on Klar! 80’s 3LP ‘Massa’ set in 1981, Roter Stern Belgrad’s 3 tracks are an amazing example of Afro inspirations worked into early industrial frameworks.
Right up there with unruly classics by CH-BB, Din A Testbild and Liaisons Dangereuses from the same era, these tracks perhaps even more feral and far out, but properly anchored in amazing rhythms, as you’ll hear between the snaking minimalism and stressed metal sounds of ‘Afars & Issas’, on the wickedly agitated drum programming and cranky electronics of ‘Wegwerfliebling’, and the transfixing mix of possessed hollers, gnashing drums and motorik bass in ‘Abend-Stern-Chant’.
Elvin Brandhi (Yeah You) and Odie Ji Ghast are Bad@Maths for the indomitable Slip label. Fractured 2-step, refracted R&B and deconstructed pop shrapnel are reframed in the most beguiling, hypermodernist and psychotomimetic style. A big tip to fans of Sensational, V/Vm, Mica Levi, even recent Raime 12”s!
“'PROSEGUR' is the obliterating Slip debut of North-Eastern security force Bad@Maths: pulped voices scrawled on wasted digital clatter.
The voices of Elvin Brandhi and Odie Ji Ghast have stamped themselves inexorably on the Slip catalogue - Ghast's swoops and blabbers and Brandhi's doosmday swaggers all over pairings with bassist Otto Willberg and pop-garbler Mykl Jaxn (as Yeah You) respectively.
As Bad@Maths, the duo's inimitable speaking-in-tongues practice lurches through electronic daggers and gunge. Elvin and Odie's roaming productions are a smash-and-grab on the furthest reaches of contemporary trap and grime, their voices re-animating 'net-culled spirits amongst whipslap beats. Modern mores, nasty drift.”
Ecuador’a Mama Fala supplies the bewitching first release on Apocalipsis, the agency-turned-label run by Brooklyn-based reggaeton maven, Riobamba ov Dutty Artz and Discwoman fame
Epitomising the label’s ethos of “urbano storytelling for a ní aguí/ní allâ (neither from here/nor there) creation of place”, Mala Fama’s Anta weaves earthquake field recordings with native Ecuadorian voices and instrumentation to invoke a mesmerising, noisily-textured new spin on traditional folklore and brujería (witchcraft).
Working to the left of Elysia Crampton, Arca and Lechuga Zafiro, and like a distant echo of styles found on Príncipe, the five track of ‘Anta’ form a spellbinding sort of Latinx grimoir, drawing us in with the beat-less scene of swirling voices and zipping syn-flutes, before working up the rugged yet elegant, raging yet mournful pound of ‘Wawa Wañuy’, and even recalling Sub-Saharan grooves in the rasping folk dance of ‘Anónimo (Chimbapura)’, and really pushing off with the entrancing fusion of organic shakers, pipes, and chants with virulent synth arps wrapped up in ‘Llukshina’.
Reggaeton’s answer to Burial, Kelman Duran follows up his amazing ’1804 Kids’ album with a truly epic new LP of textured, emotive dembow, hip hop mutations and field recordings inspired by time spent on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota - site of the tragic Wounded Knee massacre. Completely blown away by this one...
‘13th Month’ is titled after the Lakota Native American community’s 13 month lunar calendar. It’s arguably a perfect title to reflect the poignant, mystic appeal of Kelman’s music, evoking a unique perception of time that’s key to his mix of ancient, rooted rhythmic nous and forward/sideward looking arrangements of cut ’n paste textures, voices and haunting electronics.
Like Burial, Kelman has an uncanny ability to connote an otherness and transport us into his headspace. With ’13th Month’ he offers something akin to a spiritual memory upgrade, using fine tuned powers of intuition to fluidly sculpt richly impressionistic scenes evoking the trampling fervour of the Ghost Dance, but purposely transposed to downtrodden people and sites of worship in the here and now.
Opening with a couplet of scrolling, collaged panoramas in ’13th Month in 3 Movements’ and ‘CLUB 664B’ that surely recall the more recent, expansively cut-up nature of Burial records, Kelman continues to map out a mosaic of more succinct pieces, grouting stripped down club rhythms with brooding moments of introspection and a spectrum of voices, from urgent to mournful and frankly alien Latinx styles.
And to use the Burial analogy respectfully again, like the South Londoner’s patented 2-step, Kelman’s dembow mutations are integral to the push and pull of his music. While it may take a bit of imagination to slot some of them in-the-mix, their brittle, skeletal structure and rugged function only heightens the inexorable yet sore, vulnerable appeal of his arrangements.
Perhaps the strangest element of this whole record for us, is the way it feels like we’ve heard it before - it’s so familiar, in a trippy, dreamlike sense. And maybe cheesy as it sounds, we’ve felt that deja vu before with first listens of Autechre’s ‘Incunabula’, AFX’s ‘SAW’ volumes, and the Burial albums, and it’s an instinct we’ve learned to listen to. There’s no mistaking this album is an absolute blinder. One of 2018’s very best.
Príncipe’s Nídia, Brooklyn’s Beta Librae, and Object Blue rework Yaeji’s floaty house tracks in three unmissable ways
Most notably, we catch Nídia on a more reserved, low key flex, pairing the original vocal with bubbling acidic froth and mid-tempo Kuduro rhythms for a supremely breezy, playful workout, while Beta Librae keeps her end up on a percolated, swivelling rotation of the same elements executed with the dextrous delicacy found in her ‘Sanguine Bond’ album for Incienso, and Object Blue follows her cultishly acclaimed debut 12” with a rework set to bumping dembow breaks - a strong closer to a striong EP.
Wavey raver from SE16’s Flohio and wayward Berlin superstars Modeselektor
The MDSLKTR duo appear to take their cues from the recent Errorsmith album with a rugged sort of dancehall-techno bump, albeit with their patented melancholy lean, while Flohio scuds along with aggy bars about life and money.
Jamal Moss, I:Cube and Jay Daniel supply party-ready remixes of a highlight from Peggy Gou’s ‘Once’ 12”
A summer anthem of 2018, the Korean vocal and sleek deep house pull of ‘It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)’ are turned into a powerful, roiling, psychedelic house number by Jamal Moss, while Jay Daniel dances around and off the groove with shuffled hi-hats and claps synched to tuff bass and G-funk vamps. I:Cube takes the same elements for an effortless sort of Latin deep house ride in a debonaire vocal mix and a much darker, muscular, yet well toned ‘Parallel Dub’ executed with expert panache.
Deep rave pressure from Roza Terenzi and D. Tiffany, following their inaugural Planet Euphorique session with killer electro and breakbeat rave joints, plus a soulful Jayda G remix
Melbourne’s Roza Terenzi goes down the rabbithole with a tight, chromatic electro wriggler ‘Electronique’, but the one for us is ‘Spirit Alien’ by D. Tiffany a.k.a. DJ Zozi a.k.a. Xophie Xweetland, recalling classic 4 Hero and forward UK rave styles in a way compatible with Tadd Mullinx’s X-Altera gear.
The Higher puckers up a ravishingly rude debut for XL with ‘The Core’ - four lip-smacking love notes to the ecstasy of ‘Ardcore aerobics for fans of Mumdance & Logos, Demdike Stare, Rufige Kru, Zomby
Coming on lush out of nowhere, ‘The Core’ introduces itself arms open and dancing into the wind of the soundsystem. Rinsing out precision tooled rave tropes, Detroit taught strings and spine-tracing breaks for their purest essence and hardcore swerve.
’Stick 3’ goes on nutty in a burst of ravenous, darkside energy with bags of UK warehouse swagger, while ‘Submarine 99’ lets the sweat cool a minute, lean and gangsta with the k-dub, then coming loved-up and boisterous in ’Submarine ’95’, a deeply classy but rugged rollers vortex that twists timeless influences into inexorable, new, rave music that's keenly aware of the original ‘90s format.
Mark Barrott yields another lush study of life of the white isle, making his debut with the Running Back Incantations sub-division of Gerd Jansen’s label
“Most music does not come out of nowhere. Arising and appearing in a pre-existing system of influences, cross-references, roots, memories and desires, it either directly points towards a heritage or into the future. Mark Barrott’s Nature Sounds of the Balearics is a bit of both. The mastermind behind the International Feel label and the Sketches from an Island series presents an intermediary.
Technically, it’s his departure from a software based workflow and onto (or back to) a hardware driven creative point of view.
Philosophically, it deals with the schizophrenia of our times: the late Paul Virgilio’s dromology and logistics of perception versus a decelerated life outside of cities, internet algorhythmics (sic!) versus meditation, the excessive stock market (all track titles are derivates of that world) against a tactile way of living.
Musically, it is the outcome of what Barrott himself described as his „techno album“. For people whose definition of techno has to do with speed (again) and kick drums that might seem like a misinterpretation. Listeners who remember the Artificial Intelligence and Freezone compilations, various chill out channels or Detroit’s mellow moments, will tend to agree. „Nature Sounds of the Balearics“ miraculously evokes those days and times, without breaking his neck. It is as much at home in a Caribbean water utopia between dolphins and old fishing boats as it feels current and applicable in a Ridley Scott dystopia. And if meta levels aren't your thing: it’s just a beautiful album.”
Reissue of an ace early release from Rephlex, dusted down and remastered for its 2nd wind by Switzerland’s Musique Pour La Danse
Produced by Marco Repetto and Stefan Riesen a.k.a. Synectics, ‘The Purple Universe’ was released in 1993 by Aphex Twin and Grant Wilson-Claridge’s Rephlex. 25 years later it resurfaces, freshly re-cut by Frederic Stader, to reel off 8 lush examples of European techno when it found its soul, circa the the phase shift from rave into its early-mid ‘90s golden era.
There are some real gems inside, none more so than the trance-techno flight of ‘Red Clouds’ and the Infinite-esque ‘Into The Unknown’, but also in their ‘Untitled’ stroke of acid elan, as well as the more esoteric parts, including the creamy ambient acid of ‘Free Sphere’ and the epic deep techno inception of ‘The Final Moment’.
Shanti Celeste introduces hotly-tipped producer Chekhov with Rotlicht, the variegated 3rd EP on her Peach Discs label.
Where the label’s previous 12”s from Shanti and Fred have looked to Detroit, early UK techno and classic deep house for inspiration, this one draws from more greyscale styles of knackered industrial techno and salsa-spiced electro for flavour.
Bierce follows a rugged hunch of murky, oozing bass and curtly clipped shuffle that gets under the skin with hypnagogic stealth, turning the dancefloor to zombie marionettes and the DJ as puppet master.
Rotlicht picks up the energy levels with a squirming sort of electro-disco-dub flux in floating effect, and Toothru brings an icy cool swerve imagining Kraftwerk set adrift in warmer climes.
Ectomorph’s debut EP, from back when Gerald Donald (Dopplereffekt) was a member, resurfaces, newly remastered and ready for deployment in the current electro resurgence, while also priming the path for their imminent debut album ’Stalker’
Originally transmitted in 1995, ’Subsonic Vibrations’ became a staple of the ‘90s electro circuit for solid reasons, not least because Gerald Donald was involved, but mostly because it rocks the club good and proper.
Between the massaged 808 pulse and warped bass of ’Subsonic Vibrations’, the stripped down writhe of ‘Parallax View’, the unmistakeably Drexciyan riffs of ’Skin’, and quaking bass and quicksilver jabs of ‘The Last days of Skylab’, you’re in the presence of solid gold electro.
On her debut for Shanti Celeste’s Peach Discs, Toronto-based promoter/producer/DJ, Cindy Li aka Ciel steps into the fray with two fine bits of melodic and bass heavy electro pressure
Running sternum-quaking subs and yearning, effervescent arpeggios and FX in Electrical Encounters, then pursuing a hunch for rolling breaks and floating pads in Elevate (Go Off Mix), and percolating a blend of rickety, vintage drum machines and worm-charming bass in Rain Dance.
Shanti Celeste takes her cues from Detroit, West London and Chicago to forge the smart first release on Peach Discs.
She gets all misty-eyed and feverish with the sparking, effervescent hybrid of 313 house pads and motifs rolled up with brukken drums and maybe even a dab of early Manchester rave flavour in Loop One, whereas Selector is fully synched to Windy City styles with booty-driving bass and bucking claps softened by lustrous deep house vibes.
Bright, punchy jack trax from Videopath, following in the footsteps of Ciel, Chekov and Fred onto Shanti Celeste’s excellent Peach Discs
There’s no mistaking that the good times synth vamps and rugged swang of A Cure For Melancholy lives up to its name with giddy alacrity, while And So Do Eye follows suit with proper US happy house ’n garage burn, full of organ riffs and dreamy early ‘90s style vocals.
‘5 Klavierstücke’ was recorded and produced by Gareth Jones in the South of France on Irmin Schmidt's two grand pianos. Schmidt partly prepared his Pleyel piano (in the way he was taught by John Cage himself) and the other piano - Irmin Schmidt’s 100-year-old Steinway - remained unprepared.
"Several pieces were recorded in one session on the prepared piano only, others contain recordings from both pianos. All ambient sounds were recorded on site - around Irmin Schmidt's studio - and there are no other instruments or electronics of any kind.
As a composer and one of Can’s founding members, Irmin Schmidt has scored more than one hundred soundtracks. Outside of his work with Can, he has released over a dozen solo albums and written an opera, ‘Gormenghast’, based on the novels of Mervyn Peake. In 2015, he was made a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres for his contribution to art and culture, one of France’s highest honours."
Slow-to-mid tempo balearic froth, edited by Jan Schulte in his Wolf Müller guise for Young Marco’s label
“Over the course of his seven-year recording career, Jan Schulte has delivered countless revolutionary remixes under the now familiar Wolf Müller alias. Now, Safe Trip has gathered together some of his most celebrated and hard-to-find reworks on Sorry For The Delay: Wolf Müller’s Most Whimsical Remixes.
The collection includes a string of lauded revisions of the likes of Tolouse Low Trax, Africaine 808, BAR and Jose Padilla, all in a trademark percussion-rich, polyrhythmic style that joins the dots between the tropical rhythms of South America, the tribal musical traditions of Africa, the experimental electronics associated with Schulte’s home city of Düsseldorf and the sun-kissed Balearica of Ibiza.
Since making his debut at the dawn of the decade, Schulte has carved out a niche as one of European electronic music’s most distinctive artists. Under this best-known alias, Wolf Müller, the German producer has delivered a string of sought-after singles, two critically acclaimed collaborative albums (the most recent of which, produced alongside percussionist Niklas Wandt, was released earlier this year), and a swathe or radical remixes.
It’s the latter that’s showcased on Sorry For The Delay, whose apologetic title tips a wink to Safe Trip’s debut release, a compilation of Young Marco remixes called Sorry For The Late Reply. The majority of the eight included reworks are revolutionary in nature, with Schulte gaining inspiration from, or making use of, just a handful of elements from the provided source material. For example, the oldest remix in the collection, a 2011 rub of Mungolian Jet Set’s quirky disco cut “Prog Rocks and Moon Jocks”, made with Christian Pannenborg as Montezumas Rache, features numerous vocal and instrumental elements omitted from the Norwegian duo’s final version.
The collection naturally comes packed with deliciously percussive moments, including an undeniably heavyweight translation of Tolouse Low Trax’s “Jaidem Fall” – the first ever Wolf Muller remix from 2014 – a chiming, melodious and sun-kissed revision fo BAR’s 2016 cut “BAR Theme”, an inspired tweak of Africaine 808’s “Rhythm Is All You Can Dance” and a riotous take on “Ba Hu Du”, a never-before-released track from Schulte’s other headline-grabbing, club-rocking pseudonym, Bufiman.
Schulte’s ability to create mesmerizing, slow burn soundscapes can be heard across the compilation, too, from the druggy and psychedelic pulse of his krautrock-influenced version of Telespazio’s “Barrier” and the humid tropicality of the Deep Dub of Sound Species “Balafon Jam”, to the dreamy new age synthesizer lines, twanging Jews Harp and seductive beats of Jose Padilla collaboration “Oceans on the Moon”.”
A telluric drone quartet composed of Frédéric D. Oberland (Oiseaux-Tempête, Le Réveil des Tropiques, The Rustle Of The Stars, FareWell Poetry), Romain Barbot (Saåad), Grégory Buffier (Saåad, Autrenoir) and Paul Régimbeau (Mondkopf, Autrenoir, Extreme Precautions) who meet punctually for sessions of ritual improvisation where they invoke noise and drone and the deities of chaos.
"Improvised and recorded live at Le Rex de Toulouse supporting the 10th anniversary of French doom metal band Monarch!, KAMI神 extends the cosmogony and the sound of the band by taking excursions into the invisible and ambiguous side of nature. In this orgiastic and surprising mix of sonic textures and rhythms, you may hear strange phenomena, summoning of animistic spirits, shamanic calls, siren yellings and growls. The original chemigram artwork was created by French artist Fanny Béguély by painting with chemicals on light-sensitive paper.
Following the sold-out EARTH soundtrack (GZH71, 2017), KAMI 神 delivers an immersive soundscape for abstract clubbers, where kosmiche electronic, power ambient and industrial punk music are freely invited to commune. This pagan ceremonial is an ode to the ever-changing vortex of life - a sonic dream machine for the occurring now.”
Whities 018 features four tracks that Alex wrote "around winter ‘16-‘17, as I decompressed from an episode of deep prang. While they bear out my mood at the time, they also chart a path of recovery through nature, slowness and humour."
Bristol D&B hero DJ Die dishes up 8 of his classic cuts, remastered and repackaged on his Gutterfunk label
Worth a look in for the re-primed cuts of Die's classic rollers such as ‘Clear Skyz’ [Full Cycle, 1998], the militant steppers minimalism of ‘Play It For Me’ [V Recordings, 1995], and the smoked out ace ‘Reincarnated’ [Full Cycle, 1997].
Blinding 12” of deep, earthy Detroit house inflected with jazz and psych vibes by Todd Modes, who’s flanked by Craig Huckaby (congas), Mike Mumford (sax) and Mike Severson (guitar) on the latest Fit sureshot.
Their A-face turns to a loose, rolling tribal flex with the frisked drums and melting, lysergic patina of voices - some friendly, some ungodly - in the wonderful Ariadne, before really taking the plunge into mystic jazz-house realms with the oily undulations and pealing, plangent sax of Knossos, which is about as close as you’ll find to Peter Zummo jamming with Theo Parrish and Morphosis.
On the upside down’s Native Visions he inverts the mixing balance giving it a really trippy sort of tunnelling trajectory, guiding us headlong thru patches of fiery psyche riffage on a lean double bassline and 360º swarming congas.
Mancunian flaneur Dan Dwayre a.k.a. Black Lodge knuckles out a 3rd volume of his ‘Kings Arms Sessions’, arriving at the dog end of the decade to his first instalments, and in the wake of his ‘MWR157’ cat# unearthed by Warp’s Arcola, and the ‘Bitter Blood’ collection for Disciples
Named after The Kings Arms pub in Salford, the gnarlier bit of Manchester which Black Lodge haunts when he’s not in the Northern Quarter, this is the 3rd and final part of triptych started by The Trilogy Tapes.
The vibe is pure grot, revolving 12 gobs of free-ranging, punkish groove soused in salty noise and prone to bouts of keening discord. In that sense, we can point to precedents for this sound ranging from Tony Conrad to Ron Morelli and Zoviet*France, but the best way to really get to grips with it is to spend 40 odd years in the belly of the Manchester beast, or at least neck some garies and a bockle of wine and spend a night rolling around the NQ.
Pivotal Detroit player Humberto Hernandez (DJ Dez, Andrés, The Rotating Assembly) continues his Drummer From Detroit series with another helping of good times latinate hustle after dropping Drum #1 in 2011, c. his much-loved New For U 12”.
The A-side packs some heavily infectious vibes with a conga-led rug-cutter in Part Three, before sidewinding into the lusher zone of tucked Afro-Cuban syncopation and Theo Parrish-like sprung synth and Rhodes in Part Four, while the B-side is reserved for a the vocal bounty of Part Five with cut-up soul vox on a broad and breezy showpiece for those who’ve got something to show.
Ambarchi and O’Rourke trek to distant horizons on synth and guitar, accompanied by tabla player U-Zhaan who lends a free buoyancy to the duo’s quick and slow running streams of sound...
“Hence is the third collaborative release from Oren Ambarchi and Jim O’Rourke, following on from 2013’s Behold. Building on the refined combination of electronics and acoustic instrumentation found on their previous releases, Hence presents two side long pieces combining synthesizers, heavily effected guitar tones, and tabla rhythms played by special guest U-zhaan. On the first side, an explosive opening chord sends out ripples of sparse, irregularly pulsing guitar and synthesizer tones, aleatorically changing in pitch and jumping around the stereo image. Combined with the tabla, which gradually builds in busyness throughout the side, the piece is like a dream collaboration between David Behrman and the Henry Kaiser of It’s a Wonderful Life, gradually overtaken in its second half by a swarm of lush live electronic sizzle.
The second side begins in a similar area, combining tabla, shimmering Leslie cabinet guitar tones, and a wandering melodic line. Undergoing a series of subtle variations, this initial area eventually builds to a climax of twittering synthesized birdsong reminiscent of Alvin Curran’s 70s work. As on the first side, Ambarchi and O’Rourke craft a piece that is both comforting and subtly strange, as the constantly shifting dynamics and changes of focus (which recall the flow of improvised music) refuse to allow the music to settle into any one moment for too long or to build in too linear a fashion. Combining influences from post-minimalism, the pioneers of live electronics, and eastern music into a unique sound world, Hence is a seductive work from two of the most singular sensibilities in contemporary music.”
Original soundtrack recording to the film Zerzura, the first ever Saharan acid Western, telling the story of a nomad’s search for a magic city of gold.
"Evoking the desert journey with free form guitar improvisations, the soundtrack is a meditation on the mysteries of the Sahara. Composed by writer and actor Ahmoudou Madassane, the instrumental score takes the familiar Tuareg guitar tradition into new directions, transforming desert blues into ambient soundscapes.
Recorded in studio while watching footage from the film, the score was recorded in live and spontaneous takes. Heavily based around the electric guitar, Madassane also plays a handful of other in-studio instrumentation (prepared piano, Moog, Timpani) and is joined by a number of collaborators, including guitarist Marisa Anderson.
A prolific and backing artist in a number of groups (Mdou Moctar, Les Filles de Illighadad), Madassane is well versed in Tuareg guitar folk and draws inspiration from this tradition before veering off into uncharted territory. Pieces fluctuate in timing and break free from standard rhythm, moving from melancholic serenity to blurry psychedelic fury. An experimental foray for Tuareg guitar, Zerzura is the first of its kind.”
Le Frère debuts with a smudge of ambient and slow electro works on the Slow Glass 12” for Zürich’s Light of Other Days label.
Inspired by travelling the world for the past two years, Slow Glass forms a gauzily nostalgic trip into Le Frère’s mind, encapsulating snapshots or moments of memory in four parts ranging from the wistfully pastoral tones of Nice to more slanted strokes nodding at jazz and post-rock and even Lena Platonos in Candid, before the B-side gently coaxes in some rhythm with the drizzle on a warm day feelings of V1b1n’, and a sort of salty electro chugger called N8ttt that begs comparison with Low Jack or Krikor Kouchian workouts.
Breathless fusions of club and computer game musics from Washington, D.C.-born, Köln-based artist Swan Meat, for Kamixlo and co’s Bala Club
Big on fiddly details and drama, but sorely lacking in grooves, ‘Tame’, while borrowing from club music, is more akin to sitting down and concentrating on completing the next level of your game.
‘self*care’ is the keenly awaited debut EP by Sega Bodega, a none-more-hyped producer who’s already racked up credits for Quay Dash and Shygirl, and soundtracked the new Nike Jumpman advert and Rihanna’s Fenty X Puma runway show
Cyberpunk in a similar mode to Amnesia Scanner or SOPHIE, on ‘self*care’ Sega Bodega tweaks that definition to purpose across six tracks of morphing R&B and kinetic club music laced with gremlin-like vocaloids.
The result is a razor-sharp cross section of hypermodernity, stretching from the elusive, phthalocyanine blues of ‘Cowgirl’ to the bombed-out Baile of ‘hopeless!!!’ and the flesh-grinding ‘daddy’, before dancing on your nerve ends with the piquant trap pointillism and vaulted chorale of ‘maryland’, and the shiny beast of ‘gag reflex’.
Galcher Lustwerk introduces The Fock with a brace of dark, anxious techno, electro and ambient aces backed by a killer remix from Young Male in his Flood1 guise
In raving declension, the muddles vocals and clammy atmospheres of ‘Shat Pop’ appears as a rolling dark techno version (‘Saldes Mix’) along with a more laid-back acidic electro mix and the isolationist austerity of his ‘Ambient Mix’. But if you ask us the best cut is Young Male’s Flood1 remix, where he flicks on the EBM booster switch for a powerful club screamer.
Erstwhile Antipop Consortium MC/producer HPrizm proves his ‘Catching A Body’ album was no fluke with ‘Magnetic Memory’, a follow-up side of singular rap and Jazzy Hip Hop
Alongside guest spots by his APC bro E. Blaize, plus Shabaka Hutchings (horns), Yolande Hunter (ad-libs) and James Brandon Scott (sax), HPRizm drops a dead solid batch of clever raps and inventive instrumentals crafted with old(ish) skool hardware and techniques.
The result is a reminder of late ‘90s/early ‘00s hip hop’s innovation within looser frameworks, when it wasn’t everyone gunning for the charts, chatting about the same shit, or trying to sound identikit to the next guy. By limiting himself to tried and tested samplers and peers, and relying on his own mic skill, the results are rugged and real, abstract and immersive, unpolished and daring.
“Composed and recorded throughout last year, Magnetic Memory is guided by Prizm’s desire to reconnect with a more traditional approach to sampling. That is to say, sampling as a primary element of composition. “History has moved on from seeing sound art as compositional,” he explains. “I wanted to re-embrace that. I thought there was more to say.”
In constructing Magnetic Memory’s rhythms and atmospheres, Prizm chose to work within the technological constraints of his earliest days as a producer. “Not a lot of gear,” says Prizm. “To make it more basement.”
“At my point of entry, you couldn’t do long-form sampling. You had to make something out of 9-12 seconds,” he explains. “Thus, the focus is not on adapting hooks from identifiable songs, but snatching isolated moments to form the basis of instrumentation.”
Berghain resident Norman Nodge stakes out four tuff and sexy jackers on his 2nd 12” for Ostgut Ton - his first solo 12” since 2011!
As big fans of his super dry but funky early 12”s with Marcel Dettmann Records, the return of lawyer-by-day, DJ/producer-by-night, Norman Noczinski is entirely welcome around these parts.
The opener ‘Tacit Knowing’ is a wicked piece of physics-defying club gear, knitting splintered breaks into a rugged jackers groove in a way we’ve hardly heard before, or quite like this at least, whilst ‘Discipline’ is exactly the kind of gear we’d expect to hear at Berghain at daft O’clock and off our chops - haughty, pounding, drilling techno that makes you dance 15% better.
Perhaps needless to say, we’re also smitten with the swingeing tribal percussion of ‘Gathering’, primed to turn the floor into a lather of limbs and hips, while ‘Embodiment’ lends a stroke of breezy dub techno class to his robust, shifty undertow, building to a proper Basic Channel-style head of steam.
Baron Mordant’s latest, diaristic entry commits a heady mulch of location recordings and loud, salty electronics that leaves us dazed and disoriented
“Caffeinated Xbox-related coMMuter childcare cacophony…you can’t always get what you wanton..IBM”
Fit Sound get their kicks from Moscow, Russia, with two smart bumps of Detroit-flavoured breakbeat and house hustle by Oleg Buyanov a.k.a. OI, pursuing the vibes of his Meda Fury and Faces Records aces deep into debonair, late night styles.
Judging from the nuanced guile and textured haze of the recording, you’d be forgiven for thinking this record was produced by an original Detroit player. A-side he turns out the super loose and swanging Lada Passenger with discrete layers of melted bass and strafing drums knit in a deeply infectious syncopation with breezy chords out of the Theo Parrish handbook. B-side, he simmers down to the deadly, jazzier burn and shuffle of Study Drum and a lip-smackingly sweet bit of filter-disco-house in Life Span.
Suzanne Kraft beautifully paints outside the lines on ‘SK U Kno’, offering studio-rendered snapshots of material that gradually evolved into the pieces in front of you, drawing woozy connections between wistful ambient contours and more vaporous, hypnagogic loops, into unstable House and abstracted midnight Blues. One of the loveliest/smudged listens this year, huge recommendation...
On the A-side Kraft seduces with eight minutes of wilting chords and percolated synth voices in ‘Gaze’, before ‘Vast Mute’ breezes close to the kind of DJ Screw-style magick found in 0PN’s ‘Chuck Person’s Eccojams’, but to more abstracted, hazy effect.
His B-side follows with the beautifully mellow strums of ‘To Make A Stone Weep’ probing a Jim O’Rourke-like transition from acoustic balm to digital saltiness, and then we finally get to hear the full version of ‘Accelerate Me Wildly’, which now comes with an extra 12 minutes of astral synth-scaping and GRM-like electro-acoustics before it drops into killer, airborne funk trills and levitating chords with a proper West Coast US steez.
So good this one.
Erik Griswold coaxes charmingly off-kilter, rhythmelodic ribbons of sound from his prepared piano on return to Room40 with ‘Yokohama Flowers’, his 6th release for fellow Antipodean, Lawrence English’s label. RIYL AFX’s prepared piano works, Indonesian gamelan, African thumb piano music
“For over two decades, Griswold has been crafting a particular and utterly personal language around his instrument of choice. His preparations, which are in a state of perpetual refinement, are like a kind of lens; it is through them that a certain audio reading of his instrument is made possible.
It’s understandable then that Griswold would be inspired by the work of Australian experimental film maker Louise Curham. Like Griswold, she too reveals a very personal reading of her surroundings through a range of preparations and expanded techniques. Discovering her work through a series of collaborations hosted by Room40, Other Film and other groups, the pair slowly developed a strong approach to joint performance.
In many ways, these recorded works reflect upon those performances. Similar to her filmic works, which maintain an unfamiliar, yet tangible beauty; Griswold’s compositions remind us that the piano is never truly knowable, or known. Each composition collected here reveals another detail or way of knowing the piano. The preparations release something in excess of the instrument itself.
It’s in these extensions, these ruptures of familiarity, that the language of the piano is born and reborn. It is a state of perpetual discovery and resolution, framed in composition.”
‘The Last Days of Reality’ is a broodingly enigmatic Lionel Marchetti composition performed on acoustic and electronic instruments by Decibel, a new music ensemble from Perth, Western Australia. Concrète poetry in effect...
“From Cat Hope (Decibel):
I first met Lionel Marchetti in Australia during the Liquid Architecture Festival in 2010. Decibel were touring our Alvin Lucier program, and Lionel was on the same bill performing a live performance set manipulating electro-acoustic materials with dancer Yoko Higashi. I was so taken with Lionel’s performances and the resulting music, that I asked him if he would write a piece for Decibel.
I didn’t realise that he hadn’t done something like this before. The first work was “Première étude (les ombres)”, communicated as a text score, and premiered in 2012. I was asked by Lionel to make some recordings of ocarinas, harmonicas, and folk instruments – and I sent these to him for the creation of a ‘partition concrète d'accompagnement’– a fixed media part that is featured in the live performance. For this piece, the part comes from speakers beside each performer, and a bass amplifier beneath the piano. Like his own performances I had seen the year before, the work was naturally performative – with unique speaker and performer configurations, interesting and odd additional instruments. It was such a rich work, a remarkable combination of electronic, spatial, acoustic and textural music. The performers use the partition concrete as a score.
I visited Lionel in Lyon, France in 2014, recording flute improvisations in his studio. He used these as a basis for “Une série de reflets”, again communicating via text instructions and each performer having their own dedicated speaker to interact with. “Pour un enfant qui dort”, which again requested flute sounds that were this time part of the live performance as well as the partition concrète, was also written around that time. The next work saw a more ‘compositional’ collaboration - “The Earth defeats me" began as a graphically scored work written by me and recorded by Decibel in the studio. That recording was used to make the partition concrète which is now an embedded as part of the animated score file, thanks to the software we had developed to do so.
These works exist as live performances, but also as singular concrète works, when heard without the instruments. Working with Lionel has been remarkable: he has a singular way of thinking about sound and its relationship to works and images. Music concrete is a lifestyle for him, it is a way of thinking, communicating and being. These pieces enable the acoustic instruments to be part of that – extending the ideas in the partition concrete, using them structurally and texturally, as well as being part of them.
When I first met Lionel, I didn’t realise he was in Australia because it was originally planned he would be travelling with French composer Éliane Radigue, performing some of her electroacoustic works, as her preferred diffuser. I would commission a work for Decibel from Élaine (“Occam Hexa II”) in 2014 and it was during that process I realised the link between them. Decibel performed Lionel and Eliane’s music together – it is music that concerns itself with the incredible power of sound, but from the most delicate and dream like perspective.”
Cult scene-setter 1991 returns to the fray with four heavily worn-out bangers backed by a singed Rezzett remix
Patently a less-is-more kinda guy when it comes to the release schedule - after 3 releases in 2012, nowt until 2016, and now this - 1991 makes up for lost time with this knackered but energetic session for his No More Dreams label.
The OG 1991 tracks are all “up” in the mode of his ’Skogen, Flickan Och Flaskan’ 12”, as opposed to the airy drowse of his last No More Dreams outing or the gauze of his widely adored ‘High-Tech Low-Life’ and self-titled sides.
A-side brings three jacking drum machine workouts, each decayed to a mid-rangey nub of distorted recoil and splattered drums, yet able to juice a sweat from locked-in dances. On the B-side he follows suit with a shot of kinky NYC/Brum-techno swing, before Rezzett provides an EP highlight with the nimble, skippy Chicago flair of his cracking remix for the track, ’94’.
No wallowing here - just banging dance trax.
A collection of Jamaican doo wop & R&B records taken from the late 50s and early 60s.
"These records represent a period in which soundsystems were just starting to dominate the island, with Duke Reid and Sir Coxsone stepping up their rivalry by beginning to make and release their own records rather than rely on US imports for use in their dances.
Many of these records are definitely more-or-less imitations of the American records, as the uniquely Jamaican ska sound was yet to take hold - however many of the future stars of ska, rocksteady and reggae were beginning to cut their teeth in the industry on these records, incl. Jimmy Cliff, Derrick Harriott, Alton Ellis and more, and they provide a unique view into the fledgling independent record industry culture in Jamaica that would prove to be unbelievably proflific and unparalleled for an island of it's size."
The exceptional UNO NYC cough up a rude new one from Ian Isiah, arriving a mere 5 years since their last release, ‘The Love Champion’, and loaded with class production from Sinjin Hawke, Soda Plains, Juice Jackal and MORRIS
‘Shugga Sextape (Vol.1)’ is for the modern lovers, stirring 8 tracks of prurient R&B, dancehall and queered songs for sex in Anti-G. Fractal Fantasy’s Sinjin Hawke, a longtime collaborator with Isiah, provides the lion’s share of productions, with highlights in the bottle-popping giddyness of ‘Bedroom’ and the mutant dancehall banger ‘Killup’, while MORRIS also impresses with the early Arca-esque R&B slant of ‘Persistent’, and Wedidit Collective’s Juice Jackal makes it intimate with the beat-less strokes of ‘GOD’.
Kassem Mosse and Lowtec mint their Kolorit duo for Workshop with six tracks of frayed percussion and wigged-out rhythmelody in a ruffcut cosmic house style.
Littered with surprising twists and turns, Kolorit’s ‘Workshop XXI’ catches both producers at their loosest, jazziest and rawly psychedelic, with stacks of sloshing rhythms and woozy licks that lead dancers right down the rabbtihole.
If we’re playing favourites, the jiggy jazz parry of ‘D1’ gets us dancing like boneless marionettes, and the teetering percolations of their C-side get right under the skin, but the best of the lot is their lysergically frazzled Afrobeat fuss scrawled across the A-side.
Sega Bodega lends his unique touch to Shygirl’s ‘Cruel Practice’ EP, self-released on Sega’s Nuxxe label, site of his new ‘self*care’ EP
Shygirl comes cold AF and gynoid-like on five tracks that sound like the cyberpunk cousins of PC Music. ‘Rude’ hits hard and slow with a payload of screeching string stabs and dembow bumps; ‘Nasty’ wriggles on a crumpled drill style with killer double-timed bars by Shygirl; Dinamarca jumps in for additional production on the squeaky but rugged madness of ‘Gush’; and ‘Asher Wolfe’ brings it UK on a deft, darkside 2-step.
Airhead comes off like PC Music doing jazzed tribal house and jungle with these two pearls for James Blake and Dan Foat’s 1-800 Dinosaur label
Stepping on from his ‘Kazzt’  ace for Different Circles, Airhead returns to site of his ‘Believe’ release with a cheeky glint in his eye and a wonky swagger on ‘Clatter’, winding up a carbonated and freaky sort of slosh-jack foe the A-side, before ‘Droplit’ straightens up yuh backbone on the AA-side for a wicked spot of tail-chasing jungle breakbeat chicanery.