Vancouver’s Regularfantasy does deep, rolling disco-house-rave for Pear after lighting up 2018 with a handful for Total Stasis and Heart To Heart
Her conga-lead and corkscrewing ‘Party Girl Theme’ is a mission statement for the EP, which simmers the vibe at a low key and friendly angle with the nostalgic breakbeat rave bubbler ‘MSN’ and the dreamy swang of ‘Plushied (Plush Managements Mix)’ on a late ‘80s/early ‘90s NYC rave flex.
Contrasting slices of melodic breakbeat techno and scuzzy ambient abstraction from the Overmono siblings
‘Le Tigre’ rolls out like Four Tet after a double espresso with well mannered, rolling kicks and predictably resolving chord progressions. However, their ‘Salt Mix’ is a few shades more interesting, schizzily vacillating gobs of techno with tense ambient passages with a teasing, pensile sense of deferred gratification.
Skee Mask hustles a fractious mix of brittle and off kilter IDM nodding to late ‘90s Autechre, along with signature 2-step and flayed machine rhythms
Check his jerky ‘Juug’ and ‘Slow Music’ for styles recalling late ‘90s Skam and Warp gear by Jega or Æ; ‘RZZ’ for a deep, driving garage-techno mutation; raw-ass drum machine tics in ‘Play Ha’; and a spot of beatless sound design with ’Sphere In Total.’
Pye Corner Audio, Don’t DJ and President Bongo (Gusgus) rework Craven Faults shirey kosmiche flights
Analogue synth master Pye Corner Audio proves an ideal candidate with his dreamily sluggish version of ‘Intakes’, and Don’t DJ impresses with the pendulous 9’ build of his ‘Foddergang’ rework, and President Bongo brings some more direct dancefloor flavour with the thrumming, giddy spin of ‘Eller Ghyll.’
UR’s Cali ambassadors DJ Dex and Esteban Adame (Los Hermanos) do plush and deep techno-house
‘Dream Dealer’ is primed for the li[-smackign moments of the night with stealth build synth-funk and firm but slinky rhythm programming beside the more in-the-pocket jack and shuffle of ‘La Frontera.’
‘Art of Magic’ is Paper Dollhouse’s commission for the Folklore Tapes and The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic present… Art Of Magic Exhibition at The Horse Hospital London, Saturday 28 July, 2018
Droning, washed-out H-pop tropes suffuse the A-side’s ‘Folklore Tapes Live in London’ with a hazy state of mind emphasised by detached, fuzzy vocals and the distant screams of applause or protest (we’re not sure which) that give way to Astrid Steehouder aka Paper Dollhouse’s more typical, ghostly urges and eventually a bout of choral pads layered into eerie harmonic cadence. The B-side is a studio-based version of the first piece. Really good stuff...
Japan's Ena joins Mumdance & Logos’ Different Circles crew with an extended dive into deeply abstract grey area/post-Chain Reaction dub incursions that come highly recommended if yr into Porter Ricks, Felix K, Dynamo or Pendant...
Two years in the works, ‘Baroque’ follows from the D&B-styled flux of Ena’s early 2019 collaboration with Felix K (F&E #1) to sound out more unorthodox areas of inquiry of abtruse, Chain Reaction-like sound design and algorithmic decomposition. In terms of the music’s boneless construction and roiling spectral nature, it surely ranks among Different Circles’ headiest and most psychedelic releases following the dread kinematics of Logos’ ‘Imperial Flood’ album and the cult acclaim given to their killer Raime and Szare 12”s in the past year.
Variously recalling the sound of stressed-out machinery or the sferic mystery of The Conet Project, ‘Baroque’ sees Ena transition further from recognisable styles into a richly enigmatic tonal and texturhythmic language. Over the album’s six tracks he uses this futurist-primitive mode to express a detached, meditative state-of-mind that speaks to paradoxical ideals of club music and domestic listening: of being simultaneously in it, yet out of it; of finding yourself lost in the crowd of noise.
It’s a sound that resonates with the short-circuiting AI convulsions of Logos, Mumdance and Shapednoise’s EP for The Death of Rave as much as the hypnagogic mulch of Thought Broadcast or the most abstruse Chain Reaction releases - think a rusted and sunken Dynamo or Porter Ricks in radioactive waters - and comes primed in artwork by Raime that perfectly highlights the music’s strange, semi-organic nature and austere yet psychoactive allure.
Incendiary, 180BPM hyper-steppers rhythms riddled with razing drones and field recordings for Nyege Nyege Tapes, the debut electronic music productions by “Punk ethnomusicologist” Judgitzu, inspired by time spent in Tanzania and highly compatible with Singeli, hardcore techno, gabber...
Roving punk ethnomusicologist Julien Hairon aka Judgitzu delivers fire on Uganda’s Nyege Nyege Tapes with two cuts of high tension, cheek-pulling club G-force. After spending the past 6 years recording soundscapes and traditional musicians across Asia, Oceania and Africa, and releasing them on his Les Cartes Postales Sonores label (along with reissues of tape and CD discoveries on his petPets label), Judgitzu finally presents his first electronic music productions as the result of his residency in Tanzania since 2017. Clearly inspired by the domestic, hyperlocal sound of Singeli, but more stripped and tipped towards minimalism, the results have been lighting up clubs, back-rooms and festivals from Kampala to Salford and beyond over summer 2019, and are only set to go further with this full release.
‘Umeme’ is grade A rocket fuel that runs at 180bpm for nearly 7 minutes of unyielding, panic-inducing stabs and undulating bass rhythms. It starts up ferociously and does not let go until the end, sustaining a state of high alertness that will leave even the most reckless ravers breathless but ready to go again. ‘Kelele’ follows with equal regard for your heart rate and rave health, but this time by stealth and less in-your-face, filtering the drums with field recordings of revving motorbikes and squawking animals in an ebb and flow of pilly rushes and tropical hyperdelia.
Hands-down it’s one of 2019’s deadliest dancefloor sessions and hopefully the start of many to come from an exemplary new producer.
‘Mechanosphere’ is Cam Deas’ abstract yet poignant 2nd album exploring ideas of rhythmic dissonance and head-spinning proprioceptions for The Death of Rave. Following directly from his cultishly-acclaimed mini-LP ‘Time Exercises’, which was surprisingly deployed in Richie Hawtin’s recent ‘CLOSE COMBINED - LIVE’ mix and hailed as “Holy F#ck-What is This?!?” by Brainwashed, his new album applies rich polychromatic colour to his signature rhythmic constructions with a greatly heightened emotive traction and broader appeal while only going deeper on his radical ideas about the fundamentals of sound and composition. Big recommendation if you're into Autechre, Xenakis, Ligeti, Rashad Becker.
Using a computer-controlled modular synth, Cam takes the simple idea of layering pitches in multiple tempi to Nth degrees, resulting in a sensational and warped sense of temporality and gravity-defying physics. Effectively placing pitch on a scale in a similar way to Conlon Nancarrow’s player-piano programming or even Ligeti’s famous metronome experiment, Cam explores solutions to the problem of grid-locked linearity, or at least perceptions of it, by effectively ripping the rug from under electronic music convention to make his music appear as though in perpetual freefall, or a process of omnidirectional contraction/expansion that never quite resolves - always the same, ever different.
In ‘Mechanosphere’ listeners effectively navigate through the music by a loose means of pattern recognition, picking out accentuated kicks and hits that pierce thru Cam’s incredibly dense swells of endless metallic tone. But where his ‘Time Exercises’ LP was unreservedly abstract and emotive in an alien sense, his follow-up practically sounds as though aliens have developed a form of 3D midi folk-jazz or court music for bacchanals and spiritual reasons.
From the vertiginous scale of ‘Ascension’, thru the the jaw-dropping hyper stepper ’Slip’, to the controlled chaos of ‘Reflect, Deflect’, and ultimately the deeply solemn yet discordantly lush finale of shearing metallic pitches in ’Solitude’, Cam offers an often shocking and ever fascinating grasp of electronic music’s potential to relate hard-to-communicate but intuitively felt ideas to the body and emotions. It’s a sober but incredibly wondrous sound, and only confirms that Cam’s seismic stylistic transition this decade from preeminent, post-Takoma 12-string guitar player to visionary synthesist was certainly worthwhile.
Rescued and restored from rediscovered original 1/4” analogue tapes in the loft, "Still Strange” is a second volume of previously unheard early 70’s post punk/kosmische and early ‘90s ambient/drone gems by the largely unknown Orior, remastered and issued by DDS. It’s a bewildering, engrossing set that comes highly recommended if you’re into anything from Deathprod to John Bender, Joy Division to Boards of Canada and Vangelis.
‘Still Strange’ reaches back into the prized tape archive of Jeff Sharp aka Orior following the revelatory discovery of his overlooked early ‘80s gems on 2016’s ‘ Strange Beauty’ collection, as coaxed out by DDS dons Miles Whittaker and Sean Canty. Huddling another sublime, dusty set of analogue tapes freshly baked and remarkably well-restored by Andy Popplewell, ’Still Strange’ contains delirious flashbacks to the era 1979-1983 surrounding and even pre-dating ‘Strange Dreams’, and then shifts focus to recordings that Orior made around the early ‘90s.
As with its predecessor, Orior is not alone on the material in ’Still Strange.’ From those feted early tapes we find Phil Hollis returning to lend jagged guitar on the drum machine sizzle of ‘Feels Like Summer’, while the mysterious synth player New Cross John makes a vital contribution to ‘Invium.’ Along with the aching synth sigh of ‘To Return’, which pre-dated all of these recordings, and the nine minutes of haunting bedsit strums in ‘Larbico Alt Mix’ which came from the first batch, the early material is all worth the price of admission alone for seekers of lost synth treasures - really this stuff is just so good.
However, the album’s other six tracks expand knowledge of Orior’s work into the ‘90s and contain some extraordinary material. Salvaged from further tapes found in various states of degradation, and subsequently mixed down between London’s Goldsmiths College and Miles Whittaker’s Whalley Range attic (and elsewhere), they are decidedly more blunt and gloaming, especially in the Deathprod-like ‘Under Shadow’ and the near static witching- hour ambience of ‘Endless’, while shorter vignettes such as ‘Unknown Future’, ‘Gothic’ and ‘Another’ point to pre-echoes of BoC’s crepuscular scapes and even Bladerunner-esque sci-fi noir soundscapes.
Gutted that carnival is another year away? Get right on this unmissable compilation of digi Soca-Dub and plugged-in Calypso from the experts at Soundway Records, coming off like the missing link between South African bubblegum and Kwaito, Latin Freestyle, Surinamese bubblers, Italo-funk, Zouk, rare groove boogie, US/Euro-house, and digi-dub proper. Too many highlights to mention!!!
“Compiled by Soundway Records founder Miles Cleret, along with DJ and collector Jeremy Spellacey, Body Beat comprises 17 obscure Soca B-side versions, dubs, instrumentals and edits as well as vocal tracks influenced by disco, boogie, house-music, soul and the more conscious lyrics of roots reggae.
Owing as much to New York, Toronto and London as to the Caribbean cities of Port of Spain, Bridgetown and Kingstown, the compilation traces the genre from its explosion in the late 1970s right up to the period just before contemporary soca became established around the end of the 1990s.
Filled with up-tempo tracks from start to finish, the lead single of the compilation "I Want Your Love" by Peter Britto is a soca-house number which originally came out on NYC-based label Hometown Music. Soca was originally a re-invention of Calypso music; a genre that in the 1970s was fast becoming usurped around the Caribbean by Jamaican reggae and American soul, funk and later disco.
Lead single "I Want Your Love" is the most recent track on the compilation, being released in 1998, and features the recognisable soca synth beat, along with Caribbean steel drums and horns - but with the obvious influence of New York's booming house scene, making it an ultimate crossover track for club dancefloors and carnivals alike.”
Parisian rogue Qoso goes proper link-headed for TTT with a wicked future-primitive take on techno, bass and psycho-jukin’ styles
Making up for a three year hiatus since his debut LP, the former label mate of Low Jack on Paradisum comes less noisy and more up-for-it with ‘Morning Routine’, stretching out from the grumpy, wrong-side-of-bed techno styles in the title tune, replete with nagging alarm bell peal, thru the grungy halfstep lurch and butt-scratch styles of ‘Sweatpants’, to his queasy bowel movements in ‘Tabi Shoes’, and the nervy, caffeinated fillip of ‘Exfolio.’
Cut ’n paste japesters Negativland cock another snook at contemporary culture, speaking thru myriad, sampled-voices questioning the state of play over a selection of skronky, organically technoid grooves and semi-pop songs. Fans of Herbert, People Like Us, Porest or advanced daftness need apply
“What is True False? It's more than two things, and as of 2019 it's also a new album by the semi-legendary multimedia collective known as Negativland. True False is a full length return to all original music that you could almost mistake for actual songs -- albeit ones sung by dozens of sampled vocalists who have never met -- and is a prime example of what we used to call experimental music, but now just call social media. It's your own inescapable subjectivity made catchy as we witness the entrenched political beliefs of left and right cleanly switching sides in under one generation. It’s the first Negativland album to come with a lyric sheet, and a reminder that we need more than just one memory before we can safely tell anyone else that this is not normal.
Is this a concept album? The first of two interconnected double albums, True False musically tackles concerns that will be familiar to any surviving fans of the band: our nervous systems, our realities, and the evolving forms of media that inevitably insert themselves between the two. A series of seemingly random topics are slowly woven together: shootings, bees, the right's rules for radicals, climate control, dogs pretending to be children, the oil we eat, and the right of every American to believe whatever they want to believe -- your brain's ear lets nothing remain entirely random. It’s not the content, it's the edit that shows us what we all know to be true, and it's the things that one is most tempted to enjoy as harmless entertainment that often turn out to be living animals. Splicing together Occupy mic checks with US militia rallies, FOX news hosts with ecoterrorists, and your own sanity with the home viewing habits of Negativland's lead vocalist, the Weatherman, when you put the word True next to the word False, a broader reality reveals itself.”
First new trax from Bok Bok since 2017. A decade on from his debut, the London grime mutant returns deeper and a little bit more serious on his Night Slugs label
Since 2009, and alongside L-Vis 1990, Bok Bok’s slicing sidespin on the dancefloor has inarguably set the template for a ruck of mutations between UK and US club styles. With ‘Pure Shores’ he still comes rugged and rude but with a more elegant sense of reserve that’s less cork-popping and more slinky, introspective (but not chin stroking!).
‘Pure Shores (HXC Mix)’ sees him dice with simmering Jersey breaks, sashaying strings and shimmering synths/vocoders in a way that comes off like a more frayed Chris & Cosey jamming with Dolo Percussion. Going a touch deeper, the track’s ‘OG Mix’ seems to drop the tempo a little and loosen up with woozy limbed swang and shuffle.
DJ Nigga Fox’s most substantial release to date sets a new benchmark for Lisbon’s revered underground ghetto dance scene, pulling traces of jazz, acid house and cinematic sound design into his deeply rugged and exceptional sound with effortless style...🔥🔥🔥
Highlighted as one to watch in Lisbon’s virulent club scenius since appearing on the ‘Bazzerk’ compilation which introduced many ravers to Kuduro in 2011, DJ Nigga Fox’s productions have become acclaimed for a mix of abstract weirdness and proper dancefloor impact that’s hit ‘floors hard across the world. Following 2018’s ‘Crânio’ 12” for Warp and remix of How To Dress Well, he now returns to the Príncipe powerhouse, home of his first trio of 12”s, with a definitive statement that arguably ranks among this year’s strongest rhythm-driven LP's.
In a way that mirrors UK dance music’s transition in the ‘90s from hardcore jungle to garage and D&B, or in the ‘00s from grime and dubstep to more “sophisticated” styles of deep house, broken beats and UK Funky, Nigga Fox’s album-length EP appears more layered, plusher and, ultimately “musical” when compared to his earlier work. Using sparing but knowing dabs of noirish jazz keys, live-sounding double bass and expressively off-kilter synth tones, he binds rippling, colourful flesh to his flexing, bare bones drums in a way that boldly blazes a trail for his local scene without ever losing sight of what makes it so thrilling in the first place.
This inch-tight refinement of Nigga Fox’s already distinctive style is characterised by the twisting, unpredictable arrangement of ’Sub Zero’, where stealthy waves of swingeing drums and vintage horror movie tropes are ramped with feral electro scuzz to killer effect, or equally in the freaky tension between lissom jazz chords, jaws-harp buzz and wild acid lines on ‘Faz A Minha’, and the way he meshes roiling drums with complex, asymmetric electronics on ‘Vicio’, or simply forges his own, outstanding form of slow, psychedelic dance-pop replete with his own, Quasimodo-Styled vocal in the shocking closer ‘5 Violinos.’
By any measure ‘Cartas Na Manga’ is a singular release that stands miles out from the crowd. Its only comparisons really lie within Lisbon’s club scene, with the likes of DJ Firmeza, Marfox or Nervoso. As such it’s best taken as symptomatic of their collective scenius, and is keenly ready to be mixed with music from all corners of the Black Atlantic.
Part of BBE Music’s ‘Tabansi Gold’ African reissue series, Eric Kol’s rare boogie / disco album ‘Today’ epitomises Nigeria on the musical move in the early 80s. This is the first fully authorised vinyl reissue of a boogie classic that almost never appears for sale, even on eBay, but takes pride of place on every seasoned Nigerian vinyl junkie’s ‘want’ lists.
"With the slow but relentless shrinkage of old-school musical talent and withdrawal of international record company financing following the Biafran war as well as changing tastes, both in Yoruba as well as Igbo and other communities, consumers wanted a home-grown version of what they could hear on American and European airwaves.
Enter seasoned soulful vocalist Eric Kol, multi-instrumentalist and all-round arranging talent Jake Sollo (ex Funkees, Osibisa, etc.) and Lagos studio pioneer Chief Tabansi, plus crew. Jake Sollo’s synth-boogie magic can be heard to best effect on ‘Rain In My Heart’ and ‘You’re My Solution’ (a big local radio hit back then). Meanwhile, the ‘strings’n’things’ disco vibe is resplendent in ‘the opener ‘Let Your love Rule My World’, whilst ‘I’ll Sing A Song’ deepens the tempo with a soulful ballad arrangement. "
Stones Throw tease out the good stuff from Lee Scratch Perry with a selection of sturdy and psychedelic work by the legendary nutter, including lush dubs! Working with Peaking Lights’ Aaron Coyes and Argentinian dubber Ivan Diaz Mathe seems to have brought the best out of living legend Lee “Scratch” Perry on one of his strongest 12”s in years, or at least since he last worked with Adrian Sherwood.
Two originals land on the A-side, stretching out in a stepping disco 12” dub style with the deliquescent chrome tones and lilting flutes of ‘Life Of The Plants’ placed next to the mystic momentum and heady, eastern-facing melodies of ‘No Age’, which both take up to 10 minutes to cast their spell.
The balmier sway of ‘Magik’ goes on like a lost meeting with Naffi Sandwich on the flip, beside a killer ‘No Age Dub’ replacing most of the vocal with spongiform layers of lysergic FX.
Greek-in-London, Tasos Stamou forges a beguiling and charmingly playful crossroads of traditional tunes and electronic abstraction in his 2nd side (in 2 years) for the wonderful Discrepant label. A massive tip to fans of Dariush Dolat-Shahi and Sote!
Riffing on ideas of provenance, ontology, and the nature of ancient and modern languages, Stamou’s ‘D-A-D’ is a fascinating exploration of roots and futurism written between 2015-2018 in homage to his father. As such, it’s wittily titled ‘D-A-D’ as a nod to both the commonly-used tuning of Greek Bouzoukis and his pops, and incorporates the instrument in a range of ways, from mesmerising acoustic recordings to electronically aided abstractions that recall Dariush Dolat-Shahi’s masterful mix of Sehtar and modular synth for Folkways in 1985 (as reissued by Dead-Cert Home Ents in 2015).
Unfolding in two seamless, side-long parts, Stamou is literally and figuratively stripped to the bare essense of what he considers important. Aye, that’s him starkers, clutching a Bouzouki on the back cover and also standing proudly in the buff on the inner sleeve. And they’re canny visual metaphors for the music, which Stamou playfully gathers from a mix of field recordings made at his Uncles’ house parties, in a Thessaloniki thrift shop, and at a “Gipsy clearance service” (whatever that is), and a Greek Orthodox mass, before adding disorienting layers of synthesis and electronic process in order to access and inhabit the recordings with his mischievous/savant spirit.
In his hands, the everyday and prosaic become illuminated as supernatural, and ancient tunings and tunes are subtly reanimated with extra, irisdescent, inter-dimensional layers. The mix of realism and hyperrealism is just deeply intoxicating to our ears, and perhaps most subtly and vitally revealing his musical sense of self as a product of environment and generative nurture.
Hugely surprising turn of angular, playful algorithmic experiments by composer Ryan Teague, best known for his sublime ambient minimalism, but here upending expectations with a very canny jazz-fusion winks to 0PN and the kind of mutated film music made by Maxwell Sterling
“Bristol–based composer Ryan Teague presents Recursive Iterations, a suite of seven extended compositions that incorporate cinematic arrangements and cutting edge sound design within an algorithmic framework to striking effect. The resulting pieces combine elements of neo-classical, post– rave, and soundtrack music, to create an utterly compelling contemporary soundscape balanced by a calculated, almost architectural use of space and restraint.
The musical structure is derived from a custom–written algorithmic system that sequences harmonic and rhythmic events in ever–shifting patterns. Hyperreal electro-acoustic phrases and digitally synthesised fragments come and go in continual rotation, re-framed and re-contextualised by their proximity to other events in the sequence as the compositions evolve. The effect evokes a minimalist bricolage, hypnotic and kaleidoscopic in nature, and calls to mind artists such as Oneohtrix Point Never, The Haxan Cloak and Ital Tek.
At the same time, a core theme running throughout the record is a masterly use of absence and inertia influenced by the Japanese concepts of ma (間 – negative space) and the enso (円相 – circle), which serve to complement and counterbalance the diverse sound palette. By integrating these qualities, tension is built and resolved in equal measure, creating a dramatic sonic impression where fragmented rhythms, dynamic textures, subsonic basses, and delicate ambience all coexist.
Recursive Iterations is a bold, powerful, and unique work that pushes sonic boundaries whilst revealing more with each listen.”
Grizzly deep jackers from Rodion Stankevich on Gost Zvuk, the premier Russian powerhouse for new electronic music
Only available on 12” in 2016, now on digital formats, ‘Ada’ works up the strident title cut with wood-fired kicks, warm chords and frazzled lead, whereas ’21 gm’ spools off into scuzzy dub house and ‘Speed of Comprehension’ comms off like a ruddier Lawrence workout.
Top dogs Justin Broadrick & Kevin Martin meet Moor Mother to revive their Zonal alias some 20 years after the project’s CDr demo album first appeared on Avalanche.
Essentially conceived in 2000 as a follow-up to Techno Animal, the Zonal beast is now reawakened as a joint vessel for Broadrick & Martin’s grouchiest drones and bass with added vocals by an indomitable Moor Mother, who is right on the cusp of dropping her best work in the ferocious ‘Analog Fluids of Sonic Black Holes.’ In combination they amount to a proper force of nature, albeit a super slow and cantankerous one, creeping up from the peripheries to dominate the senses with their choking style of water-logged dub noise.
Broadrick & Martin’s scorched ground is now more dense and sodden, spreading out to uncertain ground which Moor Mother holds with glaring declarations of her signature blues and quantum futurism for the first half of the record. The 2nd half is then given to elemental instrumentals with heavy duty results, seeing Broadrick & Martin throw their full, combined weight in six speaker worrying trudgers laced with scathing levels of distortion.
We hardly need to stress that this is like manna for all red-eyed types who’ve never gotten over that late ‘90s illbient phase, as well as those who’ve picked up on its spirit thru contemporary echoes in Kevin Martin’s hybrids of industrial music, experimental dub, and cyberpunk dread as King Midas Sound and The Bug, or Broadrick’s JK Flesh and Jesu outings.
Instant classic solo debut of smoky vocal introspection and 808 heartbeats by Jonnine Standish (HTRK), with guest input by Nigel Yang (HTRK), Conrad Standish (CS + Kreme), and Mona Ruijs. Properly stunning EP - massive recommendation if yr feeling Chromatics, Leslie Winer, HTRK...
Resoundingly adored for her ice cool poise and penetrative lyrics in noirish dub-pop duo HTRK, Jonnine's music has long provided a timeless, classic antithesis to modernity. She is a rare, anachronistic spirit within contemporary music and brings a signature sense of restraint and class to ’Super Natural’; her debut suite of solo recordings channelling the sass of Twin Peaks’ Audrey Horne as much as Leslie Winer’s elegant, druggy proto trip pop.
Recorded between Peru, Hawaii, and Jonnine’s native Australia, ‘Super Natural’ unfolds a succinct grimoir where she acts as liminal interpreter for immanent devotions that divine a poetic and romantic sense of mystery from the everyday. Encouraged by her therapist, who urged her to explore a solo identity for years, she here gives a confessional voice to ambiguous inner guides that have helped to prompt some of her best songwriting, as found here and on HTRK’s recent ‘Venus In Leo’ album.
In the deliciously woozy low pressure system of her opener ‘You’re Wanting It To Go This Way’, those spirits instinctively lead her down a path of self-reflective nihilism accentuated with curdled guitar and a thumping 808 heartbeat, before her partner and collaborator Conrad Standish (CS + Kreme) supplies backing vocals that tenderly accentuate the knackered tristesse of ‘I Don’t Seem Myself Tonight’, which is also buoyed by Mona Ruijs’ subtly plangent gong tones.
But it’s HTRK’s other half Nigel Yang that most distinctively underlines Jonnine’s mantric lyrics about the push/push of love in ‘You Can Leave The Vampires’ with patented, pensile sensuality in a manner we've honestly become totally obsessed with, before the EP shores up with ‘Scorpio Rises Again’, an instant classic framing Jonnine against stalking, plucked bass, finger-clicks and whistle by Conrad Standish, a denouement surely worthy of a closing scene in the next Lynch.
In the 1950s, a few young men, known as Badius, embarked on a nearly 2,500-mile (4000 km) journey from the northern rural interior of Cabo Verde’s Santiago Island to the island of São Tomé off the Atlantic coast of central Africa. Incredibly, they made the arduous journey not to earn a better living or send money back home — but to simply buy an accordion, locally known as a gaita. They would work years in harsh conditions to earn enough to buy the instrument and a few more years to buy a ticket back to Santiago.
"Returning home, they slowly formed an elite class of self-taught gaita players who achieved a status similar to the griots of West Africa: venerated: wise elderly men archiving Badiu history in their diatonic button accordions. The gaita became the maximum expression of Badiu identity, one defined over centuries by a persistent culture of revolt and rebellion against domination and injustice. In a land lacking electricity, the acoustic instrument is king.
The gaita masters marriage to a hard-won instrument gave birth to raw Funaná music, undoubtedly a trans-Atlantic sibling of Colombian Cumbia. Hypnotic notes on aged accordions, tuned and flavored in ways found nowhere but Santiago, became infused with inviting baselines, raucous rhythms, blade-on-iron percussion and the bubbling lyricism and lament of the island’s finest ambassadors, their lyrics spoke of the trials of daily scarcity and playfully crafted whole metaphors within songs.
Their music was outlawed under colonial rule, with strict curfews monitored by the ever watchful eye of Portugal’s secret police to prevent gatherings since Funaná was dance music meant for large crowds, centered on one of the many star gaiteiros. Yet, naturally defiant, Badiu Funaná continued unfazed at the risk of arrest, detention, or worse.
Funaná remained an isolated style, largely an affair for Badiu ears only. But in 1991, Cabo Verde had its first democratic election. Elections are tricky business anywhere, let alone a state divided into several islands, each needing a tailored approach. Political parties found a novel solution, perhaps even a model, to successfully get their campaign messages out to large audiences with ears wide open: music festivals. Until today, Cabo Verde plays host to dozens of festivals a year, some sponsored by the government.
The music of the proud African interior became the soundtrack of choice at campaign rallies and music festivals. It drew large crowds, engaged the youth, kept people content, and undoubtedly won votes, setting the stage for traditional Funaná’s entry into the mainstream. But professional production and recording remained elusive.
Younger artists empowered by the politically-backed proliferation of Funaná in the early ‘90s began traveling inland to learn the trade secrets from the gaita griots, taking up the once maligned artform to counter what they saw as global pop sounds diluting Cabo Verdean output and preventing genuine local music from competing on the airwaves.
Another revolt was afoot, and in 1997, an “earthquake shook the country,” a Cabo Verdean newspaper wrote, when a group of youths, calling themselves Ferro Gaita, “dared to make a disc based on the gaita, ferrinho and bass guitar.” That best-selling first album -- 40,000 copies in a country of just 400,000 -- changed the entire trajectory of the country’s music.
Ferro Gaita’s success caught the attention of affluent producers based in Cabo Verde’s large European diaspora, namely Rotterdam. Widespread sentiment was to honor the old gaita masters from the small villages of Santiago by commercially publishing their work for the very first time, giving what was once hidden the bigger stage it deserved.
This compilation curates eight tracks from a short period in the late ‘90s when cherished pioneers, who risked everything to give their proud culture a sound, were finally put in recording studios; an album in itself a revolt in favor of the music of the most marginalized and once deliberately silenced."
Crest-swelling, crepuscular synth-pop with a strong hint of IDIB-esque ‘80s nostalgia - great stuff once again from Geographic North.
“Sandy is a Brooklyn-based trio comprised of Samantha Pathe (synths/vocals), Stephen Pathe (drum machines/samples), and Jeff Carter (synths/vocals). The trio arose from the devastation wrecked by Hurricane Sandy throughout the Jersey Shore in 2012. After the storm destroyed the house Jeff was living in and left him stranded, Stephen offered Jeff a room in his Manasquan, NJ house. Under the same roof, under unfortunate circumstances, the pair naturally started playing music together. They soon brought in Stephen’s sister Samantha to play and write music with them and Sandy – the band – was born.
Traces – the group’s first release since its self-titled debut on Night People in 2014 – is a work of duality. The band’s layered synths and beats build a richly woven tapestry of seemingly disparate and opposing forces that forge new ground in electronic music. The songs are both ambient and anthemic. And yet, they are anthems with restraint, always pulling back just before entirely breaking through the carefully composed tension. The lyrics are both mournful and hopeful, a binary that is embodied in the music itself.
Dreamy, overlapping synth parts wash over you while the songs take twists and turns that command your attention and get your foot tapping, if not your body moving. Specters and spirits abound, as drums appear and later disappear out of nowhere like an apparition, and haunting synth lines sound like they’ve been ripped out of a score to an eerie sci-fi film of your imagination. By Traces’ end, you feel like you’ve experienced something – something cohesive and whole, carefully built within the fabric of these four songs, as if Sandy has told the story they wanted to tell in the amount of time it took to tell it.”
Distracting us from another play of Shygirl’s ‘BB’, US rapper and cultural figure Brooke Candy has our attention on a debut album dripping with dutty bars and club-ready production
Revolving guest spots by Charli XCX, Iggy Azalea, Violet Chachki, Erika Jayne, Rico Nasty and Aquaria, the album stages Brooke Candy - a former stripper, daughter of the former CFO for Hustler magazine, and tourmate of Charli XCX - with bolshy, up-to-the-second production by Nuxxe boss Sega Bodega and Boys Noize, among others. Depending your level of prudence, this album will either push all your buttons or send you running.
We’re naturally snagged on her cracking use of Lords Of Acid’s new beat classique ‘I Sit on Acid’ in her ‘FMU’ banger, and also the absolute smut of ‘XXXTC’ with Charli XCX; the SOPHIE-meets-Lil Kim flex of ‘R.I.P.’; and the proper strip club banger ‘Cum’ (although we just got a flash of Alan Partridge dancing to this in his peephole sweater, and can’t scrub the image now).
Low-key lysergic ambient pop gestures from London’s Paper Dollhouse duo, riffing on nature, domesticity, ontological rumination, and sonic deep topography in a series of fractured studio snapshots, psychedelic spikes and lush, mercurial synth strokes
“The Walled Garden is the follow up to 2018’s neon-lit ambient pop album The Sky Looks Different Here, and its sister release All The Colours Align, to form the final part of a triptych set across the plains of rural Suffolk and London. Inspired by surrounding nature, domestic routine, Maggi Payne and Henning Christiansen’s The Executioner, the release was recorded on a portable 24-track recorder and holds up a mirror to autumn the dawn and early hours, an exploration of synthesiser experiments, field recordings and snapshots of conversations that quietly define areas of personal growth, patience, curiosity, understanding and freedom.
Where the group's previous album explored an audio journey from the rain-soaked streets of East London out to the now fast eroding landscapes of Suffolk, The Walled Garden captures the after-hours ambience that falls across Astrud's childhood surroundings within the ancient London borough of Southwark, an area with a rich but hidden music landscape home to the outer edges explorations of Coil and Derek Jarman. While field recordings from Nina's studio in the rural yet equally meditative oceanside pepper the long-form synth transitions and blurred recollections of conversations and early morning reflections.
The Walled Garden invites you to take a perhaps the furthest step yet into Paper Dollhouse's unique soundworld. While the final track, a lullaby that seems to disappear as each second unravels, tells us that 'This Is Not The End', the music points to brand new directions on the horizon, through the garden and onto the path ahead.”
Black Marble nimbly bind new wave and indie-pop influences on their first album for Sacred Bones. Fans of Animal Collective, John Maus, Depeche Mode need apply
“When Chris Stewart set out to write and record his third album as Black Marble, he was newly living in Los Angeles, fresh off a move from New York. The environment brought much excitement and possibility, but the distance had proved too much for the car he brought along. With it out of commission indefinitely, he purchased a bus pass and planned his daily commute from his Echo Park apartment to his downtown studio, where he began to shape Bigger Than Life. The route wound all through the city, from the small local shops of Echo Park to the rising glass of the business district, to the desperation of Skid Row. The hurried energy of the environment provided a backdrop for the daily trip. When Stewart finally arrived at his studio, he’d look through his window at the mountains and the sky, seeing the beauty that makes L.A. unique — the same beauty his fellow commuters, some pushed to the edge of human endurance, had seen. That was the headspace he was in when he began to map out the syncopated drums and staccato arpeggiation of Bigger Than Life, an ode to his new condition and a shimmering synth-pop response to its cacophony.
“The album comes out of seeing and experiencing a lot of turmoil but wanting to create something positive out of it,” Stewart explains. “I wanted to take a less selfish approach on this record. Maybe I’m just getting older, but that approach starts to feel a little self-indulgent. Like, ‘Oh, look at me I’m so complicated, I get that life isn’t fair,’ It’s like, yeah, so does everyone. So with this record, it’s less about how I see things and more about the way things just are. Seeing myself as a part of a lineage of people trying to do a little something instead of trying to create a platform for myself individually.”
As with every Black Marble album, Stewart recorded, produced, and played everything you hear on Bigger Than Life using entirely analog gear, though the process was new. This time around, he wrote everything on his MPC and sequenced it live to his synths — only using the computer to record, not to create. “I try new approaches every time, which helps me stay engaged but also its kind of a trick I play on the creative side of my brain,” Stewart says. “Keeping one side of my mind busy on organizational creativity I think frees up the other side where the inspirational creativity comes from.””
Kepla frames his amorphous electronic noise collages in terms of myths and dreams on an excellent longform debut for Alien Jams.
“Yarn etches into patina Until each fibre thins, rusts. Kepla's debut full-length, and his first release for Alien Jams, is an album of two contrasting approaches to collage-making. Derived entirely from field recordings and salvaged audio collected from online sample libraries, Within The Gaze, A Shadhavar is an impressionistic statement inspired by narratives of alienation and ruin.
The title itself refers to the mythical creature Shadhavar, "whose horn of hollow branches sounded sweetness or discord depending on the direction of the wind." The album's two long-form pieces - “The Angel Is You” and “Latent Mirror” - are opposites on multiple levels. The opening track's cacophonous, full-spectrum sound is contrasted by the broad brushstrokes and the patient breaths on the second piece, and their themes - of “the ongoingness of life” and “a sense of resignation”, respectively - couldn't be more different. As a whole, they represent an astute aural meditation on perception, reality and our sense of belonging.”
Modern electronic music pioneer Peter Rehberg rubs a hybrid analogue/digital array the right/wrong way for the visceral thrills of ‘Get On’, his 4th solo album as Pita.
Landing squarely 20 years since ‘Get Out’, Pita’s influential solo debut LP proper, the 2018/19 recordings of ‘Get On’ see him perceptively inhabit and explore the uncanny valley between analog chaos and binary extremity with the same adventurous and inquisitive spirit that has informed all of his work: whether that’s solo; in collaboration with everyone from Mika Vainio, Charlemagne Palestine, Fennesz and Stephen O’Malley; thru to his improvised modular live sets, or his day job running the mighty Editions Mego label.
While Pita arguably made his name as a “laptop” musician in the mid ‘90s, pushing his machines to breaking point alongside the likes of Farmer’s Manual and Russell Haswell, he now favours a more tactile modular set-up that gives him more haptic freedom and uncertainty for live performance, which he has smartly incorporated into ‘Get On.’ The five tracks still bristle with caustic tang in the way we’ve come to expect and adore, but there’s now a nervier jumpiness and live-wire tension to his creations that feels as though he’s getting better to grips with a sort of cyborgian syntax and sonic language.
As always with Pita releases, rhythm is key. It’s exhilaratingly unstable in the combustible fireworks ‘AMFM’ and the tendon-sparking syncopation of ‘Frozen Jumper’, which soon enough introduces the other vital element of his sound; sheer caustic noise. As one of the artists to refine the idea of “noise” at its widest parameters, the glorious tonal abstraction of his following album centrepiece ‘Two Top Five’ can heard as one of 2019’s definitive noise statements, while ‘Aching Moth Pool’ is also one of the year’s most compelling expositions of rhythmic noise. However, if you really want to know where his head is at, the 15 minute ‘Motivation’ yields a transfixing, hallucination of spaces beyond common conception that evince the fact Pita is surely one of the visionary composers of his generation.
Psychedelic sprite Ka Baird chases her criminally slept-on ‘Sapropelic Pycnic’ LP with a deeply attractive follow-up of lysergic visions for RVNG Intl., paying extra focus to the rhythmic tics that made her solo debut LP such a surprising and enduring highlight of our listening pile.
Perhaps better known in her folksier guise of Sapropelic Pycnic (yep, same name as her solo debut album), Kathleen Baird has found an extraordinary musical voice under her birth name. Seamlessly combining instrumental touches of woodwind, vocals and percussion with supple electronic FX, she effortlessly prods the pineal with sparingly pointillist jabs arranged in crisp and cryptically geometric patterns that will be recognised by all psychonauts and card carrying trippers for their worldly capacity to hypnotise, enchant and transport listeners to *that* other place.
Fans of everyone from Breadwoman to Joan La Barbera and Decimus need to check this one, pronto!
New on Music From Memory: an expanded, first-time reissue of Ruins’ rare experimental ’84 salvo, corkscrewing away from new wave pop into sci-fi abstraction, knackered drum machines and microtonal drone. Original copies trade for stupid money - this one has a bonus 7” of shimmering gems to sweeten the deal!
“Piergiuseppe Ciranna & Alessandro Pizzin first conceived the "Sound and Image Research" series back in the early '80s, when they were involved in various multimedia projects in art galleries and unique exhibition spaces across Italy. In 1984 Ciranna and Pizzin came across the works of Italian artist Luigi Viola, a painter whose work was already known internationally and who was active in galleries worldwide. When the opportunity arose for the three to come together it quite naturally led to the creation and production of the album Marea/Tide; a record not only inspired by the work of Viola but evolved in symbiosis. It was to be the first and sadly the only volume in Ruins’ “Sound Image Series”.
‘Marea/Tide’ was released in early autumn 1984 and showcased on November 24th of the same year at an exciting one-off event, alongside exhibitions of the works and listening sessions at the well-known Villa Sagredo in Venice. Further showcases were performed at galleries across Italy by the duo alongside Viola’s art. The records, for the large part, being available solely at those events.
The first (and only) print of the album was limited to 600 copies, 200 of which also included an original screen-print of two different works by Luigi Viola; ‘Cuore veneziano/Venetian Heart’, numbered and signed by the artist. Due to poor management and disagreements with the label which produced the record, 300 copies were held for many years in storage and then later sadly destroyed, and ‘Marea/Tide’ disappeared almost completely without trace.”
The quietly visceral grip of ’Epistasis’ forms the keenly awaited follow-up to Maria W Horn’s ‘Kontrapoetik’, one of the most striking LPs of 2018. Rising to acclaim in recent years as part of a wave of artists exploring organ music in proximity to electro-acoustic techniques (namely her Hästköttskandalen bandmates Ellen Arkbro and Kali Malone), Sweden’s Maria W Horn has distinguished her compositions with a refined taste for black metal and minimalism.
On her follow-up to 'Kontrapoetik', Maria strips it all right back to keys and electronics in ‘Epistasis’ with haunting results that get right under the skin with a slow burning grasp of dramaturgy and precise tintinnabulation that leaves us mesmerised. Working with a 9-piece ensemble of strings and organ, Maria draws specifically on the sound and harmonic structures of early ‘90s doom and blvck metal in her majestic title track, where she pairs live string quartet with an electronically adapted counterpart to stately, anthemic effect, while ‘Konvektion’ takes a more low-key route to higher frequencies directly inspired by Arvo Pärt, leaving a glistening ringing in the ears as the result of two organists meeting in mid-air, neatly described by her label as “[combining] the subtle gravity of Phill Niblick’s work with the theatricality of Anna von Hausswolff’s organ pieces.”
The other half of the album is taken by two parts of ‘Interlocked Cycles’, which perhaps see the biggest shift from her previous records. Between the nightfall-on-the-plateau feel of Part 1’s pairing of keys and tidal subbass oscillations, and the midnight fugue of Part 2, which sounds like a corpse-painted Sarah Davachi piece, Maria hauntingly plays her part in evolving the emergent scenius of new, minimalist composition.
Previously unreleased, scintillating free jazz from François Tusques’ archive circa 1969-71, documenting a pivotal period of creativity in post ’68 Paris around the time of Tusques’ classic sides for Shandar. The last track ‘Tout Le Pouvoir Au Peuple!’ is a cranky percussive belter!
“After "Le Nouveau Jazz" was released in early 1967, I worked for two years with Bernard Vitet, Beb Guérin and a few other friends on a happening loosely based on Lewis Carroll's "The Hunting Of The Snark". There was a strong element of theater to it and we presented it in playhouses, museums, public places, institutions... It never made it to wax and I gave up on the idea soon after when Sunny Murray and Alan Silva showed up in Paris in late 1968. I had meant to upend the conventions of performance with this happening: now I was fully part of a similar revolution, the "New Music", with its very originators.
Nevertheless, the "Snark" adventure was never over, and the bands I co-directed still used the musical themes (and methods) we had developped for the project. The headlines for the performances and the name of the band itself were still lifted from “fantastique fiction” works: for instance we performed as the "Boojum Consort" and used the title of the present LP was used several times at festivals. The music enclosed here is heavily indebted to Free Jazz but also retains various elements of the former happening (for instance I also play saw, marimba and organ and stray away from jazz references). My famous Shandar and "Dazibao" albums are partially made up of the same material and were recorded at the same period/momentum which lasted roughly from the Spring of 1969 to late 1971 when I started to distance myself from free music. The final macabre incarnation of this work was the show "Who Killed Albert Ayler?" whose political content stirred controversy. Gérard Terronès considered recording it, he even advertized it, but again nothing materialized.
We found these recordings in my basement. The old reels and cassettes were unmarked or the cases (and sadly some of the music) damaged by time, water and rats! To the best of my recollections, and from posters and advertising of the events, the artists who took part in the 1969-1971 concerts who make up this record are Ronnie Beer, Joseph Déjean, Claude Delcloo, Earl Freeman, Beckie Friend, Eddy Gaumont, Beb Guérin, Noel McGhie, Jouck Minor, Barre Phillips, Aldo Romano, Alan Silva, Kenneth Terroade, Jacques Thollot and Bernard Vitet. Who, when, where (American Center quite often), exactly, I can't say. Some of them are probably not even featured here. But maybe that's for the best, as we can now focus on the spirit of the times.
Unexpected, and ace, electronic deconstruction and rearrangements of acoustic jazz recordings from Berlin’s Grischa Lichtenberger on the very unjazzy Raster label. Somehow sounds like everyone from Shit & Shine to Squarepusher, Carl Stone and Patten.
“Grischa Lichtenberger's music stands for broken rhythms, for high-density manipulations that emphasize the digital and fractal nature of its working process. A mindset that grew closer to contemporary jazz in recent years. Since free jazz, this genre also sought to overcome musical standards and looked for possibilities of an individual artistic expression. Within this context, the collaboration between Lichtenberger and jazz saxophonist Philipp Gropper as well as the resulting album are documents of this development. It also offers both musicians the opportunity to expand their familiar environment by breaking with expectations. The foundation for Re: phgrp were pieces from the album Consequences by Philipp Gropper's band PHILM which Lichtenberger reinterpreted without giving up their original character. He rather looked for figures, subjects, and reference points in the compositions to reflect and condense them. As Consequences was recorded with all the instruments in one room at the same time (like a classical jazz recording from the 1950s), the extraction of individual instruments was a challenge which Lichtenberger took up with shifts, distortions, and rearrangements of the original temporality of the material. Except for a few synthesizer sounds and an additional piano recording, he remained largely true to the source material, even though the tracks develop their own unique voice throughout the album. Re: phgrp (reworking consequences by philipp gropper's philm) will be released in cooperation with Whyplayjazz in a limited edition of 500 CDs. The cover was screen printed and shows a compositional notation by Grischa Lichtenberger. The album marks the beginning of an encounter between Lichtenberger and Gropper that promises to continue in joint improvisational concert situations and further recordings in the future.”
Mexico City’s keen-eared Umor Rex illuminate Sol Oosel’s physical, emotive style of synthesis for the latest addition to their swelling catalogue of great work by everyone from Kara-Lis Coverdale to Rafael Anton Irisarri.
“Sol Oosel presents an album with a complex mixture of tones and structures, striking a close relation between a sort of devotional music and a trancelike state. Beyond his own specific exploration of the possibilities of electronic modular synthesis, Sol Oosel searches for hacks in different states of consciousness by way of sound.
En allégeance à l'inconnaissable - Une étude en chorégraphie pour le flux d'énergie is meant as a musical aid for visualizing the ability to dance with and manipulate attainable flows of energy. Largely produced using modular synthesizers and the Roland SH-09, Sol Oosel stretches beyond the fields of ambient music, adding a special sense of drama to this psychoactive journey. Each song is built around solid structures and infused with a mystical atmosphere. Harmonically, this album is close to Hans-Joachim Roedelius' early works; it is emotionally positive, informed by pop nuances that are rarely found in this type of ambient music. Sol Oosel also owes to the works of Klaus Schulze; however, while Schulze was concerned with space and made music of the unknown but conceivable cosmos in his mind, Sol Oosel is more interested in Earth and the force that weighs us down in this complex physical reality. His music speculates on the relationships between inner and outer worlds. En allégeance à l'inconnaissable... is a soundscape and a choreographic exercise for relaxation, intentionally disrupted by "Here (Au Bord De L'Univers)", a deconstructive piece covered in multiple layers of repetition, progressive beats and kosmische pulsation which detours from the flow. In a way, it represents the bridge between all these cosmic and earthly energies.
This is Sol Oosel’s debut on Umor Rex. He previously self-released the album Janus, and was member of several bands and projects before focusing in Sol Oosel. He lives in the rural village of Tepoztlán, México, where he works as an artist, performer, sculptor, sonic landscaper, and dancer.”
Michael Gira and an epic caravan of players (Ben Frost, The Necks, Baby Dee, Anna and Maria Von Hausswolff ++) head for the horizon in Swans’ 15th studio album. Gira’s vocals rasp with muzzled ennui, while the music keeps in tow, striking on widescreen themes of big country Americana with typically discerning production.
“SWANS Leaving Meaning is the band’s fifteenth studio album, the follow up to 2016’s The Glowing Man. Written and produced by Michael Gira, the album features contributions from recent and former Swans, members of Angels of Light as well as Anna and Maria von Hausswolff, Ben Frost, The Necks, Baby Dee and Jennifer Gira.
Michael Gira explains, "Leaving Meaning is the first Swans album to be released since I dissolved the lineup of musicians that constituted Swans from 2010 – 2017. Swans is now comprised of a revolving cast of musicians, selected for both their musical and personal character, chosen according to what I intuit best suits the atmosphere in which I’d like to see the songs I’ve written presented. In collaboration with me, the musicians, through their personality, skill and taste, contribute greatly to the arrangement of the material. They're all people whose work I admire and whose company I personally enjoy."
Dread-filled grey area techno incursions by Japan’s Lemna for the Horo empire
Previously appearing as a vocalist on Naibu records, Lemna has more recently forged her own style of murkily fluid grey area techno that dovetails with Horo’s interests in this realm.
One of two sibling 12”s, Lemna’s ‘Retrocausality: A Priori’ spells out her sound in four parts, diffracting a dank negative energy between the viscous bass and cavernous space of ‘Nature of Karma’ and the nagging, monotone techno rolige of ‘Sattva’ on the front, then condensing that bad vibe into the pendulous writhe and clanking buoy sounds of ‘Bardo’ and, ultimately, the pooling in the strange physics of ‘Thusness’ with its percolated bass textures and haphazard, sparking percussion.
Nerve-riding, dread-filled grey area techno incursions by Japan’s Lemna for the Horo empire
‘Retrocausality: A Posteriori’ is the sibling 12” to the ‘Retrocausality: A Priori’ session, and is distinguished by a generally sharper focus on wriggling technoid rhythms over the other 12”s textural, spatial sensibilities.
The A-side gets into gear with foreboding, coruscating drones and smudged guitar riffs underlined by sluggish bass in ’Supervoid’, and soon finds its dancing feet in the hotcoal-stepping gait and wigged-out synth impulses of ‘Flatland’, which recalls Konono No.1 playing in Indonesia, while the B-side’s ‘Platonia’ unravels a knot of supple bass prods in wickedly tumbling asymmetry, and ‘Tesseract’ wraps up with a mighty battery of thrumming EBM arps and needle-point percussion in a highly distinguished style.
"Sleepmoss is a romantic eulogy to autumn and winter. A time for peaceful inner reflection, amidst the backdrop of British woodlands, dramatic skies and "turbulent storms. Finding peace with mental health and being mindful of the beauty in death and endings.”
"'Sleepmoss', the second album from Meemo Comma a.k.a. Brighton-based producer Lara Rix-Martin, is an adventurous, unusual and very contemporary sonic take on the impact of landscape. It’s a kind of storytelling, inspired by the shifting landscapes of her daily walks with her dog on the South Downs.
Discussing her under-the-radar debut album 'Ghost on the Stairs' with Aimee Cliff at The Fader in 2017, she noted how she is “drawn to eerie sounds in my work.” This fascination remains on 'Sleepmoss' but the context has changed from the interior and inwards gaze to a much wider, wilder viewpoint. Lara describes her new record as being “about getting lost in the sumptuous divinity of the dark months in Britain. It is in many ways the opposite reflection of 'Ghost on the Stairs' which was about internal processing of sounds, specifically human speech. The last album was almost an exorcism of issues troubling me but this album is about the glory of solitude and the richness of romance that can be found in nature.”
‘Sleepmoss’ challenges us to rethink our perceptions of the “pastoral” and to look at nature afresh with new eyes. For not only are the landscapes around us an escape: much more lies there, it's this turbulence we need to find peace with, and Sleepmoss grapples with the physicality of the landscape in a fresh and intuitive way.
Rix-Martin notes “Musically, we have never truly embraced rugged landscapes in their full glory and I felt this when I thought about the many different composers over the centuries, their work seemed uptight and far too human in scale. For instance Vaughan Williams had unquestionably beautiful moments in The Lark Ascending, but it's too clean, too controlled. I wanted to channel a take on classical music that was hyper-real, focusing on letting the elements speak to us, not the other way around.”
A visual influence is J.M.W. Turner - “his work with changing light and storms that are raw and expressive.” and the abstract way in which Turner boldly revealed both horror and beauty (some would say “reality”) is reflected in the sonic approach throughout Sleepmoss.
The album’s timeline starts out with summer's end, and the feeling of the air changing. Within this timeline, Rix-Martin describes the drama of her songs as visual stories. “The sounds around us are totally different depending on the season, I always assumed it was to do with the change in water vapour and heat in the air. Summer is much too high pitched and spiky.” To pull out a couple of our favourites, the songs 'Night Rain' and 'Murmur' are “the story of predator and prey, death and life, one fortifying the other while a storm rumbles. The next morning the woods are clear birds sing in the breeze from the night’s storm.”
‘Sleepmoss’ captures not only a unique perspective on nature but like nature itself, reflects the shifting times we live in. As Rix-Martin points out, Nature is often seen as “something to be controlled, neatened, conquered.” Sleepmoss interprets and admires nature in all its glory.”
Must-check album of home brewed country and psych-soul hybrids from Melbourne’s Francis Plagne, rejoining Oren Ambarchi’s Black Truffle following a richly enigmatic 2018 outing with crys cole.
Following its tape edition of 100 copies by Hobbies Galore, Plagne’s ‘Rural Objects’ lands as a digital release on Black Truffle to evince, where needed, that the label is as adept at picking up balmy, easy-listening wonders like this one as they are covering the heaviest rock and farthest avant-garde.
Including drums by Joe Talia (another crucial member of the scene swirling Ambarchi and BT), the album’s 12 instrumental - but melodically lyrical - songs were recorded precisely a month before its release date. As such it brings a direct, one-to-one representation of the artist in his studio, working with what sounds like harmonium, organ, guitar and percussion to create absorbingly immersive, meditative interzones that recall to our minds everything from downtown NYC vibes by Gray and Arthur Russell to the ghostly introspection of Loren Connors, and even late night Miles styles.
Stripped and kinky, bass-heavy house rollers from Romania’s Dan HabarNam, roving back for 2nd servings with Bristol’s Idle Hands
‘Major Blinks’ packs nearly all the info below-the-belt in thicc, heavy, oozing subbass buoying vaporous snatches of pleasured female vocals and sparing strokes of synth and percussion. In a packed, red-lit basement this one will work a treat. On the other hand ‘The Source’ is more abstract and floaty, working swollen, offset bass undulations below arcing choral pads like some squashed broken beat piece made by monks.
Amsterdam donny Aardvark throws down a wonky halfstepper on Mala’s Deep Medi
Bringing two decades of experience producing myriad forms of bassy club pressure, from broken beats to techno and hip hop, to ‘Monkey See’, in particular Aardvarck returns to the phase circa his 2008 dubstep lurcher ‘BLOOM’ for an almighty, red-eyed wobbler riddled with ‘floor-swilling acid lines, explosive funk chops and snaggletoothed beats in a signature, mutant dub style.
Düsseldorf’s 2nd best band restlessly explore rhythmelodic permutations of electronic rock and dance music, underlined as ever by the percussive suss of Detlef Weinrich aka Tolouse Low Trax/Toresch
‘Flood’ parts in two distinct sections that highlight the diversity of the long-running group’s focussed but wide-angled vision. The first half is definitively driven by the kind of slow, elegant rhythms that regularly appear in Weinrich’s solo output; saddling up with the almost spaghetti Western noir theme of ‘Eurydice’, and strutting like a saddle-sore cowboy at the disco with ‘Celeration’, while Khoes’ curling vocals on ‘Nesindano’ recalls Viktoria Wehrmeister’s Decha styles.
The other half is given to ‘Flood’, a conceptual cycle of five parts that sees them as “a ship of no port”, sailing from the still seas of part I to poetically exotic expressions on an imagined non-place, and swingeing downbeat rhythmic excursions.
Lushest electronic modernism from one-to-watch Jack Colleran, giving his Oyae label a prime head start with his follow-up to 2018’s ‘Gardenia’ album. A big tip to fans of Nozomu Matsumoto, TCF, Arca, Ssaliva, Lee Gamble
Shaping up as his 2nd release after last year’s LP and a spot on Mumdance’s ‘Shared Meanings’ mix, ‘EP01’ yields Colleran’s lucidly immaculate style of composition in five hyperprismic arrangements of soaring choral pads and filigree electronics blessed with a cinematic scope and a fine grasp of the way post-club dynamics have metastasised away from the dance within certain, vital areas of contemporary composition. In other words: ‘EP01’ an utterly captivating example of new electronic music at its best.
Operating at meticulously sharp levels of sound design, Colleran’s music effortlessly sweeps with a natural motion and fluid narrative coherence that’s simply a joy to follow. Blossoming with the heart-in-mouth hyaline harmonic structures and air-carving calligraphy of ‘Arena (crush44 edit)’ he establishes a zero-G physics for the rest of the EP. ‘Bene’ coems in pursuit with the sound of a synthetic Kawasaki zipping across a glorious soundfield of trance pads pirouetting choral voices, while ‘Interframe’ follows like a Lee Gamble vignette, and ‘Interframe’ recalls James Ferraro or Maxwell Sterling’s melodramas, and he leaves us on the tip of the tongue with the raptures of ’S-Flood’.
Formidable dark ambient se’er Deathprod returns like a rare comet with the keeling “anti-fascist ritual” of ‘Occulting Disk’ - his first solo album in over 15 years - offering a life-affirming warning to the power of negative energy.
Proceeding 2004’s canonical classic ‘Morals And Dogma’, the Norwegian sound design auteur here gathers his uniquely dematerialised productions made in Oslo, Cologne, and L.A. between 2012-2019 under the auspices of an “anti-fascist ritual.” While it’s tricky to identify how that admirable intent relates directly to the music, it’s safe to say that ‘Occulting Disk’ at the least suggests an ideally brooding headspace for reflection on that pressing topic, and, for that matter, whatever else is fuelling one’s existential angst.
Practically picking up where he left us at ‘Cloudchamber’, the incredible closing track on 2004’s ‘Morals And Dogma’, with ‘Occulting Disk’ Deathprod develops his mastery of elemental sonics with the vision of someone who has accessed an atavistic, arcane source of knowledge or energy. Working like an alchemist with his custom-built AudioVirus system, he divines and relays a deep sensorial clarity from a near-permanent state of occlusion, seemingly sharing the visions of a man who has spent the past decade growing his beard on an unforgiving mountaintop amid never-shifting clouds, but who can see clearer than anyone scurrying about, miles below.
Opening with the fog horn blasts of ‘Disappearance/Reappearance’ to continue a core Deathprod theme, the album’s seven ‘Occultation’ parts unfold in a series of dissonant aeolian synth howls that cast Helge Sten’s magick at its most elusive and yet present, tending as carefully to the music’s noisy pinnacles as to its deathly lacunæ, with the potential to turn your body into a massive resonating vessel until his incredible ‘Occultation 6’, and then dissolve your atoms into iridescence on ‘Occultation 7.’ And that all seems like preparation for the Copernican revelation of ‘Black Transit of Jupiter’s Third Satellite’, where he practically immanentizes the eschaton in a jaw-dropping display of electro-acoustic abstraction.
For both new lambs and long-time disciples alike, ‘Occulting Disk’ is an unmissable jump-off point into supernatural, metaphysical dimensions, and one of those rare records that really puts everything else into perspective in light of its radical nature.
Thee almighty Sunn 0))) vent elemental in ‘Pyroclasts’; a powerful spirit twin to their force of nature ‘Life Metal’, also recorded by Steve Albini at Electrical Audio, Chicago.
Self-described by the band as “more meditative” than its antecedent, we hear ‘Pyroclastic’ in more tantric terms, delivering its message with a suspenseful deferred gratification and knife-edge, anticipatory sensuality in four 11-minute doses. It stands as testament to the triumph of the band’s first ever all-analog (from guitars, amps and mics to post-production) recording sessions with Steve Albini, which produced enough material to warrant not just ‘Life Metal’ but also this standalone LP. Very simply, it rewards as much amplification as you can give it.
"The Pyroclasts album is the result of a daily practice which was regularly performed each morning, or evening during the two week Life Metal sessions at Electrical Audio during July 2018, when all of the days musical participants would gather and work through a 12 minute improvised modal drone at the start and or end of the day’s work. The piece performed was timed with a stopwatch and tracked to two inch tape, it was an exercise and a chance to dig into a deep opening or closing of the days session in a deep musical way with all of the participants. To connect/reconnect, liberate the creative mind a bit and greet each other and the space through the practice of sound immersion. The players across the four pieces of Pyroclasts are Tim Midyett, T.O.S., Hildur Guðnadóttir, and as always Stephen O’Malley & Greg Anderson.
The music on Pyroclasts is inextricably woven to Life Metal. It exists on the very same tape reels, was explicitly recorded by Steve Albini. The brightness and vividity of that glorious session glares through these four tracks, the precision and radiance, prismatic lustrousness of the saturation, the elemental sculptural shapes, the abstract renderings. It is a sister, or perhaps a shadow album. Or perhaps the now apparent miasma or aether. But it also exists in a form of a pause, a time space which exist in between and around the compositional structures of Sunn O)))’s titanic works.
For the listener or recipient/participant there are deep rewards within the patience of pulling down the walls and letting the music feel, and feel the music. To be immersed will reveal great detail and colour, clarify image, encourage a depth of focus and stillness which may lead to a quite profound experience. Sitting inside the space of time. A deep form of elementalism, even atomism, and connection with presence moment, time and reality.
Sunn O))) would invite their audience to consider these points of perception when experiencing and listening to Pyroclasts. Sunn O))) would also invite and encourage the audience to use Pyroclasts as a lens to review and reexperience the complexity of the Life Metal album, and even to interrupt its sequence with Pyroclasts. This elaboration can bring the astute listener both abyssal, hallowed rewards.
Pyroclasts was recorded and mixed by Steve Albini at Electrical Audio on two inch tape July 2018, and mastered by Matt Colton through all analogue AAA process at Metropolis July 2019."
Commissioned in 2013 by La Rochelle International Film Festival. Ott is internationally known for her Ondes Martenot playing; instead she decided to work with acoustic instrumentation, of skin, of hammers, of breaths... playing piano, percussion, gong, with Torsten Böttcher adding hang, kalimba & didgeridoo.
"Nanook of the North tells the daily life of the Eskimo family living in Hudson Bay. Fights for life, constant shifts, fishing, seal hunting... The spectator shares the life of the family of the far north. "The magic of the film lies in the fact that they are themselves and that they are not comedy. They are." says Robert Flaherty. Christine Ott's sober compositions combined with unusual timbres by Torsten Böttcher marry these images together and bear witness to a great simplicity and humanity.
Ott met Böttcher in 2011. She was impressed by his hang drum playing. Torsten has collaborated with renowned world music players, jazz formations and also orchestras. They first collaborated for Ott's Tabu soundtrack, created in 2012 and released in 2016 on Gizeh, also as part of the labels Dark Peak Series. One year later, Ott and Böttcher co-composed this new live soundtrack - again on a Robert Flaherty movie, travelling from the south of Bora Bora to the far north of Nanook.
This very acoustic set is deeply linked to the rough life of Nanook and his family. The setlist is mainly balanced between Ott's piano pieces (the main theme Nanook, Kayak Fragile, Lights) and Böttcher's hang lead works (Family, Igloos, Tâches ménagères). We can feel in the compositions and in their playing the sincerity and the beauty of each gesture of Nanook's daily life. One of the highlights of this live recording is the haunting duet Première chasse / Walrus hunting, in which Ott's bouncing piano playing is perfectly responding to the groove of Böttcher’s hang, in an almost jazz influenced sequence.
Ott & Böttcher reworked this creation during 2018 in Strasbourg. This recording is a bit shorter than the stage version, but keeps the movie's frame. And at the end, the last piece ...Et le blizzard resonates as a magnificent repetitive track in this majestic but relentless North; Nanook died of hunger, two years after the shooting, during a particularly disastrous hunting expedition. But we are not about to forget his radiant face and his courage for eternity."
Second Woman’s Turk Dietrich and skater/droner Duane Pitre reveal the results of their secretive duo, realised over the past few years in their home city, New Orelans. At times recalls Dome’s shimmering abstractions, at others like a Sonambient piece, or the cosmic visions of Emeralds.
“Over six tracks, First Tone unfurl poignant, flickering compositional works that utilize pitch material that is tuned using the system known as Just Intonation (which Pitre has studied for nearly 15 years) in conjunction with various software and a single hardware synth. The result is a collection of music that is both organic and alien. Layers of tone and texture build and dissolve from the ultra minimal to the enormous, on occasion seamlessly blending the two. A wide array of striking timbres patiently wash over one another, at times sounding like organic instruments, at other times sounding completely otherworldly.
"Reactions" is a masterclass not only in sound design and dynamic range, but also in sonic depth. The album’s approach to the usage of time and dynamics work together to create the perception of a three-dimensional spaciousness of sound. The holographic effects produced from the spaces between the album’s sounds are mesmerizing, with discreet arrangements that demand repeat listens to fully absorb.”
Steve Hauschildt (Emeralds) fully embraces IDM-electronica as an extension of mathy, proggy synth music and jazz-fusion in ‘Nonlin’, his debut album for Ghostly International. RIYL Keith Fullerton Whitman, Richard Devine, Autechre.
Falling into the label’s self-created category of SMM, or Slow-Moving Music (as also explored in their recent ‘Thousands of Eyes In The Dark’ comp), with ‘Nonlin’ Hauschildt moves back into a gauzy middle distance between his early work with seminal synth outfit Emeralds, and his more filigree contemporary craft.
In nine parts the album approaches a more organic mix of post-techno/IDM impulses and layered electronic and acoustic spheres, neatly incorporating strings by cellist and fellow Chicagoan Lia Kohl on ‘Reverse Culture Music’, and exploring ‘LP5’ era Autechrian influences on his title track and the sloshing intricacies of ‘American Spiral’.